CMA CGM’s North Atlantic Passenger Services – Round the World In 84 Days – Baltic Levant Express – Passengers In Kingston Again
by Kevin Griffin
In January, we brought you the relaunch of CMA CGM’s Europe-Australia cargo-passenger service with four new ships. But now, with so many things happening at CMA CGM, we have decided to devote this column to bringing readers up to date. First off, CMA CGM is reviving its North Atlantic service, with four ships on two regular routes. It has also recently lauched a 7-ship 84-day Round-the-World service from Ensenada, Mexico, and Singapore. In Europe, it has added four ships to its new Baltic Levant Express service that connects the UK and European ports with St Petersburg at one end and Alexandria at the other. And finally, the purchase of Kingston Container Terminal may soon see more passenger trade via Jamaica.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
CMA CGM’s North Atlantic Passenger Services
Recent changes to CMA CGM’s container ship deployments are going to add significant passenger capacity to the Transatlantic business, where it has been difficult to get space. The 8-passenger CMA CGM Sambhar has joined the 7-passenger CMA CGM Jamaica in the Victory Bridge service, while the 5-passenger CMA CGM Amber and CMA CGM Coral have been brought into full-time service on the Liberty Bridge route.
This will thus be the first time in several years that CMA CGM has had four ships in North Atlantic passenger service. As part of this, the CMA CGM Amber and CMA CGM Coral will offer berths on the Le Havre – Southampton – New York route, which was once the haunt of ocean liners such as the s.s France.
CMA CGM is adding two 5-passenger ships, the CMA CGM Amber and CMA CGM Coral to the Liberty Bridge service. This route offers a 35-night round voyage from New York via Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah to Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Le Havre and Southampton, with a 9-night sailing back to New York.
These ships, featuring one double Owners cabin and three Single cabins, have been brought in from the Vespucci service, which serves the Far East.
Although this adds an extra 20 sailings and 100 berths per year, space will still be limited so it is wise to apply early. The fare for the full 35-night round voyage on the Liberty Bridge service is €3,850 per person for two in the Owners Cabin or €4,200 for a Single Cabin.
At the same time, CMA CGM is doubling its Victory Bridge passenger capacity with the addition of the 8-berth CMA CGM Sambhar to the 7-berth CMA CGM Jamaica. This route offers a 42-night round voyage from Houston, New Orleans and Miami to Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Bremerhaven and returns via Charleston, Savannah and Miami to Veracruz and Altamira and then back to Houston.
This service provides another 120 berths annually, which added to the Liberty Bridge means about 36 sailings and 220 berths in each direction across the Atlantic yearly. The fare for the full 42-night round voyage on the Victory Bridge service is €4,620per person twin in the CMA CGM Sambhar or €5,040 in the CMA CGM Jamaica (which has a swimming pool) and between €5,040 and €5,460 for a Single passenger.
Projected schedules on some of the typical one-way routes are as follows:
Eastbound Service – USA to Europe
New York to Antwerp (20 days): fares €2,200 per person in Owners or €2,400/2,600 Single
CMA CGM Coral Sept 6, Oct 11, Nov 15, Dec 20, Jan 24
CMA CGM Amber Sept 20, Oct 25, Nov 29, Jan 3, Feb 7
Savannah to Antwerp (13 days): fares €1,430 per person in Owners or €1,560/1,690 Single
CMACGM Coral Sept 11, Oct 18, Nov 22, Jan 10, Jan 31
CMA CGM Amber Sept 27, Nov 1, Nov 27, Dec 23, Feb 14
New Orleans to Le Havre (16 days): fares €1,760/1,920 per person or €1,920/2,080 Single
CMA CGM Sambhar Aug 21, Oct 9, Nov 12, Dec 24
CMA CGM Jamaica Sept 20, Oct 22, Dec 3
Miami to Le Havre (12 days): fares €1,320/1,440 per person or €1,440/1,560Single
CMA CGM Sambhar Aug 24, Oct 5, Nov 16, Dec 28
CMA CGM Jamaica Sept 14, Oct 26, Dec 7
Westbound Service – Europe to USA
Le Havre to New York (10 days): fares €1,400 per person in Owners or €1,500Single
CMA CGM Coral Aug 26, Sept 30, Nov 4, Dec 9, Jan 13
CMA CGM Amber Sept 9, Oct 14, Nov 18, Dec 23, Jan 27
Southampton to New York (9 days): fares €1,400 per person in Owners or €1,500Single
CMA CGM Coral Aug 27, Oct 1, Nov 5, Dec 10, Jan 14
CMA CGM Amber Sept 10, Oct 15, Nov 19, Dec 24, Jan 28
Le Havre to Miami (17 days): fares €1,870/2,040 per person or €2,040/2,210 Single
CMA CGM Jamaica Aug 14, Sept 25, Nov 6
CMA CGM Sambhar Sept 4, Oct 16, Nov 27
Rotterdam to Charleston (13 days): fares €1,430/1,560 per person or €1,560/1,690
CMA CGM Jamaica Aug 17, Sept 28, Nov 9
CMA CGM Sambhar Sept 7, Oct 19, Nov 30
Round the World In 84 Days
Recent changes at CMA CGM bring some good news for those looking for a single voyage round the world, something that has not been available since Rickmers stopped carrying passengers through the Suez Canal.
Because of a change in the way the Pacific East Coast 2 Line operates it can now offer the service as a full 84-day Round-the-World freighter cruise from Ensenada, Mexico, or from Caucedo, Dominican Republic, as well as from Singapore.
The seven ships on this route have been trading both ways via Panama but will now return to Asia via the Cape of Good Hope. At 38 days, the voyage from Trinidad to Singapore is the longest stretch without a port.
The full round-the-world voyage takes 84 days and seven ships means an average frequency of about every 12 days. Fare for the full 84-day circumnavigation is €9,240 per person double occupancy or €10,080 for sole use of a double cabin (the single supplement is only 9%).
Sample one-way fares are Singapore to Ensenada in 28 days at €3,080 (€3,360 single), Hong Kong to Ensenada in 23 days at €2,530 (€2,760 single) or Caucedo to Singapore in 41 days at €4,510 (€4,920 single).
Passengers are carried in seven of the twelve ships engaged in this service: m/v’s CMA CGM Blue Whale, CMA CGM Florida, CMA CGM Georgia, CMA CGM New Jersey, CMA CGM Tarpon and CMA CGM White Shark (3 Double cabins, swimming pool, maximum 6 passengers), and the CMA CGM Eiffel (1 Owners and 3 Double cabins, swimming pool, maximum 8 passengers).
The full itinerary is Ensenada, Mexico – Manzanillo, Mexico – Punta Manzanillo, Panama – Cartagena, Colombia – Kingston, Jamaica – Caucedo, Dominican Republic – Port of Spain, Trinidad – Singapore – Chiwan, China – Hong Kong – Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Ningbo, China – Shanghai, China – Qingdao, China – Pusan, South Korea – Ensenada, Mexico.
For North Americans joining ship in Ensenada, that port is 85 miles south of San Diego. Buses leave San Diego’s ABC Bus Station for Ensenada every 15 minutes and the journey takes about 90 minutes. There are of course other ways of getting there.
For those joining in Caucedo in the Dominican Republic, the port’s container terminal is located right next to Las Americas International Airport, served by Air France from Paris, Iberia from Madrid, American Airlines from Miami and Philadelphia, Delta from Atlanta and New York, Jet Blue from Boston and Fort Lauderdale, United from Newark as well as other airlines, including winter charter flights from Canada.
Singapore can be easily reached from many other parts of the world.
Baltic Levant Express
CMA CGM announced the launch of its new Baltic Levant Express service in May. It offers a direct connection between St Petersburg and the Eastern Mediterranean and provides some of the area’s best transit times. And four of its six ships carry passengers on their rounds. The new Baltic Levant Express now offers a full round voyage from Tilbury of 42 days.
CMA CGM now links four major North European ports, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Le Havre, with four main Eastern Mediterranean ports at Alexandria, Beirut, Mersin and Aliaga. For those travelling to Egypt, for example, Alexandria can now be reached directly from Le Havre in only 9 days.
In order to carry Spanish fruits and vegetable exports to North Europe, Spanish citruses and vegetable producers will now be accommodated with new calls at Valencia and Cartagena. Transit times are among the best on the market. For example, Cartagena to Tilbury is only 5 days, and Alexandria to Tilbury is 18 days.
For voyages of less than 8 days duration special fares apply.
The vessels now operate on the following rotation: Tilbury, Antwerp, Rotterdam, St Petersburg, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Le Havre, Malta, Alexandria, Beirut, Mersin, Aliaga, Valencia, Cartagena, Tangiers and Tilbury. Passengers are not handled at Beirut and no embarkation is allowed at St Petersburg.
Four of the ships on this run of the “Philosopher” class, CMA CGM Aristote, CAM CGM Herodote, CMA CGM Homère and CMA CGM Platon, were engaged until recently on the Caribbean, Guyana and North Brazil service. Each carries up to six passengers in three double-bedded cabins. The Owners cabin costs €120 per person per day and a Standard Double €110 per person per day, while the single supplement is a very reasonable €10 a day on top of the basic fare.
Passengers In Kingston Again
In the Caribbean, CMA CGM’s intention to make Kingston, Jamaica, into a major hub port has raised the possibility of a revival of regular passenger links between Europe and Jamaica as well as service between Jamaica and the Far East.
With Kingston’s proximity to the mouth of the newly enlarged Panama Canal, CMA CGM has acquired a thirty-year concession to run the Kingston Container Terminal. The terminal, once enlarged, will have 14 gantry cranes and an annual throughput potential of 3.6 million twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEUs).
Four 12-passenger container ships that previously operated on the French West Indies Line, CMA CGMs Fort St Georges, Fort St Louis, Fort St Pierre and Fort Ste Marie, now operate thirty-three passenger-carrying sailings annually on the Rotterdam – Hamburg – Antwerp – Le Havre – Kingston service, making four calls in Central America before returning to Kingston and heading back via Rotterdam and the same ports in Europe.
A second cargo-passenger service now operates eleven times a year on the Livorno – Genoa – Barcelona – Valencia – Tangiers – Caucedo – Kingston route before the ships head for Mexico, the US Gulf and Ecuador. The same ships call at Kingston on the return voyage, then sailing via Malta to Livorno and the same rotation of ports in the Mediterranean.
Two of the ships on this run, the 6-passenger CMA CGM Manet and CMA CGM Matisse, were formerly engaged in the Europe-USA-Australia-New Zealand service via Panama.
The seven Round-the-World ships already mentioned sail out to Singapore via the Cape of Good Hope, calling at several ports in Asia before returning via Mexico and Panama to Jamaica. About twenty-one passenger-carrying sailings a year are offered on this route.
In all, these three routes will offer a capacity of more than 50 berths per month, or 600 annually, into and out of Jamaica. At one time Jamaican ports were served frequently by the banana boats of the United Fruit Company from Boston, Elder & Fyffes Ltd from the UK and the Jamaica Banana Producers Steamship Company locally.
While there are no more banana boats carrying passengers there are plenty of Caribbean opportunities available on the dozen or so CMA CGM cargo-passenger carrying vessels now serving Kingston.
Any of these CMA CGM voyages can be booked through a number of cruise or travel agent specialists who concentrate on booking cargo ship travel or freighter cruises for many different owners.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)