Star Clippers Orders Its First Ship In 15 Years – Riviera Travel’s New “Author” Ships – Absolute Nevada Takes Deutschland

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 1st June 2015

Star Clippers

Star Clippers has recently announced plans for a 300-berth square-rigged ship (above) that will be designed after one of the world’s two largest square-rigger, the France II. Now under construction at Brodosplit Shipyard in Croatia, she will join the fleet in 2017. Elsewhere, UK-based Riviera Travel is in the course of doubling its fleet of owned river ships to four, with the Jane Austen and the Charles Dickens, while Germany’s 550-berth Deutschland has gone to US buyers Absolute Nevada, who will charter her to Semester at Sea as the World Odyssey.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                         (See previous columns)

ms Hamburg To Offer Two Canadian Transatlantic Sailings In 2015

Plantours of Bremen have announced that the ms Hamburg will be making two Transatlantic crossings between Europe and Montreal in the summer and autumn of 2015. An August westbound passage will sail from Hamburg to Montreal via Greenland while a return crossing in September will leave Montreal for Lisb0n via the Azores.

m s HamburgThe 18-night westbound crossing leaves Hamburg on August 19, bound for Torshavn, Reykjavik and stops in Greenland at Prins Christian Sund, Julianehab, Frederikshab, Sukkertoppen and Nuuk, thence to L’Anse aux Meadows in Newoundland, the port of Saguenay and Quebec, before arriving at Montreal.

After a 16-night Great Lakes Cruise, ms Hamburg wil sail from Montreal on September 23 on a 14-night return crossing to Lisbon via Quebec, Gaspé, Halifax and Ponta Delgada in the Azores. The last regular crossings between Europe and Canada were offered by Polish Ocean Lines’ 15,015-ton Stefan Batory, which left service in 1987.

The 14,903-ton ms Hamburg was built in Germany in 1997 as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Columbus and carries 400 passengers. For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail

Cruising in the Crystal Serenity – Azamara Club Cruises Going All-Inclusive – The Ocean Liner Society Chooses MS Hamburg


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 3rd December 2012

Crystal SerenityOn Wednesday last, The Cruise Examiner boarded Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity at Lisbon for an 11-night cruise to Madeira, the Canary Islands, Morocco and Spain. Here is his first report on the new all-inclusive Crystal Cruises. Meanwhile, Azamara Club Cruises has become the latest to join the all-inclusive cruise lines, leaving Oceania Cruises as the odd man out. Elsewhere, the Ocean Liner Society has chosen Plantours’ MS Hamburg for its 2013 annual group cruise.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

The Ocean Liner Society’s 2013 Annual Cruise On Board MS “Hamburg” – Hamburg to Kiel 27th-31st May 2013 Sold Out

In May 2013, the London-based Ocean Liner Society will cruise on Plantours’ MS Hamburg

In 2010, the Ocean Liner Society chose Croisières de France and its 37,301-ton Bleu de France (delivered 1982 as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ last Europa) for its annual group cruise. This cruise proved such a success that in 2012 the Society returned to Croisières de France in its 46,811-ton Horizon. In 2013, however, the Society will return to another former Hapag-Lloyd ship, this time the 15,067-ton MS Hamburg, which betwen 1997 and 2012 operated as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Columbus.

The 2013 cruise will take in a North Sea itinerary, departing Hamburg on Monday, 27th May for a five-day four-night cruise to Sylt, Borkum and Helgoland, and a transit of the Kiel Canal before arriving at Kiel on Friday morning, 30th May.  Here are some things to do in Hamburg before sailing.

For more than two decades between 1991 and 2012, Plantours + Partner operated the 7,478-ton Vistamar, which had been rebuilt in 1989 from the Spanish ferry Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Indeed, several Society members have cruised in her. The MS Hamburg, which has replaced the Vistamar, carries 400 passengers compared to the 299 in the earlier ship – twice the tonnage but only one-third more passengers, for a respectable passenger space ratio of almost 38 tons per passenger, compared to 25 on Vistamar.

The MS Hamburg was built by Mathias-Thiesen Werft (MTW) at Wismar, Germany, in 1997 as the Columbus, a ship whose design originated from a desire by Hapag-Lloyd to re-introduce cruising into the Great Lakes of North America. Indeed in her fifteen-year career with Hapag-Lloyd, the Columbus completed eleven seasons in the Great Lakes. She also undertook a world cruise every winter. After Hapag-Lloyd acquired a larger ship to replace the Columbus Bremen-based Plantours took her over, renaming her MS Hamburg at a ceremony in the old Hanseatic port of Hamburg in June 2012.

Plantours is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Venice-based Ligabue Group, which was founded  in 1919 by Anaceleto Ligabue, who began supplying food to the Società Veneziana di Navigazione a Vapore, a company whose fleet was absorbed into Italia and Lloyd Triestino in the 1930s. Today Ligabue is active in shipboard catering and river cruising, with a total of fourteen managed vessels, and also supplies catering services on  board the cruise ships Aegean Odyssey and FTI Berlin.

OLS group fares are valid for a minimum number of cabins, and there is an allocation of cabins available for singles. Bookings can be made through the OLS group agent The Cruise People Ltd in London.  Fares include passage, full board and port charges. A special drinks package is available for €52 per person (very good value at only €13 a day).

Daily Itinerary

Depart HAMBURG 16:30 hrs Monday 27th May 2013

LIST / SYLT (home of the famous Sansibar club) from 06:00 to 17:00 Tuesday

BORKUM from 08:00 to 19:00 Wednesday

HELGOLAND from 08:00 to 16:00 Thurssday


Arrive KIEL 08:00 hrs Friday 31st May 2013

Ocean Liner Society Group Fares – MS Hamburg 27.05.2013 

                             Early Booking Fares Expire 31.01.13

Five days (4 nights)  27-30 May 2013 Brochure Fare HAM1613 Special OLS Fare
OLS Cabins Remaining
Category Euros Euros Cabins
Cat 2 Double Inside   €749 €710 Sold Out
Cat 5 Double Outside   €949 €900 Sold Out
Cat 7 Double Outside   €1099 €1045 Sold Out
Cat 9 Double Outside   1259 €1195 Sold Out
Cat 2a Single Inside €1199 €1135 Sold Out
Cat 6a Single Outside €1299 €1235 Sold Out

Fares are cruise only, per person in double occupancy or single as indicated, and include port charges. Drinks package available for €52 per per person. OLS Group fares include an allocation of single cabins. Extra cabins beyond our allocation will be subject to availability. A deposit of 25% will confirm a reservation.

Members of the general public can qualify to travel on this cruise by joining the Ocean Liner Society. Membership is £20 in the UK, £23 in Europe and £25 in the rest of the world. As well as the opportunity of joining OLS group cruises, this includes a subscription to their 48-page quarterly journal, Sea Lines. Further details can be found at

For further information and availability for this cruise please contact The Cruise People Ltd at 020 7723 2450, Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail

The Cruise Examiner Tries Out Croisières de France’s Horizon – Other Cruise News: s.s. Keewatin Finally Leaves Douglas, Michigan


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 4th June 2012

This Sunday in Marseilles, together with twenty-four members of the Ocean Liner Society, The Cruise Examiner completed a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on board Croisières de France’s new 46,811-ton Horizon. with calls at Santa Margherita (for Portofino), Civitavecchia (for Rome), Salerno (for the Amalfi coast), Trapani and Valletta. He filed his report from on board ship on the way back to Marseilles. Next year’s Ocean Liner Society cruise will be a 4-night voyage departing Hamburg on May 27, 2013,  for Kiel via Sylt and Heligoland, on Plantours + Partner’s m.s. Hamburg, until recently operating as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Columbus.
Meanwhile, last week, after forty-five years as a maritime museum at Douglas, Michigan, the former Canadian Pacific Great Lakes steamship Keewatin finally left Douglas, after a false start on a sandbar, on the first leg of a trip under tow to her previous home port in Canada. She will lay over at Mackinaw City, Michigan, before departing on her final leg to Port McNicoll, Ontario, where she is due at 2 pm on June 23, a hundred years to the day after her first passenger departure from that port.

                                          (See previous columns)