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Bad Luck Year For Polar Cruise Ships - Other Cruise News: How Marina Compares - SeaDream Calls at Dover in 2012 - Croisières de France on TV - Cruise Lines Drop Tunis

by Mark Tre' - "The Cruise Examiner"

The 2010-11 polar cruise season has been bad news for some operators, seeing more casualties than usual. First, the Clipper Adventurer grounded in the Canadian Arctic, then the Lyubov Orlova was arrested in St John's NF. And as if that were not enough, three ships, the Clelia II, Le Boréal and Polar Star, have had to cancel Antarctic departures from Ushaia this season and the season is only just half over.
But it has been good news for those who have managed to book the displaced passengers. Meanwhile, now that Marina has been delivered to Oceania we do a little comparison, French operator Croisières de France goes on television, SeaDream announces two UK departures for 2012 and more lines drop Tunis


Bad Luck Year For Polar Cruise Ships

For some expedition cruise ship operators, this has been a particularly bad year. First, in the Canadian Arctic, the Clipper Adventurer ran aground on August 27 while on charter to Adventure Canada and then her near sister ship Lyubov Orlova, which had just completed her season for Cruise North Expeditions, was arrested in St John's, Newfoundland in September.

And if that were not bad enough, so far in this Antarctic season, three more ships have got themselves into trouble. First, the Clelia II was hit by a large wave on December 9 and was out of service until December 26, then Le Boréal had to cancel her January 4 voyage, an Abercrombie & Kent charter, because of mechanical problems and last week the Polar Star hit an uncharted rock, damaging her outer hull while sailing through the Matha Strait, and has had to cancel her February 6 voyage.

Polar Star's 80 passengers were returned from Antarctica to Ushuaia last week on board ships of other operators. The largest, number, 42, were brought back by the Marina Svetaeva, operated by One Ocean Expeditions of Vancouver. Twenty more were transferred to the Ushuaia of Ushuaia-based Antarpply Expeditions. And the last eight passengers were brought back the Expedition, operated by Toronto-based GAP Adventures. Among these passengers were thirty-two Americans, fourteen Brits, nine Canadians and eight Australians.

There have been years when one or two or even three ships have had problems, but not a year recently when five have lost voyages. The silver lining here is that operators such as One Ocean, GAP and Antarpply have gained a little more business from the three ships affected, all of which have had to cancel voyages at very short notice. With passengers either already in Ushuaia or en route, the other operators have been able to step into the gap, so to speak, several benefiting more than once.

Of the above, meanwhile, the Lyubov Orlova has reportedly now been sold to Norwegian owners and the Clipper Adventurer has been replaced in the Quark fleet by the Sea Spirit, formerly the troubled Cruise West's Spirit of Oceanus, which has been chartered from International Shipping Partners, who also manage a number of Quark's own ships.

The Sea Spirit is now working the 2010/11 Antarctic season out and will return for 2011/12, after which she will again be on the market for charter. Another silver lining here is that the Sea Spirit has brought a much more luxurious level of ship and accommodation to the Quark fleet, who have primarily used chartered Russian and Ukrainian tonnage in the past. Quark is now part of the TUI Group, which also includes Hapag-Lloyd Cruise, Thomson Cruises and TUI Cruises, the latter being a joint venture with Royal Caribbean.

One thing that is notable in looking at these various companies is how many of them are now based in Canada, six in all. Toronto now boasts four expedition cruise operators - owners GAP Adventures and Quark Expeditions and charter operators Adventure Canada and Cruise North Expeditions. Halifax meanwhile has Polar Star Expeditions while Vancouver has its own One Ocean Expeditions.

One Ocean Expeditions has also recently announced that it will be returning to using the Akademik Ioffe in 2012.


How Marina Compares

Now that the Marina has been christened it is worth comparing her with a few other ships in her general market and size range to see how she compares:.

In general terms, she seems to compare well with Prinsendam, which was built as an ultra-luxury ship in 1988, and she even reaches almost 85% of the Passenger Space Ratio (PSR = gross tons per passenger) of Crystal Serenity, but falls short of the likes of Hapag-Lloyd's planned Europa 2 or the new Seabourn ships, which of course charge much higher fares as well.

And she compares with sister brand Regent by carrying three-quarters more passengers, thus giving her better economies.

SeaDream To Call At Dover in 2012

SeaDream Yacht Club, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, will be visiting the UK for the first time in 2012, either side of its second Baltic season. The ultra-luxury small-ship brand will be sailing north for the first time this summer, and will be calling at London at the end of its Transatlantic crossing in May, but in 2012 it will actually commence some cruises in the UK.

SeaDream will use Dover as its turnaround port for two 2012 departures, a 13-night cruise to Stockholm on May 12 and an 11-night voyage to Lisbon on August 14. Inwards at Dover, there will be a 14-night Transatlantic cruise, departing San Juan on April 28, and an 8-night cruise, departing Copenhagen on July 16.

Croisières de France on TV

Following Costa and MSC in the French market, Paris-based Croisières de France will be the third cruise line to run its own marketing campaign on French television. Yesterday it began a series of 21 short programs on Channel TF1. Under the title "Face à la mer", these programs will now be broadcast every Sunday at 1 pm. Television personalities have been engaged to discuss various Mediterranean ports of call. The interviews will be illustrated with background shots of the various ports where CDF's Bleu de France now calls on her cruises from Marseilles during the summer season.

A little over a minute long, each segment is intended to raise the profile in the French market of Pullmantur-operated Croisières de France, which carried 35,000 cruise passengers in 2010 and has a target of 60,000 cruisers in 2012, when the larger Horizon will replace the Bleu de France, after she is delivered to her new owners, Saga Cruises of the UK.

Lines such as P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have also been using television for some time now in the UK. And Royal Caribbean took a slot during this year's Super Bowl on Sunday.

Cruise Lines Drop Tunis

Disney Cruise Lines and Voyages to Antiquity have both now announced that they will be dropping plans to call at Tunis. Disney will go instead to Palermo, Sicily, which will cause them a problem on duty-free and wine and spirit sales as all ports called at will be within the European Union and a non-EU port call is needed in order to be able to offer duty-free sales. Voyages to Antiquity meanwhile have cancelled back-to-back cruises to Tunis and Alexandria and substituted a single sailing on April 4 from Piraeus to Civitavecchia that will feature four ports of call in Libya - no duty-free problems for them then.

Costa have also cancelled all calls in Egypt and Tunisia until further notice but meanwhile some governments have again allowed their citizens to travel to Egypt and Tunisia.

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