UK Distribution: Costa Direct & An Independent Cunard – MSC Doubles Its Cuba Fleet – Diamond Cruise Acquires Former Explorer

The Cruise Examiner for 28th December 2015

Cunard Line 2015

   Will Cunard Line get more independence? – Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria

Two different parts of Carnival Corp & plc are taking totally opposite actions in the UK market this month. While Costa Cruises announced that it will be cutting travel agents out of its UK marketing efforts in February, Cunard Line is about to be given a degree of independence from its big sister P&O Cruises in order that it can improve its relations with travel agents. Elsewhere, MSC Cruises has announced a doubling of its Havana-based fleet in 2016 while Diamond Cruise is set to introduce a former Celestyal ship on cruises out of Shanghai.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

New Connection To Australia: CMA CGM Container Ship Europe To Port Kelang & P&O Cruise Ship Between Singapore And Australia

CMA CGM BougauinvilleConnections to and from Port Kelang will be by 10-passenger CMA CGM mega-ships

Now that direct cargo-passenger service between Europe and Australia is so scarce, and Singapore has become a base port for P&O Cruises Australia, we will be using P&O Australia to offer connecting services between Singapore and Australian ports. Several sailings scheduled over the next couple of years will be available for connecting cargo ship travellers, as well as overlanders from Europe and elsewhere seeking to reach Australia.

Pacific Eden (1)

P&O Australia’s Pacific Eden will perform most of the Singapore-Australia connecting voyages

Cargo ship voyages will be available from Le Havre to Port Kelang in 27 days or from Felixstowe to Port Kelang in 31 days to connect with the P&O Australia sailings from Singapore. In the reverse direction, a fast and frequent 22-day cargo-passenger service will be available from Port Kelang to Southampton. The cargo-passenger services are all offered by CMA CGM and will connect with the P&O Australia services outlined below.

In order to avail themselves of this routing, connecting passengers will have to make their own way between Port Kelang and Singapore. The two ports are about 200 miles apart and there are hourly one-hour flights between Kuala Lumpur airport (for Port Kelang) and Singapore’s Changi airport.

P&O Cruises Australia Voyages from Singapore to Australia

m.v. PACIFIC EDEN – Singapore (August 27, 2016) to Cairns (September 10, 2016)

Singapore – Fremantle – Bali – Makassar – Komodo – Makassar – Dili – Darwin – Cooktown – Cairns (14 nights).

m.v. OVATION OF THE SEAS – from Singapore (November 30, 2016) to Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney *

Singapore – Fremantle (6 nights) – Adelaide – Hobart – Sydney  (15 nights).

m.v. PACIFIC EDEN – Singapore (August 15, 2017) to Cairns (September 1, 2017)

Singapore – Fremantle – Bali – Makassar – Komodo – Makassar – Dili – Darwin – Cooktown – Cairns (14 nights).

m.v. PACIFIC PEARL – Singapore (August 16, 2017) to Sydney (September 2, 2017)

Singapore – Fremantle – Bali –  Komodo – Dili – Darwin – Cooktown – Cairns – Whitsunday – Brisbane – Sydney  (16 nights).

P&O Cruises Australia Voyages from Australia to Singapore 

m.v. PACIFIC EDEN – Fremantle (July 18, 2016) to Singapore (July 30, 2016)

Fremantle – Komodo – Makassar – Lombok – Bali – Probilinggo – Jakarta – Singapore (12 nights).

m.v. PACIFIC DAWN – Brisbane (February 4, 2017) to Singapore (February 18, 2017)

Brisbane – Port Douglas – Darwin – Dili – Komodo – Bali – Singapore (12 nights).

m.v. PACIFIC EDEN – Fremantle (June12, 2017) to Singapore (June 24, 2017)

Fremantle – Komodo – Makassar – Lombok – Bali – Probilinggo – Jakarta – Singapore (12 nights).

In addition to the P&O Australia sailings, we have the following special sailing from Singapore to Sydney in late 2016. This exclusive Cruiseco charter is bookable through The Cruise People Ltd:

* m.v. OVATION OF THE SEAS – from Singapore (November 30, 2016) to Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney

Singapore – Fremantle (6 nights) – Adelaide – Hobart – Sydney  (15 nights).

For further details of of how to book any of the above voyages please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on+44 (0)20 7723 2450 or email us at

P&O Australia Cruises Now Released In The UK – Exclusive To The Cruise People Ltd And Other Members Of The Cruiseco Alliance

P&O Cruises Australia fleetExperience Australia, New Zealand and Asia with P&O Australia new to the UK through The Cruise People and exclusive to the Cruiseco alliance, of which we are a member.

P&O Australia is Australia’s largest cruise line. Five ships call the waters of the Australia and the South Pacific home, offering more variety, exotic destinations, Australian ports to depart from, experiences and fun than any other cruise line.

To set sail on board a P&O Australia vessel is to experience the waters of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific at their best.  Your holiday starts the moment you step on board.  Stage shows by leading Australian production companies, restaurants serving the very best of the region’s food and wine, outdoor venues designed to make the most of the spectacular Southern Hemisphere weather.

There isn’t a better way to explore the coast lines of this island continent, or visit the friendly neighbours of the South Pacific and New Zealand.

Now exclusively available through Cruiseco members, it is time to start planning your trip Down Under!

P&O Sea Breaks

Bay of Islands from Auckland | 4 nights | Departs Auckland

Visit New Zealand’s two oldest buildings, both in Kerikeri. Swim with dolphins, penguins, marlin, whales and gannets past Tapeka Point. 

Napier from Auckland | 4 nights | Departs Auckland

Cape Kidnappers Eco Safari-Off-road to the nesting place of the world’s largest gannet colony. Napier River Float Trip- Spend a day drifting 11 km down river, surrounded by nature.

P&O Islands

Explore the Loyalty Islands – 9 nights | Departs Sydney

Visit the Cliffs of Jokin in Lifou, made from layers of ancient compressed coral and formed over millions of years.

Melanesian Discovery | 9 – 10 nights | Departs Auckland, Sydney or Brisbane

Explore a traditional village and visit the local Chief on a Melanesian Encounter Shore Tour in Lifou.

P&O Explorer

Kiwi Explorer | 10 nights | Depart Auckland

Cruise by picturesque Fiordland National Park. Cape Kidnappers, home to the only mainland gannet colony. Test your courage with a Kiwi Canyoning Adventure.

Solomon Seas Islands | 10 nights | Departs Cairns

Visit the bustling village of Honiara, gateway to Solomon Islands. Go exotic diving in Gizo Island. Get cultured in Kakabona Cultural Village.

Ultimate New Guinea Islands | 13-15 nights | Depart Brisbane or Sydney

Witness the unique Goroka Mud Men in Madang. Go back thousands of years before civilization on Kitava Island. Paddle a traditional canoe to an untouched Trobriand paradise.

P&O Sea Australia

Barrier Reef Discovery | 10-12 nights | Departs Brisbane

Explore the beautiful Low Isle on a luxury Catamaran from Port Douglas. Snorkel the outer Great Barrier Reef. Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Pacific Pearl (c) John Wilson

P&O Main Events

The Melbourne Cup | 6-7 nights | Depart Brisbane or Sydney

Cruise into Melbourne donning your finest for race day and we’ll deliver you via coach to Flemington Racecourse. General admission tickets and direct transfers are all included so you don’t need to worry about a thing.

Think About a Cruise Next Christmas | 7-12 nights | Depart Brisbane or Sydney

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is all about long sunny days and relaxing by the water with family and friends. See the look on the kids faces when Santa visits on Christmas Day, presents in tow. Enjoy delicious Christmas fare at lunch and dinner, and don’t worry about the clean up-we’ve recruited some elves to help.

New Years Eve | 7-12 nights | Depart Brisbane or Sydney

The days of finding a taxi on New Year’s Eve are over! Forget queuing for venues or next-day tidy up, we’ve got it all covered. And with multiple venues on board, there’s something for everyone

For more information Click Here to view our brochure (scroll down, don’t try to page) or call The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or email

Once-Only Voyage From Europe To South America By The MSC Flaminia As She Repositions To The US East Coast-South America Run

MSC FlaminiaThe passenger-carrying container ship MSC Flaminia will change service, leaving Northern Europe for the East Coast of South America in late January for a single voyage before phasing into the US East Coast – South America East Coast route with sister ship MSC Geneva.  The MSC Flamnia features an Owners, a Double and a Single cabin while MSC Geneva is equipped with an Owners cabin and two Double cabins, all outside and all en suite.

We can therefore now offer the following one-time-only voyage on MSC Flaminia:

Hamburg January 22/23  – Bremerhaven January 24/25 – Le Havre January 26/27 – Lisbon January 30 – Sines January 31, for

Rio de Janeiro February 10/11 – Santos February 12/13 – Paranagua February 14 – Navegantes February 15/16 – Buenos Aires February 19 – Montevideo February 21

Thence in the Brazil-US East Coast service she will sail from Rio Grande February 22/23 – Navegantes February 24/25 – Santos February 27/28 – Salvador March 2 – Suape March 3/4 for Caucedo March 11 – Freeport (Bahamas) March 13 – Norfolk March 17/18 etc in the US East Coast – South America East Coast service.

For reservations please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or email


Seasons Greetings From Passengers On The 84-day Maiden Voyage Of The 18,000 TEU French-Flag Container Ship CMA CGM Bougainville

CMA CGM BougauinvilleChristmas and New Year greetings from British passengers Pat and John Pridmore, who joined CMA CGM Bougainville (above) in Southampton, the day after her christening in Le Havre as the largest container ship under French flag, for her first round voyage from Europe to the Far East.


The view from our window is restricted. It is of a steel container,almost near enough for us to reach out and touch. It tells us that it is “super-heavy” and capable of holding “32,500 kilos gross.” You would not want this thing falling on your foot. There are some eighteen thousand such containers on our vessel, stacked in tiers twenty high, eleven below decks and nine above, ranged in ranks from bow to stern.

We are passengers – the only passengers – on the three-month maiden voyage of the CMA CGM Bougainville, one of the world’s largest container vessels. We live in “the castle”, a tall thin tower amidships, surmounted by the bridge, where everyone from captain to galley-hand is housed. (We must hide somewhere else if we are attacked by pirates, but we mustn’t tell you where that is). Our Leviathan is a colossus. One perambulation of the deck is a half-a-mile walk. Most days we complete several circuits. Most days too we  spend time on the bridge. It is a huge privilege to be allowed to visit the bridge whenever we like and to see for ourselves how this enormous ship is guided on its way – even if there is much we do not understand about what we’re seeing.

CMA CGM Bougainville Hollande et Saadé

CMA CGM chairman Jacques Saadé, 3rd from left, with French president Francois Hollande, who christened the CMA CGM Bougainville at Le Havre on October 6, 2015

Our voyage from Southampton has taken us to European ports, through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, to ports in China, South Korea, and Malaya. Now we are on the long haul home. This is no cruise. We are spared round-the-clock forced-feeding, tacky stage-shows, and – we hope this doesn’t sound too unsociable – two or three thousand other passengers. To be sure, we are travelling in comfort. We are well-fed – after all, our vessel is French. Our simple cabin is sufficiently furnished. We have the use of facilities provided for the officers and crew. There is a slightly larger version of the tank you find at your fishmonger for the accommodation of live lobsters. In this we can splash around when the surrounding sea which feeds it is warm enough. There is a running machine and a ping-pong table. We are both pretty useless at ping-pong but that at least means we are evenly matched.

We have no Christmas lights to enjoy in our cabin. But we have the highlights of our voyage to savour. Among them have been the warm golden stones of Malta, the unfolding theatre along the banks of the Suez Canal, a day in the Arab Emirate of Khor al Fakkan (for us a window into an unknown world) – and, more disturbing, the menacing shape of submarines off the South Korean coast.

We have taken every opportunity to go ashore in China. Here memories compete to be mentioned. We will return in our mind to the four-storey pharmacy that gave us a glimpse of the range and riches of Chinese medicine. We will remember local restaurants, rich local food and local – and invariably friendly – people. We will remember what we learned from simply watching. For example, we sat by a children’s playground in a public park and noticed how the children, mostly pre-schoolers, played together – or rather how they didn’t play together, for of course each of these children was an only child, an offspring of the state’s “one child” policy.

Our slow boat to China (and back) has given us plenty of time – so hard to find in everyday life – for reflection. We are learning things we hope we’ll remember when we’re home. We’re learning the folly of being in such a hurry. We’re beginning to see that flying across the globe in half a day doesn’t help you understand the people you meet when you land.

And all those containers we carry raise another question – where to draw the line between what we need and what we want. No one knows what is inside these containers, but it is safe to assume that everything “made in China” – that’s to say about everything that furnishes our lives these days – is sealed within them. The question is what proportion of this vast cargo actually contributes to our well-being.

Above all there is the immense presence of the sea itself – the sea which we experienced in some at least of its many moods. Even as passengers with no responsibility for bringing us all safely to harbour, we are learning a fresh respect for the sea. What is the little parcel of dry land to which we cling other than a tiny and precarious bridgehead thrust into the waters  that always threaten to return and engulf us? Tsunamis and rising sea levels should at least suggest that thoughts are not altogether far-fetched.

We trust that when we step ashore at Southampton we will not forget what this voyage has taught us. Above all, we hope that we will not forget the Filipinos. The Bougainville is commanded by a French captain and most of his officers are French, but the rest of his crew are all from the Philippines. So it is on most of the world’s container vessels. The round-the-clock maintenance work is done by Filipinos. On back-to-back tours of duty, they  are away from home for nine months at a stretch. But they always seem to be smiling. In this troubled world, they would certainly want to join us in wishing you and yours a joyful Christmas and health and happiness in the New Year.

anchorThe CMA CGM Bouganville sails in the weekly French Asia Line 1 service, 84 days round trip from Southampton via Dunkirk, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Le Havre, through Malta and Suez to Khor Fakkan, Yantian, Tianjin, Dalian, Pusan, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Yantian, Port Kelang and back via Suez and Algeciras to Southampton. Each ship in this line carries up to ten passengers in five cabins.

For further details on booking passage on this route or any other cargo voyage please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail

China’s First Purpose-Built Cruise Ship – Viking Star To Offer Transatlantic Voyage – Peace Boat’s Ecoship Project

The Cruise Examiner for 14th December 2015

Viking Star

Viking Ocean Cruises’ 930-berth Viking Star will cross from Bergen to Montreal in September 2016

After several years of discussion and development, China is finally close to ordering its first purpose-built cruise ship, which could be delivered in 2010 under the auspices of the recent Carnival-inspired round of negotiations with China State Shipbuilding and shipyard group Fincantieri of Italy. Meanwhile, like Royal Viking in the 1970s, Viking Ocean Cruises is expanding its itineraries to North America and the Caribbean, starting with a Transatlantic voyage to Montreal in 2016. And in the Far East again, Japan’s Peace Boat organisation, which has for several years been chartering cruise ships for round-the-world itineraries, has announced that it intends to build a ship of its own, known as the Ecoship project.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                 (See previous columns)

Catch Your China Boat Before She Leaves Europe – Azamara’s First World Cruise – P&O Australia Appoints Cruiseco UK

The Cruise Examiner for 7th December 2015

P&O Cruises Australia fleet.jpg

P&O Cruises Australia, which now numbers five ships in its fleet, has appointed Cruiseco as its UK agents

As a number of Western-designed mega-ships are prepared for introduction to the Chinese market, brief opportunities will arise over the next couple of years to cruise on these ships in Europe, where they are being built, before they set off for China. Two of these will be the 4,180-berth Ovation of the Seas next year and the 3,560-berth Majestic Princess in 2017. Elsewhere, Azamara Club Cruises, is entering the World Cruise market in 2018 with its Azamara Journey, sailing from Sydney to London. Finally, P&O Cruises Australia is now available to book in the UK through an exclusive agency agreement with Cruiseco UK, which hopes to have 100 outlets in the UK by the end of the year.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                 (See previous columns)