Review of Pullmantur
Pullmantur Cruises (officially Pullmantur Cruceros, pullmantur.es) was a Spanish passenger shipping company headquartered in Madrid. It started operations in the late-1990s as an offshoot of Madrid-based namesake travel agency "Pullmantur". Through its parent company, Pullmantur Cruises was purchased in 2006 by RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd).
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, Pullmantur suspended its entire fleet's passenger shipping operations (all the 4 vessels) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 15 through November 15, 2020. Operations were planned to resume on November 20th (Monarch, Sovereign) and November 28th (Horizon). All affected bookings were 125% refunded in FCC (future cruise credit) transferred with rebooking.
In 2017, the company served over 1/3 (34%) of all Spanish cruise ship passengers. Its share on the local market in 2017 increased by 6,5% (over 2016). Spain's cruising market as annual capacity is estimated at around 0,5 million passengers. The most popular for Spanish residents cruise travel destinations offered by Pullmantur were the Mediterranean, Baltic (Norwegian Fjords) and the Canary Islands. In the Canaries, the company was the largest by vessel capacity and annual number of scheduled itineraries. The company's last President and CEO was Richard Vogel.
Pullmantur offered high-quality, high-value cruising experiences with a strong Spanish-Mediterranean flair. The company's hold on the Spanish source market started when the 1971-established (in Madrid) travel agency Pullmantur chartered MS Seawind Crown (1991-2002/1961-built as "MS Barcelona"/2004-scrapped at Alang) from Premier Cruises in the late 1990s.
Pullmantur experienced moderate success. When Premier Cruise Line (1983-founded) went bankrupt in 2000, Pullmantur purchased its biggest and most modern ship - SS Oceanic (1965-2012) and established its own cruise brand. In 2001 Pullmantur started voyages out of Barcelona. At that time, few could imagine the impact the new brand would have on cruising in Spain and the industry as a whole.
Spain was just beginning to find out cruising in 2001, mostly on foreign vessels, with many departing from foreign ports. Pullmantur's establishment, with weekly departures of Oceanic from Barcelona, pushed Spanish cruising into overdrive. With all-inclusive fares, quality products and smart marketing, the cruise line had an effect in Spain such as CCL-Carnival Cruise Line in the USA. Pullmantur was making ship cruising popular and affordable to the masses.
The company's growth in popularity and fleet expansion were fast. In 2002 was purchased the "Love Boat" Pacific Princess (now Azamara Onward) from Princess Cruises. In 2003 was acquired Holiday Dream (originally Hapag-Lloyd's MS Europa/former Star Cruises' SuperStar Aries). After buying three ships of its own, in 2004 Pullmantur chartered R-Five (now Oceania Nautica) from the creditors of the bankrupt Renaissance Cruises. The ship was marketed as Blue Dream. In 2005 was added R-Six (now Azamara Journey) marketed as Blue Star.
R-Five left Pullmantur later in 2005, when Pullmantur purchased R-Six and renamed her Blue Dream (the marketing name previously assigned to R-Five). Delphin Seereisen (the charterer of R-Seven/now Azamara Quest) had meanwhile gone bankrupt, and in 2006 R-Seven was also bought by Pullmantur and renamed Blue Moon. The same year, in its final acquisition, Pullmantur purchased Pacific Sky from P&O Australia (ex Princess Cruises' Sky Princess) and renamed her Sky Wonder.
A few months later (2006) was announced that Pullmantur, including its airline and tour operator (sister companies) had been scooped up by the world's second-largest cruise shipowner - RCCL/RCG/Royal Caribbean Group. Now, Pullmantur had the backing of a much bigger, wealthier company to help go on with its expansion. With Pullmantur, RCCL received a strong presence in the European market.
In 2016, RCCL sold 51% of its shares into Springwater Capital LLC (Spanish / Madrid-based private equity firm) taking a 51% stake in CDF (Croisieres de France) and Pullmantur Cruceros. RCCL had 49% stake in the Pullmantur joint venture, while the other 51% were later sold to Cruises Investment Holding. RCCL also retained full ownership of the cruise vessels and aircraft operated by both brands, which were leased into the joint venture.
The following table shows statistical data (2020) about Pullmantur's market share (as fleet and passenger capacity / ship-berth numbers) in comparison to other major cruise companies.
|Parent Company||Subsidiaries||Fleets (vessels per brand)||Passenger Capacity (berths per brand)|
|Carnival Corp||Holland America||15||25900|
|Carnival Corp||P&O UK||8||18600|
|Carnival Corp||P&O Australia||5||8200|
|Carnival Corp||TOTAL||103 ships||233,200 berths|
|RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd)||RCI (Royal Caribbean International)||26||84,700|
|RCCL||TOTAL||64 ships||141400 berths|
|NCLH (Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd)||NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines)||16||46600|
|NCLH||TOTAL||26 ships||54400 berths|
|(other large brands)|
3- Star Cruises (GHK)
4- Dream Cruises (GHK)
6- Viking Ocean
Before the COVID crisis, Pullmantur had ~50% market share of Colombia's cruising market, served by the company since 2014. As of 2019, Colombia was Pullmantur's 3rd-largest source market (after Spain and Brazil) served year-round with Pullmantur Monarch. The ship was homeported in Cartagena Colombia and Colon Panama for roundtrip Southern Caribbean itineraries. Colombia is currently ranked South America's 3rd-largest market - after Brazil and Argentina.
In mid-June 2020, Pullmantur Cruceros' owners (Cruises Investment Holding + RCG/Royal Caribbean Group) filed for a supervised reorganization/bankruptcy under Spain's insolvency laws. This was the end of Pullmantur as a cruise brand.
Reportedly, the crew dismantled and removed machinery, various equipment, furniture and artworks from both vessels (Monarch and Sovereign) while they were berthed in Port Naples Italy (at Stazione Marittima di Napoli cruise terminal / Naples' Maritime Station). All the company's employees were notified of the management's decision, which was explained with the Coronavirus pandemic's economic impact. Booked Pullmantur cruise customers are offered the option to rebook on other RCCL-owned companies.
Based on rumors, Pullmantur's liners were either to be scrapped or sold (change ownership). According to unofficial information, two boats were opened for sale - Monarch (1991-built, 2018-refurbished) for USD 125 million, and Horizon (1990-built, 2019-refurbished) for USD 65 million. The fleet's oldest vessel was Sovereign (1988-built, 2015-refurbished). Sovereign's scheduled for 2020 drydock refurbishment was canceled.
Eventually, the three vessels (Monarch and Sovereign in 2020, and Horizon in 2022) were dismantled at Turkey's Aliaga Ship Breaking Yard (near Izmir). In September 2020, on its Facebook page Pullmantur started asking its followers for feedback on what they expect from the Spanish cruise line when it resumes voyages. Among the questions was if they are willing to pay 10-15% higher fares than previously offered. The company was to resume operations with only one boat (The Horizon) which at the time was in cold lay-up status, docked in Port Eleusis (Greece).
In late-November 2020 were published documents according to which (as part of the company's restructuring plan) Pullmantur could resume operations in December 2021 with a fleet of two (transferred from Celebrity Cruises) Millennium-class ships (unspecified). At the time, Celebrity's Millennium-Class fleet includded 4 vessels (Constellation, Infinity, Millennium, Summit). The financing deal with Royal Caribbean Group (owner of 49% Pullmantur shares) included a revised business plan and was based on all the rebookings (with FCC) of former Pullmantur customers.
Pullmantur cruising experience
Pullmantur is the biggest Spain-based cruise company. It appeals mainly to Spanish passengers, even though voyages on Pullmantur vessels are also sold by travel operators out of the Spanish-speaking market. Like most major cruise lines, Pullmantur attracts a wide selection of passengers, though naturally on its cruises they are mainly Spanish and Brazilian (during winter months). However, you may find passengers of all types and ages. There may also be several non-Spanish-speaking guests from Canada or Northern Europe.
The primary shipboard language is Spanish, but many staff members speak English, as well. To accommodate international cruisers, announcements are made in both Spanish and English. English-speaking passengers who look to immerse themselves in Spanish culture will definitely enjoy voyages with Pullmantur. The shipboard currency varies by itinerary. Typically, on Baltic and Mediterranean cruises the onboard currency is EUR, while in the Caribbean is USD.
Most Pullmantur ships offer an "all-inclusive" product. Some extras like brand alcoholic drinks are included in cruise price. However, as of October 2014, alcoholic beverage packages are sold separately. Currently, Pullmantur's prices include tea, coffee, water, and juice. Most ships don't cruise for Pullmantur during northern hemisphere's winter season. Then, they are either laid up or chartered to other cruise lines, including the Brazillian Viagens CVC.
In 2017, Pullmantur started offering electric bike tours led by guide instructors. Helmets, water, and energy bars are provided.
In early-December 2018, Pullmantur Cruceros introduced "Pullmantur Visa" card via a partnership with Bankinter Consumer Finance (specializing in credit cards and consumer loans). Pullmantur Visa allows easier booking and financing over a period up to 18 months. Pullmantur's credit card is for the Spanish market only (Spanish nationals and residents in Spain) and without maintenance fees. All cruise customers who make payments via Pullmantur Visa receive a return up to 6% of the deferred purchases, plus EUR 20 gift voucher when making not Pullmantur-related purchases.
In June 2019, Pullmantur introduced fleetwide a new all-inclusive sports program. It offers more and diverse sporting activities, including toning and yoga classes, cardio workouts, water aerobics, body exercises, zumba dancing, meditation, custom-designed sessions for couples and families. The program is based on professional resident sport instructors guiding all activities. Also available (upon request) are personal trainers and small-group sessions.
Pullmantur fly-cruise deals
For 2018 (April 23 through October 29), Pullmantur Cruceros signed an agreement with Iberia Airlines (Spain) to secure over 90,000 plane seats for cruise passengers booked with "flight and cruise" deals. Iberia flights connect the ships' homeports and the passenger's home country.
The Iberia airline's regular flights connect Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) with port cities in Italy (Trieste), Greece (Athens), Germany (Rostock), Finland (Helsinki) and Norway (Trondheim). In these cruise ports, Pullmantur offers both embarkation and disembarkation on itineraries in Baltic Sea (Scandinavia and Russia, Norwegian Fjords), Greek Isles (out of Piraeus-Athens) and Adriatic Sea (out of Venice).
Most Pullmantur cruise itineraries can be booked with air-included cabin rates. Booking "flight and cruise" deals allow passengers to check luggage at the Spanish airports and receive it in their staterooms.
Pullmantur - CDF (Croisieres de France)
In early 2017, Pullmantur Group closed the offices of its subsidiary company Croisieres de France (CDF) in Paris, France. The decision was made under the company's new leadership (Richard Vogel, Pullmantur Group's president, and CEO) and for refocusing all efforts on the cruising travel markets in Spain and Caribbean (Latin America). Since 2017, the company has not one France-dedicated vessel.
Bookings on both former CDF ships (Horizon, Zenith) are currently handled by the company's office in Madrid. Also changed were Pullmantur's Northern European itineraries, which previously included departures from Calais (France). The new Baltic Sea departure port is now Rostock (Warnemunde) Germany, due to more efficient flights and transfers from Spain.
CDF started operations in 2008 with the MS Blu de France (since 2011 operated by Saga Cruises as Saga Sapphire). Blu de France ship was replaced by MV Horizon in 2012. In 2014, to the CDF fleet was added MV Zenith. In early-2020, Zenith leaves Pullmantur's fleet. All scheduled for 2020 Pullmantur Zenith cruises were transferred to Monarch.
Itinerary of Pullmantur
Pullmantur (officially "Pullmantur Crociere") is currently the largest cruise line based in Spain. The company markets to Spanish passengers mainly, although voyages on Pullmantur ships are also sold outside the Spanish-speaking world. The line was virtually unknown out of its native country until in 2006 Royal Caribbean announced it had purchased the Spanish line company.
Pullmantur cruise itinerary changes
Pullmantur Cruises is an RCCL-owned company (part of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd). The line operates the following ships:
- ms Majesty (1992) previously operated by Royal Caribbean as "Majesty of the Seas" (until 2018)
- ms Monarch (1991) was previously owned by RCI as "Monarch of the Seas" (until 2013). The ship operated year-round Southern Caribbean cruises leaving from Colon Panama, Cartagena Colombia, Willemstad Curacao, Oranjestad Aruba.
- ms Sovereign (1987) was owned by RCI as "Sovereign of the Seas" (until 2008). The ship operated in the Western Mediterranean (from Barcelona) and also in South America/Brazil (from homeports Santos and Rio de Janeiro).
- ms Horizon (1990) - the ship operates in Europe (year-round) offering Mediterranean cruises leaving from Athens (Greece). The ship also operated in the Red Sea from Dubai, visiting Abu Dhabi, Khasab, Fujairah, Muscat.
- ms Grandeur (1996) - currently operates as Grandeur Of The Seas (for RCI-Royal Caribbean). The ship had to join Pullmantur in 2021 and to be deployed in Northern Europe (Baltic Sea and Norwegian Fjords itineraries) with departures from homeports Trondheim Norway and Warnemunde-Rostock Germany.
mv Zenith (1992) - for Pullmantur, the ship operated in Northern Europe (Norwegian Fjords), Western Mediterranean (out of Barcelona), Canary Islands (homeports Tenerife and Gran Canaria) and in the Caribbean leaving from Santo Domingo Dominicana. To Zenith's 2019 winter program (Canary Islands) was added Madeira Island (Funchal) and Morocco (Agadir), combined with the Canaries ports Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, Lanzarote. The program (Nov 17 through March 31, 2020) included a total of 20 itineraries. In early-2020, Zenith left Pullmantur's fleet being sold to Peaceboat.
Pullmantur related cruise news
- Cruise Industry
On September 24th, the former Celebrity Cruises/Pullmantur cruise ship The Zenith (last renamed SINGA) arrived at Alang Shipyard (India) for...September 30, 2022
After ~2 years in Greece (moored at Port Elefsina/Eleusis), the last Pullmantur ship set sail on her final voyage: Pullmantur Horizon is heading to...August 29, 2022
- Cruise Industry
After remaining shut down during the past 17 months because of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis, the historic port of Cartagena, the main tourist...August 27, 2021
- Cruise Industry
Pullmantur Cruises announced it was currently holding meetings with potential investors for financing of the company's business plan. Pullmantur also...February 22, 2021
- Cruise Industry
The insolvent Pullmantur Cruises might resume operations at the end of next year. Two Millennium-Class vessels from Celebrity Cruises could operate...November 27, 2020
- Cruise Industry
Two months after Pullmantur Cruises filed for a supervised reorganization/bankruptcy (mid-July 2020, due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19...September 25, 2020
- Cruise Industry
Royal Caribbean announced it will keep Grandeur of the Seas in the cruise fleet instead of transferring her out to RCCL's sister-brand Pullmantur...August 27, 2020
- Cruise Industry
In mid-June 2020, Pullmantur Cruceros' owners (Cruises Investment Holding + RCCL-Royal Caribbean) filed for a supervised reorganization/bankruptcy...June 22, 2020
- Cruise Industry
Beginning on Friday, June 12, and ending on June 28, a total of 11 cruise ships will call at Port Mumbai India to disembark 10,000+ Indian crew stuck...June 13, 2020
- Cruise Industry
A total of 154 crew from two cruise liners remained berthed at Gibraltar UK after the chartered flight for their repatriation developed...May 19, 2020
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