The ex-UK specialist introduces its fifth and largest ship to date and reveals why it is looking for more additions and is also targeting markets outside the UK
Last month, ex-UK specialists Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) christened Columbus, continuing the company’s remarkable growth. The 1,400-guest ship – formerly P&O Cruises’ Arcadia and then Ocean Village 1 – will increase the line’s capacity by 25 per cent, and become its flagship, just two years after Magellan joined the fleet.
The line, which was only formed in 2009, has quietly expanded its fleet to five, after acquiring the historic Marco Polo in 2010, by providing an unashamedly traditional type of cruise aimed at older passengers by utilising often neglected regional ports. Next year, it will welcome 130,000 guests on board its ships, according to its chief executive Christian Verhounig.
In Tilbury, former newsreader Angela Rippon christened the ship, but the big news of the day was the announcement that the company is already looking to expand further, a sure sign of its ambition.
At the event, Verhounig said: “We are currently looking for new ships and we’re also looking for strategic acquisitions. An announcement will be made very soon.”
With so much attention given to new builds, Columbus, originally launched for Princess Cruises in 1989, is a reminder of the quality of ships that are already on the market, even those built 30 or more years ago. After spending a night on board, Cruise Adviser was able get a sense of why the vessel was so beloved by P&O customers when it sailed as Arcadia.
Columbus, which underwent an extensive refit in Singapore before being transferred to CMV, is certainly another step up for the line, and feels spacious without being too large for a clientele that wants small and medium-sized cruise ships. In particular, customers are likely to be impressed by the number of dining options available, more than on any other ship in CMV’s fleet. There’s the Waterfront restaurant, which is open from breakfast through to dinner; Fusion, an Indian; the Grill, a fine-dining steakhouse; plus the airy and light Plantation Bistro, which serves buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is particularly impressive.
The ship also boasts seven different lounges and bars including the Captain’s Club and Casino, Connexions, Raffles, as well as Taverner’s Pub, which is sure to prove a hit with the almost exclusively British customer base. The traditional style pub has also been added to Magellan, replacing the ship’s rarely used nightclub.
Following in Magellan’s footsteps, Columbus will sail the company’s second-ever world cruise in January 2018, a 120-night round-trip from its homeport in London Tilbury. The line will offer the cruise in segments, giving guests the chance to experience a fly cruise with the line, from ports such as Amsterdam, Sydney and Hong Kong. Among the many highlights are French Polynesia, including the paradise that is Bora Bora, the skyscrapers and deserts of Dubai and fascinating Singapore.
For the remainder of 2017, Columbus will sail itineraries that take in northern Europe, including the increasingly popular Iceland, as well as Spain, Portugal and France. On October 29, it will sail on a 38-night trip from London Tilbury (which guests can join a day later in Amsterdam, should they wish) to the Caribbean and Central America, taking in Cuba, Panama and Columbia.
At the event on June 8, Verhounig also added that CMV is targeting markets outside the UK. “We have a growing presence in Germany, a thriving US and Australia sales office and watch this space for expansion news in new territories and strategic acquisitions in the very near future,” he said.
“The introduction of 64,000GT Columbus, the fifth ship in the fleet, shows we are determined to make a mark in the global cruise market.”