by Kevin Griffin writing in cybercruises.com
A new operator called Premier Cruises, based in Mariehamn, Finland, has recently acquired Elegant Cruises’ former Andrea, a well-loved ship in both the Adriatic and the Antarctic. Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Esakov, who has operated the 109-berth river cruise ship Volga Dream on the waterways of Russia for the past five years, is the backing behind the new line, which is run by experienced Norwegian cruise executive Christer Morn, who at one time headed up Sea Cloud Cruises in Hamburg.
Trading as the 1960-built traditional Hurtigruten ship Harald Jarl until 2002, the former Norwegian ship was then operated by Elegant Cruises as Andrea between 2002 and 2009. Now scheduled to re-enter service in April 2013 under the name of Serenissima, she will carry only 96 passengers.
Her inaugural 2013 season will see her offering cruises in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, British Isles and Norway.
Charterers and wholesale tour operators will play a large role in her marketing. Between May 4 and July 15, for example, she will perform seven cruises on charter to London-based Noble Caledonia, who already operate its own Caledonian Sky and Island Sky.
Serenissima will leave Poole at the beginning of her Noble Caledonia charter on May 11, 2013, for a 10-night cruise under the name “Great Gardens and Houses of Britain and Ireland,” for Falmouth, the Isles of Scilly, Waterford and Dublin then on up to Scotland for several coastal and island calls before docking at Oban.
This will be followed by two 7-night cruises round trip from Oban plus a 10-night cruise from Oban to Aberdeen in May and two 11-night cruise in June back to her old stomping grounds in the Norwegian Fjords, the first from Aberdeen to Tromso the second back from Tromso to Aberdeen. A 9-night cruise will then follow in July from Aberdeen down the Atlantic Coast of Ireland to Falmouth.
As Noble Caledonia says on its own web site, “perhaps, one of the best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During the major refit in Sweden the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th-century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels.“
Serenissima is currently in Split, Croatia, undergoing refit in preparation for her new role.