marcopolosnow.jpgSnow covers the aft deck of cruise ship Marco Polo, in Northen Norway last week

UPDATE: Cruise & Maritime Voyages announced today (Wednesday) that Marco Polo is heading for dry dock in Antwerp for a thorough inspection to ascertain what damage was caused by the grounding off Sortland. Company statement reads: Marco Polo will be terminating her current Land of the Northern Lights cruise in Antwerp on Thursday 14 March on the scheduled arrival day. The ship will undergo a dry docking inspection for minor repairs to her hull after the vessel struck an uncharted object under the command of the local pilot minutes after sailing from Sortland on Saturday evening. CMV have prioritised the comfort and safety of all the passengers and crew. All passengers will be transferred to Tilbury and London via the Channel Tunnel or ferry by coach scheduled to arrive mid to late afternoon on Thursday 14 March. The cruise departures 14 March and 28 March will now depart 3 days later and those passengers affected are being advised. CMV would like to apologies for any inconvenience. All passengers involved in these unavoidable delays and date changes will be receiving compensation, plus special discounts for a future cruise.

Passengers on CMV’s Marco Polo, who have been enjoying a cruise in the snows of northern Norway, had an unexpectedly extended stay in the remote port of Sortland yesterday, after the ship touched the seabed.
In similar circumstances to an incident last weekend, when Hurtigruten’s Kong Harald hit a rock at the entrance to nearby Trollfjord, damage was limited to a small gash in the hull, breaching a ballast tank.
Marco Polo is better able than most ships to withstand close encounters of the underwater kind – built as the Aleksandr Pushkin in 1966 for the Russian navy, the ship has an extremely strong ice-strengthened hull.
The ship had a local Norwegian pilot on the bridge when it touched bottom shortly after leaving Sortland on Saturday evening. It immediately returned to port for an inspection and minor repairs were carried out before it sailed again on Sunday evening.
No injuries were reported among the 1,100 passengers and crew on board.
Harbour master Hugo Naess said the cause of the grounding is a mystery. Charts show an adequate depth of water for Marco Polo’s 8.17m (26.8 ft) draft.
The ship is returning from a 14-night cruise in search of the Northern Lights and is due back in Tilbury on Thursday (March 15) when it should be setting out on an identical itinerary. It is understood that the delay in Sortland means it will miss a scheduled visit to Andalsnes and instead head directly to Bergen.