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Crosières de France

May 27th 2012 - Ocean Liner Society Group Cruise

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What makes a significant ship? Being the first at something, being the last, bringing new design ideas, heralding a new company or a new operation perhaps?

For 2012 our nominated ship is triply significant in passenger ship history. The Horizon was the first ship ever built for Chandris cruise line and their then new Celebrity Cruise line. Celebrity went on to build a very successful, upscale cruise line and now operates the Celebrity Eclipse from Southampton.

The Ship
Horizon was built specifically to enable Celebrity to operate the famous Bermuda run as they won the contract to operate the sailings direct to Front Street, following the demise of Home Lines. In the 80s and 90s, cruise ship building was dominated by Finland, France and Italy. A long-standing north European shipbuilder was keen to get into the business and Meyer Werft began winning their first contracts. Homeric and Crown Odyssey were followed by Horizon. Horizon is particularly significant because she was the first cruise ship Meyer built which was part of a series, with her sister Zenith following soon after. So successful was she that Celebrity themselves returned to Meyer Werft for the Century and Solstice classes of ships. Since then the list of companies building ships at Meyer has grown and grown and they are now one of the most successful cruise ship builders. For 2012, Horizon will be sailing for Croisieres de France. She replaces the Bleu de France which the society sailed on in 2010 and which herself is en route to become the Saga Sapphire. Horizon is part of the effort to increase the penetration into the largely untapped French market. The operation is all inclusive (drinks etc) with excellent French cuisine and European style entertainment. The Horizon will have a substantial refit this winter, particularly in the cabin areas, to bring them to modern standards.

Early bookings for this cruise have gone so well that this is on track to be our biggest ever group cruise and we've had to go back to the cruise line for further cabins. Don't miss out.

HORIZON 2012 ItineraryThe Itinerary
The ship departs Marseille on 27 May 2012. Marseille can be easily reached by a wide range of airlines from around Europe. For those who don't want to fly, the train takes around 6hrs from London with a simple cross platform change in Lille.

Please read the Frequently asked Questions below

HORIZON - Photo ©2002 Russ Willoughby
Horizon at Bermuda in Celebrity colours - Photo ©2002 Russ Willoughby

Horizon at San Francisco - Photos: ©1997 Marvin Jensen
HORIZON - Photo 1997 Marvin JensenHORIZON - Photo 1997 Marvin JensenHORIZON - Photo 1997 Marvin Jensen

OLS Group Cruises - FAQ

OLS Group cruises - what to expect

A group cruise with the Ocean Liner Society is a fantastic way to try a different ship, meet some fellow ship lovers and generally make sure that the society part of our named is fully lived up to. The Ocean Liner Society likes to organise at least one group cruise per year to make this happen. When we do so we want to make sure that everyone has a good time but in doing so, it is important that everyone knows what to expect. Here are some pointers

How do we choose the cruise?

The OLS committee meets several times per year and each meeting discusses options. We are looking for something which is a bit different than the usual trip. You won’t find us booking a P&O trip from Southampton for instance. As you would expect of ship lovers, the choice is primarily done starting with the ship. Then we look at the itineraries and try to find the most interesting. We are generally looking at something around 7 days duration, with a preference for a European departure point. Obviously we are looking for something which looks sensibly priced, you won’t find us proposing a luxury world cruise for instance. We have recently cruised with Pullmantur (Oceanic and Sky Wonder) and Phoenix Reisen's Maxim Gorky in 2008.

Who do we book with?

Given our choice of ships, these are often not ships which can be booked in an average high street travel agents. Therefore we choose specialist agencies who are able to get our groups on the ships we want. Its important to note that the Ocean Liner Society itself is not a travel agent. We won’t directly take your bookings or your money. We will provide you with the details of the cruise and the agent appointed, together with a price list which is as up to date as can be. Your booking would be direct with the agent. It would be subject to normal rules of that agent and cruise line. This includes things like prices, any supplements and changes in itinerary and cancellation costs.
Are there any special activities as part of the cruise?

Any special activities are usually spontaneous. On previous trips there have been special talks, behind the scenes tours etc. All of these are subject to the willingness of the operators, and participants. We can guarantee that we would ask for bridge visits, engine room visits etc. But we cannot guarantee they would be granted.

What about port calls and excursions?

One great thing about going with a group of ship lovers, is that there is usually someone who knows something about the ports and their attractions. We have not in the past organised any special excursions, however in most ports groups head off to do things together.
Why do I need to register with the Society for a group cruise?
If you let us know you are coming, we can make sure with the agent that our bookings are handled together. This means any special perks, events or information get to everyone. We will also have an email list of people going so that we can share thoughts and ideas on getting there and back, ports of call and whether anyone wants to bring along some material for a talk or similar. This is spontaneous, comes from the community going and is of course not guaranteed.

How will I get to the cruise?

Simple – you choose. We don’t want to dictate anyone’s arrangements. Some will take their car, or the train, or the plane direct to the port, others may travel by a more circuitous route. Its up to you as individuals. The society will share ideas and provide pointers, but your arrangements outside the cruise are yours to make.

How will I find out about cruises?

Several places – the OLS website, the email newsletter, ask at the monthly meeting, visit the OLS stand at the ship show, and most importantly in the ‘Engine Room’ section of Sea Lines. We won’t be writing to you as individuals (that costs money from your subscriptions that we would rather spend on producing a great magazine and having monthly talks). We won’t bombard you with junk mail, or harangue you into going. But we do hope you’ll join us.

Anything else?

Some of our cruises are on ships where the language isn’t English onboard. We will make sure you know this when you book.

Travel insurance, vaccinations, visas etc. Like any group trip, these are the responsibility ultimately of each individual traveller. We can provide links to guidance, but we’ll leave the rest up to you.  

That’s it really. OLS group cruises, are for a group of ship lovers and their family who fancy trying something different together. They’re not high pressure sold, over organised or bossy. You can do your own thing if you want to, whenever you want to. But past trips have been great fun so do think about it.

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