Tag Archives: astoria

CRUISE AND MARITIME VOYAGES TO SAIL FROM FOURTEEN UK PORTS IN 2018

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The veteran Marco Polo, a mainstay of the 2018 Cruise and Maritime Voyages programme. Photo by Anthony Nicholas

In what amounts to the most ambitious programme of regional cruises ever offered by a mainland British cruise operator, Cruise and Maritime Voyages will offer departures from no less than fourteen UK departure ports aboard five different ships for the 2018 season.

Line voyages to and from South Africa and Australia for the premium range Astor begin and end in Tilbury, as does the entire  2018 season of cruises offered by new flagship, Columbus, currently on line for a scheduled UK debut in June of 2017.

New to the 2018 programme is a series of seven cruises, departing from both Portsmouth and Poole aboard the retained Astoria. This series of cruises extends the programme for the former, 1948 built Stockholm right through until almost the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, fleet mainstays, Magellan and the veteran Marco Polo will offer a series of regional departures from around the UK on itineraries ranging from two to fifteen nights, plus the occasional overnight, repositioning mini cruise.

The full list of UK departure ports is: Belfast, Bristol (both from the port and Avonmouth), Cardiff, Dundee, Greenock for Glasgow, Harwich, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle Port of Tyne, Newport, Poole, Portsmouth, Rosyth for Edinburgh, and London Tilbury.

It is also worth noting that the company provides many coach links that coincide with sailings from their various ports around the United Kingdom, making for easy connections with all the different cruises on offer.

In the main, Cruise and Maritime Voyages sail to Norway, the Baltic, Greenland and Spitzbergen, plus the Canary Islands in peak season. Shoulder season sees some attractive, short European coastal and city cruises, with winter heralding a series of short Christmas market jaunts. There is also a handful of cruises that take in the stunning, winter time Norwegian Lights.

The CMV fleet is, for the most part intimate, adult’s only ships, though some high season sailings aboard the new flagship Columbus will offer some child friendly sailings for 2017.

Early year sailings now include a mammoth, round the world circuit from Tilbury, an exotic Caribbean round trip, and an extensive itinerary that embraces the highlights of the Amazon.

IS THIS THE END FOR ASTORIA?

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CMV’s Astoria is leaving the fleet in 2017

Cruise and Maritime Voyages has formally announced that the Astoria, which began life in 1948 as the Swedish built Stockholm, will be leaving the fleet at the end of a 2017 charter to  a French company.

The ship- the oldest surviving cruise ship in the world- will operate a short season of cruises for CMV between March and the end of April, 2017 before embarking on her French charter. No future buyer has been announced.

The loss of Astoria from the CMV portfolio is not so surprising, given that a new flagship- the 63, 786 ton, 1400 passenger Columbus– is scheduled to enter service from Tilbury next June,

Though much speculation is already placing Astoria as being on a final, one way course to the scrapyard, this might not necessarily be the case. With the exception of her original, riveted hull, the entire ship was rebuilt over 1993-1994. Though technically sixty eight years old, almost everything on board is actually of 1994 vintage, and the ship is in astonishingly good condition. It is just possible that she might be picked up by another company.

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The Andrea Doria at speed on the Atlantic

In any event, this extraordinary ship has had a career that baffles the imagination. It is now just a little short of the sixtieth anniversary of the loss of the Andrea Doria on July 25th, 1956, after the as was then Stockholm rammed the Italian liner in thick fog off Nantucket.

As the last surviving, in service vessel of the original Swedish American Line, the Stockholm holds a special place in the hearts of maritime historians and ship lovers alike. It is pretty certain that her few remaining cruises will sell out quite quickly.

ASTORIA RETURNS TO CMV AFTER REFIT

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CMV’s Astoria returns to service later this month

Cruise and and Maritime Voyages’ Astoria (the renamed Azores) is set to leave Greece for the UK today after her winter lay up in Piraeus.

The 16, 144 ton, 550 passenger Astoria began life in 1948 as the Swedish American liner Stockholm, and became world famous in 1956 after being involved in a collision off Nantucket with the Italian liner, Andrea Doria. The latter subsequently foundered with the loss of fifty six lives. Three people were killed on the then Stockholm.

Back to the present; prior to going on charter to a French company, the popular Astoria will operate some five ex-UK sailings to and from Bristol’s dedicated cruise port of Avonmouth.

These begin on March 21st, with a seven night sailing to Scotland and Ireland. On March 28th, Astoria embarks on a fifteen night swing out to the islands of the Azores, as well as Madeira. This cusp of spring cruise is particularly attractive.

April 12th will see the ship embark on a nine night cruise around the British Isles, returning to Bristol on the 21st to sail on another nine night cruise, this one a Scottish Islands and Faeroes adventure.

The final spring sailing takes the form of yet another nine night cruise, this one taking in the magnificent Norwegian fjords. On this particular cruise, the relatively small size of Astoria enables her to get ‘up close and personal’ to the stunning natural scenery in a way that no big ship can.

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The Andrea Doria at speed on the Atlantic

Astoria will inevitably be the centre of much attention this year, it being the sixtieth anniversary of that fateful, fog shrouded collision off Nantucket. As such, this handful of 2016 cruises represents a unique opportunity to voyage in a small, intimately scaled time capsule with a storied past, and a whole host of modern comforts.

Definitely worthy of consideration, methinks.