Ambassador is a new UK cruise line based in Tilbury, Essex. It launches the first cruise on 6th April 2022, with a ship called the Ambience, which was built in 1991. It has an interesting history, starting as the Regal Princess, with them for 17 years, then joining the P&O Australia fleet as Pacific Dawn for the next 13. Of the 798 cabins only a fifth have balconies, thirty years ago cruise ships were designed with capacity in mind. However, the idea is to aim at the over-50 market, so the prices are reflecting the fact that economy premium is to be expected. I suppose they are pitching for the market void left by the demise of Cruise Maritime (CMV). The departure port is the same, some of the staff have been taken on as well, and a lot of the itineraries are the same.
The Ambience was due to be purchased by CMV before it went bust, so it’s not too surprising that they will be trying to take on this client base. Those who have cruised with CMV will be welcomed, I know of one couple who cruised with them 33 times, so after two years of Covid the market will be more than willing. There are 11 decks with this ship, Ambience will have five restaurants including specialty dining options; two cafes, nine lounges, a swimming pool, spa, day and evening entertainment, fitness and leisure facilities complemented by enticing enrichment and lifestyle programmes. Like all cruise lines, they will be imposing a regime whereby if you are not vaccinated, then you can’t cruise. All staff and passengers will be jabbed, but they don’t say who will be paying for the testing before you board for your cruise. Some lines have been providing this service free for the past few months, but I have heard that some have now introduced a testing fee in addition to your cruising fare, whatever class of cabin you have booked. At present you report in your car for the Covid test before you drop off your luggage, and I can only assume that this fee is added to your onboard account. If you fail, then I suppose they recoup in another way.
In the first year Ambience will be making more than thirty sailings, and it is anticipated that Liverpool, Newcastle, and Dover will be incorporated in future schedules as departure ports. The web site mentions a welcoming captain’s party, gala buffet, and late-night snacks. I used to like this on the Marco Polo, they came round the bars during cabaret intervals about 10.30pm bearing trays of warm canapes. They tended to be quite delicious. If you look up the web site it takes you to Newmarket Holidays, and as well as ocean cruises they also have an icon for river cruising, but when I tried there was no response.
After 12 months a second ship will be arriving, I suppose making by loose definition a fleet of Ambassador ships. This will be the Ambition, coming from the German Aida line as the Aida Mira. 1,200 passengers, 714 cabins, 125 of which have balconies and 113 are suites. It is interesting that the Ambassador management are paying a fortune to upgrade the sustainability of their ships, making them as eco-friendly as possible to comply with current regulations, and those coming into effect in 2025 that will be more stringent. As I am based in the UK my views and knowledge are inevitably European based, but I can’t help thinking that the cruise market is anticipated to thrive and recover quite quickly, which must be reflected in the passenger numbers already experienced. There is a definite market for the over-50s to sail on a ship that provides the service of a 3* or possibly 4* hotel, while charging for extra such as excursions, drinks, and pampering. For a week the average onboard spend for a cabin can easily be in excess of £500, the market is buoyant and there is no shortage of ships and attractive itineraries.
I am a cruise ship lecturer, so on a personal basis was interested to see that Ambassador are using an agency for entertainment personnel. This agency charges speakers an annual fee, as well as a high payment to be included on the cruise. It is certainly not a free cruise for those lecturing, and I have not applied to be included. This article has been written independently, facts from various web sites so the flow is interesting to the reader.
Harry writes for various publications, he also has two books on Amazon:
Buried Secrets by Harry Pope full of amusing anecdotes about when went right, and wrong, during his funeral career. £2.99 e-version, £6.99 paperback
Hotel Secrets by Harry Pope is when he and Pam bought a 28 bedroom Eastbourne hotel for £1m in a disastrous partnership with an alleged Californian businessman. £3.99 e-version, £9.11 paperback (strange amount to charge, Amazon set it, not Harry)