Cruise couple held over suitcase cocaine

The Marco Polo cruise ship

A British couple in their 70s have been arrested after cocaine was found in their cruise ship cabin.

Officers found 20-22lb (9-10kg) of the drug “ingeniously concealed” in false compartments in four suitcases, Portuguese police said.

The man and woman, aged 72 and 70, were held on suspicion of drug trafficking when the ship docked at Lisbon.

Operator Cruise and Maritime Voyages said it was “co-operating fully with officials”.

The Marco Polo ship had left Tilbury in Essex on 5 November and travelled to the West Indies and the Azores with 610 passengers and 294 crew on board.

The couple were arrested on 4 December following a tip-off from the UK National Crime Agency.

They appeared before a judge and will be held separately while a joint Portuguese and British investigation continues.

A spokesman for the operator said the firm “does not tolerate any criminal activity or anti-social behaviour onboard its ships”.

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MS Marco Polo Runs Aground in Norway

MS Marco Polo Runs Aground in Norway

Cruise ship MS Marco Polo has run aground with 750 passengers on board while manoeuvring to anchor near Leknes in Norway’s northern Lofoten Islands.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), a passenger shipping company headquartered in Essex, UK  informed that due to adverse wind conditions experienced by their cruise ship MS Marco Polo when approaching her berth in Leknes (Lofoten Islands), Norway, it was decided, in the interest of safety, to take anchor.

“Whilst manoeuvring and as the tide was retreating, the ship touched a mud bank and became lodged. A subsequent inspection by divers has revealed that there has been no damage to the vessel’s hull or propulsion systems,” the company said in a release on Saturday, November 1st.

According to CMV, Marco Polo has been successfully manoeuvred off the mud bank with the assistance of the evening high water tide and resumed her 14 night voyage to Norway and the Land of the Northern Lights en-route to Alta.

There has been no oil pollution arising out of the incident and none of the 763 mainly British passengers or crew have been injured.

“Passengers wishing to go ashore were transferred by tender and the local tour programme continued as scheduled,” the release added.

Chris Coates, Commercial Director of CMV commented, “The comfort and safety of our passengers is our top priority and our passengers have been kept fully updated of the situation.”

Cruise and Maritime charters ‘classic ship’

A 550-passenger ‘classic cruise ship’ is being chartered by Cruise and Maritime Voyages next year to replace Discovery after it is withdrawn from service.

The vessel Azores, which was re-built in 1994 for $150 million, will operate year round sailings, with its first departure from Bristol Avonmouth on January 26 on a 30-night voyage to the Caribbean.

The Azores has been chartered from Lisbon-based Portuscale Cruises on a long term basis. All crewing and ship management services will be handled directly by CMV.

Full details of the ship’s Azores programme for next year alongside CMV’s Marco Polo and Astor will be unveiled tomorrow (Tuesday)  when a 2015 first edition preview brochure is released featuring more 50 sailings until October 2015.

Eight five per cent of Azores’ 277 cabins have an ocean view and almost 20% are of a de-luxe standard including nine balcony suites. All cabins also have a bath tub and mini bar.

CMV commercial director Chris Coates said: “Azores is an excellent, upgraded addition to our cruise fleet and has been affectionately and very well maintained by her owners.

“We are confident that Azores will prove to be a real winner with our dedicated growing number of loyal customers and will also attract new clients seeking smaller ship alternatives and regional ex-UK no fly cruise options.”

Rui Alegre, CEO of Portuscale Cruises, added: “I’m a strong believer in developing close and long term business partnerships. I’m very pleased to have concluded a charter with CMV and look forward to working closely with their team in successfully establishing Azores on to the British market.

“Azores is a beautiful ship and has been operating very well in achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. I am proud that she will be carrying CMV passengers next year and for many years to come”.