The first visitors are taking a look around cruise ship mv Voyager in Portsmouth this weekend. The ship officially joins All Leisure Group’s fleet on Tuesday, sailing under the Voyages of Discovery flag, and is being showcased to loyal passengers, travel trade and media over the next four days before sailing to the West Indies.
The ship will return to Portsmouth in summer 2013, ready to set out on a series of discovery cruises.
All Leisure bought the ship – formerly the Alexander von Humboldt – in 2009 and invested in a multi-million pound refit of the vessel using predominantly British design and manufacturing companies. The technical upgrades and the redesign took place in the Dorset port of Portland.
Key additions to the 540-passenger vessel include the introduction of an explorer theme throughout, reinforcing the destination-led offering that the brand is known for; the new Scott’s Lounge – a classic piano bar serving cocktails into the evening and speciality restaurant, The Explorer Club.
A new Lookout Lounge provides panoramic views from the front of the ship and a new terrace with all-weather awning has been added to the Veranda restaurant for al fresco dining. mv Voyager will offer a choice of 270 cabins, 87 per cent of which are outside cabins and 30 of which have balconies.
The ship will be named and christened by natural history, marine conservation, archaeology and wildlife TV presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff.
After the ceremony, passengers will set out for a circumnavigation of South America and the Caribbean on a remarkable five-month voyage taking in destinations such as Margarita Island in Venezuela, Puerto Cortes in Honduras, Manta in Ecuador, Callao in Peru, around Cape Horn, cruising the Amazon River in Brazil, the Cuban capital of Havana and back to Portsmouth via the Azores.
Voyages of Discovery managing director, Alan Murray said: “Our investment in revamping the ship comes at a time when the UK cruise market, especially for cruises departing from UK ports of call, is outperforming the broader British cruise market.
“Ensuring that the bulk of our spend in the refurbishment and technical upgrade was made in the UK, and in UK businesses, makes us especially proud of the ship, and the high standards of workmanship are a fitting tribute to the nation’s great shipping and exploration traditions.”