by Mark Tre’ – "The Cruise Examiner
The French cruise market is seeing quite a revival at the moment. Hard on the heels of the maiden voyage of Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Boréal from Marseilles recently, a fortnight ago saw the relaunch of the Paquet brand when Allegra sailed from the same port on the first of eleven cruises under the Paquet brand for 2010.
In an agreement with TMR of Marseilles, Costa Cruises, who have owned the Paquet brand since 1996, are using Costa Allegra, marketed in France under the name "Allegra," for four spring cruises and seven cruises this autumn. For these cruises, Costa Allegra will feature a French master, cruise director, maitres ‘d, receptionists and two French chefs, one of whom, Jean Abauzit, served on board the renowned Mermoz, retired a decade ago.
Allegra‘s first three cruises are sold out, although some space is still available on the June 16 departure, which will be a musical cruise celebrating French song.
TMR, headed by Jean-Maurice Ravon, has in the past chartered Norway (ex-France) as well as a couple of the ex-Renaissance "R" class, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
As well as Le Boréal and Allegra in the French market, Croisières de France’s all-inclusive Bleu de France returned from Brazil last month and has now commenced her summer series of Mediterranean cruises, also from Marseilles.