Celebrity Edge/Captain Kate McCue

October 30, 2020

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I though this video was worth sharing. (Positively NO sexist jokes about a woman driving a ship please!)

Malcolm

Costa Toscana For Brazil

October 28, 2020

(Courtesy Costa)

Costa is sending its new flagship to South America in 2021-2022.

Currently being built at Meyer Turku, the LNG-powered Costa Toscana will spend its inaugural season sailing in Brazil along the Costa Favolosa.

Arriving on November 20, the 115,000-ton vessel will spend 144 days in South America, offering cruises from Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.  Guests will also be able to embark at the Port of Itajaí for the first time.

Booking are already opened for Costa Favolosa’s itineraries, while Toscana’s new cruises will go on sale on November 3.

(Costa Cruises)

Carnival Fascination Sold

October 27, 2020

(Courtesy Carnival cruise line)

The Carnival Fascination has left the Carnival Cruise Line fleet and is leaving Cadiz, Spain, en route to new owners in Asia, according to sources.

The 70,367 gross tonne Fantasy-class ship debuted in 1994 and has served Carnival Cruise Line since, having entered cold layup earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carnival opted to sell the ship as part of its strategy to exit less efficient tonnage from its global fleet.

The Fascination is now sailing to become an accommodation ship in Asia.

(Net)

Malcolm says: Wow…everyone though that this ship was destined for the scrap heap.

Virgin Pushes Back

October 27, 2020

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Virgin Voyages has pushed back its debut into revenue service with the Scarlet Lady to January 2021.

The line was ready to start service earlier this year with its first passenger ship at the start of March, but postponed cruises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ship sailed to Miami in February 2020, following her delivery in Italy and preview voyages in the UK. She has since relocated to Genoa, Italy, to bring crew home, where she remains.

The ship’s first cruise will now leave from Miami on Jan. 3, offering a five-day voyage to Puerto Plata and Bimini.

(Virgin)

In Praise of CMV

October 26, 2020

Dear Readers,

Below is a readers letter about British cruise line ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ (now defunct)  and the Marco Polo cruise ship (fate unknown) which I though was well worth featuring. Thanks to Julie and Phil Harris:

The letter:

We love CMV Marco Polo, having cruised on board 5 times and had 2 further cruises booked this year, which were sadly cancelled.

We have made many friends on board, both with fellow passengers and very friendly crew. We have also cruised on Astoria, Magellan and Columbus, but we always feel we have ‘come home’ when returning to the Marco Polo.

We agree with all that Malcolm has said about this friendly ship. However, one of Marco Polo’s attributes that seems to be overlooked is the amazing front viewing deck, on which we have spent many hours and from which we have seen Dolphins, Whales, Turtles, Basking Shark, Walrus, fantastic bird life as well as Icebergs, Glaciers, Aurora Borealis, Midnight Sun and New Year firework displays in Madeira. We were also aboard when we hit an Iceberg off Greenland in the middle of the night and sturdy Marco Polo carried on regardless! This viewing deck is large enough to accommodate many passengers and close enough to the water to actually see the Sea Life.

The enormous Cruise Ships do not seem to encourage viewing what lies ahead in the Sea and on the Wing and being able to move easily from Port to Starboard when a fellow passenger spots something interesting. You don’t have a very good view of sea life through a glass windbreak, 13 stories up! Yes, there are specialist expedition ships that cater for this, but we have modest means and CMV catered for ordinary people to have extraordinary experiences.

Some of us do not need to be entertained by increasingly complex rides and shopping malls – we want to watch the Sea and the Sky on both sides of the Ship!

It will be a great shame if this beautiful ship has sailed its last voyage for it has given many people some wonderful memories and we salute all the Crew and Management of CMV for giving us the opportunity to see some amazing destinations.

Perhaps someone will see through the age of the ship and continue to offer Cruises for All.

Julie and Phil Harris
CMV Platinum members

The excellent deck space, at the bow, in front of the bridge.

Malcolm says:  Now I appreciate that not everyone who tried Cruise and Maritime Voyages was impressed. CMV never pretended to be anything more than a ‘budget’ cruise line that offered cruises mainly from UK regional ports.

My first cruise was with Celebrity. I recall that Celebrity had a sales slogan at the time: “Exceeding your Expectations”.

Now most people agree that Celebrity are very good and so did I, although not necessarily cheap. However their slogan set my expectations sky high. Because of the slogan I expected a six star service, in every aspect of the experience. Of course that was not possible, so they actually failed to even reach my expectations, let alone exceed them!

With CMV, because of their ‘affordable’ fares, especially the late ones, I always felt that I got MORE than I paid for.

I found CMV’s entertainment as good as any, in traditional ‘flesh and feathers’ style and their food was very good for the fare paid. In fact I thought it was often better than RCI, NCL, P&O and even Olsen on occasions.

The last time that I travelled on-board the Marco Polo, was a mini cruise from Bristol, in 2018 to Cobh (Queenstown), Ireland. Cobh was of course the last port of call of the ill fated RMS Titanic.

I do wonder if I will cruise on her ever again? It seems pretty unlikely.

Brits: Direct Trains to the Netherlands are Back and Running

October 26, 2020

(Courtesy Eurostar)

Our first direct trains set off from the Netherlands to London today. So, once Europe starts moving again, you’ll be able to hop on the Eurostar for a fuss-free return trip to Amsterdam or Rotterdam. No connections. No airport transfers. No hassle. (London to Amsterdam takes about 5 hours direct).

From just £40 each way, you can travel to the heart of these two exciting Dutch cities. And you can rest assured we’ll take you there with care when you’re ready to travel. From socially distanced seating to extra cleaning measures, we’re doing all we can to keep you safe.

THE PEACE OF MIND TO CHANGE YOUR MIND

With our flexible tickets, you can book safe in the knowledge that you’ve got the peace of mind to change your mind. Here’s how they work:

  • If your plans change, you can reschedule for a later date as many times as you like. This means you can use your ticket for travel well into 2021.
  • There’s no exchange fee – as long as you change your ticket at least 14 days before you’re due to travel.

We know you might not be able to travel at the moment. But when you’re ready, these iconic Dutch destinations are just a train ride away.

(Eurostar)

Malcolm says: I’d definitely recommend THIS nautical attraction in Rotterdam.

So Who Bought Marco Polo and Astor?

October 25, 2020

I keenly wait the identification of the buyer(s) of the final two ex-CMV vessels to be sold at auction.

Somebody, somewhere must know the answer by now!

Bidding for the 20,704gt Astor, built 1987, ended October 8 and that for the 22,080gt Marco Polo, built 1965, ended October 20.

Neither ships are ‘spring chickens’, in fact the Marco Polo is 30 years older than many cruise ship still in operation.  Therefore the vultures may be circling?

On the other hand, I assume that both ships will be bargains.

Malcolm

(The two links in the text will take you to slide shows of each ship)

Who Are Seajets?

October 25, 2020

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Marios Iliopoulos is head of the Greek ferry company Seajets.

The Iliopoulos-family led operation began passenger transportation in the Aegean Sea in 2002. Seajets operates the largest highspeed fleet in the Aegean. They have 17 vessels including some conventional ferries, serving 26 islands

However Iliopoulos has now acquired six cruise ships: Magellan, Columbus, Pacific Aria, Oceana, Veendam and Maasdam.

It is not clear if he plans to enter into the cruise business as such, use the ships for shorter ferry-routes or lay-up the ships and later sell these assets, when the cruise market is stronger.

I do wonder if we will ever see any ex-CMV ships, offering cruises from UK ports again, assuming any of them survive. 

Malcolm

Four Ladies in Lisbon, Oct. 22nd, 2021

October 24, 2020

Four_Ladies_in_Lisbon_logo_2021-fill-800x600

Guests have named Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ third fleet get-together “Four Ladies in Lisbon” in a social media poll, ahead of the event in October 2021.

It comes after the Four Fred.s in Funchal event, which was due to take place on April 4th 2020 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Oct. 22, 2021 Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will gather its new-look fleet together.

The Bolette, the Borealis, the Balmoral, and the Braemar will unite for “Four Ladies in Lisbon” – a “historic day of celebration, fun, and excitement” in the Portuguese capital.

This will mark the third time the cruise operator will have gathered its fleet in one place, but only the first time with the two new sister ships in attendance – the Bolette and Borealis.

(Images courtesy Fred. Olsen)

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says:  I have had the pleasure of cruising on-board all of the  Fred. Olsen fleet, before the recent fleet changes:

Black Watch (1972) review:  HERE

Boudicca (1972) review:       HERE

Balmoral (1988) review:       HERE

Braemar (1993) review:        HERE

Featured Ship: The Marco Polo

October 24, 2020

Marco Polo @ Tilbury: What a lovely fan-tail. (Click to enlarge).

Due to the demise of the British cruise line ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ earlier in the year, the classic ‘Marco Polo’ is current laid-up at Bristol Avonmouth and up for sale by action.

She is a ‘Real’ ship.

There are no water slides or rock walls.

She is 55 years old.

She was built in East Germany.

She has an ice-strengthen hull.

She accommodates 820 passengers.

At 22,800 gt she is one of the smaller cruise ships that regularly operate from UK ports.

Unfortunately, given her age, her future is uncertain. If fact I fear that she might well be scrapped in the very near future. Although I hope that I’m wrong.

My Marco Polo review can be read HERE

Magellan Purchased By Seajets

October 23, 2020

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Greek ropax operator Marios Iliopoulos,head of Greek ferry company Seajets, has now acquired six cruise ships.

This week Seajets emerged as the new owner of the 46,052gt Magellan, built 1985, and 63,786gt Columbus, built 1989. The pair were formerly owned by UK-based cruise line ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’, which collapsed into administration in July.

At layup in Tilbury each vessel was sold by separate sealed tender, ‘as is, where is’ on behalf of the UK’s Admiralty Marshal by exclusive broker CW Kellock & Co Ltd.

The two ships are expected to be brought to Greece and join the other four purchases in layup while their future is decided. It is thought that he is NOT  likely to enter the cruise business.

The other four cruise ships were purchased from Carnival Corp. Most recently the 55,900gt Pacific Aria, built 1994, was acquired from Carnival subsidiary P&O Cruises Australia.

Iliopoulos’ buying spree began in June when the 77,500gt Oceana, built 2000, was acquired from Carnival subsidiary P&O Cruises. The 57,100gt Veendam (1996) and the 55,600gt Maasdam (1993), which were operated by Holland America Line, were acquired in August.

Oceana is now Queen of the Oceans and under the ownership of an affiliate of Iliopoulos’ Seajets. The two HAL ships were registered to separate single-ship entities, with Veendam becoming Aegean Majesty and Maasdam, Aegean Myth.

Buyer(s) of Astor, Marco Polo are not yet known.

(Courtesy Seatrade)

Malcolm says: Magellan became Cruise & Maritime Voyages flagship in March 2015, before Columbus took over the role in 2017.

Magellan entered service in 1985 for the Carnival cruise line, being named   ‘MS Holiday’. She was later re-named ‘MS Grand Holiday’.  She still has the distinctive Carnival trade-mark winged funnel. (Many other ex-Carnival ship have the funnel changed).

Magellan is  46,052 gross tonnes, so was CMV’s biggest vessel at the time, carrying  a maximum of 1,452 passengers. (Columbus is bigger).

I did wonder if Ex-CMV CEO Christian Verhounig (CVI Group) would purchase her? It has been suggested that he wanted to restart a ‘CMV’ type model. If he was going to buy an ex-CMV ship, he is running out of them. Only Astor and Marco Polo have yet to be sold (or to be confirmed as sold).

Read my Magellan ship review: HERE

Golden and Star Princess to P&O Australia

October 22, 2020

Princess Cruises has confirmed the official transfer of the ‘Golden Princess’ (entered service 2001) and the accelerated transition of the ‘Star Princess’ (entered service 2002) to P&O Cruises Australia.

The two vessels will now debut as Pacific Adventure (Golden Princess) and Pacific Encounter (Star Princess) anticipated to sail in 2021.

(Princess cruises)

Malcolm says: These two vessels will be the newest the P&O Australia fleet has ever had and the biggest (gt). In fact they are over twice as big as some of the former fleet.

Swan Hellenic Orders Third Expedition Ship

October 22, 2020

(Courtesy Swan Hellenic)

Swan Hellenic has ordered a third new luxury expedition cruise ship from Helsinki Shipyard.

The new ship will follow the deliveries of their first ship, Minerva, set for 2021 (named in honour of the company’s first purpose-built vessel) and a yet to-be-named sister ship in 2022. The third Swan Hellenic newbuild will debut at the end of 2022.

The news comes on the company reporting a strong response to its start up plans.

The third vessel will have accommodations for 192 guests in 96 suites, making it bigger than the first two ships, which have capacity for 152 guests.

The first ship will set sail for Antarctica in November 2021, the second will be launched in April 2022.

(Swan Hellenic)

Malcolm says: Swan Hellenic is a British cruise line specialising in high-end expedition tours of historical or cultural destinations. Swan Hellenic was first established as Swan’s Tours in the 1950s. In 1983, Swan Hellenic was acquired by P&O and became a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc in 2003, but it ended operations in 2007 after Carnival discontinued the brand. Shortly after, All Leisure Holidays Group purchased and revived Swan Hellenic, but ended its operations in 2017.

Minerva_underway_in_Black_Sea_Krasnodarskiy_Kray_Sochi_8_October_2015_(cropped)

Minerva 2008-17 (Courtesy A.Krasnodar)

UK Welcomes First Cruise Since Pandemic

October 20, 2020

(Courtesy SeaDream Yacht Club)

Portsmouth International Port has become the first British port to welcome a cruise since the start of the coronavirus quarantine.

SeaDream Yacht Club’s vessel, SeaDream 1, stopped in Portsmouth on Oct. 19 to pick up 19 passengers for a transatlantic voyage to the Caribbean.

The yacht, which can normally hold 110 guests, is running its voyage based on the most recent strict health and safety protocols.

(SeaDream Yacht Club)

Featured Ship: MS Astor

October 19, 2020

Astor, Fremantle (By Bahnfrend, click to enlarge)

MS Astor is currently laid-up at Tilbury, UK. She has been for sale, by action, because of the demise of the British cruise line ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’.  The deadline for bids was actually the 15th of October, so we await her fate.

Astor was built in 1987, in Kiel, West Germany, as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-Cape Town route. She is now operated by the British Cruise Line ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’

At just 20,606 gross tonnes, Astor offers an intimate experience, compared to today’s mega-ships. She can easily dock in relatively small ports.

Astor’s passenger capacity is only around 600.

In recent years, under CMV, Astor spends most of her time cruising around Australia and the Indian Ocean.

Malcolm

See my Astor ship review: HERE

My Last ‘Proper’ Cruise

October 19, 2020

DSC_0281

Porto, on the river Douro.

My last cruise was in fact a mini-cruise in November 2019. (Here)

However my last ‘proper’ cruise was in April 2019, and was a seven night river cruise on the beautiful river ‘Douro’.

I always recommend doing your research before you book any cruise and I did. However I obviously did not do it well enough! I picked the wrong river cruise line, CroisiEurope, and the wrong boat.

The river and scenery were FANTASTIC, my tablemates were lovely, however much of the experience on-board the boat was TERRIBLE.

All is revealed below.

My poor river cruise – review: HERE

CroisiEurope resumed sailings in September, through the French wine region of Bordeaux. Brits read my review first BEFORE you even consider them.

Malcolm

Costa and Aida Resume

October 18, 2020

Carnival Corporation’s Aida Cruises resumed sailings in Italy with seven-day itineraries on Saturday October 17.

The Germany-based cruise line will be the second Carnival Corporation cruise line to resume cruising, following the restart of Italy-based Costa Cruises in September.

The resumption of sailing is part of a gradual approach by Carnival Corporation, with limited itineraries and enhanced health protocols.

Aida Cruises will initially resume with Aidablu, scheduled to depart from Civitavecchia near Rome on seven-day itineraries, visiting Palermo and Catania in Sicily, Naples and La Spezia. Voyages will be offered weekly until November 28.

(Carnival Cruises)

American Melody is Nearing Completion

October 17, 2020

(Courtesy American Cruise Lines)

The new river boat, American Melody is nearing completion.

She was recently moved from a hull fabrication building to the launch ways earlier this week at Chesapeake Shipbuilding, USA, where it will be joined to the aft section and launched into the Wicomico River.

The American Melody, the fourth new ship in American Cruise Lines’ modern riverboat series is on schedule for delivery to the Mississippi River next year.

(American Cruise Lines)

Malcolm says: Something a little different! I’ve cruised on the Mississippi, on a better boat (in my opinion), but I’d love to cruise the great lakes. Unfortunately the fares are eye-watering.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines Completes Schedule

Canadian Empress (Courtesy St. Lawrence Cruise Lines)

The St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has completed its fall schedule with a series of four- and five-night cruises on the St. Lawrence River in September and October.

The line said it received a positive response from Canadian travellers who were eager to experience the fall colours of Eastern Ontario and the Thousand Islands region.

The line’s ship, the Canadian Empress, features 32 staterooms.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines is a Kingston-owned business operating on the St. Lawrence River since 1981.

Looks like a nice little boat – Malcolm

(St. Lawrence Cruise Lines )

Brits: The end of inexpensive small ship cruising?

October 16, 2020

CMV’s Marco Polo, Tilbury

I fear that with ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ (CMV) demise and Fred. Olsen retiring Black Watch and Boudicca, Brits may have seen the end of inexpensive small ship cruising.

Fred. Olsen’s replacements for Black Watch and Boudicca, called Bolette and Borealis are hardly ‘big’ by modern standards, at around 43,000 gt. However I would not call Olsen ‘inexpensive’ either. Some of their 2021 cruise fares are eye-watering at the moment. Hopefully some discounts will be introduced.

There are of course some premium and luxury small ships, such as Viking ocean and Oceania cruises, on offer to us Brits with some departures from UK ports,. However they carry a high price tag.

CMV were genuinely affordable, especially their BOGOF (by one, get one free) deals applying in to one passenger of a couple. I recall comparing an Olsen Norwegian itinerary with a similar CMV one, departing on a similar date. Olsen offered me a lesser cabin grade for £600 more, per couple.

I’d suggest that the condition of Olsen’s and CMV’s aging ships, is similar. Maybe Olsen has the edge, with some more recently refitted décor. Some of the vessels are even a similar size to each others. The on-board atmosphere, food and entertainment is also of a similar standard and style.

I was hoping with the demise of CMV, Olsen may have decided to keep one or two of their older ships in order to try and capture a slice of the CMV market. However they did not. Mind you they would have to seriously drop their fares to attract the CMV fans.

Thomson Celebration (Courtesy Thomson)

Maybe Marella Cruises might consider offering cruises from UK ports, like their alter-ego ‘Thomson’ used to?

If not, I think that us Brits may have seen the end of inexpensive small ship cruising.

What do you think?

Malcolm

Pacific Aria (Ida Pfeiffer) Sold

October 15, 2020

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P&O Cruises Australia has announced the Pacific Aria has officially been sold, and will leave the fleet immediately, as opposed to her scheduled departure in early next year.

As with Pacific Dawn recently, Pacific Aria’s departure has been brought forward.

The ship was due to go to the British cruise brand ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’, in May 2021 to be renamed  Ida Pfeiffer, in honour of the famous Austrian explorer. However following CMV’s collapse, Carnival Corporation has found a new buyer for the 1994 built, 55,819 gross tonne ship.

(P&O Australia)

Malcolm says: I’m told that Seajets has purchased her as they did with P&O’s Oceana. I did wonder if  Ex-CMV CEO Christian Verhounig (CVI Group) had purchased her? It seems not.

 

CMV’s ‘Columbus’ Sold, Future Uncertain

October 15, 2020

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(Above: Columbus in lay-up)

The Columbus from the Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet has been sold at auction, with one source telling Cruise Industry News the sales price was in the $7 million range. The ship, according to two sources familiar with the sales transaction, was sold to a Turkish owner.

As far as plans for the 1988-built ship, sources said the owner plans to sit on the vessel now and will not operate it; indicating the new owner may try to resell it as the second-hand market rebounds, or scrap it as the scrap market improves.

(Courtesy of Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: Well this is neither good news or bad news for the ex-CMV flagship. If the report is correct, it seems as if Ex-CMV CEO Christian Verhounig (CVI Group) has NOT purchased her – yet?  Columbus is still laid-up at Tilbury today (see video above).

CMV’s flagship Columbus Review – HERE

CMV’s ‘Vasco da Gama’ Sold to Mystic

October 13, 2020

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The Portuguese cruise line, ‘Mystic Cruises’, have confirmed that they bought the former 1993-built Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) ship at auction. The Vasco da Gama will serve the British and German markets under Mystic Cruises ownership.

“Our company believes in offering a intimate, safe and great value for money experience to our guests, we believe that the Vasco da Gama will be a great addition to our fleet of ocean cruise ships,” said Mario Ferreira, president of Mystic Invest Holding, parent company of Mystic Cruises, which owns the Atlas Ocean Voyages and Nicko Cruises brands.

Ferreira said that the acquisition of the ship was an opportunity to grow the company’s current fleet and to better position it for the expected uptake of the market after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our focus is on smaller cruise ships, under one thousand passengers, to create a more personalized, safe and intimate cruise experience for our guests,” he said. “We believe that this segment of the market is better placed to answer to what cruisers will expect in the near future.”

Mystic did not elaborate on what brand the ship would operate under.

It’s possible the ship will sail under the Nicko Cruises banner, which operates riverboats and the 200-guest ocean-going World Explorer, offering a premium product.

The 1,258-guest Vasco da Gama would help expand Nicko’s footprint and the ship already has a presence in the German-speaking market, having sailed under the Transocean banner for CMV.

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm Says: Interesting news. Mind you Vasco is one of the younger CMV ships, although 27.  Apparently she was much sought after.

Vasco da Gama arrived in London Tilbury docks on Friday 1st May 2019, at the end of her return voyage to the UK with no passengers on board. Vasco da Gama sailed from Phuket, Thailand on 18th March to Australia to repatriate passengers and has now returned to the UK.  She is currently still at Tilbury (October 2020).

Not too many Brits have cruised on-board ‘Vasco De Gama’, as she never served the UK market for very long, apart from an ‘Around Britain’ cruise before her long maiden cruise in October 2019, to Asia and onto Australia. She then spent most of her time in Australian waters.  She was originally built for Holland America Line in 1993 as Statendam, she was transferred in November 2015 to P&O Cruises Australia and renamed Pacific Eden.  In April 2019, she was transferred to CMV.

A buyer for the Columbus is expected to be named shortly. (See Here)

Satoshi: Residential Ship for Crypto Currency Fans

October 13, 2020

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A Residential Cruise Ship Launching January 2021 with an eye on Sustainable Tech.

The MS Satoshi will be a gathering place for digital nomads, cryptocurrency enthusiasts, expats, researchers, and entrepreneurs.

The 804 foot, 777 cabin ship will be anchored 30 minutes from International hub, Panama City in the calm waters of the Gulf of Panama. The cabins will be sold by Ocean Builders, the company currently building floating homes on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

 

Malcolm says: If you are not a ‘Digital Nomad’, let me translate – the name “Satoshi” means the smallest unit of bitcoin. Bitcoin is of course a crypto currency. (Look in you pocket, you might have some?)   The ship  was built in 1991 by the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy as ‘Regal Princess’ (later renamed ‘Pacific Dawn’). She is 70, 285 gross tonnes and originally accommodated 2,020 passengers. She was sold this year (2020) to ‘Ocean Builders’.* (Panama). They also offer land and sea ‘Pods’. (See below).

*It’s ironic for a high-tech outfit, that their web site loads so slow. The images are far too big!

(Images and text courtesy of ‘Ocean Builders’)

CMV Fleet Up For Auction This Month

October 12, 2020

(Courtesy Edggar Forrester)

Unfortunately CMV went into Administration on the 20th July, 2020. Five CMV ships:  Vasco Da Gama, Columbus, Astor, Magellan and Marco Polo have been put up for sale, with each vessel being sold under auction by Edggar Forrester (W Kellock & Co) , as a separate lots.

The deadlines for the sales are  between 8 October and 22 October 2020. (CMV’s  Astoria is not up for sale by auction, as the ship was always due to leave the CMV fleet in October 2020.) Four of the ships are currently docked in the port of Tilbury, Essex, CMV’s former homeport, and one (Marco Polo)  is in Bristol Avonmouth.

The sale comes on the back of the news last month that the former Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ boss, Christian Verhounig, is planning on relaunching the now-defunct cruise line.

There are two more ships, that CMV were purchased from P&O Cruises (Australia) and were due to take delivery of in 2021  Amy Johnson, Ida Pfeiffer and Columbus have now been sold.

We should know the outcome of the rest of the fleet by the end of October.

I must say that it would be nice to see a few of CMV’s classic ships back in operation in 2021, but the scrappers may be the main bidders. Unfortunately, the  Marco Polo at 56 years old and Astoria at 72 years old, are the least likely to survive. I don’t even have high hopes for Magellan either at 35 years old. Even their flagship, Columbus, is 32.  The major cruise line currently have more ships than they know what to do with!

Malcolm

CMV’s flagship Columbus Review – HERE

Black Watch & Boudicca’s Sister ‘Albatros’ Sold

October 10, 2020

Albatros (Courtesy Reisen)

The third Royal Viking sister ‘MS Albatros’ will be leaving the Phoenix Reisen fleet.

The German tour operator has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the need to sell the vessel.

The ship will now start a new life as a hotel vessel for the Albatros Group in the Middle East, which operates a number of hotels and resorts.

Built in 1973, the 28, 518gt 830 guest Albatros was the oldest ship in the Phoenix Reisen fleet, originally launched as the Royal Viking Sea.  She has had eight owners (including NCL and Star) and six names,  in her 47 year career.

She was one of three sisters: Star (1971), Sky (1973) and Sea (1973).

As for her two sisters: Star is best know today as Fred. Olsen’s ‘Black Watch’ and Sky as ‘Boudicca’. Olsen has also sold both ship to become hotel-ships.

(Phoenix Reisen)

Malcolm says: Another ‘classic’ ship stops cruising. Olsen fans will recognise her exterior shape and interior spaces. At least she will be utilised in a new role. Unfortunately, many classic ships will not.

See Albatros’s interiors – HERE

My First Cruise

October 10, 2020

Sisters, Mercury & Galaxy in Skagway, May 1998.

Sisters, Mercury & Galaxy in Skagway, May 1998.

My first cruise was in May 1998.

I jumped straight in at the deep end: I picked Celebrity Cruises and the then newish state-of-the-art mega-ship, ‘Mercury’.

For the itinerary I picked ‘Alaska’.

I probably picked Mercury, because she was the sister of ‘Galaxy’. Galaxy was the ship that made Jane McDonald famous. (A U.K. Singer/TV star, discovered on Galaxy)

Well this was obviously my first cruise on many so I must have generally enjoyed it. However I did not “love it”, as such. I think that I did not fully get into the rhythm of cruising and did not appreciate aspects like fine dining and relaxing sea days. These things came later, after subsequent cruises.

You can read my very first cruise review – HERE

Q: When was your first cruise and what ship/line?

Carnival Celebration Now Available For Booking

October 8, 2020

(Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Cruise Line’s latest addition, the Carnival Celebration, is now available for booking.

Her first cruise will sail from Southampton, U.K. on Nov. 6, 2022, when the company celebrates its 50th birthday.

The ship’s first cruise will be a 14-day Carnival Journeys cruise. This cruise will set sailing from Southampton, then sail to La Coruna and Vigo (Spain), then stop at Finchal (Madeira) and Santa Cruz De Tenerife, before it arrives to its final destination of Miami on Nov. 20.

From Nov. 21, 2022, it will start its year-round service from PortMiami.

The Carnival Celebration is a sister ship to Mardi Gras, which has just completed her first sea trials. Both ships are LNG-powered.

(Carnival Cruises)

Dream and RCI to start operations from Singapore

World Dream (Courtesy Dream Cruises)

Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean International have been given the go-ahead to start operations from Singapore.

The ‘World Dream’ is expected back in service in early November with the ‘Quantum of the Seas’ following in December, both offering short cruises.

(CIN)

Quantum class review – HERE

Azamara To Commence March 2021

October 7, 2020

(Courtesy Azamara)

Azamara has announced the decision to pause operations until the 2021 Europe season and return to service on March 20, 2021 for Azamara Quest’s originally scheduled 12-night Spain country-intensive voyage, Azamara Journey’s April 9, 2021 voyage from Lisbon to Barcelona, and Azamara Pursuit’s new series of Greek Country-Intensive Voyages starting on May 9, 2021.

The cruise line said has chosen to adjust its sailings as a result of individual country restrictions, as well as guest survey results indicating that Azamara guests will feel more comfortable waiting to cruise until 2021.

(Azamara)

Arcadia Seen Off The Coast of Suffolk

October 5, 2020

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P&O’s Arcadia could be seen berthed at anchor on Monday 24/08/20, off the coast of Suffolk, from Southwold beach.

Officially she was on route to Southampton. However she was still there on 28/08.

On the 29 and 30/08 she could be seen off Suffolk’s Kessingland beach.

I took these picture myself, just using my phone.

Malcolm

When Was Your Last Cruise?

October 3, 2020

DSC_0140

Grandiosa, City Cruise Terminal, Southampton Nov. 2019

Dear Readers,

I struggled to remember when my last cruise was. I now recall that it was a mini-cruise, back in November 2019.

It seems a very long time ago now!

When was yours? Please let me know.

You may of noticed, how the MSC cruise line has been expanding at the rate of knots, in recent years.  Their total number of berths has toppled NCL from being the third biggest cruise line.

I was lucky enough  to spend a few days on MSC’s brand new flagship ‘Grandiosa’.

In Early November, 2019, Grandiosa had been delivered straight from the French shipyard. I joined her for a part of her inaugural cruise.

At 180,000gt, carrying up to 6,334 passengers, she is one of the world’s biggest ships.

At the time, I had not been on a big ship for three years.  I have been drawn to smaller ocean vessels (“real ships”) and river boats.  I had also NEVER been on-board an MSC ship before.

MSC get some very mixed reviews. In fact one commentator said that many MSC reviews actually start with start with the words: “Never again”!  On the other hand, MSC’s ‘Yacht Club’ facility (a ship within a ship complex) normally gets great reviews.  However I was NOT in the Yacht Club.  So what is the MSC experience like?

Malcolm

See my Grandiosa review: HERE

Marella Dream To Retire

October 2, 2020

(Courtesy Marella)

Marella Cruises has announced it is retiring the 1986-built, 42,092 gross tonne ‘Marella Dream’,  from its fleet after a decade of service.

The TUI-owned brand also retired the Celebration earlier this year.

All Dream sailings due to take place from Oct. 26 and beyond will be cancelled and all affected customers are being notified, Marella said, in a statement.

Those booked on Marella Dream for summer 2021 will have their booking automatically moved to Marella Discovery, the company sail, which will now sail from Palma instead of Port Canaveral, Florida, covering the Marella Dream’s Mediterranean itineraries.

As a consequence, Marella said it has made the difficult decision to cancel all USA sailings for Marella Discovery in summer 2021.

(Marella)

Malcolm says: Another coronavirus casualty, probably headed for the scrap yard.  I never cruised onboard this ship, but I think that I would have liked her.

HAL’s New Rotterdam Is Launched

October 1, 2020

(Courtesy HAL)

The Fincantieri shipyard has launched the new Rotterdam for Holland America Line, in Venice.

The ship will now move to the fit-out phase, with a scheduled delivery set for next summer.

The event was introduced by the traditional and well-wishing “coin ceremony” which sees the yard welding a silver dollar on the last deck of the ship.

The new Rotterdam is a sister to the Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, part of Holland America’s Pinnacle class of ships with capacity for 2,668 guests.

(HAL)

Malcolm says: This class of ship is the type that the next Cunarder will be.

Review of original SS Rotherham – HERE

Five HAL ships For Europe in 2021

The ships include the new Rotterdam, which is slated to debut at the height of the summer Europe season.

Also included are the Nieuw Statendam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam, putting two Pinnacle Class ships in the region.

The Zaandam heads to Europe on the popular “Voyage of the Vikings” itinerary in July.

From April through November, the five ships will offer itineraries ranging from seven to 35 days, as well as longer Collectors’ Voyages up to 29 days. In addition to transatlantic crossings between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Europe, the ships will visit the Baltic, British Isles, French and Spanish rivieras, Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean and Northern Europe including Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the North Cape.

Departure options include Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Barcelona, Spain; and Civitavecchia (Rome) and Venice, Italy. The “Voyage of the Vikings” cruise sails roundtrip from Boston, Massachusetts, with a segment departure from Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

To give guests more in-depth experiences in some of Europe’s most popular cities, select cruises feature overnight calls at Istanbul, Turkey; Reykjavik, Iceland; Piraeus (Athens) and Rhodes, Greece; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; St. Petersburg, Russia; Valletta, Malta; and Venice, Italy.

Many of the cruises can be extended into Collectors’ Voyages ranging from 14 to 29 days, offering the ultimate European exploration.

(HAL)

Pacific Dawn Departs P&O Australia

September 29, 2020

Pacific Dawn (Courtesy P&O Australia)

P&O Australia’s Pacific Dawn has departed the cruise operator’s fleet five months early after the ship’s previous buyer, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, became insolvent earlier this year.

“We wanted to let you know that our beautiful Pacific Dawn will be leaving us in the coming weeks,” the statement read on P&O Australia’s Facebook page on September 28. “It was originally planned for Pacific Dawn to leave us in February next year but this has now been brought forward to facilitate the sale we’ve announced today.”  

The cruise operator did not disclose who the new buyer is.

The 1991-built ship, which has capacity for 1,590 guests, was acquired by P&O Cruises Australia in 2007 and has since carried.2 million guests and sailed 2.2 million kilometres, the company said.

(P&O Australia)

Malcolm says: Pacific dawn was to become CMV’s ‘Amy Johnson’. Unfortunately, at 29 years old I don’t think she has too much future left, especially in the current financial/travel climate. Around 25 years old is often ‘end of life’ for many cruise ships, especially for the major players in the cruise market.

Carnival Mardi Gras: Sea Trials

September 28, 2020

(Courtesy Carnival)

Finnish shipbuilder, Meyer Turku,, has announced that The Mardi Gras, a brand new Carnival Cruise ship, commenced her first sea trials on September 28.

The Mardi Gras is the first North American ship to use liquefied natural gas (LNG). She is expected to enter into service in February 2021 sailing from Port Canaveral. Another

The start of the sea trials comes two weeks after the Mardi Gras was successfully fuelled with LNG.

It is expected that the sea trials, which began at Airisto, near the city of Turku in Finland , will take 10 days.

When the Mardi Gras will finally sail for Carnival in February 2021 from Port Canaveral in Florida, she will operate week-long itineraries from the Space Coast. The Mardi Gras will feature six distinct onboard zones bringing brand-new experiences for food, drinks, and entertainment. She will also have Bolt, the first-ever roller coaster at sea.

The BOLT (Courtesy Carnival)

The Grand Central Atrium
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Grand Central (Courtesy Carnival)

Carnival Cruise Line has unveiled Grand Central, a three-deck-high space that is one of six themed zones on the new Mardi Gras.

The space as a unique twist on the traditional atrium, as Grand Central spans Decks 6, 7 and 8 with massive 3,000-square-foot glass panels built into the starboard side of the ship providing guests with impressive views.

According to Glenn Aprile, Carnival’s director of newbuild product development, the idea was to create a space that was as functional as it was eye-catching, while providing guests with that “take your breath away” moment when they first board the vessel.

During the day, Grand Central serves as a spot for passengers to enjoy a coffee, drink or light fare, people watch, listen to live music, or partake in trivia contests and other leisurely pursuits.

At night, however, Grand Central transforms into an intimate and immersive venue with a rotation of soon-to-be-revealed experiences created just for Mardi Gras.

Talented performers will interact with 16 individually controlled LED screens displaying video and special effects, as well as lasers and aerial feats to create a truly unforgettable entertainment experience.

Overlooking Grand Central is the multi-level Grand View Bar which like its name implies offers guests a chance to enjoy floor-to-ceiling sea views as they sip custom-cocktails and other libations, amidst awe-inspiring design touches like a virtual waterfall on translucent panels. There’s also the Centre Stage Bar on the main level. Both venues will feature specialty cocktails inspired by the theme of that evening’s entertainment.

(Carnival Cruise Line)

Malcolm says: When you think of it, a big modern cruise ship’s atrium is a very big and impressive waste of space. It’s a big multi-deck hole in the ship, purely for aesthetics, maybe only housing a reception desk or two and bar on the ground level.  However onboard AIDA ships, for example (also a Carnival brand) the atrium is also put to good use as an entertainment space, called the ‘Theatrium’. Although AIDA’s are circular, this is a similar concept. I wonder if ‘Grand Central’ will be in addition to a main Theatre? (A big ship like this would normally have at least two large venues).

More details of Mardi Gras – HERE

Celebrity Apex arrives in Southampton

September 28, 2020

(Image courtesy Celebrity)

Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Apex, arrived in Southampton last week.

The crew were preparing for its first transatlantic sailing to Miami as she re-positions to the United States for the winter.

Today 29/09/20 she is on-route, off the coast of France.

Celebrity Apex was due to have been the first of the line’s ships to be launched in the UK for over a decade, prior to the pandemic. However, the proposed naming ceremony on 30 March had to be scrapped, as did its planned summer cruises in the Mediterranean.

However, in what was probably the first virtual delivery of a cruise ship, Celebrity Cruises accepted official command of the Celebrity Apex via a video conference with officials from Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard.

(Celebrity Cruises)

Malcolm says: Celebrity have a great product, I have cruised with them twice. I thought that Equinox was particularly impressive. However I can’t help thinking that the ugly ‘Magic Carpet’ feature (a moving platform/ dining/lounge space on one side of the ship) is just a silly gimmick. It is more in keeping with mass-market lines, like Celebrities owners RCI and NOT a premium brand. What do you think?

Some Celebrity publicity below:

Discover a world of unforgettable experiences, as both of our revolutionary Edge series ships, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, will be sailing around the sunny shores of the Mediterranean in 2021.

(Celebrity Cruises)

Celestyal Experience Itineraries

September 27, 2020

Celestyal Experience (Courtesy Celestyal Cruises)

Celestyal Cruises announced that the Celestyal Experience will start sailing in March, with the seven-night “Three Continents” itinerary calling on Greece (Athens and Rhodes), Turkey (Kusadasi), Israel (Ashdod), Egypt (Port Said) and Cyprus (Limassol).

Beginning on April 3, 2021 the Celestyal Experience, the former Costa neoRomantica, will set sail on the seven-night “Idyllic Aegean” itinerary visiting Athens, Rhodes, Crete (Agios Nikolaos), Santorini, Milos, Mykonos and Kusadasi (Ephesus).

For a limited period, all-inclusive launch pricing starts at just $699 per person.

Later in the season, the Celestyal Experience will operate the “Eclectic Aegean” itinerary, a seven-night voyage.

With more suites onboard than the line’s other ships, the Celestyal Experience provides more cabin categories for customers. The ship features 166 suite category staterooms, 132 of which are junior suites, all with balconies, and 34 Suites, including 22 with balconies; six with bridge-view verandas and six grand suites.

Guests booking suites higher than junior suite categories on the Celestyal Experiencew will have access to the Celestyal Cruises Suite Concierge service, which features a dedicated priority check-in counter, expedited embarkation, an exclusive dining area onboard, and express luggage delivery service including assistance with unpacking. A dedicated Celestyal Cruises Suite Concierge is also available to assist guests with specific tailored service requests.

A Celestyal first, is the introduction of four new Wellness Spa stateroom categories with a variety of spacious balcony, sea terrace and veranda suite accommodations.

(Celestyal Cruises)

Celestyal Cruises (formerly Louis Cruises and Louis Cruise Lines) is a Cyprus-based cruise line.  It is a subsidiary of Louis plc, founded in 1935. There are four ships under Celestyal’s operation. Celestyal runs an Eastern Mediterranean program traveling to Greek and Turkish ports as well as a Cuba program. The company has historically chartered several ships to Marella Cruises, previously Thomson Cruises.

Costa neoRomantica (Courtsey Costa Cruises)

Costa Romantica was completed in 1993 and is a sister ship to Costa Classica. In November 2011, Costa Romantica underwent a major refurbishing and the ship was renamed Costa neoRomantica. Her gross tonnage is 56,769 tons, so small by modern standards.

Black Watch and Boudicca Sold

September 26, 2020

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has found a buyer for the classic Black Watch and Boudicca ships as the company modernizes its fleet with the addition of the former Rotterdam and Amsterdam from Holland America Line.

The Black Watch and Boudicca will leave the Fred. Olsen fleet with immediate effect, and will not be scrapped, but instead serve as hotel ships.

The ships are believed to be heading to Miray International, according to sources speaking to Cruise Industry News.

The Turkey-based company specializes in ship management and also providing accommodation vessels for large-scale projects,

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says: I cruised on Black Watch and Boudicca once each. They are identical sisters and very easy to fall in love with. It’s a pity that there was not a farewell season of cruises. This has been the case with a number of ships/lines during the pause. On a positive note, Olsen’s new ships Bolette and Borealis do look VERY nice.

In Memory of Industry Visionary Knut Kloster

September 21, 2020

(Photo courtesy: Elin Hoyland)

Recognized as the founder of the modern-day cruise industry, Norwegian Knut Kloster (pictured above) has passed away at 91. He also built a reputation as a visionary, an idealist and humanitarian for whom corporate social responsibility was a key performance metric.

Kloster founded Norwegian Caribbean Line (NCL) in 1966 and launched service out of Miami with the new Sunward. Today, the company is known as Norwegian Cruise Line.

Sunward 1970 (Photo by Raymond L. Blazevic)

The initial NCL fleet grew to four ships in the 700 to 900-passenger range until 1980, when Kloster launched the 76,000-ton, 2,000-passenger S/S Norway, the former Atlantic liner the S/S France.

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ Article – HERE

In his honour, NCCL will be dedicating a section of their yet-to-launch PortMiami Terminal in his name and introducing an annual team member recognition award in memory of his humanitarian, environmentalist and innovative spirit.”

SS Norway in Southampton waters 2001

Malcolm says: This was the man that invented mass-market cruising on big ship. He converted a laid-up old ocean liner into the SS Norway mega-ship. A lot of us have very fond memories of this ship.

Malcolm’s ‘SS Norway’ review – HERE

The end of the SS Norway – HERE

The Carnival Hit List

September 20, 2020

Carnival Corporation said earlier this week it is accelerating its plan to dispose of older, less efficient vessels, noting that eighteen ships will now leave its fleet.

Sixteen of the ships have so far been identified:

Cruise Line: Costa Crociere
Ship: Costa Atlantica
Year Built: 2000
Tonnage: 86,000
Leaving Fleet: January 2020
Buyer: China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC)
Future: To be operated by Carnival’s new Chinese joint venture.

Cruise Line: Costa Crociere
Ship: Costa Victoria
Year Built: 1996
Tonnage: 75,000
Leaving Fleet: June 2020
Buyer: San Giorgio del Porto Shipyard (Genova Industrie Navali Srl)
Future: Unknown

Cruise Line: Costa Crociere
Ship: Costa neoRomantica
Year Built: 1993
Tonnage: 53,049
Leaving Fleet: August 2020
Buyer: Celestyal Cruises (Louis plc)
Future: Renamed Celestyal Experience for further service.

Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Ship: Amsterdam
Year Built: 2000
Tonnage: 62,735
Leaving Fleet: September 2020
Buyer: Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Future: Renamed Bolette.

Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Ship: Rotterdam
Year Built: 1997
Tonnage: 59,885
Leaving Fleet: September 2020
Buyer: Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Future: Renamed Borealis.

Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Ship: Maasdam
Year Built: 1993
Tonnage: 55,451
Leaving Fleet: August 2020
Buyer: Mediterranean Majesty Inc
Future: Renamed Aegean Myth.

Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Ship: Veendam
Year Built: 1996
Tonnage: 55,819
Leaving Fleet: August 2020
Buyer: Mediterranean Dream Inc
Future: Renamed Aegean Majesty.

Cruise Line: P&O Cruises
Ship: Oceana
Year Built: 1999
Tonnage: 77,499
Leaving Fleet: July 2020
Buyer: Seajets
Future: Renamed Queen of the Oceans.

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line
Ship: Carnival Fantasy
Year Built: 1990
Newbuild Cost: $225,000,000
Capacity: 2,044
Tonnage: 70,367
Leaving Fleet: July 2020
Buyer/Future: Scrapped in Turkey

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line
Ship: Carnival Inspiration
Year Built: 1996
Tonnage: 70,367
Leaving Fleet: July 2020
Buyer/Future: Scrapped in Turkey

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line
Ship: Carnival Imagination
Year Built: 1995
Tonnage: 70,367
Leaving Fleet: September 2020
Buyer/Future: Scrapped in Turkey

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line
Ship: Carnival Fascination
Year Built: 1994
Tonnage: 70,367
Leaving Fleet: September 2020
Buyer: Undisclosed
Future: Unknown

Cruise Line: P&O Australia
Ship: Pacific Dawn
Year Built: 1991
Tonnage: 70,000
Leaving Fleet: TBD
Future:  Sold to CMV for a 2021 delivery, but became insolvent.

Cruise Line: P&O Australia
Ship: Pacific Aria
Year Built: 1993
Tonnage: 55,819
Leaving Fleet: TBD
Future: Sold to CMV for a 2021 delivery, but became insolvent.

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Ship: Sun Princess
Capacity: 1,950
Tonnage: 77,000
Leaving Fleet: TBD
Buyer: Peace Boat (Japan Grace)
Future: To be renamed Pacific World for further service.

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Ship: Sea Princess
Year Built: 1998
Tonnage: 77,000
Leaving Fleet: TBD
Buyer: Unknown
Future: Unknown

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says:  One mans ‘old tub’ is another mans ‘classic’ ship. Not everybody wants to cruise on big new ships! As I’ve said before, I wonder how long P&O’s Aurora has left in their fleet? Could she be one of the eighteen?

Sun Princess to become ‘Peace Boat’

September 16, 2020

Sun Princess (Courtesy Princess Cruises)

Japan Grace, which operates the Peace Boat cruise operation, announced it has chartered a new, modern cruise ship that will replace the Ocean Dream and Zenith pairing.

Starting in 2021 the Pacific World will replace both the Ocean Dream and Zenith as Peace Boat’s sole vessel.

It is believed the ship is the current Sun Princess. This fits in with Carnival’s ‘capacity optimization strategy’ (ship disposal initiative).

Sun Princess entered service in 1995, is 77,441 gt and accommodates 2,010 passengers.

Peace Boat was founded in the early 1980s, offering shorter cruises, and has slowly expanded into global months-long voyages with the purpose of raising awareness and building connections internationally among groups that work for peace, human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development.

The organization has conducted over 100 voyages on passenger ships since its founding.

In addition, the group hopes to build a new “green” cruise ship, the Ecoship, which was announced in 2017.

(Japan Grace)