“The World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship” – Other Cruise News: Ponant’s Sea Voyages – Trouble On The Amazon

The Cruise Examiner for 18th July 2016

Le Boreal

Let Ponant’s 10,922-ton Le Boréal take you non-stop from Boston to Panama in 7 nights this October

This week, we look at Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new Seven Seas Explorer, said by Regent to be the most luxurious ship ever built. We assess first reactions and also compare her to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2. Elsewhere, Marseilles-based Ponant is launching a number of sea voyages, mostly non-stop port-to-port ocean voyages such as 8 nights from Vancouver to Honolulu on board Le Soléal this September and 7 nights from Boston to Portland on board Le Boréal (above) this October. And trouble erupted twice on the Peruvian Amazon last week, with one river cruiser, the 40-berth Amazon Discovery, being attacked by bandits while another, the 24-berth Aqua Amazon, sank at her dock in Iquitos, with four crew members missing after an explosion on Saturday.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                         (See previous columns)

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More Sea Voyages From Ponant: Easter Island to Chile; The Strait of Magellan; Marseilles to the Azores; Martinique to Lisbon via Bermuda

Special Positioning Cruises From Ponant:

Vessel       Date         Voyage (from and to)                                   Fare (pp)
Le Ponant    01.11.16      Marseilles to Praia, Azores (10 nights)                    €1,700
Le Soléal      05.11.16       Talcahuano, Chile to Ushuaia (4 nights)                 €   800
Le Boréal     19.04.17       Martinique to Lisbon (12 nights) (1) (2)                  €2,360

(1) voyage is via Bermuda, with brief calls at St George’s and Hamilton
(2) including round trip flights from Paris

Le Ponant

Each of the Ponant ships takes up to 264 passengers but on these voyages numbers will be limited. Le Ponant (above), fleet “mascot” and namesake, carries just 60 guests.

For further details on any of these voyages please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail PassageEnquiry@aol.com

The Northwest Passage: Yet Another Cruise Ship For 2017

The Cruise Examiner for 2nd May 2016

Seven Seas Navigator

The Seven Seas Navigator is a cruise ship that was built on an ice-strengthened hull

The fabled Northwest Passage took three years to cross when Raould Amundsen first traversed it from east to west in his Gjoa in 1903-06 and Henry Larsen of the RCMP made it the other way in the St Roch in 1940-42. A century later, however, large passenger ships such as the 43,524-ton residence ship The World and the 68,870-ton cruise ship Crystal Serenity are threatening to turn it into a tourist playground. Last week came news that yet another cruise ship, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 28,550-ton Seven Seas Navigator, would join the Crystal Serenity in making the passage in 2017. While Crystal sail from Seward to New York, Regent will be sailing from Seward to Montreal.

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

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

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

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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.

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Crystal “Discovers” The Northwest Passage – More Breakaway Plus Orders – Shipping Activity By Royal Caribbean Shareholders

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 21st July 2014..

 

Crystal Serenity in the iceLast week Crystal Cruises surprised the market with the news that it would send its 68,870-ton Crystal Serenity through the Northwest Passage in 2016. Last year the Danish cargo ship Nordic Orion ran from Vancouver across the Canadian Arctic with a cargo of coal for Pori, Finland, and this and other recent activity seem to have emboldened Crystal to try it for themselves. This is despite the fact that there have been times in the past when Ice Class ships have had to abandon their efforts and return from whence they came. Elsewhere, Norwegian Cruise Line has ordered two more Breakaway Plus class ships while there has been some more activity around Royal Caribbean’s shipping shareholders.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                         (See previous columns)

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.

The Cruise Examiner for 28th November 2011: Some Great Cruises Away From the Mass Market – Other Cruise News: Stern’s Guide to the Cruise Vacation 2012 – German Cruise Market Getting Close To Par With the UK

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com
by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 28th November 2011

For those who have been cruising for many years, one of the worst things about the recent huge growth in cruising has been the 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. These three rather interesting cruises, away from the crowds and big ships, take place on ships of a certain size with refined and relaxed atmospheres and a total abscence of cartoon characters, ships that remind one of the golden age of cruising.  So today we investigate cruising the unspoiled Caribbean in Seabourn Quest, Atlantic Europe (with three top chefs) in Le Boréal and the Mediterranean from Venice in Azamara Quest. We also examine the 2012 issue of “Stern’s Guide to the Cruise Vacation,” just out, and some of “Stern’s Strong Points.”  And the latest statistics from the German DRV reveal a very successful year in German cruising, with 1.2 million ocean cruisers and 420,000 river cruisers. Germany’s ocean cruise revenues exceeded €2 billion for the first time this year, while river cruise operators generated €472 million. With 1.62 German cruisers and 1.65 UK cruisers in total, the German cruise market will probably surpass the UK’s in size much sooner than we think.

Illustration courtesy of Compagnie du Ponant.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                     (See previous columns)