Der Club Schiff der Britischen

Now as I last covered Virgins Cruise Dream, and how in 2003 they may have been knocked off course by Island Cruises and Ocean Village Cruises. However it would appear that these cruise lines never throughly took to the market and neither are still operating, despite there apparent German counterpart Aida going from strength to strength.

The ‘First Time’ cruise market which these ships mainly catered for had three cruise options to choose from in 2007 Island Cruises, Ocean Village Holidays and Thomson Cruises. These lines operated in the 3-4 star bracket, and the ships were all over 15 years old.

Island Cruises was formed by Royal Caribbean and First Choice Holidays in 2001, starting operations in 2002, targeting the British cruise market with Island Escape, a former cruise ferry which had operated with a variety of cruise lines.  During the launch the ship starred in the ITV show ‘Cruise Ship’ an Airline-esque tv show highlighting the ups and downs of cruising.

Island Escape was joined by Island Star in 2005, purpose-built as a cruise ship for Celebrity in 1990 this seriously improved Island Cruises product, with the new ship having Balconies and a large refurbishment prior to entering service.

However following the merger of TUI Travel and First Choice into TUI TRAVEL GROUP PLC which bought Island’s part owners into the same group as Thomson Cruises the line was disbanded, with Island Star going to Pullmantur and Island Escape joining Thomson Cruises.

Ocean Village was founded by P&O Princess Cruises PLC, a move which saw Arcadia transferred from P&O. Essentially a British adaption of Aida Cruises, Ocean Village was marketed as the ‘Cruise for People who Don’t Do Cruises’. It was this tag line that encouraged my parents to risk their hard earn wages to go cruising. As a safety anchor we did a week on land staying a Majorca, but more on our Ocean Village cruise next week. 😉

Following the merger of P&O Princess Cruises PLC and Carnival Corporation into Carnival Corporation & PLC (yes Dual Listed, a Anglo-American company!) Ocean Village received Aida Blu as Ocean Village Two in 2007. Then there was further talk of Oceana joining as Ocean Village Three, but this did not happen.

In 2008 it was announced that Ocean Village was to be disbanded by 2010, as the ships would generate a higher profit in Australia, who’s cruise market is booming, Ocean Village and Ocean Village Two where to join P&O Cruises Australia as Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel respectively.

Why didn’t we cruise Ocean Village again? I hear you ask. Well with the itineraries not having significant variation, and one of the great things about a cruise is the variety of destinations, our attention was drawn to other lines.  But I think Ocean Village provided a suitable stepping stone to jump into cruising, something which no other line has effectively filled.

Both Cruise Lines, Island Cruises and Ocean Village provided a more informal cruising atmosphere, however since their founding nearly 10 years ago there has been a shift in the traditions of the more traditional cruise lines, with ‘Anytime’ dining, relaxed dress codes and changes in Entertainment offered onboard.

Furthermore the British Cruise market has changed, Independence of the Seas sailing year round from Southampton, this still shocks me, this ship is huge and sails year round! There are less ‘new cruisers’ than before, and the cruise ships sailing for the British Market; Ventura, Azura, Independence of the Seas & MSC Opera, are better than ever before!

What was your experience of Ocean Village & Island Cruises? Facebook, Twitter, Comment and Email

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