Epic Gets New Entertainment

November 22, 2014
 Epic at Southampton, June 2010.

Epic at Southampton, June 2010.

Two Broadway-inspired shows as well as an all-new venue inspired by The Beatles will debut on Norwegian Epic next year. “Priscilla Queen of the Desert — The Musical” is a comedy about three drag queens who take their act on the road and through the Australian Outback. Drawn from the Oscar-winning film, the show is now a Tony award-winning musical and will debut on the October 18, 2015 sailing. Borrowed from sister ships Breakaway and Getaway, Burn the Floor will be performed on Epic, but with a new show called Ballroom Blitz that will feature 14 dancers, a live band and two singers. The new stage show will debut on the ship’s transatlantic voyage on April 19, 2015.

Some band playing in the original Cavern Club. I wonder what happened to them?

Some band playing in the original Cavern Club. I wonder what happened to them?

Also set to unveil on Epic is The Cavern Club, described as a “British pop experience” whose namesake is taken from The Beatles’ famous Liverpool venue. The club is designed in partnership with the owners of the real 57-year-old club, and will feature Beatles-inspired music from international musicians. The at-sea club will open its doors on October 11, 2015.

The ship’s new entertainment is European-focused as Norwegian Epic will homeport in Barcelona beginning April 30, 2015.

(NCL)

Malcolm Says: I guess the ‘Blue Man Group’ who have been delighting (and dumfounding)  audiences since Epic entered service in 21010 have gone?  They were originally a big selling point for the ship.

Sting Musical ‘The Last Ship’ Opens on Broadway

November 5, 2014

27 October 2014

The Last Ship, Sting’s musical about shipbuilding in north-east England, has opened on Broadway to respectable, if qualified reviews.

Sting, former frontman with The Police, described watching Sunday’s opening night as “an out-of-body experience”.

“You relinquish a lot of control,” the 63-year-old told the Playbill website. “But all of these people bring something to the process I can’t.”

Written by John Logan and Brian Yorkey, The Last Ship features songs from Sting’s 2013 album of the same name.

Newcastle-born actor Jimmy Nail and Rachel Tucker are among the cast of Joe Mantello’s production.
.
Set in Sting’s home town of Wallsend, the musical tells of a group of unemployed shipbuilders who take over a closed factory to build one final vessel.

Its main character is Gordon, a prodigal son who returns after 14 years to find the town and its community close to economic collapse.

(BBC News)

Malcolm says: The plan is for the musical to come to the UK in 2016.

The video below is not the actual musical, but is a Sting concert, with Jimmy Nail, performing many of the songs:

Quantum – The Not So Smart Ship

November 4, 2014

Firstly: I lied earlier when I said my coverage of ‘Quantum’ was finished.

Secondly: In my recent post “Quantum: Too Much Technology?” I said:  “Let’s also be honest, all of this high-tech. is not going to work all of the time, either”. Well, I was right.

Royal Caribbean’s brand new ship, ‘Quantum of the Seas’ is currently crossing the pond, on her way to her homeport, in New Jersey.  I hear that the sea conditions are quite rough, causing discomfort for some passengers. However this is not unusual for a winter crossing. Hopefully the seas will not cause any damage. (‘Oasis’ arrived at Fort Lauderdale with two damaged lifeboats, after her October 2009, maiden crossing.)

Quantum passenger reports have stated that embarkation in Southampton was very slow, with long lines. Many passengers took 90 minutes or more to get on-board.  There was also confusion about cabin allocation and long lines on-board to see the reception desk staff. 

Unfortunately RC had previously boasted about their new “smart-ship” and said that lines would be a thing of the past.

As for Apps: Apparently the luggage ‘RFID tracking system’ that was supposed to let you track where you luggage is was also “patchy”. In addition the super fast internet provided by O3b wasn’t working.

The Bionic Bar: “The robotic arms failed to stand glasses upright on a number of occasions. Cocktails are meant to be mixed in one minute but as waiting times rose to 20 minutes.

In response, Royal Caribbean have already issued an on-board letter of apology to all passengers, giving 25% off a future cruise and $300 on-board credit per stateroom. (Unused credit will be refunded).

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

At least RC have acknowledged the issues very quickly and have compensated the passengers.

We could never expect all aspects of this brand new ship, full of technology, to work faultlessly on her maiden cruise.

Malcolm

CMV get a New Flagship in 2015

November 3, 2014

Not all cruising is about big new American ships:

British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), is pleased to announce the addition of Grand Holiday from Costa Crociere to the CMV fleet, commencing ex-UK operations under the CMV livery in spring 2015.

(CMV - click to enlarge)

(CMV – click to enlarge)

She will be re-named Magellan and at 46,052grt will carry about 1250 passengers becoming the proud new flagship of the CMV ocean fleet operating as an adult only (16 years plus) ship alongside Marco Polo (800pax), Astor (600pax) and Azores (550pax).

Chris Coates, Commercial Director commented, “We are delighted to have secured this excellent addition to our fleet which we believe will be very well suited to our core British market. The introduction of Magellan will increase UK capacity by 40% increasing carryings up to 74,000 passengers. Having already sold 65% of capacity for next year we remain confident that Magellan will help satisfy the growing demand for our product”.

Christian Verhounig, CEO and Chairman of CMV explained, “The introduction of Magellan to our growing ocean fleet is another important milestone in the expansion and strategic development of the Group’s presence in the UK and wider international markets which will increase overall capacity to 115,000 passengers. The CMV brand is now creating much wider recognition and we remain confident that our medium to longer term growth objectives will be achieved”.

A new 2015 special launch edition brochure will be released on Tuesday 4th November 2014 detailing Magellan’s inaugeral CMV summer 2015 and winter 2015-16 programme. Special introductory fares with savings of up to 50% plus a 25% single supplement deal for the solos market will be on offer to launch the programme. The maiden CMV voyage will be a 12 night cruise to Iceland and the Faroes for the Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights sailing from London Tilbury on Sunday 15th March 2015. She will also be sailing from Newcastle Tyne.

Other programme changes include an Azores ex-Liverpool summer season and an 11 night Autumn Mediterranean fly cruise series plus a second Marco Polo 34 night Autumn Commemorative voyage to Canada. Magellan will be cruising to the Amazon in winter 2016 while Marco Polo will embark on a new 54 night voyage to Brazil, Argentina & Chile and Tierra del Fuego.

(CMV)

Malcolm Says: This was a surprise to me. MS Grand Holiday is a ‘Holiday’ class cruise ship, formerly owned by Carnival Cruise Lines and entered service in 1985. In April, 2010, she underwent dry dock refurbishment and was then transferred to the Ibero Cruises fleet. Sailing as the Grand Holiday began on May 18, 2010.

grand-holiday

At 46,052 gross tonnes Magellan will be CMV’s biggest ship (although hardly big by modern standards. At 29 years old, verses Azores 66 years, Marco Polo’s 50 years and Astor’s 27 years, Magella will be their second newest ship.

holiday2-510x333

The Ibero refit looks rather good, see video link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp7a-Ds3VvQ

Quantum leaves For New York

November 3, 2014

2nd November 2014

RCI’s newest ship, ‘Quantum of the Seas’ departed Southampton this evening, bound for her home-port of Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

Quantum is carrying her first fare paying passengers on this 8 day transatlantic crossing.

(RCI Image)

(RCI Image)

So what has all the fuss been about?

Quite simply Royal Caribbean have got the reputation of delivering the industries most amazingly designed ships. In recent decades, each new design of ship has been state-of-the-art and often a ‘game changer’.

The pinnacle of their achievement was when the world’s biggest cruise ship, ‘Oasis of the Seas’ entered service in October 2009.

Oasis’s design is probably almost impossible to top with current technology, so RCI made sure that their next ship ‘Quantum’, would be a completely different animal. Firstly she is smaller than Oasis and designed for cooler climates.  Gone are many of the big ‘Wow’ spaces, which used to be RCI’s trademark, in comes ‘Dynamic Dining’ and a whole host of technology.

The Secret Ship

‘Quantum of The Seas’ must have been the most secret cruise ship ever built by any cruise line. Only during the past few days have images and full details of her facilities started to become available, mainly from visiting press and not always from RCI.

Quantum’s original project name was ‘Sunshine’, I still have no idea why? Anyone?

The End of my Coverage

I have probably spent over two years writing about Quantum and speculating about her facilities (and giving RCI lots of free publicity). My guesses were often wrong.

No one predicted the ‘North star’ observation pod. No one expected ‘Dynamic Dining’, until early booked passengers were told that they could not book an early or late sitting, then we began to wonder.

‘Dynamic Dining’ is of course a very fundamental change for RCI and not without risk. It will change the design of every RCI ship from now on and will probably be retro-fitted to all of their older tonnage too.

My invitation to visit the ship was obviously lost in the post. Like you, I will rely on passenger reviews to provide the final pieces to the jigsaw. Here are my questions for those that will be on-board:

1) The facilities for youngsters look great, but what does the ship have to offer adults?

2) How does the ‘Royal Esplanade’ differ/feel compared to a ‘Royal Promenade’?

3) Having multiple dining options leaves a lot less room for ‘wow’ spaces (like the Royal Viking Crown, Central Park, Studio B, Royal Prom. tall atriums etc.). How does this affect the ships ‘feel’.

4) Does Dynamic Dining work?

5) It all that technology just silly gimmicks or real enhancements?

6) The ‘BIG’ question is does Quantum feel like an RCI ship or has their product morphed in NCL, feeling more like Breakaway and Getaway?

NY – Enjoy your new ship!

Malcolm Oliver

A First Look at Quantum

October 31, 2014

See USA today:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2014/10/31/royal-caribbean-cruise-quantum/18051177/

Quantum Arrives at Southampton

October 30, 2014

30th October 2014

Yesterday evening at around 5 PM, Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship ‘Quantum of the Seas arrived at Southampton, UK.

Even the worlds most technological cruise ship, could do nothing about the fog!

After two short voyages for cruise professionals/the press, the ship will sail transatlantic on the 2nd November, to its new homeport in New Jersey, USA.

Quantum: Too Much Technology?

Quantum has now arrived at Southampton. The press and travel agents will sample her over the next few days (where’s my ticket)? On the 2nd November, the ‘real’ fare paying passengers take the transatlantic crossing to her homeport, New Jersey, USA.

I am very excited about Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum class, but also a little worried too.

bionic

Gratuities required!

Royal Caribbean’s move to ‘Dynamic Dining’ clearly emulates NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system, which NCL pioneered two decades ago . Royal Caribbean have finally given up on the ‘one-big-main-dining-room’ concept. However having multiple dining rooms dramatically changes the design and feel of a ship.

RCI’s original trademark was their ‘Wow’ spaces: tall atriums, the Royal Viking crown lounge, the Royal Prom., Studio-B, the Boardwalk and Central Park etc. These ‘big’ features defined their brand. However when you fill a ship with multiple dining rooms, there is not too much room for big ‘Wow’ spaces anymore. Even double-height rooms may be rare.

I note many of Quantum’s unique features (gimmicks?) such as the Seaplex, I-Fly and the North Star (observation pod), are located on or near the top deck.  This saves internal space for all of those dining rooms.

RCI are clearly using technology on-board Quantum to create the ‘Wow’ factor. Quantum has been called a smart-ship. The technology is in abundance. This includes a new online cruise planner, an app to track your luggage, a re-imagined Seapass (called a Wowband) virtual balconies, a robot bar-tender and robotic video screens.

Incorporating so much on-board technology is a completely new approach for any cruise line. However is all this technology just a series of ‘gimmicks’, which passengers will quickly tire of, or real enhancements to the cruise experience? Only time will tell.

I believe that all this technological approach is aimed at the younger cruiser and may not appeal so strongly to those of us who are a little more mature. Let’s also be honest, all of this high tech is not going to work all of the time, either.

A chat-forum cruise commentators said “Whatever happened to just cruising?”

At the time of writing no fare paying passengers have been on-board Quantum yet. What I write is second-hand knowledge and speculation. However I am open-minded and will hopefully cruise on Quantum and/or Anthem sooner or later to judge for myself.

Do you agree with my fears? Why not post a comment.

Malcolm

Eurostar London-Amsterdam Service

October 29, 2014

Not all travel news is about ships or ‘Quantum of the Seas’.  Here is something different, that may interest many Brits:

Starting in 2016, Eurostar will launch direct services between the British and Dutch capitals. The new link will further expand the  high-speed train network after the addition in May 2015 of new destinations in France.

1280px-Eurostars_at_waterloo_international

As traffic on the Eurostar network continues to rise (+3% in Q3 2014 to 2.8 million passengers), the company hopes to reinforce the rise in demand by expanding its services.

Due to open in December 2016, the new direct service between London and the Amsterdam-Centraal station will include stops in Antwerp and Rotterdam and at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. Eurostar hopes to attract some of the around three million travellers per year who travel by plane between the Dutch and British capitals, not to mention customers of rival operator Thalys, which already runs high-speed train services between the cities.

News of the launch follows another significant expansion announcement made by Eurostar last July, when it revealed plans to launch services between London, Lyon, Avignon and Marseille from May 2015. Tickets are due to go on sale this December for the new service linking the British capital to the south of France.

Currently, Eurostar operates trains between Paris, London, Brussels and Lille (France). The rail operator’s expansion announcements coincide with the year of its 20th anniversary, which it will officially celebrate on November 1st.

(Source: MSN Travel)

The Train Guru: www.seat61.com

Malcolm says: Direct trains to destinations in France, as well as Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam could prove very useful for British cruise passengers, if they can easily reach London.   Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam all have cruise terminals. Many river boats also depart from Amsterdam

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Quantum of the Seas Delivered

October 28, 2014
(Mayer Werft image)

(Meyer Werft image – click to enlarge)

28/10/2014

Royal Caribbean accepted delivery today of its newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, from ship builder Meyer Werft.

A ceremony took place in Bremerhaven, Germany, where officials from Royal Caribbean signed paperwork with the Meyer Werft shipyard and welcomed Quantum of the Seas into Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

(Source: emsvechtewelle.de)

Quantum Docks in Hamburg

October 27, 2014

23/10/14

If you are a big ship fan, I can guarantee that this will EXCITE you:


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