Cruise ship Ocean Countess fulfils Brunel’s dream in the Bristol Channel

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aerial-avonmouth.jpgCruise & Maritime Voyages, who operate the classic ships Marco Polo and Ocean Countess, are blazing a trail when it comes to finding new departure ports in the UK.
No sooner have they made history by becoming the first line to use Liverpool’s new turnaround facilities – and taking the biggest passenger ship ever to visit Scottish port of Fort William – than the company is announcing a series of voyages departing next year from Avonmouth (above), in the Bristol Channel.
countess_fw.jpgThe 780-passenger Ocean Countess will become the first cruise ship to operate from the port since 1992. It will sail eight voyages from February, beginning with a 28-night cruise to the West Indies (fares from £1,899) followed by departures to the Norwegian Arctic in search of the Northern Lights, and an eight-night Easter trip to Spain and Portugal.
April’s programme includes a five-night cruise for gardening enthusiasts, to Dublin, Guernsey, the Scillies, and Falmouth (from £399) and a Celtic themed six-nighter to Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man (£489).
After a nine-night cruise to the fjords (from £749) the ship will relocate to Liverpool for its summer programme.
Commercial director Chris Coates said: “We have already established a following of regular passengers from the south-west so we have every confidence that our decision to add Avonmouth to our portfolio will be welcomed. Our feedback shows that a convenient departure port is a key factor for our passengers.”
Bristol Port Company spokeswoman Sue Turner said: “: “If you go back in history, you will see that Brunel had a vision of opening up travel for people by taking them by rail to Bristol and then across the Atlantic and other parts of the world by ship.
“What we have now is a 21st century version of that vision.”
The entrance lock to Avonmouth restricts the dock’s use to vessels with a maximum length of 200 metres and a draught of 11 metres. Ocean Countess is 163.5 metres long, with a draft of 5.8 metres.
The port’s website warns that tides can make the approach “challenging,” with currents of up to five knots. “The spring tidal range in the estuary is exceptional and can be as much as 15.0 metres,” adds the navigational advice to mariners.

[Aerial picture of Avonmouth courtesy of The Bristol Port Company]
By | 2017-06-15T15:59:46+00:00 30 June 2012|Cruise destinations, Cruise news|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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