The final cruise by Ocean Village, the line that coined the motto ‘cruises for people who don’t do cruises’, departs from Crete tonight (Thursday).
The original Ocean Village ship is sailing on a 23-night farewell voyage to Singapore via the Suez Canal, Dubai, India and Malaysia.
The 1,624-passenger vessel is due to arrive in Singapore on November 13 when passengers disembark.
It will then travel to Australia where the ship will be renamed as Pacific Pearl, joining its former sister vessel Ocean Village 2 – now Pacific Jewel – as part of the P&O Cruises’ Australia fleet.
OV2 was transferred to Australia last year, leaving the first vessel to operate the casual cruise line’s final summer in the Mediterranean.
Ocean Village first set sail in summer 2003 as a ship-orientated holiday brand aimed at attracting 35-55 year olds in an attempt to break the mould of traditional cruising by emphasising no fixed timetables or formal dress codes.
More than half of passengers in its first summer of operations were first timers – ahead of the traditional cruise line average of 54 at the time.
The Carnival UK brand consistently achieved high customer satisfaction levels of more than 90%.
But the cost of fly cruising in the Caribbean in winter based on two older ships contributed to the decision to withdraw the brand and move the vessels to the growing Australian cruise market.
The company’s cruises were also seen in the trade as being heavily discounted – a situation that was never sustainable in the long term.
Carnival UK chief executive David Dingle, when announcing the withdrawal of Ocean Village in late 2008, said: “In reviewing the most effective deployment of our ships, we have recognised the major growth potential in the Australian market and the profit opportunity which awaits.
“Clearly it is disappointing to wind down our Ocean Village operation which has been superbly created and delivered by an excellent management team, but we must recognise the need to maximise profit performance from our assets.
“Ocean Village has done much to change the face of British cruising, and all our UK brands have benefited from this.”
Rival Royal Caribbean International has stepped in to fill the gap for informal Med fly-cruising by basing the ship Grandeur of the Seas in Palma, Majorca, next summer.
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