Tag Archives: costa cruises

CHANGING THE PLOT; WINTER CRUISING’S SHAKE UP

MARCO POLO
CMV’s popular Marco Polo is a veteran of the winter cruise circuit

Cruise ships and sunshine; the two go almost hand in hand in popular perception, just as they always have. Broad, sun splashed lido decks full of people soaking up the indolent seagoing lifestyle, has been at the heart of cruising’s grand, global pitch since the early 1920’s.

But that is now starting to change over the winter months…..

These days, many people are simply put off by the perennially overcrowded winter Caribbean cruise circuit, with it’s flotillas of vast, floating leviathans routinely descending on the same, cowed, cluster of islands. And the idea of flying long haul in advance certainly puts off many other people these days, too.

The result is that many cruise lines are now getting really creative with winter itineraries. And warm weather cruising-even in the depths of a European winter-is by no means the Holy Grail that it once was.

The Mediterranean is now a full on, year round cruising destination. Both MSC Cruises and Costa have a robust, year round presence in the seven to twelve day cruise markets in the region, with cruises that sail from Barcelona, Genoa and Venice, among others. Short flight times, together with much less crowded tourist sites, both make for quite impressive plus points. And, while the cooler temperatures may not fire everybody’s enthusiasm, the region in winter is still generally sunny, with clear visibility to boot.

Of course, the true, die hard sun worshippers can still set sail for the Canary Islands. You can neatly avoid the joys of a winter time Bay of Biscay buffeting by flying to join your ship at any one of a whole raft of Italian and Spanish embarkation ports, and then sailing from there. And many of those same ports also benefit from having frequent, good priced air lift from the UK and mainland Europe via a string of no frills, budget airlines.

Most unexpected, however, has been the slow but steady growth in winter cruising to the Baltic, North West Europe, and even Northern Norway. Round trip sailings from the UK on lines such as Cruise and Maritime Voyages, Fred. Olsen, P&O and even Cunard, can take you to some amazing, pre-Christmas market cities such as Copenhagen, Hamburg and Oslo. You can count on bitingly cold days that are still quite often blessed with amazing clear visibility. Crowds are much thinner, and you also get a much different, calmer take on cities than the crowds which flock to those same streets and squares in the long, light summer nights.

Another growth area is in cruises to witness the bone chilling, ethereal flourish of the Northern Lights, the spectacular natural panorama that quite literally lights up the skies of North West Norway during the long winter months. Both Fred. Olsen Cruises and Cruise and Maritime Voyages have found these cruises to be slow but consistent growers over the winter season.

Growing numbers of people each year are now more willing than ever to eschew that once mandatory winter sun tan for a raft of more eclectic, arcane adventures at sea. The convenience of home port departures, coupled with good pricing and fuelled by simple, neatly tailored marketing, has created a series of natty, nicely packaged travel options for the winter that are guaranteed to pique the curiosity of today’s most avid cruising fans.

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COSTA NEOCLASSICA TO JOIN BAHAMAS PARADISE CRUISE LINE

COSTA NEOCLASSICA
COSTA NEOCLASSICA. Photo credit: http://www.cruisemapper.com

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.

As ever, stay tuned for updates.

COSTA NEOCLASSICA GETS NEW ITINERARY FOR 2017

neoclassicatop
Costa NeoClassica as originally built

Costa Cruise’s 1991 built Costa NeoClassica returns to the Mediterranean in 2017 to sail on a new, week long itinerary from the Italian port of Bari, on the heel of southern Italy.

Commencing on May 13th and running through until September 30th, this new itinerary sees the 1991 built ship calling in at Corfu, Heraklion in Crete, plus a call in Santorini lasting until midnight, and an overnight stay in Mykonos on each sailing.

Originally built by Fincantieri as the Costa Classica, the ship-along with her near twin sister, Costa NeoRomantica – were said at the time to be the most expensive cruise ships ever built. In 2014, the ship was restyled as the Costa NeoClassica and subjected to some extensive rebuilding to prepare her for a role on longer, moire destination intensive itineraries.

She sailed on several Indian Ocean and China bound cruises, seemingly with great success. Hence, her return to short, seven night cruises comes as something of a surprise.

That said, the late stays in Santorini, not to mention the overnight calls in famously hedonistic Mykonos, should prove immensely popular. Plus, the opportunity to embark in an Italian port as far south as Bari, puts the ship almost right in the centre of the Aegean itself on each sailing.

Interesting times, for sure. As ever, stay tuned.