Cruise & Maritime Services International (CMS), a company based in Dartford in the south east of England, has set up a new brand called Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) that will introduce two ships on the British market next year. All cruises of both ships will depart from ports in Britain and they will add 27,000 berths to the market in 2010.
The 22,080 gross ton Marco Polo has been chartered from its owners for five years, whereas the 17,600 gross ton Ocean Countess – best known by its original name Cunard Countess – has been taken up by CMV for two years. Marco Polo, which has made a few cruises from Tilbury whilst on charter to Transocean Tours of Bremen, will continue to operate from there. This autumn, it will make a 32-night Caribbean cruise with a call in Plymouth to allow passengers to embark and disembark at the west of England port as well.
Following a short docking period in the UK, the vessel will commence operations under her new livery on 2 January 2010 with a new ex-UK winter programme. London Tilbury will be Marco Polo’s home port and her 2010 programme will comprise 24 ex-UK ‘no fly’ sailings featuring the Amazon, Orinoco and West Indies during the winter months followed by a season of Nordic cruises to Scandinavia and the Baltic & Russia, Iceland, the British Isles, the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.
The 800 passenger Ocean Countess will also be joining the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet on the 18 April 2010 under an initial two season (2010 & 2011) deck and engine charter arrangement from the Greece based Majestic International Cruises Group. As part of the deal, CMS have appointed the Global Maritime Group to supply hotel, marine and entertainment management services, which they also provide for Marco Polo, to ensure product continuity.
Ocean Countess will operate a year round programme of 22 ex-UK regional ‘no fly’ sailings operating from Hull, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Greenock, Liverpool and Plymouth with a summer season of Nordic cruises to Scandinavia, the Baltic & Russia, Iceland, the British Isles, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. Prior to delivery, Ocean Countess will undergo a £3million refurbishment and upgrade programme.
CMS Managing Director Chris Coates said: “For the company and our trading partners this is indeed an exciting development and presents an attractive market opportunity. We all collectively believe that despite the significant increase in the larger resort style vessels, the reducing number of smaller, traditional and lower capacity vessels generally operated by the independent and privately owned shipping companies, still have a huge following on the British market."
"We believe this potentially enables us to deliver a more personal and friendly standard of service and our vessels can also visit more remote ports of call and places not always accessible to the larger resort ships. We are all of course still mindful of the recessionary pressures facing the British and global economies but believe that our largely grey market sector is more resilient and our strong price positioning will assist us in achieving our targets as the market begins to recover during 2010 and 2011."