Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Cunard sets schedule for 2013 world cruises


Cunard sets schedule for 2013 world cruises

By Donna Tunney
InsightCunard took the wraps off of its World Voyage program for 2013, providing early details on itineraries planned for the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2.

Both vessels will sail roundtrip from Southampton, England, on Jan. 10, 2013; agents can begin booking the cruises on July 14.

Cunard’s Queen Victoria will offer departures from New York, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco on its way to the South Pacific. The 105-day voyage will call at 34 ports in 23 countries and transit both the Panama and Suez canals.

“North American passengers being able to pick up the Victoria in New York is the real opportunity for U.S. agents,” said Cunard president Peter Shanks. “I think this will be our best seller.”

From San Francisco, the 2,000-passenger ship sails to the South Pacific and New Zealand before arriving for an overnight stay in Sydney. The ship then heads north for an overnight call in Hong Kong via the Great Barrier Reef, Darwin, Bali, Manila and another overnight in Shanghai.

Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India line the Victoria's route to Oman before a fourth overnight call, this time in Dubai. The final leg of the voyage includes calls in Jordan and Egypt before a Suez Canal transit. That is followed by calls in Rome and Lisbon before the ship completes the trip in Southampton.

The QM2, the line's 2,600-passenger flagship, will meanwhile cruise to an overnight stay in Dubai on a route that includes calls in Spain, Greece and Egypt as well as a transit of the Suez Canal. After a maiden call in Abu Dhabi, the ship will sail to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam before arriving in Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong for an overnight stay.

After that, the QM2 is off to Shanghai for another overnight stay and then to Australia’s Gold Coast on the way to Sydney. From Sydney the Queen Mary 2 will offer a 12-day loop of New Zealand, including a maiden call in Christchurch in addition to visiting Wellington, Auckland and the Bay of Islands.

The ship will then head westward, heading for Cape Town in South Africa by way of Australia’s south and west coasts, Mauritius, Durban and a maiden call to Port Elizabeth. After two nights in Cape Town, the voyage will explore the African continent with a call in Namibia before returning to Europe for calls in the Atlantic Isles and Spain and journey’s end in Southampton.

Said Shanks: “For the first time in 2012 we’re introducing the loop around Australia on Queen Mary 2, and it’s been so popular with our full world voyage guests and with Australians, too, it made us think long and hard about how we could do something similar in 2013.”

He said a visit earlier this year to New Zealand convinced him that a circumnavigation of that destination was just the ticket. “The people there are so welcoming,” said Shanks.

Together the ships will visit 55 ports of call in 28 countries. Cruise fares for the full voyages start at $19,995 per person, double. Segments are available on both ships.

Meanwhile, the Queen Elizabeth in 2013 also will sail what Cunard calls an “epic journey.” The 2,068-passenger ship will operate a 91-day sailing to the Americas and the South Pacific. It departs from Los Angeles on Feb. 4 for a 36-day Pearls of the Pacific cruise visiting Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa and French Polynesia. Fares are from about $6,200 per person. A shorter segment, 15 days, begins at $2,700.