Cruise & Maritime Voyages – Other Cruise News: Ponant Takes Over Travel Dynamics – Crystal To Make A Big Announcement

by Kevin Griffin

Recent months have seen many announcements from Cruise & Maritime Voyages so this week we have a quick look at their successes of the past year. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Ponant has announced its acquisition of small ship operator Travel Dynamics International of New York. And finally, in anticipation of an expected “big announcement” from Crystal Cruises today, rumours originating from Germany that Crystal was about to buy the Deutschland have been denied.


Cruise & Maritime Voyages

With three major announcements in 2014, UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages, a company that is now controlled in Greece but also has offices in the UK, US, Germany and Australia, has become a force to be reckoned with in the UK cruise market, having grown in the recent past from two ships to a fleet of four plus three river vessels. The ocean fleet is as follows:

Cruise & Maritime have now reached a berth capacity of 3,440 passengers in lower berths on four ships. This places Cruise & Maritime Voyages third after P&O Cruises (14,562 lower berths) and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (4,320 lower berths) in the UK market.

This is not to say that lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises do not take their fair share of ex-UK passengers but while their products are adjusted for the UK market, those of the indigenous lines, also including Saga, are tailored specifically to that market.

Portuscale Cruises'  Azores

Portuscale Cruises’ Azores

Back in June Cruise & Maritime announced the bareboat charter of the Azores from Lisbon-based Portuscale Cruises as a replacement for the 710-berth Discovery, which has since gone for scrap.

The Azores begins service with Cruise & Maritime with a 30-night maiden cruise from Bristol to the West Indies on January 26. She will also cruise this year from Hull and Tilbury.

The Azores has been chartered on a long-term basis and crewing and ship management will be handled directly by CMV parent company Global Maritime Group of Piraeus, along with Marco Polo and Astor, and soon the Magellan. The Azores was completely re-built in 1994, including new engines, cabins and superstructure.

CThe newly-renamed Magellan will depart from Tilbury on her maiden cruise on March 15

The newly-renamed Magellan will depart from Tilbury on her maiden cruise on March 15

This news was followed in November by the announcement that Cruise & Maritime was acquiring the Grand Holiday from the fleet of the now-defunct Iberocruceros from parent Costa Cruises. The newly-renamed Magellan will depart from Tilbury on her maiden cruise on March 15, bound for Iceland and the Faero islands. The Magellan will also cruise from Newcastle.

Finally, in December came the news that Cruise & Maritime had officially bought the Astor, which haed previously been owned in germany. The Astor spends her winters in Australia and summers in the German market.

In addition, Cruise & Maritime operates three river ships, the 150-berth Bellefleur, 180-berth Bellejour and 176-berth Belvedere on the Main and Daunube, the Rhine and the Rhione and the Saone.
When added to the ocean ships, this brings the line’s lower berth capacity up to close to 4,000 berths.


Ponant Takes Over Travel Dynamics

Last month, Ponant announced that it had acquired several key assets of Travel Dynamics International of New York, which has provided educational programs on small cruise ships since it was founded in 1972 by brothers George and Vasos Papagapitos from Rhodes, who specialised in finding group travel for university alumni associations from such illustrious institutions as Stanford and Yale Universities.

The 1998-built 90-berth Le Levant

The entire Travel Dynamics team in New York has since been invited to join Ponant Cultural Cruises and Expeditions, which will be based in New York. The new Ponant New York office will handle all Ponant bookings originating from the North American market.

Ponant already has existing partnerships in the US with Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck Tours and Gohagan & Company of Chicago. Since last autumn it has also operated the 114-berth Corinthian for Grand Circle of Boston and the company has also been active in promoting cruises on the small ships of Variety Cruises in Greece.

The company first did business with Ponant when it chartered the 1998-built 90-berth Le Levant for cruises in the Great Lakes.

Travel Dynamics’ first ship was the 130-berth Illiria, which they operated to Antarctica and in the Canada/New England trade as well as in Europe in the early 1980s. A model of the Illiria is still on display in Travel Dynamics’ headquarters in Manhattan.

Crystal To Make A Big Announcement

A rumour broke over the weekend in Germany that Crystal Cruises was about to buy Peter Deilmann’s Deutschland from liquidators at a rumoured price of € 50 million. Both Crystal and the liquidators of the Deutschland have now denied any such deal, as has Crystal parent Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK).
But Crystal has scheduled a “big announcement” for today.

Crystal operates two ultra-luxury all-inclusive cruise ships and its parent company NYK operates the Asuka II, which began life as Crystal Harmony.
These ships compare as follows:

The Crystal ships have no inside cabins, although there are a few on Asuka II.  But the biggest criticism of the present Crystal ships is that they were built with two-sitting dining rooms and the difficulty has always been to serve 1,000 at a single sitting.

Meanwhile, Edie Rodriguez, Crystal Cruises president, has denied that Crystal or NYK are the buyer of either ms Deutschland or the ship’s operator, Peter Deilmann Reederei and we await further news. Rodriguez has, since joining Crystal, advocated building new ships so the real tale is that we may be able to expect a “big announcement” later today that may indeed be the building of a new the flagship.

The Crystal Serenity is now twelve years old and the competition over at Regent, Seabourn and Silversea have been and still are building new ships.

When the new breaks the Cyber Cruises site will let you know right away!

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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