Costa Firenze

January 18, 2021

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Costa Cruises officially took delivery of the new Costa Firenze from Fincantieri, designed and built in the Marghera shipyard and inspired by the Florentine Renaissance.

The handover took place in what the cruise line called full “digital mode” on Tuesday afternoon 22nd December.

With 135,500 gross tonnage and a capacity of more than 5,200 guests, the Costa Firenze is part of the development plan that includes seven new ships to be delivered for the Costa Group by 2023, for a total investment of more than €6 billion.

The Costa Firenze is the fourth of these new ships to be delivered with three more to come and will eventually sail in China.

(Costa Cruises)

Malcolm says: Did you know that “Firenze” is Italian for “Florence”? The interiors look a little more sedate than the Costa of old. (See video above)

Marco Polo Beached at Alang

January 17, 2021

(Photo courtesy of Gohil Viramdevsinh)

I regret to inform you that  the classic cruise ship, Marco Polo was beached at Alang, India, 14/01/12 – 0.52 UCT, to be scrapped.

The image above is the one that all ‘classic’ ship fans have dreaded ever seeing. Just look how deep the draft of her ice-strengthened hull is. What a waste!

The Marco Polo was not the youngest, biggest, or arguably the best, CMV vessel, but she she is probably the most loved.  I believe that there are a lot of Brits out there, that would have liked one last cruise (or more) on-board her. I certainly would have.

As with many classic ships in 2020/21, we have been robbed of a ‘farewell’ season.

Farewell Marco Polo (Tilbury)

It would seem that CMV’s ex-Magellan is next to be scrapped.

Malcolm

My Marco Polo review can be read HERE

Carnival Celebration

The former Grand Celebration from Bahamas Paradise Cruise Lines, the original Carnival Celebration, has also been beached in India to be scrapped.

The ship launched in 1987 as the Carnival Celebration, the third out of three Holiday-class ships. She is 47,262 gross tonnes.

Following a near two-decade career with carnival, she moved to Iberocruceros in 2008, and then made her debut with Bahamas Paradise in early 2015.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bahamas Paradise suspended service in February and was ultimately forced to sell the ship for scrap value.

(CIN)

Magellen To Be Scrapped?

January 15, 2021

MV Magellan was auctioned last year and the Greek Ferry Operator,  Sea Jets ultimately won the auction paying $3.4 million and taking ownership of the MS Magellan. However, citing high operating costs, MS Magellan looks to be heading to Alang, India for scrapping.

I am reliable informed that today (15/01/20) the ‘Ship Breaking’ Facebook page now confirming a name change of CMV’s ex Magellan.

This is probably confirmation of her demise. A ships name is normally changed just prior to scrapping.

She looks set to join the Marco Polo on the beach of Alang.

15/01/20 – I believe that this is the name change.

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).

At 36 years old, her future was always going to be uncertain, in these turbulent times for the travel industry.

Read my Magellan ship review: HERE

 

MV Astor

January 15, 2021

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MV Astor: A heart-breaking video, if you are a ‘classic’ ship fan OR just an old tub, past her sell by date! (Discuss).

Malcolm

Carnival To Lose Four More Ships

January 12, 2021

(Courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines)

Another four cruise ships are set to be disposed of from the Carnival Corporation global fleet, the company has announced.

Last year Carnival had announced it was disposing of 18 ships, and now says that number will be elevated to 19.

15 ships have already left the fleet, meaning four more are now scheduled to find new owners or be scrapped.

Carnival did not provide details of what ships will be disposed of.

(Carnival)

New Improved Titanic II Blog

January 11, 2021

I’m always a little reluctant to ‘blow my own trumpet’, however nobody else is going to blow it for me, so her goes: I launched a dedicated Titanic II News blog in 2018.

Now readers may have heard  that Australian billionaire, Clive Palmer, planned to build a replica Titanic ship.  The idea went off-the boil, but in 2018 he resurrected the idea.

Now it is very easy to dismiss this project as a ‘pipe dream’, but personally I believe that it WILL actually happen this time around and I have the evidence!

Titanic II could be completed by 2023, if Clive Palmer ‘gets his skates on’.

I have progressively added more material to the blog, in the  past couple of years. I’ve now published around 100 articles/media/videos and I believe that it is the most extensive Titanic II resource on the internet.

Go on, have a look – HERE

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Everything that you need to know about the Titanic II project, in two videos – Part 1, above.

Costa Victoria – Another Doomed Ship

January 10, 2021

(Courtesy Costa)

The former Costa Victoria will be scrapped, according to multiple sources.

The 1996-built ship will be towed to India later this month where she will be demolished.

The former Costa vessel was quickly sold during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship was rumoured to have been considered for a hotel ship or for use for drydock work, with those deals falling through.

(CIN)

My Top Ten Fears Of Cruising

January 9, 2021

Ignoring the terrible Coronavirus for a brief moment, here is a light-hearted look at my cruise fears:

10.  Nice ship – wrong passengers

Different cruise ships/lines target different types of passengers. You may not feel very comfortable surrounded by a rowdy bunch of  ‘booze cruisers’ who think ‘formal’ means turning their baseball caps around;  you may not fit in with an elderly crowd hooked on Jigsaw puzzles and napkin folding? You may not feel too comfortable eating dinner in a formal ‘monkey suit’?

It is important that you pick a cruise line/ship which offers an experience that you would feel comfortable with.  So plan very carefully and it will be ‘happy cruising’.

9. The food is inedible and service is atrocious

The food is an important part of any cruise. However not all ships are born equal…

See full article: HERE

The Loss of The Marco Polo

January 8, 2021

Readers Julie and Phil Harris have just sent me a very poignant letter:

So, the beautiful Marco Polo is heading to Alang to be scrapped!

Malcolm, we have contributed to your page once before extolling the positives of this ship and how she has given many ordinary people some extraordinary experiences. She was very popular amongst her frequent travellers and we understand that she was usually fully booked.

We, like many others, hoped that she would have another life after CMV. Unfortunately, in this profit orientated world, there is little incentive to protect and maintain classic ships, so Marco Polo, will face the same ignominious end as many other beautiful ships before her.

We wonder how long it will be before the megaship cruising giants will become dinosaurs because many of us want quality of experience, not 24/7 entertainment. We want to watch the oceans on which we travel from a sensible viewpoint without plexiglass in front of us and not necessarily from a climbing wall or roller coaster ride around the ship!

Who wants to turn up to a small port of call with 5000+ other passengers, where the sheer numbers of people disembarking to view a beautiful part of the world actually affects that which they are trying to experience, simply because the beauty is swamped by bodies and the locals are outnumbered by the tourists Five or more to One!

We are very sorry to see such a demise, because Marco Polo gave us so many happy memories and we have two photos taken on a Bridge Tour in January 2020 between Cork and Bristol at the end of our brilliant Christmas cruise to The Canary Islands and New Year firework spectacular in Madeira.

The photos are particularly poignant because the first shows the amazing viewing deck (from the Bridge) where we spent may happy hours viewing Sea Life (Whales, Dolphins, Basking Shark, Flying Fish and Sea Turtles), Bird Life, Ice Flows, Glaciers, Icebergs and the Aurora Borealis on many occasions.

The second photo of the Big Red Abandon Ship Button was taken as a memory of our Bridge Tour, but little did we realise how significant ‘Abandon Ship’ would be just one year later!

In our humble opinion, you are too special to be scrapped, but thank you Marco Polo for all the pleasure you have provided and we hope you are recycled into something which offers as much enjoyment for future generations as you have for us!

Finally, we should like to take this opportunity to thank all the Staff and Officers of the Marco Polo who made all our trips so special. We wish you all the best for the future.

Julie and Phil Harris

My Marco Polo review can be read HERE

Travel Slideshows

January 6, 2021

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow.

I really enjoy travel, although I don’t do as much of it, as I would like.

However I don’t spend all of my holidays on-board ships either, especially in 2020! 

Below is a link to a small collection of slide shows, featuring some of the places that I’ve visited. You may have visited yourself?

Travel slideshows: HERE

Titanic vs Oasis Of the Seas

January 4, 2021

A few years back, I wrote an article for this blog called “Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas”.

The ‘Oasis’ class is of course the biggest ‘class’ of cruise ship. In comparison, the RMS Titanic was small.

The article was really just meant to be a bit of fun.

Some commentators have regarded the premise of comparing two ship built almost 100 years apart as “SILLY”!  However every year the article attracts more views than anything else that I have ever written.

It’s quite ironic that the article was my most viewed again in 2020 and it will probably be by the end of 2021.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

Below is a slide show comparison between the Titanic and a modern cruise ship, just for fun!

Malcolm

Astoria Towing Footage

January 2, 2021

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Following lay up at Tilbury with the administration of cruise operator CMV:

23/11/20: Astoria is seen Outbound shortly before terminating an attempt to tow the ship to Lisbon, due to the ship having rudder steerage issues.

She was to be the last CMV cruise ship to leave the UK. All other CMV ships now having been sold.

(Video/text courtesy of Kentphotopics)

Astoria 13/12/20 Hook of Holland.

13/12/20: MV Astoria, arrived in the Hook of Holland, around mid-day.

She docked at a berth in Waalhaven, Rotterdam.  The  images are from the port web-cam.

At 8.30am on the (05/12) Astoria departed Northfleet, near Tilbury docks, where she had been laid up since April.

She was towed by a tug called ‘Brent’ identified as “restricted manoeuvrability” (towing) at a speed of approx. 6 knots, hence the long slow journey.

It is suspected little maintence of the ship was carries out during lay-up.

There is no official word of her owners or their intentions, however sadly, Astoria is expected to be scrapped.

At 72 years old, she is one of the oldest ocean going cruise ship in operation. Ships half her age are being scrapped this year, due to the suspended animation of the global cruise industry.

The 550 passenger Astoria joined the CMV fleet in January 2015 to replace Discovery. An inaugural 30-night voyage from Plymouth on 26thJanuary 2015 to the West Indies, set a course of varied cruise itineraries. In 2016, Astoria commenced a summer charter to French tour operator Rivages du Monde with CMV operating spring and autumn sailings from the UK, which continued for five years.

She was not owned by CMV and had in fact been leased to them. She actually left their fleet, before their demise.

Astoria 13/12/20 Hook of Holland.

(Thanks to Edwin Todd and Linda Ayres for vital information).

My Smallest ship Experience

Without, doubt, the smallest ocean cruise ship that I have cruised on is CMV’s Astoria. She is 16,144 gross tonnes, carrying 550 passengers. Now to the uninitiated, those numbers may sound pretty big, until you realise that there are many new ships at 150, 000+ gt caring 3,000+ passengers.

Astoria is a charming little ship offering a relatively intimate experience, compared to most.  She only has one real disadvantage – she is not so stable in rough seas. She also had no rock walls or water chutes, but I do not see that as a disadvantage.

Never Cruised On A Small Ship?

If you have only ever cruised on mega-ships, the idea of a small ship possibly underwhelms you. However trust me, you are missing out.

After all, on-board a small ship you normally get one main restaurant, one buffet, one theatre and a couple of bars.

Ask yourself this; If your mega-ship had multiple restaurants, entertainment venues and bars, how many did you actually visit?  If the food is very good in one restaurant, do you really need another? If there is a nice friendly bar, with a good range of drinks, do you need another? Likewise with one entertainment venue, which offers a different show each night – do you really need more?

The lack of choice of public rooms on-board small ships can be outweighed by the ships friendliness and intimacy. You are also likely to get better food and service in a restaurant catering for 275 passengers than you are in one catering for 1,500 passengers.

The crew are more likely to remember your name and favourite tipple, on-board a small ship.

Smaller ship have a much better ‘connection with the sea’. Wherever you cabin is, you can be on-deck within a few minute. The open decks are also not so far from the actual sea.

Small ship offer a more ‘nautical’ experience, rather than a sports-centre/shopping mall type one.

Malcolm

Here is my: Astoria Review

Despite the Pandemic, 16 Cruise Ships Were Delivered in 2020

December 30, 2020

Sixteen new cruise ships were delivered in 2020, including three before the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic, while most delivered after have yet to see revenue guests and await their official debuts in 2021.

‘Cruise Industry News’ article – HERE

Malcom says: These ships were all order pre-pandemic and there construction could not be stopped.  Many more ships are in the pipeline for delivery in 2021 and well beyond.

Empress To Cruise For Jalesh Cruises, India

December 28, 2020

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Royal Caribbean International’s Empress of the Seas is heading to a new cruise line based in India.

Jurgen Bailom, president and CEO of Cordelia Cruises said in the press release:

“It gives me immense pleasure to inform you that Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt Ltd. that recently acquired over the Jalesh Cruises brand, has decided to further capitalize the immense potential of cruising by entering in the Indian market with the Empress of the Seas, that belonged to the global giant Royal Caribbean International until recently. With an individual capacity of 2,000 passengers, she has sailed many coastlines and high seas in her glorious past. I look forward to your support in continuing the legacy of Jalesh Cruises in upholding the spirit, culture, and value of “Incredible India” and being the evangelist of Joy by curating memorable cruise holidays that delight customers.”

(CIN)

Viking Octantis – Floated Out

December 27, 2020

(Courtesy Viking Cruises)

Viking has announced announced its first expedition ship – the 378-guest Viking Octantis – was “floated out” at VARD 22/12.

This was a major construction milestone and the first time that the new ship touches water.

Scheduled to debut in early 2022, the Viking Octantis will spend her maiden season sailing voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

A second, identical expedition ship, Viking Polaris, is set to debut in summer 2022 and will sail journeys to Antarctica and the Arctic.

(Viking Cruises)

Mardi Gras Delivered to Carnival Cruise Line

December 18, 2020

Santa Rides BOLT (Courtesy Carnival)

Carnival Cruise Line has taken delivery of the new LNG-powered Mardi Gras from Meyer Turku in Finland.

The ship’s centrepiece is a three-stories-high atrium in the middle of the ship, opening up to a floor-to-ceiling window and movable LED screens. From the atrium, passengers are able to enjoy a close connection to the sea and marvel the views.

Another marvel of the ship is of course Bolt, the first ever roller coaster on a cruise ship.

The Mardi Gras is set to enter service from Port Canaveral, Florida in April 2021.

(Carnival Cruise Line)

Malcolm says: I don’t believe in Father Christmas or Roller Coasters on cruise ships. It’s humbug!

Cunard Cancels Cruises Into May and June

December 10, 2020

Queen Elizabeth  (Cunard image)

Cunard has extended its pause in operations due to the current travel constraints in place across the world.

Voyages departing onboard the Queen Mary 2 up to and including May 28, 2021 and onboard the Queen Elizabeth up to and including June 4, 2021 are now cancelled.

Departures on the Queen Victoria remain unaffected and are scheduled to resume May 17, 2021.

Cunard president, Simon Palethorpe said:   “Our extension to the pause in operations is the result of the ongoing restrictions on cruising in the UK and around the world and recognises the significant lead times to return to service, once those restrictions are lifted.

“We are extremely sorry to be extending our pause in operations and for any disappointment this will cause. We know how much careful consideration goes into planning a holiday and apologise that our guests now have to wait a little bit longer to travel once again with Cunard”.

(Cunard)

Malcolm says: I had though/hoped that the cruise industry might generally be up and running by Easter 2021, but this ‘pause’, which I’m sure all other lines will follow, now makes the ‘pause’ well over a year long.

Carnival Celebration To Visit UK

December 6, 2020

(Courtesy Carnival cruise Line)

Carnival Cruise Line has opened bookings for its newest ship Carnival Celebration, even thought it does not enter service until 2022.

The ship is due to enter service in 2022, the sister ship to highly anticipated Mardi Gras Carnival’s first XL-class ship.

Carnival Celebration is the sister ship to Mardi Gras – launching next year (2021).

Carnival Celebration is making its debut in 2022 as part of Carnival Cruise Line’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, which will kick off in March of that year.

Carnival has revealed that Carnival Celebration will offer 14 day transatlantic crossing from Southampton to Miami.

The ship will depart on 6 November 2022 and arrive in Miami on 20 November 2020.

Stops on the inaugural cruise will include La Coruna, Vigo, Maderia and Tenerife.

Following on from her maiden voyage, Carnival Celebration will then sail year-round itineraries in the paradise waters of the Caribbean.

BOLT (Courtesy of Carnival)

Celebration will be the second Carnival ship ever to have the BOLT rollercoaster – following on from Mardi Gras which is due to launch next year.

(Carnival)

Iona Gets New Show

December 3, 2020

A new show called Festival will be added to the entertainment program onboard P&O Cruises’ latest addition – the Iona.

“Festival is the perfect uplifting show about two groups of friends who meet at a Festival,” explained the show one of its authors and producers, Jonathan Wilkes. “It takes the audience on their journey, transporting everyone to those heady days of summer and will make you want to party the night away long after the show ends.”

Festival will be “interactive” and “evocative,” and include “feel-good anthems, stomping wellies, arresting choreography and the latest LED technology.” The show will premiere in summer 2021.

Festival will join the already extensive entertainment program onboard the Iona, which includes the 710 Club, a cocktail and music bar curated and crafted by Take That member Gary Barlow, three different aerial shows, four cinema screens at Ocean Studios, as well as various family activities.

(P&O)

MSC Signs Long-Term Agreement With Southampton

November 25, 2020

Magnifica (Courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises has announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with Southampton, starting in summer 2021.

The MSC Magnifica will base in Southampton’s new fifth terminal.

“We are really proud to be further supporting the UK cruise industry at this incredibly important time for both the industry and the UK economy. At MSC Cruises, we really believe in the potential of the UK cruise market and making this long-term commitment is evidence of that,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO at MSC Cruises.

As part of the agreement, at least one MSC vessel will homeport in Southampton every year, and more ships will be calling at Southampton within wider itineraries.

MSC Magnifica will sail 21 voyages in summer 2021 from Southampton – including two 14-night cruises to the Mediterranean in June and August with calls at Malaga, Lisbon, and Monte Carlo, weekend mini sailings to Northern Europe, and seven-night cruises to the Norwegian fjords.

(MSC)

Malcolm says: Magnifica entered service in 2010 and is 95,128 gross tonnes, accommodating 2,518 passengers, double occupancy.  The UK obviously does not deserve a newer MSC ship yet, although I believe newer/bigger ships will homeport at Southampton later.

Southampton’s New Fifth Cruise Terminal

A new “next-generation” cruise terminal will open at the Port of Southampton for the 2021 season.

Developed in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the terminal will use roof-mounted solar power and will also have shore power connectivity installed to boost sustainability. This will allow ships that have the necessary technology to plug in while at the port.

The £55 million project has received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership through the government’s Getting Building Fund with an £8 million grant.


MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato said: “Over the last five years MSC Cruises has increased our presence in the UK & Irish markets and following a positive response from travel agents and our guests we feel now is the right time to make a more substantial commitment”.

NCLH senior vice-president of commercial development Steve Moeller said the agreement “demonstrates our commitment to the region”.

(Cruise Trade News)

Malcolm says: They also need to improve the infrastructure (roads) in order to cope with the extra traffic.

Marco Polo & Vasco On The Move

November 22, 2020

Marco Polo

Marco Polo @ Falmouth 22/11/20 (Courtesy Cornish Girl)

Ex-CMV’s  Marco Polo has also been on the move.

She left Avonmouth, Bristol, after a long lay-up, on the 19/11 and arrived in Falmouth (U.K) on 21/11.  She was  at anchor offshore and was re-fuelled.

Here fate is not clear, but her new owners appear to be based in Dubai. I’m told that the buyer is a large player in the demolition trade

The Marco Polo left Falmouth and today 23/11 is off the west coast of France.  It is though that she may be on route to Dubai.

However, none of this information is confirmed.

Astor

Astor (CMV image)

MS Astor left Tilbury on 07/11 heading for Aliaga, Turkey’s ship scrapyard.

I am told that attempts to save Astor have failed and she is due to be beached in Aliga, tomorrow morning (23/11).

Once again I cannot confirm this, but I have no reason to disbelieve the information, either.

At 33 years old, she was always going to be venerable.  However internally, she was immaculate.

Astor was built in 1987, in Kiel, West Germany, as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-Cape Town route.

At just 20,606 gross tonnes, with a passenger capacity of just 600, she offered an intimate experience, compared to today’s mega-ships.

Vasco Da Gama

.After being laid-up for much of 2020, Ex-CMV’s ‘Vasco Da Gama’ finally left Tilbury docks, yesterday 21/11 and is expected to arrive in Lisbon, Portugal on the 24/11.

The Portuguese cruise line, ‘Mystic Cruises’, purchased 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.

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.

“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.

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

Malcolm

Chinese start-up buys Sea Princess (Adonia)

November 16, 2020

A Chinese start-up has purchased the Sea Princess.

V.Ships Leisure and sister company Oceanic Catering have been selected by China’s Sanya International Cruise Development (SICD) for ship and hotel management of ‘Charming’, the former Sea Princess.

Sea Princess, formerly P&O’s Adonia, entered service in 1998 and is 77,449 gross tonnes.

(Net)

Disney Delays New Ships

November 15, 2020

(Courtesy Disney)

Disney Cruise Line will be postponing the launch of its sixth and seventh ships from 2022 and 2023 to 2024 and 2025, respectively.

This was announced by CEO Bob Chapek.

He also said that the launch of the Disney Wish, the cruise line’s fifth ship, was postponed from the end of 2021 to summer 2022.

(Disney Cruise Line)

2020: The Unprecedented Loss of Classic Ships

November 15, 2020

Recent scrapping in Turkey (Courtesy of Nautica Goods)

I doubt if we have ever seen a year like 2020, for the unprecedented loss of so many ‘classic’ ships. (I like to call them ‘real ships’).

The global pandemic of course necessitated the suspension of most of the worlds cursing. Some lines have taken tentative steps to restart, but it’s a slow process. I doubt if things will really get up and running again until April, 2021, a year after the start of the lockdowns.

The cruise lines found themselves with idle fleets. I assume the take-up of cursing in 2021, will be slow at the beginning. Therefore, it made good business sense, for the cruise lines to prune their fleets and sell their older/smaller, less economically viable, tonnage.

The Carnival Cruise Line, in particular, lost some 18 (?) ships from their various brands.

In addition, some small lines like ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ and ‘Pullmantur’, simply went bust, with no passengers and the inability to borrow large sums of money to bridge the gap. Both lines operated older/smaller tonnage, the former for the Spanish market, the latter mainly for the British market.

Fred. Olsen sold the charming Black Watch and Boudicca. Their identical sister, Albatros, has also been sold. However, I believe that these ships will be used for accommodation, but are unlikely to sever cruise passengers ever again.

Many of these classic ships are over 25 years old. That is the age that the big players tend to offload them to smaller players. However, many of these ships probably still had 5-10 years of good service, or more, left in them However, the pandemic has accelerated their disposal.

The problem is that not everybody likes cruising on board big modern ships. There are many small ships still available, but there are generally now only the luxury and premium brands (expensive). It is the budget lines that have sold their ships or collapsed.

Classic ships are like vintage cars. A modern car has better comfort, better fuel economy, better acceleration, better speed, better brakes etc. etc. However even though technically inferior and less comfortable, the vintage car has so much more beauty and charm. Would you like a ride in Vintage Rolls Royce? I would!

Classic ships are so much more intimate and friendly. They are not floating theme parks. They are built on a human scale. They often have a great ‘connection with the sea’, that a big ship cannot ever achieve.

Below is a list of ships than have been sold this year (2020) and are expected to be scrapped. They are all 70,000 gross tonnes or a lot less. This makes them all small to medium sized, compared with modern ships. They are mostly over 25 years old.

Astor, Fremantle (By Bahnfrend – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

We have lost (or will shortly lose): Astor, Marella Celebration, Monarch, Sovereign, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival’ Inspiration, Horizon, Carnival Imagination, Ocean Dream, Zenith, Astor and Marella Dream.

There may well be some other ships too, it is difficult to keep count at the moment. Some have been sold and their future status is as yet unknown.

It’s a very sad year for classic ships.

I do fear that we might lose some more in 2021?

Malcolm

The MV Royal Iris

November 6, 2020

A sad story about the MV Royal Iris (1950-1991), the floating concert venue, ferryboat, cruise vessel and now a decaying wreck at Woolwich, London.

See excellent video – HERE

Olsen’s Bolette Interiors

November 1, 2020

Below is a slide show of the interiors of Holland America Lines ‘Ms Amsterdam’, now sold to the Fred. Olsen line and to be renamed ‘Bolette’ (Full Story here).

Named Bolette, after Fred. Olsen Junior’s great-great-grandmother, and Fred. Olsen Senior’s great-grandmother. She was married to one of the original Olsen brothers behind the business, Petter Olsen, and was extremely well regarded in her community.

e5429d0a3b92215a179904a907885d63538df696

1903 Stave Church, Hvitsten

There is a church in Hvitsten in Norway, where the Olsen’s family live, that she helped to build and gifted to the village. The family have had many ships named after her.

Olsen’s ‘Borealis’ Interiors

Below is a slide show of the interiors of Holland America Lines ‘Ms Rotterdam’, now sold to the Fred. Olsen line and to be renamed ‘Borealis’ (Full Story here).

Olsen. will of course change/renovate the décor, but these images give you a good idea of the public spaces on-board this charming ship.
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The Olsen’s used to have a ship called Borealis in their fleet many years ago, in 1948, long before they became a cruise line.

unnamed

Olsen’s Borealis cargo ship 1948-73 (R.Cox)

The name ties in well with our company heritage stemming from Norway, with so many people going in search of the Northern Lights – the Aurora Borealis – with us, and celebrates the romanticism of cruising.

(Fred. Olsen)

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.

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.

Who Are Seajets?

October 25, 2020

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. 

SeaJets fleet slide show: HERE

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

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)

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

Brits: The end of inexpensive small ship cruising?

October 16, 2020

Marco Polo, Tilbury (M.Oliver)

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

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 ‘Vasco da Gama’ Sold to Mystic

October 13, 2020

(Courtesy CMV)

.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)

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

Arcadia Seen Off The Coast of Suffolk

October 5, 2020

.

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)

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)