Last week, Atlantic Container Line (ACL) inaugurated a new cargo/passenger service between Europe and North America.
ACL is using its five G4 conro types delivered over the last two years to Grimaldi Lines subsidiary ACL. They are the ‘Atlantic Sail’, ‘Atlantic Sea’, ‘Atlantic Sky’, ‘Atlantic Star’ and ‘Atlantic Sun’ , all of which are registered in Liverpool, according to Kevin Griffin of The Cruise People.
The first passengers boarded the ‘Atlantic Star’ recently in Halifax.
The five ships, each capable of carrying 12 pax, are offering a weekly year-round fixed day passenger service between Hamburg, Antwerp and Liverpool in Europe and Halifax, New York and Baltimore in North America.
Sample transit times are nine nights – Liverpool to Halifax – and 11 nights – Liverpool to New York, while in the reverse direction, New York to Liverpool is 14 nights and Halifax to Liverpool seven nights.
One big advantage of year-round service on this route will be that passenger cabins will now be available during the winter, when Cunard’ Lines regular transatlantic liner ‘Queen Mary 2’ is away on her annual World Cruise. Equally, in season, travellers will be able to use ACL ships to fill in gaps in the ‘Queen Mary 2’s’ transatlantic schedule, Griffin explained.
There will be three basic fares: one-way voyages between Europe and Canada and between Europe and US ports, and round trip cruises from Hamburg, Antwerp and Liverpool:
Facilities on each ship include a gym, TV, DVD movies, laundry, books, karaoke machine and PlayStation, plus a sauna.
It is more than three decades since ACL ships last carried passengers. Between 1970 and 1985, two French-flag ships ‘Atlantic Champagne’ and ‘Atlantic Cognac’ carried four passengers each on their round trips. This pair maintained a token twice-monthly passenger service to and from Halifax and New York after the withdrawal of the ‘France’ in 1974, Griffin explained.
The new passenger service is managed by Grimaldi Lines, whose own ships carry up to 12 passengers each, serving the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, South America and West Africa.
Conveniently for travellers, ACL is a signatory to the US Visa Waiver Programme, meaning that passengers can enter the US on an ESTA, and do not need to have the full US visa that is normally required of passengers arriving on cargo ships.
This service will be able to accommodate about 1,200 passengers annually, with about 600 passenger berths in each direction. Further details can be obtained by emailing PassageEnquiry@outlook.com, Griffin said.