Celebrity Cruises 30th Birthday

May 28, 2020

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Malcolm says: My first ever cruise was with Celebrity, see HERE

Total Airline Industry Debt: $550 Billion?

May 27, 2020

man-dealing-with-heavy-debt-1024x826

Total global airline industry debt could reach $550 billion by the end of 2020, the International Air Transport Association says.

Governments and commercial lenders have injected about $123 billion into struggling airlines since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic….

See full TravelMole article: HERE

Introducing: Honfleur

May 26, 2020

(Courtesy Brittany Ferries)

Brittany Ferries’ brand-new LNG-powered cruise ferry, Honfleur, will make her debut on the Portsmouth to Caen route in 2021.

Honfleur represents a new generation of cross-Channel ferry combining state-of-the art design and sustainable thinking with a smart, digitally-informed customer experience.

The ship’s passengers will enjoy innovative experiences and fresh service concepts along with the highest standards of French onboard hospitality and catering.

The shape of the hull – of which the keel is the very lowest beam running from bow to stern – has been designed to have a huge impact on a ship’s manoeuvrability in port and its stability at sea.

Honfleur will be 42,400 gross-tonnes and carry up to 1,680 passengers. She will offer 261 cabins, two cinemas, restaurants, boutique shopping and choice of spacious passenger lounges.

(Brittany Ferries)

Malcolm says: The only difference between modern ferries and cruise ships is the presence of a car deck or two.  My trip on the Stena Hollandica ferry is a prime example.

Fast Ferry

May 25, 2020

I know that a few of my readers have an interest in ferries and fast-ferries.

DSC_0180

Today’s big new car ferries (such as Irish Ferries Ulysses) are just like state-of-the-art cruise ships with a car deck or two.

However  we also have the fast-ferry technology: often catamarans (Seacats) propelled by water-jets.

Below is a slide-show of the fast-ferry ‘Condor Rapide’:

Regular readers will also know that I am a big fan of HOVERCRAFT.

Malcolm

Q: Please tell me about your Ferry experiences.

Ferries: Ben-My-Chree

May 25, 2020

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

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

Steam packet carries around 600,000 passengers annually and 170,000 cars and motorcycles. This represents an increase in passenger traffic of around 35% and 50% in vehicle traffic since 1996.

If you have never been, the ‘Isle of Man’ is a charming, un-spoilt little island in the Irish sea, steeped in history. I’d recommend it.

Below is a review and slide-show of ‘Ben My Chree’ (Woman of my heart) which is their current all-weather ferry.

Ferry Review: HERE

Malcolm

Isle of Man slide-show: HERE

Titanic II: Shipyard Update

May 23, 2020

Illustration only (NOT Titanic II)

The Titanic II project is NOT dead

News about the Titanic II project has been almost non-existent this year. Therefore I don’t blame readers for doubting whether the project is on-going. In fact I don’t blame readers for  believing that it is all just a millionaires pipe-dream.

However I have had recent communications with Deltmarin, the Finnish Navel Architects, who are actually designing the Titanic II.

Deltmarin are a ‘proper’ company who have designed cruise ships for most of the major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises. They are the ‘real deal’.

The News: At the moment different ship-building yards are being shortlisted…

See my dedicated Titanic II blog – HERE

Titanic v Oasis

Little and Large

A few years back I wrote an article for this blog called “Titanic vs Oasis Class”.

Now I must admit that it was really just meant to be a bit of fun. However 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”

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. How ever 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

Shearings Has Collapsed

May 22, 2020

(Courtesy Shearings)

The company behind coach firm Shearings (U.K.), who provide holidays for over 50s, has collapsed into administration with 2,500 jobs lost.

Specialist Leisure Group (SLG) has become the latest victim of the coronavirus crisis with 64,000 holiday bookings cancelled.

But travel trade organisation Abta confirmed the vast majority were coach package holidays which are financially protected, so customers with these bookings will receive a full refund.

Administrator EY said that more than 2000 staff who had been furloughed would now be made redundant.

SLG’s other businesses, UK Breakaways, Coast & Country Hotels, Bay Hotels, Country Living Hotels, and Wallace Arnold Travel, have also folded.

The firm also runs Sportingbreaks.com, which organises trips to events such as the Grand Prix at Silverstone and Wimbledon.

The business has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis, which has seen the tourist and hospitality industries shut down almost completely.

(The Sun)

Cruise Line Losses

May 22, 2020

Carnival Corp, the world’s largest cruise operator, on Thursday reported first-quarter loss compared with an year-ago profit, hurt by cancelled and disrupted trips due to the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

The cruise operator said it has fully drawn its $3 billion revolving credit agreement, as it braces for a financial hit from the pandemic.

Norwegian Cruise Line has reported a net loss of $1.9 billion for the first three months of financial 2020, down from a profit of $118 million for the same period last year.

Revenue for the period decreased 11.2 per cent to $1.2 billion, compared to $1.4 billion in 2019.

As cruise lines around the world came to a standstill in March, capacity also fell by 12.6 per cent.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited has reported a net loss of $1.4 billion, or $6.91 per share, for the first quarter of the financial year.

The figure compares to a profit of $250 million, or $1.19 per share, in the same quarter last year

The second largest cruise company in the world saw revenue fall 17 per cent to $2.03 billion over the period.

(Courtesy Breaking Travel News)

Malcolm says: Hardly surprising news. I hope to be able to print some good news about the industry sooner or later.

Virgin Voyages Launch: 16th October

May 21, 2020

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Virgin Voyages has extended its delayed launch and will now start revenue service in October, as opposed to August, according to a memo sent to travel partners.

“We’ve been working hard to find a way to set sail by August, but that hasn’t turned out to be possible,” the company said.

“We appreciate how many of your Sailors were excited to sail with us, so we understand how disappointing this news is. But we trust you and your Sailors will understand our decision given the evolving global health challenge we’re all up against”.

“As of right now, our first sailing is planned for October 16th, 2020, and we’ve rescheduled the Richard’s Birthday Bash sailing for July 14th, 2021. This sailing will still be a once in a lifetime experience for us to have fun, while also continuing our tradition of doing business for good.”

(CIN)

Introducing: Silver Origin

May 20, 2020

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The new 100-guest Silver Origin (Silversea Cruises) was put through the paces at the end of April as she departed De Hoop for a full three-day set of sea trials.

Purpose built for the Galapagos Islands, with a gross tonnage of just 5,800, the ship will enter service later in 2020.

Venice Webcam

May 20, 2020
venice-crowds

(Courtesy of the Independent)

Venice, is one of my favourite cities,  apart from all of the tourists that it attracts. Unfortunately it is often human gridlock, on the pavements, at peak times.

However, when was the last time you saw the Piazza San Marco as quiet as this:

See live webcam: HERE

Malcolm

Tilbury Docks Today

May 19, 2020

Tilbury 19/05/20

I was passing a few miles away from Tilbury docks (U.K.) Today. I could clearly see Saga’s ‘Spirit of Discovery’ (image right) and CMV’s ‘Vasco De Gama’ (image left) in the dock, laid-up.

CMV’s ‘Astoria’ and ‘Magellan’, plus  Saga’s ‘Saga Sapphire’ are also nearby in the same dock, but not in camera shot. CMV’s ‘Columbus’ is berthed a little down river, at the cruise terminal.

Malcolm

Empty cruise ships In The Caribbean & Philippines

May 19, 2020

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Satellite images reveal fleets of empty cruise ships huddled in the Caribbean and Philippines because they’re unable to dock due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers are no longer on the vessels, but some crew members have been trapped on-board since March.

Norway Extends Border Closure

May 18, 2020

Svalbard (Source Unknown)

Norwegian officials have extended their border closure until  August 20, effectively ending most of the Arctic expedition cruise season by putting Svalbard off limits to international guests.

Not only is it a key expedition destination, Svalbard in most cases serves as a homeport for a number of expedition brands, which offer high-yielding Arctic programs in June, July and August.

Svalbard is set to reopen for tourism on June 1, but without international arrivals permitted, business will be limited to domestic travel.

(CIN)

The Aeroplane Graveyard

May 17, 2020

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Pinal Airpark located in the desert in Pinal County, Arizona, is used for storing planes no longer required. It is home to hundreds of retired commercial and military aircraft – the desert conditions help prevent rusting.

Delta and others have sent planes that are no longer needed there as they drastically reduce operations due to COVID 19. Many of the aircraft early on came from Delta Air Lines. JetBlue has accounted for most of the arrivals in April with Air Canada and its low-cost subsidiary, Rouge, having sent about 30 aircraft Some older aircraft that were due to be retired in the coming year will now likely not fly ever again.

In the U.S. alone, the numbers of passengers traveling are just 5% what would normally be expected.

Have Cruise Ships Become Too Big?

May 16, 2020

(Image courtesy of RCI)

With the introduction of Carnival’s 180,000 gt, 6,600 passenger ‘Helios’ class ships and a global pandemic, many people are asking the question “Have cruise ships become too big”? 

Four Carnival’s cruise brands: Carnival, Costa, AIDA and P&O (Iona) now have these mega-ships. This design will supersede Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class, in terms of passenger capacity.  In fact it is a world record for a cruise ship.

It is hardly surprising  that their are two major concerns about today’s leviathans: 1) How well will the ships cope (and the ports of call) with the huge number of passengers that they will carry 2) How will they will maintain passenger health, against a backdrop of a global pandemic. 

Many people are asking the question “Have cruise ships become too big”? 

Article continued: HERE

From Now On

May 15, 2020

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The cast aboard the Holland America Line MS Volendam work with the remaining crew on board to show their love to the ones they are missing at home.

P&O’s New $260m Super-Ferry

May 13, 2020

Below are the official images of the €260 million new generation of super-ferries which will transform the experience of travelling between Britain and the Continent.

The as yet unnamed ship will be the largest ships ever to sail between Dover and Calais, the first of the 230-metre super-ferries will be operational by 2023.

Major innovations of the new super-ferries will include:

  • Cutting fuel use by 40 per cent through a combination of fuel and battery propulsion
  • The heat recovery system saves fuel which reduces the vessel’s carbon footprint
  • Future proofing anticipates the ‘zero carbon emissions ship’
  • A double-ended design and two bridges on the ship, meaning that there is no need for it to turn around
  • Outside deck areas to provide viewing platforms of the White Cliffs of Dover
  • Panoramic sea views for passengers
  • A power management system to efficiently close down parts of the ship when not in use
  • A revolutionary new shape of hull for the English Channel and azimuth thrusters which increase manoeuvrability of the ship.

P&O Ferries is a leading pan-European ferry and logistics company, sailing 27,000 times a year on eight major routes between Britain, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Belgium. It operates more than 20 vessels which carry 8.4 million passengers and 2.3 million freight units every year.

(P&O Ferries)

Malcolm says: Great Britain, being an island, has a fair number of ferries serving our coast, travelling to Europe. Even given the stiff competition from the budget airlines, many routes still survive. At the closest point, between Dover and Calais (France) there is only 26 miles of the English channel.

See my ‘Spirit of Britain’ Ferry review: HERE

Carnival UK Redundanceis

May 13, 2020

The operator of British cruise lines P&O Cruises and Cunard is planning to make hundreds of staff redundant.

It is thought 450 jobs could go at Carnival UK’s headquarters in Southampton, where about 1,600 people currently work.

Last month it announced sailings were suspended until at least 31 July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Carnival said: “Unfortunately like many businesses, Covid-19 has continued to impact our way of life.

“It is necessary to make changes to our organisation to build a stable platform for the time we phase our ships back into service and for future growth.”

A Carnival spokesman confirmed it had begun consulting staff based at its headquarters Carnival House in Harbour Parade, Southampton.

Carnival is by far the world’s biggest cruise company. It is by far the biggest operator in Southampton, which is the busiest cruise port in northern Europe.

The 450 posts at risk are shore staff, mostly office jobs.

(Courtesy BBC News)

World Tourism Remains at Standstill

May 12, 2020

COVID-19 has placed the whole world on lockdown, according to UNWTO, the World Tourism Organization

100% of global destinations continuing restrictions on travel, and with 72% having completely closed their borders to international tourism.

Full ‘Cruise Industry News’ article: HERE

Post COVID-19: River Cruising?

May 11, 2020

Amadeus Silver II (Courtesy of Luftner)

Now I realise that ‘social distancing’ is not going to be easy on-board any ship. However, it has just occurred to me that River Cruising may be a more palatable alternative, for those cruiseaholics, who do not relish the idea of sharing a ship with 2,000+ other souls in the near future.

Phycologically it certainly feels more appealing to me, at present.  Most river boats carry under 200 passengers. There is no scramble or waiting in a big shed to embark or disembark. At the ports of call, you just step off. You can often walk the town – no coach required.

Q: Do you agree? Any takers?

Brits: The Rhine (For example) can be reached from London, Ebbsfleet or Ashford by Eurostar train. Alternatively you could drive to Europe via Le Shuttle (Channel Tunnel) or a Ferry from the U.K. coast – so no need for crowded planes or airports. In addition there are car ferries to Europe and an extensive European train network.

I have done four really good river cruises and one really bad one!  Click the links for my reviews.

Malcolm

Would you enjoy a river cruise? SEE HERE

The myths and reality of river cruising: SEE HERE

Introducing: Scenic Eclipse II

May 10, 2020

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April 2020: The Scenic Group marked the steel cutting of the Scenic Eclipse II in Croatia The ship will be a sister to the Scenic Eclipse, which debuted in 2019. The company also announced it would build five vessels in the next six years in Croatia.

Her gross tonnage is 17,085t. The yacht carries 228 guests (restricted to 200 in Polar regions) in 114 all-veranda suites. It carries a crew of 172 for normal regions and 182 for Polar regions.

The yacht is designed for an Ice Class 1A Super rating and Polar Class 6 that enables it to navigate through Arctic and Antarctic waters.

(Scenic Cruises)

My Top Ten Fears Of Cruising

May 8, 2020

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

10.  Nice ship – wrong passengers

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

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

9. The food is inedible and service is atrocious

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

See full article: HERE

Global tourism could plummet by 80% this year

May 7, 2020

International tourist numbers could fall by up to 80% this year, according to a report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

In a report out today, it outlined three different scenarios which pointed to declines in arrivals of between 58% and 78%, depending on the speed of containment of Covid-19 and how long travel restrictions and border shutdowns are kept in place.

Full Travelmole article: HERE

The QE2 Remembered: December Crossing

May 7, 2020

I was lucky enough to take a crossing from Southampton to New York in 2002, on-board Cunard’s iconic Ocean liner “QE2”.

So much has been written about the ‘most famous ship in the world’ that she became a legend in her own lifetime. I’m sure that legend will just continue to grow and the stories of this palatial icon with the finest food and service will be passed down the generations. She had a very big fan club, but others were not always quite so impressed, but often remained silent. This because it was/is almost sacrilege to write something negative about the QE2.

In my review, I address the question: “Was her reputation bigger than the reality?”

Malcolm

My Queen Elizabeth 2 review: HERE

Q: Did you ever cruise on her? What’s your opinion?

Ponant: Le Commandant-Charcot

May 5, 2020

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Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot, a hybrid electric polar exploration vessel, arrived at the VARD shipyard in Soviknes, Norway on April 28, 2020 for the final stages of construction, one year before its delivery in April 2021.

With Le Commandant-Charcot, PONANT has imagined and envisaged the cruise voyage of tomorrow. The latest addition to the fleet will take you following in the footsteps of the great polar explorers in refined surroundings complete with the kind of luxury services never before offered in the farthest reaches of the southern and northern hemispheres.

The indoor swimming pool, the conservatory, the panoramic restaurant, the Blue Lagoon outdoor restaurant, the Main Lounge, the Observation Lounge, the lobby… Each of the common areas has been designed to both convey French-style discreet luxury and arouse wonder and amazement. The common thread running through all their designs is the desire to allow the light to penetrate and open everything up the extraordinary polar landscapes and scenery.

This very first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by LNG has been designed with the greatest attention to detail in terms of safety and respect for the environment.

(Ponant)

Real Ships: Waverley & Balmoral, Pleasure Boats

May 4, 2020

O.k. not conventional ocean cruise ships, but definitely “Real Ships”:

Waverly in Dry-dock, Mach 2020 (Courtesy Waverley excursions)

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to experience several day river cruises on the Balmoral* Motor Cruiser (1949), and the Waverley paddle steamer (1947). Both departed from Tilbury, via Southend, cruising the rivers Thames and Medway (U.K.).

Waverley is the only Ocean going paddle steamer left in the world.

Built on the Clyde in 1947 – to replace the original Waverley that sunk off Dunkirk in 1940, the Waverley was originally built to sail only between Craigendorran & Arrochar in West Scotland.

On my Waverley trip, I was lucky enough to see the ‘Kingswear Castle’, paddle steamer, on route.

The coal-fired paddle steamer KINGSWEAR CASTLE was built in 1924 by Philip & Son of Dartmouth and sailed up and down the River Dart with her virtually identical sister ships and COMPTON CASTLE until the 1960s.

Waverley Boiler Replacement

Unfortunately the PS Waverley was laid-up in 2019 as she requires a major renovation including boiler replacement.

Waverley entered dry dock on Monday March 2 for her annual visit which will see her hull painted. Some additional work is being completed as part of the boiler refit before the new boilers are installed.

(Courtesy Waverley excursions)

Waverley’s two new boilers were fitted in the first few days of April, completing a major refit milestone.

Each boiler, weighing 21 tonnes apiece, was gently lowered into position on Waverley and securely bolted to its hull mountings.

What should have been moments for celebration were muted by social distancing, against the sombre background of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Work to complete the steam installation and to rebuild the boiler room is continuing, but at a much-reduced pace due to the many consequences of the pandemic restrictions. Electrical installation has paused completely for the same reasons.

(Courtesy Waverley excursions)

The timing of the tightly-managed project that aimed to return Waverley to passenger service in June 2020 has now become hard to predict.

What is certain, with her two new boilers, new generators and new switchboards now in place, and her annual drydocking now complete – Waverley will steam again!

Details of the re-launch cruises and other areas will be confirmed later in the year.

Malcolm says: I’d recommend any of these three ‘classic’ ships (Waverley, Balmoral & Kingsear Castle) to you, if you get the chance.

It is amazing to think that the Waverley still normally sails around Britain every year, Spring to Autumn. She offers regular trips on the Clyde, the Thames, South Coast of England and the Bristol Channel, with other calls at various ports & piers throughout the UK.

So look out for these ‘real ships’ later in 2020 or 2021, at a UK port near you.

Malcolm

Waverley cruises: HERE

*(Not to be confused with Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral cruise ship)

QM2 Seen off Dorset Coast

May 3, 2020

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02/05/20: The Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, the flagship of the Cunard Line, has joined two P&O vessels, the Aurora and Ventura in Weymouth Bay. The Queen Mary 2 has been in the area for some time after arriving back off the coast of England last month but is occasionally seen moving around due to the weather forecast and for maritime operations, according to its owner.

(Daily Mail Online)

Queen Mary 2 Review: HERE

Real Ships: Marella to Retire Celebration

May 3, 2020

Marella Cruises is making capacity adjustments and will retire the 1984-built Celebration.

The ship was built in 1984 by Chantiers de l’Atlantique for Holland America Line as the MS Noordam.

The ship sailed under the Holland America Line brand through 2005, when she was moved to Thomson Cruises, which eventually became Marella.

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

Marella, owned by TUI Group, did not elaborate on whether it would sell or scrap the vessel.

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: I believe her sister, Marella Spirit (HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam) left the fleet in 2018 and was sadly scrapped.  I think Celebration has now effectively gone, there was no farewell season.

I did two cruises on Celebration (2006 and 2209) under the ‘Thomson Cruises’ umbrella, and loved her and their budget operation in general. This is another possible loss of a ‘Real Ship’.

Celebration: Red Sea Magic review: HERE

Celebration: Colourful Coasts review: HERE

Carnival Is Using Their Ships to Get Crew Home

May 2, 2020

(Courtesy Carnival)

Eighteen Carnival Cruise Line ships will rendezvous in The Bahamas over the next several days as the final plans are put in place to sail nine of the ships to repatriate more than 10,000 healthy crew.

The ships have been at various U.S. homeports provisioning supplies and bunkering fuel for their journeys. Certain crew will join ships using water shuttles off the coast of The Bahamas. Once completed, nine ships will sail to their destinations with crew from North American-based ships onboard.

The dark blue icons are cruise ships (courtesy Marine Traffic)

(If you follow this link HERE you will see a live chart of the map above and can identify the ships but putting the cursor over them)

The remaining nine ships will spend most of their time in anchorage positions in The Bahamas or Panama and eventually all ships will reduce their crew numbers to safe operational manning levels, Carnival said.

Prior to Carnival’s pause in operations on March 13, its fleet of 27 ships had nearly 29,000 crew members onboard. Since that time, Carnival has already repatriated more than 10,000 crew via flights and another 10,000 will be travelling on the nine voyages leaving this week.

(Carnival)

An alternative viewpoint from: MSN/The Guardian

Vasco da Gama returns to Tilbury

May 1, 2020

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Vasco da Gama arrived in London Tilbury today, Friday 1st May at the end of her return voyage to the UK with no passengers on board. Vasco da Gama sailed from Phuket, Thailand on 18th March to Australia to repatriate passengers and has now returned to the UK. CMV has recorded no Covid-19 coronavirus cases amongst passengers or crew on board Vasco da Gama or any other ship within the CMV fleet. This is the final CMV ship to return to her home port.

Vasco da Gama repatriated her passengers, 798 Australian and 108 New Zealand Nationals, to Fremantle, Australia before sailing on a 6098 nautical mile voyage back to the UK on 30th March in ballast. There are 552 crew members on board, including 8 British Nationals. The voyage included a technical call for fuel Cape Town, South Africa on 13th April before sailing to the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury.

CMV’s top and overriding priority is the health and safety of all our passengers and crew. Vasco da Gama remains under heightened levels of hygiene protocols and crew were regularly screened for symptoms during the voyage. CMV crew who are not British Nationals will remain on board whilst quarantine measures remain in place. The 8 British Nationals will return home.

All other CMV cruise ships have returned to their home ports, the Vasco da Gama is the final ship to return to her home port. Vasco da Gama was sailing on a Northbound Voyage to the UK which sailed from Fremantle, Australia on 12th February when CMV announced the suspension of cruise operations on 13th March due to the global outbreak of Covid-19.

(CMV)

Malcolm says: Vasco da Gama is currently berthed in Tilbury docks, while Columbus is berthed at the cruise terminal.

Empty cruise ships gathers off the Isle of Wight

May 1, 2020

Marella Discovery 2 (courtesy Graham Reading)

A fleet of empty cruise lines and cargo ships has been forced to drop anchor off the Isle of Wight to avoid busy shipping lanes as free berths at nearby ports are prioritised for freight vessels during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the crisis began cruise ships have been struggling to find berths at ports all over the country and are now dropping anchor in safe spots off the coast, including the Isle of Wight.

The area south of the island is often used by vessels when the weather is particularly severe, and is also out of the way of major shipping lanes.

Marella Explorer (courtesy Graham Reading)

The cruise ships are not carrying any passengers, just essential crew.  The ships are waiting for space at nearby Southampton or Portsmouth Ports.

Currently the Marella Discovery 2 and Marella Explorer are docked just off the coast. The Marella Explorer 2 was also spotted in the area last week but has now moved on.

(Daily Mail)

Delivery of Enchanted Princess Delayed

April 30, 2020

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The delivery of Enchanted Princess has been delayed.

A new delivery date has not been determined since the Fincantieri yard in Monfalcone, Italy remains closed.

As a result, voyages through July 31st have been cancelled. The delivery delay is due to the country-wide lockdown imposed by the Italian government and public health officials in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Her gross tonnage is 144,650 and she will carry 3,660 passengers (double occupancy).

The naming ceremony scheduled to take place in Southampton on June 30th has been cancelled.

Enchanted Princess is set to become the fifth Royal-class ship in the fleet.  She will feature a new Sky Suite, with expansive views from the largest balcony at sea.

(Princess Cruises)

What is a Princess cruise like? See HERE

COVID-19: Is this the end of Mass Market Cruising?

April 25, 2020

(Source Unknown)

These are unprecedented times.  The Coronavirus is devastating human life. However the ‘lockdown’ is devastating the world’s economy. This is particularly true of the travel industry, including cruising.

It is of course unclear when the global travel ban will be lifted, but most cruise lines have suspended their cruises until August, pending a review. Cruise ships are laid-up and the loss of revenue equates to billions of dollars. However human life takes priority, of course.

Even the most ardent cruise fan is finding it difficult to even think about booking their next cruise. The thought of being confined with 3000+ people on a ship is not a pleasant thought, at the moment. I could not even contemplate visiting the buffet!

The thought of a busy airport and crowded aircraft is also more un-appealing than ever.

Japan's Golden Week Holiday Begins

Airport  (Photo Courtesy of Tomohiro Ohsumi)

We are all aware how a less serious virus, such as the Norwalk virus, can spread like wildfire on-board a ship. The thought of the Coronavirus doing the same, is a daunting prospect.

Seeing the news in recent weeks: ships carrying the virus were occasionally been refused entry to some ports, with passengers quarantined (trapped) on-board. This is another scary thought. Sadly passengers have died of the virus on-board cruise ships.

I know that modern ships have very good medical facilities, but they can’t offer full ICU facilities and ventilators for their thousands of passengers.

The big players in the cruise industry (the Carnival brands, RCI, NCL and MSC) are likely to be able to weather the financial storm better than the smaller players. However, they all operate very big ships. In fact, ‘enormous’ is a better description. In fact many major cruise lines already have orders for more big ships (often even bigger ships) in the pipeline.  However, this may give the smaller budget cruise lines and the luxury cruise lines, the edge. These often operate smaller ships, carrying  lower passenger numbers, which may prove to be more desirable, to nervous cruise passengers.

I realise that the number of passenger on-board a ship, may not actually be directly related to how safe they are in the shadow of a global pandemic. However, if  I had a choice of cruising later in the year, with 1,000 fellow passengers or 5,000 passengers, I know which I would choose. Is this the end of ‘Mass Market Cruising’ for this generation?

Mega-ship crowds

I assume that cruise uptake will be very slow for some months after the lockdown ends and some bargain fares will be available to temp us back. However, bizarrely I hear that bookings are UP for 2021. This may be explained by the fact that this years cancelled cruises are often attracting 125% credit which is being transferred to bookings in 2021. However I don’t imagine new cruise passengers will be tempted to take their first cruise for some time to come.

The many newbuilds on order will probably still be delivered, as it is very expensive to cancel a ship building contract. However, I bet the future newbuild programme will grind to a halt, due to a drop in demand.

Finally, I recently attempted to renew my annual travel insurance policy. However, I was shocked to find that many companies are now excluding Coronavirus cover. That would seem to invalidate the point of having travel insurance in the first place.

Scary times. Keep well. Keep dreaming of cruising!

Malcolm

Emerald: 2 New Ships For 2021

April 24, 2020

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In the same way that Viking River Cruises expanded their fleet to include ocean vessels,  Emerald Waterways, the River boat company, has announced two new 100-guest super ocean yachts: Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Luna.

Both are scheduled to launch in 2021.

ew-ships-destiny3

Emerald River Cruises

(Images/text Courtesy Emerald Waterways)

Malcolm says: Not a great time to introduce two new ships to any fleet! At least the guests on-board will not be cruising with 1,000’s of other guests.

Columbus Laid-up at Tilbury

April 20, 2020

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Columbus laid-up, 19/04/20, Tilbury.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus sailed on a 7,842 nautical mile repatriation voyage directly back to the UK, with 907 passengers including 602 British nationals and 619 crew members on-board.

The voyage included a technical call in Colombo, Sri Lanka, passing through the Suez Canal with a final technical call in Malta. She arrived at the London Cruise Terminal, Tilbury on April 14.

She is currently laid up there.

Spirit of Discovery (Saga), Astoria (CMV), Saga Sapphire (Saga Cruises) and Viking Star (Viking ocean cruises) are all currently laid-up in Tilbury docks.  Magellan (CMV) has been moved from the Tilbury Cruise Terminal and is now berthed in the docks as well.

(CMV)

Columbus Video: HERE

Holland America Line: 147th Anniversary

April 19, 2020

SS Rotterdam (Courtesy HAL)

Holland America Line commemorated its 147th anniversary on April 18, 2020

Founded April 18, 1873, as the Netherlands-American Steamship Company, the brand has welcomed more than 150 ships throughout the years.

Full ‘Cruise industry’ New story: HERE

Below: The Hotel New York (1901) Rotterdam, the former Holland America Line Head Office.

See my SS Rotterdam Hotel-Ship review: HERE

 

Introducing: Viking Mississippi

April 17, 2020

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Viking cruises  first custom vessel, Viking Mississippi, will debut in August 2022 and will sail voyages on the Lower and Upper Mississippi, between New Orleans and St. Paul.

Hosting 386 guests in 193 all outside staterooms, the new Viking Mississippi is inspired by Viking’s river and ocean ships and will feature clean Scandinavian design, as well as public spaces that are familiar to guests but that have been reimagined for Mississippi River voyages, the company said.

Purpose-built for the Mississippi and currently under construction in Louisiana, the five-deck ship’s cutting-edge design, expansive windows and comfortable amenities will make it the largest and most modern cruise ship in the region.

(Viking)

Malcolm says: She looks very nice, but this product will be difficult to beat: SEE HERE

Fred. Olsen’s Fleet Has Temporary Home in Scotland

April 11, 2020

(Courtesy of Fred. Olsen)

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ ocean fleet has taken up temporary residence in Scotland’s Firth of Forth, just outside the Port of Rosyth, during the company’s pause in cruise operations which is currently running through until Mid May.

Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral, Boudicca, Braemar and Black Watch are all now based temporarily in the Firth of Forth.

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says: For Olsen ship reviews, see menu right.

Magellan Laid-Up (Images)

April 10, 2020

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This is Magellan, laid-up at the London Cruise Terminal, Tilbury (on the Thames) because of the world Coronavirus situation.

There are currently five cruise ships laid-up at Tilbury docks and the London Cruise Terminal, Tilbury, U.K.

Spirit of Discovery (Saga), Astoria, (CMV), Saga Sapphire (Saga Cruises), Viking Star (Viking ocean cruises) are berthed in Tilbury dock. Magellan (CMV) is docked at the cruise terminal (on the River).

Cruise & Maritime Voyages have said that Columbus is set to join Magellan.

Tilbury has probably never seen so many cruise ships at once, for years!

Malcolm