I seem to be having the same issues as a number of other previous posters, though their fixes don't seem to be working for me. I've installed MM9 on a Vista machine with an ATI Radeon video card (drivers are current). I installed the 1.2 patch, followed by 1.3a.
As other people have described, the game launches fine, but as soon as I create my party and it tries to load into the game, the boat freezes and nothing happens. I've installed Mok's cshell.dll. I've tried playing in compatibility mode (including various permutations of XP SP2, Windows 2000, and Administrator mode). I've tried banging my head on the keyboard (unsurprisingly, it didn't help).
Now, this is my primary work/gaming computer, so downgrading DirectX and/or video drivers isn't really an option. If it makes any difference, I'm running the M&M Platinum version of MM9.
Any ideas? I'm open to anything. I'm on a run. I just beat 6, 7, and 8, and now 9 won't work!