The British Cruise Fleet In 2020

by Kevin Griffin

A lot is happening right now in the UK cruise world. An “upstart” line for the over 50s has just taken delivery of its first newbuilding, which it calls a luxury boutique ship. Another “upstart” line for the below 50s is adding four newbuildings that will eschew the traditional cruise buffet first introduced by Holland America Line as Statendam’s Lido Cafe back in the 1970s. One traditonal line is going to 5,200-passenger ships fuelled with LNG while another is adding a fourth Queen. And of two second-tier lines, one is adding one or two ships year, mostly early balcony second generation ships, the other is standing pat with the same four ships.

Saga Cruises (for the over 50 crowd)

Saga is taking delivery of two new 999-berth ships to be registered under the British flag in London. Two ships with a total of 1,998 berths will put them second behind P&O’s 3,647-berth British-flag Britannia. Only the Britannia is UK-registered, with the rest of the P&O fleet registered in Bermuda.

Virgin Voyages (for the under 50 crowd)

Not UK-flag but UK-owned, Virgin Voyages is about to begin taking delivery of four new 2,770-berth “Scarlet Lady” class ship. Virgin’s ships will fly the Bahamian flag.

P&O Cruises (founded 1837)

Not to be outdone by anyone else, P&O Cruises has joined its stable-mates, the Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line, the Italian Costa Cruises, and German-based (but Italian-flag) Aida Cruises in launching a new 5,200-berth class of modern cruise ship. Just one of these behemoths will be able to accommodate 250,000 7-night passengers a year.

Cunard Line (founded 1840)

The other traditional line, founded by Samuel Cunard 180 years ago, is building a fourth Queen, and the argument is Queen Anne or Queen Charlotte. Meanwhile, the Queen Elizabeth has been touring the world as a pathfinder, seeking out new routes for four Queens. This winter and spring it was Australia, Japan and Alaska before meeting Queen Mary 2 in Halifax last week. Cunard’s present Queens are all registered in the British colony of Bermuda.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (of Norway)

Fred. Olen is and always has been Norwegian owned and officered, but it’s clientele is almost exclusively from the UK. The line’s management is based in Ipswich.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (of Greece)

Like Fred Olsen, Cruise & Maritime Voyages is foreign-owned, in its case by Global Maritime Group of Athens. CMV can trace its beginnings back to CTC Cruise Lines, which was formed to manage Russian cruise ships in the 1970s. A fifth ship is to be added to this UK-based fleet next year.

Princess Cruises (Represented by Carnival UK)

Going against the grain compared to the other UK-based fleets, this once-P&O subsidiary has become part of the Seattle-based Holland America Line Group. Although three or four ships usually trade from the UK, the remainder most of its UK-flag ships trade in the Pacifix, usually from Australia or Japan

(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)

(See the last columns)

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