Ever thought of starting a cruise from a port in South Wales rather than a distant port in England? Generally, the answer will be no even if you live in mid or south Wales or along the Wales/England border.
Well, if you don’t fancy the journey across country to Southampton or Tilbury, for instance, Cruise & Maritime Voyages are launching a major cruise initiative with ships sailing from Newport or Cardiff. There are already limited sailings from Wales and they have identified that these are regularly fully booked, mainly by passengers living in Wales rather than across the border so they want to build on this core of passengers – the majority of which are repeat customers – and encourage more people to try their new range of cruises from a port nearer to home. It may even appeal to those in Gloucester and Bristol areas as the toll bridge fees are (supposedly!) coming down in a couple of years.
The two ships they have chosen to promote this initiative and sail from Cardiff or Newport are the Magellan and the Marco Polo, both smaller, beautifully fitted out, and ideally suited to these smaller ports. They are also a realistic option for those who don’t fancy the super-sized new cruising ships, especially if they have never sailed before. And of course this makes them ideal for the smaller ports in South Wales so are seen as a major step in the development of tourism in the region.
Both the Ports Authority and the Welsh Government have worked very hard to improve local facilities at Newport and Cardiff – if you haven’t visited for a while, you should be pleasantly surprised by the improvements made especially for accessing the docks area. You will already have seen my regular reviews of Cardiff accommodation, restaurants and walking, and I recently visited Newport for the first time and was impressed with what it had to offer.
From a tourism point of view, cruise ship sailings are projected to rise to 89 during 2017 which means 31,000 passengers ashore at either the beginning or end of their trip for at least one day/night – clearly they expect you to be spending money locally! If you add a further 10,000 crew members you can see how important this would be for the local economy.
As reluctant novice cruisers, a recent presentation by Cruise & Maritime Voyages was definitely encouraging, especially when you see the short videos they have on-line and the photographs of facilities aboard both ships. Crucially, their smaller scale is much more inviting than the huge vessels being built now – a bit too anonymous for us I think, although this is clearly just a perception on our part having never been on one! They also pointed out that the smaller vessels can travel along rivers more easily, a major selling point for them as they want to extend their itineraries further, maybe combining sea and river cruising and even adding themed cruises.
Their brochure outlines trips available, what each different boat offers passengers, and clearly states what is included in the price. They include some details about travelling to the ports, local accommodation etc. but I couldn’t find this information in relation to the Welsh sailings – coming soon I expect. It is definitely worth looking at their website, viewing their mini-videos, and finding a cruise that inspires you to join the Cruise & Maritime Voyages ‘family’.
Having finally convinced Leslie to try a cruise, we have decided to join the happy band of regular cruisers and try out a sailing from Cardiff. We have booked the 10 night cruise that includes France, Spain and Portugal, sailing from Cardiff at the end of May so look out for the review of how two Silver Traveller novice cruisers got on!
Please be advised that Cruise & Maritime Voyages has now ceased trading. For more information, please visit www.cruiseandmaritime.com