Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ new flagship, Columbus, will make a second round the world cruise in January of 2019, following brisk bookings for her inaugural 2018 sailing.
Like the 2018 opener, the 2019 world cruise will sail round trip from London’s port of Tilbury. The 120 day epic begins on January 5th, 2019, with fares for the complete circumnavigation starting at £15,999 for two people, based on sharing an inside cabin.
Columbus will first cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean, then sail through the Panama Canal, and across the South Pacific to the palm splayed, paradise islands of French Polynesia. From there, the 63,000 ton, 1400 guest adults only ship will make a run for the highlights of new Zealand and Australia.
The ship then makes a date with the ancient, awe inspiring Asian majesty of Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, before cruising to India and an eventual passage through the Suez canal. Then, as a final flourish, the ship winds her way through the springtime Mediterranean before returning to Tilbury in time for the spring.
This voyage is actually the third full world cruise to be operated by Cruise and Maritime, a relative newcomer to the UK market that has added substantially to its tonnage in the last couple of years. The first was operated in 2017 by the Magellan– formerly Carnival’s Holiday.
For those unable or unwilling to indulge in the full, four month world fest, there will be a series of shorter fly cruise options available that allow passengers the luxury of cherry picking their favoured sectors, perhaps tying them in with land stays at banner cities such as Singapore, Sydney and even Bridgetown. And, with a large number of single cabins available on board at a minimal supplement, this big, beautifully refurbished vessel offers a fine, nicely balanced and relaxed way to see the highlights of the globe.
In something of a pioneering move, Cruise and Maritime Voyages will send it’s 46,000 ton, 1400 passenger Magellan to operate a series of fly cruises out of Acapulco over the winter of 2018/19.
While most mainstream Mexican Riviera cruises typically start in Los Angeles or San Diego, the ship will actually home port in the Mexican resort of Acapulco itself. The resort, famous in the sixties as a jet set destination, is undergoing something of a renaissance after many years in the doldrums. But, while cruise ships have slowly began to return to Acapulco, the deployment of Magellan out of the port makes her the first cruise ship to be based there for a couple of decades.
The route itself is something of a game changer, too. Typically, ships in the region visit the three ‘greatest hits’ ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on their week long voyages. Typically, these cruises spend at least three days at sea en route.
Placing Magellan out of Acapulco allows for a more diverse and interesting itinerary, offering up calls at Ixtapa, Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo, as well as both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. This makes these voyages the most port intensive on offer to passengers wanting to see as much as possible of Pacific Mexico.
Originally built in 1985 as the Holiday, the mid sized Magellan was originally intended for warm weather cruising, and a comprehensive refurbishment has seen the ship very smartly adapted to suit the tastes of the British cruise passenger. The result is a ship that can offer a pleasant range of public rooms, dining options and ample deck space, while at the same time maintaining a sense of intimacy and comfort.
This new deployment of the Magellan is definitely going to be one to watch, and is a real warm weather, winter alternative to the overcrowded Caribbean circuit.
The Costa NeoClassica is set to join the current, one ship Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line as of June 2018, subject to an agreement being reached with the Palm Beach port commission that would allow the line to operate more than one ship from the port. With the current ship- Bahamas Celebration (The former Costa Celebration) sailing from West Palm Beach every second day, the issuing of an agreement looks like a pretty much done and dusted deal. Between them, the two ships are expected to carry around 765,000 passengers each year.
It is as yet unclear whether the company will simply charter the Costa NeoClassica, or purchase her outright. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is the creation of former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO, Kevin Sheehan, and has enjoyed steady success with it’s one ship deployment out of Florida. The company has been looking to expand for some time though, as yet, it is unclear whether the new ship will operate short, port intensive cruises, or something more substantial.
Built in 1991, the Costa NeoClassica sailed for Costa in all areas of the world, most recently in Asia. An intended extension of the ship- the new mid ship section had already been constructed at considerable expense- was aborted amid huge controversy at the time.
None the less, she remains an impressive vessel at some 53.000 tons.
Costa cruises has sold the 50,000 ton Costa NeoClassica to an as yet undisclosed buyer. The ship will leave the Costa fleet in March, 2018, after a final season of Maldives cruises. As of June 2018, her scheduled programme of Aegean cruises out of Bari will be undertaken by the redeployed Costa NeoRiviera.
The original Costa NeoRiviera itineraries in turn will now be taken up by the Costa Victoria, making her return to the Mediterranean after a deployment to China and Japan that began back in 2012. After refurbishment in a Marseilles dry dock in late March next year, the ship will begin a series of week long, summertime sailings centered on the Spanish Balearic islands.
The route comprises a Savona departure, and sails to Olbia in Sardinia, Mahon in Minorca, then an overnight stop in Ibiza, before calling at Palma de Mallorca and a final, overnight call at Tarragona, on mainland Spain. These cruises are currently slated to start in June, and what the ship will do between March and then is currently unspecified.
None the less, the return of the one off Costa Victoria to the Mediterranean makes for a welcome breath of fresh air. And the sale of Costa NeoClassica surely raises questions over the future of her sole surviving sister ship- Costa NeoRomantica- within the Costa portfolio.
While no buyer has been announced yet for the departing, 1991 built Costa NeoClassica, it is a matter of record that the UK based company, Thomas Cook, is looking for a pair of start up vessels for a cruise line of it’s own. Thus far, Thomas Cook has remained tight lipped about just which ships it is hoping to acquire.
Could it be that both the Costa stalwarts might soon be reunited, and sailing under the British flag?
Like some fantastic, improbable sea monster rising from the depths of a deathless legend, a familiar shape is fast assuming solid form in a Chinese shipyard. A name at once suffused with horror, fascination and sheer, fatal glamour.
Now firmly under way in a part of China’s Sichuan province, construction of the static, full scale replica of the ill fated juggernaut is expected to be completed by 2019. And, unlike the bombast fuelled hype that surrounded Australian business man Clive Palmer’s moribund attempt at recreating the ship, this Titanic is very much in the realms of the here, the now, and the oh-so-real.
While all Palmer managed to achieve was laying down dinner plates in restaurants at a series of very fancy press launches, the actual keel plates of the ‘Floating Ritz’ are rising again, day by day, in China. The latest illustrations show construction cracking on at a rate of knots perhaps unseen since the fateful night of April 14th, 1912, as the original ship surged towards her nemesis.
While the replica Titanic will be the centre attraction of a massive, man made theme park, the owners have been very astute in securing the services of a world renowned team of Titanic experts to give the project both credibility, depth and expertise; something that Clive Palmer singularly failed to do.
The current project cost has been estimated at around £105 million, and will include the recreation of three hundred first class cabins, to be sold as hotel rooms. The original lavish, opulent interiors will reappear, in the exact scale and stance as those of 1912. There is talk that at least one boiler room will be recreated down in the bowels of the hull, and also possibly the engine room.
There will inevitably be those who cry indignation at any attempt to recreate the central component of such a notorious event as the Titanic disaster. But this ship will not be making any attempt to sail. And yet, paradoxically, this land locked colossus will, indeed, take people on a voyage of discovery back into the past.
For, in terms of interest and fascination, the genie has long been out of the bottle in connection with the Titanic and her story.You only have to look at the phenomenal success of the Titanic quarter in her former builder’s yard at Belfast, to realise just what awe, fascination and sheer sense of wonder are carried by those seven, simple letters. Those who decry the Chinese project are entitled to their point of view, but they are very much swimming against the tide of human curiosity.
In truth, the fateful voyage of Titanic has never actually ended. She has always continued to sail in the minds of men, racing heedlessly across the calm, starlit Atlantic towards her chilling rendezvous near midnight. It was- and still is- a story so staggering and implausible that not even the combined talents of Gene Rodenberry, Steven King and Jules Verne could have conjured up anything so fantastic as the real life events of April 14th-15th, 1912.
It seems to me that this actual, physical reincarnation of the Titanic could act as a kind of emotional lightning rod for those who continue to be fascinated by the ship, one that complements the stellar achievements still being rolled out at Titanic Belfast. And yes, I would have preferred to see the replica displayed in state at the place of her birth, but that’s not how the dice has rolled.
So I expect this now rapidly looming replica to arouse awe, appalled horror, and outright admiration in different people, according to their temperaments. But the point is that the original Titanic herself aroused exactly the same sentiments in many, and some of those even long before her eventual, aborted maiden voyage.
I continue to watch this project with fascination, and I know that I am far from alone.
The burgeoning expedition cruise ship circuit looks set to reach a new plateau next year with the introduction of the all suite, all inclusive new Scenic Eclipse. Purpose built for cruising to regions such as Antarctica and the Amazon, this new vessel pushes the boundaries in terms of sumptuous, on board amenities and sheer, personal indulgence.
Time was, you really had to be prepared to ‘rough it’ on an expedition ship to Antarctica. It was almost exclusively the preserve of chartered Russian ice breakers, hired by companies such as Quark. The vessels were as sturdy, uncompromising and yes, as spartan, as the incredible scenic smorgasbords that they pushed and crunched their way through. It’s safe to say that on board product delivery was not top of the bill on these ships, and equally safe to say that many loved them for that simple, no nonsense approach. They wore that perceived discomfort like a badge of honour.
My, how that will change….
Scenic Eclipse will carry just 228 passengers in all suite, all balcony accommodation, with a 1:1 crew ratio to match. When the ship is in Antarctica, passenger numbers will be limited to just 200. There will be no less than-count them- nine separate, all inclusive dining venues, and the ship will be completely all inclusive. There are indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs and, naturally, the Scenic Eclipse will carry her own helicopter, submarine for sightseeing under the ice, and an on board fleet of zodiac motor boats.
You’ll be able to scuba dive, or take specially prepared picnics ashore in some of the more temperate waters where the ship will cruise. You can take out a kayak or an e-bike, have unlimited wi-fi usage, and even have your clothes unpacked and repacked by your own, dedicated butler.
So, does all of this lavish indulgence (and I personally think that nine restaurants for a ship of this size and capacity is way over the top) mean that expedition cruising has ‘gone soft’? Will the exploits and memories of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen be decried by the prowling presence of the sort of ship previously associated with a particularly well heeled Bond villain?
I guess it depends where you stand, but to my mind, the answer is ‘no’. There is no written rule anywhere that expedition cruising has to be either uncomfortable, or almost puritan in its scope and intent. The notion of progress is hog wired into our very DNA, after all. And, for all his seafaring prowess and derring- do, I dare bet that Christopher Columbus would have found crossing the Atlantic far more pleasant on the Queen Mary 2 than on the doughty, plodding little Santa Maria. Thrill seeking need not automatically equate to lack of style or space. I am more than happy to survey the great, jagged, blush tinted ice floes of Antarctica up close and personal, as long as I can sit in a hot tub with a glass of something warm and reviving to hand.
Scenic Eclipse? Sounds more like a scenic sunrise to me. As always, stay tuned for updates.
In an obvious attempt to bowl over a legion of new fans to cruising (pun wholly intentional), Cruise and Maritime Voyages has arranged for a crack team of former international and test cricketers to join Magellan for her six night Medieval Cities and River Seine cruise from Tilbury on October 24th this year.
Leading the batting at a series of themed Q and A sessions will be such luminaries as David Gower, the former England captain; Chris Cowdrey, Alan Wells, John Lever, Ray East, Don Topley, and Ken McEwan. All things considered, quite a swathe of talent from the glory days of both Essex and Kent.
MC and umpire duties will be the responsibility of Nick Hancock, the former host of the long running They Think It’s All Over sports quiz show.
The six night sailing on Magellan is a coastal cities voyage, with calls at the classic trade centres of Amsterdam and Antwerp, plus a visit to Honfleur, the famous French fishing village famous for it’s associations with impressionist painters such as Monet and, as the highlight, an overnight stay in Rouen, a gorgeous, half timbered city remembered mainly as the site of Joan of Arc’s martyrdom in 1431.
Additionally, Magellan will serve up some splendid scenic river cruising, along the sixty mile expanse of the River Scheldt leading to Antwerp, and along the long, lazy sprawl of the River seine, en route back to Tilbury.
Travels With Anthony will be on board for the cruise, so expect more dispatches from the front closer to the time.
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