(11:00 a.m. EDT) -- The owners of the 20,186-ton, 650-passenger mv Discovery have entered into a joint venture with Cruise & Maritime Voyages (C.M.V.), which the group has promised will offer passengers sharply reduced fares.
The All Leisure Group (A.L.G.) -- which also owns the 12,500-ton, 352-passenger Minerva and the 2,112-ton, 49-passenger Hebridean Princess -- wants to target the budget end of the cruise market by linking up with C.M.V. and jointly selling Discovery.
Discovery will enter dry dock later this year and will undergo an extensive refurbishment before entering service under the C.M.V. brand in 2013.
C.M.V. is returning one of its two ships, the 17,000-ton, 800-passenger Ocean Countess, to its owners Maximus Navigation, effectively replacing it with Discovery from February 2013.
“C.M.V. passengers will see Discovery as an upgrade [on Ocean Countess] – with fares at the same price,” said Roger Allard, chairman of A.L.G.
Fly-cruise itineraries and U.K. regional departures from Bristol, Harwich, Hull, Liverpool and Newcastle on Discovery will remain the same as Ocean Countess'. However, Discovery's prices will be lowered to reflect the fact that it has come under the C.M.V. brand.
To replace Discovery under its Voyages of Discovery brand, A.L.G. will be taking delivery of another ship at the end of 2012, the 15,721-ton, 540-passenger mv Voyager. Voyager has undergone a multi-million dollar refit and will enter service in December with 270 cabins, 30 of which have balconies. In comparison, none of Discovery's 354 cabins have balconies.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor