Three of The Cruise People’s Top Past Employees Help Celebrate Twenty Years in the Sea Travel Business in the UK

As The Cruise People Ltd first opened in London on October 1, 1992, this weekend saw us celebrating our 20th Anniversary in the UK – the Canadian company of the same name has been going for forty years. So on Friday night, three top staff from years gone by managed to surprise me with a celebration of this fact. Showing up at close of business on Friday were Mona (1996-98 and 1999-2002) and surprise guest Caroline (1995-98 and 2000-06), who had brought appropriate decoration for the front window of our London office. After champagne and cake on the premises, we adjourned to celebrate further in two of our local pubs, where (another surprise) we were joined by Eva (2000-05). These three ladies and others have been the strength of our business over the past two decades.

Appropriate window decoration as supplied by Caroline.

We were also joined by telephone by Zjelka (1997-99) . During the celebration that followed at a popular local Italian restaurant, the ladies presented Kevin with a birthday plaque in honour of The Cruise People’s twenty years in the UK and an impressively engraved pen set complete with company logo.

These ladies and Marie-France, Corine, Carmela, Margery, Helene, Nem, Marianne, Judi, Christine, Szilvia, Dessy, and more recently Gay and Miri, have helped The Cruise People get to where it is today and I’d like personally to thank all of them, and particularly Caroline, Eva and Mona, as well as Gay and Miri who deal with our customers today, for their contributions to our success over the past twenty years. Of the ladies present on Friday, Mona still lives in London, working in the conference business, Eva is planning to emigrate to Sydney with her husband and two small boys in November, and Caroline lives in the West Country (within view of the ships and the sea) with her husband, son and daughter  and works in a local school. Zjelka is now married with son and lives in  Croatia, where she works for a large accounting firm.

So thanks again, in order of appearance on Friday night, to Mona, Caroline and Eva for a wonderful surprise dinner, and to all those who have worked for us now and in the past for all your efforts on our behalf. It has been both a pleasure and an honour to work with all of you during those twenty years!

To learn more about The Cruise People, ultra-luxury cruising, small ship, cargo ship and expedition voyages, feel free to call us in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

By Kevin Griffin

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How To Book A Round The World Cargo Ship Voyage Using Two Ships

The Rickmers Pearl String Round the World service opened for passengers ten years ago now, with the delivery in May 2002 of the Rickmers Hamburg, the first of nine new multi-purpose cargo ships, the last of which, the Rickmers Genoa, was delivered in January 2004. Seen right is the 2003-built Rickmers Antwerp. All nine ships carry a combination of project and general cargo and heavy lifts as well as containers, and for that reason tend to spend more time in port than pure container ships. One of Rickmers’ more recent contracts is to carry Airbus A350 fuselage sections from the USA to Montoir in France

These 30,000 deadweight ton ships were  built in China, and as well as their cargo they are fitted out to carry up to seven passengers each in Rickmers’ eastabout round-the-world service connecting Europe to  Southeast Asia, the Far East, Japan and the USA with return once again to Europe. Passengers are carried in one 300 sq ft Owners suite, a 180 sq ft Double and three 150 sq ft Single cabins and could originally join ship at either North American or European ports for the full world circumnavigation.

The main ports of call for passengers now include Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai (Luojing terminal), Dalian, Xingang, Qingdao, Masan in South Korea, Kobe and Yokohama in Japan, a transit of the Panama Canal and then Houston, New Orleans and Philadelphia before returning to Antwerp, Hamburg and Genoa. Other calls are made according to cargo requirements and can include ports in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, China or Japan as well as the USA.

Since Rickmers announced last year that it would no longer carry passengers between Genoa and Singapore, an 18-21 day stretch out of the 124-day voyage, The Cruise People have come up with a solution that will still allow people to sail all the way around the world.

That solution is a fast container ship voyage from either Europe or North America to Singapore, so that world travellers can join the Rickmers  round-the-world service there. Europeans can board a container ship at Southampton, Hamburg or Rotterdam, and North Americans at US East Coast ports to connect with Rickmers in Singapore for the rest of the circumnavigation via the Far East, the US Gulf, East Coast and back to Europe.

Hanjin BrusselsFor European passengers, NSB’s Hanjin Brussels (right) and her four sister ships running from La Spezia sail directly via the Suez Canal to Singapore and offer the quickest transit time for connecting with Rickmers at Singapore. There are also possible connections from Trieste with both NSB and CMA CGM.

North Americans for their part can catch the CMA CGM Columbus Loop service from New York, Norfolk or Savannah direct to the Malaysian port of Tanjung Pelepas, just twenty-two miles from Singapore. This routing can be either via Suez or the Cape of Good Hope. NSB also offers connections from New York, Norfolk, Jacksonville and Savannah. Of course, both North American and European passengers need to build in sufficient layover time in Singapore and environs to allow for a good connection. The overall elapsed time for the two voyages will depend on your particular routing but will most likely run between 130 and 150 days.

To start putting together your own round-the-world freighter package please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Berlitz Guide to Cruising 2013 Now Available – What Goes at Classic International? – Reader Offers, Cruise Agent – Mistral Cruises

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 24th September 2012

The 28th edition of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships has just appeared in Kindle format and hard copies will be available from next Monday. We look at some of the updates to this year’s issue, which now evaluates 284 cruise ships. Top-scoring ships include Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa, Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 in Grill class, the Celebrity Solstice class and of course the ships of Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Regent and Oceania – the latter an anomaly as its pay extra ships Riviera and Marina have somehow managed to outscore Regent’s all-inclusive Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager in all categories. And new designs to come next year? Europa 2, Norwegian Breakaway and Royal Princess (iii).

Meanwhile, three out of the five-ship fleet of Classic International Cruises have been arrested in Marseilles and Kotor, while a fourth, the Princess Daphne, continues to trade for Ambiente Kreuzfahrten of Germany.

We also look at how one major cruise agent has been able to stand up to the Carnival UK commission cut to 5% and even see a hefty increase in its profits while doing so.

And finally, Mistral Cruises will be the new kid on the block in Croatia in 2014 with its 34-berth Mistral, which has until now been operating as the Callisto for Travel Dynamics International.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

Enrichment Voyages’ Explorer Comes to Europe – A Closer Look at Europa 2 – UK Lines: We Won’t Take Advantage Of You Any More

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 17th September 2012

Having already called at Galway, Dublin and Southampton, Semester at Sea’s 24,318-ton Explorer is today en route from Antwerp to Lisbon. As she will be spending a lot of time in Europe over the next year, we decided to have a look at her operations. In addition to her academic voyages for Semester at Sea, next spring she will offer three Enrichment Voyages from Barcelona, Le Havre and Dover, cruises that can be booked by the general public. Meanwhile, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises visited London last week to preview its new 39,500-ton Europa 2, due for delivery from STX France in April 2013. This ship has been designed for a younger but affluent audience and will feature quite a few interesting differences from today’s other cruise ships. Finally, we see that in an effort to boost early bookings cruise fare guarantees are beginning to take hold in the UK.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

Once-Only Cargo-Passenger Voyage From North Europe to Los Angeles via Suez in NSB Freighter Cruises’ Ever Charming

Painting of the 5-passenger Ever Charming in the Elbe River near Hamburg, by Heinz G Klug.

As ships change routes from time to time, we find ourselves in the position of being able to offer the 8,073 TEU container ship mv Ever Charming on a once-only voyage from either Hamburg in Germany (56 days) or Thamesport in the UK (54 days) via the Suez Canal and ports in the Far East to Los Angeles.  Please note that a Chinese visa is required for this voyage. The itinerary is as follows:

Hamburg                      November 24, 2012 (day 0)
or

Thamesport                  November 26, 2012 (day 2)
Piraeus                          December 6, 2012 (day 12)
Suez Canal                    December 8, 2012 (transit)
Colombo                        December 18, 2012 (day 24)
Tanjung Pelepas             December 22, 2012 (day 28)
Kaohsiung                      December 27,2012 (day 33)
Taipei                             January 1, 2013 (day 38)
Xiamen                           January 3, 2013 (day 40)
Hong Kong                      January 4, 2013 (day 41)
Yantian                           January 6, 2013 (day 43)
Los Angeles
                   January 19, 2013 (day 56)

In Taipei she will phase into the Evergreen HTW (US West Coast – Far East) service, where she will run thereafter. The Ever Charming carries five passengers in three cabins as follows:

Cabin 1:– 1 double cabin, Owner’s cabin (approx 400 sq ft incl bathroom), F deck, starboard, 1 bedroom and 1 sitting room, 1 bed (2.00 x 1.80m), shower / toilet, wardrobe, refrigerator, TV / DVD, sitting arrangement with sofa, desk, chair, sideboard, carpet, view forward and to the starboard side. Fare €95 per person per day plus port charges €85 and deviation insurance €160. Thamesport/Los Angeles is €4,835 per person.

Cabin 2: – 1 double cabin, Purser’s cabin (approx 400 sq ft incl bathroom), F deck, port side,  1 bedroom and 1 sitting room, 1 bed (2.00 x 1.80m), shower / toilet, wardrobe, refrigerator, TV / DVD, sitting arrangement with sofa, desk, chair, sideboard, carpet, view forward and to the port side. Fare €95 per person per day plus port charges €85 and deviation insurance €160. Thamesport/Los Angeles is €4,835 per person.

Cabin 3:- 1 single cabin, Supercargo (approx 200 sq ft incl bathroom), G deck, starboard / aft, 1 bed / living room, 1 bed (2.00 x 1.20 m), shower / toilet, wardrobe, refrigerator, TV, sitting arrangement with sofa, chair, desk, carpet, view astern. Fare €90 per day plus port charges €85 and deviation insurance €160. Thamesport/Los Angeles is €4,565.

For those unable to make these dates please also note that there is now regular cargo-passenger service available between Italy and California via Suez. Please click here for further details.

For further details of this or any other NSB freighter voyage please contact Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

A Preview of Europa 2: “Relaxed Luxury” and a “Hideaway at Sea”

Last Thursday, Julian Pfitzner, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ product manager for its newbuilding Europa 2, visited London to preview his new ship, which is now due to enter service in just over seven months.

Two of the first impressions he created were “Relaxed Luxury” and “Hideaway at Sea.” This is something that is a little different from what is on offer in today’s cruise market, even from ultra-luxury operators. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises seem to be basing their marketing on the proper definition of that word: identifying a need in the market and designing a product to fulfil that need at the best price available. Unlike her ultra-luxury fleetmate Europa, the world’s top-rated ship since she was introduced in 1999, Europa 2 will be aimed squarely at another audience – the affluent executive and professional classes still in work, younger in age and quite possibly with growing children. The new ship’s dress code will therefore tend to be be smart casual rather than strictly formal.

To reach this audience, the new ship’s operation will be quite different from others in the fleet. Her cruises, at least in the summer season in the Mediterranean, will be based on a 7-day cycle that can be extended to 14 or 21 days as no  itinerary will be repeated before three cruises have elapsed. In addition, to look after their children, nannies will be engaged on a  ratio of one for every four children, something that will mean the crew size might vary from cruise to cruise. And because of this and the need to house entertainers, although the ship has been designed to take up to 516 guests, it will be unlikely that her passenger load will ever top 480. There will also be seven “family” suites, adjoining paired verandah suites with doors between them.  What’s more, children up to the age of eleven will be carried free of charge as long as they occupy a suite with their parents.

The new ship’s itineraries will be based on ports that have plenty of air service and are easy to get in and out of – for example, in the Mediterrranean, Barcelona, Monte Carlo (Nice) and Venice,  in the Far East,  Singapore and Hong Kong for winter cruises, and Dubai in the Middle East.

The Europa 2 will also introduce some new concepts. While she will have a magrodome, it will not be the usual cover over a pool deck but it will be two decks high. And sixteen of her sutes will be designated “Spa” suites, meaning not that they will be next to a spa but that each individual suite will be equipped with its own spa equipment – whirlpool tubs, rain showers and their own steam saunas.

All suites will have private balconies, making her only the third ship in the world to offer this feature (the other two are Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager). The minimum suite size will be 301 sq ft plus a 75 sq ft balcony, and the largest will be in excess of 1,000 sq ft.

An important thing about Europa 2 is that every cruise will cater to international passengers, i.e. both English- and German-speaking. This is unlike the present practice, which is to nominate several international cruises for each ship in the fleet. By this means, it is aimed to increase the number of English-speaking passengers by four or five fold, from ten to twenty per internatuonal sailing now to fifty to eighty in three to five years’ time.

As to meals and drinks, there will be eight different restaurants to choose from and wines and spirits will be sold at prices that are cheaper than on shore, unlike virtually all other lines other than the all-inclusive ones. The usual practice on cruise ships has over the years moved away from duty free prices to charging full shoreside hotel prices. Hapag-Lloyd’s goal in this area is not to maximise on board revenue but to offer value and a good experience. Also,  in the alternative restaurants, it will not be possible to book more than forty-eight hours in advance, giving all an opportunity to experience them whereas on some lines experienced old hands have tended to monopolise these spaces. All in all, some interesting ideas are coming out of Hamburg.

For further details on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises please contact Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Expands Internationally – Carnival UK Management – Thomson Cruises – Berlitz: Best Ships For 2013

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 10th September 2012

Last week Hapag-Lloyd Cruises announced that it would be concentrating on the luxury and expedition markets while expanding further into the English-language market. As part of this process, much concentration will be on the new 516-guest Europa 2 (right), to be delivered in May 2013, while the 684-berth German-only Columbus 2 will be returned to Oceania Cruises at the end of her charter in April 2014. All cruises on Europa 2 will be sold in English and the ship’s first all-English brochure will be introduced this week. At one time, Hapag-Lloyd had a very large following in the English-speaking world. Elsewhere, Carnival UK, the head company for Cunard Line and P&O Cruises, has announced the appointment once more of a chief commercial officer to be in charge of both lines. And over at Thomson Cruises, we look at future events there, and also the background of the line’s latest managing dfirector. Finally, we reveal Berlitz’s list of top-rated cruise ships for 2013.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)