Crystal Cruises Extends Getaway Cruises Offer – Cuba Back on the Map – World’s Largest Container Ship – South Africa Liner Voyages

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 25th February 2013

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Get away for 5, 6, 7 or 8 days on Crystal Cruises, from £1,248 per person all-inclusive for 5 nights

Crystal Cruises has announced an extension until the end of April of its special offer fares for shorter 5, 6, 7 and 8-night cruises for summer 2013. These “Getaway” cruises allow busy executives and first-timers to sample the now all-inclusive Crystal ships at lower fares. While Silversea has also announced some 4 to 7-night cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new Europa 2 is due to enter service in May. Unlike the existing Europa, which offers longer cruises, she offers exclusively 7-night Mediterranean cruises this summer. Elsewhere, Cuba is back in the news with the announcement that Cuba Cruise will begin offering 7-night Round Cuba cruises from Havana this winter in the Louis Cristal. And CMA CGM, having opened up its largest container ship, CMA CGM Marco Polo, to passenger bookings, now offers almost 600 passenger berths on 70 ships on its various routes worldwide. Finally, Cruise & Maritime Voyages has just announced two South Africa liner voyages for the Astor in  2014.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                (See previous columns)

Two Alternative Seven-Night Cruises To Cuba – By Cruise Ship From Havana, from $586 to $1,204 – By Cargo Ship From Florida at $950

Louis CristalCuba Cruise of Toronto has announced a new series of 7-night cruises around Cuba, departing from Havana. These will be offered in the 966-berth Louis Cristal.

Cuba Cruise’s new recently-announced Havana season will run from December 16, 2013, to March 31, 2014, offering a total of fifteen departures. Cruise-only fares for the 7-night circumnavigation of Cuba will start at $586 in double occupancy and run to $1,204 per person in an Imperial Suite. Fly/cruise packages will also be available from Canada, the UK and Germany.

Louis Cristal‘s 7-night cruise will leave Havana on Monday at midnight and call at Bahia Nipe, Cayo Coco, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Montego Bay (Jamaica), Cienfuegos, Trinidad and sail past Isla de la Juventud on the way back to Havana. It will also be possible to join ship on Fridays at Montego Bay in Jamaica, where departures are scheduled for 11 pm. With the exception of a 5 pm departure from Cayo Coco on Tuesdays, most port departures take place between 9 pm and midnight, giving plenty of time to explore ashore. Included on or near her itinerary will be six UNESCO World Heritage sites and four national parks.

Cuba Cruise

These cruises are not sold in the US as since the Cuban Revolution, the US Government has banned its citizens from travelling to Cuba and its companies from trading there, bans that have kept the big cruise lines away from the largest island in the Caribbean. Under present law, no ship calling on Cuba is allowed to trade into a US port for a period of six months thereafter.

Nevertheless, there is slow progress towards a new opening up. Canada sent about a million tourists to Cuba out of the 2.8 million that visited last year. And while 900,000 Russians also visited, almost 100,000 Americans arrived in Cuba on so-called “people-to-people” visits, as charter flights have now been allowed from several US airports.

The other way of cruising to Cuba is by cargo ship. Two such ships now trade between the US and Havana. One tiny ship has begun service between the Miami River and Havana but for the past ten years Crowley Liner Services has held a license to carry US Government-approved cargo to Havana. Crowley operates a single chartered ship on a sailing every Saturday from Port Everglades to Havana, Santo Tomas and Puerto Cortes – although a second may be added next month. Ships sailing under Crowley’s license are exempted from the six-month ban.

The German-owned 10,700-ton K Breeze carries four passengers in an Owners cabin and two singles, and is now accepting non-US passengers for 7-day round trip freighter cruises from Port Everglades. The K Breeze is the first ship to carry passengers between the US and Cuba since September 1962, when the ferry City of Havana became the last vessel to leave Havana with American passengers after the revolution. A 7-night round trip cruise on the K Breeze from Fort Lauderdale, which includes a call at Havana on Sunday, as well as calls in Honduras and Nicaragua, costs €697 (about $950) per person.

For further information or bookings on either of these Cuba cruise products, please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

CMA CGM Opens Passenger Bookings On The World’s Largest Container Ship – m.v. CMA CGM Marco Polo

cma-cgm-marco-poloFrance’s CMA CGM has this week announced that passenger cabins can now be booked on board its massive container ship CMA CGM Marco Polo (16,020 TEUs). These unique cruises offer travellers the opportunity to live a unique experience, discovering oceans, seas and continents in the pursuance of foreign trade, and getting involved in life on board, sharing in the crew’s everyday life at sea. The CMA CGM Marco Polo has five modern double cabins of 200 sq ft each, a lounge with televison equipment,  library, fitness room and even a swimming pool. Sister ships CMA CGM Jacques Cartier and CMA CGM Alexander von Humboldt are under construction.

Here is a quick comparison with Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas:

CMA CGM Marco Polo – 1,278 x 177 feet (10 lower berths)
Oasis of the Seas – 1,181 x 154 feet (5,400 lower berths)

CMA CGM Marco Polo is deployed on the world’s busiest trade route, linking Europe and Asia, and allows travellers to discover the world’s largest ports on the following rotation: Southampton, Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Malta, Khor Fakkan, Jebel Ali, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Chiwan, Yantian, Port Kelang, Tanger and Southampton.

Sample fares are €8,470 per person for the full 77-day round voyage (€10,010 for sole use of a cabin); Southampton to Hong Kong, 49 days at €5,39 per person (€6,370 sole use); Le Havre to Hong Kong, 41 days at €4,570 per person (€5,330 sole use); Hong Kong to Southampton, 28 days at €3,080 per person (€3,640 sole use); or Port Kelang to Southampton, 22 days at €2,420 per person (€2,860 sole use), or for a sampler Southampton to Malta, 14 days at €1,540 per person (€1,820 sole use). Slightly lower fares are available on other ships.

Freighter cruises have been offered by the CMA CGM Group since 2000 and it now provides almost 600 passenger berths on seventy of its company-owned ships on Worldwide Routes (click to see detailed breakdown).

For bookings and further information please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

New Media: 1st Annual Cruise Examiner YouTube Survey – Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph – Cruise & Maritime Australia via Suez

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 18th February 2013

SeaDream IISeaDream Yacht Club win the Cruise Examiner YouTube award for 2013 with 1,014 views per berth. This week, we bring you the results of the 1st Annual Cruise Examiner YouTube Survey. With most cruise lines now having YouTube accounts, we felt it was time to compare how they are doing. The big winner is SeaDream Yacht Club, with a high score of 1,040 YouTube views for every lower berth in their two-ship fleet. Other high performers include Azamara Club Cruises, with 229 views per berth, and Cunard and Disney, with 224 and 223 views each, while at the bottom of the league is Crystal Cruises with just seven. With the arrival of the powerless Carnival Triumph at Mobile last week, we compare her situation to that of Carnival Splendor just over two years ago. We have up to date information on Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Australian positioning voyages and look at how Facebook shares now compare with Norwegian Cruise Line shares since last week, when they were both at around $28.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                        (See previous columns)

Seabourn’s Six Ships Bring You The Utmost In Dining Style & Flexibility

Seabourn QuestDINING WITH SEABOURN

No ordinary cuisine…

  • “A la Minute,” prepared to guest order
  • Best executive chefs, members of the Chaine des Rotisseurs
  • The finest quality ingredients, which are selected with care
  • Galley tours are available
  • Shopping with the Chef – you can join the chef for his shopping!

No ordinary restaurants…
Dining Options

  • Each ship offers a choice of dining venues to suit your mood of the moment.
  • No matter where you dine, you will find award-winning cuisine, attentive service and standards of excellence rivalling the finest restaurants around the globe.
  • You can dine in their suite or on your veranda, with Seabourn’s compliments.
  • On Seabourn, there is never an extra charge for any dining choice, something that is not true on all luxury lines.
  • Generous seating in the dining venues means Seabourn guests have the true privilege of choice for every meal.

Most restaurants are open-seating, inviting guests to dine where, when and with whom they wish. Complimentary fine wines with lunch and dinner. Open bars available throughout the ship, and guests’ in-suite bars stocked with their preferences.

The Restaurant

  • A beautiful open seating venue where guests are seated as they wish by a Maître d’Hotel.  
  • A broad menu of delectable choices is prepared to order by talented chefs.
  • Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; reservations not required.

Restaurant 2 & Veranda Café/The Colonnade

  • Restaurant 2 provides innovative, small plates, tasting menus with a contemporary flair
  • Restaurant 2 is open for dinner only, by reservation.

Veranda Café/The Colonnade

  • Popular, more casual options for lavish buffet-style breakfasts and lunches, enjoyed indoors or overlooking the sea.  
  • Hot and cold dishes are prepared to order.
  • The Veranda Café is available aboard Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend.  
  • On Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest (above), The Colonnade offers nightly themed dinners, with service indoors and out.

Sky Grill/Patio Grill

  • The perfect place for a casual lunch where chefs serve up casual fare, al fresco.  
  • The Sky Grill is offered on Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend.  
  • The poolside Patio Grill is aboard Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest, and serves freshly-baked pizza all afternoon.

In-Suite

  • Seabourn guests may order a meal from The Restaurant menu and have it served in their suite or on their veranda.
  • The meal can be served course by course, with white linens, fine china and silver settings.  
  • As are all dining experiences, this option is complimentary.  
  • A menu of other in-suite treats is offered for service around-the-clock

To learn more about a Seabourn cruise, please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk

New Media: The Big (And Little) Cruise Lines – SeaDream Wins the YouTube Competition – But Do YouTube Viewings Generate Bookings?

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With nearly all cruise lines now having their own YouTube accounts, it is worth looking at the number of views each has attracted in its initial efforts, from mid seven digits down to low four digits, as at mid-day February 14, 2013:-

Princess Cruises (5,481,289)
Royal Caribbean International (4,287,689)
Carnival Cruise Lines (2,745,277)
Norwegian Cruise Line (2,064,530)
P&O Cruises (1,548,271)
Cunard Line (1,480,265)
Holland America Line (1,140,017)

MSC Cruises (740,467)
Celebrity Cruises (638,858)
Azamara Club Cruises (313,628)
Costa Cruises (276,417)
SeaDream Yacht Club (233,115)
Silversea Cruises (166,966)
Oceania Cruises (111,591)

Voyages of Discovery (93,588)
Regent Seven Seas Cruises (64,577)
Seabourn (55,563)
Paul Gauguin Cruises (54,632)
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (39,624)
Swan Hellenic Cruises (28,111)
Louis Cruises (27,236)
Crystal Cruises (15,532)

Voyages to Antiquity (1,380)

Aside from the big numbers up top, the most notable of all these entries is SeaDream Yacht Club, which is punching way above its weight with over 1,000 views for every berth it has in its two-ship fleet. Compare this with only 7.5 views for every lower berth on Crystal and you will see what we mean.

But do YouTube viewings generate bookings? The question is probably of the same relevance today as asking if colour magazine advertisements generated business in their time (which is now largely past). Where Twitter and Facebook are probably not very productive, Blogs and YouTube videos are capable of conveying some of the actual experience of these products. Many of these videos can be found on our Cruise Lines Video Links Page.

Then if you want to know more about the art of cruising call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1 800 961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca

Miniature Empress of Canada Oil Painting Sells in Montreal for $419.00

Empress of Canada (ii)A small 8 x 10″ oil painting by Canadian artist Harry Leslie Smith (1900-74) of Canadian Pacific’s second Empress of Canada at her berth in Montreal sold today on eBay for $419.  The starting price was $9.99 and the painting attracted 43 bids. This was the ship in which I emigrated from England to Canada at the age of four, along with my parents and younger brother. I remember to this day my father holding my head out the porthole and telling me that this was our new land – and seeing the bleak, grey, rocky coast of Labrador in late October!

Coming back to the UK for good in 1992, the result of that voyage today is a London-based company called The Cruise People Ltd, which I formed to be able to allow the public to book the voyages that they wanted. We don’t just do cruises, our customers have sailed Round Antarctica, to the North Pole in Russian nuclear icebreakers, up the Amazon to Peru, to Australia in container ships, across the Northwest Passage in ice class expedition ships, across the Atlantic in tall ships – just ask and we’ll see what we can do for you, including the ultimate in luxury.

Along the way, in 1998, I managed to obtain a larger oil painting of the Empress of Canada by American artist Lawrence Blumenthal that today hangs in my office in London and shows her departing from Liverpool on one of her regular voyages to Montreal. This painting is joined by a Blumenthal miniature in oils of Cunard Line’s Carinthia, in which ship I returned to England at the age of eleven to spend a summer in North Devon.

For your own voyage of choice  please call us on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk and we will do our utmost to find what you are looking for, and if we can’t we’ll do our best to make alternative suggestions.

By Kevin Griffin, London, 12th February 2013.