Cruise & Maritime Voyages is to raise UK capacity by a quarter to 95,000 passengers next year with the addition of P&O Cruises Australia ship Pacific Pearl to its fleet.
The former Ocean Village ship was originally launched in 1989 and operated by Princess Cruises.
The vessel, which has been part of the P&O Cruises Australia fleet since 2010, will be renamed Columbus and start operations year round from Tilbury from June 9, 2017.
The 1,400-passenger ship includes 150 single cabins and will become the flagship of the CMV fleet alongside 1,300-passenger Magellan, 800-capacity Marco Polo, 600-passenger Astor and 550-passenger Astoria.
Adult-only Columbus will run two sailings August next year for all age groups.
The company’s 2017 summer programme is due to go on sale online on March 31 followed by a preview brochure released on April 7.
Special introductory fares with early booking deals will be on offer plus a 25% single supplement offer for the 150 single cabins. Group deals providing further savings, free places and other benefits, will be available.
CMV chief executive and chairman, Christian Verhounig, said: “The successful introduction of Magellan in 2015 has encouraged our group to accelerate their mid-term growth plans and the addition of Columbus to the fleet in 2017 is another important milestone in achieving our longer term growth objectives.
“The strategic development of the group’s presence in the UK and wider international markets will increase our overall capacity to 125,000 passengers in 2017.
“We are proud of the CMV brand’s growing international recognition and remain confident in continuing to successfully build our business as a strong value based ‘independent’ alternative and deliver profitable returns for both our trading partners and stakeholders.”
Commercial director, Chris Coates, added: “We are really pleased to welcome this fine ship to our fleet which we believe will be very well suited to our core British market who appreciate and value the many benefits of cruising on smaller to mid-sized more traditional vessels of this type.
“The introduction of Columbus and her past association and popularity with the British cruise market spanning 13 years, will increase 2017 UK bed night capacity by 25% to 95,000 passengers.
“Having already sold over 85% of capacity for 2016 and with 17,000 people turning 50 every week in the UK, we remain confident that Columbus will satisfy the growing demand for our product.”
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