Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) has announced plans to enter the Australian cruise market. The line will open a sales office in Sydney and have a three year seasonal charter of the 600-passenger Astor operate twice yearly voyages between the UK, Australia and South Africa. It will also launch summer cruises from Fremantle, Perth commencing 12 December 2013.
The Astor joins the CMV fleet in November 2013 and will operate alongside the 800- passenger flagship Marco Polo and 700-passenger Discovery, sailing from eight British ports. Astor’s 10,000 capacity programme will increase CMV’s overall 2014 global capacity to almost 62,000 passengers.
Astor currently operates European summer cruises on the German market and is managed by Munich-based Premicon Group that looks after a fleet of 22 river vessels, operating on the Rhine, Main, Moselle and Danube.
Astor was launched on the British market in 1987 as a five star luxury ‘soft adventure’ product, undergoing several refits including a GBP14 million upgrade in 2010. It has 289 cabins with 70% of accommodation offering an ocean view. There are a range of lounges, seven passenger decks and a sports deck with a jogging track.
“Astor is indeed a beautiful ocean going vessel with a proud heritage and we are delighted that Astor will be part of our international development plans as we establish a strong presence on the Australasian cruise market,” commented Chris Coates commercial director for Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
“We believe Astor will become a firm favourite alongside Marco Polo and Discovery and a perfect match for the mid-sized more traditional business model we have developed since CMV’s launch in 2009. Despite the continued growth of mega resort style mass market vessels, the success and growing interest in the CMV product demonstrates that this niche sector has a significant role to play not only in the UK but also in the wider international English speaking markets and global arena. This new initiative also offers the travel industry an exciting new niche premium cruise product that lends itself to packaging opportunities.”
The sales office in Sydney follows the 2011 establishment of a dedicated North American sales office in Fort Lauderdale.
Coates added: “Britain’s historic and cultural ties with both Australia and South Africa and the feedback received and research undertaken has inspired us to introduce interesting voyages between the UK via the Cape to the Antipodes recreating the bygone halcyon days of long distance sea travel as a serious alternative to the aviation option”.
Twin bed fares start from GDP2,399 for the 36 night Southbound Voyage departing on 5 November 2013.