A 550-passenger ‘classic cruise ship’ is being chartered by Cruise and Maritime Voyages next year to replace Discovery after it is withdrawn from service.

The vessel Azores, which was re-built in 1994 for $150 million, will operate year round sailings, with its first departure from Bristol Avonmouth on January 26 on a 30-night voyage to the Caribbean.

The Azores has been chartered from Lisbon-based Portuscale Cruises on a long term basis. All crewing and ship management services will be handled directly by CMV.

Full details of the ship’s Azores programme for next year alongside CMV’s Marco Polo and Astor will be unveiled tomorrow (Tuesday)  when a 2015 first edition preview brochure is released featuring more 50 sailings until October 2015.

Eight five per cent of Azores’ 277 cabins have an ocean view and almost 20% are of a de-luxe standard including nine balcony suites. All cabins also have a bath tub and mini bar.

CMV commercial director Chris Coates said: “Azores is an excellent, upgraded addition to our cruise fleet and has been affectionately and very well maintained by her owners.

“We are confident that Azores will prove to be a real winner with our dedicated growing number of loyal customers and will also attract new clients seeking smaller ship alternatives and regional ex-UK no fly cruise options.”

Rui Alegre, CEO of Portuscale Cruises, added: “I’m a strong believer in developing close and long term business partnerships. I’m very pleased to have concluded a charter with CMV and look forward to working closely with their team in successfully establishing Azores on to the British market.

“Azores is a beautiful ship and has been operating very well in achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. I am proud that she will be carrying CMV passengers next year and for many years to come”.