Belleair Holidays launches first cruise programme

Belleair Holidays launches first cruise programme

Belleair Holidays has teamed up with Norwegian Cruise Line to produce its first worldwide cruise programme to be sold exclusively through Midcounties Co-op Travel.

The bespoke programme of rail and stay cruises and fly and stay cruises offers breaks between eight and 12 nights to the Mediterranean, Baltics, Caribbean and Bahamas, including options to depart from London St Pancras on Eurostar, take a city break and then join a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

The companies said the rail packages were to meet increasing demand from customers for no-fly cruises.

The brochure, overbranded The Co-operative Travel and cooptravel.co.uk, is based on feedback from Midcounties' agents for an Atol protected programme of tailormade cruise packages because of fears of  falling foul of Flight Plus regulations when putting together dynamic packages.

Norwegian Cruise Line business development director Nick Wilkinson said: "A lot of agents were finding it difficult to dynamically package and meet customers' requirements for a stay and cruise holiday. This brochure is a result of listening to the type of cruise packages their clients would like."

The programme was unusual because it was a result of a cruiseline, tour operator and agency chain working proactively to produce bespoke cruise packages based on customer demand, he added.

For Belleair, the brochure also represents the launch of its Belleair Cruise Holidays brand and its first expansion outside its traditional product offering since the company's sale by Air Malta to Maltese ground handler and cruise shore excursion provider SMS in September last year.

Chief executive Martin Zahra Zahra said: "The sale gave us a lot more strategic freedom. Our focus has changed and we are looking at things commercially; before it was to support Air Malta. We are still loyal in terms of land-based Malta holidays but this gives us an opportunity to break away from the mould."

The company is continuing to offer cruises out of Malta this summer with Costa Cruises. Zahra would not comment on the company's future partnership with the troubled cruiseline,l but said: "We don't want to cast anything in stone at the moment because  ideally we'd like to carry on with a Malta departure base. Costa was not a brand choice, it was because they were the only people selling Malta departures."

Sample itineraries include the eight-night Norwegian Epic Western Mediterranean & Stay-Cruise from Marseille, with travel from London by rail to Paris, a one-night hotel stay in Paris, rail to Marseille to join the cruise, calling at ports such as Palma, Barcelona and Palma, before returning to Marseille and returning by rail. Based on a September 12, 2013, departure, this costs from £1,099.

The 15-night Norwegian Breakaway Bahamas & Florida Fly & Stay-Cruise from Port Canaveral includes flights to Orlando, car rental, seven nights in Orlando, and starts at £1,829 based on a November 26, 2013, departure.

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