Roald Amundsen To Transit Northwest Passage – Other Cruise News: Azamara Pursuit Maiden Voyage From Southampton – Uljanik Shipyard In Difficulties

by Kevin Griffin

Announced before Christmas, Norway’s Hurtigruten is to join the cast of lines transitting Canada’s Northwest Passage, following in the steps of the Crystal Serenity, The World of Residensea and a number of smaller ships doing the full passage in recent years. The 530-berth Roald Amundsen will be the third largest passenger ship to do so when she sails through in August 2019. Meanwhile, Azamara Club Cruises’ new 684-berth Azamara Pursuit is being refitted at the historic Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast before departing on her maiden voyage from Southampton on August 1. And finally, Croatia’s Uljanik shipyard in Pula is looking to restructure. Uljanik is building the 228-berth Polar 6 expedition ship Scenic Eclipse.

THIS WEEK’S STORY

Roald Amundsen To Transit Northwest Passage

The 20,000-ton 530-berth Roald Amundsen, now under construction at Kleven Werft for Hurtigruten, is planned for delivery this August.

The two new ships for Hurtigruten (Artist impression courtesy Kleven Werft)

The two new ships for Hurtigruten (Artist impression courtesy Kleven Werft)

And after her first year of service, on August 29, 2019, she is scheduled for a 26-night Northwest Passage voyage from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, to Nome, Alaska. After the 68,870-ton 980-berth Crystal Serenity and the 43,524-ton 165-residence The World she will be the third largest passenger ship to have made the full transit of the Northwest Passage.

Founded in 1893 to operate voyages on Norway’s western and northern coasts, Hurtigruten has since spread south to offer cruises to Antarctica and now has its eye’s set on Canada’s Northwest Passage.

“Honouring our explorer heritage, we are constantly seeking new waters to explore. With our new ships and new itineraries, Hurtigruten is setting a new global standard for exploration travel to the polar edges of the world—and to new frontiers,” said Hurtigruten chief executive Daniel Skjeldam.

The new vessels will be equipped with a wave piercing bow surmounted by a covered observation area forward (Artist impression courtesy Kleven Werft)

The new vessels will be equipped with a wave piercing bow surmounted by a covered observation area forward (Artist impression courtesy Kleven Werft)

The company plans to launch its new hybrid electric ship, the 459-foot Roald Amundsen, which it calls “the world’s greenest vessel,” on a 2019 voyage through the Northwest Passage.

The ship is one of two now under order for Hurtigruten, the world’s first hybrid electric-diesel power cruise vessels. The Roald Amundsen will thus become the first electric-powered cruise vessel to travel the Northwest Passage.

The hybrid nature of Hurtigruten’s new vessels should reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. They will also be able to sail with solely electric propulsion for up to 30 minutes, allowing for “absolutely silent cruising in sensitive areas,” says Hurtigruten.

The Hurtigruten's 318-berth Fram

The Hurtigruten’s 318-berth Fram

The ship is being specially constructed for voyages in polar waters and will serve as a comfortable base camp at sea, bringing adventurers from all over the world to the most spectacular destinations.

Hurtigruten’s entry into the Northwest Passage cruise market will already mean more activity for Cambridge Bay in 2018 as for this year’s Northwest Passage cruises, the 300 or so passengers booked on the Fram will arrive in Cambridge Bay September 9 as another group leaves Cambridge Bay for Montreal.

Until the arrival of the Roald Amundsen, Hurtigruten’s Northwest Passage cruises turn at Cambridge Bay.

OTHER CRUISE NEWS

Azamara Pursuit Maiden Voyage From Southampton

Azamara Club Cruises has announced that its new 684-berth Azamara Pursuit will make her maiden voyage from Southampton on August 1, rather than Barcelona as originally planned. Her first four voyages will all call in the UK.

P&O Adonia: she will become the Azamara Pursuit

P&O Adonia: she will become the Azamara Pursuit

The luxury line’s commitment to growing its UK ties was also shown by its decision to carry out Pursuit’s refit in the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast this spring.

Larry Pimentel, Azamara’s president and chief executive, said these decisions were made following “unprecedented support” from the UK market for Azamara Pursuit. “We’ve seen double the UK demand for Azamara Pursuit than we usually see for its sister ships, so this is a really exciting time for us.”

The line’s third ship, after departing from Southampton August 1, will sail to eight Norwegian destinations including Kristiansand, Flam and Haugesund and will offer overnight stays in Oslo and Bergen.
Azamara Pursuit will then depart Southampton for an Iceland-intensive voyage on August 13, before her special christening voyage on August 28.

The ship will then depart Southampton once more on August 30 for a 13-night Wine & Romance voyage.

The Azamara Quest (Courtesy Azamara Club Cruises) (Click to enlarge)

The Azamara Quest (Courtesy Azamara Club Cruises) (Click to enlarge)

Richard Twynam, managing director for UK and Ireland, added: “Thanks to the incredible support from our UK guests and travel agents, 2017 was a record year for Azamara in this market.”
He added that the Azamara business had grown by 30% last year and the UK market has “generated more revenue for 2018 at this point than in 2015 overall”.

The third ship allows Azamara in 2018 to sail to 260 ports in eighty countries and in 2019 it this will expand even more because it will involve the whole year.

Azamara Pursuit, which is the former P&O Adonia, will be transformed into an almost identical sister ship to the existing Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey.

Uljanik Shipyard In Difficulties

The Uljanik yard in Pula, Croatia, which is building the 228-berth expedition ship Scenic Eclipse for Scenic Tours of Australia, is reported to be in financial difficulties, with employees not having been paid in months.

The 16,500-ton, 228-berth ocean-going cruise ship Scenic Eclipse (Artist impression courtesy Scenic Cruises)

The 16,500-ton, 228-berth ocean-going cruise ship Scenic Eclipse (Artist impression courtesy Scenic Cruises)

The Croatian government has offered to guarantee a €96 million loan to allow the yard to restructure, subject to European Commission approval. However the European Commission is apparently not in a hurry to approve this arrangement as it could be interpreted as state aid.
Uljanik has already received restructuring aid as part of Croatia’s accession to the EU, but the yard seems to have used most of that money to lower the prices of its ships.

This has led to a full orderbook, but not much improvement in the yard, which is reportedly old and antiquated, although the quality of the ships is said to be fine.

Observers are now speculating about a delay to the Scenic Eclipse, which is due for delivery in about six months time, and the future of the recently ordered second ship for 2020 delivery from sister yard 3 Maj in Rijeka may be doubtful.

Uljanik also builds roro cargo-passenger ships for Grimaldi Lines, having delivered the last of eleven such units to Grimaldi in October, and is working on seven further ships of a new class now.

(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)

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