Ports & Ships Cruise News

Jan 16, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

  • Fred Olsen introduces third season of Civilisation cruises

  • MAXIM GORKIY on her final voyage

  • Not the way to end a cruise

  • Cruise association upbeat about future


    Fred Olsen introduces third season of Civilisation cruises

    A personal favourite – Fred Olsen’s BALMORAL

    Fred Olsen Lines recently entered its third season of its popular and successful ‘Civilisation’ cruises, which are designed to appeal to lovers of culture and the arts.

    These are cruises for individuals who expect not just to travel in comfort and luxury, but also learn about and be enriched by the places they visit.

    Each to his or her own, you might say, and if all you want is nothing more than an ongoing booze cruise or non-stop party at sea, there are lines and operators offering exactly that. But for those who prefer something more discerning, it is reassuring to know that many cruises, in fact probably the majority, offer something greater than a floating disco at sea.

    In the case of Fred Olsen’s Civilisation cruises, which has been extended to include the BALMORAL alongside BOUDICCA and BLACK WATCH, the aim is one of providing even greater fulfilment and enjoyment from each cruise, an opportunity of opening one’s eyes to a range of subjects and cultures.

    Accompanied by experts in their respective fields, cruises go to some of the most fascinating and beautiful places on earth. Special lectures and exclusive excursions will bring a variety of subjects to life, enabling passengers to learn more about the artistic, political and social forces that have shaped the places visited.

    The pool area on BLACK WATCH, in Durban harbour. Picture Terry Hutson

    The respective ‘Civilisations’ cruises include:

    The Great Plant Collectors

    This cruise takes you (by sea of course) around the British Isles, visiting some of its most important botanical sites ashore, including the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Edinburgh's Royal Botanical Gardens.

    The Ages of Discovery
    Heading south, this cruise visits the birthplace of Columbus; the Casbah in Agadir, North Africa; the mysterious Pyramids of Guimar in the Canaries; as well as the beautiful island of Madeira.

    Ancient Polynesian Culture

    Visit the magic of the South Pacific, and will see what it was about the capital of French Polynesia, Papeete, that so inspired artist Paul Gauguin to paint with such genius. Later visit Australia's ancient and unique O'Reilly Rainforest.

    The Ages Of Conflict

    Ranging wide, this cruise takes in the site of the pivotal Battle of Marathon, Sevastopol in the Crimea where a 19th century allied army of Turks, French and British battled Tsarist Russia, and Yalta scene of the famous Second World War meeting between the Big Three powers of the time.

    Polar Exploration

    Far inside the Arctic circle, this cruise takes you to one of the most northerly towns on earth as well as sailing down the dramatic Norwegian coast, with its stunning fjords.

    Baltic Monarchies

    Taking in many of the Royal castles and palaces of the Baltic region, highlights include two days in St Petersburg, home of the 300-year reign of the Romanovs, and a visit to the Swedish Royal Palace in Stockholm - capital of one of the present-day's thriving Scandinavian monarchies.

    Ancient Civilisations

    This extensive cruise takes passengers from the Moorish palaces of Alhambra to the Pyramids of Egypt and from the site of the original Olympic Games to the old quarter of Lisbon, in the process performing a virtual sweep of the Mediterranean.

    Celtic History

    Cruising around Britain (again, this time on a different cruise), discover the history and culture of the inhabitants of ‘The Fortunate Isles’ before the arrival of Caesar's Roman armies. Pushed to the margins by the expanding super power of its day, Celtic culture continued to flourish in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and passengers visit some of its most important and evocative sites.

    Literature of the Baltic

    This cruise of the Baltic examines the lives of some of the region's greatest writers, whose works have entered the imagination of the entire world - who hasn't heard of Pippi Longstocking, The Ugly Duckling or The Emperor and his New Clothes?

    In the Wake of Navigators

    The 15th century in particular saw incredible discoveries of new lands by the likes of Christopher Columbus and Prince Henry the Navigator, as well as fantastic feats of seamanship. This is a fascinating voyage of discovery to both inspire and excite, visiting lands first discovered and colonised in that same heroic era.

    The Great Artists

    Visiting, amongst others, the birthplace of Picasso, and the cities of Venice and Dubrovnik passengers will see first hand how locations have inspired and shaped the work of great artists such as Titian and Tintoretto and the architect Joze Plecnik.

    Ancient Mythology

    Travelling in the steps of the ancients, the ship takes you to visit the legendary site of Homer's Odyssey; the Valley of the Kings, Luxor and Alexandria in Egypt; as well as Oman and Malaga.

    These are just an outline of cruises available in the Civilisation series. For full details including brochures and other information contact the South African agents Triton Cape Sea Travel – tel 021 443 9030 or email them info.nclsa@galileo.co.za

    MAXIM GORKIY on her final voyage

    Any hope of seeing the German cruise ship MAXIM GORKIY remain in service now appear unlikely following reports that the ship is on her way to the breakers at Alang in India.

    There was an effort last year to relaunch MAXIM GORKIY, which carries a huge amount of German sentiment and history, as a floating hotel in the port city of Hamburg. Prior to that it was hoped that the ship would serve as the future MARCO POLO II until those plans fell through, an early victim of the economic downturn as it struck across Europe.

    Now a German newspaper reports the ship is on her way to the breakers, with the floating hotel project also having come to naught. The ship had been in lay-up at Eleusis in Greece but has since left her anchorage after her sale was confirmed – to a breaker’s yard it is believed.

    MAXIM GORKIY in Durban harbour in happier days. Picture Terry Hutson

    Not the way to end a cruise

    Ships can be dangerous places, and cruise ships are no exception. Of course every precaution is taken, with more than adequate measures to ensure passengers don’t fall overboard, even when not in total control of their faculties – an easy condition to be in on some of the holiday-type cruises taking place.

    But when someone decides the only answer out is to end it all by hurling himself overboard, there’s little the cruise crew can do to prevent it taking place, although if it happens in daylight the chances of someone seeing the man (or woman) go overboard are much more likely.

    Even at 5am in the morning, or maybe a 22-yearold man on board the PACIFIC DAWN was just very lucky! The ship is currently involved in cruises out of Australia on behalf of P&O Cruises, Australia, and at the time of the ‘man-overboad’ incident was sailing near Vanuatu, which is a group of islands between the Solomon Islands and Fiji in the Pacific.

    Apparently the man was in a disturbed state at the time he jumped, though no doubt his cold ducking may have resulted in a rapid reconsideration. Fortunately his leap was noticed and the alarm sounded, with smoke flares and a life buoy being dropped to help mark the spot. The 70,000-tonne cruise ship then executed a perfect turnaround which in what has been described as a textbook rescue operation, the man was rescued from the water and taken to the ship’s hospital.

    The whole operation took 45 minutes to complete. Afterwards the would-be suicide was taken off the ship at Port Vila, the main port of the Vanuatu group of islands, “in the interests of his own safety”. The ship was heading for Port Vila in any case, as part of its 10-day cruise.

    Cruise association upbeat about future

    According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry will weather the challenges of a slower growth and will emerge stronger than ever.

    In a statement this week CLIA’s president Terry Dell said that cruise lines continue to offer incredible value across the entire spectrum of cruise vacations, in all price categories.

    “There is no doubt that 2009 represents an uncertain environment, not only for CLIA members but for all industries and consumers alike. However, CLIA members are confident that they will weather the challenges and emerge stronger than ever, as they have before. This is an industry that plans ahead and invests in the future, as evidenced by the impressive number of new ships on order through 2012, and one that will contribute positively to the country’s economic revival," he said.

    During 2009 CLIA will welcome 14 new cruise ships, representing an investment of $ 4.8 billion and ranging in size from 82 passengers to an incredible 5,400 passengers.

    The new ships include:

    INDEPENDENCE (American Cruise Line) 104 passengers, due August.
    AMADOLCE (Amawaterways) 148 passengers,due April.
    AMALRYA (Amawaterways) 148 passengers, due late 2009
    CARNIVAL DREAM (Carnival Cruise Line) 3,646 passengers, due September.
    CELEBRITY EQUINOX (Celebrity Cruises) 2,850 passengers, due mid year.
    COSTA LUMINOSA (Costa Cruises) 2,260 passengers, due June.
    COSTA PACIFICA (Costa Cruises) 3,000 passengers, due June.
    MSC SPLENDIDA (MSC Cruises) 3,300 passengers, due July.
    PEARL MIST (Pearl Seas Cruises) 210 passengers, due July.
    OASIS OF THE SEAS (Royal Caribbean International) 5,400 passengers, due 3rd quarter.
    SEABOURN ODYSSEY (Seabourn Cruise Line) 450 passengers, due June.
    SILVER SPIRIT (Silversea Cruises) 540 passengers, due November.
    RIVER BEATRICE (Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection) 160 passengers, due March.
    RIVER TOSCA (Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection) 82 passengers, due April.

    Three ships belonging to CLIA members will leave the fleet during 2009, MSC RHAPSODY, CELBRITY GALAXY and NORWEGIAN MAJESTY. However the net increase of berth capacity for the CLIA members is 18,031 beds, a 6.5% increase by the year end.

    MSC RHAPSODY, currently enjoying a swansong cruise season operating out of Durban and Cape Town but shortly to sail off into the Mediterranean sunset. Picture Terry Hutson

    Last year an estimated 13.2 million passengers went cruising, up from 12.56 million in 2007 and compared with 7.2 million passengers on board CLIA member ships in 2000. North Americans represent the big numbers, totalling 10.5 million in 2007, although CLIA says that international source passengers (ie non-Americans) increased by 30% last year.

    By the end of 2009 CLIA is estimating that 13.5 million passengers will have cruised this year, an increase of just 2.3 percent but an increase nonetheless.

    “The remarkable diversity and variety of cruises give consumers a unique opportunity to find a vacation that fits their budget even during these economic downturns and we expect that North Americans, Europeans and travellers from all over the world will respond positively,” says Dale.

    Another Rhapsody, another place… RHAPSODY OF THE SEAS at Lyttelton, New Zealand. Picture Alan Calvert

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