A week after Carnival firmed up plans to start the Spain-based cruise line Iberocruceros, Royal Caribbean has announced it will also expand its reach in Europe -- by starting a French cruise line. Called CDF Croisieres de France, the one-ship line will sail its maiden voyage next May aboard Bleu de France. That ship is currently part of the Pullmantur fleet (which Royal Caribbean now owns) and will sail through the winter and part of spring as Holiday Dream.
Built in 1981, the 37,012-ton and 752-passenger Holiday Dream, which luxury denizens may remember was originally Hapag Lloyd's first Europa, is orientated toward a more casual cruise experience. But, after accepting delivery, CDF Croisieres de France will embark on a 30 million euro refurbishment program, significantly altering many of the ship's public spaces, staterooms, entertainment venues and dining options.
The ship will sail a Mediterranean itinerary, departing from Marseille, France, starting in spring 2008. It will shift to a Caribbean route, sailing out of La Romana, Dominican Republic, in winter 2008-2009.
Bleu de France will be marketed to French-speaking travelers; the Royal Caribbean statement notes that "the onboard experience of Bleu de France's guests will be totally French, from cuisine to entertainment to decor. French will be the language used on the ship as well."
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor
Royal Caribbean Launches French Cruise Line
September 13, 2007