Archive for the ‘2017 Schedules’ Category

I did a post about a year or so ago when I heard that Santorini was going to introduce a scheme to limit the number of cruise ship passengers visiting the island. This was because the number of visitors were simply overwhelming the available facilities. At its most fundamental, just getting from the ship up to the main town of Fira has become a challenge – you can either use the cable-car which, because of its limited capacity, generally means queueing, or you can 800 feet walk up a steep path, avoiding donkey droppings as you walk and keeping out of the way of the donkeys as well – their view seems to be that it’s their path! Then having got up to Fira, visitors will find that there are few taxis and that the buses are full.

The post last year followed on from the announcement of the intention to apply limits. Obviously there was a further problem last year in that the cruise lines had already published their schedules and sold cruises, so it wouldn’t have been possible to introduce the restrictions scheme at that time. However we are now in 2017 at the beginning of a new summer season and I decided to revisit the topic.

My understanding is that there was an attempt to limit the numbers – or at least manage them – on a voluntary basis during last summer. I’m still trying to get hard information as whether a firm scheme has been, or is being, introduced for this year. If I get further information I’ll post it here.

However I have found some other information that suggests that cruise traffic to Greece is set to fall by about 30% in 2017 generally, compared with 2016.I’m not sure yet of the reasons for this, but it’s possible that among the factors in play may be these: a) cruise lines are reluctant to send ships to (or near) those Greek islands affected by the refugee crisis and b) are also avoiding destinations in Turkey because it’s no longer seen as being as safe or stable as it was. As a result of this the lines are just not sending as many ships into the eastern or southern Mediterranean as was the case in previous years.

In the case of Santorini the fall in numbers is even greater. Someone has done the necessary work and has concluded that expected ship calls there will be 35% lower in 2017 than in 2016. The actual number of calls will reduce from 558 to 363. Of course as ships get bigger the passenger number may not drop by the same extent, but even allowing for that it looks as if the pressure on Santorini should be lower this year than last; and that this may be the result of wider tourism and economic factors rather than any specific restrictions at the island itself.


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Further – and hopefully FINAL – Update, 22 Aug: I think I’ve now got my head around this. Basically, I’d completely forgotten that we already know all about 2017; this, despite doing a post some months ago analysing Oceana’s planned cruises for that year…. As far as I can see, there was a press conference in Valletta the other day at which the Maltese Minister for Tourism (Edward Zammit Lewis) launched Oceana’s 2017 programme. (Why he would do this in August 2016 I don’t know.) At the end of the reports about his speech, there was a suggestion that Oceana would be home-ported in Valletta in 2018: “We are proud to be the homeport of choice for P&O Oceana throughout seasons 2017 and 2018”. So there we are – 2018 is likely to be a repeat of 2017 for Oceana.


Update : Err – this needs some major work, doesn’t it? We already know about Oceana’s 2017 itineraries, don’t we?? I blame the holiday I’ve just had – the shock of some sunshine in England. I’ll go away now and think about it……

Malcolm Oliver has alerted me to this one, and I’ve since seen it confirmed on other sites – e.g. this one. It seems that Oceana is to home port in Malta in 2017 and 2018, offering 7 night itineraries from Valetta.

I can’t yet find any details of those itineraries, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Venice didn’t feature on some of them, and possibly also  destinations in the eastern Mediterranean. I’ll carry on looking and I’ll update this post when/if I learn anything.

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It’s time to look at the Cunard 2017 schedules, and in particular the Mediterranean fly cruises. (Please, curb your excitement…)

Cunard have been doing these for a few years, although to be honest I haven’t paid much attention to them. One their smaller ships – Queen Victoria this year and again in 2017 – is based in the Mediterranean from mid-summer through to late autumn and does a series of 7-night itineraries which can be combined into 14 or, I suppose, longer cruises – 21 or 28 nights. The way the itineraries are composed means that a passenger won’t repeat the same itinerary in fine details until they’ve been on the ship for quite a long time.

Here are the different itineraries, each one for 7 nights. They run in the following order:-

  1. Rome to Venice;
  2. Venice to Athens;
  3. Athens back to Athens – I’ve termed this the ‘Athens Loop’;
  4. Athens to Venice;
  5. Venice to Rome;
  6. Rome back to Rome – I’ve termed this the ‘Rome Loop’.
  7. Rome to Barcelona (once only, at the end of the season).

The itineraries above can either be booked as 7-night fly cruises, or can be combined to form 14-night, 21-night or even longer itineraries if wanted.

I ought to make the following points:

  • Each iteration of the Rome – Venice and Athens – Venice 7-night itineraries includes a final day in Venice;
  • Each iteration of the Athens Loop itinerary includes an overnight call at Istanbul;
  • the Rome Loop itinerary includes a call at Barcelona, and it’s possible to either join a cruise there (e.g. on 28 June for a 10-night itinerary to Venice – i.e. 3 nights Barcelona to Rome, followed by the Rome to Venice itinerary) or to leave a cruise there (e.g. a 9-night Venice to Barcelona itinerary, which includes a Venice to Rome itinerary plus a further couple of nights on a Rome Loop itinerary;
  • On one set of itineraries to/from Venice, that port is replaced by Trieste. The call at Venice remains on the day before, but then the ship is moved to Trieste for disembarkation/embarkation the day after;
  • At the beginning and end of the season there are also ‘one-way’ fly cruises involving a sail from or back to Southampton.

You’ll note that I have made a distinction in the list above between itineraries between the same two ports but in opposite directions. This is because in some cases the two different itineraries between the same two places include different ports of call. Here’s a table giving the ports of call covered by each itinerary, and the frequency of calls.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 11.25.27

To be honest, it’s hard to distinguish much pattern. Obviously the ‘Loop’ itineraries include ports that, by and large, aren’t included in any other itinerary: if you want to go to Istanbul then the Athens Loop is your only choice, and similarly Barcelona is only available on the Rome Loop. But some other ports are available on multiple itineraries e.g. there are six calls at Dubrovnik, on Rome – Venice, Venice – Athens and Athens – Venice itineraries, and Kotor, Corfu, Cephalonia and Katakolon are available on two. Venice – Athens is the most varied, with calls at seven different ports over the three iterations of that itinerary, while the Athens Loop, Rome Loop and Venice – Rome itineraries are the least varied – the same ports appear on each iteration of them.

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I did a post a few days ago attempting to analyse the destinations by ship that had been announced in the new schedules. In fact I realised later that I’d made some mistakes – in some cases I’d mistakenly included the 2016 cruises. I have now revised that post; here’s a link to it.

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The big news in the the 2017 schedules was the new set of Mediterranean fly cruises, a series of 7 and 14-night itineraries on Oceana out of Valletta, Malta. I’ve done some research on how they will work and the ports they will call at.

First, another look at how these cruises can be booked. Below I’ve laid out three successive 7-night itineraries, all starting at and returning to Valletta:

  1. 1 June: Valletta, Athens, Santorini, Kusadasi, Heraklion, Valletta;
  2. 8 June: Valletta, Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Venice, Zadar, Valletta;
  3. 15 June: Valetta, Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Valletta;

You can book these cruises in the following ways:-

  • Cruise E709 – 14 nights from 1 June and including itineraries 1 & 2 above;
  • Cruise E709A – 7 nights from 1 June and including itinerary 1 above;
  • Cruise E709B – 7 nights from 8 June and including itinerary 2 above;
  • Cruise E709C – 14 nights from 8 June and including itineraries 2 & 3 above;
  • Cruise E710 – 14 nights from 15 June and including itinerary 3 above, plus the next 7 night itinerary in the rotation.

So there’s a lot of flexibility there. By the way, each 7-night itinerary throughout the season includes 4 ports of call, has two days at sea, and starts and finishes at Valletta.

Next up is the question of the ports of call. The sample itineraries above show ports in the E Mediterranean/Aegean (itineraries 1 and 3) and in the Adriatic (itinerary 2). Additionally, there’s a third set of itineraries that run up the west coast of Italy, which I’m calling the Tyrrhenian itineraries. In total there are:-

  • 13 instances of the Adriatic itinerary;
  • 11 instances of the E Med/Aegean itinerary;
  • and 4 instances of the Tyrrhenian itinerary.

Obviously the itineraries into the different regions differ from the each other, but in addition there are small differences between itineraries in the same region. The tables below list the ports called at in each of the itineraries, and give the number of calls at each port.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 17.47.34

The only ports that feature in every running of each different itinerary are Venice in the Adriatic itinerary, Athens in the E Med/Aegean itinerary and Rome in the Tyrrenhian itinerary. Dubrovnik misses just two (of 13) in the Adriatic and Kusadasi misses two (of 11) in the E Med. Ten ports are only visited once, although five of these are in the Tyrhennian itinerary of which there are only four instances. Finally, one port – Messina – has the distinction of appearing on two different itineraries; once in the Adriatic itinerary, and once in the Tyrhennian.

So that’s my analysis of the 2017 Mediterranean fly-cruises. I think they’re attractive and also varied – if you’re not tied to a particular period for your cruise (e.g. school holidays) then it’s worth taking some time to examine the itineraries in detail, as they do vary.


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(Update: Revised 27 March.)

I’ve now got a list of all the P&O 2017 cruises by ship and destination and I’ve been able to do some analysis. Here’s what I’ve found on the number of cruises to different destinations:

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 16.34.12


Note that I haven’t included any fly-cruises, either to the Caribbean or to the Mediterranean, nor the World Cruises, nor Oriana’s two 50-night South American grand voyages.

There are also these points to notice:

  • The “Fjords +” category might be better renamed “Iceland”, except not all the cruises go there either. Basically, it’s short-hand for a small number of cruises that go into far northern waters, e.g. Iceland, or the North Cape of Norway, and which may also call at a couple of Fjords ports on the way;
  • The eleven cruises listed for Oceana are mainly at the end of 2017; they come after her return from her fly-cruise season in the Mediterranean;
  • The transatlantic cruises for Azura and Britannia are sold as several different versions, but on each case they’re on those ships a) as they make their to the Caribbean in October 2017, and b) as they come back to Southampton in early spring 2018. I’ve therefore counted them as one cruise in each direction for each ship;
  • the figures for ‘Short (<7 nts)’ includes the figures for ‘Short (2 nts)’; the latter are given separately just to highlight them. (This also means that there are 21 cruises of between 3 and 6 nights’ duration – 36-15=21.)
  • if your figures are different from mine then the most likely answer is that I’ve just miscounted!

Overall, I think there are more short cruises than before, of various lengths; and I’m quite surprised by the paucity of 14 night cruises to St. Petersburg. Just a few years ago those were mainstays of the summer programme.

I hope this is useful.

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Today sees the formal announcement by P&O of their schedules for 2017.

Given that Iglu Cruises leaked them a couple of weeks ago there are no real surprises, and as expected the big story is that Oceana will be doing fly-cruises from Malta instead of Venice and Genoa. As outlined in that other post, Ocean’s schedules will be a succession of 7-night cruises, either into the Adriatic or the eastern Mediterranean – although some, early in the season, will substitute the Tyrhennian Sea for the Eastern Mediterranean. In the case of these cruises (E705; E707; E708; and E718, as far as I can see) the ports of call with be those in the Adriatic (Venice, Dubrovnik, etc) plus Rome, and various of Livorno, Messina and Ajaccio. Other than those four cruises, ports of call will include Venice, Dubrovnik, Split, Ravenna, Koper and Hvar in the Adriatic, and Athens, Santorini,Mykonos and Kusadasi in the eastern Mediterranean. Note that not all ports will be visited on every cruise. For example, while Venice will always be visited on an Adriatic itinerary, and Dubrovnik on most of them, Ravenna (for example) only appears a few times. In the eastern Mediterranean the only constant port is Athens, the others very between cruises. These Oceana cruises can be booked every-which way: as 7-night cruises into the Adriatic, or as 7-night cruises into the eastern Mediterranean, or as a 14-night cruise covering both areas, Adriatic first, or as a 14-night cruise covering both areas, easter Mediterranean first. Departures will always be from Malta, and those booking a 14-night cruise will have Malta as a port of call in the middle of the cruise as Oceana returns there after completing the first 7-night leg of the 14-night cruise. This whole fly-cruise program starts with E704 (27 March 2017, 10 nights from Southampton to Malta), and will conclude with E719 (Malta to Southampton, 10 nights, starting 19 October).

Turning to the other ships, as far as I can see it’s pretty much the same story as with this and previous years in terms of destinations. That said, although I haven’t had the chance to examine the itineraries in detail yet, I think I can see the following patterns:-

  • the larger ships (Britannia, Azura and Ventura) are more likely to be doing either 7- and 14-night cruises, or short ones;
  • the mid-sized ships (Oriana, Aurora and Arcadia) seem to have a wider range of cruise lengths – 10 nights, 12 nights, 17 nights, 20 nights. Nothing perhaps very different in terms of destinations, but a recognition that their passenger demographic is more likely to not be tied by annual leave allowances or school holidays.
  • and perhaps there might be more short cruises, with all the ships doing at least some.

One other pair of cruises leapt out at me: both Aurora and Arcadia are doing the traditional late summer/autumn long cruise to the North America. Aurora is going on 27 August for 30 nights, while Arcadia’s departs on 10 September for 24 nights.

Finally, and rather bizarrely, Adonia still appears in the list of “Our Ships”; but there are no cruises listed for her for either 2016 or 2017. I can’t fathom out what she’ll be doing (oh dear….).

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