Roger Allard, Executive Chairman of All Leisure Group plc, announced a multi-million dollar investment to develop its three discovery cruising brands, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean Island Cruises.
The investment will see each small ship discovery cruising brand developed and extended over the next 12 months, with a focus on expanding each brand’s offering to its guests and extending the number of itineraries available.
Swan Hellenic announced the major refurbishment of their highly popular Minerva as part of a long term strategy to see her sail into the next era. The refurbishment comes as a response to customer feedback and a request to increase the space of the interior and exterior public areas without compromising comfort and enjoyment. Six cabins will be removed to free up additional space, giving the refurbished mv Minerva a total of 181 cabins – all with new en-suite facilities. Of these, 32 cabins will have balconies added, bringing the number of balcony suites up to 44.
Minerva will retain her current 350 passenger level and renowned British country elegance style and ambience. Included in this refurbishment will be a significant technical upgrade to improve the ship’s efficiency, manoeuvrability, comfort and environmental performance.
Voyages of Discovery will see the introduction of new ship Voyager to the brand portfolio. Previously named Alexander von Humboldt, Voyager will complement Discovery as an enhancement of the brand’s discovery cruising ethos, but will operate with fewer passengers and larger cabins. Even more intimate than mv Discovery, the ship accommodates 550 passengers and boasts a modern hotel feel to its cabins, of which 86% are outside. Expanding the Voyages of Discovery brand with the introduction of a second ship will provide guests with more choice and flexibility in itineraries.
Voyages of Discovery also announced significant refurbishment and dry dock plans for Discovery during winter 2012/13, with upgrades being made to the teak decking, expansion of public areas, cabin improvements, updated furnishing and developments to dining areas.
Hebridean Island Cruises enjoyed a highly successful 2011 season with its Hebridean Princess, and to further grow the brand and increase its product offering, a dedicated Hebridean River Cruises program has been launched for 2012. Offering the same values as Hebridean Princess and the former mv Hebridean Spirit, Hebridean’s Royal Crown will sail on the Rhine in spring and the Danube in autumn 2012, on a 7-night itinerary basis.
Steve Novello, President of All Discovery Cruising, North America, commented: “We are very excited to be able to offer our valued travel partners and guests with an enhanced small ship cruising portfolio that delivers more options than ever before. Today’s announcements by our Executive Management team highlight our continued commitment to our current and future customers as we strengthen our brands for the years to come.”
Roger Allard, Executive Chairman, All Leisure Group plc, added: “We are delighted to introduce our exciting three new brand announcements. Our research shows that demand for cruising amongst our target audience has increased over the past few years and in order to continue to meet and exceed customer expectations, we have expanded our fleet as a direct result of specific customer feedback. We aim to be proactive in what is a challenging time for the economy and travel industry as a whole and see 2012 being an exciting year for our company and our three discovery cruising brands.”