MAXIM GORKIY (the would-be MARCO POLO II, ex HAMBURG, HANSEATIC)

MAXIM GORKIY during her final visit to Flam, Norway, in 2008. Photo and copyright Peter Knego.

First Posted: October 30, 2008  Updated:  April 23, 2010

February 27, 2009 update: MAXIM GORKIY was beached under the delivery name MAXIM M at Alang at 04:12 AM February 25, 2009.  During the course of the next five to six months, the ship was broken up for scrap.  Many key fittings were saved and purchased by the author.  Please check www.midshipcentury.com for details.

January 8, 2009 update: After a week of speculative reports that Indian scrap merchants have been inspecting the ship at her anchorage off Piraeus, it was announced today in a German newspaper that the MAXIM GORKIY has been sold for Euro 4.2 million to a scrap merchant. Although it was also announced the ship departed today for India, she remains at her anchorage.

December 2, 2008 update: A movement to bring MAXIM GORKIY to Hamburg for preservation as an hotel and attraction is now underway, with support of Hamburg shipping officials and possible financial backing from German investors.

November 18, 2008 Update: Orient Lines announced today that it will not return with the SS MARCO POLO II in early 2009. The fate of the SS MAXIM GORKIY remains uncertain at this time.

Built 1969
24,962 (23,500 as built) gt
642 by 90 feet (195 by 27 meters)
840 passengers (790 maximum as built)
340 crew
20 knots (23 maximum as built)

Fully air conditioned and stabilized

Propulsion Machinery: AEG steam turbines supplied by Foster-Wheeler boilers (23,000 shp), twin screws

Builders: Howaldstwerke Deutsche Werft, Hamburg

Registry: Nassau, Bahamas

GORKIY to Norway Blog.

Orient Lines

Phoenix Seereisen

Ocean Liner Fittings, Furniture and Art For Sale at MidShipCentury.com

Peter Knego Videos Link: ON THE ROAD TO ALANG and THE WORLD’s PASSENGER FLEET, Volume Nine

Please click on image to open a larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2008 unless otherwise noted.


German Atlantic Lines SS HAMBURG, “The Space Ship”



Builder’s plate.


HAMBURG elevation. Peter Knego collection.

In 1969, German Atlantic Lines introduced the HAMBURG, which winds up an incredible intermediate career next month as the Soviet-owned, German-chartered MAXIM GORKIY. One of the last turbine-powered steamships ever built, the MAXIM GORKIY was readying for her next role as newly-reformed Orient Lines’ MARCO POLO II when the world economic downturn put an end to the company before it even had a chance to start.


German Atlantic Lines flag. Peter Knego collection.


HAMBURG on the stocks at Deutsche Werft. Peter Knego collection.

The German-Atlantic Line was formed in 1958 with the purchase of Canadian Pacific Line’s EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND (1930), which was transformed into the stylish HANSEATIC for service between Hamburg and New York. Demand was such that a second liner was conceived in the early 1960s with funding raised via $25,000 USD shares from the company’s core of wealthy passengers. Some thirty offers from several different yards were considered until a decision was made in late 1966 to go with the Deutsche Werft yard at Hamburg and a near 23,500 gt vessel designed by noted German architect Georg Manner. As a complement to the traditional HANSEATIC (which sadly caught fire in New York on 7 September 1967 and was sold for scrap), the HAMBURG would be a very forward-thinking ship.


HAMBURG early funnel concept: BRASIL/ARGENTINA meets KUNGSHOLM. Peter Knego collection.


HAMBURG early funnel concept: ACHILLE LAURO meets MICHELANGELO/RAFFAELLO. Peter Knego collection.


HAMBURG funnel realized. Peter Knego collection.

The HAMBURG was a dual-purpose liner, designed to both cross and cruise, with just three grades of accommodation accessed via wide central passageways in cabins that all featured private facilities (96% with full bath tubs) and closed circuit television, a unique tween-decks construction that allowed extra ceiling height in key public rooms, vast open deck spaces and indoor as well as outdoor swimming pools. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the handsome vessel was her futuristic, saucer-capped hourglass funnel, which, along with a very high passenger space ratio earned her the nickname of “The Space S
hip”.


HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.

The HAMBURG was extremely attractive, despite, or, perhaps, enhanced by her unconventional funnel, sporting a long raked, knuckled bow atop a pronounced bulb, angular forward superstructure, well-proportioned radio mast, gradually tiered aft superstructure, and rounded cruiser stern. Aft of her bow, she lacked any noteable sheer.


HAMBURG midships pool area. Peter Knego collection.


HAMBURG funnel from midships pool area. Peter Knego collection.

The sheltered midships pool area bore more than just a casual resemblance to that of the 1966-built Swedish American liner KUNGSHOLM, which exists today as the rebuilt MONA LISA of Hansa Kreuzfahrten.


Shuffleboard on board HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.

For a ship of her size, HAMBURG boasted a generous 9,000 square feet of open deck space. She had a total of twelve decks, beginning with the Top of the House, descending via Bridge Deck, Sun Deck, Lido Deck, Promenade Deck, Orion Deck, Saturn Deck, Hamburg Deck, Restaurant Deck, Deck 3 and Sauna Deck to Deck 1.


HAMBURG wheelhouse. Peter Knego collection.

In lieu of traditional, free-standing telegraphs, the wheelhouse featured a large console, in sorts an early version of what is found on most of today’s passenger ships.


HAMBURG, Lido Bar. Peter Knego collection.

The white tiled Lido Bar was the uppermost public room, situated in a tween deck nook just forward of the sheltered midships pool on Sun Deck. It remained unchanged until early this decade when it was modified to serve as a casual buffet-style dining room.


HAMBURG Atlantik Club. Peter Knego collection.

The 132 seat Atlantik Club was located on forward Lido Deck with expansive views over the bow and to either side via full length windows. It featured a circular brass dancefloor, which still exists today.


Tween Deck Bar, SS HAMBURG. Peter Knego collection.

The 182 seat Tween Deck Bar was aft and down a half set of stairs from the Atlantic Club on forward Lido Deck. Quite amazingly, it has remained unchanged through the ship’s forty years.


HAMBURG Children’s Playroom.

A kindergarten/playroom once existed on starboard Lido Deck but has since been allocated to officers’ accommodation. A chapel and sports center rounded out the public spaces on the port side of Lido Deck.


HAMBURG Hanseatic Salon. Peter Knego collection.

Promenade Deck began with the 272 seat Hanseatic Salon, the ship’s largest ballroom.


HAMBURG Alster Club. Peter Knego collection.

The handsome, 112 seat Alster Club followed the Hanseatic Salon on port Promenade Deck.


HAMBURG Galerie, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.

A wide central passageway called the Galerie linked the forward and midships stairtower foyers on Promenade Deck. The inner bulkhead was lined in granite and many of its handsome original furnishings and fixtures have survived to this day.


HAMBURG Club Helgoland, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.


HAMBURG Club Helgoland, facing forward. Peter Knego collection.

On the starboard side, just aft of the Hanseatic Salon, a
handsome wood paneled Library/Card Room led to the exquisite Club Helgoland, a room distinguished by its hollowed elliptical wooden wall and circular settee. Aside from some minor fixtures and vivdly-patterned soft fittings, it has remained mostly intact. On both sides of the ship, long enclosed promenades originally stretched aft to an open platform at the stern. These promenades were broken up with the insertion of new owners suite accommodation in the early 1970s, creating a pair of winter gardens forward and a pair of enclosed game deck spaces aft.


HAMBURG Beauty Salon, facing forward/port. Peter Knego collection.

The Beauty Salon was and still is located on the port side of the midships Shopping Center.


HAMBURG Hansa Theater, facing aft. Peter Knego collection.

The 290 seat Hansa Theater benefitted from the ship’s ‘tween deck design with extra ceiling height to allow for gradually terraced seating. It remains virtually as-built.


HAMBURG Restaurant Hamburg (with Rolf and Richard). Peter Knego collection.


HAMBURG Restaurant Hamburg. Peter Knego collection.

Located on midships Hamburg Deck, Restaurant Hamburg seated 294 passengers and was the largest of the ship’s three dining rooms. It was also the only one with natural lighting and sea views via port holes on either side.


HAMBURG Grill Restaurant. Peter Knego collection.

The 128 seat Grill Restaurant was a very chic eatery as built, located on forward Restaurant Deck.


HAMBURG Munich Restaurant. Peter Knego collection.

The Restaurant Munich seated 192 and was located aft of the galley adjoining the Grill Restaurant on midships Restaurant Deck.


HAMBURG deluxe suite. Peter Knego collection.


Fritz, the butler, in a HAMBURG suite. Peter Knego collection.

Of the three original accommodation grades on HAMBURG, the deluxe suites with their separate sitting areas, were, of course, at the top. There were twelve on midships Orion Deck.


HAMBURG Cabin type A. Peter Knego collection.

HAMBURG Cabin type A. Peter Knego collection.

Every cabin featured individual air conditioning controls, two-channel radio, telephone, closed-circuit television and wall-to-wall carpeting and all but 18 cabins were equipped with a full bath. Studio beds and pullman beds converted to full-sized beds at night. Some cabins featured a third upper berth pullman. Orion Deck category A outsides had twin picture windows while those on Saturn and Hamburg Deck had portholes.


HAMBURG Cabin type B. Peter Knego collection.

Category B insides were the least expensive accommodation on the ship, but still relatively spacious at an average of 135 square feet.


Brochure image of HAMBURG in a South Pacific locale. Peter Knego collection.

HAMBURG entered service in March of 1969, joining the “new” 1964-built HANSEATIC (ex SHALOM), the replacement for the twin funneled liner that introduced German Atlantic Lines. After two “shakedown” cruises to South America, HAMBURG sailed on her maiden Atlantic crossing from Hamburg to New York on June 19. HAMBURG and HANSEATIC joined an elite group of mid-sized Northern European liner/cruise ships that included Hapag-Lloyd’s BREMEN and EUROPA, Swedish American Lines’ GRIPSHOLM and KUNGSHOLM and Norwegian America Lines’ SAGAFJORD and BERGENSFJORD in the deluxe cruise market, primarily on long, globe-trotting voyages from the U.S. East Coast.


Momentarily HANSEATIC


In 1972, HAMBURG moved to the U.S. West Coast for cruise service from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Unfortunately, German Atlantic Line was unable to make a profit and the situation was compounded by the fuel crisis, which was especially unkind to steamships. In the summer of 1973, HANSEATIC was sold to Home Lines. That September, HAMBURG was renamed HANSEATIC but only operated on one cruise under that name. In December, German Atlantic Lines folded and HANSEATIC was offered for sale. The winning bid came from the Soviets, who renamed the ship MAXIM GORKIY upon taking delivery in January of 2004.


Movie Star



Los Angeles Times advertisement for “Juggernaut”. Peter Knego collection.

Before joining the Black Sea Shipping Company’s fleet, the GORKIY was featured in the Sir Lew Grade-produced bomb thriller, “Juggernaut”. In her first dramatic starring role, she plunged about in the North Sea as the fictitious BRITANNIC with Richard Harris and Omar Sharif on board. The film was actually quite good, despite a lukewarm box office reception, and is shown in the ship’s cinema to this day.


MAXIM GORKIY



MAXIM GORKIY in BLASCO “hammer and sickle” livery. Peter Knego collection.

MAXIM GORKIY was by far the most deluxe passenger ship in the vast Soviet fleet, eclipsing the sturdy, Vismar-built IVAN FRANKO quintet and even the pleasant little 1973-built ODESSA (ex COPENHAGEN). In November 1975, two bombs were planted below her waterline while she was berthed at San Juan, and detonated later that month when the ship was off New York. Following this real-life “Juggernaut” experience, which fortunately did not result in any loss of life, MAXIM GORKIY was repaired at the Hoboken, New Jersey-based division of Bethlehem Steel Corporation

She enjoyed a brief career in U.S.-based cruising during the mid-to-late 1970s before the U.S. banned all Soviet ships following the invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. It is around this time that she undertook a long-term charter to German-based Neckermann Seireisen. In 1988, MAXIM GORKIY began another long-term charter with Bonn, Germany-based Phoenix Seereisen, who put the ship on globe-trotting itineraries not unlike many she made as the HAMBURG.

Late at night on 19 June 1989, MAXIM GORKIY struck an iceberg off Spitsbergen, holing her bow and taking on water. The ship was abandoned of all passengers and most of her crew and towed two days later to Svalbard for temporary patching. She sailed to Lloyd Werft at Bremerhaven for permanent repairs and the replacement of some water-damaged accommodation and the two lower restaurants. Interestingly, a video of this incident is often played on the ship’s television.


President George H. W. Bush boards MAXIM GORKIY.


Mikhail Gorbachev addresses Malta Summit delegates in MAXIM GORKIY’s Odessa Restaurant.

On December 2-3, 1989 U.S. president George H.W. Bush and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev met on board MAXIM GORKIY off Malta’s Marsaxlokk Harbour to attend the Malta Summit and signed the pact that symbolized the end of the Cold War.


Night time view of funnel with Sovcomflot livery.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle were replaced with the blue and red Sovcomflot livery and a stylized “SCF” logo.


MAXIM GORKIY departs Los Angeles in 1993.

For the first time in many years, the MAXIM GORKIY visited the U.S. West Coast in 1993. Aside from the lower restaurants, the ship was virtually original. Even the deck nomenclature remained unchanged, save for the Hamburg Deck, which was renamed Neptune Deck.


Lido Restaurant in 1993.

The Lido Bar was structurally and decoratively unchanged, although it had taken on a new role as buffet style restaurant.


Music Salon, facing forward prior to most recent refit.

The Hanseatic Salon had been renamed Musiksalon and retained its original layout, furnishings and artwork, although it was looking a bit grim in the dreary Soviet color scheme.


Reception, facing starboard, prior to most recent refit.

The Reception area was still quite dynamic and attractive with its white tiled surfaces and swank leather settees, which tied in nicely with the rigidly industrial stairtower railings and the blood red carpet.


Odessa Restaurant in 1993.

The Odessa Restaurant was possibly, along with the Volga Bar and Zhiguli Club, the most magnificent of the GORKIY’s vintage HAMBURG spaces. It had wonderful textured ceilings, “space ship” lighting sconces and a modern painting on the bulkhead forward of the well. And, of course, it was filled with the original HAMBURG chairs, once found throughout the ship.


MAXIM GORKIY at San Francisco in 2004.

The gorgeous GORKIY made her final visit to the U.S. West Coast in 2004, departing San Francisco on a glorious winter afternoon.


MAXIM GORKIY at Flam, Norway.

In late 2004, the ship was given Phoenix Seereisen’s turquoise livery. After a proposed charter for newly-reformed Orient Lines as the MARCO POLO II fell through, dashing any last minute efforts to land the ship another charter in time for the 2009 season, the MAXIM GORKIY was laid up at Piraeus after disembarking her final Phoenix passengers on 30 October 2008.

In January of 2009, it was reported the ship was sold for scrapping in India.


SS MAXIM GORKIY Deck By Deck Tour


Top Of House


Spotless fo’c’sle: over bow from Top Of House.


Top of House, facing aft.


Radio Mast from starboard Top Of House.


Starboard wing from top of house.


Top of house, facing forward.


Over Midships Pool Area from Top Of House.

Although it is not passenger territory, the MAXIM GORKIY’s Top of the House is maintained in pristine condition. This is actually where the staff and crew “escape” for their breaks and it is even called the “Green Beach” on sunny days when crew members head up for a quick tan on its freshly painted green deck. To accommodate the ship’s ‘Tween Deck design, the aft platform is slightly raised from the forward section, which has a small wading basin at the base of the mast.

A second platform on this level tops the funnel casing aft of the midships pool.

Bridge Deck


Aft from starboard wing.

The GORKIY retains her traditional open bridge wings.


Wheelhouse, facing starboard.

The wheelhouse is much the same as it was when built with some additional new equipment. A chart room, radio room and officers’ accommodation follows, just aft.


Night pool and funnel in an aft-facing view from midships Bridge Deck.


MAXIM GORKIY midships pool area, facing starboard/forward from Bridge Deck.


MAXIM GORKIY Bridge Deck, facing forward.


MAXIM GORKIY funnel from starboard Bridge Deck.


Aft from aft Bridge Deck.

Although the half level terracing due to the ‘tween decks layout of the ship makes it difficult at times to determine which level certain areas belong to, Bridge Deck technically continues with a glass screened platform overlooking the heated salt water midships pool and continues up another half deck level with a small terrace that surrounds the funnel casing.

Sun Deck (was to be renamed Sky Deck)


Forward Sun Deck, facing port.


Port Sun Deck, facing aft.


Detail outside of Lido Cafe in the forward vestibule.

Sun Deck begins with a U-shaped terrace overlooking the bow with landings on either side that continue via stairs down to the Lido Deck. Internally, it houses officers’ accommodation, continuing aft via the forward vestibule and up a half landing to the Lido Cafe.


Lido Cafe, facing forward/port.

The Lido Cafe was originally the Lido Bar but was redecorated and reconfigured with a buffet station to serve as the MAXIM GORKIY’s casual dining venue. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available here with seating on the starboard side of the room and around the pool basin, just aft. For the unrealized MARCO POLO II, the room would have retained its current function as the Raffles Cafe.


Upper portion of aft Sun Deck, facing port.


Aft Sun Deck.

The teak covered aft portion of Sun Deck terraces down from the Bridge Deck platform at the base of the funnel. The upper level is a netted in Sports Court and the lower portion is a sunning area.

Lido Deck (was to be renamed Promenade Deck)


MAXIM GORKIY Rossiya Lounge, facing starboard.


MAXIM GORKIY, Rossiya Lounge dance floor detail.

The handsome Rossiya Lounge is located on forward Lido Deck and has seen a fair amount of change since its original incarnation as HAMBURG’s Atlantic Club but retains some core midcentury decorative features such as its circular, textured brass dance floor, rectangular red and white lucite and marble light fixtures, circular bar (port side) and panorama of windows overlooking the bow. This room was to become MARCO POLO II’s Polo Lounge.


Port Lido Deck, facing aft.

Wide, open, finite promenades continue aft of the Rossiya Lounge underneath a canopy of lifeboats, culminating in a small terrace overlooking the stern. Stairs lead up from here to the Sun Deck for those wishing to complete a full circuit around the front of the ship.


MAXIM GORKIY forward/port stairtower facing down from Lido Deck.


Entrance to Captain’s Club, facing forward.

Down a half level just aft of the forward vestibule but still technically on the Lido Deck level, there is a wonderfully original slice of the HAMBURG in the form of a small landing with sculpted “stop lights” leading to the Captain’s Club.


MAXIM GORKIY, Captain’s Club, facing aft.


Captain’s Club mermaid/merman.

The Captai
n’s Club is remarkably original, down to the “mod” mermaids and mermen lining its conical brass “porthole” windows. The seating and tiki patterned bulkheads are just as they were when the ship was introduced in 1969. Apparently, no major changes would be made when this space became MARCO POLO II’s Kon Tiki Club. There used to be a conference room on the starboard/aft side of the Captain’s Club but it has since been turned over for staff use.


Fitness Room, facing aft.

Lido Deck continues at the midships stairtower on the port side with the Fitness Center. Currently, it has ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, a stretcing area and a couple weight machines with a view onto the port promenade. It appears little or no change was to be made to this facility when the ship became MARCO POLO II.


MAXIM GORKIY Chapel, facing forward/port.

Lido Deck continues with officers’ space. In the forward/port portion of the aft foyer, the MAXIM GORKIY’s still very original Chapel has been left untouched, and, like the Synagogue on QE2, is a lovely late 1960s slice of elegant design and utility. It was removed from the MARCO POLO II deck plan.

Promenade Deck (was to be renamed Belvedere Deck)


MAXIM Face at San Francisco, 26 March 2004.


HAMBURG bell.

Promenade Deck begins with the ship’s long fo’c’sle.


MAXIM GORKIY, Musiksalon, facing starboard.

Public spaces begin inside the superstructure with the Musiksalon. All remnants of the HAMBURG’s modern Hanseatic Salon vanished when the room received a complete make-over in recent years to better function as MAXIM GORKIY’s Musiksalon with a musician’s stage, dance floor and terraced seating. Decoratively one of the least inspired spaces on the ship, it is comfortable and functional was to have become MARCO POLO II’s Ambassador Lounge show room.


Volga Bar, facing forward.

On the port side, just aft ot the Musiksalon, the remarkable Volga Bar gallery oozes style and character. A panorama of rounded rectangular white enameled windows looks out to sea on the port side while the inboard bulkheads are paneled in lustrous woodwork with lime green and earth toned suede insets. Booth seating is angular, late-1960s style and the ceiling is barrel shaped. In the aft portion of the gallery, just before it zags inward to the bar area, there is a grand piano framed by the largest suede panel, signed Kristin Koschad-Hote/69. Although the woodwork would have to be removed for SOLAS 2010 compliance one wonders if the rest of the room, including the wonderful rectangular “rising sun” lucite light fixtures, artwork and furniture would have remained intact when the gallery became The Charleston Club.


Phoenix Seereisen
Aft portion of Volga Bar, facing aft.


Aft portion of Volga Bar, facing forward.

The aft portion of the Volga Bar includes more rich woodwork, backlit display cases behind the bar and a magnificent deep blue and white ceramic ensemble mounted into the counter dramatically lit from the overhang of the counter top. Semi circular booths upholstered in rich orange complement the deep blue tones of the bar, each with its own enamel top cocktail table and enameled steel lamp. This space was to have become Harry’s Bar for MARCO POLO II.


Gorkiy in the Gallery.


MidCentury Modern in the Gallery.


Gallery door detail.


Totally random MAXIM GORKIY carpet shot.

The Galerie Space also retains most of its gorgeous vintage character, occupying the midships space aft of the Musiksalon and adjoining the Volga Bar on its port side. The inboard bulkhead is still paneled in polished granite and contains a portrait of Maxim Gorkiy. The original HAMBURG
lanterns line the starboard side and there are some astoundingly beautiful enamel-topped chrome tables, enduring white leather settees and chairs and two original tapestries on the aft bulkhead. It may never be known if all these items would remain as they are shown here (save, perhaps, the carpeting) when the space was to become the unrealized MARCO POLO II’s Monte Carlo Casino.


Library, facing aft.


Library table top.


Library detail.


Library, facing forward.

On the starboard side of Promenade Deck, the Library/Card Room continues aft of the Musiksalon. A large display devoted to the Malta Summit can be found here, along with two richly textured and colored ceramic panels. Full length windows on the starboard side bathe the room’s honey-toned woodwork in natural daylight. The space is rich in vintage character and style, from the textured ceilings to the angled ceiling cornices, pedestal seating and some pretty spiffy table tops with inlaid marble chess boards. The room will have retained its current functions, albeit with expanded internet facilities, when it became the MARCO POLO II’s aptly named Library/Card Room.


Zhiguli Club, facing aft.


Zhiguli Club, facing aft.


Zhiguli Club, facing forward.

The Zhiguli Club is another extraordinary time-capsule of late 1960s assymetry, from its carved wooden divider to the circular fixed settee. Other bits of brilliance include the lighted globe in its marble plinth, original pedestal chairs, and fantastic tables with flared chrome feet. It could have served nicely with little modification (other than the unfortunately required replacement of the wood paneling) when it became MARCO POLO II’s Explorer’s Club.


Starboard Wintergarden, facing aft.

On either side of the midships foyer, the Wintergardens were created when owner’s suites filled in the center portion of HAMBURG’s enclosed promenades early in the ship’s career. These are extremely popular havens with their wicker and foliage ambiance and tend to attract the heavy smokers.


Port Wintergarden, facing forward.

The port side Wintergarden would have become MARCO POLO II’s Palm Court.


Promenade Deck After Gallery ceiling detail.


After Gallery, facing aft.

The After Gallery is the central corridor linking the midships foyer to the aft foyer. It is where the various shops are located and has some nice vintage touches, including moulded modern star ceiling panels, several patterned terra cotta tile inserts, a lighted ship display and route map. As one heads aft, the main focal point is a brilliant orange and blue panel at the end of the passageway.


MAXIM GORKIY Beauty Salon, facing port.

On the port side of the After Gallery, the Beauty Salon is still very much original with its 1969 tilework, salon chairs and oval mirrors.


Promenade Deck panel.

Magnificence in Melamine! Is it a rising sun, or, perhaps the earth from a lunar vantage? Remember, the “Space Ship” was introduced in 1969, the year of the first Apollo moon landing. Cue up Zager and Evans “In The Year 2525” and it’s 1969 all over again!


MAXIM GORKIY, Cinema, facing aft/starboard.


Cinema, facing starboard.

The Cinema remains as built, with its stylish and dramatically-lit honeycombed metal wall fixtures, elevated proscenium, and angular seating. The former Hansa Theater was to be renamed MARCO POLO II’s Majestic Theater.


MAXIM GORKIY aft starboard promenade, facing aft. The whie rattan furnishings were originally in the Lido Bar.

On the port side, the after promenade was to become MARCO POLO II’s Enclosed Promenade and on the starboard side, a Recreation Area.


Neptune Bar, facing starboard.

The Neptune Bar is located in the shelter of the aft portion of Promenade Deck. It was to be renamed Expedition Bar when the ship became MARCO POLO II.


Over stern from Promenade Deck.

Orion Deck (was to be renamed Main Deck)


MAXIM GORKIY, Orion Deck passageway, facing aft.

Orion Deck was to become Main Deck with the MARCO POLO II incarnation and is fully dedicated to passenger accommodation linked by one of the ship’s unusual wide central passageways.


Forward from fantail.

The ship’s fantail wraps up Main Deck.

Saturn Deck (was to be renamed Bali Deck


Reception, facing starboard.

Saturn Deck features accommodation and the Reception area, located amidships. It was modified with strangely incongruous lucite features and is now a relatively charmless space. An example of why tampering with good, solid original design is usually a losing battle.

Neptun Deck (was to be renamed Pacific Deck)


MAXIM GORKIY, Odessa Restaurant, facing forward.

Neptune Deck contains accommodation and the Odessa Restaurant, which, sadly, was drastically altered in 1994, perhaps to “match” the two lower restaurants which were generically rebuilt after the 1989 flooding. The Odessa Restaurant was to have been renamed the Seven Seas Restaurant when the ship became MARCO POLO II

Restaurant Deck (was to be renamed Riviera Deck)


MAXIM GORKIY, Sea Restaurant, facing starboard.

Restaurant Deck begins with the Sea Restaurant, formerly HAMBURG’s stylish Grill Restaurant. It’s decor dates from 1989. It was to be renamed Maxim’s when the ship became MARCO POLO II.


MAXIM GORKIY Crimea Restaurant, facing aft.

Aft of the galley, there is the Crimea Restaurant, where the decor also dates from 1989. It was to have become the Marco Polo Grill on board MARCO POLO II.

Sauna Deck (was to have been renamed Spa Deck)


Indoor pool, facing forward.

Like many great ships built for crossing and cruising, the MAXIM GORKIY has a marvelous, hexagonal indoor pool. Located at the bottom of the forward/starboard stairtower, it was to have been the centerpiece of MARCO POLO II’s Spa.

MAXIM GORKIY Accommodation

Promenade Deck Owner’s Suites


Promenade Deck Owner’s Suite 177 living room, facing starboard.


Promenade Deck Owner’s Suite 177 bedroom, facing port.

Orion Deck Luxury Suites


Orion Deck Luxury Suite 59, bedroom area, facing port.


Orion Deck Luxury Suite 59, sitting area, facing aft.

Outside Staterooms


Outside Orion Deck Cabin 111 (with picture window), facing starboard.


Outside Cabin 359 (with portholes) facing starboard/aft.


Outside Neptune Deck Cabin 484 (with third berth and portholes), facing port.


Cabin 484 WC with full bath.

Inside Staterooms


Inside Saturn Deck cabin 321, facing aft.


Stern view of MAXIM GORKIY during her final vsit to Flam, Norway.

With special thanks: Martin Cox, Gary Gerbino, Peter Kohler (whose excellent article on HAMBURG and the 1964-built HANSEATIC is featured in the September 2008 issue of SHIPS MONTHLY), Michael J. Masino, Thomas Menke, Oliver Mueller

Unrealized Dreams:


Artist’s impression of SS MARCO POLO II.


SS MARCO POLO II.


SS MARCO POLO II at Dubrovnik.

Posted October 30, 2008

December 2, 2008 update: A movement to bring MAXIM GORKIY to Hamburg for preservation as an hotel and attraction is now underway, with support of Hamburg shipping officials and possible financial backing from German investors.

January 8, 2009 update: After a week of speculative reports that Indian scrap merchants have been inspecting the ship at her anchorage off Piraeus, it was announced today in a German newspaper that the MAXIM GORKIY has been sold for Euro 4.2 million to a scrap merchant. Although it was also announced the ship departed today for India, she remains at her anchorage.

February 27, 2009 update: MAXIM GORKIY was beached under the delivery name MAXIM M at Alang at 04:12 AM February 25, 2009.  During the course of the next five to six months, the ship was broken up for scrap.  Many key fittings were saved and purchased by the author.  Please check www.midshipcentury.com for details.

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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