Mystic Cruises fleet
Review of Mystic Cruises
Mystic Cruises (mysticcruises.com) is a new cruise company (Oporto Portugal-based subsidiary) owned by Mystic Invest SGPS SA (shipowner). The parent company is the Ferreira family-owned Portuguese financial holding with brands mainly in the travel tourism and leisure industries.
Currently, Mystic Invest fully owns four cruise shipping companies (and travel brands) - "Mystic Cruises" (USA), "ATLAS OCEAN VOYAGES"/AOV (North America/fleet, atlasoceanvoyages.com), "NICKO CRUISES" (Germany/fleet, nicko-cruises.de/en) and DOUROAZUL (Portugal-based riverboats, douroazul.com).
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, all Mystic-owned cruise brands (Nicko, DouroAzul, AOV-Atlas Ocean) canceled voyages fleetwide between March 2020 and May 2021.
Mystic Cruises is a brand owned by the Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira - CEO and President of Mystic Invest SGPS (group of companies/mysticinvest.com) and best known as CEO of the Portuguese river cruisetour company Douro Azul operating on Douro River. Mario Ferreira is also famous for being Portugal's first space tourist (traveling on Virgin Galactic's Spaceship One / owned by Richard Branson).
Mystic Invest fully owns several brands specializing in travel and tourism business (cruises, tours, hotels) and real estate. The list of brands (subsidiaries) owned by the parent company Mystic Invest includes DouroAzul (Portugal), Mystic Cruises (USA), Atlas Ocean Voyages (North America/USA and Canada), Nicko Cruises (Germany), Priority Dolphin (shipbuilding), Mystic Tua (Portugal), Mystic Adventure (tour agency in Barca d'Alva), World of Discoveries (theme park in Porto Portugal), Helitours (Porto and Douro Valley), BlueBus (Porto), hotels and resorts (Hotel do Cais, Monumental Palace Hotel, Douro Marina Hotel, Wine Lodge Hotel), Caminho das Estrelas (suborbital and Zero-G flights), Mystic Real Estate.
In late-April 2019, Mystic Invest announced plans to establish and launch in 2021 the new subsidiary company "Mystic Cruises USA" led by Alberto Aliberti (CEO and President), headquartered in Florida (Fort Lauderdale) and served by 20-60 employees.
On November 14, 2019, was introduced the new (adventure-luxe) brand "Atlas Ocean Voyages" which is managed by Mystic Cruises USA. Bookings were opened on January 2, 2020, with the operations scheduled to start on July 7, 2021 (World Navigator). Early-booking promos included per-cabin savings (up to USD 2000) and half deposits.
In early-June 2019, Certares GBT Holdings Ltd (NYC-based global company specializing in travel, tourism and hospitality investments, subsidiary of Certares Management LLC) became a shareholder (40%) in Mystic Invest Holding for EUR 250 million (~USD 294 million). The Ferreira family is the majority stake owner (60%) of Mystic Invest's cruise companies (DouroAzul, Nicko Cruises, Mystic Cruises USA, Atlas Ocean Voyages) and full owner of the holding's non-cruise subsidiaries.
Mystic Invest fully owns (100%) the WestSEA Shipyard (shipbuilding/repairs yard in Viana do Castelo, Portugal) where the Holding is currently building its new expedition cruise ships.
In September 2021, AOV introduced "Atlas Assurance" insurance program (for emergency support and services) that covers all medical-travel-legal expenses as well as medevacs (medical evacuations at sea and return home transportation) during the voyage.
- Medical services include prescriptions, eyeglasses replacement, medical expenses, dispatching physician/specialist, hospital and physician referral (worldwide), return of dependent children.
- Travel services include documents assistance, 24-hour emergency arrangements, embassy assistance, travel companion transportation.
- Legal assistance includes worldwide lawyers and bail bonds.
- "Atlas Assurance" is optional but included in AOV's "All Inclusive All The Way" package.
In January 2021, Atlas Ocean Voyages signed a partnership with Ensemble Travel Group (member-owned and run organization of ~850 American independent travel agencies (USA and Canada). The deal was signed by Brandon Townsley (AOV's VP of Sales and Trade Partnerships) and David Harris (Ensemble's CEO).
Nicko Cruises (Stuttgart-headquartered) in 2021 joined CLIA Europe. In the UK, the brand is represented by Light Blue Travel Ltd (Cambridge-based travel agency).
In February 2022, AOV appointed the following executives - Colleen Rodriguez (VP of Marketing), Jacqueline Leyva (Senior Director of Guest Services, Reservations, Air-Sea), Robert Cao (Senior Director of Charters, Meetings, Incentives), Oya Bekisoglu (Sales Director of Central USA), Anthony Iozzia (Sales Director of Northeast USA, New England, Eastern Canada). In August was appointed James Rodriguez as AOV's President and CEO. Previously, he was employed by the cruise brand companies Crystal (as Director of Sales) and Oceania (as Executive VP of Sales and Marketing/2003-2022).
In June 2022, AOV announced its Panama homeporting operations (starting October 2022) for the ships World Navigator and World Traveller. AOV's 12-night "Panama Roundtrip Cruise" itinerary departs from Panama City (Fuerte Amador Marina) and visits destinations in Panama (Isla Parida), Costa Rica (Puerto Jimenez, Puerto Caldera/Puntarenas, Playa Del Coco, Playa Flemingo, Curu, Tortuga Islands, Quepos, Golfito), Nicaragua (San Juan Del Sur). Prices range between US$6400 (Veranda) and US$9300 (Navigator Suite) per person with double occupancy.
Mystic Cruises fleet consists of 6 vessels, of which some are chartered to other cruise lines (small companies and independent tour operators), including to some Mystic Invest-owned brands.
In 2018 (February 20 through March 1), Nicko Tours scheduled a total of 10 roadshows in Germany to promote the company's new "ocean cruising" business. Each of the shows started with a casual get-together and buffet with finger food, followed by the presentation of the vessel and its Nicko cruise itineraries. Then travel agents enjoyed full meals and gourmet desserts.
World Explorer (2019-launched) and World Voyager (2020-launched) are chartered to Nicko Cruises and Quark Expeditions. The other 4 liners (currently under construction) will be operated by Mystic Cruises USA's brand "Atlas Ocean Voyages". These are World Navigator (2021), World Traveller (2022), World Seeker (2022), World Adventurer (2023) and World Discoverer (2023). For the construction of all these units was contracted the shipbuilder WestSEA (naval shipyard in Viana do Castelo, Portugal). The ship name "World Discoverer" was also trademarked.
Each vessel features an ice-strengthened hull (allowing year-round operations in polar regions), LOA length 126 m (413 ft), width 19 m (62 ft), GT tonnage/volume 9300 tons, max passenger capacity 200 (max 176 on polar itineraries), crew capacity 125, 8 decks (2 with cabins), 86 staterooms, shipbuilding cost EUR 70 million (USD 80 million) - or EUR 350,000 (~USD 395K) per berth.
On May 16, 2019, Mystic Cruises signed a partnership with Adonis AS (provider of maritime HR / human resources support and solutions) for the ocean fleet's management. Adonis Maritime HR Suite includes services like staff recruitment, crewing and payroll.
Ship design was developed by Leadship Ltd (Piraeus Greece-based company) owned by Italian naval Architects Giuseppe Tringali and Mirco Zoia. It features an ice-strengthened hull (ice class 1B), top-notch automation and control system, modern propulsion (based on electrical pods / azimuthing thrusters), dynamic positioning system (using GPS data to accurately maintain ship's position without anchoring), advanced water treatment system, hybrid powerplant (diesel-electric) with efficient marine engines (two Rolls-Royce engines running on ULSD / ultra-low-sulfur diesel).
The Rolls-Royce powerplant costs GBP 7 million (EUR 7,75 million / 8,9 million) and includes two main engines (Bergen C25-33L8P) and one auxiliary dual-fuel genset (Bergen C25-33L6P). The engines are connected to the vessel's electric power system (Rolls-Royce SAVe CUBE) allowing them to operate efficiently at variable speeds. Rolls-Royce Promas propulsion is an integrated propeller-rudder system to optimize hydrodynamic efficiency. Promas includes two controllable pitch propellers integrated with two flap rudders, steering gears and tunnel thrusters.
The vessel's draft is only 15 ft (4,7 m) allowing access to remote islands and unique coastal destinations. The ship has all 2 lifeboats (full-capacity) which are fully enclosed. Ship-to-shore communications are via Inmarsat Capsat Fleet 77 (satellite phone and Internet). Landings (passenger transportation) and coastal exploration voyages are served by the ship's own fleet of ten Zodiacs (motorized boats stored aft on Deck 7) and 2 loading stations.
The shipbuilder WestSEA is owned by Martifer Group via the subsidiary Martifer SGPS. This is a family-owned holding company founded in 1990 (by the brothers Carlos and Jorge Martins), headquartered in Oliveira de Frades (Portugal) and Euronext Lisbon (stock exchange) listed since 2007. Martifer Group has over 3000 employees and specializes in metal construction and (since 2004) in renewable energy (wind and solar energy equipment production). Martifer Group is one of Europe's largest metal construction companies, with subsidiaries in Spain, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Brazil and Angola.
The two Mystic Invest-owned European river cruise companies - "DouroAzul" (Portugal) and "Nicko Cruises" (Germany) - operate mainly modern newbuild riverboats deployed, respectively, on Douro River (in Portugal) and on Seine-Rhone rivers (in France) and on Moselle-Rhine-Main-Danube rivers (in Central Europe). Almost all boats are built after the year 2000 and have 4 decks and capacity between 80-180 passengers (Portugal-based ships are smaller).
In the UK, Nicko Cruises operates through Light Blue Travel (direct and trade sales). Nicko's Duoro River cruise prices start from GBP 1400 per person (double occupancy). Fares are inclusive of return economy flights and land transfers in Portugal, all shipboard meals, unlimited drinks (wine, beer, cocktails, all soft and hot drinks), onboard gratuities, Wi-Fi, 4 guided shore excursions, port taxes.
Itinerary of Mystic Cruises
All the four Mystic Cruises ocean-going ships will operate on global itineraries leaving from various seaports worldwide. The new company will rely mainly on North American passenger sourcing. Fly-cruise deals from the USA will be also available for booking.
The company's fleet of modern riverboats is deployed exclusively in Europe - on Douro River (in Portugal), on Seine-Rhone river (in France), and on the Western-Central European rivers Moselle, Rhine, and the Danube. Boats' homeports (departure ports) include Germany (Passau, Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart, Stralsund, Saarbrucken, Potsdam), France (Paris, Lyon), Basel-Zurich (Switzerland), Prague (Czech Republic), Amsterdam (Holland).
The company also owns a luxury hotel barge - Spirit of Chartwell - cruising on Douro River since 2012.
Atlas Ocean Voyages 2021 itineraries
AOV-Atlas Ocean Voyages is a subsidiary company and travel brand managed by Mystic Cruises USA (parent Mystic Invest). Atlas Ocean Voyages fleet includes the newbuild vessels World Navigator (2021), World Traveller (2022), World Adventurer (2023), World Seeker (2024).
Bookings were opened on January 2, 2020, with the operations scheduled to start in July 2021 with World Navigator. The inaugural cruise season of Atlas Ocean Voyages (2021) included 66 different port destinations (the Mediterranean Sea, Black Seas, Holy Land) visited on a total of ten 7- to 15-nights long itineraries.
- AOV's inaugural cruise (11-night itinerary, July 17th) departs from Valletta Malta and visits Piraeus-Athens, Zakynthos Island, Katakolon-Olympia, Elafonisos Island, Chania (Crete), Sitia (Crete), Rhodes Island, Mykonos Island, Siracusa (Sicily), Kusadasi.
- Black Sea cruise (7-night itinerary, July 28th) departs from Piraeus-Athens and visits Kusadasi; Nessebar, Bucharest, Odessa (2 overnights). Black Sea cruise (9-night itinerary, August 4th) departs from Piraeus-Athens and visits Novorossiysk, Batumi, Sinop, Amasra, Sochi (overnight), Istanbul (overnight). Both Black Sea cruises can be combined into a B2B (16-night).
- Three Holy Land cruises offer overnights in Haifa (Tel Aviv) and Ashdod (Jerusalem).
- 7-night Mediterranean cruise (September 18) is from Piraeus-Athens to Civitavecchia-Rome and visits Corinth Canal (passage), Itea-Delphi, Katakolon, Taormina (Sicily), Agropoli, Agropoli, Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Naples.
- 7-night Mediterranean cruise (September 25) is from Civitavecchia-Rome to Lisbon and visits Livorno, Marseilles, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Gibraltar.
- Follows a 17-night Europea to South America Transatlantic crossing (October 4) from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. The itinerary includes stops in Funchal (Madeira Island) and Mindelo (Sao Vincente Island, Cape Verde) before Brazil (Fernando de Noronha Island, Natal, Recife, Salvador, Buzios). An 8-night itinerary (Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo) visits Buzios, Paraty, Ilhabela, Porto Belo, Imbituba, Punta del Este.
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