Tag Archives: p&o 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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CMV ADDS ANOTHER VESSEL TO FLEET FOR 2017

Columbus-edit-quarterside-web (1)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.