Hapag-Lloyd To Order A Third Hanseatic Class Ship – Azamara To Include South Africa – Recent River Line Changes

THE CRUISE EXAMINER AT CYBERCRUISES.COM   BY KEVIN GRIFFIN

The Cruise Examiner for 21st May 2018

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to build a third 230-berth “Hanseatic” class expedition cruise ship for 2021 delivery

As the German and international cruise markets continue to grow TUI Group has chosen to order a third 230-berth “Hanseatic” class expedition ship, for delivery in 2021. And with the addition of a third ship, Azamara Club Cruises has announced that South Africa will be added to its itineraries in 2020. Finally we have a look at recent changes on the river cruise line scene in the UK.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                     (See previous columns)

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Cruiseco’s Exclusive 2016 Azamara Club Cruises Charters – Lead-in Categories Are Already Sold Out So Book Now To Get Best Fares

Azamara Quest 

The great success of the “Mediterranean Montage” and “European Enchantment” charters for 2015 have paved the way for the creation of two extended charters aboard Azamara Club Cruises in 2016.

These exclusive Cruiseco charters have been designed to ensure your time ashore is maximised with a focus on overnight stays and late departures from ports that are unique and rarely seen on cruise itineraries. Regular cruisers will be surprised and enchanted by the original approach taken by these classic journeys.

Hidden Treasures of the Mediterranean ~ 20 April to 24 May 2016 – Azamara Journey
Nice to Venice – 34 nights – 30 ports – 10 countries – 5 overnights – 15 late departures
Ports Visited: Nice ~ St Tropez ~ Sanary-Sur-Mer ~ Cassis ~ Sète ~ Palamos ~ Ibiza ~ Mahon ~ Propriano ~ Olbia ~ Amalfi ~ Trapani ~ La Goulette ~ Porto Empedocle ~ Valletta ~ Mgarr ~ Chania ~ Limassol ~ Alanya ~ Kas ~ Marmaris ~ Hydra ~ Gythion ~ Itea ~ Dubrovnik ~ Korcula ~ Hvar ~ Ravenna ~ Koper ~ Venice

Fares from £6,300 per person double occupancy – Category 11 and 12 sold out

For further details online please click here

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MONTREAL TO NEW ORLEANS EDIT Discover the Atlantic Seaboard of Canada and USA ~ 24 September to 26 October 2016 Azamara Quest
Montreal to New Orleans – 32 nights – 19 ports – 9 overnights – 8 late departures
Ports Visited: Montreal ~ Québec ~ Charlottetown ~ Halifax ~ Saint John ~ Bar Harbor ~ Portland ~ Boston ~ Provincetown ~ Newport ~ New York ~ Baltimore ~ Norfolk ~ Charleston ~ Port Canaveral ~ Miami ~ Key West ~ Mobile ~ New Orleans

Fares from £6,210 per person double occupancy – Category 12 sold out

For further details online please click here

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Azamara

    Both Charters Include:
– Transfers at the beginning and end of your holiday
– All meals aboard Azamara Journey/Azamara Quest
– Gratuities to dining room and stateroom staff aboard ship
– House wine and beer served with lunch and dinner on board
– Bottled mineral water throughout your cruise
– Full on-board programme of entertainment, enhancement and port lectures

To book now please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com.

Check Out Our Recent Advertising Of Exclusive Ocean and River Cruises From Cruiseco in the “Daily Mail” and “Daily Telegraph”

Celebrity EclipseCheck out our Cruiseco Exclusive Cruises as advertised in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph over the past month – covering a 5-night May bank holiday:cruise from Southampton to Cherbourg, Le Havre and Zeebrugge in Celebrity Eclipse (above), luxury river cruises on the Irrawaddy, the Mekong and the Ganges, as well as the Rhone and the Danube, and extended month-long and longer cruises in Europe and North America on board the 682-berth Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest:

Cruiseco Exclusive Charters in the “Daily Mail” February 14, 2015

Cruiseco Exclusive Charters in the “Daily Mail” February 7, 2015

Cruiseco Exclusive Charters in the “Daily Telegraph” January 31, 2015

Cruiseco Exclusive Charters in the “Daily Mail” January 11, 2015

For further details on any of these cruises please feel free to call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450, book online at our cruises web page or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Azamara Club Cruises’ Cruiseco Charters – Pullmantur Changes UK Agent (Again) – Funchal Cancels 2015 Season

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 16th February 2015

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Azamara Quest leaves Nice for Southampton via the Baltic on May 28 and has some balcony staterooms remaining from £5,129 pp for 37 days. Apply through Cruiseco agents.

This week we have a look at the relationship between Azamara Club Cruises and the rapidly growing Cruiseco cruise agents consortium in Australia, an entity that is now expanding into the UK. Meanwhile, Pullmantur Cruises is on its fourth UK agent in the past several years, having now appointed a division of Fred. Olsen Travel to look after its business in the UK. And Portuscale’s Funchal, having had her 2015 cruise season cancelled, is now available for long-term charter.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

The Cruise People Ltd Have Joined Cruiseco And Now Offer Cruiseco’s Exclusive Azamara Club Cruises Charters For 2016

Cruiseco’s 2016 Azamara Luxury Charters!

HIDDEN TREASURES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN

Cruiseco, a consortium of cruise travel agents based Down Under and in the UK, has looked to create a voyage that combines sophisticated sailing with authentic cultural experiences. The Azamara Journey departs Nice on April 24, 2016, visiting some of the Mediterranean’s least-visited gateways, getting closer than others can, while cosseting its guests in absolute splendour.

This luxurious cruise will take you from Nice to Venice over 34 enchanting nights, visiting 30 ports, with 5 overnight port stays. Earlybird offer available!

Click here for more information

DISCOVER THE ATLANTIC SEABOARD OF CANADA AND USA

Cruiseco offers a voyage that combines the bizarre, the beautiful and the absolutely breathtaking. This itinerary is for those keen to unlock lesser-known ports on North America’s historic eastern seaboard, while still enjoying some of its most iconic.

The Azamara Quest will leave Montreal on September 24, 2016, for New Orleans, on a cruise of 32 enthralling nights, visiting 19 ports with 9 overnight port stays. Earlybird offer available!

Click here for more information

For further details on either of these exclusive Cruiseco departures with Azamara Club Cruises please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450, complete the enclosed form by clicking on the links provided above or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises Win Hands Down In Cruise Critic Readers’ Awards, With Oceania Cruises Next In Line

Azamara QuestSister lines Celebrity and Azamara walked away with the top positions in the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice awards last week. Looking at the top five ships in three categories in the US and UK polls, Celebrity scored nine firsts and Azamara eight, followed by Oceania and Thomson with six each in the categories we chose.

For purposes of its polls, Cruise Critic defined a medium-sized ship as carrying between 1,200 and 1,999 passengers, with anything above that being defined as large and anything below as small. The results are laid out below for the best five ships in each category for each of the UK and US, as well as the best ship in each category for dining, entertainment and service for the UK and US. The actual ships’ scores are given in brackets. Some of the surprising results: are given below.

Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice awards 2013 - Scores courtesy of Cruise Critic

       Cruise Critic Cruisers Choice awards 2013 – Courtesy of Cruise Critic

Celebrity EclipseThe most interesting outcome was that of the forty-eight results laid out above, Royal Caribbean brands collected eighteen of the top spots, compared to only four for Carnival brands, despite being severely outnumbered. Proof of a good design and concept, Celebrity’s nine wins were all by 2,850-berth Solstice class ships (Celebrity Eclipse pictured above) except for 1,814-berth Celebrity Century positioning third in the UK medium ships category. Celebrity also took the UK’s top three large ship positions.

Azamara did proportionally even better in that with only two 684-berth ships, it managed to pick up eight of these awards. The other Royal Caribbean win was the 5,408-berth Allure of the Seas, which took third-best large ship in the US results.

oceania_marinaOceania managed six wins in the categories we have chosen, all by its two newest ships, the 1,258-berth Marina and Riviera. But the real surprise was Thomson Cruises walking away with six awards, not only from their own market in the UK but also from US voters. We can think of only one reason for that and that is that the UK results must be included in the US ones, but the website is not clear as to the methodology.

Certainly, with Thomson selling off brands, such as its ski operation, Neilson, and contemplating unloading others to pay down £1.6 billion in debt, any aspiring bidder might look at Thomson Cruises as a possible acquisition. That its older ships should have achieved tops in the mid-size awards for entertainment in both polls and also outscored Carnival’s brand-new 3,690-berth Carnival Breeze makes Thomson worth a look.

Actual cruisers were polled here and of the Carnival brands only one ship from each of Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and Seabourn managed to score in this sample, and none from P&O or Princess. What makes it even odder is that Carnival Breeze won her spot in the UK survey and not the US one. In the US, Disney managed to score as many wins as all Carnival brands combined.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal each achieved three places, but Azamara’s two ultra-premium ships taking eight places to only three for Crystal’s two ultra-luxury ships is an interesting surprise.

To book an Azamara or Celebrity cruise and to book an Oceania cruise please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Some Really Great Cruises Away From the Madding Crowd – on Seabourn Quest, Le Boréal and Azamara Quest

Some Great Cruises Away From the Madding Crowd

For those who have been cruising for many years, one of the worst things about the recent huge growth in cruising has been its new mammoth ships with the massive crowds they bring. For the many who dislike crowds, overweening entertainment, ziplines, Blue Man Group and Red Frog beer, here are three cruises that will take you away from all that to explore areas of real interest. For each cruise we also quote “Stern’s Guide to the Cruise Vacation” for his “strong points” on each line type of ship.

Now that Seattle-based ultra-luxury line Seabourn has all three of its larger 450-guest luxury ships, Seabourn Odysssey, Sojourn and Quest, in service, its fleet numbers 1,986 berths, including the original trio of Seabourn Legend, Pride and Spirit. A threefold growth in capacity over two years means that Seabourn now offers more berths than and twice as many ships as its predecessor Royal Viking Line when it operated its original trio of ultra-luxury ships on itineraries worlwide. In fact, today’s Seabourn offers much better value on board as it is all-inclusive, whereas on Royal Viking one had to pay for one’s bar bills, wines and gratuities.

For a Caribbean cruise on Seabourn, one couldn’t do better than to choose the Seabourn Quest, which made her maiden North American land when she arrived in Fort Lauderdale last week. The Quest will typically sail on 10-, 12- and 14-night Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale in November and December, and rather than calling at the mass-market ports of St Thomas, Cozumel and Costa Playa, none of which have any cultural appeal, she calls at out-of-the-way islands that are for the most part off the beaten track.

Typical calls include St Kitts, St Vincent, Mayreau, St Barts and St John as well as the more popular Barbados and Martinique, and usually a call at San Juan as well. The latter is so the Americans can buy their double duty free allowance, but rather than go shopping with them, take advantage of this opportunity to do your own private tours. A verandah suite will cost about £4,500 to £5,000 per person double for a fortnight including flights from the UK.

Stern’s Strong Points: “Top-of-the-line luxury (at top-of-the-line prices except when special offers are available on selected cruises), superb food, impeccable service, and elegant, spacious accommodations, as well as the most desired itineraries… The new 450-passenger ships offer the same exceptional dining, service and accommodations with additional space, facilities and entertainment. Most seasoned cruisers consider these the best ships in service today.”

An up-and-coming company in the news of recent is Marseilles-based Compagnie du Ponant, which has introduced two 264-guest yachtlike ships, Le Boréal and L’Austral, over the past couple of years, and has just ordered a third. The recent sale of Le Levant to Paul Gauguin Cruises and Le Diamant to buyers affiliated with International Shipping Partners means that this fleet will become more uniform, with three new sister ships and the original 60-berth Le Ponant, which took the company name and is now becoming more of a mascot. For this cruise we nominate Le Boréal’s May 9th Gastronomic sailing from Honfleur to Copenhagen by way of Ostend, Amsterdam, Hamburg and the Kiel Canal.

On this 5-night sailing three top chefs, Michelin three-star Jacques Marcon, two-star Jean-Marc Delacourt and Philippe Joannes, best chef in France of 2000, will be serving up gastronomic delights to match the ports of call. Fares start at £1,304 per person double occupancy. For those who like to combine business with pleasure Ostend is called at on Thursday and Amsterdam on Friday if you want to make appointments, but Hamburg will be called on Saturday so you can go and see the Maritime Museum. The cruise is only five nights but with such chefs on board perhaps that is enough at one go.

Stern’s Strong Points: “Le Boréal and L’Austral feature staterooms that measure from 200 square feet with a 56-suqre-foor balcony to 398 square feet with an 86-square-foot balcony and 484 square feet with a 97-square-foot balcony for the owner’s suite. Ninety-five per cent of the accommodations sport balconies.”

Another interesting cruise that avoids crowds and offers little extras is Miami-based Azamara Club Cruises, whose Azamara Quest cruises the Mediterranean by summer and autumn. Obe can join this Quest on August 18 at Venice for an overnight stay before sailing at 6 pm on the 19th for visits to Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor (an overnight stay), Brindisi, Corfu, Taormina, Amalfi (another overnight stay), Capri and Sorrento before finishing in Civitavecchia for Rome on August 29.

Cruise-only balcony fares begin at £2,709 and include fine boutique wines with lunch and dinner and a focus on culture and destinations on a ship that carries no more than 684 passengers. The Azamara Quest and her sister ship Azamara Journey were once members of the Renaissance fleet.

Stern’s Strong Points: “A more initimate cruise experience to exotic ports that many larger sjips cannot reach on longer itineraries, with a variety of entertainments, fine dining options and attentive service throughout the ship.”

There is not a single trace of Shrek, Spongebob Squarepants or Mickey on any of these ships, just a sense of calm and sophistication, Where larger ships need to have Retreats, Sanctuaries and Tranquility areas to get away from the endless activity, such areas would be totally pointless on these ships.

To book any of these cruises please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)207 723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.