(9:30 a.m. EST) -- British-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages is taking over the German-based cruise line TransOcean Kreuzfahrten and its five ships as part of a deal with owners Premicon AG.
CMV will take over year-round operation of the 620-passenger, 20,000-ton Astor. The ship joined the line in November 2013, for winter cruises sailing both northbound and southbound to Australia as well as round-Australia and Asian itineraries, and CMV opened a sales office in Sydney last year to market Astor's cruises in the South Pacific. Additional itineraries on Astor will include the ship's existing summer 2014 sailings out of Kiel, Bremerhaven and Hamburg in Germany.
The four additional ships making up the remainder of the agreement are the river cruise ships Belvedere, Bellefleur, Bellejour and Sans Souci, which range in capacity from 80 to 176 passengers and sail the Rhine, Main, Danube, Mosel, Neckar, Elbe, Oder, Havel, Rhône and Saône Rivers.
The river vessels will continue to operate German-speaking cruises, and CMV will market the ships under the TransOcean brand. CMV opened an office in Munich in 2013 to handle logistics for a separate five-week charter of river ship Vienna 1 on Germany's Rhine River, set to begin in May 2014.
CMV also has plans to slowly introduce its river cruises for sales in the US. The line launched a dedicated sales office in Fort Lauderdale in 2011.
--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor