Cruises with Orient Lines are to re-start from April next year following the acquisition of its first ship under its new owners.


The Orient Lines brand was acquired from Star Cruises in June this year by US cruise veteran Wayne Heller’s Origin Cruise Group. Heller founded Orlando-based cruise retailer Cruises Only, the largest seller of cruises in north America.


Orient Lines effectively went out of business last year when then-owner Star Cruises sold its sole vessel Marco Polo, which now operates out of Tilbury for Transocean Tours.


The new owners have bought the Russian owned 40-year-old 24,981-ton Maxim Gorkiy ship, with capacity for 650 passengers, which is currently chartered by German tour company Phoenix Seereisen. The ship leaves Pheonix in November for a re-fit to comply with new Safety of Life at Sea regulations, effective from 2010.


The ship will be renamed Marco Polo II and offer a range of Mediterranean cruises, starting with a 15-day Wonders of Antiquity itinerary on April 15 from Barcelona to Cairo. Its routes also include a number of ex-UK sailings out of Dover, Leith in Edinburgh and Southampton.