In a very surprising move, Cruise and Maritime Voyages this morning announced the acquisition of the 63,786 ton Pacific Pearl from P&O Cruises Australia. The ship, to be renamed Columbus, will join the UK based fleet line up effective of June 9th, 2017.
Pacific Pearl was put up for sale as a result of the Australian company’s recent expansion, but an initial statement from Australia had spoken of an internal ‘transfer’ within the portfolio of the parent company, Carnival Corporation, rather than a third party purchase.
While it was known for some time that Cruise and Maritime were in the market for another ship, the acquisition of Pacific Pearl comes as something of a curve ball.
The ship is very well known as a former stalwart of the UK cruising scene. Originally conceived as the Sitmar Fairmajesty in 1989, she started life as the Star Princess for Princess Cruises when Sitmar sadly went bankrupt. She was then remodelled as the Arcadia in P&O Cruises. Then, after a long and very successful stint as the popular Ocean Village of Ocean Village Cruises, the ship disappeared ‘down under’ a few years ago to become the first significant cruise ship dedicated to the year round Australian market.
Now she is coming ‘home’.
The French built ship will accommodate some 1400 passengers in her new role as Columbus. The vessel has some 775 cabins, 150 of which will be sold as dedicated singles.
Worthy of note is the fact that the ship has the first significant number of balcony cabins in the CMV fleet, including what will be some ‘fleet largest’ balcony suites coming in at 582 square feet. At the other end of the scale, even the smallest inside rooms come in at around 148 square feet.
Like her CMV fleet mates, Columbus will operate as an adults’ only ship. However, in a first for the line, Columbus will trial a pair of all age cruises over the peak holiday cruise season next August.
In terms of tonnage, accommodation and space, the Columbus marks a significant step up from the recently acquired Magellan and the veteran Marco Polo. And, with a trio of swimming pools and the company’s first ever forward observation lounge, the Columbus will up the ante considerably in terms of leisure facilities and entertainment venues, too.
Like her siblings, Columbus will be based in Tilbury. In fact, she will be the largest passenger ship ever to sail regularly from the famous Essex port, the nearest and most easily accessed cruise port to central London.
Look out for more here as itineraries are made available.