Cruise ship Discovery is to be rebranded as part of a "unique" joint venture between All Leisure Holidays and Cruise & Maritime Voyages.
The 700-passenger ship is due to return from an extensive dry-dock refurbishment in February and had been expected to sail alongside its new sister ship, Voyager, launching later this year.
But as part of a new tie-up, it will now join the CMV fleet, replacing Ocean Countess and sailing alongside Marco Polo.
The move leads to a drop in cruise capacity for the UK market because Discovery is 10% smaller than Ocean Countess.
Roger Allard, executive chairman of All Leisure Holidays which operates the Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and Hebridean Island brands, said the five-year deal came about after discussions with several cruise rivals about how to create "better synergies" on insurance, fuel buying and other costs.
"It's an evolution," he said. "You've got to move with the times and it's unique for two cruise companies to work together like this and share the P&L."
But he added that the company was unlikely to do future deals like this with other cruise lines. "We've got enough to do," he said.
Travel agent bookings for Discovery will now be made with CMV.
Passengers with advance bookings on Discovery can choose to keep their existing reservation and keep the saving in price, or switch to a similar cruise on Voyager, taking advantage of a 10% discount offer on selected itineraries.
The joint venture on Discovery will offer regional departures and a small-ship traditional cruising experience to the UK market, with departures from ports of call including Liverpool, Harwich, Hull, Bristol and the Port of Tyne as well as fly cruises from destinations in Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Mini one-night cruises will start from £69 per person, with a five night cruise costing from £409 per person.
Alongside the usual guest speakers, Discovery will now also have other entertainment, including shows, comedians and speciality acts.
Meanwhile, Voyager is due to set sail from Portsmouth for its inaugural cruise on 4th December 2012 following an extensive refurbishment.
by Bev Fearis
Friday, August 31, 2012