Ambassador Cruise Line outlines ‘ambitious’ growth plans

The chief executive of Ambassador Cruise Line has outlined the company’s “ambitious” growth plans as the new line prepares to release its debut itinerary programme next month.

The UK-based cruise operator will initially base 1,400-passenger ship Ambience in Tilbury, Essex, but Christian Verhounig plans to deploy more ships in other UK ports and further afield in the future.

Ambience – formerly P&O Cruises Australia ship Pacific Dawn – had previously been bought by Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) before the line ceased trading last year.

Ambience, Ambassador Cruise Line, May 2021

An exterior shot of Ambience

The vessel is currently being repositioned to Europe where it will get “a major upgrade” before it sails its maiden voyage to Hamburg on April 6, 2022.

The ship’s sailings, due to go on sale in June, will be aimed at the over 50s market in the UK and Verhounig said the line hopes to become “the leading premium value provider for the silver market”.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Verhounig, CMV’s former chief executive, said: “We have ambitious plans going forward. We’ll have one ship to start with and we do hope to expand the product with sailings not only from Tilbury but from regional ports in the very near future.

“We are looking at opportunities and when opportunities arise, then we will take the right decision to make this grow into the future. Our plans are ambitious for the future and not limited only to the UK.”

Verhounig added that “not many” UK ports could provide passengers with what Tilbury could and expressed a desire for Ambassador Cruise Line to offer a “frictionless product” for the over 50s market.

“If we take the port of Tilbury [for example], people can drive up with their car and walk 100 metres to the terminal,” he said.

Ambience will have a guest space ratio (the number of guests divided by the ship’s gross tonnage) of 50:2, which appealed to the line’s bosses.

Around 600 crew members will serve 1,400 passengers, the line confirmed.

Verhounig said: “We want passengers to get to know each other. They come on as individuals and live as friends. With a spacious vessel there are less gimmicks.”

He added the line wants to create an “atmosphere without queues” where passengers do not have to wait around.

The line’s chief executive confirmed that passenger capacity restrictions on Ambience would be in place at first to meet current Covid restrictions on cruise ships.

Prior to Ambience’s launch next year, the ship will become compliant with reduced nitrogen oxide emission protocols due to come into effect on January 1, 2025.

The line said the vessel would be fitted with the latest ballast and sewage water treatment systems which would allow it to sail in seas which are “strictly environmentally protected”.

Single-use plastics will not be used by the line and passengers will read information on devices so the crew do not have to print out menus, shore plans and activity schedules.

Verhounig added: “We are seeing massive pent-up demand. People want to travel, especially passengers who are used to cruising. They’re ready to go out and sail again.”

Verhoung confirmed UK agents would be invited on to Ambience before the ship’s maiden voyage “to show them what we’re all about”.

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