Carnival Cruise Lines has announced a return to cruising in UK waters for the first time since 2008 with the deployment of Carnival Legend to Dover.
The 2,600-capacity ship, which was named in 2002 by Dame Judi Dench in Harwich, will operate 17 cruises from the Kent port between April 22 and October 31 2013.
The decision to bring a ship back to the UK reflects Carnival’s ambitions to significantly grow brand awareness under new managing director Adolfo Perez.
Carnival was forced to put plans to establish a permanent base in the UK on the backburner when the financial crisis hit in 2008 after it named Carnival Splendor in Dover.
But Perez said the line believes now is the right time to re-establish its global expansion with the UK being one of its key markets outside of the US.
“Our goal is to grow the cruise market by attracting new-to-cruise,” said Perez. “The fact we are putting a ship in the UK’s backyard gives us access to UK guests and our marketing campaign is going to drive the brand.”
As well as Baltic cruises Legend will also sail in the Norwegian Fjords and around the British Isles as well as some Mediterranean cruises.
The positioning of the ship in Dover and the British Isles cruise, with ports of call in Scotland and Ireland, means Carnival will be able to showcase its product to more agents.
Carnival expects there to be an international mix of guests onboard its ex-UK cruises, but to be sourcing more UK passengers than it has ever done in the past.
A brochure featuring the UK deployment is due out in May and Perez said he would be looking for trade support.
“We realise how important the trade is for us to be successful in the UK so we have been in discussions with many trade partners here and we are very excited about working closely with the trade,” he said.
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