All Leisure Holidays to announce cruise expansion plans

All Lesiure Holidays is poised to make a major announcement on its expansion strategy, including plans for its newest ship and investment in its cruise brands.

The group’s trade facing arm All Discovery Cruising has yet to reveal any plans for the Alexander von Humboldt cruise ship, which it successful tendered for in November 2009.

However, an announcement is now expected to be made on September 1, when the group will reveal a raft of investment and development plans for its brands.

Currently the company has three cruise ship brands: Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and Hebridean Island Cruises.

Voyages of Discovery managing director Alan Murray, who will be at the briefing, would not be drawn on which brand the new ship would form part of but revealed there were plans to refurbish Voyages’ ship Discovery.

This could include creating a more flexible “open” dining policy to attract a younger market of cruise passengers by refurbishing its lido deck. Currently the ship only offers two sittings for dinner.

The current average age is over 50, but Murray is keen to attract cruise passengers between 40 and 50.

Murray said: “We will only get a younger age group by being more flexible on dining. This ship was designed in an era of two sittings so we have to put some effort into that. This is one of the big ticket items.”

But he admitted: “It’s got to be thought out properly. If we can’t do it properly we won’t do it at all.”

The ship is scheduled to go into dry dock next November, he added.

Murray added that the cruise company could potentially look at opportunities to sail out of other ports, particularly in the north of England, following its recent decision to use Portsmouth as its home port. 

“Possibly I would look at doing some northern departures,” he said.

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