Sail Around Australia In L’Austral (40 nights), Sydney to Fremantle via Tasmania (14 nights) or Fremantle to Sydney via Darwin (26 nights)

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For information on any of these specials please contact The Cruise People Ltd at 88 York Street London W1H 1QT, call +44 (0)20 7723 2450, UK Freephone 0800 526 313, or email

Cruiseco Signs Exclusive Charter On Ponant’s 264-berth L’Austral For A Circumnavigation Of Australia, Departing Sydney January 25, 2018


The 10,944-ton French-flag mega-yacht L’Austral is equipped with Zodiacs and accommodates 264 guests in 132 staterooms

Cruiseco, the Australia and UK-based provider of worldwide cruising options, has just announced the exclusive charter of Ponant’s 264-berth L’Austral for a unique 40-night Australian circumnavigation, departing Sydney’s iconic harbour on January 25, 2018. With an itinerary exclusively designed for Cruiseco, this voyage will highlight some of Australia’s most breathtaking destinations outside the capital cities.

L'Austral maoAmber Wilson, General Manager, Sales & Marketing at Cruiseco says: “Travelling around Australia is on every discerning traveller’s wish list, and now with the opportunity to sail aboard the magnificent L’Austral, guests are offered an intimate and authentic cruising experience. As a small luxury, expedition vessel, L’Austral has the capability to dock in smaller ports, providing guests with access to unique destinations and the ability to explore secluded locations via Zodiac.”

“To enhance the cruising experience, guests will also be accompanied by a specialist expedition team to provide insights into the history of each port, as well as flora, fauna and landscape of the country.”

The 40-night itinerary has been designed to offer guests the option to select from a number of overnight excursions away from the ship. For example, guests can depart L’Austral in Cooktown and rejoin her in Port Douglas, having visited Cape Tribulation and the Daintree National Park. Additional highlights of this voyage include: marvelling at the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell, Victoria, with an option to view this natural phenomenon from the sky; visiting the National ANZAC Centre in Albany, Western Australia; and exploring Darwin, Northern Territory with optional tours to Kakadu and its surrounds.

L'Austral's restaurant

Enjoy gastronomic delights in L’Austral‘s French restaurant, overlooking the stern of the ship

Accommodating guests within 132 cabins across nine suite categories, L’Austral is part of the Ponant philosophy of creating a unique atmosphere, with a subtle blend of luxury and well being. Guests aboard L’Austral will encounter a chic and elegant yacht-like ambiance, refined and personalised service, as well as gastronomic traditional French and international cuisine.

“Cruiseco was the first to charter an Australian circumnavigation, which sold out in less than a week, back in October 2005 on the 688-berth Pacific Princess. Now with the opportunity to sail aboard L’Austral and experience an expedition-style voyage, this package is sure to disappear quickly. We would encourage anyone who would like to cruise with us to secure their places soon,” added Wilson. This cruise can only be booked through Cruiseco members, of which The Cruise People Ltd in London is one.

L'Austral CircumnavigationEarlybird prices start at £14,575 for a Superior Stateroom per person twin share. Price includes: 40 luxurious nights travelling around Australia; all meals aboard L’Austral; house wine, beers, sparkling wine and non-premium spirits throughout the cruise; Zodiac tours in Wineglass, Talbot Bay, Yirrkala, Frangipani Beach, Cape York and Lizard Island; port charges; and gratuities.

For additional itinerary options or to book please call Giulia Marri at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail


Thirty Years Of Northwest Passage Cruises – TUI Cruises Places Options For Two More Ships – New Ship Names For Royal Caribbean

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 22nd September 2014... ..


Lindblad Explorer

Lindblad Explorer transited the Northwest Passage in 1984

northwest_passageThis month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the first full transit of Canada’s Northwest Passage by a commercial passenger vessel, with the Lindblad Explorer arriving in Yokohama on September 29, 1984. The 43-day voyage had departed St John’s, Newfoundland, on August 20. But things are now accelerating in the Northwest Passage. Last year saw the first commercial cargo, 73,000 tons of coal, move from Vancouver to Finland in the Nordic Orion, and this year the first westbound cargo, 25,000 tons of nickel concentrate, moving from Quebec to China in Fednav’s Nunavik. In 2015, Abercrombie & Kent will become the seventh company operating expedition ships through the Northwest Passage by chartering Ponant’s Le Boréal, and in 2016 Crystal Cruises plans to carry 900 passengers from Seward, Alaska, through the Northwest Passage to New York in the 68,870-ton Crystal Serenity.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

Canadian-Owned m.v. Nunavik Takes First Westbound Cargo Through The Northwest Passage As Our 2014 Passengers Arrive In Anadyr


Fednav, a Canadian-owned company and world leader in Arctic navigation, announced that its vessel, the m.v. Nunavik sailed from Deception Bay en route to China via Canada’s Northwest Passage, with a full cargo of nickel concentrate. The Nunavik will be one of the first commercial vessels to transit the Northwest Passage completely, and the first to do so unescorted with an Arctic cargo, and with Canadian expertise.

The Nunavik is the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) icebreaking bulk carrier in the world, and sails from Deception Bay, Northern Quebec year round, transporting product from the Canadian Royalties mine. The Nunavik will deliver 23,000 tons of nickel concentrate to Bayuquan in China.

Meanwhile, our own Northwest Passage passengers for 2014 arrived in Anadyr, Siberia, this week from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, which they left on on August 26, in Ponant’s L’Austral. Ice conditions are fairly heavy this year. The ship needed an icebreaker in the Passage and was late arriving at Cambridge Bay and had to cancel her call there. The ice that is clogging the Northwest Passage right now is mostly multi-year ice breaking off from polar ice-packs and being pushed down from the Arctic Ocean.

We now have six companies offering the Northwest Passage: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Ponant and Silversea offering the full transit while One Ocean Expeditions, Adventure Canada and Lindblad transit the passage from the east and turn at Coppermine or Cambridge Bay. You will find some of the links here on our Expeditions page. Crystal Serenity in the ice

Crystal Cruises will transit the Northwest Passage from Seward, Alaska, to New York in 2006 with the 1,090-berth Crystal Serenity. Her passage has been planned by EYOS Expeditions and has been in the making for two years. Please call Gay Scruton on +44 (0) 20 7723 2450 for further details on this departure.

For further details on booking any transit of the Northwest Passage please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail

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

The Cruise Examiner For 2nd May 2011: The Cruise Examiner has a new writer – The Cruise Market Today – L’Austral “Revealed” in Marseilles – Fleet Changes at Saga

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner has a new writer – The Cruise Market Today – L’Austral “Revealed” in Marseilles – Fleet Changes at Saga

Just as the “We Are Cunard” blog falls to a new writer with Cunard president Peter Shanks, “The Cruise Examiner” column at is also being entrusted to new hands. After thanking Mark Tré for his three years of producing this column, we are pleased to announce that Kevin Griffin, managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd of London has agreed to take over the weekly spot. Born in England, Kevin emigrated to Canada (by sea) as a child but has returned to live in the UK three times, the last in 1992 when he established The Cruise People Ltd. He has worked in the shipping industry and is a director and past chairman of the Leading Cruise Agents of the UK as well as being a qualified shipbroker.


The French Cruise Market Finally Awakens – AidaSol Enters Service and Costa Favolosa Soon To Follow – Disney Cruise Line Expands – A Discovery II?

Finally, the French cruise market is starting to get interesting as growth continues and cruise lines begin to look for more business from France. Meanwhile, Aida’s eighth cruise ship, the AidaSol is christened in Germany while Costa’s Costa Favolosa is being prepared for her maiden voyage from Venice in a few weeks.

As Halifax and Saint John on Canada’s east coast and Victoria on the west coast prepare to welcome Disney Cruise Line in 2012, Vancouver suffers a big loss as Disney announces its Alaska cruises will sail from Seattle next year instead of Vancouver. Europe loses too. Meanwhile, will there be a Discovery II?


The French Market Continues To Grow

While France was the last cruise market in Europe to show any signs of growth, now that the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain have all surged ahead, the French market is finally starting to show some signs of life. It has now grown at 12% annually, although admittedly from a lower base, for three years.

As a sign of events, in two weeks there will be a joint inauguration ceremony for Compagnie du Ponant’s 264-berth L’Austral and Le Boréal in Marseilles. And both Croisières de France and Croisières Paquet will now move to larger ships. At Paquet, the Grand Mistral will replace the Costa Allegra this year, while Crosières de France will replace the Bleu de France with the Horizon in 2012.

Meanwhile, looking for more business from France, P&O Cruises announced on Friday the appointment of Compagnie Internationale de Croisière as its general sales agent. Based in Paris, CIC already represents Cunard and Seabourn so this seems a natural move into the French market. How much demand there might be for a British cruise product in France may be debatable but Marks & Spencer is returning to Paris after an absence of several years, with an outlet on the Champs Elysées. Possibly of particular interest to the French is P&O’s latest fleet addition, the Adonia, ex-Royal Princess, which was built at St Nazaire (as of course was the Queen Mary 2).

On the same day as P&O appointed CIC, Royal Caribbean International announced that it would open its own office in Paris (after having failed with an earlier one in 1999-2001). The new RCI Paris office will employ the fifteen employees of the present general sales agent Latitude Sud, who booked 15,000 passengers for Royal Caribbean in 2010. Starting in 2012, the Liberty of the Seas will make more than fifty turnaround calls at French ports, 29 at Marseilles, 23 at Toulon and three or four at Le Havre.

In the meantime, this summer, French passengers will be coached from Nice to Genoa for embarkation on board the line’s Mariner of the Seas. Liberty of the Seas, while an American-sounding name, is appropriate for a Royal Caribbean ship serving the French Market, It was the French who donated the Statue of Liberty to the United States and one of the last great French ocean liners, along with the Ile de France and the France, was called Liberté.

Meanwhile, another arm of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Croisières de France, which falls under Pullmantur as the Paris-based marketing arm for a dedicated French market ship, will be graduating from the 752-berth 37,301-ton Bleu de France, built in 1982, to the 1,506-berth 46,811-ton Horizon, built in 1990, in 2012, after the Bleu de France becomes Saga Sapphire.

Meanwhile, after having built whole series of ships for the likes of Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Renaissance and MSC Cruises, as well as notable one-offs such as the Queen Mary 2 and Crystal Serenity, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, now known as STX France, is down to three orders – the MSC Divina, the mooted Phoenicia, which was launched as X32 on December 15, 2010, and the mooted Europa 2 for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

With Meyer Werft’s order book full, Hapag-Lloyd had wanted to build in Germany, but that yard had been unable to deliver the Europa 2 by 2013. So STX won the order almost by default. Meanwhile, Fincantieri also has orders for enough ships to keep it relatively busy as well. But STX needs more orders and one wonders with Aida up to eight ships now whether STX will be able to tempt TUI Cruises with ships they can deliver earlier than any other shipyard.


AidaSol Enters Service As Costa Favolosa Is Prepared

The 71,000-ton AidaSol, fifth of Aida Cruises’ new “Sphinx” class cruise ships and eighth ship in the fleet, was officially named in Kiel on Saturday at another star-studded event. Like the AidaBlu that preceded her and the sixth “Sphinx” class ship to follow, the AidaSol has an extra deck compared to the first four ships of her class, her own brewery and a 25,000 sq ft spa. Her 1,097 passenger cabins give her a double occupancy capacity of 2,198 passengers.

With dimensions of 252 by 32.2 metres (827 x 106 feet), vessels of this class were built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg and can just make it through the present Panama Canal. In fact, near sister AidaLuna became the largest cruise ship ever to reach Montreal, on the St Lawrence River, when she arrived there last year. She is one of the larger ships that can pass under the Quebec Bridge 139 nautical miles downstream at Quebec City.

After Saturday’s naming ceremony the AidaSol departed on Sunday on a 9-night maiden voyage, a cruise of major north European ports and capitals calling at Copenhagen, Oslo, Dover (for London), Le Havre (for Paris), Amsterdam and Hamburg. This will be followed by two similar 7-night Hamburg to Hamburg cruises and from May to September, in an attempt to get further growth from the German cruise market, she will be engaged on a series of short 4-night sampler cruises from Warnemünde to Oslo, Copenhagen and back.

The European capitals cruises resembles closely an itinerary that has recently been offered by Aida’s parent company Costa Cruises, and in fact all the Aida ships, although serving the German-speaking market, are registered Costa’s head office city of Genoa.

The 114,500-ton Costa Favolosa, meanwhile, fourth of five of Costa Cruises’ “Conquest” class ships and sixteenth ship in the Costa fleet, was presented to Costa Cruises in Trieste on Friday. This ship has a 65,000 sq ft Samsara Spa, with lunch and dinner at the Samsara Restaurant included in the fare for passengers booked in Samsara cabins and suites.

Her 1,508 passenger staterooms give her a double occupancy capacity of 3,016 passengers. With sixteen ships, not all in the Mediterranean, Costa will this year make 2,800 calls in 92 ports, carrying almost nine million passengers – a 33% increase over 2010. Costa Favolosa makes her maiden voyage from Venice on July 4.

Disney in Canada, Europe and Texas

Last Wednesday in New York, Disney Cruise Line announced that while it will be pulling into Halifax and Saint John for the first timein 2012, it would be abandoning Vancouver for a new base in Seattle. Not only that, but the line will be abandoning Europe, at least for now.

So 2011 will be Disney’s one and only season sailing out of Vancouver. Except for one or two calls at Vancouver in 2012, the Disney Wonder will call at Victoria BC, thus allowing her to comply to US coasting laws that permit a ship to cruise from and to the same US port as long as her itinerary includes a foreign port of call.

In addition to its homeport of Port Canaveral, Disney will be sailing from three new US ports in 2012 – New York, Seattle and Galveston.

The 1,754-berth Disney Magic, cruising in Europe this summer, will move to New York in May 2012 for a series of twenty cruises through to summer and autumn. Galveston will then be added in September 2012, with Disney Magic offering twelve 7-night cruises from then until December. Her sister ship, Disney Wonder, will also move her Alaska cruises from Vancouver this summer to the US port of Seattle in the summer of 2012. Both Europe and Vancouver will therefore be losing Disney Cruise Line at the end of this summer’s season.

In New York, meanwhile, one will be pardoned next year for thinking they see a Cunard Line or a French Line Transatlantic liner berthed at Manhattan’s west wide liner piers. It won’t be the Queen Mary or Normandie, however, but the Disney Magic. Like all Disney ships, she has been built to evoke the great “ships of state” from the 1930s. The Disney Magic will offer eight 8-night cruises to the Bahamas and nine 5-night cruises to Canada, thus adding more cruises to New York’s port statistics. In 2010, New York counted over 582,000 embarking passengers and 241 ship calls, 30% up from 445,000 passengers and 181 calls in 2009.

The new 2,500-berth Disney Dream, meanwhile, has taken over the line’s traditional 3-, 4- and 5-day sailings out of Port Canaveral and will be joined in 2012 by her sister ship Disney Fantasy. On delivery of the Fantasy, the Disney fleet will not only stand at four ships, but its lower berth capacity will have risen from 3,508 to 8,508, an increase of 2.4 times.

Discovery II?

In November 2009, All Leisure Group PLC purchased Phoenix Reisen’s Alexander von Humbolt, second ship of that name and built as Crown Cruise Line’s Crown Monarch in 1990. Her previous owner had been the now-defunct Club Cruise of the Netherlands.

All Leisure then chartered the ship back to Phoenix to complete a 2010 program, with P&O’s Artemis due to be delivered to Phoenix as Artania in 2011. Meanwhile, All Leisure have kept quiet as to which of their three brands, Hebridean Island Cruises, Swan Hellenic (whose Minerva was the first Alexander von Humboldt) or Voyages of Discovery, might get the ship.

The Alexander von Humboldt completed her Phoenix cruises in November and is now in Genoa undergoing refurbishment for All Leisure, but still with an unannounced future. Part of the work under way appears to be the addition of about twenty new balconies. Meanwhile, her graceful clipper bow, which was prone to damage in heavy seas, has been turned into something a little bit more snub-nosed.

On Friday, All Leisure announced 2012 itineraries for the existing three ships, Discovery, Hebridean Princess and Minerva, which would seem to indicate that the latest acquisition might become a replacement for either Discovery or Minerva and not an addition. No announcement was made of any new ship or any additional itineraries but work on the fourth ship continues in Genoa.

One report indicates that the 508-berth fourth vessel might be renamed Discovery II when her refit is finished, but that it is not known whether she will be an addition to the 710-berth Discovery or a replacement for her. We wait to hear further but here are the details for the three larger ships:

All Leisure's Fleet

If one looks at the age of the ships the answer to the riddle might be obvious but on the other hand the Minerva also carried the name Alexander von Humboldt for a time.

Courtesy of Mark Tré at – first published 11th April 2011.