Princess Cruises announces biggest ever season of ex-UK sailings

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by Natasha Salmon

Princess Cruises has announced 2018 will be its biggest ever season of cruises departing from the UK.

More than 40 itineraries on three Princess ships will be available between April and October out of Southampton and Dover.

In 2016 the operator’s Emerald Princess spent the summer season in Southampton.

Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “Having seen a significant increase in popularity of Princess cruises from the UK, we are thrilled to announce that our 2018 programme will be our biggest ever season.

“We have a long history with the UK market and after a significant growth, especially with the popularity of our Emerald ex-UK sailings; we decided to grow it further.”

The Sapphire Princess will make its maiden visit to Europe sailing from Southampton to the Mediterranean and northern Europe for the full period between April and October.

Prior to this, from March, it will sail from Singapore on the Indian Ocean & Europe Grand Adventures 38-night cruise to Southampton and then return to Singapore in October.

In May 2018, Royal Princess will return to the UK offering round-Britain cruises, five years after it was launched by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Pacific Princess, the lines smaller ship, will sail a roundtrip from Dover to northern and southern Europe between June and September, including the 12-night European capitals cruise with overnight stay in Amsterdam.

Roberts said the company’s success is reliant on their work with agents.

“The thing which has made 2016 such a success for us is closely working with the trade.

“Agents are critical to the success of our presence in the UK and we will continue to work with them.”

For the first time in three years summer Caribbean cruises will return with 47 itineraries around the Caribbean and Panama Canal ranging from seven to 20-nights.

Princess will offer its largest ever Alaska deployment with seven ships sailing in the region, increasing the number of guests by 15%.

Crown Princess will offer Mediterranean cruises from Rome, Athens and Barcelona while Regal Princess will sail roundtrip from Copenhagen to Scandinavia and the Baltic.

Norwegian Cruise Line to offer ex-UK cruises for first time in seven years


Photo by Dave Jones

by Hollie-Rae Merrick 

Norwegian Cruise Line will have a UK-dedicated ship sailing from Southampton for the first time in seven years from 2017.

The cruise line will offer a series of 11 Western Europe and three Norwegian Fjords sailings between May 12 and June 20 and August 7 and October 16, 2017. Also available will be two shorter taster cruises.

Norwegian Jade (pictured) will arrive in Europe after a two-and-a-half-week dry-dock. Ports of call featured on its itineraries include Hamburg, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Alesund, Geiranger, and Bergen.

The line’s 2017 programme includes a total of five ships sailing in Europe, the line’s biggest ever European deployment.

Norwegian Getaway, which launched in 2014, will return to Europe to sail on eight or nine-night Baltic Capitals cruises to and from Copenhagen.

Norwegian Epic will sail in the Western Mediterranean; Norwegian Spirit will offer 10 and 11-night voyages between Barcelona and Venice and Norwegian Star will sail between Venice and the Greek Isles.

Norwegian’s managing director for EMEA, Christian Boell, said: “We’re clearly demonstrating our commitment to our European customers, especially cruisers in the UK, with these exciting summer itineraries.

“Not only are we offering the possibility to embark in Southampton but we are also bringing one of our newest and most innovative ships back to Europe.

“We’re convinced that this will encourage continued growth in the UK market, where we have just seen record breaking guest numbers in 2015.”

Northern Europe general manager, Nick Wilkinson, added: “I’m sure these exciting Southampton sailings will be music to our travel partners’ ears.”

New ship Norwegian Escape, which launched in October 2015, will spend summer 2017 sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami on May 6.

MSC Cruises’ return to ex-UK sailings delayed by a year

MSC Cruises is unlikely to return to offering a full season of ex-UK sailings until 2018, a year later than the line previously predicted.

Speaking at the steel cutting of new ship MSC Seaside (pictured), Gianni Onorato, chief executive of the line, said the line would be delayed returning to the UK by a year.

Initially there had been hopes that the brand would make a return in 2017, having pulled out this year.

Next year the line is offering a small number of sailings from Southampton, but Onorato said “internal commitments” had meant the operator would not have a ship sailing a full season from the UK until 2018.

He said: “we are going to look more deeply at the North American and UK markets, and then after that we will look at Asia.

“In the UK we want to be the reference cruise line for the Mediterranean, and we’re investing in that. As soon as we have growth in the fleet we will look to have a competitive ship in the UK market.

“I think we will have a one-year delay in coming back to the UK because of other developments internally.”

He said over time he would like MSC to rival domestic cruise lines such as P&O Cruises.

Giles Hawke, executive director for the line who is responsible for the UK market, said it was important for the line to grow and build revenues in the UK if it wants to secure a ship ex-UK.

Onorato also made some announcements about new features onboard MSC Seaside, which will sail year-round from Miami when it launches in 2017.

The ships will offer “super family plus” cabin for groups of up to 10 people, as the line looks to capitalise on the growth of multi generational and group cruises.

It will be “extremely kids-friendly” according to Onorato and will also have a kids-only restaurant. Onorato said MSC was a family company which always had families at heart.

He announced that there would be cluster cabins for groups of up to 10 people, with the super family plus option combining two balcony staterooms and an inside cabin.