CMA CGM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The German site www.cruisetricks.de has chosen The Cruise People’s CMA CGM New York to Seattle route via Suez as one of its “Top Ten Unusual Cruises in the World” for 2011. In making its choice, CruiseTricks’s Franz Neumeier said,
“That the French company CMA CGM offers the possibility for up to seven passengers to travel on three of its cargo ships is not unusual. Many cargo ships carry passengers these days. What is unusual about the service offered by the CMA CGM Figaro, CMA CGM Tosca and CMA CGM Dolphin, however, is that it follows the route of the first World Cruise undertaken by a passenger ship, as performed by Hamburg America Line’s Cleveland in 1909. These voyages can be booked through The Cruise People Ltd in London.”
Three ships, the CMA CGM Dolphin, CMA CGM Figaroand, CMA CGM Tosca(shown below), now offer an interesting itinerary between New York and Seattle, as well as Vancouver BC, via the Suez Canal. Known as CMA CGM’s Columbus Loop, the full 105-day round voyage is made via ports in the Far East. Eastbound, ships leave New York via Norfolk and Savannah and sail directly to Tanjung Pelepas, a port in Malaysia located just across the water from Singapore. Calls are then made at Hong Kong, Yantian and Shanghai before proceeding to Pusan, in South Korea, and on to Seattle and Vancouver.
The return voyage is made from Vancouver to Yokohama and then calls at the Chinese ports of Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong and Yantian before returning to New York via Tanjung Pelepas.
Voyage time from New York to Seattle is 55 days and from Seattle to New York 50 days (Vancouver to New York is 46 days). This voyage is for those who love the sea, the longest transit being 29 days from Savannah to Tanjung Pelepas (on the return, Tanjung Pelepas to New York is 23 days).
The new routing retraces the route of the first World Cruise, which was offered by Hamburg America Line’s Cleveland before the Panama Canal had even been opened – but takes half the time. Chartered by Frank C Clark of New York, an early cruise organizer, Cleveland left New York on October 16, 1909, and took 108 days to proceed across the Atlantic to ports in the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, India and the Far East before finishing the world’s first Round-the-World Cruise in San Francisco on January 31, 1910. Passengers then returned to their homes from the West Coast by train while Cleveland retraced her steps on a second world cruise. Equally, passengers taking the new Columbus Loop cruise can travel around the world in either direction and complete their circumnavigation in less than two months by making the rail journey across North America.
CMA CGM Figaro and CMA CGM Tosca carry seven passengers each in different mixes of single and double cabins, with fares set at €100 per person per day or €110 per day for sole occupancy of a double cabin. CMA CGM Dolphin carries up to six passengers in three double cabins. Fares include full board, port charges, deviation insurance and complimentary French table wine with lunch and dinner. Part voyages are also possible but the full 105-day round voyage starts at €10,500 (about $14,645 or £9,350). New York to Seattle is €5,500 (about $7.670 or £4,895) for 55 days and Seattle to New York is €5,000 (about $6.975 or £4,450) for 50 days.