A Ten-Ship Weekend At Southampton – Mascot, Pathfinder or Ambassador? – Crystal Cruises Back In Dover

The Cruise Examiner for 21st August 2017

Pacific Princess

The 688-berth Pacific Princess has served as Princess Cruises’ flagship, mascot and its 50% Anniversary ship

This weekend at Southampton was one of the busiest of the season seeing five cruise ship visits on each of Saturday and Sunday, including the -ton Queen Mary 2,for a total of ten ships over the weekend, plus the -ton passenger-carrying container ship CMA CGM Corte Real on Sunday. Elsewhere, we look at fleets that feature one smaller ship in addition to their main fleet of larger cruise ships. Finally, Crystal Cruises has returned to Dover after a two-year absence.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                            (See previous columns)

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Canadian Pacific’s Princess Patricia To Be Commemorated on Princess Cruises’ 50th Anniversary Cruise This December

Princess Patricia painting

The 6,062-ton Canadian-flag Princess Patricia was the origin of the name of Princess Cruises.

In the winters of 1965-66 and 1966-67, Canadian Pacific’s 347-berth Princess Patricia ran a number of Mexican Riviers cruises on charter to the newly-formed Princess Cruises, sailing from Los Angeles. To celebrate the line’s 50th anniversary later this year, Princess Cruises has scheduled the 680-berth Pacific Princess for a special Mexican Riviera itinerary departing Los Angeles on December 3, 2015. The Pacific Princess will sail fifty years to the day after the Princess Patricia departed on the line’s first cruise in 1965.

The Princess Patricia normally operated her in Canadian Pacific’s Alaska cruise trade by summer and was laid her up in Victoria each winter. But the original use of the name Princess Cruises actually dated back to its colloquial use in Canadian Pacific Alasks brochures as early as the 1930s.

The Pacific Princess, now the smallest ship in the Princess fleet, will operate a 14-night cruise of the same duration as that first cruise on Princess Patricia. It will include a blend of ports from the maiden itinerary, including Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, and add some newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto.

Princess Patricia‘s success in this trade allowed Princess Cruises to move on to larger ships and to expand into the Alaska trade as well. The fledgling cruise line was then acquired by Britain’s P&O in 1974.

Pacific Princess at Skagway

The Pacific Princess at Skagway in 2014

The 50th anniversary cruise has been on sale with fares starting at $1,699 per person, double occupancy. By way of comparison, fares on the 1965 Princess Patricia cruises began at $430. While that fare may seem high for 1965, they were less per day than her 8-night Alaska summer cruises, which started at $275. And taking into account inflation, $430 would be worth $3,204 today, meaning that in real terms the cost of a 14-night Mexican Riviera cruise has dropped by almost half in fifty years.

Now one of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises’ first season offered ten cruises to Mexico between December 3 and April 8 accommodating about 3,200 cruisers. Nearly fifty years later, Princess is the third largest cruise line in the world, with seventeen ships carrying 1.7 million cruisers to destinations worldwide.

For bookings and details of these and any other special cruises please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

The Cruise People Ltd Offer You Twelve Inviting Voyages For 2015

Princess Patricia in Vancouver on delivery to Princess CruisesThis year we have decided to pick a dozen interesting cruises for 2015, one for each month. Each is different from the norm, and none are repetitive.

Canadian Pacific’s 6,026-ton Princess Patricia (left), when chartered to Princess Cruises in 1965, gave her name to a new cruise line. On December 3, 2015, Princess Cruises will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a commemoratve cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico on board the 30,277-ton Pacific Princess.

The Cruise People hope you enjoy our choice for 2015 at the same time as wishing you all a Happy New Year and A Prosperous 2015!

anchorJanuary 28, 2015 – Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral

BalmoralFred. Olsen Cruise Line offers a special 32-night departure from Dubai to Tokyo on the 43,537-ton 1,747-berth flagship Balmoral, leaving Dubai on January 28. Special last-minute fares are still available for this winter cruise, calling at Mumbai, Cochin, Galle, Port Blair, overnight at Rangoon, Kuala Lumpur, Semarang, Komodo, Ujung Pandang, Cebu, Naha and Tokyo. Pre-cruise stays are available at Dubai and post-cruise hotels at Tokyo. Once trading as Orient Lines’ Crown Odyssey, this ship is returning to familiar waters.

anchorFebruary 27, 2015 – Haimark Travel’s Ganges Voyager

Ganges Voyager - SuitesFebruary sees a 27-night Cruiseco package using river craft, rail, road and air to travel from Mumbai on India’s west coast to Kolkata on its east coast. The cruise vessel chosen is Colorado-based Haimark Travel’s 185-foot 56-berth Ganges Voyager, with the program including calls at Matiara, Kalna, Kolkata, Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodphur, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Patna, Munger and Murshidabad. In addition to the 10-night luxury cruise, 17 nights are spent in five-star hotels such as the Taj Gateway in Varanasi, Imperial in Delhi, Amarvilas in Agra, Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. Other charterers of this vessel include APT Cruising and Vantage, while sister vessel Ganges Voyager II will be chartered by Uniworld River Cruises.

anchorMarch 16, 2015 – Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Astor

astorMarch sees Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ 20,606-ton 590-berth Astor departing Fremantle on the 16th for Tilbury via the Cape of Good Hope on a 38-night liner voyage that calls as Mauritius, Reunion, Durban, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Walvis Bay, St Helena, Ascension, Casablanca and Lisbon. There is a special offer available in the UK that allows passengers to fly out to join ship for just £299. As all the originally scheduled West African ports have been eliminated because of the Ebola outbreak, she will arrive eight days early at Tilbury, so the opportunity has been taken of offering an 8-night Round Britain cruise from Tilbury on April 23.

anchorApril 25, 2015 – Aranui Cruises’ Aranui 3

Aranui 3On the occasion of its 30th anniversary of passenger sailings, Aranui Cruises has announced it will celebrate with a special sailing on April 25, 2015. For thirty years Aranui has been offering travellers the adventure of a lifetime across three French Polynesian archipelagos – the Marquesas, the Tuamotus and the Society Islands, with transport, meals, accommodation and all tours included. In 1960, the Wong family began offering a cargo service and in the early 1980’s modified its freighter with the introduction of a dozen cabins, a new galley, dining room, dormitory and other amenities. Three ships and thirty years later, Aranui Cruises’ vessels have carried over 44,750 passengers to the islands. Today, the Aranui 3 14-day voyage departs from Papeete, visiting Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka in the Marquesas, Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, and will add a stop at Bora Bora to her itinerary in 2015. The present ship offers comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations for about 200 passengers. A new ship, Aranui 5, will be introduced in 2015.

anchorMay 7 and 18, 2015 – Oceania Cruises’ Marina

oceania_marinaOne of Oceania Cruises’ more popular cruises is on board the 66,048-ton 1,250-berth Marina, on May 7, an 11-night spring sailing from New York to Montreal, with gratuities included. The Four-Star-Plus Marina departs from Manhattan and calls at Newport, Boston, Portland, Saint John NB, Halifax, Sydney NS, Saguenay and Quebec before arriving at Montreal on May 17, a perfect time of year for the French-speaking capital of the New World. Then, on May 18, Marina undertakes a 16-night Transatlantic voyage from Montreal to Southampton, with calls at Quebec, Saguenay, Corner Brook, Sydney NS, St Pierre, St John’s NF, Belfast, Dublin, Holyhead and Guernsey.

anchorJune 27, 2015 – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2

europa-2Hapag-Lloyd Cruises celebrated flagship, the 42,830-ton 516-berth Europa 2, top-rated by the Berlitz Guide to Cruising, offers a special 7-night cruise celebrating Andalusia’s bustling hotspots, leaving Lisbon on June 27 and making her way to Barcelona by way of Cadiz, Malaga, Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca. She then remains in the Mediterranean for the summer, offering a number of 7-night itineraries for the younger ultra-luxury crowd that are still working. Special drinks packages are available for UK and International passengers. Summer specials are available with savings of up to 30% if booked before the end of February.

anchorJuly 4, 2015 – Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 at Liverpool courtesy of Sea BreezesOn July 4, Cunard Line’s 148,528-ton 2,620-berth Queen Mary 2 sails from Liverpool, remembering the first Transatlantic crossing of the 1,154-ton Britannia from Liverpool to Halifax, which she made in 12 and a half days, and on to Boston. New York was not added until 1847, but Queen Mary 2 will proceed there after Boston on this year’s voyage. The July 4 departure will mark 175 years to the day since Britannia’s 1840 maiden Transatlantic voyage under the then-new mail contract. And for the first time in over fifty years, passengers will be able to board a Cunard ship in Cunard’s original home port and sail for the United States. Cunard’s first Atlantic sailing actually took place on May 16, 1840, when the 648-ton Unicorn left Liverpool with 51 passengers, six weeks ahead of Britannia. The Unicorn was sent to carry passengers and mail on a feeder service between Nova Scotia and Quebec in connection with the Atlantic ships.

anchorAugust 28, 2015 – Haimark Line’s Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent for'dThe newly-launched Haimark Line will introduce the 4,954-ton 210-berth Saint Laurent into service in Eastern Canada, New England and the Great Lakes in 2015. Available for sale now is a special 9-night Great Lakes cruise leaving Chicago on August 28 and including Mackinac Island, an excursion into Lake Superior, Georgian Bay and the Ojibwé Indians, the Henry Ford Museum, Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands and the St Lawrence Seaway, and finishing in Montreal. The Saint Laurent previously cruised the Great Lakes in 2001 as Cape May Light. The Haimark Line will use the same ship to offer half a dozen cruises between Montreal and Portland, Maine. Ten more cruises will be offered on the French market by Rivages du Monde, with flights from Paris, sailing from Montreal to Toronto, Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands, Quebec and back to Montreal.

anchorSeptember 7, 2015 – Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo

Marco PoloSeptember sees Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ 22,080-ton 848-berth Marco Polo departing Tilbury on her 50th Anniversary voyage to Montreal. Fifty years ago, as the Alexandr Pushkin, she first crossed from St Petersburg (then called Leningrad), Helsinki, Copenhagen and Tilbury to Quebec and Montreal for the Baltic Shipping Company. This epic 34-night voyage remembers Marco Polo’s Transatlantic service during her Golden Anniversary year, with calls at Amsterdam and Cherbourg before crossing the Atlantic to St John’s NF. Twenty days will be spent rediscovering her old cruising grounds in Eastern Canada, including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and two days each in Quebec and Montreal as she cruises the mighty St Lawrence River. New calls since she cruised as Alexandr Pushkin will include Sept-Iles, Havre St Pierre and the Magdalen Islands. Then it’s back across the Atlantic with a final call at Cobh before returning to Tilbury.

anchorOctober 27, 2015 – Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas

QuantumoftheSeasOctober will see the 168,666-ton 4,180-berth Anthem of the Seas (with a tonnage some 14% larger than Queen Mary 2 but a lower berth capacity 60% higher) making her maiden Transatlantic voyage when, at the end of her first season sailing Mediterranean cruises from Southampton, she departs on a 7-night Atlantic crossing to New York. From New York, Anthem of the Seas will offer a winter program of Caribbean Cruises from Cape Liberty, on the New Jersey side of the port near Newark Airport, before presumably returning to the UK for a second season of Mediterranean cruises in 2016. Sister ship Quantum of the Seas will be based in Shanghai from next Spring.

anchorNovember 1, 2015 – Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity EclipseCelebrity Cruises’ UK-based 121,878-ton 2,850-berth Celebrity Eclipse does her next Transatlantic voyage on November 1, departing her summer home port of Southampton for Miami, with calls en route at Boston, New York, Bermuda and Port Canaveral. Once in Miami, she will commence an autumn and winter Caribbean season, with durations varying from five nights (Miami-Nassau-Grand Cayman) to 14 nights (Miami-Southern Caribbean). She crosses the Atlantic again on April 17, 2016, heading back from Miami to Southampton via Bermuda and Lisbon.

anchorDecember 3, 2015 – Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess

Pacific Princess at SkagwayTo celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Princess Cruises has scheduled the 30,277-ton 680-berth Pacific Princess for a special Mexican Riviera itinerary departing Los Angeles on December 3, 2015. She will leave fifty years to the day after the line’s original ship, the 6,062-ton 347-berth Princess Patricia, left on her first cruise in 1965. This vessel, from which Princess Cruises took its name, was chartered from Canadian Pacific, who normally operated her in the Alaska cruise trade by summer and laid her up each winter. Pacific Princess is the smallest ship in the Princess fleet, and her 14-night cruise will be of the same duration as that first cruise on the Princess Patricia. It will blend ports from the maiden itinerary, including Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, with newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto. Princess Cruises’ first season offered ten cruises to Mexico between December and April, accommodating about 3,200 cruisers. Nearly fifty years later, Princess has seventeen ships and is now carrying 1.7 million cruisers annually.

For further details of any of these sailings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

To Alaska With The Pacific Princess – Top Marks For Crystal Symphony – Mein Schiff 3 On Maiden Voyage

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 16th June 2014..

Mein Schiff 3

This week, two interesting cruise reviews have arrived on our desk, one for the Pacific Princess, which is this summer offering 7-night round voyages from Vancouver to Alaska, the first time Princess has offered this itinerary in a decade, and the second on a coastal segment of Crystal Symphony’s Transatlantic voyage from New York earlier this month. For a change, and as they are both recent and topical, we thought readers might enjoy reading them. Finally, we bring news of the maiden voyage for TUI Cruises’ new Mein Schiff 3, delivered in late May by STX Finland.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                        (See previous columns)

 

Weekly Sailings From Vancouver To Alaska With The Pacific Princess

Pacific Princess at SkagwayOne of our good clients has sent us this review of their late May Alaska cruise on board Princess Cruises’ 30,277-ton Pacific Princess (left):
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If you’re going to sail from Vancouver on an Alaska cruise then by all means stay at the Rosewood Georgia Hotel before sailing. This art deco hotel, completed in 1927, has a complimentary classic Bentley limousine that can deliver you in great style to Canada Place to catch your ship.
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Because the Pacific Princess carries only 680 passengers, the boarding process is more relaxed than for one of those behemoths with between 2,000 and 4,000 passengers. There are eight of this smaller class of ship in service, all having been built between 1999 and 2001 for the defunct Renaissance Cruises. Three operate for Oceania Cruises, two for Azamara Club Cruises, one for P&O Cruises and two, the Pacific Princess and the Ocean Princess, for Princess. Having travelled on sister ships with three other lines, we quickly found our way to our balcony stateroom. What better way to see Alaska than this, on a small ship with no crowds and a private balcony for whale watching?
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The standard balcony cabins are slightly short on space at 173 square feet (216 including the balcony) compared to some other ships, but quite suitable for a 7-night cruise. The closets feature real wooden coat hangers but this class of ship has never overcome the colliding doors of its closets and the en suite shower directly opposite. Princess’s bathrobes, meanwhile, leave a little to be desired, all seeming to have shrunk from too much washing. They could hardly stretch around a standard-sized person, let alone someone who might be fond of eating. The balconies on the Princess ships are finished in blue plastic marine decking rather than the teak found on Oceania.
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But other than such small quibbles, this is a great little ship and the service is enthusiastic. Getting to know the crew later, we found that the Pacific Princess’s officers are mostly Italian and the crew International. Assigned to the same table for dinner each evening, we got to know our fellow passengers, but also our waiter and station captain who thrived on coming up with special requests such as the Indonesian hot chili sauce Sambal Oelek we requested to go with our lobster the next night. Duly consulting the Indonesian sous-chef, they came up with a gravy boat full of this specialty sauce that our whole table enjoyed. I doubt we would have got the same service on the larger ships in the Princess fleet.
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Pacific Princess Club-Like Interiors
Pacific Princess’s public areas have been well maintained and live up to their original reputation as country houses at sea (left), the grand staircase still being at the centre of the ship. There is a modest cabaret lounge for this number of passengers, a great view forward from the Pacific Lounge atop the ship, main dining room in the stern and two alternative restaurants above, as well as the buffet restaurant on the pool deck that features an open air area overlooking the stern, not to mention the very classy library at the top of the main stairwell overlooking the pool from its aft perch. And on the main passenger deck, in addition to the photo gallery and two shops, there is a casino with its attached but separate Casino Bar with nightly entertainment as well as the Club Bar next to the main restaurant.
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Once aboard, there is quite a lot of pressure to buy a wine package as well as a ticket for the next day’s wine tasting session, but there is no drinks package on Princess’s two small ships. Nevertheless, compared to some other lines it is possible to get a drink for between $5.75 and $7.50 plus 15% gratuity, and a bottle of Chianti for $30 (plus 15%) for dinner. The drinks bill for two for our cruise was $305 and the wine package $185 for 7 nights, totalling $490, or $35 per person per day including gratuities. By comparison, the drinks package on Oceania Cruises runs to $50 per person per day.
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More quibbles: Internet on Pacific Princess ran to $204 for a week for their most extensive package. The extra tariff restaurants now charge $25 per person. The public washrooms could use more frequent service. And the music could be updated by three decades from 1950s-70s to 1980s-2000s.
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Overall, however, with the passengers she attracts, the Pacific Princess is a pleasing ship. The crew is solicitous and friendly and, with no crowds, the passengers are interesting and not loud. Many had actually booked this cruise because they had tired of larger ships. Canadians (182 passengers or 27.8% of the ship) formed the largest group on board and Americans (157 and 24%) came second, while there were many Brits (113 and 17.3%) and Australians (117 and 17.9%), making it a sort of Commonwealth at sea. The Americans were mostly Californians and Midwesterners plus some Texans and there were also 85 (13.0%) of other nationalities (of which there were 29) with quite a few Chinese. Total passengers: 654.
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White Pass steam train on Skagway dock
The ports of call on our cruise were Juneau, Skagway, cruising Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. While there are plenty of helicopter, float plane and glacier tours available, by far the most interesting for us was the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gauge railway excursion (left at Skagway, dockside), which runs from Skagway through the White Pass into Canada before returning to Alaska. Built at the time of the Klondike gold rush, the railway reopened in 1988 as a seasonal tourist attraction and now serves about 370,000 passengers a year between May and September.
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The White Pass, which operates on the first 67½ miles (Skagway to Carcross, Yukon) of the original 110-mile line to Whitehorse, is today Alaska’s most popular shore excursion. The line rises 2,865 feet in 26 miles of steep grades and cliff-hanging curves on the way up from Skagway to the summit and passengers experience a breathtaking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and maybe even the odd bear. All this while riding in the comfort of vintage parlour cars equipped with open platforms at each end.
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The White Pass rail fleet includes twenty diesel-electric locomotives, seventy open-deck parlour cars and two steam locomotives. The steam train excursion takes four hours and when purchased ashore costs $159, the diesel-electric ones three to three-and-a-half hours and $119. Trains come right alongside the ship at Skagway docks.
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Aside from the White Pass, there was Glacier Bay and its many different glaciers, Orcas and humpback whales aplenty and seals and eagles, and in Ketchikan, Annabelle’s on Front Street cannot be missed for its fine seafood chowder! Among the four ports and points of interest this makes for an excellent cruise with lots of variety (apart from the ubiquitous jewellery shops at all the ports of call). And the air is very fresh.
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On our return to Vancouver we were followed into port by sister ship Regatta, one of the three of this class of ship owned by Oceania, which after disembarking her San Francisco passengers moved over to Seaspan’s Vancouver Drydock Co Ltd for an 11-day upgrading to bring her to the same standards as that line’s newer ships, the 1,250-berth Riviera and Marina. Nautica and Insignia have undergone the same refit.
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The Pacific Princess offers eighteen 7-night cruises from Vancouver to Alaska this summer, every Tuesday until September 9, the first time Princess Cruises has offered round trip Vancouver-Alaska sailings for about a decade. On September 16, she sails for Hawaii on her way to the South Pacific. Oceania Cruises’ Regatta offers six 7- to 10-night Alaska cruises from Seattle, one 10-night Alaska cruise from Seattle to Vancouver, one 9-night Alaska round trip from Vancouver and a 10-night Alaska cruise from Vancouver finishing in San Francisco.

For futher details or bookings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk or in North America 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Princess 50th Anniversary Cruise On Pacific Princess – Princess Pair Reflagged to UK – Adventure Canada Takes On Larger Ship In 2015

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 5th May 2014..

Princess Patricia

Canadian Pacific’s 6,062-ton t.e.v. Princess Patricia performed Princess Cruises’ first cruise, from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera, on December 3, 1965.

Pacific Princess

Princess Cruises’ 30,277-ton Pacific Princess will perform the line’s 50th Anniversary cruise, from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera, on December 3, 2015.

Last week Princess Cruises announced that it was scheduling the Pacific Princess (above) for a 14-night 50th Anniversary cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on December 3, 2015, fifty years to the day after the chartered Princess Patricia (top) departed on her first voyage for the new line. In other news, last month Princess transferred its Japanese-built Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess to UK flag, where along with three Australian-based P&O ships, they join a very small circle of five UK-flag ships in the Carnival fleet out of the thirty operated by Princess (17), P&O (10) and Cunard (3). Meanwhile, Adventure Canada will up its capacity by two-thirds next year with the charter of the larger Ocean Endeavour to replace Sea Adventurer in 2015.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                           (See previous columns)