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Celebrity Cruises: Change of Celebrity plan
Tuesday, 11 November 2014 00:00

Celebrity Century heads for China. Richard MayesCelebrity Century heads for China. Richard MayesFor some time it had been planned that Celebrity Century would leave the Celebrity fleet in March 2015 and move within the Royal Caribbean group to Europe, to operate for Croisières de France as a replacement for another former Celebrity ship, Zenith.

The new ship had already been incorporated into CDF’s 2015 summer programme when it was announced that Celebrity Century would instead head for China and be used on a new joint venture with Chinese CTrip. CTrip is a Shanghai-based travel agency founded in 1999 which is now branching out into cruising on its own account in a new joint venture with Royal Caribbean. CTrip have purchased the ship, but the operation of the vessel will be managed by Royal Caribbean.

Century, as she was when built, was delivered by Meyer at Papenburg in 1995 as the first in a series of three ships, although the other two were somewhat larger. In 2006 she had a major refit in Spain, during which a number of balconies were stuck onto the sides of the ship, not improving her appearance. Two years later she was renamed Celebrity Century.

Nordic Cruise Lines: New charter for 1940s classic ship
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 00:00

The 1943-built Brahe, seen here as Kristina Brahe, has a two-year charter. Rick FrendtThe 1943-built Brahe, seen here as Kristina Brahe, has a two-year charter. Rick FrendtFor the last four years the tiny passenger vessel Brahe has operated for Saimaa Travel, being used largely on domestic cruises on the lakes and rivers and around the coast of Finland. Previously, she had been used on short international and coastal voyages by Kristina Cruises as Kristina Brahe. Now this 70-year old ship will start a new career, under charter to Danish-based Nordic Cruise Lines, with a programme of short cruises in the Baltic, calling at ports in Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Carrying around 110 passengers, she will commence operation in the spring of 2015 from her base in the Danish port of Faaborg.

Brahe is a real survivor, having been built in 1943 by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company in Chicago as US warship PCE (Patrol Craft Escort) 830. She later became HMS Kilchrenan when loaned to the Royal Navy between 1943 and 1946, during which time she was based at Gibraltar.

In 1947 the 1,105gt vessel was sold to Norwegian owners, converted into a passenger and car ferry, and renamed Sunnhordland. She was converted into a cruise ship in 1975 for cruising on the Finnish Lakes.

Passat Kreuzf’ten: Charter terminated early
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 00:00

Has Delphin come to the end of her cruising days? William MayesHas Delphin come to the end of her cruising days? William MayesInitially, Passat Kreuzfahrten cancelled its winter 2014-15 cruise programme with the former Russian vessel Delphin, but recently the owner has terminated the 2014 summer charter early and will not be chartering the ship to Passat for the advertised summer 2015 programme. As a result, Passat Kreuzfahrten ceased to trade at the end of the ship’s last cruise, on 2 September 2014.

Delphin was built in 1975 by Wärtsilä at Turku as the first in a series of five cruise ships with vehicle decks, enabling rapid conversion to troopships if required, for the Black Sea Shipping Company of Odessa.

The 16,214gt ship was named Byelorussiya, and with the break-up of the Soviet Union she became Ukrainian-owned. Following an accident in dry dock in Singapore in 1982 in which the ship toppled over, she went to Bremerhaven for repairs. Later named Kazakhstan II, she was laid up during the financial crisis that encompassed her owners. By 1998 she had been renamed Delphin and for the next 12 years she operated on charter to Hansa Kreuzfahrten.

Costa Cruises: Another for the breakers
Thursday, 16 October 2014 10:23

Club Harmony, at the handover from Costa, bearing the name Harmony Princess. William MayesClub Harmony, at the handover from Costa, bearing the name Harmony Princess. William MayesAfter a period of lay-up, the former Costa Marina has gone for scrap. She was sold by Costa in November 2011, but the sale was not completed and she remained in Costa ownership while operating for Harmony Cruises. Initially she was renamed Harmony Princess, but that name does not appear to have been registered, as she started sailing from Korea as Club Harmony. She was not successful and was laid up.

Costa Marina was one of two former Johnson Line container ships converted for cruising in 1988-90, and in subsequent years has performed as something of a pioneer ship for Costa, being the first of the company’s ships to be dedicated to the German market in 2002, and later the first to be based in Asia, for a season in 2006. She had been scheduled to move to the Red Sea in 2012, but was instead ‘sold’.

Although a relatively modern ship internally, she was built on a 1969 hull and was powered by 1969 engines, unlike her sister, Costa Allegra, which had her engines replaced when she was converted.

P&O Cruises: Dumbing down on Aurora?
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 00:00

When P&O Cruises’ Aurora has her major refit in November 2014, she will undergo some major internal changes in a makeover estimated to be costing £26 million. Externally, the most visible sign will be the stylised union flag along the sides of her bow and the blue funnel with a rising sun motif. P&O Cruises believe that this new look will celebrate the company’s heritage, although there must be better ways to do this than change a livery that has been in use since the 1930s.

Internally, the rather magnificent library on deck 8 will be moved to the much smaller cyb@study space behind the Crows Nest on deck 13, and the vacated space will be filled with an Indian fusion restaurant under the Sindhu name. Café Bordeaux, the 24-hour restaurant on deck 8, will be replaced by the Glass House, a restaurant and wine bar, with much of the focus on the latter element. Other less significant changes will be made to the public areas during Aurora’s stay at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg from 29 November to 18 December.

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