Vince Cook, CEO of Grand Circle Cruise Line, the leader in small ship and river cruising worldwide, announced today that the fleet has acquired the M/V Corinthian, a 98-passenger, ocean faring vessel that currently operates in Antarctica. Grand Circle Cruise Line had chartered the ship for the past year and will expand the Corinthian’s operations with the launch of three new small ship cruise itineraries in 2015.
The ship was acquired for an undisclosed price from Travel Dynamics International, a leading operator of high-caliber educational programs aboard small cruise ships. Travel Dynamics will continue to operate the Corinthian throughout 2014, with Grand Circle Cruise Line assuming operational control when the ship returns to Antarctica in the fall. In addition, Grand Circle Cruise Line and Travel Dynamics have entered into a long-term agreement through which Grand Circle Cruise Line will provide small ship itineraries on the Corinthian and its other small ships for Travel Dynamics’ educational programs.
“Small ship cruising is a rapidly-growing trend among baby boomers and seniors who want the ease, comfort and affordability of small ship cruising along with access to local communities, cultures, and experiences,” said Cook. “We are committed to expanding our small ship fleet and to creating affordable, new small ship itineraries that provide travelers with an intimate experience of a destination. Our travelers to Antarctica have had an amazing experience on the Corinthian, and we feel extremely proud that this spectacular ship has joined our growing fleet.”
The Corinthian is an ice-strengthened vessel with the latest navigational, communications, and safety equipment. The ship is 297 feet long and carries 98 passengers in 49 outside-facing suites—each at least 225 square feet in area. All suites feature individual climate control, mini-refrigerator, safe, telephone, TV, DVD/CD player, a sitting area, and a private bath. An elevator serves all passenger decks. The ship’s well-appointed common areas include a restaurant, two lounges—including one with panoramic windows—and a library with Internet access.
Grand Circle Cruise Line will launch three new itineraries for the Corinthian in 2015, including an 8-night, roundtrip cruise (Lisbon, Portugal; Portimao, Algarve; Casablanca and Tangiers, Morocco; and Gibraltar and Seville, Spain); a 12-night Baltics cruise (Copenhagen and Ronne, Denmark; Gdansk, Poland; Visby and Stockholm, Sweden; Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Helsinki, Finland); and an 11-night UK cruise (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, the Outer Hebrides Islands, and Isle of Skye, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland; Holyhead, Wales; and the Isle of Scilly, England). Grand Circle Cruise Line also will offer several repositioning cruises.
Similar to every Grand Circle Cruise Line small ship, the Corinthian will be able to enter small ports that larger ships cannot, providing travelers with access to small cities, towns, and villages and opportunities to engage with local people and experience their culture and way of life. For example, on the new Lisbon itinerary, the Corinthian will sail along an inland river right into the heart of Seville, docking there, whereas larger ships, unable to sail this passage, must dock in the large port of Cadiz and bus travelers to Seville for day trips.
Grand Circle Cruise Line’s small ships are known for their small group size, for their outstanding local Program Directors (guides) and nautical and hospitality crew, and for itineraries that connect travelers with locals through activities such as visits to homes, schools, markets, neighborhoods and beyond. “Our focus is not on having fancy bells and whistles onboard our ships but to offer travelers authentic, firsthand cultural experiences on shore,” said Cook. Grand Circle Cruise Line’s small ships also are known for exceptional value—with per diem rates typically $50-$250 less than other small ship cruise lines’ and free single supplements for solo travelers. In the past several years, Grand Circle’s small ships have received myriad awards for excellence by readers of Conde Nast Traveler; most recently, Grand Circle’s three, 50-passenger small ships were rated the #1 (Artemis), #2 (Arethusa) and among the top 5 (Athena) best small ships in the world for 2014.
Established in 1998 with a single river cruise ship, today Grand Circle Cruise Line has dozens of small ships and river ships, including three, 4-star plus 50 passenger ships that operate in the Mediterranean (Athena, Artemis and Arethusa), 15 privately-owned river ships, and exclusive charters. More than 79,000 travelers have sailed with Grand Circle Cruise Line in the past two years, including more than 19,000 solo travelers. Grand Circle Cruise Line anticipates 40,000 travelers in 2014, including more than 12,000 solo travelers attracted by Grand Circle’s comprehensive solo friendly policies and programs.
The acquisition of the Corinthian closely follows on the acquisition of the River Cloud II, now named the Chanson, a 90-passenger river cruise ship that will operate in the Bordeaux region of France.