With the recent announcement of their acquisition of a new flagship- in the shape of the 46,000 ton Magellan- Cruise and Maritime Voyages has been shuffling the deck chairs with regard to their 2015 itineraries.
For the first time ever, the line is offering a short season of dedicated, Mediterranean fly-cruises during the autumn, using the intimate, 550 passenger Azores. The 16,000 ton ship, chartered from Portuscale Cruises, will offer a series of five fly cruises, inclusive of one voyage that embarks in Bristol and ends with a flight from Genoa to the UK.
This marks the first real range of Mediterranean cruises offered by the line. Hitherto, the ships in the fleet have concentrated on itineraries in northern and western Europe, Scandinavia and northern Norway, together with long, exotic winter runs to the Amazon and Caribbean.
The choice of Azores for this programme of cruises is pretty shrewd; the ship- formerly the Stockholm of Swedish American Line- is the ideal size for cruising the waters of the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. She can quite easily access the wide range of smaller, more appealing ports that the larger ships must bypass. At the same time, the ship has a broad, open amount of sun bathing space, as well as a brace of beautiful, two room terrace suites located midships on the upper deck.
The Azores programme begins with a nine night sailing from at Bristol on September 8th, calling at La Coruna, Leixoes (for Porto), Lisbon, Gibraltar and Malaga, before passengers fly home from Genoa.
There follows an eleven night fly/cruise from Genoa on September 17th, calling at Civitavecchia for Rome, Santorini, Mykonos, Kusadasi for Ephesus, Samos, Piraeus, Katakolon, Corfu and Korcula, before ending with an overnight stay in Venice. This cruise also repeats on October 9th.
These two itineraries are also followed in reverse, with departures from Venice for Genoa on 28th September and 20th October, respectively.
Fares for the nine night repositioning cruise start from £689 pp based on two people sharing, if booked prior to December 12th.
The eleven night fly cruises cost from £999 pp, also based on twin occupancy.
All things considered, this short programme allows passengers to see an appealing mix of ‘greatest hits’ ports as well as smaller, more laid back ports of call at a time of year when the weather should still be agreeably mellow and pleasant. Factor in the intimate scale of the Azores herself, and I suspect that these fly/cruises will sell quite well.
As always, stay tuned for any further developments.