New Celebrity and Carnival Ships for the UK Market – Other Cruise News: Royal Princess Debut A Prelude To New P&O Ship – British and Spanish Cruise Awards


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 27th February 2012

Two lines with different UK connections will each add a ship each to the UK market in 2013 when Celebrity Infinity transfers to Harwich and the Carnival Legend to Dover for next year’s summer season. While Celebrity hopes to expand its UK carryings by 70%, Carnival’s ship will be new to market. At the same time Princess Cruises, another North American-based cruise line with ships in the UK, will introduce its latest Royal Princess in Southampton in June 2013 with two 3-day taster cruises followed by a maiden voyage from Southampton to Barcelona on June 16. This ship will be a precursor to P&O’s new vessel due for delivery in 2015. Finally, we have a look at the differing results of two sets of local British and Spanish cruise awards. In the UK, the once-criticised Thomson Dream takes five awards, Celebrity and Azamara win on best value and P&O, Princess and Cunard don’t score.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)

Is a Liverpool Revival in the Works? – Other Cruise News: English-Speaking Opportunity on a French Cruise Ship – The Latest on Costa Concordia


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 20th February 2012

Liverpool has been in the news over the past few months since it applied to be able to handle turnaround cruises at its government-funded Liverpool Cruise Terminal in the Mersey, a facility that has received UK and EU grants on the basis that it be used only for visiting cruise ships and not for embarkations and turnarounds. Liverpool City Council, owners of the facility, now think they have come up with a solution to their problem by paying back the UK part of these grants. While this debate has been going on, however, Liverpool was made to look very foolish last week when a local newspaper announced that Cunard Line would operate a Transatlantic service between Liverpool and New York, only to be rebuffed on Friday in a terse statement from Cunard saying that it had no such intention. Elsewhere, for those English-speaking passengers who would like to be able experience a French-speaking cruise ship in English-speaking company, the Ocean Liner Society will be undertaking its 2012 group cruise on board Croisières de France’s all-inclusive Horizon this May. Finally, we bring you a brief update on the situation with the Costa Concordia.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)

Last-Minute Cargo-Passenger Ship Opportunity Taken Up: Owners Cabin From London Tilbury to Sydney in May 2012 Now Booked


Three ships run in cargo-passenger service from Tilbury to the US East Coast, the Pacific islands of Tahiti, Fiji and New Caledonia and on to Australia. A twin Owners cabin and two double cabins are offered on each of the CMA CGM Manet, CMA CGM Matisse and CMA CGM Utrillo from Tilbury, Rotterdam, Dunkirk and Le Havre to Australia. Each carries six passengers but they are all fully booked through to 2013 so bookings have to be made a year or more in advance.

However, due to a cancellation, the Owners Cabin is once again available on board the CMA CGM Matisse from Tilbury, with departure on or about May 18, 2012. But book it now if you want it as it won’t be available for long.

The fare is €4,730 (£4,095) per person including full board, port charges and complimentary French wine with lunch and dinner. Sole occupancy of the same cabin is €5,160 (£4,465). Non-US and Canadian citizens will need full US visas as cargo ships are not included in the various visa waiver programs (also known as ESTA).

The Owners Cabin has twin beds and its own door into the Passenger Lounge. Common areas include a Gymnasium and Library on Deck B, Passenger Lounge on Deck E with TV, video, DVD and indoor Swimming Pool.

Port rotation for this voyage is Tilbury – Rotterdam – Dunkirk – Le Havre – New York – Savannah – Kingston (Jamaica) – Manzanillo (Panama) – Panama Canal – Papeete (Tahiti) – Lautoka (Fiji) – Noumea (New Caledonia) – Sydney.

Please click here to see update and more plentiful availability of northbound cabins.

To book this cabin please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 as soon as possible or e-mail

French Asia Line 1 Brings the World’s Largest Passenger-Carrying Container Ships to the Southampton-Far East Trade

CMA CGM CHRISTOPHE COLOMB en navigation - Copyright Thierry Dosogne

CMA CGM is now the third largest container line in the world, but its illustrious history includes some of the world’s greatest ocean liners, such as the Paris, Ile de FranceNormandie, Liberté and France. It was in recognition of this past that, after CMA acquired the state-owned CGM in 1996, CMA CGM chairman and ceo Jacques Saadé instructed that passenger accommodation be installed in a number of their newbuilding container ships. Many CMA CGM ships to this day still carry up to twelve passengers each, the maximum number allowed on a cargo ship.

The Cruise People first announced the introduction to service of the giant container ship CMA CGM Christophe Colomb in November 2009 but in her initial period of service the passenger accommodation was reserved for company guests and VIPs. More recently, the 13,800 TEU CMA CGM Christophe Colomb and sister ships have been operating on French Asia Line 5, but with a recent realignment of Far East schedules with the Mediterranean Shipping Company, these ships are now transferring to the French Asia Line 1.

Voyages now commence in Southampton and calls are made in  Hamburg, Bremerhaven,  Zeebrugge, Le Havre and Malta before the ship sails for Khor Fakkan, Jebel Ali, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Nansha, Hong Kong, Chiwan and Yantian, returning via Port Kelang and Tanger Med to Southampton, a full round voyage of 77 days.

Along with five ships of the 11,400 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) “Cassiopea” class, five French-flag and two British-flag 13,800 TEU ships, the largest passenger-carrying container ships in the world, have been placed onto the French Asia Line 1 route and a brief description follows:

French flagCMA CGM Christophe Colomb, CMA CGM La Perouse and CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci.  British flagCMA CGM Magellan and CMA CGM Corte Real.

Cabins and Suites: Each ship has five passenger cabins on Deck F. Each Cabin or Suite is fitted with: refrigerator, sofa, coffee table, desk, an easy chair, wardrobe and chest of drawers, wall mirror and private lavatory unit with shower, washbasin and WC. Double beds measure 200 x 160 cm (6’6½” x 5’3″) and twin beds 200 x 120 cm (6’6½” x 3’11¼”) each. Suite E-718: about 37 m² (398 sq ft), twin beds, two side windows and three windows aft, plus 14 m² (150 sq ft) Terrace Deck with the cabin; Cabin A-701: about 30 m² (323 sq ft), one double bed, three forward and two side windows; Cabins B-712 & C-714: about 23 m² (248 sq ft), one double bed, three forward windows; Cabin D-716: about 23 m² (248 sq ft), one double bed, two forward and two side windows.

Public Areas: Gymnasium, about 28 m² (300 sq ft), on Deck A, Ping-Pong table, rowing machine, home trainer, darts; Swimming Pool on Deck A; Passenger Lounge, on Deck F, fitted with a game table, TV and DVD reader ;Library on Deck F with a desk; Officers Mess Room (by invitation only). Like the “Christophe Colombe” class ships, the slightly smaller (but still huge)  “Cassiopea” class also feature five double cabins and similar public areas.

Fares: Valid from February 2012 in Euros, per day and per person, covering travel with full board and complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, including port charges.  Cabins €110 per person per day in double occupany, or €110 for single occupancy. For Owners Suite, please contact us for details. Note: For voyages of less than 10 days duration, daily fare is €130 (double occupancy), and €150 (single occupancy).

For further details and information on any of these voyages please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7273 2450 or e-mail

Quark Expeditions Makes Plans For Its Latest Ships: Ocean Diamond and Sea Spirit Join Clipper Adventurer and Kapitan Dranitsyn

In the past couple of years, Toronto-based TUI-owned Quark Expeditions has gone from using largely Russian-supplied tonnage to working more closely with International Shipping Partners of Miami as its main supplier of ships. Starting with the 4,200-ton 114-berth Sea Spirit, which was acquired from Cruise West as the Spirit of Oceanus just before that company’s bankruptcy, Quark has now taken on the 8,282-ton 189-berth Ocean Diamond, more recently acquired by ISP, which is being chartered back to her previous owners, Compagnie du Ponant, for whom she operated as Le Diamant, for the summer of 2012.

Both Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond will be used in Antarctica, together with a third ISP fleetmate, the 4,376-ton 122-berth Clipper Adventurer, all of which will sail from Quark’s usual base port of Ushuaia, Argentina.

In the meantime, two of Quark’s previous mainstays, the 110-berth Russian-owned 6,450-ton Akademik Ioffe and 6,344-ton Akademik Sergey Vavilov, are moving over one at a time to be operated by Vancouver-based independent One Ocean Expeditions.

In her first season with Quark, from November 2012 to March 2013, Ocean Diamond will perform two 19-night cruises to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, from $9,695 per person on November 3 or $12,795 on December 26, and eight departures to the Antarctic Peninsula, from $4,295 for 9 nights or $4,795 for 11 nights.

As part of her introductory season, Quark is offering a 25% early booking reduction on all Ocean Diamond departures booked by 30th April 2012. Savings of up to $7,000 can be applied to upgrades to larger cabins or shore excursions or simply remain in your bank account.

Sea Spirit will undertake nine cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula and a cruise to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, at the same starting fares as Ocean Diamond, plus a 13-night departure to the Weddell Sea, from $11,995, and a 14-night cruise to the Peninsula that will cross of the Antarctic Circle, starting at $12,795, and a 15-night early season cruise on October 28 that will concentrate on South Georgia, from $10,295 per person.

Clipper Adventurer, meanwhile, will perform two new expedition voyages for Quark. Known as the “Antarctic Express,” this will involve two charter aircraft flying the Drake Passage to King Edward Island, where passengers will join ship, 7 nights from $7,995 per person. At the beginning of these cruises, the option will be to sail south and fly north, from $9,995 for 9 nights, and at the end fly south and sail north, from $6,395 for 8 nights, for a total of four shorter cruises that will avoid a double crossing of the Drake Passage.

Clipper Adventurer will kick off the season with a single Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia voyage and will also perform nine Antarctic Peninsula voyages from Ushuaia, with fares similar to Ocean Diamond and Sea Spirit.

Various ships will be chosen to perform different cruises in the Arctic thereafter. For this summer, these will be offered by the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, in her final Quark season, and the chartered Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, which will be offering two cruises from Murmansk, one to Franz Josef Land, 12 nights from $12,995 per person, and one to both Novaia Zemlia and Franz Josef Land, 14 nights from $15,995. Either the Sea Spirit or Ocean Diamond will be used in the Arctic and Spitsbergen in 2013.

And speaking of Russian icebreakers, efforts are apparently also being made to bring back the Kapitan Khlebnikov for further Antarctic departures in the future as well. While we await further news from Quark, it is quite clear that they are in the course of upgrading their fleet to a higher level of comfort than in past years, with ice-strengthened cruise ships replacing the chartered scientific research vessels used in the past. Both the Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond are known for having worked for more upmarket concerns during their own past careers.

For further details on any Quark Expeditions departure please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 13th February 2012: Spirit of Chartwell to Become The Royal Barge For a Day– Other Cruise News: Quark Expeditions Makes Plans For Its Latest Ships – New Cargo-Passenger Voyages to Australia and Canada

The three vessels of the UK’s Magna Carta Steamship Company form a rather unusual cruising fleet, with the Spirit of Chartwell and Passepartout cruising the upper and lower reaches of the Thames and the Lord of the Glens the Caledonian Canal in Scotland. The 36-berth Spirit of Chartwell and 54-berth Lord of the Glens accept overnight passengers, with the latter having more recently been in the news as she has been chosen to act as the Royal Barge for this year’s Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in early June. As part of a flotilla of close to 1,000 vessels, she will celebrate sixty years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II by carrying the monarch herself. Elsewhere, TUI-owned Quark Expeditions has added two new ships to its expedition cruise fleet with the 114-berth Sea Spirit, ex-Spirit of Oceanus, and the 189-berth Ocean Diamond, ex-Le Diamant. And finally, for those wishing to travel by cargo ship, Germany’s NSB has opened up two new cargo-passenger routes, between Asia and Australia with the NYK Galaxy and between Europe and Canada with the Hanjin Palermo.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)

Hanjin Palermo’s Regular Montreal-Mediterranean Cargo-Passenger Service To End November 2012

Editor’s Note: This Montreal-Med service  ended in late 2012 when the ship was moved to another trade. This means no service from Canada other than Trans-Pacific ships serving Vancouver. If service re-appears we will post it here.

For the past couple of years travellers have been unable to book passage between Europe and Canada and have had to travel via US ports. But between April and November 2012 space was available for eight passengers on the NSB vessel Hanjin Palermo.

The 45,625 deadweight ton Hanjin Palermo accommodated up to eight passengers in an Owners cabin and two double cabins plus two single cabins for sole travellers.  The vessel is equipped with an indoor pool and fitness room as well as lounge and video/tv room. Meals are taken with the officers.

For further details on freighter travel in general please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

Three Ships To Tackle Canada’s Full Northwest Passage in 2013

The first commercial passenger ship to transit Canada’s famed Northwest Passage was Lindblad Expeditions’  2,398-ton 104-berth Lindblad Explorer, which made the passage in 1984. Arctic conditions can vary from year to year but the only problem she encountered was off the coast of northern Alaska, where fog and ice forced her to backtrack for ten hours, then sail closer inshore to escape the permanent polar ice shelf.

Since then, a small number of expedition cruise ships have made the full transit, and from time to time, one of them has had to turn back because of ice conditions. In recent years, other ships have introduced partial transits of the easternmost end of the passage that make only part of the full passage and then return east.

In the summer of 2010, both of Hapag-Lloyd’s expedition ships, the Bremen and Hanseatic, transitted the full Northwest Passage, with one ship traveling in each direction. While the Bremen traveled from Nome, Alaska, to Reykjavik, Iceland, the Hanseatic sailed in the opposite direction, from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, to Nome. During their cruises, the two made a rendezvous in the High Arctic near Cambridge Bay.

The route Hapag-Lloyd’s MS Hanseatic will take in 2012

In 2011, the Bremen made the passage from Kangerlussuaq to Nome while the Hanseatic made only a partial transit of the Northwest Passage on a cruise that began in Kangerlussuaq and ended in Reykjavik and followed the traces of Franklin and Amundsen. In 2012, the Hanseatic will make a full 25-day transit leaving Nome August 14 for Reykjavik.

In 2013, however, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises plan a two-ship transit again, with one ship sailing in each direction. But now comes word from Compagnie du Ponant that it too plans to send a ship across the Northwest Passage in 2013 after it takes delivery of its third Le Boréal class ship from Fincantieri.

Based on initial plans, the 10,900-ton Ice-classed ship, provisionally named Le Soléal, is due to make her 10-night maiden voyage from Venice to Lisbon on July 2. From Lisbon, details that have yet to be confirmed call for an 11-night cruise to Reykjavik, a 7-night round-Iceland cruise, and a 13-night cruise from Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq, another 13-night cruise round trip from Kangerlussuaq and then an attempt at the Northwest Passage.

Le Soléal‘s Northwest Passage voyage is due to set off from Kangerlussuaq on August 25 for a 21-night transit, to arrive at Anadyr in Russia’s Far East on September 15. If all goes according to plan, the Northwest Passage transit would be followed by cruises in the Russian Far East, two cruises via Japan to Hong Kong and three 10-night cruises between Hong Kong and Singapore.

For further details on itineraries and how to book please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner for 6th February 2012: TransOcean’s Astor To Be Opened Up To English-Speaking Passengers – Other Cruise News: Dertour’s Mozart Is Relaunched on the Danube – Three Ships To Tackle Canada’s Northwest Passage in 2013


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 6th February 2012

Astor South PacificFor those wanting to experience a smaller more traditional cruise ship that was built for ocean passages, TransOcean Cruises of Bremen is set to begin welcoming English-speaking passengers on board its ocean cruise ship Astor, as well as four of its river cruisers. Elsewhere, on the Danube, Dertour is once again opening up the fabled river cruiser Mozart, which was once operated by Peter Deilmann but has recently been sold only to German-speaking passengers. Finally this week, news has arrived from Marseilles-based Compagnie du Ponant that with the delivery of its new Le Soléal from Fincantieri in June 2013, three ships will attempt the full Northwest Passage across the Canadian Arctic in 2013.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                   (See previous columns)