2016 & 2017 Big Years For China Cruising – Empress of the Seas To Return to Florida – Pacific Explorer To Bring P&O Australia Fleet To Six

The Cruise Examiner for 26th October 2015

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China phototory courtesy Carnival cCrp & plcLast week’s big news was the announcement by Carnival Corp & plc, in the presence of the Chinese president and British prime minister, that it was forming a new Chinese-based cruise line (whose ships may fly the UK flag) in conjunction with two Chinese state-owned concerns. Meanwhile, plenty of action is set to take place. In 2016, Royal Caribbean International will introduce the first newbuilding to China when its Ovation of the Seas sails east, Norwegian Cruise Line will send its Norwegian Star, MSC Cruises its MSC Lirica, Costa and Princess one more ship each and Star Cruises the first of two newbuildings. In 2017, three more newbuildings are set to follow, with the Norwegian Bliss (to be renamed), Majestic Princess and the second new Star ship, while Carnival Cruise Lines and AIDA Cruises enter the China market for the first time with one ship each.

Grimaldi Lines Introduce New Cargo-Passenger Service Between Civitavecchia (Rome), Baltimore and Halifax NS, Thence Antwerp

Grimaldi Marocco © John Skelson

The Grande Marocco is one of six ships to offer passenger capacity on Grimaldi Lines’ Civitavechia-Baltimore-Halifax service

Back in January, Grimaldi Lines, one of the world’s largest ro-ro operators with a fleet of more than 100 ships, launched a direct service from Civitavecchia, near Rome, to Baltimore and Halifax, the first direct car carrier connection between the Mediterranean and North America.

Grimaldi made further news in June and July when it ordered five new car carriers, with an option for seven more, and three weeks later signed a contract for three more ships and an option for a fourth, for a total investment of $470 million. All eight of the new orders will be deployed on Grimaldi’s new Mediterranean-North America service transporting Fiat-Chrysler vehicles in both directions. The new ships will carry 7,000 cars each on 13 decks

Now, it has been announced that this service will begin to accept passengers. To start with, Grimaldi will offer Civitavecchia – Baltimore (sometimes other ports as well: Jacksonville, New York, Newport News, Halifax Canada). But for the moment Grimaldi will offer the outward voyage only from Civitavecchia to Baltimore. The ships will carry up to twelve passengers each, the maximum allowed on a cargo ship.  Added on 11.11.15: A Baltimore and Halifax to Antwerp service is now also available for foot passengers and it may be possible later to book accompanying vehicles as well.

Bookings will only be accepted for impending departures, within one month. The initial service will accept passengers only, without accompanying vehicle. Passengers will also be required to have travel and cancellation insurance to include the USA and Canada, passport and non-US and Canadian citizens will each need a B1/B2 Visa. This latter is because cargo ships are not included in the visa waiver scheme.

For the moment the service will be offered with the following vessels:

Grande Marocco, Grande Guinea, Grande Sierra Leone and Grande Benin: Owners cabin and 5 Inside cabins, and Grande Napoli and Grande Roma: 3 Outside cabins (max 4 per cabin)

Fares for 2015 only have been set as follows:

Owners Category EM2: €1,700 per person for two
Owners Category EM1: €2,300 for sole occupancy
Outside Category DE2: €1,300 per person for two
Outside Category DE1: €1,700 for sole occupancy
Inside Categories DI2/BI2: €950 per person for two
Inside Categories DI1/BI1: €1,200 for sole occupancy

The duration of each voyage will be about 11-13 days. When there are more voyages for Halifax it will be possible for passengers to travel with accompanied vehicles.

For details on how to book Grimaldi Lines or any other cargo ship voyage please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com.

The Trend To Mid-Size Ships: Saga Orders A Vessel From Meyer Werft

The Cruise Examiner for 5th October 2015

Saga image courtesy Meyer Werft

Artist’s concept of the new Saga ship seems to indicate a wraparound promenade deck

Last week came news from Saga that it had ordered a 55,900-ton cruise ship from Meyer Werft in Papenburg, builders almost three decades ago, in 1986-92, of such well-respected ships as the Homeric, Crown Odyssey, Horizon and Zenith. The new Saga ship, for delivery in 2019, plus a possible sister for 2021, will join the eight “R” ships that set the precedent for this size of cruise ship in 1998-2001, along with Oceania Cruises’ Marina and Riviera from 2011-12 and the Viking Ocean Cruises trio of 2015-17. Compared to the ultra-luxury ships that have tended to occupy this size bracket in the past, these ships will prove that there is a market to be met between the mass market ships carrying thousands of passengers and the ultra-luxury ships carrying just hundreds. This new class of ship will bring back passengers whose needs have not been met by the very large mass-market ships, no matter how many attractions.