My Worst Cruise Meal Ever!

June 17, 2021

Dear readers, I had my worst cruise meal ever on-board Royal Caribbean’s ‘Anthem Of The Seas’ in 2015, when she had just entered service.

Malcolm

Wonderland (Specialty Dining)

(Courtesy RCI)

Wonderland is an intimate dining room which carried a surcharge of £26.50 ($40 approx.) per person, at the time. The room has a charming whimsical design.

The food was created by chef is Cornelius Gallagher and the best way I can describe it, is it was like Heston Blumenthal in style.

RCI say: “At Wonderland, our chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent an elaborate dreamscape of never-before-seen fare”.

However it was not some much a ‘dreamscape’ as a ‘nightmare’.

I should have realised that I was about to experience something scary, when I noticed that the muzak being played in the restaurant, was the theme tune to the movie “Friday 13th”!

‘Wonderland’ should be renamed ‘Marmite’,  as some passengers love it and others hate it.

Food is incredibly subjective and the internet is already full of some very positive reviews of wonderland, but this is NOT one of them.

I thought that I was quite adventurous with my food, but Wonderland took me to uncharted territory, which I did NOT enjoy.

(Courtesy RCI)

The Meal

The culinary experience starts with a blank menu which you are required to paint with water to reveal the food. The menu contains little food that one would recognise, which should all be part of the fun. However I did not get to choose the dishes at all, the waitress just brought me a selection.

The presentation of the food was quite amazing, an art form in itself, however the flavours ranged from ‘bland’ to ‘unpleasant’, with a touches of very ‘weird’ in between.

The multiple starters were served cold. There is a limit to how much cold food I like to eat for dinner and this experience exceeded it.

One of the early dishes was “baby vegetables in the garden”. It actually looked amazing, like vegetables growing in soil. However the vegetables were tasteless and the ‘soil’ component tasted like what I imagine soil might really taste like – yuk!  I did not finish it and very few of the other diners appeared to finish it either.

Appetising or not?

Appetising or not?

The ‘Slow cooked baby beetroots’, were tasteless. I’ve has better from a jar.

‘Buffalo Chicken Eggs’ were cold Boiled eggs, served in a cloud of nitrogen. They had an intense charcoal taste, like breathing in a bonfire and just made me gag.

The ‘crispy crab cones’ were also cold and tasted bitter. Although small, I could only eat one.

The ‘crispy tempura chee leaves’ were fried in a very greasy batter and also made me feel nauseous.

I was actually beginning to dread the waitress bringing out each new course. I began fantasizing about pizza and was getting very close to walking out.

In a regular restaurant the staff will normally ask you once: “Is everything OK”. In wonderland they were much more specific and repeatedly asked me: “Are you enjoying the food”. I could see in the waitresses’ eyes that she was dreading my response. My reply was: “Well it’s very different and I would not call it enjoyment”.

Like myself, the diners on the three surrounding tables were also very dissatisfied with the food quality.

One table of four actually walked out, the two other tables shared their complaints with each other, then the manager.

One dish saved the meal and was more conventional in style. The ‘Terroir Beef’ was a large portion of marinated beef on the bone. It was very tender and very tasty.

The ‘slow roasted chicken’ looked unconventional and tasted very bland, but at least it did not actually taste weird or bad.

Towards the end of the meal, the thought of a ‘sweet’ began to fill me with dread.

I was actually allowed to choose a sweet. I choose the ‘Boston cream pie maz’. Once again it looked great on the plate, but was just four cubes of incredibly bland cake. I’ve had better cake for from a supermarket for £1.

The quantity (not quality) of food was good, but I did not eat very much of it, as I was simply did not enjoy it. I’m sure that I could have had even more dishes, if I had wanted, but I could simply not stomach them.

Conclusion

In short, this was the worst meal that I have ever had afloat. In fact it is probably one of the worst meal that I have has anywhere. It was a total waste of £53.10p. If they had served me with KFC or McDonald’s, it would have been infinitely preferable. I really regretted that I had not chosen to visit the buffet instead.

Wonderland’s concept is great and the food presentation is amazing, but the flavours were very poor. Maybe I’m just more into tradition ‘plain cooking’ than I ever thought possible?

The menu is far too ambitious for most people, in my opinion. A mass market ship is probably not the right vehicle for these avant-garde creations.

I’d be amazed if the menu is not dramatically revised or the restaurant completely re-branded.

Malcolm

(Postscript: Wonderland is still alive and well. Wonderland has been added to other RCI ships, such as the ‘Oasis’ class. The concept has not changed, but I’d be surprised if the food is still as weird and inedible. However as I said, food is very subjective. Each to their own.)

Full Anthem review: HERE

Q: What was your worst cruise meal?

Introducing MSC’s Luxury Brand: Explora Journeys

June 11, 2021

The MSC Group has announced the company’s entry into the luxury cruise market with the launch of a new brand, Explora Journeys. Built by Fincantieri, the first of four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026. All ships will have the “highest level of service and amenities” and will utilize the latest technology to provide “journeys of discovery” through destinations “on and off the beaten path,” MSC said.

Designed in partnership with superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the innovative ship will blend Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship. With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy striking views at sea and in port from their floor-to-ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square meters, which is among the most spacious for the category in the industry.

Fourteen decks will provide ample indoor public space, maximizing guest choice and seclusion. While outdoor decks will offer more than 2,500 square meters overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across three outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming and poolside relaxation in any weather. Combined with various indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck, the ship was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in an “ocean state of mind,” MSC said. Bookings for the 2023 Inaugural Collection will open in fall 2021.

Steel Cut

The first steel of the Explora I, the first of four new-concept luxury cruise ships that Fincantieri is building for Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand of the cruise division of the MSC Group, was cut yesterday. The order for this class of ships, announced in 2018, is worth a total of over 2 billion euros. The Explora I will be built at the Monfalcone yard with delivery in 2023.

(Images/Text courtesy of MSC)

Malcolm says: MSC are certainly expanding at breakneck speed and obviously want to dominate both the ‘mass’ and ‘luxury’ market. These new ships are 63,900 gross tonnes and will carry around 922 passengers. However MSC currently have a reputation for being “cheap” but not necessarily of a high quality. It’s not the hardware (ships) that is the problem, the regular criticisms are often about the food, service and organisation. Although, everyone seems to agree that MSC’s ‘Yacht Club’ experience is the exception to the rule and is very good, if not excellent. This is what MSC aim to re-create with ‘Explora Journeys’.

Quality should be easier to improve, on-board a smaller ship. Mind you, 63,900 tonnes used to be big! If their fares are at the same level as the other luxury brands, ‘Explora’ would be my last choice of luxury brand! Not because of experience, but because there are so many mediocre reviews of their ‘standard ‘class. I’m not sure that I could trust them, to offer me a luxury experience. At least, not until lots of positive reviews have appeared online.

A New Royal Yacht?

June 9, 2021

A campaign for a new Royal Yacht to be commissioned to help Britain secure post-Brexit trade deals has growing support from politicians and captains of industry.

The concept above, shows a 7,500 gross ton vessel. No design has yet been finalized. 

There is, however, one crucial flaw: I hear that it may  not have the backing of the Queen.

in the past, a close friend who had observed that the idea of a new Britannia was gaining momentum, said the Monarch’s response was described as ‘lukewarm’.

John Major’s Government announced in 1994 that Britannia would be decommissioned. On 20 October 1997, HMY Britannia left Portsmouth on her farewell tour around the UK, before being decommissioned. Watching it being taken out of service in 1997 was one of the few times the Queen was seen to shed a tear in public. (See image above).

The yacht is now a tourist attraction, berthed in Leith, Edinburgh.

A new yacht, which would cost at least £200 million, was backed by Boris Johnson. He said it would ‘add greatly to the soft power of this country’.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment.

(Courtesy Richard Eden, Daily Mail)

The original Royal Yacht Britannia was in built 1954, Leith, Edinburgh. It served until 1997 and is now a museum-ship in Edinburgh. She was 5,769 Gross Tonnes. 

Blocks arrive for RCI’s first Icon Class ship

June 5, 2021

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Construction of Royal Caribbean’s next new class of cruise ships reached a milestone at the end of May 2021.

The first blocks of the vessel were shipped by the Neptun Werft shipyard in Rostock, Germany to the  Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland

Some 80 giant blocks will eventually be assembled together to form the hull of the Icon Class cruise ship.

The Icon Class

There is more information on-line about UFO’s than there is about Royal Caribbean’s next class of ship, Project ‘Icon’.

Now alien flying-saucers might not even exist, but the first ‘Icon’ ship definitely will, in 2022.

The Good Old Days

There was a time in the past, when a cruise line would announce the construction of a new ship and within a few weeks, we would have the renderings to look at and most of the details about the new design.

Today the cruise lines are so much more secretive. The details are kept under wraps for months, even years. Then they are slowly leaked to the media, drip by drip, as the construction nears completion. We may not get the full specification of the new vessels until just before the ship enters service. If fact booking may well open before all of the public rooms and on-board facilities are fully revealed.

For a very impatient person like me, this is VERY annoying.

What makes it even more annoying is that Royal Caribbean have designed some of the most breath-taking ship afloat. I feel like a child who wants to have his Christmas present is September, rather than wait until December.

I appreciate that big mass-market ships are not every cruisers ‘cup of tea’, but RCI have certainly pushed the boundaries in terms of on-board facilities and size. The ‘Oasis’ class, for example, is a remarkable design.

Royal Caribbean first announced ‘Project Icon’ in October 2016. It’s now 2020 and we know little more than we did in 2016. For example: we still have no idea what the ship will look like or anything about the facilities on-board. Even people in the cruise industry, have probably forgotten that that the ship is even coming!

What We Know:

RCI signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku in 2016 for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon.” Two vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024. A third was later added for 2025.

Royal Caribbean later filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Icon of the Seas”.

‘Icon’ is the first new ship class announced by RCI since Celebrity Cruises’ new ‘Edge’ class, which debuts later in 2018. (Also shrouded in much secrecy, for months.)

Icon will carry 5,000 passengers and will be around 200,000 gross tonnes. This suggests that the 5,000 passenger figure look like a lower-berth statistic. (MSC’s forthcoming ‘World Class’ ships and Genting’s ‘Global Class’ will be a similar  gross tonnage).

LNG and Fuel Cells

Icon will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and will introduce the use of fuel cell technology, as used in spacecraft. These innovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

RCI expect to also be able to operate using conventional maritime fuel as a well, for ports without the necessary LNG infrastructure in place.

RCI began testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels.

In contrast, the ‘Quantum’ class is approximately 168,00 gt., carrying 4,905 passengers – all berths. The Oasis class is around 227,000 gt carrying 6, 780 – all berths. Icon will sit in-between the two, in terms of gross tonnage.

However 200,000 gt should give RCI plenty of room for innovative public rooms and facilities.

Oasis generated her ‘wow’ factor with amazing public spaces such as Central Park and the Aqua-Theatre. In contrast, the Quantum class used technology to generate much of her ‘wow’ factor by using technology such as the North Star (observation pod) I-Fly (Freefall experience) and the ‘Bionic Bar’ (robot arms mixing/serving drinks). I wonder where Ikon’s ‘Wow’ will be?

ABB fuel cell being piloted on a RCI ships. (Courtesy ABB)

Interestingly, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley confirmed in early 2019 that the cruise line is looking at bringing the Infinite Veranda idea form the Celebrity ‘Edge’ class over to Royal Caribbean. However some commentators and passengers have been critical of this design of cabin.

Malcolm

Mardi Gras Arrives at Port Canaveral

June 4, 2021

04/06/21: It’s nice to see a new ship being welcomed by the American public, even if it is a leviathan!

Titanic II Building Cost Doubles

June 4, 2021

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tit-money.jpg

Clive Palmer’s dream of building a full-sized replica of the Titanic could cost him over 1 billion U.S. dollars.

The Australian billionaire announced the plans to build a replica for 500 million dollars in 2012, but paused the project in 2015.

Since then the cost of building a ship had soared.

See my dedicated Titanic II blog – HERE

Malcolm says: Regular readers will know that I have a strange obsession with the Titanic II project. In fact most people think it is just a billionaire’s pipe dream. My persistent coverage of the project will either make make me look like a visionary, if Titanic II comes to fruition, or a complete fool, if it never happens. Only time will tell.

MSC World Europa to Debut in Middle East

June 2, 2021

The MSC World Europa is set to debut at the end of 2022 sailing in the Middle East with bookings opening for MSC’s first World class vessel.

Europa, with a maximum capacity of 6,850 guests, around 205,000 gross tonnes and will be 1,080-ft long.

She will set sail in December 2022 and will spend her inaugural season in the Gulf. Her season will commence with a special four-night sailing from Doha in Qatar to her new homeport of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The MSC World Europa will offer seven-night cruises from Dubai to the nearby Abu Dhabi and then onto Sir Bani Yas Island. Her program in the Gulf has also been enriched with calls in the port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, visiting Al Ahsa oasis.

The ship also calls Doha, the capital of Qatar, before returning to Dubai with an overnight in the city.

Departing Dubai on March 25 2023, the MSC World Europa will head to the Mediterranean where she will offer seven-night cruises calling the Italian ports of Genoa, Naples and Messina, as well as Valletta in Malta, Barcelona in Spain and Marseille in France.

Facilities

MSC Cruises is breaking down the public areas of MSC World Europa into distinct districts.

MSC Cruises said MSC World Europa would have an adults-only “Zen district” and a separate “family district” that houses as many as 10 new kids facilities. There also will be a central interior promenade with entertainment, shops and bars.

Notably, the promenade on MSC World Europa will measure 341 feet long and will be half open to the sky and half-covered by an LED “sky screen” that will light up with different displays throughout the day.

One of the signature features of the promenade will be The Spiral, a record breaking dry-slide that plunges 11 decks from near the top of the ship to the promenade area.

(Net)

Ambassador Cruise Line To The Rescue

May 28, 2021

Towards the end of 2020, I wrote an article entitled “The Unprecedented Loss of Classic Ships”.

It was a direct response to large number of older/smaller ships that were being scrapped at the time. I’m not even clear how many were lost. I lost count after fifteen. It is probably double this, by now.

Now I know that some of my readers are probably thinking “So What? A few rust old tubs have been scrapped. Good riddance”.

In recent years the cruise industry has focused on bigger and bigger new floating theme parks. Even some ‘premium’ products like Celebrity Cruises, operate very big ships. There are many smaller luxurious ships in service, but their fares are very expensive. There is a real market, especially in the UK, for smaller tradition ships, offering cruises at affordable fares. Departures from UK regional ports (no-fly) is also a bonus.

Many Brits feel that smaller, intimate, traditional ships, offer a friendlier, more nautical experience. Gimmicks are not required. A wrap around teak promenade deck, good food and entertainment, will surffice.

In short, I am so pleased that the new ‘Ambassador Cruise Line’, created by Ex-CMV executives, will be filling some of the gap left by CMV. I will welcome new ship ‘Ambience’ at Tilbury port next year, which would have been CMV’s ‘Amy Johnson’.

Malcolm

 

A New Look For Ships Bows

May 26, 2021
Prima (Courtesy of NCL)

Cruise ship fans will have noticed that many of the new cruise ships that are entering service or are on the drawing board, have a very different looking bow.

The vertical bow which was commonplace a century ago, has made a comeback.

AIDA Cruises’ AIDAprima, which entered service in in April 2016, was one of the first new cruise ships that I saw with a vertical bow.

AIDAprima (Courtesy AIDA)

The new vertical bow is said to be more efficient and often provides better sea-keeping abilities that the traditional flared bow.

Celebrity Edge (Courtesy Celebrity)

The vertical bow also said to cause less stress and strain on the vessel as she slices through heavy seas instead of trying to part them as the flared bow does.

Scarlet Lady (Courtesy of Virgin)

However others say that the absence of the flare on the bow can make the forward decks get very wet.

I’m no maritime architect, but personally I really like the look of the new (old) bow.

Malcolm

It Has Begun

May 23, 2021

MSC Cruises newest ship, MSC Virtuosa, set sail from Southampton shortly after 7 p.m. on Thursday 20th May. This was the first large cruise ship to leave UK shores since the worldwide pandemic.

Viking Venus @ Portsmouth

It was followed by Viking’s newest ship, Viking Venus, which left Portsmouth on Friday May 22.

Other lines which are set to sail this summer include Marella, Cunard, Princess, Noble Caledonia, Regent Seven Seas and Hurtigruten.How was this article?

Malcolm says: This represents more than a year that the global cruise industry had been suspended. However, so much more has been lost that holidays. I hope that we never see the likes of such a pandemic again.

Olsen’s Boudicca Scrapped

May 22, 2021

Another ‘Real Ship’, Fred. Olsen’s former Boudicca, has been beached for scrapping in Aliaga, Turkey.

The ship was sold by Fred. Olsen in 2020 and was set to become an accommodation vessel, but those plans fell through.

The Boudicca enjoyed a 42 year old career, that started with Royal Viking Line.

The ship also sailed for Norwegian Cruise Line, Birka Line, Princess Cruises and even Star Cruises, Hyundai and Iberojet before joining the Fred. Olsen fleet, in 2005.

Fred. Olsen sold its other classic Black Watch at the same time as the Boudicca, to the same buyer. Her fate remains unknown.

(CIN)

My Boudicca review – HERE

Fred’s two new acquisitions, Bolette & Borealis – HERE

Ambassador Cruise Line: ‘Ambitious’ Growth Plans

May 22, 2021

The chief executive of Ambassador Cruise Line has outlined the company’s “ambitious” growth plans as the new line prepares to release its debut itinerary programme next month.

The UK-based cruise operator will initially base 1,400-passenger ship Ambience in Tilbury, Essex, but Christian Verhounig plans to deploy more ships in other UK ports and further afield in the future.

Ambience – formerly P&O Cruises Australia ship Pacific Dawn – had previously been bought by Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV).

Ambience

The vessel is currently being repositioned to Europe where it will get “a major upgrade” before it sails its maiden voyage to Hamburg on April 6, 2022.

The ship’s sailings, due to go on sale in June, will be aimed at the over 50s market in the UK and Verhounig said the line hopes to become “the leading premium value provider for the silver market”.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Verhounig, CMV’s former chief executive, said: “We have ambitious plans going forward. We’ll have one ship to start with and we do hope to expand the product with sailings not only from Tilbury but from regional ports in the very near future.

Christian Verhounig

“We are looking at opportunities and when opportunities arise, then we will take the right decision to make this grow into the future. Our plans are ambitious for the future and not limited only to the UK.”

Ambience will have a guest space ratio (the number of guests divided by the ship’s gross tonnage) of 50:2, which appealed to the line’s bosses.

Around 600 crew members will serve 1,400 passengers, the line confirmed.

Verhounig said: “We want passengers to get to know each other. They come on as individuals and live as friends. With a spacious vessel there are less gimmicks.”

Prior to Ambience’s launch next year, the ship will become compliant with reduced nitrogen oxide emission protocols due to come into effect on January 1, 2025.

The line said the vessel would be fitted with the latest ballast and sewage water treatment systems which would allow it to sail in seas which are “strictly environmentally protected”.

Verhounig added: “We are seeing massive pent-up demand. People want to travel, especially passengers who are used to cruising. They’re ready to go out and sail again.”

(Courtesy Travel Weekly)

Malcolm says: If you remember CMV expanded at the rate of knots – from a single ship, to five. They also has a major presence in the Australian and German markets. Hopefully, lesson have been learnt. However, I really do welcome a new UK ‘Budget’ cruise line.

Lisa Jacobs Appointed To Ambassador

Newly-launched Ambassador Cruise Line has appointed another former Cruise & Martime Voyages team member as its head of trade sales.

Lisa confirmed her appointment on her Facebook page following the line’s unveiling on Thursday morning.

Jacobs, who joined in March, has more than 30 years’ experience working across the travel and cruise industries. She worked for more than a decade at CMV after joining the team in 2010 and climbing the ranks to head of trade sales and groups.

Her final position at the line before its collapse last year was sales director.

(Courtesy Travel weekly)

New Rotterdam Completes Sea Trials

May 19, 2021

Holland America Line’s newest ship Rotterdam (99,500 gross tonnes) completed sea trials in early May and has returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera (Venice) shipyard in Italy.

The Rotterdam left Marghera April 25 and performed the preliminary sea trials over two days before going into drydock at Fincantieri’s Trieste shipyard where standard pre-delivery hull maintenance and painting were performed, according to a press release.

The ship started its official sea trials on May 3, returning to Marghera May 6, where the final steps in the construction process will be completed. The Rotterdam is scheduled for delivery July 30.

(HAL)

Malcolm says: I believe the next Cunard ship will be based on this design.

Disney Wish: The Funnel Suite

May 16, 2021

It is pretty rare that a cruise line can come up with an original cabin design. Just about everything has been done before!

However Disney may well have a first, on-board their next ship “Disney Wish”, unless you know differently.

On-board all Disney ships, the front funnel is fake, it’s just there were aesthetics, so thee is plenty of room in it to house a big duplex suite.

It is the rear funnels that carry the exhaust pipes from the generators.

However, I can’t even begin imagine the fare for this unique grade of cabin!

Malcolm

MSC Virtuosa Arrives At Southampton

May 15, 2021
(Courtesy MSC)

The MSC Virtuosa, MSC Cruises’ latest flagship, has arrived in Southampton, UK, on the 13th May, 2021.

She is ready to welcome guests as cruising restarts in the UK. The newest and most innovative ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet, MSC Virtuosa will embark on her maiden voyage around the British Isles on May 20.

(MSC)

Malcolm says: I did a mini cruise on her sister, Grandiosa, at the end of 2019. In fact that was to be my last cruise pre-pandemic. Grandiosa was pretty amazing really, if you like big floating hotel/resorts. I’d recommend Virtuosa, if you are that way inclined. (See my ship review).

However, I’d also recommend that Edwin and other ‘real ship’ fans, do not touch her with a barge pole!

CMV Reborn: Ambassador Cruise Line

May 13, 2021

Former Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) bosses have reunited to launch Ambassador Cruise Line, a UK-based operator aimed at the over 50s market which plans to start sailing with one ship in April 2022.

Ambassador’s management team includes chief executive Christian Verhounig, chief commercial officer Christopher Coates, chief information officer Gary Hides and chief financial officer Simon Weeks, who have all previously worked together at CMV before the line went into administration.

Ambassador will operate cruises on Ambience, formerly known as Pacific Dawn as a P&O Australia ship, which was set to become CMV’s flagship under the name Amy Johnson.

The 1,400-passenger ship’ maiden voyage will be a “short-break cruise” out of Tilbury to Hamburg, Germany, starting on April 6 next year.

The ship’s debut full-year programme, running from April 2022 until May 2023, will include 33 sailings, calling at 88 ports across the Baltics, Greenland, the Arctic and Iceland.

During the winter months, Ambassador plans to offer “expedition-style voyages” to the Canaries, Cuba, the Caribbean, Cape Verde and Scandinavia.

All passengers and crew will be required to be vaccinated for Covid-19 prior to departure, the line confirmed.

Lead-in prices for a seven-night European cruise departing from Tilbury, where Ambience will be based, will be about £850.

The line’s no-fly voyages will be aimed at the over 50s market in the UK.

Verhounig told Travel Weekly: “[Ambience] is an authentic, classical vessel, something which we know that the market segment we’re selling to loves to go on.”

He said the new line’s trade sales team had started approaching agents with details of the debut programme, due to go on sale next month.

Ambassador plans to release a 68-page brochure alongside the programme in June.

Website here: http://www.ambassadorcruiseline.com

(You can join their mailing list via their web site).

The line is backed by London-based private equity firm Njord Partners LLP and is currently “debt free”, Verhounig said.

He also confirmed that every passenger who sails on Ambience would be financially protected through an independent trust account set up to hold customer monies.

Funds would only be released once the cruise departs. Customers’ monies and agent commissions will be refunded if a cruise is cancelled, Verhounig said.

Gordon Wilson

Travel industry veteran Gordon Wilson, who was president and chief executive of Travelport until July 2019, has been appointed chairman of the line.

Wilson, who is a member of the board at BCD Holdings which owns global corporate travel management company BCD Travel, plans to create  “at least 100 jobs” from the UK and said a new cruise line would help “reboot the British cruise market and inject confidence into the sector”.

He added: “We are hugely excited to launch the first British cruise line in over a decade. Ambassador Cruise Line offers the best of British cruising. We’re a new company offering a distinctive product but maintaining traditional cruising values which we know are important to our guests.

“This is just the beginning. We have ambitious growth plans, and the travel industry is a crucial partner in this.

“We’re looking forward to working collaboratively with agents, partners and the shipping community. Investment on this scale, and the launch of such a significant business as we emerge from the pandemic will make a significant contribution to the local economy and travel industry, particularly as we look to fill at least 100 jobs from the UK.”

(Courtesy of Travel Weekly)

NCL: Prima Interiors

May 13, 2021

Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled its new Norwegian Prima, debuting for the 2022 summer cruise season. The Fincantieri-built vessel is one of six in a series through 2027 for Norwegian.

The new ship is notable smaller, at just over 3,200 guests, than compared to Norwegian’s most recently Breakaway-Plus vessels, which were 4,200 guests each.

Norwegian has relocated all 107 Haven suites to the aft (the rear of the ship) within close proximity of private elevators exclusively reserved for Haven guests. These elevators rise directly into The Haven public areas on decks 16 and 17 (pictured above). Norwegian said it has evolved The Haven’s design to be more open to the sea than ever before. 

Norwegian is introducing its first-ever upscale open-air marketplace with Indulge Food Hall, which extends to the aft deck pictured above. Indulge Food Hall offers visitors diverse menu items from a variety of culinary venues (11 in total) as well as a mix of indoor and outdoor seating.

The 11 venues include Coco’s, serving artisan sweet treats; Q Texas Smokehouse, with American Southern comfort food; and Starbucks.

Indulge will unveil first-ever dining venues including Seaside Rotisserie, offering a wide array of rotisserie-cooked dishes; Nudls, a noodle emporium serving noodle dishes from around the world, from Italian to Thai cuisines; Tamara, preparing classic Indian dishes and multiple vegetarian food options; The Latin Quarter, serving classic Latin food with a twist; Tapas Food Truck, cooking elevated Latin-inspired street food; Garden Kitchen, where guest can order customized salads with more than two dozen ingredients to choose from; Just Desserts, featuring classic dessert items such as pies and cakes and Just Ice Cream serving appetizing ice cream flavors and sweet dishes.

Norwegian said the new ship will have the brand’s largest-ever inside, oceanview and balcony staterooms, including the largest-ever bathrooms and showers for standard stateroom categories. 

(CIN)

Introducing: NCL’s New Prima

May 11, 2021

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its 2022 newbuild will carry the name Norwegian Prima.

The ship is due to enter service after being delivered from Fincantieri next summer and is one of six in a new class of ships.

The ship is also expected to sail in Europe next summer before crossing to the Caribbean. 

It is rumored that the ship would homeport in Port Canaveral. 

Deployment

Deployment for the new Norwegian Prima is out, showcasing an inaugural-tour style itinerary from Norwegian Cruise Line, with a variety of homeports and regions to show the ship off to multiple markets.

Following a string of inaugural cruises and beginning August 2022, the Norwegian Prima will sail in Northern Europe From Aug. 17 to Sept. 13, 2022, she will sail a series of 10-day voyages from Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Copenhagen, Denmark, sailing to Northern Europe, Norwegian Fjords and the Baltic regions.

On Sept. 23, Norwegian Prima will depart Southampton, England, on a 12-day transatlantic voyage  visiting Lerwick, Scotland with an overnight in Reykjavik, Iceland, before arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and ending her journey in New York to start a five-day roundtrip itinerary on Oct. 10 to Bermuda, where she will make her debut as the newest ship sailing the fall and winter season.

On Oct. 15, she will depart from New York on a 12-day open-jaw Caribbean itinerary and will become the first Norwegian Cruise Line vessel to call in Galveston, TX. She will have calls to Willemstad, Curacao; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba. On Oct. 31, the Norwegian Prima will begin her Caribbean season departing from Galveston, TX, to Miami on an 11-day itinerary.

From Nov. 19 to Dec. 3, the Norwegian Prima will sail from Miami offering three, seven-day Western Caribbean cruises visiting Harvest Caye, in addition to other notable ports including Cozumel, Mexico, and Roatan Island, Honduras.

From Dec. 11, 2022, to March 19, 2023, Norwegian Prima will homeport in Port Canaveral, sailing 15 roundtrip Western Caribbean voyages featuring five, seven, and nine-day port-rich itineraries, according to the company. Calls include Cozumel, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and NCL’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas.

Then, from March 28 to May 7, the Norwegian Prima will sail a season of five- and seven-day roundtrip Bermuda voyages from New York. She will call at Norfolk, Virginia and the vessel will also sail to the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda, where itineraries include one or two overnight stays at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

On May 14, the Norwegian Prima heads back to Iceland and Northern Europe, departing on an 11-day transatlantic journey from New York City to Reykjavik, Iceland, visiting Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, before making calls to several Icelandic ports, including Akureyri, and Isafjordur.

From May 25 to Sept. 7, the Norwegian Prima’s summer 2023 season will offer a mix of 10 and 11-day Norway and Iceland sailings from Reykjavik, Iceland, and Southampton, England,.

On Sept. 17, the Norwegian Prima wraps up her summer 2023 season with a 14-day roundtrip voyage from Southampton, England, with calls in Dublin, Ireland; Isafjordur and Akureyri, Iceland, with an overnight in Reykjavik; and visits to Geiranger, Olden, and Stavanger, Norway.

(Courtesy NCL)

(NCL)

Malcolm says: It is so rare that a cruise lines next class of ship is a little smaller than the one before. However, the ship is not a be-spoke design for NCL. Prima’s the is based on Fincantieri’s Project Mille design, as is Virgin’s ships and MSC’s ‘Seaside’. However Leonardo is shorter than Seaside, so will have a smaller gross tonnage and carry less passengers.

Seaside is 154,000 gross tonnes and carry 4,140 (lower berth) passengers. Leonardo will be 142, 500 gross tonnes and carry around 3,300 passengers. The Breakaway and Breakaway plus class were 145k-169k. (See video above).

I’m not aware that these ship have any real gimmicks (Ice bars or Go-kart Tracks etc.) I suppose the gimmick is the ships connection with the sea, which is never a bad thing. Prima’s ‘Ocean Boulevard’ offers over 50% more outdoor space that their Breakaway class did, with their ‘Waterfront’.

What Is The Fastest Ship?

May 10, 2021

I was wondering what the fastest ship is (or was).  However, my first hurdle is to actually define what a ‘Ship’ is.

When I say “ship”, I mean “passenger vessel”. Now I don’t doubt that there are some super-charged speed-boats out there, but my criteria is a larger vessel that regularly carries paying passengers.

(SS United States Today - source unknown)

(SS United States Today – source unknown)

Ocean Liner fans will know of the SS United States, built in 1952 for the United States Line. She broke the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage. She still holds the Blue Riband for being the fastest ocean liner of all time. They say she could achieve 38 knots. (The SS United States was laid-up in 1996 and her fate still remains uncertain).

Given the fact that she was a very big Ocean liner carrying 2,000+ passengers, that is a VERY impressive and unparalleled achievement.

The Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner must certainly be one of today’s fastest cruise ships. She can achieve 30 knots, which is faster than most.

(Courtesy Incat)

(Courtesy Incat)

My research tells me that Fast-Ferries (SeaCats etc.) hold the maritime speed records today.

The fastest ferry in commercial service on the planet was Incat’s ‘Francisco’ (2012). She operates on the Rio de la Plata estuary (River Plate) between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

The 99-metre long ‘Wave Piercing Catamaran’ accommodates 1024 passengers and 150 cars. Her water-jet engines can achieve a maximum speed of up to 58.1 knots, or 67 mph.

Interestingly she can be powered by duel fuel, one being LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which looks set to also be the future choice of cruise ships.

srn4

The SRN4 Hovercraft

Hovercraft, such as the mighty car-carrying SRN4 was very fast, compared to conventional ferries. However are they a even “ship” ? After all they effectively “fly” across the water and land.

The SRN4 could accommodate 400+ passengers and 60 cars at a cruising speed 60 knots, but capable of 83 knots, dependant on payload.

The various fast-ferries, including some Hovercraft around the world, are all very impressive. However their service normally has to be suspended when the seas get rough. Condor currently operate fast-ferries up to a 3.5 meter wave height.  After this they become very uncomfortable for passengers.  In contrast the Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner is designed to cross the North Atlantic, in the winter, whatever the weather.

I still think that the SS United States 38 knots is probably the most impressive achievement of the lot!

Malcolm

Southampton’s New “Horizon” Cruise Terminal

May 5, 2021

ABP has announced its fifth world-class, open access cruise terminal is to be named Horizon Cruise Terminal.

Horizon Cruise Terminal, joins the line-up of the four existing world-class cruise terminals in the port which are named Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal, City Cruise Terminal, Ocean Cruise Terminal and Mayflower Cruise Terminal.

The Port of Southampton is Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port and the Horizon Cruise Terminal is in the port’s Western Docks, inside Dock Gate 10.

The fifth dedicated cruise terminal at the port will benefit from roof-mounted solar power and will also have Shore Power connectivity installed. With construction on track, the port will be welcoming ships alongside from the summer.

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.

(ABP)

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

Disney’s Eye Watering Fares

May 2, 2021

How much would you pay for a two day cruise to nowhere? Disney’s UK stacation fares are eye watering!

Admittedly all of the cheapest grades are already sold our, but even they were far from cheap.

Malcolm

Marella (Thomson) Celebration Remembered

May 1, 2021

A year ago, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic,  Marella Cruises announced that they were retiring the 1984-built Celebration.

(I am not clear if she HAS actually been scrapped by now? Anyone?)

The ship was built in 1984 by Chantiers de l’Atlantique for Holland America Line as the MS Noordam.  In 2005 she was moved to Thomson Cruises, which eventually became Marella.

“The Marella Celebration is one of the longest standing and most loved ships in the Marella Cruises fleet. She’s sailed with the cruise line for 15 years, carrying almost half a million passengers. The ship was due to homeport in Dubrovnik in summer ’20 and summer ’21 and Cyprus and Dubai for the winter season,” the company said, in a statement.

(Marella)

Malcolm says: I believe her sister, Marella Spirit (HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam) left the fleet in 2018 and was sadly scrapped.  

I have very fond memories of Celebration and the Thomson.  I did two cruises on Celebration (2006 and 2209, see links below) under the ‘Thomson Cruises’ umbrella (Pre the Marella rebranding). I loved her and their budget operation in general. This is another loss of a ‘Real Ship’.

Red Sea Magic review: HERE  Colourful Coasts review: HERE

Marella: Summer UK Coastal Sailings

April 17, 2021

Marella Cruises has revealed details of its brand new itineraries sailing UK shores in summer 2021.

According to a press release, the Marella Explorer will set sail from Southampton on UK itineraries from June 25, 2021, sailing to new ports of call including, Belfast, Dublin and Liverpool.

The Marella Explorer 2 (formerly Celebrity Century), the cruise line’s adult-only ship, will also offer UK sailings from Newcastle from July 10, 2021, with even more UK ports of call.

The Marella Explorer will sail seven new UK itineraries during the summer 2021 season, “perfect for those looking to explore via sea the history and culture of some amazing British cities and towns,” the cruise line said. All itineraries will have recommended excursions from our onboard destination services team to offer guests options to make the most of their time ashore.

According to Marella, Sail the South Coast itinerary is a “great taster and for those new to cruising with a three-night itinerary from Southampton, visiting Dover for Canterbury Cathedral and Portland for the beautiful Abbotsbury Swannery & Gardens.”

“Cruisers looking for a longer break can experience the new Sail the Irish Sea. Departing in August from Southampton, it will visit popular cities including Liverpool, Dublin and Cobh in the Republic of Ireland,” the cruise line wrote.

Marella is also offering a number of Scottish itineraries, including ‘British Sights and Seas’ which will visit five Scottish hotspots. The history rich itinerary has a day at sea before exploring Invergordon, the old historic town of Kirkwall and the rich culture of Leith and a visit to Edinburgh Castle before heading to Newcastle and then back down to Southampton.

A Taste of the West Coast will also see Marella Explorer sail to Greenock, the capital of Northern Ireland – Belfast and Holyhead before finishing the itinerary in Portland.

Anyone aged 18 years and older will be required to have had both COVID-19 jabs at least seven days before travelling. All under 18 year-olds, excluding infants under the age of two who will not be able to sail as they are exempt from testing, will be asked to have a lateral flow test.

All itineraries, except for those with Newcastle as an embarkation point, go on sale on April 16, Marella said. Newcastle sailings are expected to go on sale by the end of April.

UK sailings are available only for UK residents with a permanent UK address and a valid passport.

(Marella)

Another Titanic project!

April 16, 2021

From fact to fantasy?

We all know that it is much easier to create a ship project and build a web site, than it is to actually build a ship.

For example, most of you would of first heard of Australian Billionaire, Clive Palmer’s Titanic II, almost a decade ago, but where is it? No shipyard order has been made. No steel has been cut.

The SS Titan is another such project. If she gets built, she will be the worlds biggest, longest and fastest ocean liner – bigger than the Queen Mary 2!

I’ve spoken to the mastermind behind it, Joseph Ricker and he is sincere, but the challenges (including financial) must be enormous.

On a scale 1- 10, how likely do you think the project is to come to fruition?

Malcolm

Dedicated Titanic II blog here: – HERE

Art Deco Lover

April 12, 2021

I do love a bit of Art Deco architecture. This was the style that became first became popular in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Art Deco influenced the design of almost everything from paintings, jewellery, clothing, buildings, furniture, cars, movie theatres, trains and ocean liners.

During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

(Southampton's 1950 Ocean Terminal)

(Southampton’s 1950 Ocean Terminal)

Fortunately the United kingdom still has some wonderful Art Deco buildings that have been well preserved…

Full article: HERE

Malcolm

 

Anthem UK Cruises

April 10, 2021

Royal Caribbean’s impressive ‘Anthem of the Seas’ is one of many ships offering UK cruises this summer.

In July and August, 2021, there will be 4, 5, 6 and 7 night itineraries on offer, from Southampton, return.

The four night itineraries are cruises to nowhere. Prices start at a whopping £699 per person, for a window cabin!

Now, I can’t believe Brits will be fighting to pay almost £175 per night for a 4 night UK mini-cruise to nowhere, post lockdown, or not. Even RCI’s other UK itineraries, with ports of call are a little uninspiring, as around-Britain cruises go.

Virgins and MSC’s UK cruises are also set at a similar price point.

My advice would be to save your money for a proper cruise, unless you really want to try one of these particular ships, from a UK port. Even if I did, I would not pay those fares.

Hopefully some deep discounts will be offered nearer the departure date.

Malcolm

Q: Would you pay those fares?

2020/21 – The Unprecedented Loss of Classic Ships

April 8, 2021
Recent scrapping in Turkey (Courtesy of Nautica Goods)

I doubt if we have ever seen two years like 2020/21, 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 at least 18 ships (with more to come?) 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. Most of their two fleets respective have now been scraped.

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.

Marco Polo 14/01/21 (Courtesy of Gohil Viramdevsinh)

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 in 2020 and have (or are 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: Astor, Marco Polo, Magellan, Columbus, Marella Celebration, Monarch, Sovereign, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival’ Inspiration, Horizon, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Celebration, Ocean Dream, Zenith, Costa Victoria and Marella Dream. 

There are some other ships too, but it is difficult to keep count at the moment. Some have been sold and their future status is still in limbo.

It’s a very sad yer or two, for classic ships.

Malcolm

Twelve Lines Offer Around Britain Cruises

April 4, 2021

The first cruises to be offered to Brits, in the Summer 2021, will be around Britain cruises. In fact there are at least twelve cruise lines, at present, offering such itineraries. (Plus a few cruises from UK ports, to nowhere).

I guess some UK ports will have never seen so much action!  Given the large size of some of the ships on offer, there will be quite a bit of tendering.

These lines include  P&O, Cunard, Princess, Fred Olsen, Celebrity, Disney  and MSC. Many depart from Southampton, but some reginal UK ports are also on offer.

My cruise CV is full of the ghosts of CMV:

The first cruises to be offered to Brits, in the Summer 2021, will be around Britain cruises.

the cruise lines that serve the U.K., such as P&O, Cunard, Celebrity, Virgin Princess, Fred Olsen and MSC will all be offering non-international itineraries, mainly from Southampton.

I managed to avoid an around Britain cruise for a few decades:  I’m not actually a “sun lover” as such, but an around Britain itinerary did not sound as exciting to me, as one that offered foreign ports of call.

However, In April 2016 CMV’s Astor offered just one nine day cruises for the British cruise market. It was a nine day around-Britain itinerary from Tilbury. I jumped at the chance to try her.

This was a ship which ship, spent most of her year cruising around Australian and the Indian Ocean.

In March, each year, she offered a 38 night southbound voyage from Australia to Tilbury, via South Africa.

Each October she offers a northbound voyage back to Freemantle, Australia.

Between these two long voyages, she offers cruises for the German market from Bremerhaven, to Europe, under the ‘Transocean’ brand. Therefor a shorter cruise, for Brits, from a UK port, was a very rare occurrence.

I wrote a review HERE. However it is essentially a ship review, rather than a cruise/ports review.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the ship, the crew and the itinerary. Sadly the Astor was of course scrapped earlier this year.

However I would not dismiss an ‘around U.K.’ cruise again. Our island and it’s many islands, has a lot to offer.

Malcolm

MSC Virtuosa for UK Summer Cruises

April 3, 2021

MSC Cruises has announced it will deploy its latest flagship for British guests to enjoy safe summer sailings around the UK, 2021. The MSC Virtuosa will make its maiden voyage on May 20 with guests onboard from Southampton as the first of a series of three and four-night mini-cruises before she begins seven-night cruises from June 12 with three embarkation ports in England and Scotland.

Courtesy MSC

All voyages will be for British residents only and for guests of all ages who are either waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine or who have already been vaccinated. All guests will be tested before they embark the ship and non-vaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of a negative test conducted up to 72 hours prior to embarkation, the cruise line said. Other pre-boarding and onboard measures will also apply to both guests and crew, in line with MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol.

The range of four-night mini-cruises will offer a late sail from Southampton and will provide the ultimate short getaway for couples or friends in search of a quick escape. The ship will call at the Isle of Portland in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast, where guests will be able to go ashore to enjoy the perfect day out at the beach. The itinerary will also include two days at sea so that guests can enjoy the facilities that MSC Virtuosa has to offer.

From June 12, holidaymakers can join seven-night sailings that will include stops in Portland and Belfast (Northern Ireland) and offer multiple ports of embarkation including Liverpool and Greenock, close to Glasgow in Scotland.

The MSC Virtuosa was delivered in February and is one of MSC Cruises’ most innovative and environmentally-advanced ships and part of the generation of Meraviglia class vessels.

The 19-deck ship will offer its British guests of all ages restaurants, entertainment, bars and lounges, boutique shopping, spa and fitness centers, an aquapark and clubs for toddlers to teenagers. The Virtuosa also features the brand-new MSC Starship Club with the world’s first humanoid robotic bartender offering a futuristic immersive bar and entertainment experience.

The MSC Virtuosa was previously scheduled to serve itineraries in Northern Europe out of Germany, she will be replaced by MSC Seaview. Booked guests and travel agents will be contacted directly, the cruise line said.

(MSC)

Malcolm says: This is a great opportunity for Brits to try a very impressive, state-of-the-art modern ship. (If you like big and modern.)

Sister ship review: HERE

Celebrity Silhouette: UK This Summer

April 2, 2021

Celebrity Cruises has announced its return to the UK with the news that the Celebrity Silhouette will set sail from Southampton this summer for British guests.

Setting sail from Southampton beginning Saturday, July 3, the Celebrity Silhouette will embark on a series of six-to-eight-night itineraries around Britain’s coastline.

Guests will have the chance to explore Portland; discover Inverness, Kirkwall and Glasgow; and also visit Belfast and Liverpool.

The new sailings go on sale beginning April 6.

Celebrity Silhouette will sail with all guests ages 18 and above vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 with negative PCR test results. 

(Celebrity Cruises)

Disney From Tilbury!

April 1, 2021

Now that’s a headline that I NEVER thought that I’d write and it’s NOT a April fools joke, honest:

Disney Magic (courtesy of Disney)

Cruise fans have the chance to immerse themselves in the magical world of Disney this summer…. all while sailing at sea.

Disney Cruise Line has announced a new UK staycation package for summer 2021 – and they will be sailing from Essex.

Departing on select dates from Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton aboard the Disney Magic, the new staycation sailing is exclusive to UK residents.

Passengers will be immersed in Disney storytelling, thanks to a collection of onboard entertainment, dining and recreation for the entire family, with all the care you’d expect from Disney.

More information including pricing will be released when bookings open up in April.

(Courtsey Alex Gidden, Braintree & Witham Times)

Olsen’s New Bollette For Tilbury

March 27, 2021

One of Fred Olsen’s new additions to their fleet, named “Bollette”, will be offering six cruises from Tilbury, Essex, UK, in 2022.

These itineraries are in October and December 2022 and range from 5 to 15 nights.

Olsen will also offer cruises from Dover, Southampton and a number of other regional ports, including Scotland and Ireland.

I assume Olsen is keen to capture some of CMV’s past passengers. However their fares can be 50% higher, in my experience.

For the record, I like the Olsen product, but £139 per person, for an inside cabin, in the winter, is a lot of money. After all they are NOT a Luxury or Premium cruise line either. Let’s hope that some deep discounts emerge later on.

Below is a slide show of the interiors of former Holland America Lines ‘Ms Amsterdam’, which was sold to the Fred. Olsen line in 2021 and renamed ‘Bolette’.

The ships is named Bollette, 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.

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says: It’s a pity that Olsen did not retain Black Watch and Boudicca for a few more years and offered them as a budget product. I believe CMV fans would have embraced both vessels, if the price was right.

P&O’s Arvia: Caribbean Homeports

March 26, 2021

P&O’s next ship, Arvia, will offer a Caribbean maiden season of fly/cruise holidays from home port Barbados and Antigua.

Arvia is Iona’s near identical sister and enters service in December 2022,

The new Caribbean itineraries, running from January to March 2023, will also feature La Romana in the Dominican Republic – a maiden port of call for P&O Cruises; Curaçao; Martinique; St Kitts; St Lucia and St Maarten.

Arvia’s seven and 14-night fly/cruises from the UK also all include an overnight call in Barbados. 22-night holidays departing from or returning to Southampton with UK flights are also available.

(P&O)

Marella to Help Fill The CMV Gap?

March 24, 2021

Malcolm says: After the demise of CMV last year, who mainly served UK passengers, from UK regional ports, a big hole was left in the market. Fred. Olsen who offers a British experience on-board older/smaller ships can fill part of this gap, although their fares are much higher than CMV’s used to be.

Thomson cruises, now re-branded as Marella (a silly name in my opinion) used to offer a similar product to CMV (or vice-versa) and offered some UK reginal cruise departures. Like CMV, their ships were older/smaller and well worn, but good value. However, they later concentrated on fly cruises, probably because owners TUI, owned an airline.

Marella have updated their UK fleet over the past five years with newer, slightly bigger second-hand ships. ‘Cruise Industry News’ has reported that they are looking to fill the UK regional departure gap:

(Courtesy Marella)

Add TUI-owned Marella to the long list of brands that will offer a UK-based domestic cruise program this summer.

The four-ship British brand has a heavy presence in the UK and a strong fly-cruise program, and has promised details are coming soon.

“We’re really pleased to announce we’ll be offering domestic cruises sailing from the UK this year. We can’t wait to welcome you back onboard. More details will be revealed soon,” the company said, in a social media post.

(CIN)

Malcolm says: There are no details of itineraries yet. I also hear that TUI are closing around 50 high street Travel Agency shops.

STOP PRESS: I hear that Fred. Olsen will be using Tilbury cruise terminal (CMV’s old homeport) for selected cruises.

Thomson Celebration, which is about to be scrapped, was a favourite with Brits. See Review: Here

Arvia Steel Cut

February 23, 2021

(Courtesy P&O Cruises)

The first piece of steel has been cut for P&O Cruises’ latest ship Arvia.

The 5,200-passenger sister ship to Iona is being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. It is the second LNG-powered Excel class ship to join the P&O Cruises fleet.

The Arvia will be delivered in December 2022, and holidays on it will go on sale in March.

(P&O Cruises)

Introducing: P&O’s Next Ship Arvia

February 20, 2021

(Courtesy P&O)

P&O Cruises has revealed the name of their new 5,200-passenger, second LNG-powered Excel class ship, through a video reveal.

The ship, which will join the P&O Cruises UK six-ship fleet in December 2022, will be named Arvia.

The name means “from the seashore” in Latin.

“The Arvia will join the Iona as an innovative and future-focused ship offering an outstanding, varied and contemporary holiday. The Arvia has been designed to travel to the sun year-round and to maximize views of the ocean and the seashore from everywhere on board, so it seemed a very fitting name and one which will reflect the experience for guests on board,” said P&O Cruises President Paul Ludlow.

Cruises on the Arvia will go on sale in March and further details of the ship, its design and experiences onboard will be released over the coming months.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: Ariva will be a twin sister of Iona, a Carnival design of course, shared by other Carnival brands such as AIDA, COSTA and Carnival itself.

I believe the stated capacity above is double occupancy. She will actually accommodate up to 6,264 passengers. Bring back the Marco Polo and Astor!

The new name reminds me of  the UK bus company name’.  I note that P&O pronounce it: Ah – via.

(Not P&O’s Newbuild!)

The Innovative Solid Sail Project

February 18, 2021

(Courtesy Chantiers de l’Atlantique)

Chantiers de l’Atlantique has announced that it will install a prototype of its Solid Sail/AeolDrive at the shipyard.

Under development for more than a decade, the Solid Sail project hopes to eventually bring wind power to mid-sized cruise ships, in the 200-meter-long range. The eventual goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent using wind power.

The prototype will be one of the tallest composite masts of the world, towering 95 meters above the ground when it is installed in 2022. The centre-piece of the system, the rigging named AeolDrive – a mast tiltable through 70° – will support the Solid Sail, a 1,200 m² sail made entirely of composite materials.

(Chantiers de l’Atlantique)

Malcolm says: I believe MSC were very interested in such a concept.  I’m all for protecting the environment, as I believe that even modern cruise ships, are big polluters. However, most passengers (inc. me) will be primarily interested in a good cruise fare. If they can achieve both environmental progress and good value, that’s great!

Manxman – The New Isle of Man Ferry

February 7, 2021

A new passenger and freight ferry serving the route between the Isle of Man and Lancashire  is expected to be in service in spring 2023, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company chief executive Mark Woodward said.

It will be named ‘Manxman’.

The ship, which will be built in South Korea, would be more “manoeuvrable in poor conditions”.  It will also have “considerably more passenger space”, the operator has said.

The new vessel will be the previously reported ‘Heysham max’ size of 142m and will be able to carry 800 passengers, compared to the Ben-my-Chree’s capacity of 630. It will also have an increased freight capacity with 1,250 lane metres available.

It will replace the Ben-my-Chree, which will be kept as a back-up ship.

Mr Woodward said “following lengthy discussions” with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, a contract had been signed on Friday.

“It is expected the new vessel will be slightly larger than the Ben-my-Chree in most respects, but with considerably more passenger space,” he said. “It is also intended to be more environmentally efficient and manoeuvrable in poor conditions.”

The cost has not yet been confirmed, although the ferry operator previously said replacing both the Ben-my-Chree (the existing conventional ferry), which sails to Heysham, and the Manannan (a fast ferry), which serves its Liverpool route, would cost at least £70m.

Although government-owned, the company will fund the new vessel itself. Construction is due to start in summer 2021.

(BBC)

 Manannan (their fast ferry) is reported to be in good condition for her age and could be operated for several more years. The Manannan is required under an agreement to have a refurbishment by the end of March 2021 and to be replaced by ‘no later than December 31, 2026’. However, it is not clear whether the new vessel would be new or a refurbished ferry.  It is also not known if the new vessel will be a fast craft or a ‘fast conventional ferry’.

Ben-My-Cree

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The Ben-my-Chree and the Manannan (backgound) were both launched in 1998

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is the oldest continually operating passenger shipping company in the world, having began operations in 1830.

Today they operate regular ferry (and a fast ferry) services which connect the Isle of Man to Heysham, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin.

If you have never been, the ‘Isle of Man’ is a charming, un-spoilt little island in the Irish sea, steeped in history. I’d recommend it.  Below is a review of ‘Ben My Chree’ and an ‘Isle of Man’ slide-show.

Ferry Review: HERE          Isle of Man slide-show: HERE

Malcolm

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)

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