Voyage to Antiquity in the Aegean Odyssey: A Cruise and Ship Review by GordonTurner

Earlier this month, Gordon Turner, a client of  The Cruise People Ltd in Toronto, took a cruise from Rome to Venice in the Aegean Odyssey. Here he recounts his journey:-

Where to begin? Well, the logical place is arriving in Rome. At Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport the meet-and-greet service functioned properly and before long I was aboard a coach for the journey to my hotel. The route took us through some of Rome’s most historic areas and, in fact, it took about 1 hour 30 minutes from the airport to the Hotel Visconti Palace where I stayed for the next two nights. Most, if not all, Voyages to Antiquity journeys include a land-based component either prior to the cruise or immediately after. The Visconti Palace hotel was modern and efficient, and my room was ready without any waiting period. The word “Palace” in the hotel’s title seemed a little excessive, but there was no doubt that it was an entirely satisfactory location for the next two days. Breakfast was included, and for other meals there were several restaurants nearby in addition to the hotel’s open-air restaurant on the seventh floor.

Voyages to Antiquity takes its name seriously. The itineraries are destination driven and the rich history of the Mediterranean forms the basis of every shore excursion. My journey, titled “The grand object of all travel is to see the shores of the Mediterranean,” a quotation by Dr. Samuel Johnson, was to take me from Rome to Venice, with 12 days aboard Aegean Odyssey but only one full day at sea. The first two days in Rome, though, included tours each morning, one to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon, and the other to the Colosseum and the Forum, followed by a coach journey of about 40 miles to Civitavecchia, the port from which the ship departed. Rome itself is some miles from the sea and it does not have its own port. The nearest one of any size is at Civitavecchia …


Gordon Turner is the author of “Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific’s Greatest Ship.”

For further details on cruises in the Aegean Odyssey with Voyages to Antiquity please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 27th June 2011: “Back to the 30’s” – Tomorrow’s Cruise Ships Will Be More Crowded – Other News: Royal Caribbean Fights Back Down Under – Greece Gets Expensive

by Kevin Griffin

“Back to the 30’s” – Tomorrow’s Cruise Ships Will Be More Crowded – Other News: Royal Caribbean Fights Back Down Under – Greece Gets Expensive

CruiseMates’s Paul Motter seems to be the first to have pointed out the obvious in an article in Fox Business last week – that the passenger space ratio on the new ships on order for NCL, Princess and Royal Caribbean is going to be less than in existing ships. In the case of NCL and Royal Caribbean’s ships, on order at Meyer Werft, they will have almost 8% less space per passenger, and in the case of the Princess ships, being built at Fincantieri, a full 16.5% less than the Diamond Princess. Elsewhere, we look at the major cruise line battle developing Down Under and some comments on the cost of cruise lines doing business in Greece.


“Back to the 30′s” – Tomorrow’s Cruise Ships Will Be More Crowded

In an article in Fox Business last Friday entitled “Next Generation Cruise Ships Might Not Be the Best,” Paul Motter pointed out a rather interesting thing about the new cruise ships now under construction for the major lines, and something that no one else seems to have noticed as yet – but they will have less space than their immediate predecessors.


The Cruise People Ltd – Coming Up On Its 20th Year Of Selling Sea Travel In The UK

As we sign a new lease on our premises in London’s West End this weekend, it occurs to us that we are coming up on our 20th year of operating in the UK. And as of yesterday, fifteen of those years have been spent in the offices above, at 88 York Street, in a graceful Georgian terrace that dates back to 1790 in the Marylebone area of London.

When The Cruise People Ltd first opened in London in 1992, it was around the corner in Seymour Place. Having agreed with the company of the same name in Toronto to be able to use that name in the UK, we incorporated it under the laws of England and Wales. The Toronto company was the first cruise specialist agency in Canada when it opened in 1972, and is coming up on its own fortieth anniversary next year.

So what have we been doing in all those years? Just as we started, we are still Specialists in Sea Travel. But while we would sell anything in those early years – 228,728 UK residents took a cruise in the year we opened – now that that number has risen to 1.65 million we specialise in certain specific products – Ultra-Luxury Cruising, Expedition Voyages, Small Ships and Freighter Travel – as well as general retail and wholesale sales of cruise products. And as 40% of our business comes from outside the UK, we operate bank accounts in all of Sterling, Euros and US Dollars.

For fifteen years we have also been the European representative of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition and for ten years the General Passenger Agent for the Polish Steamship Co‘s Transatlantic service to the Great Lakes.

People sometimes ask so why don’t we tell you that the logo used by both the UK and Canadian companies is a silhouette of one of  the last quartet of ocean liners built by Cunard Line for its St Lawrence River service to Quebec and Montreal. It is a fitting choice as these four ships, the Saxonia, Ivernia, Carinthia and Sylvania, maintained an important link between the UK and Canada, where our two offices are located.

So for any type of cruise, but particularly the hard-to-find niche products, please feel free to give us a call in London at +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail us at If you’re in London and would like to visit our office the closest Underground stations are Baker Street, Marylebone and Edgware Road.

CMA CGM’s French West Indies Line Still Operates Transatlantic Passenger Sailings All Year Round

Everyone knows the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 operates a long-standing Transatlantic passenger service. But few know that there is another Transatlantic service, also descended from one of the big names of the North Atlantic trade, that still continues to trade, week in week out all year long. That line, today known as the French West Indies Line, is operated by the French container line CMA CGM as successors to Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, otherwise known as the French Line, which began serving this route 150 years ago, in 1862.

Until about forty years ago, a full passenger service was maintained by ocean liners such as the 19,828-ton Antilles, shown here, the last to be built for the route, in 1952. Note the electric cranes forward, for handling cargo. Ships built for the service in subsequent years were at first cargo liners and then container ships,but  all have continued to carry passengers. The Antilles lasted until 1971, when she grounded off Mustique.

A second generation of  four container ships was built for the French West Indies Line to maintain a weekly service connecting the French ports of Dunkirk, Rouen, Le Havre and Montoir with Fort-de-France in Martinique and Pointe-â-Pitre in Guadeloupe. The full round voyage takes 28 days, although one-way and stopover fares are also available.

The four ships in question, the CMA CGM Fort St Georges, Fort St Louis, Fort St Pierre and Fort Ste Marie, are 28,000 tons deadweight carrying capacity, built in 2003, and each accommodates twelve passengers, the maximum that can be carried by a cargo ship without a doctor. Passengers are accommodated in an owners cabin and four twin cabins, each of about 195 sq ft, and two single cabins of about 155 sq ft. Each ship is also equipped with a passenger lounge, a gymnasium and an outdoor swimming pool.

CMA CGM Fort St Louis departing Montoir with cargo and up to twelve passengers for the French West Indies.


For more details of passenger voyages in CMA CGM container ships please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 20th June 2011: Costa Cruises: The Biggest In Europe With Worldwide Itineraries – Other Cruise News: Charleston Residents Sue Carnival Cruise Lines – Europe Generated 5.5 Million Cruisers in 2010

by Kevin Griffin

Costa Cruises: The Biggest In Europe With Worldwide Itineraries – Other Cruise News: Charleston Residents Sue Carnival Cruise Lines  – Europe Generated 5.5 Million Cruisers in 2010

With the impending christening of the 114,500-ton 3,800-guest Costa Favolosa in Trieste next week, an event that is being tied in to the 150th Anniversary of Italian unification, it is worth having a look at the Costa Cruises Group. With its Aida and Iberocruceros branches in Germany and Spain it is now by far the largest cruise operator in Europe. We also take a look at why some people in Charleston have decided to sue Carnival Cruise Lines for basing a ship in their port. And the European Cruise Council confirmed last week that the European cruise market numbered 5.5 million in 2012, accounting for 30% of the global market.


Detroit Opens A New Cruise Terminal For Great Lakes Cruising

Later this month, the Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority will open its new Public Dock and Terminal, to be called Port Detroit. This new $22 million facility will be available for use by cruise ships, visiting naval vessels, tall ships and perhaps even by a new ferry service to Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River in Canada. The last ferries disappeared with the opening of the present bridge.
Part of a 5½-mile redevelopment of the whole Detroit waterfront, called River Walk, in addition to customs and border patrol facilities for the clearance of incoming cruise ships the 30,000-square foot Public Dock and Terminal will house new offices for the port authority.

The Grande Mariner, owned by Blount Small Ship Adventures, seen here in the Detroit River

Blount Small Ship Adventures will be the terminal’s first cruise customer, with its 96-berth Grande Mariner making two calls next month. Blount have introduced two new itineraries recently, between New York and Toronto and between Toronto and Georgian Bay. Another cruise line newcomer, Travel Dynamics International of New York, is planning six departures and six arrivals at Detroit between June and September of 2012 with their 138-guest US-flag Yorktown, handling a dozen passenger lists to and from Chicago, Duluth and Quebec City. The Yorktown (below) was last in the Great Lakes when she worked for Clipper Cruise Lines as the Yorktown Clipper .

And there will be others. The largest ship to cruise the Great Lakes in recent years has been Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 14,903-ton Columbus, which first came into the Great Lakes in 1997. In 2012, she will be taken over by Plantours & Partner of Bremen, to become their MS Hamburg and it is hoped that she will return to the Great Lakes under her new name in 2013. Two other operators from Europe have also been examining the Great Lakes as a new destination for them.
To learn more about cruising in the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Ocean Liner Society Chooses Croisières de France and its Horizon for its 2012 Group Cruise, Departing Marseilles 27th May

In 2010, the Ocean Liner Society chose Croisières de France and its 37,301-ton Bleu de France (delivered in 1982 as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ previous Europa) for its annual group cruise. This “all-inclusive” cruise proved such a success that in 2012 the Society is returning to Croisières de France to sample its latest ship, the 46,811-ton Horizon, the first new ship to be built for Celebrity Cruises in 1990.

The 2012 cruise will take the “Tutti Frutti” itinerary, departing Marseilles on Sunday, 27th May for Portofino, Rome, Salerno, Trapani and Valetta, with a full day spent at sea before returning to Marseilles.

Celebrity Cruises was formed by Chandris Cruises in April 1988 in order to fulfil a new cruise contract it had negotiated with the Government of Bermuda. As well as acquiring the Italian liner Galilio Galileo, which it rebuilt in 1988/89 and renamed Meridian, Celebrity built two new ships specifically for the Bermuda run. These were the sister ships Horizon of 1990 and the Zenith of 1992. The Horizon‘s initial run was the weekly service between New York and Bermuda, serving both St George’s, on the islands’ east end, and Hamilton. Regular service between New York and Hamilton had been started as far back as 1864 by the Quebec Steamship Co Ltd, which was taken over in 1919 by the Furness Bermuda Line, and which in turn lasted until 1966.

In 1997, Celebrity Cruises was bought by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and the newer and larger ships of the Century and Millenium classes were introduced, eventually making the Horizon the smallest ship in the fleet. In 2005, the Horizon was allocated to a new joint venture with TUI Group called Island Cruises, taking on the new name of Island Star. When Royal Caribbean withdrew from Island Cruises, she rejoined her sister ship Zenith at Royal Caribbean-controlled Pullmantur Cruises in Spain and was again renamed, this time as Pacific Dream. Now having reverted to her original name, Horizon will join Pullmantur’s French-based cruise operation Croisières de France in the spring of 2012 to replace the Bleu de France, which has been sold to Saga Cruises to become the Saga Sapphire.

OLS group fares are valid for a minimum number of double cabins, and there is a limited number of category DE and DI cabins available for singles with no single supplement provided enough doubles are booked. Bookings can be made through the OLS group agent The Cruise People Ltd in London.

2012 Horizon fares compare very well with Bleu de France fares in 2010 as lead-in prices are lower – €510 per person for an inside cabin compared to €585 in 2010 and €630 per person for an outside cabin compared to €850 in 2010.

While fares are all-inclusive of passage, full board, port charges and drinks, spirits, wine and beer in the dining rooms and bars on board, a service charge of €65 per person for gratuities will be added to your on board account.

Itinerary                                                       Arrive             Depart
MARSEILLE                                                                                17.00
PORTOFINO  (Santa Margherita)                09.00                18.00
ROME  (Civitavecchia)                                   08.00                19.00
SALERNO                                                        08.00                19.00
TRAPANI                                                          08.00                19.00
MALTA (Valletta)                                              09.00                17.00
AT SEA                                                                         (sea day)
MARSEILLE                                                      08.00        

Ocean Liner Society Group Rates – Horizon 27th May 2012
(Fares are cruise-only and include port charges of €175)
Category Brochure 120-day OLS Group
 Fares are in Euros € Fare (1) Fare (2) Fare (3)
DI Discovery Inside €725 €560 €510
HI Horizon Inside 825 630 570
DE Discovery Outside 925 700 630
HE Horizon Outside 1125 840 755
C Comfort Outside 1325 980 880
P Prestige Outside 1525 1120 995
PB Prestige with Balcony 1685 1232 1095
JS Junior Suite €1785 €1302 €1145
JB Junior Balcony Suite 1925 1400 1235
S Royal Suite 2125 1540 1355
SB Royal Balcony Suite 2325 1680 1480
(1) The above fares are cruise only per person in double occupancy and do not include service charge of €65, which is added to your account on board  (CDF published brochure fares are thus €65 higher than brochure fares shown here).
(2) For bookings made prior to 120 days before departure.
(3) OLS Group fares include no single supplement on a limited number of cabins in Categories DI and DE, provided the minimum number of double cabins is booked. Note: This allocation is now sold out, but we are able to offer a lump sum single supplement of €275 on any grade, subject to availability.
A deposit of 25% will confirm a reservation and penalties for cancellation by the passenger are as follows:
More than 90 days before departure: € 90
61-90 days before departure: 25% of the fare amount
30-60 days before departure: 50% of the fare amount
Fewer than 30 days before departure: 100% of the fare amount
Members of the general public can qualify to travel on this cruise by joining the Ocean Liner Society. Membership is £20 in the UK, £23 in Europe and £25 in the rest of the world. As well as the opportunity of joining OLS group cruises, this includes a subscription to their 48-page quarterly journal, Sea Lines. Further details can be found at
For further information and availability for this cruise please contact The Cruise People Ltd at 020 7723 2450, Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail

Crossing The Pacific By Cargo Ship Without Need Of A US Visa

Here is a way for world travellers wanting to travel from the Far East  to North America by cargo ship to eliminate the need to obtain the full US visa that is required to enter the United States by this method. To avoid the cost, time and hassle of having to go for a personal interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in order to obtain that visa, simply book passage to Canada instead.

After leaving the Far East the NSB-owned Hanjin Amsterdam, Hanjin Brussels, Hanjin Geneva and Hanjin Ottawa sail directly to Canada, where you can disembark at the brand-new container port of Prince Rupert. Once in Canada, non-North Americans can either fly into the US or cross the land border, where formalities do not require the full US visa that is required to enter on a cargo ship (the main reason for this is that, unlike the cruise lines and airlines, cargo ship owners are not signatory to the visa waiver program). Meanwhile, once finished in Prince Rupert, the ships proceed south to Seattle and Portland before turning and heading back to the Far East again from Vancouver. Passenger sailings take place about twice monthly.

Kwangyang / Ningpo / Shanghai / Pusan / Prince Rupert

m/v HANJIN AMSTERDAM and sisters  (1 Owners Cabin and 1 Double Cabin, each 320 sq ft with separate living room and bedroom on Deck F, and 1 Single Cabin of 195 sq ft on Deck E). Maximum 5 passengers, swimming pool, 68,800 tons each. Fares are €85 per day for the single and €90 per person per day for the Owners or Double (€105 per day for sole use). Port charges and deviation insurance are extra.

Route: Kwangyang – Ningpo – Shanghai (Yangshan) – Pusan – Prince Rupert .

The Far East to Vancouver trade was once served by the famous Canadian Pacific Trans-Pacific Empresses, of which the first three were built in 1891 and the last, the Empress of Japan, in 1930. The prime route then was from Hong Kong and Yokohama.

For further information on crossing the Pacific by container ship please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

prime route from the

The Cruise Examiner for 13th June 2011: Cruise Passengers Welcome on m.v. Explorer’s Semester At Sea – Other Cruise News: Two Expedition Ships Carry New Colours – Prince Philip Turns 90

by Kevin Griffin

Cruise Passengers Welcome on m.v. Explorer’s Semester At Sea – Other Cruise News: Two Expedition Ships Carry New Colours – Prince Philip Turns 90

And now for something totally different. We look at two cruises that are being offered to the public on Semester at Sea’s 24,318-ton world cruiser m.v. Explorer, which offers two world cruises a year as well as a number of shorter enrichment voyages, on which passengers may book as well as university students. And we look at two expedition ships, the Orion II and Hanseatic, which both left port on Friday under new colours. Finally, Prince Philip turned 90 on Friday and we have a look back at his maritime background, which has included yet another kind of cruising.


Orion II Sets Off On Maiden Voyage From Vancouver / Will Be Replaced On The Great Lakes in 2012

Australian-based Orion Expedition Cruises’ new Orion II leaves Vancouver today on her 24-night maiden voyage to Otaru, Japan, in Hokkaido. Along the way she will make calls at several ports in Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, Russia’s Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. With her 64-person crew serving only 100 guests, this gives her one of the highest guest-to-crew ratios in the industry.

During 2010, the Orion II was operated by Travel Dynamics of New York, as the Clelia II (she was named after Clelia Haji-Ioannou, Stelios’s sister) on a summer-long season of Great Lakes cruises between Toronto and Duluth. The Orion herself, the ship Orion II joins in the Orion Expedition Cruises fleet, also operated summer cruises in the Great Lakes, so this is the second time that Orion Expedition Cruises have “nicked” a cruise ship from the Great Lakes.

All is not lost, however, as Travel Dynamics will soon be announcing another cruise ship for the Great Lakes in 2012, with a capacity for 130 passengers, or about a third more than the previous two ships. Details will follow shortly.

Fore more details on Orion Expedition Cruises, Travel Dynamics, small ship cruising,  or cruising the Great Lakes please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 6th June 2011: A Big Issue: On Board Revenue – Other Cruise News: A Revival In Two-Funnelled Ships – Royal Caribbean Shareholder Sammy Ofer Dies At 89

by Kevin Griffin

A Big Issue: On Board Revenue – Other Cruise News: A Revival In Two-Funnelled Ships – Royal Caribbean Shareholder Sammy Ofer Dies At 89

While US-based cruise lines are offering fares of $399 or even $349 for a week in the Med this month, it is worth looking at how much cruisers are spending on board. At fare levels like these, it could easily come to more than the original amount of the fare.Read more below but the moral of this story is don’t eliminate a cruise line on the basis that it is too expensive. As of next year all the top lines will be all-inclusive so remember to add at least 40% or 50% to the fare you’re quoted on any line that is not all-inclusive before you do your comparison. Then count the number of lower berths above 1,000 on the bigger ship and subtract $100 from the more expensive fare for each 500 beds above that mark (for crowding) and you will have a much better comparison.