MORE people are likely to consider a cruise holiday in 2010, as the arrival of several operators at the cheaper end of the market promises prices in line with short-haul summer breaks.
Cruise & Maritime Services (CMS) intends to build on the success this summer of its programme out of Tilbury, Essex, with the Marco Polo (left). It was a favourite with cruise fans when it was part of Orient Lines.
CMS, based in Dartford, Kent, operated Marco Polo cruises with Bremen-based Transocean Tours, which has been sunk by heavy losses on another vessel and has had to file for bankruptcy.
For 2010, CMS has severed links with Transocean and aims to operate Marco Polo full-time.
It has announced the acquisition of a second ship, Ocean Countess, once run by Cunard, to offer a range of regional departures from Hull, Newcastle, Leith, Greenock, Liverpool and Plymouth.
Lead-on fare for the programme is just £149 for a two-night mini-cruise on Ocean Countess ex-Tilbury for Amsterdam on April 18 and returning to Hull. Six-night voyages to Norway’s fjords start at £379.
CMS has signed a five-year deal to operate Marco Polo, which gets a new livery before it begins sailing from Tilbury on January 2.
The company is owned by Chris Coates and Richard Bastow, who pioneered cruises from £379 out of Tilbury a decade ago using Russian ships.
Its marketing chief Mike Hall says: “Our strategy is to address the early retired market, who don’t want the superliners.
“They want the smaller, traditional cruise experience, not a mega-ship, with the regional departures an added attraction for those who avoid airports.”
INFORMATION: Cruise & Maritime Voyages (0845 333 9798 and www.cruiseandmaritime.com).