Vancouver Anticipates 20% Boost In Cruisers – San Francisco Gains A Year-Round Ship – Bella Desgagnés Arrives In The Gulf of St Lawrence


by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 15th April 2013

Bella DesgagnesAfter a few years of battle royal with its rival port to the south, Vancouver stands to gain 20% more cruise business this year, while Seattle stands to lose 10%. Today, we look at some of the differences between the two ports, both important to the Alaska cruise trade. Meanwhile, for the first time in decades, San Francisco has a year-round ship, with the 2,600-berth Grand Princess based there since last month. And the Gulf of St Lawrence has received its first purpose-built passenger ship in seventy-five years. The new Bella Desgagnés (pictured above) will operate a weekly coastal and cruise service between Rimouski, Quebec, and Blanc Sablon, on the Strait of Belle Isle.

 THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                              (See previous columns)

Image courtesy of Deltamarin


Passenger-Cargo Ship Bella Desgagnés Arrives In Gulf of St Lawrence

Quebec-based Groupe Desgagnés and its subsidiary Relais Nordik have announced the arrival of the new coastal passenger and cargo ship Bella Desgagnés in the Gulf of St Lawrence. Built in Croatia and completed in Italy, the Bella Desgagés made her Canadian landfall at Halifax on April 9, and arrived at Blanc-Sablon, at the Quebec/Labrador border on the Strait of Belle Isle, on April 11. The ship was about  four days late because of Atlantic storms.

The Bella Desgagnés was built to serve the route from Rimouski, on the south shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence, via Sept Iles and Anticosti, to a range of ports on the Lower North Shore as far downstream as Blanc Sablon. From Blanc Sablon, there is regular ferry service across the Strait of Belle Isle to St Barbe, Newfoundland.

Bella Desgagnes new
Desgagnés’ brand-new Bella Desgagnés has been built for Gulf of St Lawrence service from Rimouski to Blanc Sablon

At 312 feet in length, 63½ feet beam and only 14½ feet draft, the Bella Desgagnés can accommodate 381 guests, including deck passengers. The new ship has 63 cabins (some de luxe) accommodating 160 passengers in berths, dining room, cafeteria, lecture room and other passenger facilities. Measuring 6,588 gross tons, she will replace the much smaller 1,749-ton Nordik Express, which has been on the route since 1987.

The Bella Desgagnés can also carry 125 TEU of containers and her own 30 ton long-reach crane to handle them. She is built to Ice Class IA and can reach a speed of 15 knots. Her propulsion system consists of four diesel engines driving two electric motors and two azimuthing stern drives. She also has two bow thrusters and has manoeuverability similar to a large harbour tug.

Relais Nordik  is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Groupe Desgagnés Inc. It transports passengers, general cargo and vehicles from the main terminals of Rimouski, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre and Natashquan, and to the eight ports of the communities it serves at Port-Menier, Kegaska, La Romaine, Harrington Harbour, Tête-à-la-Baleine, La Tabatière, Saint Augustin and Blanc Sablon. Round voyages are also offered from Rimouski.

Cruises of 7 nights duration will be offered from Rimouski. Present fares for the Nordik Express start at $1,258.40 per person in a superior cabin, or $1,494.86 in a de luxe cabin. Fares for the Bella Desgagnés will be announced shortly. Summer cruises leave Rimouski every Tuesday at 12:30 pm and return from Blanc Sablon on Fridays.

For details of how to book the Bella Desgagnés‘ weekly round voyage as a cruise please e-mail The Cruise People Ltd in London at or in North America e-mail

Photo of Bella Desgagnés courtesy Groupe Desgagnés. Image of Sable I by Quebec artist Jean-Pierre Charest.

Genting Acquires Superfast Ferry For Bimini – Celebrity To Increase Australian Capacity – Can Global CLIA Solve Perception Problem?


by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 8th April 2013

Superfast_VILast month, when the Malaysia-based Genting Group acquired the 28-knot fast ferry Superfast VI, observors wondered what their intention was. But since then, the vessel has been renamed Bimini Superfast and it has been announced that she is intended for operation between Florida and Bimini North in the Bahamas, where Genting will open a new casino this December. From Australia comes news that the Celebrity Century will return to join the Celebrity Solstice Down Under in 2014/15. And with increasingly large ships bringing increasingly large crowds, CLIA going global and the US Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act of 2010, Senator Jay Rockefeller sends a contentious letter to Micky Arison. Is the new global CLIA up to the task of combatting negative publicity from politicians?

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                (See previous columns)

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Introduces Travel Concierge On Board Both ms Europa and ms Europa 2

HL Travel ConciergeFor details of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Travel Concierge or any Europa or Europa 2 cruise please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

Oasis of the Seas To Drydock in Europe in 2014 – Quark Expeditions Introduces New Ship in 2014 – Viking River To The Mississippi in 2015


by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 1st April 2013


The Oasis of the Seas will operate two Transatlantic crossings and three cruises from Barcelona in 2014

Royal Caribbean International last week announced two Transatlantic crossings and a short three-cruise European season for its Oasis of the Seas, in September and October 2014. In some ways this is reminiscent of the way Norwegian Cruise Line used to bring the s.s. Norway to Europe from time to time, but on the other hand it may be an experiment, seeing as Royal Caribbean has recently ordered a third Oasis class ship at STX France. Elsewhere, Quark Expeditions has announced that it will be adding the 114-berth Sea Explorer to its fleet in 2014, to work alongside sister ship Sea Spirit. Meanwhile, Viking River Cruises, in addition to expanding into ocean cruising, has announced that it intends to put a European-style river cruiser into service on the Mississippi River in 2015.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                               (See previous columns)