Orient Line to Sail Maxim Gorkiy as Marco Polo II

The newly rejuvenated Orient Lines announced its flagship Wednesday: The Marco Polo II (formerly the Maxim Gorkiy) will begin luxury-expedition-class cruises in April 2009 from Barcelona.

The 1969-built ship (originally named the Hamburg) is famous for the 1989 summit between U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev held in the ship’s Explorers Lounge. The lounge is preserved exactly as it was at the meeting, and the rest of the ship is in excellent condition, said Wayne Heller, president and CEO of Orient Lines.

Heller inspected the 650-passenger, 25,000-ton ship in June and said it “was like being in a museum.” The ship’s interiors were refurbished in 1988 and 1995. Heller plans to spend “multi-million dollars” bringing the vessel up to 2010 SOLAS standards, he said. A yard has not yet been chosen.

Sales for the inaugural cruise open Sept. 8.

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