Two Famous Hovercraft Are Set To Be Destroyed

February 12, 2016

The Princess Margaret and Princess Anne Hoverspeed vessels carried passengers between Dover and France for 30 years.

They were taken out of service in 2000 and have since been stored at theHovercraft Museum at Lee-on-Solent.

Contractors aiming to develop the land to create new homes now plan to demolish them.

The vessels are not owned by the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

The museum said the site’s owner, the government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), wants to develop the land to create new homes, so plan to destroy the Hovercraft.

More than 2,000 people have signed the petition to date.

The museum’s trustees said they hoped a deal could be reached with HCA and have submitted a proposal to save the Princess Anne, which is in better condition than the Princess Margaret.

Hovercraft Museum trustee Emma Pullen said: “They (the Hovercraft) are piece of British history, the like of which we will never see again.

“We will do everything in our powers to protect at least one of these national treasures.”

The cross-Channel service from Dover to Calais closed in 2000.

The two 250-tonne vessels could carry 400 passengers and 55 cars.

They were built on the Isle of Wight by the British Hovercraft Corporation in the 1970s and operated from Dover and Pegwell Bay in Kent.

They were replaced in 2000 by a catamaran service.

(BBC News/Lewis Coombes)

More about Hovercraft: HERE

Hovercraft slideshows: HERE

Seacat slideshow: HERE

Feb. 2016: Titanic II News

February 10, 2016


February 10th, 2016

Many of the on-line newspapers are carrying the story today that the “Titanic 2” will set sail in 2018.

Some are also showing interior renderings and saying “a first look at her interiors”.

However let’s not get too excited: The statement about Titanic 2 setting sail  in 2018 first appeared on 1stSeptember 2015 by the ‘Belfast Telegraph’. It’s old news.  The interior images have been available for a couple of years now. This stories contain nothing new, so I’m not sure why it has resurfaced now.

Where is the actual evidence that anything is actually happening to progress this project?

The New York Post (online) actually says the ship is “under construction”. I think they are wrong! I’m not aware that a building contract has been signed.

Originally Palmer’s ambitious plan was to have his Titanic in the water by this summer (2016). Last year his Titanic II company, ‘Blue Star Line’, said the project had been delayed by two years.

The ‘Blue Star Line’ web site has not been updated since May 2014. Palmer cannot update a web site let alone build a replica ocean liner, which does not suggest the project is currently active to me.

It would be easy to conclude that the whole project was some sort of publicity stunt. However the respected navel Architects ‘Deltamarin’ (Here) did carry out a significant amount of design work on the project in 2013/14. However they were told to stop.

I do recall Palmer saying a few ado that he was looking at cabin mock-ups, but he has said nothing since.


The plan was that Titanic II would look virtually identical to the original Belfast-built luxury liner which perished in April 1912 after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage.

However, it would be four metres wider in order to meet modern maritime safety regulations, and the hull will be welded, not riveted.

“The new Titanic would of course have modern evacuation procedures, satellite controls, digital navigation and radar systems and all those things you’d expect on a 21st century ship,” said James McDonald, the global marketing director of Palmer’s company Blue Star Line.

Titanic II (Blue Star Line - click to enlarge)

Titanic II (Blue Star Line – click to enlarge)

When finished, the new titanic would be 270 metres long, 53 metres high and weigh 40,000 tonnes.

It would have nine decks and 840 cabins capable of accommodating 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members, along with Turkish baths, a swimming pool and gymnasiums.

It would also remain faithful to the classifications of the original ship with first, second and third-class tickets on offer.

Titanic II’s maiden voyage would not be from Southampton to New York as originally stated, but rather Jiangsu, China, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Blue Star Line has been forging business partnerships.

“We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project” Mr McDonald said.

It was said that the state-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling would be contracted to build Titanic II, although this has yet to happen. Not a single rivet (well weld) has taken place.

In conclusion:

Even if you believe Palmer about Titanic 2 (and few people do) he has set himself a very tight deadline: he now has just under three years to finish designing and build a ships which will be far from a ‘standard’ construction. He has chosen a shipyard unaccustomed to building cruise ships, let alone a replica Ocean liner. For example, I doubt that any of the fixtures and fitting will be available of the shelf. Everything (equipment, décor, carpets, soft furnishings, furniture, crockery etc.) will need to be built form scratch to historical designs. This will be expensive, time consuming and require some very specialist skills. Does the CSC Jinling shipyard even have access to these skills?

However wouldn’t it been cool to have a choice of cruising on the SS United State or the Titanic II. Personally I’d would bet the that the former would be more likely.


Mail on-line Titanic II interior renderings: HERE


Princess Reveal New Livery

February 9, 2016
(Image courtesy of Princess)

Majestic Princess rendering  (courtesy of Princess)

Princess Cruises announced today that the Majestic Princess will be the first ship in the fleet to debut an new livery design featuring the company’s logo.

The new livery design will roll out fleetwide over the next few years.

Under construction (Courtesy of princess)

Under construction (Courtesy of Princess)



Under construction (Courtesy of Princess)


Malcolm says: I quite like NCL’s hull-art, but I’d hate to see all cruise ship sporting it. I’m not sure I like Princess’s – the jury is still out.

On the other hand, I do find all-white ships a little boring.  My favourite livery is the ocean liner style: dark hull and white superstructure, like Cunard’s fleet. Fred Olsen’s fleet has adopted this stylish look recently.


Fred Olsen’s Boudicca at Tilbury (Dec 2015)


Sapphire Princess review: HERE


Shock Revelation: Rose Could Have Saved Jack

February 9, 2016
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

They could have lived happily ever after – if only Kate Winslet had moved over a little.

But Jack Dawson sacrificed himself at the end of 1997’s Titanic to save Rose DeWitt-Bukater, throwing her lifeline with a makeshift raft and wishing her a long and happy life.

Now, actress Kate Winslet has admitted that there was enough room for two on that broken door and therefore Rose could have saved Leonardo DiCaprio’s  character Jack from freezing to death in the Atlantic Ocean, after all.

(Daily Mail)

Titanic 2: HERE

SS United States Renovation – More Details

February 7, 2016
Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

In July 2015 Crystal announced some impressive plans to expand their range of luxury products (see here):

  • Five new luxury river cruise boats in Europe: one revamp of an existing ship (Mozart); four newly-built ships (Debussy, Bach, Ravel, Mahler) to be delivered summer 2017 (here).
  • Three new 100,000-gross-ton luxury cruise liners  with condos for sale on-board, the first entering service 2019
  • Three new jets, which they just purchased for airborne cruising. Two are wide-bodies (a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a Boeing 777) that will go into service in 2017; a GlobalExpress charter plane is up-and-running now.
  • The Esprit, the first in their new yacht line, sleeping a maximum of 62 passengers in suites. The yacht will even feature its own mini-sub.

Edie Rodriguez, President & CEO said “This is just the beginning”. 

What we could have never guessed is that  in February 2015, Crystal Cruises are set to purchase the classic America Ocean Liner, the SS United States, currently in lay-up.

(Curtsey of Crystal Cruises).

Espirit (Courtsey of Crystal Cruises).

Concept renderings of the renovated S.S. United States have been produced by Crystal and are shown here.

An engineering  marvel of its age, the ship entered service in 1952. She holds the record for being the fastest of all Ocean Liner.  She also remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America.

A renovation of the ship is not a cheap option.  It could cost up to $800 million, according to Edie Rodriguez.  Crystal said it planned to reduce the original passenger capacity of nearly 2,000 and turn the ship into an 800-passenger luxury liner.

By comparison, Regent’s Explorer, a new luxury vessel, will carry about 750 passengers at an estimated cost of $450 million to build.

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

According to the press release: “She will boast 400 suites measuring approximately 350-square-feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.”

Navajo Lounge (Source unknown)

Navajo Lounge (Source unknown)

Does this mean that she will still be the fastest ocean liner in the world once renovated? Fuel cost and the lack of desire from the cruise passengers not to rush anywhere has generally killed speed. The Queen Mary 2 is capable of 30 Knots, but she now crosses to New York somewhat slower, taking seven nights rather than six. She could do it in five nights if their was the desire.

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

I wonder how stable her hull will prove to be? The designers of the great ocean liners did not have the benefits of computer simulation and advanced tank testing.  The original Queen Mary (1936) for example, used to occasionally roll in a storm by up to 45 degrees. This would not be acceptable today.  The proposed Titanic 2 was redesigned with a hull 4.2 m wider than the original, to increase stability.

Crystal also said that the ‘new’ SS United States will travel the world and perhaps even resume occasional service between New York and Europe, the classic Ocean Liner route of the mid-20th century.

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

There is strong business logic to the whole idea: The ship is a rare specimen built and flagged in America, which will make it easier to service some American routes where foreign-flagged vessels face regulatory limitations.

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Crystal)

As for the concept rendering: the combination of ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ is always going to be a very delicate balancing act. Potential passengers will expect luxury, space and modern facilities. Maritime history aficionados will expect many aspects of her interiors and her unique silhouette to retain their original form.

I do like the art deco stern-superstructure, shown in the new renderings, but I am not so keen on the protrusion above the bridge. The balcony cabins are of course an inevitability. As a consequence she no longer looks entirely like the SS United States that we love.

However it is important to note that the renderings do not depict the finalised designs, they are just an initial ‘concept’. I guess that a lot of work has yet to be carried out on this complex project.


Press conference: HERE


LNG Cruise Ships – The Future?

February 6, 2016

I’m re-posting this article from 2015, for those readers that missed it.  I belive LNG may well be the future of cruising.

What’s LNG?  Please read on…

Costa's 180,000gt LNG ship

Costa’s 180,000gt LNG ship

The Carnival Corporation announced in June 2015 that they have finalized a multi-billion dollar contract to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the industry.

The contract with Meyer Werft is part of larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022.

The four new ships will also feature a new “green cruising” design. The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). They will use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored on-board and used to generate 100 percent power at sea. Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulphur oxides.

Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea. However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly for a megaship design.

LNG is superior to pipeline gas in quality. This is because LNG is purer, has more methane as well as other energy content, and also because of its chemical structure since it has a stable composition. Its combustion generates no unburned residues, particulates or soot, and releases less greenhouse gas than traditional marine gas oil (MGO). Future maritime emissions regulations, especially in sensitive environments are likely to demand this. Perhaps the most appealing aspect about LNG is that under the right operating conditions it can reduce fuel costs.

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Gas take up more space than fuel-oil. In fact six times more space. Therefore large tanks for the gas are located on deck, of then ferry, to save space in the hull (See image above). Will the Carnival newbuilds mimic this feature, somehow? Carnival have already said “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces”. Maybe this means storing the LNG tanks on deck/upper superstructure, freeing up internal space traditionally used for fuel storage, for passengers. Just a guess!

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

LNG cruise ship ‘concepts’ have been around a long time. The renderings below are a design by Wärtsilä, the marine engine company.

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

Interestingly the concept ship uses drive shaft technology, rather than pods. The LNG tans are located internally, below the funnel area.


( Wärtsilä)

The engines on-board the new Carnival ships will not exclusively be powered by LNG, but will be ‘dual fuel’ being capable of burring both LNG and liquid fuel, and combinations of both at the same time. burning exclusively LNG could be saved for environmentally sensitive areas. This would reduce the fuel storage space required.


Micky Arison (Carnival CEO) talks megaships HERE

Crystal To Return The SS United States Back To Service!

February 4, 2016


(SS United States Today - source unknown)

SS United States Today  (Source unknown)

NEW YORK, February 4, 2016 – Already in the midst of the most significant expansion in the company’s celebrated history, Crystal Cruises next step in expanding its award-winning fleet is truly an historic endeavor.   Together with the SS United states Conservancy, Crystal today announced it will save “America’s Flagship,” the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

“The prospect of revitalizing the SS United States and re-establishing her as ‘America’s Flagship’ once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark,” says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “We are honored to work with the SS United States Conservancy and government agencies in exploring the technical feasibility study so we can ultimately embark on the journey of transforming her into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era.”

“Crystal’s ambitious vision for the SS United States will ensure our nation’s flagship is once again a global ambassador for the highest standards of American innovation, quality and design,” said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. We are thrilled that the SS United States is now poised to make a triumphant return to sea and that the ship’s historical legacy will continue to intrigue and inspire a new generation.”

In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices.  The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.

Adds Rodriguez: “It is truly a privilege for the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line to be entrusted with the opportunity of restoring a ship that served as a symbol of patriotism and maritime supremacy and bring her into the modern day, while also giving guests a taste of a bygone era of luxury travel.”

Crystal will be examining exciting new itineraries for the 60,000-gross-ton United States by Crystal Cruises including not only the traditional transatlantic voyages from New York City, but cruises from key U.S. ports as well as international voyages around the globe which are a signature offering of Crystal and part of the line’s “World Cruise.”

The epitome of American post-war innovation and design, the SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage – a record to this day that still stands.  She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four U.S. presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers.  While the ship captivated travelers with its features and elegance, the ship’s origin was equally intriguing. She was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon program during the Cold War, which stipulated it could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troopship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles – almost half way around the globe – without refueling

To facilitate the complex technical feasibility study and to ensure a smooth execution of the project, Crystal has appointed retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team with a wide range of cruise line technical, legal and regulatory expertise. With 36 years of active service, Admiral Sullivan has extensive experience in ship operations as a Commanding Officer of numerous Coast Guard cutters, and over the years has engaged in high level of interaction with a myriad of U.S. government agencies and international regulatory entities.

“Tim’s integrity and leadership will help ensure the feasibility study is conducted with appropriately wide consultation, and rigorous adherence to both safety and environmental awareness,” said Rodriguez.

The Conservancy will continue to expand its curatorial and archival collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the SS United States’ history.  The organization will work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programs.  Planning is also underway for a land-based museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s Flagship along with broader design, innovation, and discovery themes. The museum will feature a wide range of original artifacts and historic components from the ship’s heyday.

(Source: Crystal Cruises)


(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

Malcolm says: This is FANTASTIC news! I thought that the best we could hope for was the ship becoming a static tourist attraction or hotel. I’m surprised Crystal are interested in restoring an historic ship – it’s not what they normally do.

It will probably cost almost as much to renovate the ‘Big U’ as it would to build a similar sized new ship.  Any renovation should be a sensitive process between retaining the ‘traditional’ and adding the ‘modern’, otherwise she might become a tasteless hybrid!

The SS United States is quite a small ship by modern standards. She originally carried almost 2,000 passengers, but some of her accommodation was ‘steerage’ class, so very small with shared toilets. Clearly Crystal will build many new luxurious balcony suites.

However, I’m not counting my chickens before they have hatched – after all NCL once owned her and promised to return her to service. (Ironically Crystal is owned by Genting Hong Kong, which holds a stake in NCL. Therefore it is the second time that they would have owned her).

I wonder how different an NCL ‘Big U’ would have been to the Crystal version. Of course we will never know.


Spot the ‘real’ ship!


More SS United States details and renovation renderings HERE

Exploring the decaying SS United States: HERE

EasyJet to test Hybrid Plane

February 3, 2016


EasyJet is to become the first airline in the world to test a hybrid plane, which uses hydrogen fuel cells to power the aircraft while it’s on the ground.

The airline says the zero-emission hydrogen technology could cut its fuel bill by up to $35 million a year.

The system is designed to harness the energy produced by the brakes, which will then power the plane as it taxis to the gate.

Waste water that is produced from the hydrogen cells could be recycled to flush the toilets on-board.

EasyJet said the hybrid system being trailed later this year could save around 50,000 tonnes of fuel every year.

As 4% of easyJet’s fuel is used for taxiing, it could save $25 million to $35 million if all its aircraft used the new hybrid system to move between gates and runways.


MSC To Build World’s 3rd Biggest Ship

February 2, 2016
(Click to enlarge - Courtesy MSC)

(Click to enlarge – Courtesy MSC)

MSC have now confirmed that they have ordered three ‘Vista’ (Meraviglia) class ship and three ‘Seaside’ ships.

The desire to build ever bigger cruise ships is in full swing again with RCI, MSC, Carnival/Costa/Aida and NCL being the major players.

Interestingly the second and third MSC ‘Vista’ ships, know as ‘Meraviglia Plus’ will have a bigger tonnage and passenger capacity than the original ‘Meraviglia’. At 177,100 grosse tons these ship will be bigger than Royal Caribbean’s ‘Quantum Class’ by about 8,434 gt (depending what statistics you use).

When ‘Meraviglia Plus’ enters service, she will be the worlds third  biggest class of cruise ship by gt. This pushed NCL’s ‘Getaway Plus’ ships into fourth place.

The second biggest ships will be Carnival’s Costa/Aida’s unnamed newbuilds at 183,200 gross tonnes, the first entering service before ‘Meraviglia Plus’ in 2018. Royal Caribbean ‘Harmony of the Seas’ (Oasis class) class at around 227,700 gt  will continue to be the largest cruise ships by a large margin.

Meraviglia’s 14 public decks all have unusual names: Deck  5 – Colosseo, 6 – Petra, 7 – Taj Mahal, 8 – Machu Picchu, 9 – Alhambra, 10 – Hagia Sophia, 11 – Acropolis, 12 – Grand Canyon, 13 – Kilimanjaro, 14 – Angkor Wat, 15 – Tour Eiffel, 16 – Iguazu, 18 – Piramids, and 19 – Babylon.

I note that there is no deck 17 as this is an unlucky number in Italy, but their is a deck 13. I wonder if the decor of each deck will reflect the names?

MSC Newbuild Schedule:

MSC Meraviglia , May 2017 STX Europe(St. Nazaire) 167,600 tons
Project Vista II, 2019 STX Europe(St. Nazaire) 167,600 tons
Meraviglia Plus I, Nov. 2019 STX Europe(St. Nazaire) 177,100 tons
Meraviglia Plus II, April 2020 STX Europe(St. Naz.) 177,100 tons
MSC Seaside Nov, 2017 Fincantieri 154,000 tons
Project Seaside II, May 2018 Fincantieri 154,000 tons
Project Seaside III, 2021 Fincantieri 154,000 tons

Details and renderings are now available of Meraviglia’s 12 cabin grades:


Meraviglia Prom To Have Digital Sky

One of the innovative features of Meraviglia will be a 5,167 square foot LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship’s interior promenade. Like a digital sky, this LED image vault will beam out compelling images and vistas day and night.


Promenade with digital sky (MSC)



(Click to enlarge – MSC)

Below is a slide show of renderings of public spaces, on-board the MSC Vista class:

MSC’S Seaside Interiors: HERE

MSC’s Seaside Accommodation: HERE

The world’s biggest class of cruise ship: HERE


Chinese Market Will Double by 2017

February 1, 2016
(Image courtesy of the Telegraph)

(Image courtesy of the Telegraph)

The Chinese cruise market will continue to grow through 2017, based on known ship movements announced by the cruise lines. The market will account for just under 3 million passengers come 2017, according to the 2016-2017 Cruise Industry News Annual Report. Costa will remain the market leader through 2016 and into 2017 based on announced deployments by the Italian brand. The second biggest brand in the Chinese market will continue to be Royal Caribbean.

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: It no wonder all the major cruise lines are deploying/homeporting ships to china. In 2015 1.64 million Brits cruised (a slight fall on 2014) and 1.77 million Germans (a rise). China’s growth looks like it will exceed this. However it will be interesting to see which of the European or American lines are the most appealing to the Chinese market – or will they demand more dedicated Chinese products.

Dreamers might be interested to know that Titanic II was to be built in China and meant to capture a slice of the Chinese market. Apparently the Chinese loved Carmeron’s movie. However the current status of the project is unknown.


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