Back in the USSR

April 24, 2014
(Image: M.Oliver)

(Image: Red Square, M.Oliver)

I have recently returned from an excellent city-break in Moscow. (Sorry no ships were involved).

I did in fact visit Russia in 1983. Quite a lot has changes as you might expect, yet other things have stayed the same.

I booked my recent trip myself using the UK budget Airline ‘Easyjet’, booked a Hotel on-line and applied for my own tourist Visa.

Moscow is a wonderful, safe, friendly city – full of culture. I’d really recommend it if you enjoy Museums, architecture and history. However I appreciate that few people would chose it as a tourist destination at present. The only down-side is Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

For the record, the ‘Ukraine situation’ had NO affect on my experience as a tourist. Below is a short slide show of my trip:

Any Questions?


Titanic II Keel to be laid in September?

April 21, 2014

April 2014: There has been no news about the Titanic II project since September 2013.  The ‘Blue Star’ web site has not been updated sine.  It would be easy to imagine that the $195 million dollar project has stalled.

Shipbuilding should have started last year in China ahead of a maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 2016. Steel-cutting has not begun and Mr Palmer still has not signed a contract with shipbuilders CSC Jinling, a year after claiming a deal was imminent.

However earlier this year, Clive Palmer, the mastermind behind the Titanic II project, was interviewed about politics, with a brief section pertaining to the Titanic II.

Below is a transcript of the relevant part of the interview, about the Titanic II project:

Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer

Question by Michelle Grattan: What about Titanic II, where is the project up to?

Answer by Clive Palmer: Well it’s a big job Titanic II…

…it took seven years to design the original ship we are at two and a half years at the moment.

Before you start you have got to know where everything goes…

…and we are aiming at laying the keel down, in China in the third quarter of this year.

(Blue Star Line)

(Tank Test – Blue Star Line)

We have already built a replica and tank tested it in Germany, to check how it copes with the waves.

We are constructing a selection of cabins on land, so we can walk into them and see what they are like, before we commit to them.  That should take until July.

I would have liked to have done it quicker, but we need to make sure that we don’t make any mistakes on this one.

(3rd class cabin - recreation)

(3rd class cabin – recreation)

(Source: Politics with Michelle Grattan , Interview, February 27, 2014)

Malcolm Says: Re-creating a vintage Ocean Liner is a mammoth task.

The original Titanic had a capacity to carry a total of 2,435 passengers and 892 crew.  Titanic II will be a modest sized ship by modern standards, at around 56,000 gross tonnes (although bigger than the original).  Carrying 2,435 passengers would make it a rather cramp ship.

I know that Mr. Palmer is seeking authenticity in the design, where possible. However it is hard to believe that he would really incorporate hundreds of steerage cabins for 1,100 passengers, with up to eight bunks and shared toilets like the original Titanic. Apparently the Titanic also only had one or two baths for the steerage passengers too.  This simply will not be acceptable to modern passengers.

I think Mr. Palmer will have to reduce the number of 3rd class (steerage) berths and improve comfort in that class.

Modern passengers will want to be entertained, sunbath and swim.  I do note that the extra deck, the ‘safety deck’ will have a show lounge and Casino.

I can also imagine another pool (possibly on deck at the stern) will need to be added, in addition to the original small one, inside the ship.  I think Mr. Palmer will need to compromise on authenticity, if he wants the ship to make money after the maiden voyage and initial excitement.

The project doubters may wish to note that the Chinese state-owned CSC Jinling shipyard has never built a large passenger vessel before.

Quantum of the Seas For China in 2015

April 19, 2014
RCL China

RCI China

Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean new build that debuts in November 2014, will homeport in Shanghai (Baoshan), China, beginning in May 2015.  The ship will sail out of Cape Liberty, in Bayonne, New Jersey, as scheduled before redeploying to China in spring 2015.

Quantum of the Seas will join fleet-mates ‘Mariner of the seas’ and ‘Voyager of the Seas’ in Asia, which Royal Caribbean says increases the line’s capacity in the region by 66 percent.

To ensure fans of the line will continue to have options from Bayonne, Royal Caribbean also announced Wednesday it would move ‘Liberty of the Seas’ to the port for summer and fall 2015.

Starting in November, Quantum Class ship ‘Anthem of the Seas’, which debuts in Southampton in April 2015, will sail out of Cape Liberty for the winter 2015-16 season. She will  offer cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean for the winter of 2015-2016.

“We are very mindful of the importance of New York, which is why we are bringing Liberty of the Seas and then Anthem of the Seas to this market,” Goldstein said.

 (RCI/Colleen McDaniel)

Malcolm Says: Royal Caribbean clearly has a strong belief  in the growing Chinese cruise market. However some American  RCI fans are disappointed that there will be limited time in the United States to experience  ‘Quantum of the Seas’.  Some feel RCI is being a little disloyal to them!

It’s no coincidence that Clive palmer Plans to build his Titanic II in China – they love the movie and the ship. (See story above)

Emerald Waterways: ‘Emerald Sky’ Enters Service

April 13, 2014

This boat could not be more different to the likes of Quantum and Escape:

Emerald Waterways river cruises are a brand new cruise line with stylish and spacious ships, designed to ensure the most comfortable journey. They are the first new European river-cruse line for six years.

Their brand new fleet is custom-built to offer more space per guest than most other operators and to incorporate many spectacular ship innovations, unique to river cruising.


On the 9th of April, Emerald’s first ‘Star-Ship’ – Emerald Sky – was christened by none other than British style icon, Twiggy. Think ‘Twiggy’ and words like iconic, trendsetter, chic and stylish spring to mind – the exact words we had in mind when we carefully sculpted our ships. So there really was no one better to appoint as Godmother of our revolutionary vessels, than the world’s first supermodel who set the benchmark for those who followed.

Emerald Sky is 443 foot long and carries 182 passengers. There are 82 staterooms ranging from two 130-square-foot single cabins to four 315-square-foot owner’s suites with a separate lounge area.

(Source: Emerald)

Web site:

Malcolm Says: European River cruising seems to be growing faster than ocean cruising at present.  Emerald Waterways are a welcome addition.  Their boats have a number of features such as a heated  indoor pool, retractable roof and cinema, that are normally only found on-board ocean cruise ships. I hope to try them one day.

‘Quantum of the Seas’ is Floated

April 8, 2014
(Meyer Werft shipyard - RCI image)

(Meyer Werft shipyard – RCI image)

8th April, 2014:

Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, ‘Quantum of the Seas’, was floated in her wet-dock today at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. (And RC have still not revealed all her secrets!)

(Two70 Lounge pre-floatout, click to enlarge – Meyer Werft image)

(Source: )

Below, slide-show:

Norwegian iConcierge Smart Phone App

April 6, 2014


Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that the company’s smart phone application, “Norwegian iConcierge” is now available on board the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Getaway. Norwegian iConcierge has previously been activated on Norwegian Getaway’s sister ship Norwegian Breakaway, as well as on Norwegian Epic, and will roll out to additional vessels in the fleet by the end of 2014.

In partnership with Allin Interactive, Norwegian’s exclusive application allows guests to create a highly-customized vacation experience by providing interactive access to Norwegian Getaway’s on board guest information and service systems during their cruise, via the guest wifi network onboard.

“Norwegian iConcierge app has been extremely popular among guests on Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer.


Guests who download the free application are able to conveniently interact with Norwegian Getaway’s systems from anywhere on board using their smart phone to make shore excursion, box office and dining reservations, view the ship’s Freestyle Daily activity guide and review their folio activity all from the palm of their hand. In addition, Norwegian iConcierge offers guests the ability to easily find and communicate with fellow cruisers. Guests who have the application installed on their SIP capable smart phones will be able to make and send unlimited calls and messages to each other while on board for a nominal fee.

” The Norwegian iConcierge app also features new ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship calling capabilities using a dedicated 1-800-number. For a low per minute rate, guests can now make and receive calls while on-board via the app.

Norwegian iConcierge is a free download and available through Apple, Android and Windows7 smart phone application stores. Norwegian is the first cruise line to implement this innovative technology across multiple ships, continuing the line’s history of innovation and elevating the guest experience.

(Image/Text Source: NCL)

 iConcierge  Downloads Here:

Norwegian Getaway Review:


Quantum: Still More to Come

April 5, 2014
(Meyer Werft Image)

(Meyer Werft Image)

Like many ship aficionados, I had hoped that Royal Caribbean’s ‘reveal’ about their new ship, ‘Quantum of the Seas’ on the 26th March would finally answer all of the unsolved mysteries. Unfortunately this was not the case.

This level of secrecy has been quite unprecedented, given the fact that RCL are already taking bookings for Quantum (October 2014) and sister Anthem (Spring 2015). Many RCL fans are so loyal they were prepared to book even before then knew about many of the on-board features and facilities.

RCL did reveal that Quantum will have ‘Dynamic Dining’ which is a system of multiple restaurants not unlike the Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) ‘Freestyle’ system. There will be no main dining room, but multiple dining rooms, with flexible hours. Now in fairness this was a VERY BIG reveal and a major change of direction for RCL, who have always favoured the one big ‘main dining Room’, with some alternatives.

If we look at the Quantum deck plans, it appears that there are still FIVE retail spaces and SIX public spaces labelled “More To Come”.  Now we can probably be pretty sure that these will not be more dining rooms. I think there are already enough of those.

Adam Goldstein has suggested that their will be a ‘Schooner Bar’:

“Relax and enjoy the warm smell of teak oil in this charming nautical-themed bar. Signature to all of Royal Caribbean’s ships”

…and ‘Bolero’s’:

“Dance the night away to today’s hottest Latin rhythms in Boleros dance club. Sip a delicious and refreshing mojito or caipirina, or simply mix and mingle with all of your new found friends.”

This still leaves at least  four other public rooms. If we look at the design of NCL’s new ships, ‘Norwegian Breakaway’ and ‘Norwegian Getaway’ there are also multiple dining rooms, and multiple entertainment venues.

We already know about Quantum’s there venues: The Theatre, The Music Hall and Two70 Degree lounge. However they will probably will not accommodate the ships 4,000+ passengers. I think we can expect another major venue and maybe another minor one or two.

There have been rumours about a New York style Art Deco ‘Rainbow Room’ being on-board. I assume that this might be a dancing/cabaret room. However many of the rumours so far have turned out to been wrong.

NY's Rainbow Room

NY’s Rainbow Room

We are pretty sure that Quantum will not have a ‘Royal Promenade’ (internal street) as we know it, from the ‘Voyager’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Oasis’ class ships. However we have yet to see any rendering of what it will have. There are more rumours of a ‘Royal Esplanade’, whatever that is? Maybe it will have a water feature?

(RCI Movie grab - The Royal Esplanade?)

(RCI Movie grab – The Royal Esplanade?)

All we can do now is wait for the next reveal or two? Unfortunately I am not a very patient man.


‘Dynamic Dining’  The Dog House:

Cats Comes to Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean announced today Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Broadway musical CATS is coming to Oasis of the Seas following the ship’s refurbishment in the fall of 2014.


CATS will replace Hairspray on the ship, the Broadway show that has played on Oasis of the Seas since the ship launched.

Oasis of the Seas will be going into drydock in while in Europe on October 2014.

Adventure Swaps With Explorer

Next April, Adventure of the Seas is being replaced on its Southampton sailings by Explorer of the Seas.  They are identical Voyager-class vessels, each carrying 3,000+ passengers.

Before arriving in the UK, Explorer will spend a month in dry dock during which she will be fitted with a Flowrider (surf machine) and a 3D cinema.

Explorer’s inside cabins will be equipped with ‘virtual balconies’ (a large LCD screens to simulate a sea view) and some of the restaurants popular on other RCL ship will be added.

(Source: RCI)

Beer Drunk By Doomed Titanic Passegers Served on Titanic II?

April 4, 2014

A beer served on the Titanic could be on draught aboard a £300million replica of the ill-fated cruise ship.


Makers of Wrexham Lager hope to slake the thirst of passengers on Titanic II, set to be launched in 2016 – the brewery shut in 2000, but was re-opened in 2011.

Wrexham director Mark Roberts said: “We’ve been in touch with the owners and they’ve been positive.
“They have signed up the original brandy and champagne houses and we thought it was only right they should have the original lager suppliers too.

Wrexham lager is Britain’s oldest lager brew. The brewery was originally founded in 1882 by German immigrants(Ivan Levinstein & Otto Isler) trying to recreate the lager taste that they missed from their homeland.

“Wrexham Lager was popular aboard ships because it travelled well and kept its flavour.
“It was served aboard the White Star liners of which the Titanic was the flagship.
More than 1,500 died when the vessel sank in 1912.

Jonathan Gammond, of Wrexham Museum, said: “Some people say that Wrexham Lager was stocked in the bar on Titanic.

“Wrexham Lager produced a huge range of lagers under different labels and one source told me the lager on the Titanic was a ‘Munich-style lager’ that was brewed by the Wrexham lager brewery.
“Some of the last alcohol drunk on Titanic in the classiest last chance saloon ever was probably made just up the road.”

(Source: Daily Mirror)

Malcolm Says: Hmm…it’s a strange boast that it was the lager preferred by the ‘doomed’.  However, I do enjoy the occasional pint on-board a ship!

Virgin confirms launch of two-ship cruise line

April 3, 2014

April 2014: Virgin boss Richard Branson has confirmed the launch of a cruise line after claiming in a newspaper interview that he has already secured most of the US$1.7 billion funding needed for two ships.


Speaking to The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, Branson said some of the investment has come from investors in the Arabian Gulf. Branson is believed to have hired Allen & Co, a small New York-based investment bank that specialises in media and leisure projects, to assist him in his search for partners.

He told the paper: “We will start by building two big ships from scratch and feel the Virgin brand will work very well in cruises.”

Branson said Virgin Cruises will be headquartered in Miami and the ships will cruise in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean markets. His aim, he said, was to “create a very different kind of cruise company” to attract those who would not normally consider taking a cruise.

“We have airlines, holiday companies that send a lot of people on cruises, we have a concept which is very sexy and hopefully it will be the kind of cruise ship I’d like to go on and the type my children will go on,” he added.

(Source: Travelmole)


Superyacht Hotel For London

April 2, 2014
Queen Elizabeth Bridge, The Thames

Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, The Thames

London’s first superyacht hotel has sailed up the River Thames to take her place in the capital’s Royal Victoria docks.

The exclusive 120 metre vessel made her way from Holland across the Channel and into London ahead of her grand opening on April 9.

The unusual new hotel will open with 130 rooms and suites spread over five decks, but guests won’t be travelling too far as the ship will stay moored in East London. (It has no engines).

The Sunborn International vessel will also include a fine dining restaurant, skylounge on the fifth deck and a sundowner bar, as well as an auditorium and vast outside decks and terraces for ‘passengers’.

Before being unveiled as a luxury hotel, the final touches will be made to the slick black and white superyacht over the coming days.

When it is finished, guests will be able to book a stay on the yacht, which is close to the O2 Arena, London City Airport and the Emirates Airline – a cable car connecting Royal Docks with North Greenwich and proving views over the city.


The ship arrived at the Thames estuary, having travelled from Holland and been towed by tug boats up the river to a temporary berth.

It is here that she will undergo a full interior refurbishment before being transported to her final berth in the Royal Victoria Docks on April 7 and opening to the public on April 9.

Sunborn has invested £166million in the venture, which includes the London hotel and a second superyacht on Gibraltar.

(Source: Daily Mail)

Web Site:


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