Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) is to add a fifth ship to its ocean-going fleet.
The Essex-based company has bought Pacific Pearl from P&O Australia. The 1,400 passenger vessel will begin sailing as Columbus from June 9, 2017.
The ship, which was christened by Audrey Hepburn in 1989, has cabins for 150 singles and will homeport at London Tilbury. The cruises will go on sale on March 31, 2016. A 2017 launch edition preview brochure will be published on April 7, 2016.
The acquisition is the latest deal between Carnival Corporation and CMV, which launched another former Carnival Cruise Line vessel, Magellan, last year.
Christian Verhounig, CEO and chairman of CMV said: “The successful introduction of Magellan in 2015 has encouraged our group to accelerate their mid-term growth plans and the addition of Columbus to the fleet in 2017 is another important milestone in achieving our longer term growth objectives”.
The new vessel will be CMV’s new flagship vessel, sailing alongside Magellan, 1,300 passengers; Marco Polo, 800 passengers; Astor, 600 passengers; and Astoria, 550 passengers.
“The strategic development of the group’s presence in the UK and wider international markets will increase our overall capacity to 125,000 passengers in 2017.
“We are proud of the CMV brand’s growing international recognition and remain confident in continuing to successfully build our business as a strong value based ‘independent’ alternative and deliver profitable returns for both our trading partners and stakeholders.”
Chris Coates, commercial director added: “We are really pleased to welcome this fine ship to our fleet which we believe will be very well suited to our core British market who appreciate and value the many benefits of cruising on smaller to mid-sized more traditional vessels of this type.
The introduction of Columbus and her past association and popularity with the British cruise market spanning 13 years, will increase 2017 UK bed night capacity by 25 per cent to 95,000 passengers. Having already sold over 85 per cent of capacity for 2016 and with 17,000 people turning 50 every week in the UK, we remain confident that Columbus will satisfy the growing demand for our product.”