Magellan will commence operations Feb. 3, 2019, with an introductory winter debut season of eight seven-night cruises embarking at Acapulco on Sundays. The season ends March 31.
UK-based CMV specializes in the development of dedicated source markets, having successfully established markets and programs in the UK and Ireland, Germany, Australia and France, CEO Christian Verhounig said.
As the operator of the only current exclusively Mexican program, CMV plans to extend the season in 2020, he added.
The itinerary includes Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. Acapulco will be the primary gateway port serving the Guerrero region and Mexico City, while Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta will serve as secondary gateways for Guadalajara, León and the northern Mexican states.
It has been reported that CMV signed a letter of intent with Puerto Peñasco, where construction of a pier has been stalled for some time. The company said it's looking at many options, including Puerto Peñasco, but nothing apart from the announced ports has been concluded.
John Dennis, VP sales & marketing in CMV's North American office in Fort Lauderdale, will assume responsibility for the commercial management and business development of the Mexican operation with a maiden season capacity for 12,000 passengers.
Dennis said the decision to move forward followed extensive development work over the past year with numerous visits and meetings with many key stakeholders and government officials.
At the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's conference in Mérida, Mexico, in October, destinations were abuzz about CMV's plans.
The program is 'another sign of trust in Mexico and Acapulco,' according to Alejandro González Molina, secretary of tourism, Acapulco. The fact that Mexicans won't need passports and visas to travel on a tailor-made cruise for them has a 'lot of potential. It's a clever idea,' González said.
CMV will be opening a dedicated sales office in Mexico City and officially launching Cruceros Marítimos Vacacionales and Magellan's 2019 program during first quarter 2018. Big trade events are planned in Mexico City, Acapulco, Guadalajara and at the 2018 Tianguis Turistico, Mexico's leading tourism fair, to be held in Mazatlán.
The marketing strategy will include national consumer press and online digital campaigns backed up by a strong public relations and social media presence and the appointment of key trade partners supported by cooperative promotions. A dedicated Spanish-language brochure, website and online booking facility will be unveiled during the launch.
Special introductory fares are planned with great deals for children and a 25% single supplement for solo travelers. Attractive honeymoon packages plus group deals offering further savings, free berths and other benefits also will be available.
In years past Pullmantur operated a dedicated cruise product for Mexicans for a stint, while a 2011 start-up, Ocean Star Cruises, was short-lived after a fire aboard Ocean Star took the ship out of service.
'With the recent growth of domestic tourism in Mexico we firmly believe that the market conditions are now suited to the launch of an authentic Mexican cruise product and multi-resort and vacation experience,' said CMV's Chris Coates, group commercial director.
'The product will be very much tailored to Mexican tastes and aspirations. We believe that Magellan’s quality, size and bed configuration make her ideally suited to this business with the focus very much on the domestic home market and developing a product for Mexico.'
The 46,052gt Magellan (ex Hoiiday and Grand Holiday) joined the CMV fleet in March 2015. The ship has capacity for 1,800 passengers. Dining options include the Waldorf and Kensington restaurants, an additional specialty restaurant and the more informal Raffles Bistro. There are five lounges, seven bars, a casino, spa and wellness center, gym and a new specialty coffee shop. Other facilities are a library and card room, shopping galleria, two pools and three whirlpools.
Dennis, who is a fluent in Spanish, and his sales team will be targeting the growing middle class market, ages 30 to 55, including couples, families, solo travelers, groups and honeymooners.
The repositioning voyages between the UK and Mexico will be marketed internationally.