During the autumn Alexander von Humboldt (1990/15,396gt) will receive a further refit, this time at Portland, Dorset to prepare her for her new role as Voyages of Discovery’s second ship, Voyager. Despite a serious deterioration in the financial position of holding company All Leisure Group, where losses for the first six months of its financial year increased from £4.2 to £11.2 million on revenues reduced from £34.8 to £24.6 million, the company is clearly committed to securing the future for Voyages of Discovery by adding a second ship.
A sizeable portion of the lost revenue stems from the refit of Minerva, which took her out of service for more than a month, and from the failure to find a charterer for Alexander von Humboldt this year. Voyager was built in Spain as Crown Monarch for Crown Cruise Lines, but within five years had found her way to Singapore as a casino ship. In 2006 the now defunct Club Cruise bought her, and she operated as Jules Verne for Vision Cruises of Spain (another company no longer around) before charter to Phoenix Reisen as Alexander von Humboldt II, then Alexander von Humboldt.
All Leisure Group acquired the ship at auction in November 2009 and initially chartered her to Phoenix Reisen. During the following year she operated for Turkey’s Bamtur, but has been laid up since that charter ended in autumn 2011. The 540-passenger ship will undertake her first cruise for Voyages of Discovery at the beginning of December. Among the many improvements to be carried out is the installation of a forward-facing ‘look-out’ lounge and the addition of a new terrace. The company’s other ship, Discovery (1971/20,216gt), will undergo a major refurbishment this coming winter.