Quantum loses ‘Dynamic’ In Chinese Make-Over

September 2, 2015
(Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

(Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean has nearly completed updates to Quantum of the Seas that will better suit her for her role in offering cruises in China.

Cruise Critic Story: Here

Malcolm says: “Dynamic Dining was removed and dining changed to traditional dining” – an admission of failure? Will this be applied to ‘Anthem of the seas’ sooner or later?

Anthem of the Seas review: HERE

Virtual Balconies Explained

September 1, 2015

New Carnival Megaships: The Most Crowded In The World?

August 29, 2015
The Costa Twins

The Costa Twins, 180,000gt

The Carnival cruise line recently ordered four 180,000 gross ton megaships, with the German ship builder Meyer Werft. Their Costa and AIDA brands will get two each.

Each ship will accommodate up to 6,600 passengers (5,200 double occupancy) which is a world record.

180,000gt (Image courtesy of Costa)

Carnival’s new ships won’t be the largest by size (gross tonnes/volume), as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships at around 225,000 gross tons still wear that crown. However the new Carnival mega-ships will carry up to 300 passengers more than the ‘Oasis’ class ships, yet are smaller.

Carnival were obviously well aware that their initial press release might attract some criticism regarding the high passenger capacity. Therefore they were careful to state that they will be:  “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces”.

Too crowded?

The big question is: Will these be the most crowded cruise ships in the world?

Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison, who has been involved with the design process, said that the space ratio on the new vessels is the same as most of the existing ships in the AIDA and Carnival Cruise Line fleets.

OAU8

We need to do a little math(s) to check if Micky is right.

There are a number of factors which determine how crowded a ship is and/or feels.  This includes the ship design which hopefully allows good passenger flow without bottle-necks.  However passenger-flow cannot be easily measured, only ‘experienced’.

A quantifiable gauge is to compare the space available per-passenger on-board Carnival’s new mega-ships and compare the figures with some other big mass-market* ships. Although will not reveal the whole story about space on-board a ship, it is a reasonably good measure.

The Math

Space per passenger can be calculated by dividing the ships gross tonnage (a measurement of volume) by the passenger capacity, to get a passenger-to-space ratio. So in the case of Oasis it’s 225,000 / 6,296 (maximum occupancy) and you get a figure of 35. This represents 35 gt of space per passenger.

RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class ships have a similar ratio to ‘Oasis’ at 34.

Oasis

Oasis on the far right dwarfing Carnival, Disney and MSC ships. (Click to enlarge)

We do know that the new Carnival ships will be around 180,000 gt, which is 25% smaller (approx. 45 gt) than the  ‘Oasis’ class. However the Carnival ships will carry a maximum of 6,600 passengers. That’s 304 more passengers than Oasis. If we calculate the ratio we get 27, which clearly means less room per-passenger, than on-board the Oasis and Quantum classes.

Let’s have a look at the new Norwegian Cruise Line ship, ‘Escape’ (2015). She is NCL’s biggest ship yet at 164,600gt and carries a maximum of 5,400 passengers. She has passenger-to-space ratio of 30. So less generous than Oasis, but only slightly better than the Carnival new builds.

Carnival’s latest ship, ‘Vista’ (2015) is 133,500gt and carries a maximum of 4,683 passengers. That gives us a ratio of 28, only one point more than there 180,000gt new-builds.

The latest Costa ship ‘Costa Diadema’ (2014) is 132,500gt and carries a maximum of 4,947 passengers. This gives us a ratio of 27. (The same as the 180,00gt newbuilds).

The statistics available about AIDA fleets maximum passenger capacity are a little vague. Only the double occupancy figures are generally available. However if I am correctly informed, AIDAstella and AIDAmar appear to have a passenger to space ratio of 26.  (Fractionally less than the 180,00get newbuilds)

Courtesy of Costa. (Click to enlarge)

180,00gt  (Courtesy of Costa)

In Conclusion, the press and many commentators have simply picked up on the figure “6,600 passengers” and have assumed that the Carnival new-build megaships will be the most crowded ships ever built. This is simply not true.

Micky Arison is correct; there are many ships in service out there, with passenger-to-space ratios of 27 or lower. These do includes Carnival, AIDA and Costa ships.

However I did not mention that Carnival have  sales policy which involves doing their best to sell every berth. For example, I believe they will not sell a 3-4 berth cabin to a couple, if they can avoid it. Some other cruise lines impose this rule far less rigorously. Therefore Carnival ships often sail fuller than the industry standard of 104%.

These ships new mega-ships will definitely feel busy. A quiet corner to read a book will not be so easy to find. However the on-board passenger density will not be unique in the mass-market/budget cruise industry and should not feel unbearable. Carnival are unlikely to sell every berth, every cruise, but they will have a good try!

It will be interesting if Carnival really can ““make more efficient use of the ship’s spaces” to benefit the passenger experience or is that just sales talk?

Malcolm

(*Premium and Luxury ships, even big ones, always offer more space pre passenger)

(Comments welcome)

The new Costa megaships Analysed: HERE

Oasis Review: HERE

Ship of the Future?

August 27, 2015
(Photographer unknown)

(STX – Photographer unknown)

From time to time, the various shipyards design concept ships (prototypes) and display them at trade shows.

The above image is of a model of a futuristic ship designed by STX Europe which was displayed at ‘Cruise Shipping’ Miami’s trade show in 2013. If fact there were a number of concepts on display.

Now these concepts are very rarely ever built as per the models, but technical and design innovations will be taken forward and will probably feature on future cruise ship.

This concept ship looks a little like MSC’s ‘Seaside’ project, with her low and wide deck at the stern.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will also notice the logo ‘LNG’ on the hull. This signifies the cleaner fuel, ‘Liquefied Natural Gas’.

Interestingly Carnival’s recently announce 4x 180,000gt Mega-ships which will be the first cruise ships to be powered exclusively by LNG while at sea.

So this is proof positive that the shipyards can predict/determine the future of cruising?

Malcolm

MSC Seaside slideshow: HERE

Falkland Islands’ Cruise Ship Tourism is Booming

August 26, 2015
2B8C655200000578-0-image-a-9_1440152660042

(Image courtesy of the Daily Mail on-line)

“Falkland Islands tourism has made a remarkable comeback in the past few years with the number of cruise ship visitors rising from less than 30,000 in 2012-13 to potentially double that this year”. (Michael Gadd )

See full Daily Mail article HERE

Cable cars replace Tenders?

August 24, 2015
Tower

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 – click to enlarge

The port debate is one of the biggest talking points in the Cayman Islands these days.

James Whittaker, CEO of the GreenTech Group calls his design Cayman’s ‘Sky Bridge’.

You’ll notice the pier is not connected to shore. Mr. Whittaker told Cayman 27 the design can provide berthing facilities for four ships without destroying the coral reefs in the harbour.

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 - click to enlarge

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 – click to enlarge

The concept calls for a cable car system to transport cruise ship passengers over the crystal clear waters of George Town harbour to shore.

Mr. Whittaker said the cable car system is a proven technology that move passengers from ship to shore far faster than the current tendering system.

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 - click to enlarge

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 – click to enlarge

“You’re traversing people through the air from terminals that are out in the water, at depths that make sense in terms of not stirring up turbidity and not having silt issues, and not having to damage the reefs transporting them to the port, and doing so in quite a rapid manner,” said Mr. Whittaker.

Mr. Whitakker told Cayman 27 the four lines of cable cars in the plan are capable of transporting 20,000 passengers per hour.

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 - click to enlarge

Courtesy of GreeTech/Cayman27 – click to enlarge

(Source: Cayman27, J.Avary)

London’s Cable Car (Below)

 

The Sunborn Yacht Hotel, London

August 23, 2015
(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

A month ago I found myself walking past the ‘Suborn Yacht Hotel’, London, and I decided to take a quick look inside.

The Hotel (Yacht) opened in June 2014 and is located on the waterfront at the western end of the Royal Victoria dock. It is  within a very short walk of the main entrance of the ‘Excel’ Exhibition Centre.

There are a number of ‘Sunborn’ static yachts around the world.

I travelled across the Thames to The Royal Victoria dock, from North Greenwich (near the O2 Arena) via the Emirates ‘Air Line’, London’s only cable-car (in fact it’s a gondola). It’s a very spectacular ride and well worth experiencing. (See my slide show below).

There was initially a lack of hotels in this  area of London, hence the Yacht Hotel. Curiously there are a number of hotels nearby now, so the yacht has much competition.

The yacht is NOT a real ship. Yes it really floats, but it was purpose built as a hotel. It has no engines or navigational bridge. It was actually towed into position by tug.

As you enter by a lift (elevator), you walk straight into a very glitzy reception area with a reception desk and a double curved staircase to the upper decks. There does not appear to be many public rooms. There would be more on a ‘real’ ship.  However there is of course a bar/restaurant with a lido deck on the stern where you can eat and drink, overlooking the Royal Albert dock.

1412252312831_wps_31_Sunborn_International_yac

Sunborn describe the facilities as follows: “The 4-Star deluxe yacht hotel has 136 spacious guest rooms over 5 floors including 4 spacious suites, along with an elegant reception area, bar and lounge, fine-dining restaurant, banqueting facilities, auditorium, conference rooms, and a three-level event venue with outdoor terraces facing towards Canary Wharf” .

I was unable to see the accommodation, however I have seen some renderings of the rooms. Although they look rather nice and spacious, they do not look like a ships accommodation, they look like hotel rooms.

1412252301432_wps_30_14077716722Sunborn_Intern

In fact the whole feel of the Yacht to me as a ‘ship enthusiast’ was one of a ‘fake’ ship. The less nautical person would probably not notice.

I am not suggesting that Sunborn Yacht Hotel does not provide good accommodation and a good experience. Although I have not stayed on-board, there are many very positive reviews on TripAdvisor.

However I have seen room rates from £135 (off-peak) to £750 per room, per night, depending on grade and date. A price of around £200+ looks to be more typical, which is hardly cheap for a four star establishment, although I guess that you are paying for its uniqueness and prime location.

Malcolm

(Have you stayed overnight on-board?)

Titanic hotel Liverpool, review HERE.

MSC Newbuild Interiors

August 21, 2015

 

Harmony Debuts New Aquatic Adventure Park

August 20, 2015
low_1439745064_HM-View-4

(Image courtesy of RCI)

Royal Caribbean International will amp up the adventure when the cruise line debuts Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship and the first to feature Splashaway Bay an interactive aqua park for kids. The Ultimate Abyss,the tallest slide at sea touting a 100 foot dramatic plunge, The Perfect Storm trio of water slides and Splashaway Bay are the latest in a thrilling collection of activities that will make Harmony of the Seas the ultimate family vacation experience starting next summer.

low_1439745041_HM-View-0

(Image courtesy of RCI)

Harmony of the Seas will be the first in a new generation of Oasis class ships where ground-breaking architectural innovations are combined with breakthrough technologies of the Quantum class. The ship will debut in May 2016 for her inaugural summer season showcasing Europe’s most popular cruise destinations on seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries calling on Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy.  In November 2016, Harmony will arrive to her homeport of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. offering seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings.

Image2

(Image courtesy of RCI)

Splashaway Bay will be a vibrant waterscape for kids and toddlers with sea creature water cannons, winding slides, a gigantic drench bucket and a multi-platform jungle-gym to keep everyone entertained for hours. Guests of all ages will get the ultimate heart-pounding thrill ride on the Ultimate Abyss, a 10 story slide that begins in the Pool and Sports Zone at the aft of the ship down to the Boardwalk neighbourhood below. Spiralling five decks above the lushly landscaped, open-air Central Park in the centre of the ship, water slides Cyclone, Typhoon and Supercell come together as The Perfect Storm, inviting travellers to slide into an incredible adventure. Thrill seekers can test their mettle in Supercell, featuring a champagne bowl swirling guests around as they descend into their approach towards a big splash finale.

Two story Wonderland restaurant (Image courtesy of RCI)

Two story Wonderland restaurant (Image courtesy of RCI)

Harmony of the Seas will be home to the seven distinct neighbourhoods for which Oasis class of ships is known and feature technological advancements now synonymous with the award-winning cruise line. Revolutionary features include the Bionic Bar dancing robot bartenders on the Royal Promenade; Virtual Balconies in many interior staterooms offering sea and port views; the Royal WOWBands with RFID technology to simplify the guest experience; and VOOM, the fastest internet at sea found exclusively on Royal Caribbean ships. Catering to every craving, Harmony will offer the most dining options at sea, including new specialty restaurants Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Sabor Taqueria and Tequila Bar, and Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, a whimsical setting where Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes.

(Harmony - RCI Image)

(Harmony – RCI Image)

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighbourhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

(Source: Royal Caribbean)

Malcolm says: The mass-market lines like RCI feel that their main competition is not just other cruise lines but Las Vegas and theme parks like ‘Disney Land’ and ‘Wet & Wild’. Hence the inclusion of water-parks on deck.

 I was not impressed with ‘Wonderland’, Anthem review HERE

I was very impressed with Oasis, review HERE

RCI Introduce Royal Suite Class

August 18, 2015

Royal Caribbean have announced the Royal Suite Class, designed for the most discerning adventurers.

“The new Royal Suite Class redefines luxury at sea with exceptional experiences that discriminating travelers will appreciate,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We offer some of the most amazing and unique suites aboard the most revolutionary ships, and with Royal Suite Class”.

Along with well-appointed accommodations, Royal Suite Class will offer a range of exclusive amenities based on three tiered service levels.

The Royal Suite Class will be available for sailings beginning May 2016 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis- and Quantum-class ships, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas, as well as Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas when they debut in spring 2016.

The Royal Suite Class comprises three service levels based on suite category: Star Class, Sky Class and Sea Class.

  • The Star Class includes the most comprehensive collection of amenities and services and the most expansive and richly appointed accommodations, such as Quantum-class’ two-deck high Royal Loft Suite, along with the Owner’s Loft Suite, Four Bedroom Family Suite, Grand Loft Suite, Sky Loft Suite and Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite.
  • The Sky Class features a selection of inclusive amenities in beautifully furnished staterooms such as the AquaTheater Suite, Crown Loft Suite, Owner’s Suite, Royal Family Suite, Superior Grand Suite and Grand Suite.
  • The Sea Class includes premium touches in spacious suites such as the Family Connected Junior Suite, Family Junior Suite, Spa Junior Suite and Junior Suite.

Guests booked in the Royal Suite Class will experience a range of exclusive offerings based on their suite category that include:

  • Superior Service: a ‘first’ for Royal Caribbean, Star Class guests will receive the new and complimentary Royal Genie service. The Royal Genie trained and certified by the British Butler Institute, will serve as a personal assistant to help guests with nearly everything and anything, 24 hours a day. Royal Genies take care of restaurant and show reservations, in-room dining requests, and any other needs – from laundry, pressing and shoe shining, to luggage handling and unpacking. In addition, the Royal Genie will pamper guests with handcrafted cocktails made in-suite as well as assist in creating and reserving customized shore excursions
  • Upgraded Amenities: guests in the Royal Suite Class will enjoy the ultimate ‘home away from home’ with upgraded amenities, such as Hermès, Ferragamo and L’OCCITANE bath products and luxury pillow top mattresses. Star Class guests will luxuriate in their suites with exclusive Duxiana DUX mattresses and Frette linens.
  • Personalized Experiences:  luxury is defined by personal experiences and on-board a Royal Caribbean ship it is embodied by the crew and unmatched tailored service – from a personalized welcome gift to a guest’s favorite cocktail before dinner, guests will feel as if all their personal preferences have been met.  
  • Exclusive and Priority Access: Royal Suite Class guests also will have exclusive access to the California-chic Coastal Kitchen restaurant reserved for Suite guests only. On Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise Labadee, Haiti suite guests enjoy access to the exclusive Barefoot Beach and have the ability to reserve private cabanas on the island. Additionally, Star and Sky Class guests enjoy a private Suite Sun Deck and reserved VIP seating in entertainment productions, like fully licensed Broadway musicals and Oasis-class’ AquaTheater high-diving spectaculars.

 (Royal Caribbean)


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