The Cruise Examiner for 30th January 2012: Goodbye Los Angeles, Seattle & New York, Hello Miami, Vancouver and Barcelona – Other Cruise News: Royal Caribbean and Xiamen Cruise Ship – Weddings on UK-Flag Ships – Lyubov Orlova Finally Sold

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 30th January 2012

A big change in its 2013 itineraries was announced last week when Disney Cruise Line said it would move its Disney Wonder from her present Los Angeles base at the end of 2012 to Miami, while at the same time dropping Seattle in 2013 in order to return to her original Alaska cruise base at Vancouver. As well, the Disney Magic, which is due to cruise from New York this summer, will return to Europe in 2013, where she will cruise the Mediterranean. Elsewhere, as Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas prepares to cruise from Shanghai this year, Royal Caribbean continues its involvement as an advisor to China World Cruises. Back in the UK, shipping minister Mike Penning is investigating how weddings at sea could yet be offered on British ships. And the former Russian ship Lyubov Orlova is said to be sold to Caribbean buyers after sixteen months’ detention at St John’s, Newfoundland.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)

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MS Europa in The Sunday Times, 29th January 2012 – Simply the Best!

When cruising’s most feared critic, Douglas Ward, recently awarded the title of best ship in the world to the Europa, it didn’t make any headlines. Why? Because it’s the 12th time he’s done it. In 12 years. “I know it’s boring, but it’s simply unmatched,” Ward says. He’s right. It’s all in the detail: the cuisine is outstanding (there’s even a restaurant from the superchef Dieter Müller), the service is attentive (they’ll spray you with Evian to keep you cool by the pool), the decor tasteful and the ambience supremely civilised. And it isn’t even that expensive. A six-day cruise from Nice to Malta, departing on May 20, starts at £1,930, full board, through Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. EasyJet flies to both Nice and Malta.

For further details please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

The Cruise Examiner for 23rd January 2012: New Small Ship Cruise Services in the South Pacific – Other Cruise News: The Keewatin is Prepared for her Homecoming

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 23rd January 2012

As ships get larger and larger it is pleasing to see new small ship services opening up at the other end of the size scale, two of which in the South Pacific have recently come to the attention of The Cruise Examiner. A new organisation called Pacific Schooners has been formed to offer 7, 14 and 22-day cruises around the Cook Islands in the 30-passenger saili-assisted Tiare Taporo, which has recently been converted from a Grand Banks side trawler. Further to the south, a company called Island Escape Small Ship Cruising, now offers 5- and 6-night cruises in Vanuatu, Tonga and New Zealand’s Bay of Islands in the 24-passenger catamaran Island Passage. Further north, on the Great Lakes, the new owners of the former Canadian Pacific passenger ship Keewatin are preparing to have her towed from Douglas, Michigan, were she has spent the past forty-five years as a museum ship, to her old home port of Port McNicoll, Ontario, on Georgian Bay, where she is to become the centrepiece of a new resort development, and possibly a new cruise ship port as well.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)

Plans for the s.s. Keewatin Come Together as She is Readied for Her June Tow to Become the Centrepiece of a New Resort Community at Port McNicoll on Canada’s Georgian Bay

Photograph of s.s. Keewatin and dredging equipment at Douglas, Michigan, courtesy of Eric Conroy at the s.s. Keewatin Project

And now for a happier story than the recent Costa cruise ship tragedy and tales of a Shakespearian captain.  What you are looking at here is the 105-year-old former Canadian Pacific Great Lakes passenger ship Keewatin.  At 3,856 gross tons and with dimensions of 350 x 44 feet, she has just been rescued from an uncertain future to become the centrepiece of a new resort development at her old Georgian Bay home port of Port McNicoll, Ontario.

The Keewatin is shown at Douglas, Michigan, near Saugatuck, where she has been used as a maritime museum for the past forty-five years. She has been shorn of her lifeboats in order to lighten ship for a scheduled June tow from Douglas to Port McNicoll. In the foreground is the dredging equipment that was hired to cut the channel from Douglas that will free her. The Edwardian steamship was lying in a bed of mud until December 2011, when she was finally floated again, and after inspection  was said to be in marvellous condition.

This dredging, which is being paid for by the ship’s new owners Skyline International Development Inc, will also open up the dock at Douglas to small cruise ships such as Travel Dynamics’ 2,354-ton Yorktown, 257 x 43 feet, which is scheduled to call at nearby Saugatuck several times this year on her cruises between Detroit and Chicago. The Yorktown has a passenger capacity of 138, compared to Keewatin‘s 288 when she was in service between 1908 and 1965.  For those wishing to cruise the Great Lakes in 2012, the Yorktown will be offering a total of thirteen 7, 10, 11 and 14-night cruises, with fares from $3,995 for seven nights, including the cruise, all port charges, lectures, shore excursions and wine with lunch and dinner.

When she returns, the Keewatin, shown here at Port McNicoll during her days of regular service between Georgian Bay and Lake Superior, will become a floating community centre and centrepiece for Port McNicoll’s renaissance. Plans are to build a new resort hotel and condominiums and rebuild the old dockside railway station to its original plans. On board, Keewatin will also feature a museum on her main deck and a kind of market in her old main cargo deck, which in her last years was used to carry about forty cars. This will also be made available for community functions. Berthed very near to her old berth, from which she used to sail from every Wednesday for Sault Ste Marie, Port Arthur and Fort William (the last two now called Thunder Bay), the ship will become the hub of what has until now been a sleepy Ontario town.

Just this month Skyline has also acquired a set of vintage railway rolling stock to become part of the scene. The port, with deep water, will naturally be seeking to attract a certain amount of cruise ship trade, and with an attraction such as the Keewatin will be well equipped to do so.

For more information on either the s.s. Keewatin or how to book a Great Lakes cruise in the m.v. Yorktown please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

The Cruise Examiner for 16th January 2012: Costa Concordia: The Loss of a 114,147-ton Cruise Ship – Other Cruise News: The IMO’s New 2010 Passenger Ship Safety Regulations

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 16th January 2012

This image of Costa Concordia is courtesy of Wikipedia

The loss of the Costa Concordia off the Italian island of Giglio on Friday the 13th has kept our media busy over the weekend as more than 4,200 passengers and crew were rescued from a cruise ship that ultimately capsized. Not long after leaving Rome’s port of Civitavecchia, the ship hit underwater rocks and took a 160-foot gash in her port side below the waterline. At last report, there were six dead and fourteen missing in the sinking’s aftermath. Now is thus a good time to have a look at the International Maritime Organization’s new rules for passenger ship safety. These rules apply to newly-built ships, which are meant to be designed with the capability of returning to port or making the nearest port in the event of a major casualty, fire or loss of power, so that evacuation would not be necessary. These new rules have been brought about because of the large number of ships that, like the Costa Concordia, have been built in recent years to carry between 4,000 and 7,000 souls. Unlike the Costa Concordia, therefore, newly-built cruise ships will be designed to become their own lifeboat.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)

The Ocean Liner Society’s 2012 Cruise with Croisières de France and its new Horizon – Sunday, 27th May 2012, 7 nights from Marseilles

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’ last Europa) for its annual group cruise. The “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 depart from 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 as an upmarket division of Chandris Cruises in April 1988 in order to fulfil a new cruise contract it had negotiated with the Government of Bermuda to replace Home Lines. As well as acquiring the Italian liner Galilio Galileo, which it rebuilt in 1988/89 and renamed Meridian, Celebrity built two sister ships specifically for the Bermuda run. These were the 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, 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. But apply now while there is still space. There is only four months before sailing.

The 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.

Daily Itinerary

Depart MARSEILLES 17:00 hrs Sunday 27th May 2012

PORTOFINO (Santa Margherita) from 09:00 to 18:00 Monday

ROME (Civitavecchia) from 08:00 to 19:00 Tuesday

SALERNO from 08:00 to 19:00 Wednesday

TRAPANI from 08:00 to 19:00 Thursday

MALTA (Valletta) from 09:00 to 17:00 Friday

ALL DAY SATURDAY AT SEA

Arrive MARSEILLES 08:00 hrs Sunday 3rd June 2012 

Ocean Liner Society Group Fares – Horizon 27th May 2012

(Fares are cruise-only and include port charges of €175)

 
Tutti Frutti 27 May 2012

Brochure Fare (1)

Early Booking (2)

OLS Group (3)

Category

Euros

Euros

Euros

DI Discovery Inside  

 €725

€566

€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

Suites

JS Junior Suite

€1785

€1302

€1145

JB Junior Balcony Suite

€1925

€1400

€1235

S Royal Suite

€2125

€1540

€1355

S Royal Balcony Suite

€2325

€1680

€1480

(1) Fares are cruise only per person in double occupancy and do not include service charge of €65, which is added to your on board account [Croisières de France published brochure fares are €65 higher than 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 31 days before departure: Euros 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 www.ocean-liner-society.com.

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 cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

The Cruise Examiner for 9th January 2012: American Cruise Agency Franchisors Expand to the UK – Other Cruise News: Two Carnival Corp & PLC Ships In For Emergency Drydockings Before World Cruises

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 9th January 2012

The Costa Deliziosa “cruises” into Chantier Naval de Marseilles on 19th December – photograph © Ann Haynes

While there have been UK-based cruise agency franchise operations in the past, with one of the most successful being Fred. Olsen Travel affiliate GO Cruise, the Americans are now coming to the UK. Within the past year, two large US cruise franchise operators, Cruise Holidays and Cruise One, have each announced their intention to expand into the UK market. For more on this story continue to THIS WEEK’S STORY
.

Meanwhile, in two unrelated incidents, two ships owned by Carnival Corp & PLC lines had to go for emergency drydockings prior to setting out on their world cruises this year.The pre-Christmas season started out with a surprise for those booked onto the Costa Deliziosa’s December 18 cruise from Savona to Naples, Tunis and Ajaccio.  Two days before the 92,720-ton ship was due to sail, passengers were advised that she needed to go for an emergency drydocking at Marseilles before departing on her world cruise on December 28.

The ship then offered to take her passengers on board and cater for them from the dry dock in Marseilles, where they would be given courtesy shore tours. Those who did not want to go were offered a full refund and a 20% reduction on a future Costa cruise. And those who were game to go on this “drydocking cruise” were offered the cruise if they wanted to proceed, plus a full refund and a 20% reduction on another Costa cruise.

Surprisingly, 2,000 passengers decided to take the “drydocking cruise” to Marseilles and as she can carry 2,260 in lower berths this was a pretty full load. After an overnight run from Savona, the ship entered the Chantier Naval de Marseilles dry dock on the 19th and left it again on the 21st, with the emergency work completed, for Savona.

The bars were open and the shows went on and from reports from those on board everyone seems to have had a good time. From one of our own customers we had a note: “The passengers were very happy. It makes one wonder whether destinations are necessary in cruises!” Another passenger, Ann Haynes, has kindly provided us with this week’s photograph of the Costa Deliziosa “cruising” into dry dock. We are also pleased to be able to bring you Ann’s illustrated account of the “drydocking cruise” at her own blog, here at Haynes World.

Costa Deliziosa eventually departed Savona on schedule on her first world cruise, a 99-day voyage, and Costa’s first  in seventeen years, on December 28, on a cruise that was sold out. She will return to Savona on April 16.

Meanwhile, P&O Cruises’ 30,277-ton Adonia arrived yesterday at the A&P shipyard at Falmouth for unscheduled emergency repairs before starting her own 87-day “South American Adventure” world cruise next Friday. A&P must make the necessary repairs in four days flat, as, unfortunately for the superstitious, her next departure date just happens to be Friday the 13th. That cruise too is sold out.

A 10-day cruise from Naples to Southampton scheduled for last Tuesday had to be cancelled, and passengers were given a full refund plus a 25% credit toward a future cruise. P&O described the work as “essential maintenance” and didn’t provide any details, but passengers who were interviewed by one of our clients on another ship in Salerno last week indicated that the ship’s stabilisers were not working properly and they had missed a call in Egypt because of rough weather.

The 710-berth Adonia was built in 1990 and entered service for Renaissance Cruises as the R8, later becoming Swan Hellenic’s Minerva II and Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess before joining P&O as the Adonia in May of last year.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)