Art Deco Lover

January 19, 2019

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)

Article continued:  HERE



Regent Seven Seas Cruises Orders 3rd Explorer-Class Ship

January 19, 2019

Regent Seven Seas Cruises®, the leading luxury ocean cruise line, has recently announced an order with Italy’s Fincantieri S.p.A. to build another stunning cruise ship that will continue to set the standard for defining elegance at sea. With delivery scheduled in late 2023, the new vessel will be a sister ship to the award-winning Seven Seas Explorer ®, the most luxurious ship ever built, and Seven Seas Splendor TM, the ship that perfects luxury.

Accommodating up to 750 guests, the intimate and spacious new ship will be Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ sixth-all-suite vessel. Details about her itineraries, suites, restaurants, amenities and onboard experiences will be revealed leading up to her 2023 debut. Voyages for the ship’s inaugural season will go on sale in 2021.

Jason Montague, president and chief executive officer of Regent Seven Seas Cruises said: “Over the past 12 months Regent Seven Seas Cruises has completed a $125 million remodelling of our fleet, started construction on Seven Seas Splendor, unveiled our 2020-2021 Voyage Collection with 167 itineraries and new ports, introduced new relaxed outdoor evening dining venues on our ships, debuted the most immersive luxury Cuban voyage itineraries, revealed Go Local Tours and Regent Choice small group shore excursions, and now we announce one more category-defining luxury cruise ship. These are exciting times for everyone associated with Regent Seven Seas Cruises and we can’t wait to show you what’s next.”

The contract price for the vessel is approximately €475 million. The Company has obtained export credit financing with favourable terms to fund 80 percent of the contract price of the ship, subject to certain Italian government approvals. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., which also owns Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises.

Fincantieri is currently building Seven Seas Splendor at its Ancona, Italy shipyard, with relentless focus on perfecting every detail during construction so the ship’s inspired design truly dazzles guests as a work of art.

(Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

Triumph to Sunrise: A $200 Million Investment

January 18, 2019

(Courtesy Carnival)

The biggest refurbishment in the history of the cruise industry is set to take place in Cadiz, Spain, in March 2019. The ‘Carnival Triumph’ will be transformed into ‘Carnival Sunrise’ following a $200 million dry-dock renovation.

In 2020, the same will happen with the Victory, which will be renamed the Radiance.

After a massive conversion, making the Destiny into the Sunshine in 2013, Carnival is rolling out its fleet-wide $2 billion Fun Ship 2.0 upgrade program.

The guests tell Carnival that the renovated vessels feel like a new ships.

Carnival is re-modelling Triumph’s entire promenade, adding all of its Fun Ship 2.0 features, as well as adding capacity additional accommodation for 115 guests, highlighted by two Captain’s Suites adjacent to the bridge featuring floor-to-ceiling windows.

Food and beverage highlights will include Seafood Shack, Bonsai Sushi and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que. Additional capacity will take the ship up to a double occupancy of 2,945 guests, but the extra accommodation is complemented by more food and beverage venues, taking over previously under-utilized spaces.


Malcolm says: It’s nice to see older ships being brought up to date. However the phrase “extra accommodation is complemented by more food and beverage venues, taking over previously under-utilized spaces” really means a more profitable vessel, but slightly more crowded one too.

Carnival: The Biggest Ship They Never Built


Pinnacle? (Fincantieri rendering)

In 2004, the Carnival Corporation launched a development program called the ‘Pinnacle Project’.

The project was shrouded in secrecy, however it is said that the aim was to design the world’s biggest cruise ship at the time.

They say project Pinnacle was to be about 200,000+ gross tonnes, carrying some 6,000+ passenger. However project pinnacle never happened…

Read full article HERE


Virgin’s “Massive” RockStar Suites

January 16, 2019


With roots that trace back to the 1800s, sailing vacations were once exclusive and decadent affairs for travellers with distinctive tastes. Today, the team at Virgin Voyages is tapping into the nostalgia of those historic days of sailing with the creation of the indulgent RockStar Suite offerings on board the Scarlet Lady, setting sail in 2020. While not just for the elite anymore, that legendary glamour has led the way for how these deliberately detailed, top tier spaces were meant to make Sailors feel.

“We were inspired by historic vessels of the past that exuded charm and luxury,” said Dee Cooper Senior Vice President of Design for Virgin Voyages. “We wanted to inject a bit of that exclusive, distinctive, luxurious feeling nostalgia in a contemporary way that speaks to today’s traveler more.”

This space conceived by the team at Virgin Voyages and the world-renowned Tom Dixon Design Research Studio encourages connection with the sea while featuring all those details a Sailor might need to live out their rockstar dreams (minus actually making that Grammy-winning album).

These supremely modern digs are steeped in the Virgin rock & roll heritage, with nods to icons like Grace Jones. The mega yacht inspired look features a retro-futurism design with a palette of deep blues used with iridescent dichroic elements in the bathroom to echo the deep blue sea.

The suite is replete with bespoke Tom Dixon furniture pieces, large glam vanity tables and European king beds which sit above terrazzo flooring. Every detail has been considered in these top tier offerings, right down to the nautically inspired barware kit drawer, so Sailors have all of the tools for mixing beverages at their fingertips. The room features brass and real leather finishing sprinkled throughout as well as a Yellow Leaf brand, sustainably sourced, terrace hammocks.

The rooms are all clever cabins, with sensors that auto-adjust to Sailor movements, also allowing for the room’s lighting to easily change from day to evening play mode.

“We wanted to use all aspects of the Virgin brand including our musical legacy, elements of Virgin Galactic and inspiration from Richard Branson’s Necker Island,” added Jamie Douglas, Senior Product Design Manager for Virgin Voyages. “The idea was to consider Sailor needs and comforts and create suites that were social, inspirational and relaxing so that they wanted to spend time in them.”

These 78 RockStar Suites include fifteen Mega RockStar Suites, named the Massive, Fab, Posh and Gorgeous Suites – all primely located on deck 15, just a deck below Richard’s Rooftop, a RockStar Suite Sailor only, exclusive Sir Richard Branson inspired top deck (and top-shelf alcohol only) cocktail lounge at the ship’s forward facing section.

Please make my bed! (Courtesy Virgin)

The Massive Suite’s music room, which seconds as an extra bedroom, is stocked with guitars, an amp and a special private lookout point at the front of the ship, perfect for the meditative types and even a vinyl turntable (they all have that one). The terrace in this suite is complete with a standing hot tub, a runway style table for hosting guests and in all four Mega Star Suites, there are open-air Peek-a-View showers, offering a complete gaze at the sea while rinsing off.

Sailors in all tiers of RockStar Suites will enjoy breathtaking top to bottom marble bathrooms (stocked with premium products of course). The rains-style showers feature multi-colored dichroic glass windows and doors, providing a sneaky view either inside the room or outside onto the sea, in the aptly named the Peek-a-Boo shower.

RockStar Sailors should prepare for the full treatment like private driver airport transfers, helicopter arrangements, luggage assistance and a private walk down the exclusive terminal pathway upon arrival. RockStar Sailors can also receive anytime boarding, early booking access to special events and personal rock & roll style rider sheets (with items delivered pre-arrival of course) meant to satisfy even the most diva-like of requests.

That’s why our Sailors can sit around and ponder the best angle for selfies over the conversation pit bar area or discuss a legendary night out while sipping some bubbly at the specially-designed outdoor champagne table with a perfect fit for an ice bucket.

Then when too much spa, shower and swim time leaves a Sailor with an overly soaked suit at the end of the day, no prob. Sailors can just request the express drying bathing suit service.
We’re not kidding, that’s a thing.

If you’re not at all surprised, these spaces were definitely made for you.

The only question left to ask is, “Your suite or ours?”

(Text Courtesy of Virgin)

Malcolm says: Well with an on-board Tattoo parlour and Rockstar suites with guitars*, Virgin are clearly not aiming their product at the Grey Pound/Dollar. I hope for Virgin’s sake, that the younger ‘set’ are as excited about the concept as Virgin are.

As for ‘Massive’ suites, we have no measurements, but I suspect not all of the Scarlet Lady’s cabins are ‘massive’.  The new marketing ploy of showing unmade beds and left over wine bottles is very ‘Rock & Roll’, how novel!

*(I hope that the ‘guitar suite’ is well sound-proofed for the neighbours sake!)

Titanic Vs Oasis of The Seas

January 15, 2019


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

Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it. I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. The article has attracted more views than anything else that I have ever written. It has also attracted some interesting comments, including some quite negative ones, such as:

“This is stupid, how can you compare these two ships, they are Apples and Oranges”

“These two ships were built 100 year’s apart, of course they are not the same”

“The Titanic was a work of art, Oasis is just a floating shopping mall”

“This article is stupid”

Little and Large

Well, the commentators are fully entitled to their own opinions.  The two ships ARE completely different to each other and they WERE built almost 100 years apart. However silly it is to compare these two ships, I still did it!

It’s quite ironic that the article was my  most viewed again in 2019, as it was in 2018.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE


January 14, 2019


Cobh known from 1849 until 1920 as Queenstown is associated with the RMS Titanic, which was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic before she set out across the Atlantic. Another ship to be associated with the town, the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania, was sunk by a German U-boat. Titanic II Blog:

Also see my dedicated Titanic II Blog: HERE

Celebrity Edge: Style Over Practicality?

January 12, 2019

The Magic Carpet (Courtesy Celebrity)

Celebrities new-build, ‘Celebrity Edge’ has entered service and has now been cruising for a couple of months. Reviews form the press, travel partners and the paying customers have been appearing on-line. In general the ship has been getting quite ‘pounding’, not only from new cruisers, but from Celebrity stalwarts.

I’ve not been on-board, but the ship does look super stylish, which everyone seems to be agreed on. However it is the ‘innovations’ (gimmicks?) which seem to be the most controversial aspect of this new design.

The ship has all sorts of innovations’ like the ‘Magic Carpet’, the somewhat weird ‘Eden’ space on deck and the Infinite Veranda (IV) cabins.

In addition popular features (themed bars etc.) have not necessarily been carried over form the ‘Solstice’ class. One commentator said: “There is nowhere on the new ship for a quiet drink with maybe a acoustic guitar or a good duo”.

Metal trees: Eden (Courtesy Celebrity)

The IV cabins have received the most negative comments. The design is very similar to many modern river boats, but they of course are not faced with ocean sea conditions.

The Captain can close all the IV windows remotely and does so at the slightest sign of rain, it has been reported.

In addition, If you have the window open, the air-conditioning switches off, even if you have the inner folding doors shut. This causes the cabin to become a furnace in the likes of the Caribbean. If one occupant sits on the balcony and the other person wants a lie-in, they have no black-out.


Infinite Veranda Cabins ( Courtesy Celebrity)

Another commentator said: “Sorry Celebrity, You may just have lost a lot of your loyal customers. As the saying goes, “If it aint broke, Why fix it?”

It is worth noting that the fares onboard Ede are still at a premium at present. This is normal for a brand new ship, but it can add insult to injury.

Is Edge A White Elephant?

With innovation comes with the risk of forgetting where you came from, and if the new product  is so far removed from the product that your existing customers are used to and like,  then it’s not going to be perceived as change for the better.

However there may be a period of adjustment, where the new designs needs to ‘grow’ on the public. I recall ‘Norwegian Epic’ (NCL) being severally criticized as a new ship, for it’s novel bathroom/toilet arrangements in the cabins. However nobody even mentions it anymore.

However, I do feel that the ‘gimmicks’ on-board Edge are more suited to the RCI brand and not an upmarket experience.

Public consensus at the moment, seems to be that Celebrity have missed the target.


Q: What do you think? Am I wrong? Have you been on-board?

‘Celebrity Apex’ slide-show: HERE

Above the bizarre (or innovative) ‘Le Grand Bistro’.

Miamai/MSC: Two New Cruise Terminals

January 12, 2019

PortMiami has announced the signing of a letter of intent between MSC Cruises and Miami-Dade County for MSC to expand its cruise operations at the port.

MSC Cruises is committing to increase its annual passenger throughout at PortMiami and will design, build and operate, at its own expense, two new cruise terminals and associated berths, parking garages, offices, provisioning facilities and marine and other infrastructure.

Completion date is projected for Nov. 2022.


Malcolm says: MSC continue to expand at breakneck speed, but are they going to fast? Discuss!

Cunard: Steakhouse at The Verandah

January 11, 2019

(Courtsey Cunard)

Cunard Line has announced that the Steakhouse at The Verandah has become a permanent feature at the alternative dining restaurant onboard the line’s three-ship fleet.

Cunard’s team of chefs have curated a menu showcasing prime USDA gran finished New York strip steak, Main lobster and Alaskan king crab, alongside dishes celebrating British provenance such as Scotch grass-fed, dry aged beef and Salt Marsh lamb rack.

“After the success of the new Steakhouse menu onboard Queen Mary 2 last summer, our team has decided to take the concept across the fleet,” said Josh Leibowitz, Senior Vice President, Cunard North America. “

A new selection of craft cocktails will also be available at The Verandah bar.

Steakhouse at The Verandah will be open for lunch and dinner for a $25.00 USD per person cost for lunch and a $39.00 USD per person cost for dinner, with some menu offerings requiring a further supplement.


Tihany, Creative Director of The Newbuild

Adam Tihany

Cunard have appointed designer Adam Tihany, as creative director of their next ship.

Tihany will oversee the entire interior design process of the yet unnamed ship, which will join the Cunard fleet in 2022.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s most talented designers, Tihany has made his name creating beautiful spaces for luxurious and iconic hotels, restaurants and resorts across the globe.

The design work is well underway, in preparation for the ships construction at the Fincantieri shipyard, Italy. Tihany and his team of designers are currently working on plans for the new ship’s dining areas and he confirms that Queens and Princess Grill restaurants will feature among the dining options.


A Closer Look At Cunard’s Newbuild

.In 2022, a new ship will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth as the fourth member of the fleet, the first new Cunard ship in 12 years and the first time since 1998 that we’ll have four ships in simultaneous service.

She will be the biggest Cunarder yet, in terms of passenger capacity (not volume/gross tonnage). She’s the first new Cunard ship to enter service in 7 years, making it the first time since 1998 that Cunard will have four ships in simultaneous service.

The new ship will be 113,000-gross-tonne and will carry 3,000 passengers. It will be built by the Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri.

However I hear that the design will be based on Holland America Lines’s ‘Koningsdam’. This ‘Pinnacle’ class design is a slightly bigger version of the ‘Vista’ class, like Cunard’s QV and QE are. Using existing ship designs is a cheap way for Carnival to add tonnage to thie brands.

QV and QE are around 91,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 2,547 passengers. The new ship will carry 453 more passengers. (The Queen Mary 2 is around 150,000 gt but only carries up to 2,620 passengers. That’s spacious!)

Technically the new vessel will be another ‘cruise ship’ like Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria are and NOT a real ‘Ocean Liner’ as the Queen Mary 2 is.

Queen Mary 2 review: HERE              Queen Victoria review: HERE


Queen Elizabeth To Cruise Alaska

Cunard have announced that it will spend a full season in Alaska from June through September in 2020 on the Queen Elizabeth.

Cunard is making its return to Alaska in May 2019 – and due to high demand, the line will double its program in 2020.

This expanded program will offer ten roundtrip voyages out of Vancouver ranging from nine to twelve nights and one getaway cruise to San Francisco for an overnight stay on July 4.

Guests will have the opportunity to take in the breath-taking beauty of Alaska with the iconic experience of sailing on a Cunard ship.

Port calls include Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and more. In addition, the voyages offer scenic cruising in the narrow waterways of the Inside Passage, the Hubbard Glacier and Sawyer Glacier’s twin fjords, Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm.


Symphony of the Seas – Entertainment

January 10, 2019

From one of the smaller/older cruise ships (Marco Polo) to the biggest/newest: ‘Symphony of the Seas’

I found the following video on YouTube: It provides a very good example of how the big cruise lines are moving beyond the traditional type of shows and are creating productions which are much more inventive.

RCI are probably the market leaders in cruise entertainment. Their very High-Tech theatres easily compete with the ones on  NY’s Broadway and in the London’s West End. In fact RCI’s theatres are often are bigger.

Marco Polo – Revisted

January 9, 2019

MP in Cobh (Dec. 2018)

The Marco Polo is not the newest, biggest or most impressive of ships, but it is definitely one of my favourite ships.

My Most Recent Cruise

My most recent cruise on MP was in December 2018, when the vessel was 53 years old. It was a 3 night mini cruise to Cobn, Ireland, from Bristol Avonmouth. The Marco Polo is older than most other cruise ships still in operation and probably the oldest cruise ship serving UK passengers…

Read full ‘Marco Polo’ review Dec. 2018 – HERE

Oceania Orders Two Newbuilds

January 8, 2019

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has announced an order for the next generation of ships for Oceania Cruises.

The two Allura-Class ships mark the next phase of the line’s OceaniaNEXT initiative and will be designed and built by Fincantieri S.p.A. for delivery in 2022 and 2025, the company announced.

The two 67,000 gross ton Allura-Class ships will each accommodate approximately 1,200 guests.

“This new class of ships will represent an evolution of the Oceania Cruises experience with all of the elements our guests treasure – a warm, intimate, residential style; the most spacious standard staterooms afloat; amazing suites, and of course, the finest cuisine at sea,” said Bob Binder, president and chief executive officer of Oceania Cruises.

With today’s announcement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has ten ships on order for delivery through 2027 including seven ships on order for Norwegian Cruise Line, two for Oceania Cruises and one for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The company will take delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, in fall 2019.

(Oceania Cruises)

Malcolm says: 67,000 gross tonnes is small by modern standards, but a few decades ago it was a mega-ship. As previously discussed, the only ‘smaller’ ships being built these days are generally for the premium or luxury lines. Soon, if you want a mass-market cruise product you will need to be prepared to share your cruise with 5,000 other passengers!

Oceania’s Regatta Ship Visit – Review

Brand New Staterooms For P&O’s Iona

January 7, 2019

(Courtesy P&O)

Along with renderings of what various cabins will look like on-board P&O Cruises’ Iona, comes the announcement of a new category of stateroom – conservatory mini-suites.

See full beyoncruise article: HERE

Malcolm says: They look very stylish and will probably be much less controversial than Celebrities ‘Infinite Veranda’ Staterooms. (More about those soon).

Titanic II – Frequently Asked Questions

January 6, 2019

Titanic II (Courtesy of Blue Star Line)

What ports will Titanic II stop at during her schedule?


Will Titanic II have all three passenger classes like Titanic?


Will Titanic II be the same size as the original Titanic?


See full article: HERE


Where’s The Sundeck Gone?

January 5, 2019

North Star, RCI’s Quantum class

Here is the issue:

Mass-market ships are getting taller (more decks) but they are only sometimes a little longer and/or wider. Therefore the sundecks are NOT getting proportionately bigger with the vast increase in the number of passengers that these leviathans can carry – 5,000+ passengers is now a reality.

NCL’s Laser Tag Course

In addition, mass-market ships are now filling their sundecks with more and more facilities (gimmicks?)

We have increasingly seen bigger and bigger ships entering service, emulating ‘theme parks’. RCI have their observation pods, zip-lines, rock walls, surf-simulators, I-Fly (skydiving experience) and Sky-Pad (Bungee trampoline experience),. NCL their water-chutes, crazy golf, ropes course and Laser tag. The Oasis class have merry-go-rounds and Norwegian Bliss et. al have their go-kart tracksall on their respective sundecks.


Ropes Course (Carnival)

However, often only a very small percentage of passengers on-board these ships can benefit from these Hi-Tech facilities per hour. This is because these facilities/rides often have a very small passenger capacity.

For example: I’m not sure how many go-karts can fit on NCL’s track at once, but it will not represent a lot of passengers at a time.


Norwegian Encore (Courtesy NCL)

Carnival Up The Ante

Carnival Cruise Line have announced that their new ship, the Mardi Gras, will have the first roller coaster at sea

The ship will debut in 2020 out of Port Canaveral.  Carnival say: Built by Germany-based Maurer Rides, BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster is a “heart-pounding rush of adrenaline offering nearly 800 feet of exhilarating twists, turns and drops with riders reaching speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour,” the company said.

How would you feel sitting on the sundeck (if you could find room) with a roller coaster passing over your head? Also imagine the queue. It would probably be in constant use, in good weather conditions/in-port.

Mardi Gras Roller Coaster (Courtesy Carnival)

The big question is where will the tomorrows passengers sit on deck, to relax and sunbathe, given that the deck space is increasingly being consumed by facilities for the minority?

Although cabins with balconies are now commonplace, the balconies are getting smaller. On-board some newer ships two loungers certainly will not fit on a ‘standard’ balcony.

The good old days (CMV)

Even if just 30% of the passengers wanted to sit on deck, on a sunny day, that could represent over 1,670 people on-board a mega-ship. That requires  a lot of deck space, which is increasingly being swallowed up. I guess the cruise lines would prefer the passengers to be inside the ships, spending money!

And if you think a nice ‘wrap-around’ promenade deck is the solution, they seem to be going out of fashion as well. On-board new ships the prom decks can be lined with lifeboats (not overhead) so the sea-views can be almost entirely obscured.



Norwegian Epic: A Prom without a view!


MSC World-Class: “Outside And Internal Innovation”

January 3, 2019


MSC Cruises’ four new 200,000-ton, 6,850 passenger ‘World-class’ vessels will be a combination of both Seaside class and Meraviglia class, according to MSC Cruises’ chief  executive, Gianni Onorato.

The chief executive said: “MSC Meraviglia was a change more inside than outside, whereas MSC Seaside was more about the outside. Then we have World-class ships, which will combine the innovation we have seen with Seaside class outside and the internal innovation of Meraviglia class.”

The four new World-class ships are scheduled for delivery in 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Slide-show: HERE

Malcolm says: I’ve said this many times before but, I from the many reviews online, I do doubt MSC’s ability to operate such big ships, yet. They seem to need more experience.

New MSC Luxury Vessels


MSC Cruises’ confirmed industry rumours in October that it would be entering the luxury sector by announcing plans to launch four ships from 2023.

However the chief executive is yet to decide the  name his new fleet of luxury vessels.  Gianni Onorato said: “The new ships will have a different brand name to the rest of the fleet.”

But Onorato confirmed there would be differences in the new fleet, compared with the luxury area, “The Yacht Club”, that exists on seven MSC ships.  “We want to position it so it will be like The Yacht Club,” he said. “But the luxury ships will be really different vessels.”

He said the key difference is the luxury ships would sail to different destinations and offer multiple durations, with more flexibility.  “Our customers are saying they do not want seven-night cruises – they want something more. That is why we are investing in luxury,” he added.

Onorato said there would also be a major difference in the food and entertainment found on the new luxury ships, compared with that currently offered on the mainstream ones.  “There will be extra food options, as well as different – and more – entertainment available. It will be a different experience, more luxurious. Cuisine will feature ‘cultured cooking’.”

Onorato also hinted that pricing on the luxury ships would not match that found in MSC Yacht Club. “The pricing today for MSC Yacht Club is really not very much money,” he said.

Families would be welcome on board, and Onorato hopes to transfer MSC Yacht Club passengers to the luxury ships.

(MSC/Travel weekly)

Malcolm says: Probably the only thing that everybody seems to agreed on, is that the luxury “Yacht Club” facility on-board MSC’s ships, is excellent. If they can replicate this on-board smaller ships at the right fare, it should be a very attractive proposition for those with healthy bank accounts.

MSC Bellissima Brings You Cirque Du Soleil At Sea

January 1, 2019

(All images courtesy of MSC)

Back in 2013, MSC Cruises partnered with Cirque du Soleil to bring the next level of first class entertainment aboard our ships. Cirque du Soleil at Sea, originally featured aboard MSC Meraviglia, provides an exquisite cocktail experience for guests along with gourmet dining. As of March 2019, two brand new shows will be performed on board our latest Meraviglia Class ship, MSC Bellissima.

Exciting new shows

The two new Cirque du Soleil at sea shows, SYMA and VARÉLIA, will make your cruise one to remember. SYMA will take viewers on the captivating journey of a young sailor who braves the elements, swims in choppy seas and discovers a mysterious island brimming with strange and wonderful creatures. Sure to captivate any audience, the show uses immersive video images, original set designs, bioluminescent lighting and breath-taking acrobatics to bring the story to life.
The second show, VARÉLIA, is a traditional medieval tale with a futuristic twist; it traces the courtship between a violet-skinned princess and a charming, but blind, hero. Their budding romance is thwarted by a villain who, in a fit of madness, kidnaps the royal. With the help of his friends, and in an array of acrobatic feats and laser displays, the brave young hero rescues his sweetheart.

An intimate setting

Where else would such a spectacle be hosted, if not MSC Cruises’ luxurious Carousel Lounge? The bespoke venue was designed by MSC Cruises and renowned architect Marco De Jorio specifically to meet Cirque du Soleil’s requirements. An intimate space hosting just over 400 guests, the Carousel Lounge enables the performers to interact with the audience making this show truly one of a kind. The Lounge is equipped with cutting-edge technology and special rigging to facilitate the unique performances that it hosts. Complete your viewing experience with a special signature cocktail or an exclusive gourmet meal, designed to perfectly complement the pre-show entertainment.

An idyllic Mediterranean voyage

MSC Bellissima will set off on her inaugural season in March 2019, debuting these two exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances. Join us on MSC Bellissima’s maiden voyage after a spectacular naming ceremony in Southampton when she will tour the Mediterranean, taking in ports such as Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona and Naples, as well as the unique ports of Messina in Sicily and Valletta in Malta. If you’ve already planned your holidays for next year, look ahead to 2020, when MSC Bellissima will be cruising around Asia. Wherever you choose to join us, Cirque du Soleil at Sea is sure to be the highlight of your holiday.


Bellissima slide-show: HERE

New Ships For 2019

December 31, 2018


Ocean cruising continues to expand and in 2019 there will be nine new ships, from the main players, entering service:

MSC Bellissima, Launch Date: March 2019, Tonnage: 167,600, Berths: 4,500

Spectrum of the Seas, Launch Date: April 2019, Tonnage: 167,800, Berths: 4,180

Marella Explorer 2 (Second-hand), Launch Date: April 2019, Tonnage: 76,500, Berths: 1,814

Spirit of Discovery, Launch Date: Summer 2019,Tonnage: 55,900, Berths: 1,000

MSC Grandiosa, Launch Date: October 2019, Tonnage: 177,000, Berths: 4,900

Norwegian Encore, Launch Date: Fall 2019, Tonnage: 163,000, Berths: 4,000

Costa Smerelda, Launch Date: 2019, Tonnage: 180,000, Berths: 5,176

Sky Princess, Launch Date: November 2019, Tonnage: 143,700, Berths: 3,560

Carnival Panorama, Launch Date: November 2019, Tonnage: 133,500, Berths: 3,934


The nine ships above represent 33,064 new berths, based on double occupancy.

You will see that most of the ships in the list are over 130,000 gross tonnes.

Six of the ship are considerably bigger (up to 180,000 gt). These are gross tonnages that are so big that it was unimaginable just over two decades ago.

Most carry over 3,000 passengers, many carry more (up to 5,176).

Marella (standard) and Spirit of Discovery (luxury) are the exceptions in the list and their ships have more modest gross tonnages and passenger capacities.

2020 will see another nine major ships, entering service. Most will be over 100,000 gross tonnes.

Surprisingly there are many smaller ships on the drawing board, due to enter service in the next five years. However most are luxury expedition ships, aimed at wealthy ‘explorers’.  Smaller ships, offering standard products, will generally still be second-hand vessels. Serving UK passengers, this will mainly be Marella Fred. Olsen, Marella and CMV.


AmaMagna, Debuting In May 2019

December 29, 2018


Luxury knows no bounds on board the extraordinary AmaMagna featuring 5 bars, 4 unique dining venues, the Zen Wellness Studio and the one and only Water Sports Platform on the river.

Malcolm says: it’s nice to see some innovation in the river cruise market. However these double width boats occupy an entire lock when normally two boats can fit it, slowing the process down a little. You always have to pay the piper!

Expressions like ‘discerning customers’ and ‘all suite accommodation’ give you an idea of the price. Standard riving cruising is not cheap, but this will be eye-watering!

The Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

December 29, 2018

Greenwich (London) which is on the river Thames, is famous for its nautical connections. The two main attractions are the ‘National Maritime Museum’  and the ‘Cutty Sark’.  The museum is very good, but on this occasion I’m going to focus on the ‘Cutty Sark’.

The ‘Cutty Sark’ is an historic 1869 Tea Clipper, built on the Clyde, Scotland, which has been on display in Greenwich (in dry-dock) since 1957.  The ‘Cutty Sark’ is in fact the last surviving tea clipper and fastest and greatest of her time.  The quickest the first ship got back to Britain from China to sell the tea, the more profitable the cargo was. Later she was used to transport wool from Australia.

However in 2007, the Cutty Sark was seriously damaged in Greenwich, by a fire, during renovation work.

Some five years later and £45 million pounds later the ‘Cutty Sark’  was returned to her former glory. I had been a few times to see her over the years, as a child and as an adult.  I tried to visit her in 2012 shortly after she re-opened, to see the restoration. However she was a victim of her own success with queues snaking out of the door, so I gave her a miss.

I finally got to see her in January 2015.

(Paining courtesy of Colin Ashford)

I was pleased to be able to say that she looks better than ever – inside and out. Although some  of her timbers were lost in the fire, many were also off-site in storage. You cannot tell the difference now.

Cleverly they have raised her up (like the SS Great Britain, In Bristol) by three meters so she looks down, more majestically than ever, over Greenwich. You you can walk right underneath the hull. There is even a café down there and display of historic figure-heads. There is a new entrance/foyer area with an enlarged gift shop. Visitors enter the hull and work their way up the ships inner decks to the open deck.

I’d certainly recommend a visit if you are in London.

Below is my slide-show, taken on my last visit

Malcolm Oliver

Cutty Sark/National Maritime Museum Web Site: HERE 

Q: Have you ever been to see the Cutty Sark?

Le Commandant Charcot – Keel Laid

December 28, 2018

(Courtesy Ponant)

The keel has been laid at the Vard shipyard in Tulcea, Romania, for Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot.

She is an LNG-powered ice-breaking cruise ship set to debut in 2021 for the French luxury line.

Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

The hybrid electric icebreaker, the first of its kind, has been named in honor of Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot (1867 – 1936) had a true passion for sailing and was an emblematic figure of French polar expeditions.

The Itineraries on Le Commandant Charcot will offer passengers a chance to discover the Geographic North Pole (latitude 90 degrees North) and parts of Antarctica, such as the Ross Sea, Charcot Island and Peter Island, that were inaccessible prior to the arrival of the ship.

Powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Le Commandant Charcot will be fitted with the latest environmental protection technology.


Funchal: Update

December 27, 2018

(Courtesy Ulflarsen)

Below was the initial story, in the press, early December:

The much-loved classic ship MV Funchal is set for a new life as a hotel ship in London.

On Wednesday, Dec. 5 the ship was sold at auction for 3.9 million euro to ‘Signature Living’.

The plan is to move the from Lisbon to Central London where it will be berthed permanently as a hotel vessel.

(Cruise Industry News)

Here is the latest news story:

Party Boat (Courtesy of the Echo)

Liverpool hotel group Signature Living has unveiled remarkable plans to launch a 600-bed ‘party boat hotel’ to take young ravers from the River Mersey to Ibiza and other party destinations in the Mediterranean.

The ambitious plan comes after company boss Lawrence Kenwright splashed out £3.9 million on a new cruise liner – that he intends to open as a plush party hotel this summer.

The idea would be to dock the rave vessel on the Mersey, before it sets sail for the likes of Ibiza, Marbella and Majorca.

Signature Living is intending to launch the ship’s maiden voyage from the banks of the Mersey in Spring 2019.

Converting the ship into a luxury party hotel will be Signature Living’s first venture at sea.

(Courtesy of the Echo)

The company say it will appeal to a younger generation of holiday-makers as it will encompass the famous Alma De Cuba brand.  The hotel-on-water will see sun seekers experience ‘Ocean and Nikki Beach style parties’ with ‘world famous DJs performing from the Mersey all the way to the Mediterranean.’

(Liam Thorpe/Liverpool Echo)

Malcolm says: Originally I thought that this was great news – there is a lot of love for this ship, from ‘ship-nuts’. However now I’m not so sure.

I’m not anti-young-person, I used to be one myself, but now that I’m ‘maturing’, I am aware of an incompatibility between the needs of the young and the needs of the grey pound.

‘Signature Living’own a number of ‘trendy’ hotels including 30 James Street, Liverpool” a Titanic hotel in Liverpool, the former White Star, head office building. They do tend to attract the Hen and Stag party crowd. I had a mixed experience while staying at the hotel (click link). I hope that they do not ruin the Funchal’s old world charm and décor with their rather over-the-top style, but the external rendering suggest that they already plan to.

Built in 1961, at only 9,563 gross tonnes and 524 passengers, Funchal is a tiny ship when compared to nearly all other cruise ships. It’s hard to imagine her as a young persons ship, but I guess you can have a “Rave” almost anywhere.

MSC Bellissima On Sea Trials

December 24, 2018

(Courtesy MSC)

The MSC Bellissima left Chantiers de l’Atlantique on the 21st of December 2018, to beging her sea trials, with 450 technicians and engineers onboard the new vessel. This is the process

where the the shipyard measures the vessel’s performance and fully tests the various systems.

The MSC Bellissima will be delivered early next year.

The 171,598 gross tonne, 4,500-guest ship, will debut in Europe before sailing in the Middle East for winter 2019-2020 ahead of her 2020 China program.


Bellissima renderings: HERE

Mega-Ship Copycat Syndrome

December 21, 2018

I  call it  ‘Megaship Copycat Syndrome’ (or MCS), which ironically is a mnemonic with the same letters as MSC  (The Mediterranean Shipping Company), but in a different order. This of course is pure coincidence!

In 1998  Royal Caribbean’s ‘Voyager of the Seas’ entered service, at 138,194 gross tonnes, she was the world’s biggest cruise ship at the time.

Voyager was more like a floating theme park than any ship before her.

Voyager Royal Promenade (RCI)

Although external promenade decks and ‘sheltered’ (internal) promenade decks date back to the great ocean liners, Voyager was the first cruise ship to have an internal ‘street’ down the middle, called the ‘Royal Promenade’. It even had cabins overlooking it.


Internal Prom, Queen Mary, 1936 (Source unknown)

However the internal promenade concept, with cabins, was originally featured on-board the ‘Sllja Serenade’. This was a ferry operating between Sweden and Finland, in the early 1990’s.

Royal Caribbean obviously borrowed their internal promenade design from Silja.

Internal prom. on-board  Sllja Serenade (Source unknown)

Another milestone in ship design was the introduction of the world’s biggest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class at 225,282 gross tonnes.

Oasis has a unique split-superstructure design accommodating a Boardwalk, a Carousel and a Park.  There were even cabins with balconies overlooking ‘Central Park’ and the’Boardwalk’.

Oasis (Courtesy RCI)

Norwegian Cruise Lines’s impressive ‘Norwegian Breakaway’, which entered service in 2013. NCL took the Promenade concept further than ever before.
Breakaway has a large external promenade running around the the port and starboard sides of the ship and around the bow, called ‘The Waterfront’.  It contains bars and resultants offering sea views.

The Waterfront (NCL)

RCI’s Royal Promenade and the split-superstructure and NCL’s Waterfront were exclusive features to their particular brands for a number of years.

However The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are undergoing a rapid period of expansion. They are building a series of new mega-ships and have borrowed some ideas from RCI and NCL.

Seaside Prom. Deck (Courtesy MSC)

MSC’s mega-ship ‘Seaside’ class features a wide promenade deck, which I assume will features dining options etc. There are some similarities to NCL’s ‘Waterfront’ feature.

Another MSC’s  newbuild, the ‘Meraviglia’ class, features an internal street, not unlike RCI’s ‘Royal Promenade’. The main difference is MSC’s one will have a digital sky.  Meraviglia also has a ‘sports court’ not unlike RCI’s ‘Seaplex’ on-board RCI’s ‘Anthem’ class ships.

Internal prom. deck, MSC Meraviglia (MSC)

MSC, third new class of ship,  the ‘World Class’  will have a split superstructure design rather like that of RCI’s ‘ Oasis’ class. We have yet to find out if the ”World Class’ will also have an internal promenade too.

MSC’s ‘World Class’ (MSC)

However as we have already seen with RCI’s  ‘Royal Promenade’, that they are not beyond a bit of design copying themselves.  Their ‘Quantum class’ ships internal design is very similar to NCL’s Epic/Breakaway/Breakaway+ ships. They had multiple dining and entertainment venues, coupled with a new flexible dining system.  NCL call it ‘Freestyle’, RCI copied it and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’. (Although RCI  have not copied NCL’s  excellent ‘Waterfront’ feature.)

RCI have since revised Dynamic Dining, as it did not impress their passengers.

In conclusion, companies copying other companies ideas and designs is nothing new. However it does seem more commonplace with mega-ships of late.

I hope that this trend does not result in cruise ships becoming more similar to each other – that would be very boring!

“Viva la difference.”


New Ships for Star Cruises

December 19, 2018

(By Rupildevlamsar)

Genting Cruise Lines has announced that it will build a series of Contemporary-class ships for Star Cruises.

The first ship is expected to be delivered in 2023 for Asia’s leading contemporary brand.

Before then, Genting’s Dream Cruises brand will take delivery of two Global-class ships in 2020 and 2021. Crystal Cruises will also receive a trio of 200-guest expedition newbuilds in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

In addition, Crystal will take delivery of its first 67,000-ton Diamond Class ship in 2022.

Star Cruises, meanwhile, will transfer its SuperStar Virgo to the Dream brand in early 2019 as the ship becomes the Explorer Dream.

Star will then operate the SuperStar Aquarius, SuperStar Gemini and Star Pisces.


Virgin Voyages New Cruise Terminal

December 16, 2018


New cruise line Virgin Voyages has revealed plans and renderings for its new cruise terminal proposition at PortMiami in Biscayne Bay. The facility will be home to Virgin Voyages cruises, including its first vessel the Scarlet Lady launching in 2020.

A New Look For Ships Bows

December 16, 2018

NCL Leonado (Courtesy NCL)

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.

Expedition ships (Courtesy Hurtigruten)

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.


Royal Caribbean: 2020 Deployment

December 13, 2018


Royal Caribbean International is charting a new course with its 2020-21 deployment plans, touting a fleet of Royal Amplified ships sailing to exciting destinations. An amped up Oasis of the Seas will greet Lady Liberty and deliver new vacations from the Northeast with 7-night Caribbean itineraries that include an unforgettable day at the cruise line’s highly anticipated private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, The Bahamas. Oasis will be the first ship in her class and the world’s largest to sail from the Northeast. For the first time since 2015, Anthem of the Seas will return to the U.K. to sail alongside Independence of the Seas, marking the cruise line’s biggest presence in the region to-date.

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas is coming to the Northeast. Oasis of the Seas first revolutionized cruise vacations in 2009 with game-changing industry firsts, from the unique seven-neighborhood concept that includes a Central Park with more than 2,700 plants to the iconic AquaTheater entertainment venue.

Celebrating its one-year anniversary in summer 2020, Perfect Day at CocoCay will welcome 10 ships from more ports than any previous deployment, including newly added Galveston, Texas, as well as Barcelona, Spain on Allure and Rhapsody of the Seas’ transatlantic sailings in November 2020. Adventure seekers from around the world will have more opportunity than ever to discover the thrill and chill experiences that await the whole family, including the tallest waterslide in North America, the Caribbean’s largest wave pool, and the highest vantage point in The Bahamas from a helium balloon that rises 450 feet in the air. Delivering on its promise of creating memorable vacations on land and on board, Royal Caribbean will tout seven ships in 2020-21 that have emerged from the global cruise line’s $1 billion Royal Amplified modernization program launched in 2018, introducing a wide range of bold, new adventures designed to appeal to all ages.

The Perfect Vacation for all Seasons: Caribbean & Northeast

Big news for the Big Apple – Oasis of the Seas, the ship that revolutionized cruise vacations in 2009 with game-changing industry firsts, from the unique seven-neighborhood concept to the iconic AquaTheater performance venue, will undergo a bow-to-stern transformation in 2019 and become the first Royal Amplified ship to sail from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., starting in May 2020. Oasis of the Seas will transport travelers to the clear blue waters of The Bahamas all summer with 7-night itineraries, as well as a select number of short cruises north to New England and Canada.

Adventure of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty, sailing a variety of 5- and 9-night summer and fall itineraries to Bermuda, New England and Canada, The Bahamas and the Caribbean. Travelers can extend leaf peeping season on Vision of the Seas, which will offer three 10- to 11-night open-jaw itineraries between Bayonne and Quebec City with an overnight in Quebec’s capital – a UNESCO World Heritage treasure and North America’s only fortified city.

Symphony of the Seas and sister ship Harmony of the Seas, the ultimate family ships, will return to PortMiami and Port Canaveral, Fla., respectively, offering 7-night itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Both ships will feature visits to Perfect Day at CocoCay, the ultimate destination for thrill and chill, on nearly all sailings.

Brilliance of the Seas will light up Boston in the fall, sailing 7- to 10-night cruises to Canada starting in September 2020, while Grandeur of the Seas continues to offer 9-night itineraries to Canada and New England for fall foliage from her year-round homeport in Baltimore, Md. Grandeur will embark on a combination of 5- and 9-night itineraries to Bermuda and The Bahamas in the summer months, and transition to 9-night Southeast Coast & Bahamas and 12-night Southern Caribbean cruises for the winter. Northeast, Canada and Bermuda itineraries will be available to book as of Dec. 13, 2018.

In 2020, San Juan, Puerto Rico will welcome what will be the newly modernized Freedom of the Seas. The largest ship to ever homeport in San Juan will return for the third consecutive year to sail 7-night itineraries year-round throughout the Southern Caribbean, traveling beyond the typical getaway to exotic destinations like Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Johns, Antigua; Castries, St. Lucia and Bridgetown, Barbados. Rounding out the 7-night Caribbean offerings is Liberty of the Seas, which will continue to sail from Galveston to the Western Caribbean ahead of her own highly anticipated amplification in early 2021. The 7-night Bahamas, Bermuda and Caribbean itineraries will be available to book as of Dec. 13, 2018.

Memory-making Moments: Short Caribbean

No stranger to Perfect Day at CocoCay, two of Royal Caribbean’s Amplified ships – Mariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas – will continue to elevate short Caribbean getaways all year with 3-night weekend and 4-night weekday itineraries to The Bahamas. Reimagined in 2018, Mariner will continue to sail from Port Canaveral in Orlando, Fla., while an amped up Navigator will remain a resident of Miami, sailing from the cruise line’s state-of-the-art Terminal A. Navigator will be the third ship to be reimagined in February 2019, building on the successes of the brand’s Royal Amplified fleet modernization program to incorporate a lineup of firsts and Royal Caribbean favorites with new experiences, including an awe-inspiring Caribbean poolscape, two daring waterslides – introducing the longest aqua coaster at sea – the first blow dry bar the industry, elevated nightlife and dining, and thrilling activities. Short Caribbean itineraries are now open to book.

Sharing the Texas-sized spotlight, Enchantment of the Seas will, for the first time from Galveston, offer a lineup of sailings to Perfect Day at CocoCay for adventurous vacationers who want to wrangle first-time experiences that will top any bucket list. Enchantment will continue a mix of 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean sailings in the summer, perfect for short getaways and first-time cruise vacationers.

Fresh Adventures & Discoveries: Europe

The Old World will get a new spin with Royal Caribbean’s summer 2020 deployment. Longtime New York resident, Anthem of the Seas, will make the journey across the Atlantic to Southampton, England returning for the first time in five years. Anthem is set to embark on her biggest adventure yet as the Quantum Class ship visits coastal towns along the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Canary Islands, on 8- to 14-night itineraries. Modernized in 2018, Independence of the Seas will return to Southampton for the season and sail 7- to 14-night cruises around the Norwegian Fjords, Canary Islands and North Africa, Scandinavia & Russia, and Italian Mediterranean, including new destinations Agadir, Morocco and Ponta Delgada in Portugal’s Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic. Vacationers can also revel in the beauty of the Baltic with a 14-night itinerary – a first for a Freedom Class ship – featuring an overnight in Copenhagen, Denmark and two nights in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Royal Amplified will reach the far corners of Europe as Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas debut multimillion-dollar modernizations as they journey across Europe for the 2020 summer and fall seasons to rediscover legendary landmarks, charming coastlines and the diverse cultures. Allure of the Seas will be the first Royal Amplified Oasis Class ship in Europe, offering 7-night Western Mediterranean itineraries that depart from Barcelona. From Rome, the reimagined Explorer will offer a mix of 7- to 12-night sailings along the Greek Isles, uncovering storied temples, amphitheaters and villages.

Vision of the Seas will join Allure in Barcelona for the summer and fall seasons to offer travelers 12-night cruises across the Mediterranean, as Rhapsody of the Seas returns to Venice, Italy for the summer to offer shorter itineraries, alternating between Greece & Croatia and the Greek Isles. Copenhagen will welcome Jewel of the Seas for the season, as the ship sails a mix of 7-night itineraries through the Norwegian Fjords and Scandinavia & Russia. Brilliance of the Seas will return to Amsterdam for a third summer, sailing 12-night Baltic itineraries and a special 12-night sailing around the British Isles. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, adventurers can board Brilliance for a 15-night arctic crossing as the ship repositions from Amsterdam to Boston, Mass. European itineraries will be available to book the week of Dec. 17, 2018. All itineraries will be open to book by Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members one day prior to the general opening date.

(Royal Caribbean)

AIDAnova Delivered

December 12, 2018

(Courtesy AIDA)

After several construction delays, Carnival Corporation has welcomed AIDA Cruises’ new AIDAnova into its fleet today at a celebration in Bremerhaven, Germany. She is the largest cruise ship ever built at a German shipyard and also the world’s first cruise vessel to be powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“AIDAnova is a milestone for our company and the entire cruise industry,” said Michael Thamm, group CEO of Carnival Corporation’s Costa Group – which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises – and Carnival Asia. “With Carnival Corporation pioneering LNG technology, we start a new era of environmentally friendly cruising. It’s important now that the respective infrastructure will be further developed as more and more cruise lines are following our example.”

Following today’s launch of AIDAnova, Carnival Corporation has an additional 10 next-generation “green” cruise ships on order that will be powered by LNG.


AIDAnova interiors: HERE

Malcolm says: AIDAnova is the first of the Carnival 180,000 gt, 6,600 passenger ships,  powered by LNG. She is aimed at the German market. Carnival, Costa and P&O (Iona) will also get this design of ship.

Theatrium Offers New Entertainment Experiences

Theatrium (Courtesy AIDA)

AIDA Cruises is promising that the new AIDAnova will offer “different and innovative entertainment experiences for all tastes every day in a total of 13 venues.” The company said there will be a number of new entertainment formats exclusive to the ship, for the German market.

AIDA said that five new shows will premier in the Theatrium, which continues to be the brand’s signature entertainment venue. In the evening – it’s showtime on the 360-degree stage, featuring technical highlights such as the 11 LED walls, seven different laser shows and the LED Tube inclusive of an “artists’ elevator.”

A new venue is Studio X, the ship’s TV studio. Guests can observe live how AIDA TV shows are produced.

Another venue is The Mystery Room, where players go on a treasure hunt. In the Rock Box, guests will get “an earful” of music, according to AIDA, either with a mix of favorites from the jukebox, or unplugged and live. Guests can also enjoy dinner in the Time Machine Restaurant – described as the realm of Professor Tempus. He will take them on a voyage through time to distant worlds.

The Four Elements venue is a highlight for the whole family featuring a rope course, waters slide and next door, a Caribbean-like beach that doubles as a night spot with live music and dancing.

In addition is nightly entertainment at The Cube dance club and at the Casino.


SS United States Strikes Deal With A Real Estate Developer

December 11, 2018

(SS United States Today – source unknown)

The SS United States Conservancy has entered into an agreement with RXR Realty, a real estate development company, which will begin to explore options for the SS United States’ revitalization.

RXR Realty currently manages 69 commercial real estate properties and investments with an aggregate gross asset value of approximately $18.1 billion.

Over the next several months, RXR Realty will be working to determine the viability of the SS United States’ redevelopment and will explore a range of potential locations for the historic vessel, which currently sits laid up in Philadelphia.

In connection with its work, RXR will be paying a substantial portion of the ship’s carrying costs and making other investments during this option period.  The company will soon be assembling a team to assess the vessel’s interior spaces and explore concepts for the ship’s revitalization.

(The SS United States Conservancy)

Malcolm says: I can’t help being very skeptical. The SS United States has been subject to a number of broken promises to return her back to service. There have also been other concepts to convert her into a shopping mall, but all have failed to materialise. I’d love to see the ship preserved somehow, but I’m not holding my breath.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection: Azora

December 10, 2018


The newly created Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will name its first ship the Azora, the company announced.  The name means ‘sky blue’.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, will launch three small, ultra-luxury ships costing  around $220 million each. The first, Azora will be delivery is in 2019, followed by two sister ships in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The 190-meter (623-foot) vessels  will carry 298 passengers in 149 suites.


Malcolm says: The Ritz-Carlton ship looks very nice, very exclusive and very intimate, but I wonder how many of us reading here will ever be on-board?  Oh well, where did I put that Royal Caribbean brochure?

Costa Venezia To Be Christened In Trieste

December 9, 2018


Costa Cruises announced that the new Costa Venezia will be christened in Trieste port, in Northern Italy,  on March 1, 2019, before transiting to China.

She is one of seven new ships being delivered to Costa Group by 2023, marking a total investment of some 6 billion euro.

The Costa Venezia will be the company’s largest ship in China at 135,500 tons, and with capacity for 5,100 guests.

(Costa Cruises)

Atlantica & Mediterranea Sold to Chinese Brand

The new China-based cruise company plans to operate its own fleet to serve Chinese cruise guests by the end of 2019. The new line is part of a joint venture between China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and Carnival Corporation.

Two Costa ship will be transferred to the new line.

The first of these ships, the 85,861-ton, 2,210-passenger Costa Atlantica (2000), is scheduled to be transferred to the new Chinese cruise line by the end of 2019.

Costa Atlantica’s sister ship, the 2,114-passenger Costa Mediterranea (2003), will be transferred at a date still to be announced, but is expected to be at the end of 2020.


Tilbury Tonight

December 8, 2018

Saturday 8th December, 2018:


Left Marco Polo, Right: Magellan

The London Cruise Terminal, Tilbury, is actually in Essex, on the Thames (England) and is a sleepy place. Today it does not get too many ships visiting.

However In the 1930’s to 50’s, Tilbury was like the Heathrow airport for ships, with liners departing from there to take passengers all over the world.


The tiny Tilbury Ferry and Marco Polo

Today is an exception. ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo and Magellan are both in port together, which is pretty rare. Both are offering festive overnight events to the public, which are extremely popular.

(Click the ship names above to see my reviews)


Although the camera perspective can be deceptive, the Marco Polo is much smaller than Magellan, at around 22,000 gt. Magellan is almost twice as big at around 40,000 gt.

The Marco Polo is twenty years older, being built in 1965, compared to Magellan being built in 1985.  However, both ships are absolutely charming!

We are lucky to still have small ships operating from UK ports, that do not charge a small fortune.  Long may they reign!


Carnival Panorama

December 8, 2018

(Courtesy of Fincantieri)

The new Carnival Panorama was floated out on the 6th December, 2018,at the Fincantieri shipyard in Venice. She is the Sister of Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista

Interior fit out will now begin on the 133,500gt vessel, with a delivery date scheduled for autumn 2019.

When Carnival Panorama debuts in Long Beach, California, in December 2019, it will introduce the first indoor trampoline park and challenge zone at sea, in partnership with Sky Zone.

The godmother of the ceremony was Antonella Cazzin, a 35-year employee of Fincantieri’s shipyard.


Carnival Mardi Gras Returns!

December 6, 2018

(Images courtesy of Carnival)

Carnival Cruise Line has announced that it will name its new XL-class ship, Mardi Gras, bringing back the name of the first Carnival Cruise Line ship that entered service in 1972.

The new livery was also revealed. It is an 180,000-ton XL vessel  will be powered by LNG, and homeport at Port Canaveral. With a max of 6,600 passengers she’s the largest Carnival cruise ship ever constructed, to be delivered in 2020.

The construction of a second XL ship will start construction in 2020 and be delivered in 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Line’s founding.

“This new ship promises to be truly special, from its ground-breaking technology and one-of-a-kind features to its distinctive livery and hull design that is both timeless and forward-thinking while paying tribute to our nearly 50-year history of making wonderful vacation memories for our guests,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

“We are extremely pleased to work together with Carnival on this large and highly innovative ship. We are also very proud to build the first-ever LNG powered cruise ship for North American market, making this state-of-the-art green technology a reality,” commented Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku.


The Original Mardi Gras


Carnival Cruise Line was founded in 1972 by Ted Arison. Until 1975, the line consisted of only one ship, the Mardi Gras. The ship was built in 1961 as the ‘Empress of Canada’. She was 27,284 gross tonnes and could accommodate 1,048 passengers.

Malcolm says: I though this new class was called ‘Helios’ rather than ‘XL’. This is the same basic design of ship that Costa and Aida will be getting. It will also be P&O’s ‘Iona’. Maybe the class name changes with the cruise line?

Within 43 years ships have changed beyond all recognition. The original Mardi Gras, purchased second-hand and Carnival’s newbuild, are words apart in terms of size and facilities. For example, the new ship is over 6.5 times bigger!  

Impressively (or shockingly) the new ship design is NOT the world’s biggest, but will be capable of carrying a world record number of passengers, at up to 6,600. 

Carnival Legend To Sail European In 2020

December 3, 2018

(Courtesy of Carnival)

Carnival Legend will sail a European season in 2020 with nine- to 16-day voyages calling at 34 ports in 16 countries, Carnival Cruise Line announced.

Itinerary Highlights:

A 16-day Northern trans-Atlantic crossing from New York to London (Dover) June 3-19, featuring day-long visits to these spectacular destinations: Qaqortoq, Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Cork (Cobh), Ireland.

A nine-day Norwegian Fjords cruise round-trip from London June 19-28, visiting six scenic Norwegian ports: Bergen, Olden, Molde, Trondheim, Alesund, and Stavanger, with ample opportunities to view the Norwegian fjords.

A nine-day Western Europe cruise June 28 – July 7 from London to Barcelona, visiting Le Havre (Paris), France; La Coruña, Spain; Leixoes and Lisbon, Portugal; Gibraltar; and Malaga, Spain.
Nine- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises between Venice and Barcelona with stops including Marseilles, France; Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Rome (Civitavecchia) and Naples, Italy; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; and Dubrovnik and Rijeka, Croatia.

A 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to Tampa Oct. 30 – Nov. 15, highlighted by visits to Malaga, Spain; Funchal (Madeira), Portugal; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Antigua; San Juan; and Amber Cove (Dominican Republic).

Carnival Legend Voyages from Tampa, New York

Before her summer in Europe, the Carnival Legend will operate a 13-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal voyage from Tampa to New York May 3-16, 2020, with calls in Cozumel, Mexico and Limon, Costa Rica prior to a partial Panama Canal transit followed by visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Aruba; and Grand Turk.

Once in New York, Carnival Legend will operate two nine-day Caribbean sailings departing May 16 and 25, 2020 and featuring San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.

Carnival Legend will also offer a schedule of six- and seven-day Caribbean sailings featuring calls at a variety of tropical islands, including Grand Cayman, Belize, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), as well as eight-day partial Panama Canal voyages, round-trip from Tampa in winter 2020-21.

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: Carnival Legend at 88,500 gross tonnes is mid-sized by modern standards.  I was lucky enough to attend her naming ceremony in Harwich in August 2002. Dame Judy Dench was the Godmother.   The Joe Farkus interiors were pretty ‘loud’ as you would expect.

Virgin Voyages – Epic Eats Under One Roof

December 2, 2018


The Test Kitchen (Courtesy of Virgin)

From SoHo to Shoreditch, there’s a medley of eateries and experiences that stand out. And while the most famous cities in the world might not be able to agree on who does what the best, there will be no debate about the delicious delights you can only find aboard the Scarlet Lady.

Our Creative Collective to include world-class AvroKO Hospitality Group, and their very own Michelin starred chef Brad Farmerie (whose claims to fame include: Saxon + Parole, Public in New York City, Genuine Liquorette, and Ghost Donkey, among others) to crystallize the best and most forward-thinking trends on land, and help bring them to life at sea.

Our vision quickly began taking form after we locked in the dynamic duo behind Roman & Williams, Stephen Alesch and Robin Stanfeder, whose years spent crafting sets for some of Hollywood’s top films taught them that building a space isn’t just about creative design, it’s about creating an experience. One that reflects the everyday habits sailors treasure too much to leave behind, while also providing the opportunities they won’t be able to find anywhere else (whether on land or at sea).

Each and every single one of our spaces, from the glamorous Wake restaurant to the exciting and innovative Test Kitchen, and even The Pizza Place, will be second to none.

And even though we’re breaking the mold, providing complete creative and culinary freedom to our laureates of cuisine, there were a few caveats we considered to be non-negotiable.

Our voyages are Adult-by-Design, intended to provide an elevated eating experience that reflects our sailors’ daily lives, and the lives they aspire to lead. Dine wherever you want, whenever you want, in whatever way you want, guaranteed to exceed your appetite’s (and heart’s) expectations. We have surprises waiting around every corner, and if you’d like to share a plate with your fellow sailors, that’s fine too.

We made sure to leave buffets behind. They’re just not for us, or our sailors. In their place, we have a mélange of intimate eateries befitting the type of boutique hotels you might find in the poshest neighborhoods around the world. Except here, every sailor is invited.

All of our food will be made to order. In doing this, we’re cutting back on waste, drastically lowering our energy usage and emissions, and setting up the Scarlet Lady to be the future of sustainable sea travel.

If it hasn’t become evident for you by now, this voyage isn’t just about what you do, but how you do it. Our goal was to create a journey that brings together everything you love from your everyday life with everything you want while on vacation. With 20+ eating options available and included in your voyage fare, our wide variety of eateries will have you signing up for another voyage if for no other reason than to try everything you missed out on the first time around.

You don’t eat at the same place every day of the week, so why should you have to do it while on holiday?

We’re writing a brand new definition of what it means to dine at sea. Uncharted waters excite us!

(Text – Virgin Voyages)

Slide show of Virgin dining: HERE

Malcolm says: So will Virgin really offer something different in terms of on-board dining or is it just the media-hype that is different?


⚓️ February 5th, 2019 – We’re open for business to Pre-Sale Deposit Holders.
⚓️ February 14th, 2019 – We’re open for business to everyone.

Razzle Dazzle

Razzle Dazzle (Courtesy of Virgin)

A strategy so unexpected and so unique that even Pablo Picasso raised his hand to take credit for an innovation he considered a quintessential Cubist technique.

How does this tie into delicious dining on the high seas? We thought you’d never ask.

Razzle Dazzle is one of our Scarlet Lady’s most spectacular culinary attractions. A space that doesn’t disguise what it’s doing, because there’s so much to experience you won’t want to go to the bathroom out of fear you might miss out on what’s coming next. But, who knows? There might even be a few surprises in store when you take a quick leave to freshen up (there’s only one way to find out).

Serving familiar favorites from breakfast to dinner, prepared from consciously sourced ingredients served in a fresh, no frills, and downright delicious way. There’s sure to be something here for every sailor from scrumptious toasts to juicy burgers and zesty, vibrant salads. With so much variety, you won’t need to worry about checking the menu ahead of time for that one picky eater in every group (you know who they are).

Razzle Dazzle is vegetarian forward but there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

But the fun doesn’t end where the food begins. There’s still so much more for sailors to discover. After your meal, or before, make your way to the Red Bar, our resident diva’s favorite spot on the entire ship. Serving up the perfect blend of naughty and nice. If you’re feeling nice, you can order from our robust offering of fresh-pressed juices and tonics. If you’re feeling naughty, we’ll have an exceptional selection of clarified cocktails that vary every night. Feeling excited yet?

Razzle Dazzle (Courtesy of Virgin)

“Pardon us, did you say something about divas?”

As a matter of fact, we did.

Razzle Dazzle will also be home to our tantalizing Drag Brunch. A uniquely Virgin Voyages take on one of the most popular activities to help you nurse that hangover while working on a new one. For two days on every voyage, our dashing, delightful, beautiful, sassy, scandalous, and scintillatingly spectacular drag queens will take over this space to provide some entertainment even Sin City wouldn’t know what to do with (snaps for the queens, please).

All bets are off when you hand over the reins to our regal runway goddesses, our queens of contour, our captains of everything and anything glittery (their favorite color).

If Scarlet Lady is the most popular attraction you can find on the seven seas, then Razzle Dazzle is the perfect place to indulge in both your naughty and nice cravings. The catch? There is no catch. It’s not a secret, it’s not a mirage, and it’s definitely not an attempt to trick you into not knowing which way we’re going. You’ll know exactly where we’re headed, but the only way to experience all the fun is to join the voyage.

(Text – Virgin Voyages)

Virgin Voyages – New Cruise Terminal

December 1, 2018

(Courtesy Virgin)

As Virgin’s fist ship, the Scarlet Lady, comes together deck by deck, we wanted to build a home port fit for our Lady Ship.

From the decor of the bars to every detail of the cabins, we partnered with a creative collective of top-notch designers from around the globe to craft our Scarlet Lady. When it came to our Virgin Voyages terminal, we decided to look for top-notch talent in our very own backyard.

Pending approval, the construction of our new terminal (and future home) is planned for PortMiami. Seeing how we will be setting up shop in the heart of Biscayne Bay, we wanted to be sure we worked with a firm that understood how to highlight and honor the Magic City.

That’s why we joined forces with Miami-based architecture and design firm Arquitectonica, the visionaries behind projects such as the American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami, Brickell City Centre Complex in Brickell and the Miami City Ballet in South Beach.

Our goal with the terminal? To highlight and emphasize those things people love about Miami and give a nod to the past in our unique Virgin way. For years visitors have been attracted by the city’s sun-soaked beaches, invigorating atmosphere and gorgeous, iconic sights.

No sight more recognized than the Royal Palm Tree lounging carefree amidst a backdrop of captivating Art Deco design. These palm trees, tall and regal, relaxed yet unwavering, were the inspiration for the structure that will become our sanctuary in the bustling bay.

To pay homage to these venerable palms, we wanted to design something that will make every sailor feel like they’re having an authentic Miami experience from the moment they catch a glimpse of our mesmerizing terminal. In planning to bring life to a slab of hot concrete overlooking the beautiful downtown cityscape, Arquitectonica decided sailors could use a little shade before boarding the scintillating Scarlet Lady.

(Virgin Voyages)

Malcolm says: I had not realised that Virgin would build their own cruise terminal. They are certainly taking their venture into cruising VERY seriously. However I do wonder what a cruise with ‘Virgin Voyages’ can provide, that the other big players can’t? Only time will tell.

Scarlet Lady interiors: HERE, Dining: HERE

Introduction MSC Seashore

November 28, 2018

(Courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises has cut the first steel of ‘MSC Seashore’, the first of two MSC Cruises Seaside EVO-class ships, currently on order at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard.

At a ceremony held at the shipyard in Monfalcone, the first steel was cut for the ship, which is due to be launch service in early 2021.

The new class of ship builds on the Seaside-class, with a larger MSC Yacht Club, more specialty restaurants on deck 8 for dining al fresco, a larger number of whirlpools across the ship; and 200 additional cabins as well as larger public areas.

The new Evo-design will be 69,400 gt (as opposed to 154,516 gt) and carry 5,632 passengers (lower berths).

Moreover, the Seaside EVO ships will be equipped with the latest advanced environmental technology, including a selective catalytic reduction system; exhaust gas cleaning technology; state-of-the-art waste management and recycling systems; advanced water treatment systems; and an advanced energy and heat recovery system, as well as other technology and measures to further increase energy efficiency.

(Source MSC)

Malcolm says: The breakneck pace of MSC’s expansion will see them overtake NCL in the near future, in terms of number of berths, to be the number three cruise line,  behind Carnival (one) and RCI (two). However are they growing too fast?  MSC passenger reviews are extremely mixed in terms of satisfaction ratings. The only area of excellence, that everyone seems to agree on, is the ‘Yacht Club’.

Although the Seaside EVO-class will carry some 400 passengers more that the ‘regular’ Seaside design, her tonnage will be around about 16,000 gt bigger. This make the passenger to space ratio about the same.

MSC Seaview slide-show: HERE

Celebrity Apex’s 2020 UK Itineraries

November 26, 2018


Celebrity Cruises’ second Edge class ship, Celebrity Apex, will offer five cruises to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe in summer 2020 ranging from seven to ten nights, the cruise line has revealed.

The ship, which will preview and be christened in Southampton in April 2020, will then reposition to Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome) to continue its European season.

Destinations on offer from Southampton during 2020 from Celebrity Apex include Lisbon, Porto, Copenhagen and overnight stays in Oslo. A 10-night Capital Cities cruise on-board Celebrity Apex departing on 23 April 2020 costs from £2,149 per person.

Apex, the 130,818 gross tonne, 2,900 passenger ship will be a sister to Celebrity Edge which made its debut in Port Everglades, Florida, yesterday ahead of its December 5 christening.

Joining Celebrity Apex in Southampton in summer 2020 will be Celebrity Silhouette, fresh from dry-dock and newly ‘revolutionised’, plus there will also be a third consecutive year of cruises from Dublin with Celebrity Reflection. This marks Celebrity Cruises’ largest-ever choice of cruises from UK and Irish ports.

(Celebrity Cruises)