Princess Margaret

October 6, 2015

Given the fact that I am a bit of a Hovercraft geek, I could not resist sharing the video below with you all:

More about Hovercraft: HERE

Norwegian Epic Refurbishment

October 4, 2015

Back in 2010 Norwegian Epic changed cruising forever by becoming the most innovative cruise ship to sail the seas. And now, fresh from dry-dock, a revitalised Norwegian Epic will once again wow guests with upgrades throughout the ship, plus a brand new entertainment!

• The Beatles at The Cavern Club
• Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical
• The dance sensation Burn the floor

Broadway sensation Burn The Floor: which has received rave reviews on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will bring the sizzle and passion of ballroom dancing to Norwegian Epic with an all new and exciting show specifically designed for European guests beginning on her transatlantic voyage, April 19, 2015. “Burn the Ballroom,” featuring 14 dancers, a live band and two singers, is an ultimate high-voltage theatrical dance experience that explodes with jaw-dropping choreography, heart-pounding music and breath-taking moves.

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, dased on the Oscar-winning movie: The Musical is the heart-warming, uplifting comedy adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of discovering. The Tony Award winning musical features a dazzling array of over 500 award winning costumes, 200 extraordinary head-dresses and a hit parade of dance floor favorites, including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” The show will open on the ship’s October 18, 2015 voyage.

Liverpool's Cavern Club

Liverpool’s Cavern Club

The Cavern Club: Norwegian Epic will also receive a whole new entertainment venue created through an exciting partnership with the owners of Liverpool’s The Cavern Club, the birthplace of British pop music. Impressively, 57 years after its opening, the original Cavern Club survives and thrives as a contemporary music venue. Norwegian will re-create The Cavern Club experience at sea, rocking guests each evening to the sounds of The Beatles, along with other international musicians. The Cavern Club will debut on the October 11, 2015 sailing.


Norwegian Epic Review HERE

Malcom says: Epic is quite an amazing floating resort. In fact Epic and the NCL’s ‘Breakaway Class’ ships are the only ships that really compete with Royal Caribbean’s newer mega-ship. If fact some may argue that they are better!

I’m a big fan of the Beatles and Liverpool’s Carven Club, having seen live music there, so I welcome the new venue on-board ‘Epic’.  The only disadvantage with Liverpool’s Cavern Club. although very atmospheric, is that the views of the band are quite poor when it is crowded, which it normally is.

Queen Mary 2 Refurbishment

October 2, 2015
Queen's Grill (Image courtesy of Cunard)

Queen’s Grill (Image courtesy of Cunard)

The Cunard flagship will undergo a multi-million-pound 25-day refurbishment in May and June next year in Hamburg that will also see new guest experiences introduced.
The new designs will introduce completely new areas and venues to the ship, from staterooms to dining, as well as refreshes to existing areas.

Cunard appointed SMC Design to lead the development of the interior spaces.

Andrew Collier, SMC managing director, said: “Cunard has a unique rich heritage in both the nautical and design fields and we have researched into these and looked to incorporate aspects of pattern and design into our plans”.

“Particular attention has been paid to taking inspiration from the original Queen Mary and our aim is to enhance existing designs as well as implement a decorative overhaul, looking to emphasise the feeling of understated elegance”.

The first parts of the ship that will be spruced up are the renowned Queens and Princess Grill suites and restaurants.

The Cunard Grills experience affords the line’s most selective guests the highest standards of comfort at sea with large, well-appointed suites, all with prime locations and private balconies.
There will again be a clearer differentiation between the Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants through design, colour scheme and furnishings.

Under the moniker ‘Queen Mary 2 remastered,’ there will be a host of further innovations and enhancements announced in the coming months.



Saga To Build A New ship

September 30, 2015
(Image courtesy of Saga)

(Image courtesy of Saga)

Saga Cruises has placed an order for a new cruise ship to be built by Meyer Werft in Germany with the delivery date of Summer 2019.

The deal comes with an option for a second new ship to be delivered in 2021. The vessel will be 55,900 gross tons.

The new ships will have a capacity of less than 1,000 passengers and will feature balconies for all 540 cabins. Around 15 percent of cabins will be designed for single occupancy. Public facilities will include a range of restaurants, bars, speciality restaurants and al-fresco dining options. There will also be outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa, saunas, treatment rooms and a beauty salon.

Lance Batchelor, Chief Executive Officer of Saga PLC, who announced the decision at the company’s half-year results said: “The cruise operation remains at the heart of the Saga brand and demonstrates our commitment to deliver excellence in customer service and outstanding value.”

Robin Shaw, Chief Executive of Saga cruises said: “Our plan for the first of our new modern and elegant cruise liners is sure to delight our existing passengers and we hope it will entice new passengers to cruise with us. We will retain an intimate small-ship feel, for fewer than 1,000 passengers, a high crew to customer ratio, great public spaces and entertainment facilities and dining can be accommodated in a single sitting.”

This announcement follows a prediction by Saga that consumer cruise spending will rise in the years to come. Research commissioned by Saga into the UK’s over 50s spending on travel and tourism found that spending on cruising is expected to increase by 43 percent to £2.2 billion by 2020.

(Source: D.Fiske World of Cruising)

Malcolm says: I believe this is Saga’s first newbuild. They have traditional operated smaller/older vessels. How nice to see a small ship being built in this age of mega-ships. She has a very generous passenger-space ratio too!

‘Titanic’ versus ‘Oasis’

September 29, 2015

Have you ever wondered how a modern cruise ship compares with the great Ocean Liner, Titanic?

I have written a comparison of today’s biggest cruise ship, ‘Oasis of the Seas’ to the ‘RMS Titanic’, yesteryears biggest ship, even though they were built almost 100 years apart,

Now there are those that argue that the two ship are completely beyond comparison and that I’m mad for trying.

They are probably right, but I’ve done it anyway!

See Here


Titanic 2’s Maiden Voyage: China to Dubai

September 27, 2015


September 2015: This month Australian billionaire Clive Palmer said that ‘Titanic II’, a fully functioning, faithful remake of the world’s most famous ship, would sail the world’s oceans in 2018.

Titanic II’s maiden voyage will not be from Southampton to New York, but rather Jiangsu, China, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Blue Star Line has been forging business partnerships.

“We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project,” said James McDonald, the global marketing director of Palmer’s company Blue Star Line.

Image courtesy of Blue Star Line

Image courtesy of Blue Star Line

(Source: Claire McNeilly, Belfast Telegraph)

Malcolm says: Mr. Palmer said that he is committed to authenticity of the ships design, wherever possible. However a maiden voyage from China to Dubai could not be much less authentic. To have any meaning, the maiden voyage HAS to be from Southampton to New York, as the original ill-fated Titanic embarked on.

Maybe Palmer is scared of meeting icebergs on the Atlantic?  I guess Dubai’s waters will be safe.

However given the on/off status of the Titanic II project so far, I guess any maiden voyage will be quite an achievement.


Giant Hovercraft

September 25, 2015

Ever since I was a child, I have had a ‘thing’ about Hovercraft, especially the big car carrying SRN4’s that operated from Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate (below) and Dover. I loved them!

Here is some nice footage of one of these amazing machines, that are sadly no longer operational:

However there are still passenger hovercraft operating daily from Southsea (near Portsmouth) to Ryde, the Isle of Wight. This hovercraft route has operated since 1965:

A Great British Invention for the 21st Century

Two new 12000TD hovercraft are being built for Hovertravel to take passengers from Southsea to the Isle of Wight.

Hovertravel made an official announcement that it is investing in the future of the company by purchasing 2 new 12000TD hovercraft. Hovertravel invited a group of people to view the new hovercraft in production at Griffon Hoverwork, ahead of testing next year.

Hovertravel is the longest serving passenger operator in the world and will be celebrating its 50th year in service next year. The new 22.4m long and 10m wide hovercraft will be able to seat up to 80 passengers and will be fitted with bigger propellers to reduce the level of external noise. See top right image.

The new hovercraft will bring quieter journeys and a quicker turnaround, as well as looking sleeker. Chief Pilot Peter Mulhern has been involved in the plans for the new craft ‘We are taking it down from four engines to two, the benefit of that is that noise is reduced by almost half. Another idea was to have the doors at the front. We have a five-minute turnaround to keep the service on time, by doing away with the steps and having to deflate the skirt every time it will be quicker. People will be able to use a ramp and just get their bike or wheelchair straight on.’

The front loading craft will have an ramp on one side of the entrance and steps on the other, this change in design will allow bicycles, wheelchairs and suitcases to go straight inside the craft. The seats are also expected to be quick release, to allow more space for luggage during the festival season.

Neil Chapman managing director of Hovertravel says ‘This is just another legacy for the future of us to make sure we are a prominent part of the seafront. Customers are very loyal to us but they want to see investment going forward. This brings it.’

The craft are due to be in service in early 2016.

(Griffon Hoverworks)



(Image courtesy of Griffon Hoverworks)


Azores (Astoria) Review Now Available

September 21, 2015

Azores, Liverpool, Aug 2015.

I have recently returned from a mini-cruise on-board ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ MV Azores.

Azores (now re-named ‘Astoria’) is one of the smallest cruise ships operating regularly from UK ports. She’s certainly the smallest cruise ship that I have ever cruised on.

Azores, is around 16,000 gross tonnes. For comparison this makes ‘Oasis of the Seas’ (@ 220,000 gt) fourteen times bigger than Azores.

Oasis carries 6,000+ passengers, whereas Azores carries just 555.


Azores top, Oasis below (Courtesy

Azores also has a very long history, being one of the oldest cruise ships in operation. she is currently 67 years old.

See Full Azores (Astoria) Review Here

Other CMV ship Reviews:

Marco Polo Review: HERE

Magellan Review: HERE

Fred Olsen Ship Reviews

More small ships:  I have had the pleasure of cruising on-board all of the current Olsen fleet.

Black Watch (1972) review: HERE

Boudicca (1972) review: HERE

Balmoral (1988) review: HERE

 Braemar (1993) review: HERE

Escape Completes Conveyance

September 20, 2015
(Image courtesy of Meyer Werft/NCL)

(Image courtesy of Meyer Werft/NCL)

Norwegian Escape departed the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, on Friday, September 18 for her 24-hour long conveyance along the Ems River.

Sailing backwards, Norwegian Escape left the shipyard at approximately 2:00 pm (local time), and made a narrow passage through the ship yard’s locks, with only 1.2 meters clearance.

After passing through the locks, Norwegian Escape continued along the river, stern first. She reached her final destination in Eemshaven, Netherlands at approximately 12:30 pm (local German time) on Saturday, September 19, 2015.


NCL ship reviews, menu right.

Thomson to Base ship in Dubai

September 19, 2015

Thomson Cruises has announced Thomson Celebration will be homeported in Dubai for the first time next winter offering two new itineraries from December 2016.

On sale from November 2015, the two seven night itineraries – ‘Arabian Nights’ and ‘Cities of Gold’ – will stop overnight in Dubai and visit six destinations including Khasab and Muscat in Oman, Manama in Bahrain, Doha in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Khor Fakkan in UAE.

Excursion highlights include the sites of the Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the Grand Mosque in Muscat, the Musafi Mountains in Khor Fakkan, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Emirates Palace and desert safaris.

Thomson customers can also combine the seven day cruise with a hotel stay in Atlantis the Palm. Passengers can fly direct to Dubai from six regional UK airports: Manchester, Birmingham, London Gatwick, Cardiff, Newcastle and Glasgow.


Thomson Celebration Review: HERE

Malcolm says: I really like Celebration and she has been upgraded since I last cruised on her. It’s nice to see an adventurous itinerary being offered. I’ve not been to Dubai or that area of the world.  Hopefully I will be able to put that right sooner or later.


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