Grand Circle Cruise Line has announced that it has acquired the 98-passenger Corinthian from Travel Dynamics for an undisclosed amount.
According to Grand Circle CEO Vince Cook, the Corinthian, which currently operates in Antarctica, has been chartered by Grand Circle for the past year, and the company will expand the ship’s operations, offering three new small-ship itineraries in 2015.
Travel Dynamics will continue to operate the Corinthian throughout 2014, with Grand Circle assuming operational control when the ship returns to Antarctica in the fall. In addition, Grand Circle and Travel Dynamics have entered into a long-term agreement through which Grand Circle 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). Several repositioning cruises will also be offered.
Grand Circle stated that its 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.
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 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.