Review of Pullmantur
Pullmantur Cruises (officially Pullmantur Cruceros) is 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).
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 on the Spanish market cruise travel destinations offered by Pullmantur are the Mediterranean, Baltic (Norwegian Fjords) and Canary Islands. In the Canaries, the company is the largest operator by vessel capacity and annual number of scheduled itineraries. Company's current President and CEO is Richard Vogel.
Pullmantur offers high-quality, high-value cruising with a strong Spanish-Mediterranean flair. Company's hold on the Spanish cruise market started when the founded in 1971 Madrid travel agency Pullmantur, chartered ms Seawind Crown (Premier Cruises) in the late 1990's.
Pullmantur experienced moderate success. When Premier went bankrupt in 2000, the company purchased that line's biggest and most modern ship, ms Oceanic, and established its own cruise line. In 2001 Pullmantur started operating cruises out of Barcelona. At that time, few could imagine the impact the new cruise line would have on cruising in Spain and cruise industry as a whole.
Spain was just beginning to find out cruising in 2001, mostly on foreign cruise vessels, with many departing from foreign ports. Pullmantur Cruises' establishment, with weekly departures of Oceanic from Barcelona, pushed Spanish cruising into overdrive. With all-inclusive fares, quality product and smart marketing, the line had an effect in Spain such as Carnival Cruise Line in the United States. Pullmantur was making cruising popular and affordable to the masses.
The expansion of the company came fast. In 2002 it purchased the famed "Love Boat" Pacific Princess from Princess Cruises. In 2003 Pullmantur bought another new ship, Holiday Dream (originally Hapag-Lloyd's ms Europa and ex-Star Cruises' SuperStar Aries). After buying three cruise ships of its own, in 2004 Pullmantur chartered R Five from the creditors of bankrupt Renaissance Cruises. The ship was marketed as Blue Dream. R Six, marketed as Blue Star, was added in 2005.
R Five left Pullmantur later in 2005 to become Oceania Cruises' Nautica. Pullmantur purchased R Six and named her Blue Dream (the marketing name assigned previously to R Five). Delphin Seereisen, the charterer of R Seven, had meanwhile gone bankrupt, and in 2006 that ship was also bought by Pullmantur Cruises and renamed Blue Moon. The same year, in its final acquisition, Pullmantur purchased Pacific Sky from P&O Cruises Australia, formerly Princess Cruises' Sky Princess. The vessel was renamed Sky Wonder.
A few months later, it was announced that Pullmantur, including its airline and tour operator sister companies, had been scooped up by the world's second largest cruise line, RCCL Royal Caribbean. Now, Pullmantur had the backing of a much bigger, wealthier company to help go on with its expansion. RCCL received a strong presence in the European cruise market.
In 2016, RCCL sold 51% of its shares in to Springwater Capital LLC (Spanish / Madrid-based private equity firm, is taking a 51% stake in CDF (Croisieres de France) and Pullmantur. RCCL now has 49% stake in the new CDP-Pullmantur joint venture company. RCCL also retains full ownership of the cruise vessels and aircraft operated by the two brands, which were leased into the joint venture.
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 vary 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 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 non-Pullmantur related purchases.
Pullmantur fly-cruise deals
For 2018 (April 23 through October 29), Pullmantur Cruceros signed 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 allows 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.
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 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 operates year-round Southern Caribbean cruises leaving from Colon Panama, Cartagena Colombia, Willemstad Curacao and Oranjestad Aruba.
- ms Sovereign (1987) was owned by RCI as "Sovereign of the Seas" (until 2008). The ship operates Western Mediterranean cruises (leaving from Barcelona) and in South America (Brazil, from homeports Santos and Rio de janeiro).
- mv Horizon (1990) - the ship operates in Europe (year-round) offering Mediterranean cruises leaving from Athens (Greece). The ship also operates Red Sea cruises from Dubai, with call ports Abu Dhabi, Khasab, Fujairah, Muscat.
- mv Zenith (1992) - the ship operates in Northern Europe (on Norwegian Fjords cruises), Western Mediterranean (out of Barcelona), Canary Islands (homeports Tenerife and Gran Canaria) and in Caribbean leaving from Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). To Zenith's 2019 winter cruise program (Canary Islands) was added Madeira Island (port Funchal) amd Morocco (Agadir). Canaries ports are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, Lanzarote. The program (Nov 17 through March 31, 2020) includes a total of 20 itineraries.
For winter season 2018-2019, Pullmantur homeported the Horizon ship in the Middle East for roundtrips from Dubai UAE (overnight stay in port prior departure). The 7-day itinerary program includes as call ports the UAE's ports Abu Dhabi, Khasab and Fujairah, as well as Muscat (Oman). Prices start from EUR 590 pp (double occupancy). During 2018-2019, the Zenith ship is in Canary Islands, MS Monarch - in Caribbean, MS Sovereign - in South America.
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