Virgin Voyages Cuts Steel

March 23, 2017

Image Courtesy: Fincantieri

Virgin Voyages cut the steel on Wednesday 22/03/17 for its unnamed first ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

The ceremony, which marks the first milestone in the ship’s construction, included a steel cutter bearing a humorous banner that read, “Hi. I’m the steel cutting machine.”

Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin said “Up until now, Virgin Voyages has been just an idea …But tonight, that all changes. … We’re not just building a ship here. We are building a whole new brand..the world’s most irresistible and talked-about travel brand”.

The line’s first 110,000 ton, 2,860-passenger vessel is due for delivery in 2020. Virgin Voyages has two additional unnamed ships on order, for delivery in 2021 and 2022

Virgin Voyages also announced a multimillion-dollar partnership with Swedish clean-energy company Climeon last year. Virgin will install Climeon Ocean, a system that will to turn waste into clean electricity, thereby reducing carbon footprint, on all three ships.

According to Virgin, the system will eliminate about 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per ship per year.

Malcolm Says: Virgin have been very secretive about  their cruise product. Even the available rendering are very sketchy. 

Externally the ship looks unique – rather like an Art Deco railway train , which I fully approve of.  However these are all just concepts/renderings. There are no guarantees that the ships will look much like any of the renderings, when they are finally constructed. The offices of marine architects must be full of drawings of unfulfilled concepts. I guess that the final design of the ships will probably be less Art deco and more conventional.

It is very unlikely Virgin have designed a ship from scratch. Therefore I wonder if the Virgin ships will be scaled down version of MSC’s ‘Seaside’, also designed by Fincantieri? NCL have purchased a similar design for their ‘Project Leonardo’.

So three mid-sized ships and a reported 7 night itinerary from Miami to the Caribbean – it is hardly ground-breaking, is it? However this will allow ‘Virgin Voyages’ to have synergies with ‘Virgin Atlantic’, Branson’s airline.

Branson is a great entrepreneur, but I wonder what the Virgin brand can bring to cruising that is genuinely new? I don’t doubt that the product will be well marketed and probably aimed at a younger clientele. We can also expect the entertainment and technology on-board to be impressive, after all Virgin started as a record label and diversified into communication and travel.

The problem is that the competition: Royal Caribbean, the Norwegian Cruise Line, Genting, Carnival, and MSC already offer some very modern Hi-Tech ships aimed at the multigenerational family market.

It will be a tough market to crack, but Virgin has a very well established travel infrastructure.

Travelweekly Tom McAlpin Interview HERE

 

Celebrity Edge – External Rendering

March 22, 2017

Click to enlarge (Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

So we finally see an external rendering of ‘Edge’.

The bow design is very similar to that of the  AIDA newbuilds and NCL’s Leonardo newbuild (see NCL images below).  I like it.  It’s quite different from the traditional bow form. I assume that it performs better?

The ‘Magic Carpet’ (moving platform) located only on the starboard side looks a little ungainly. It remains to be seen if it is a ‘real’ innovation or a ‘gimmick’. I do note that it can act as a tender platform.

There are plenty of front facing windows, above the bridge, over several decks for a lounge/buffet/restaurant etc.

The funnel looks cool from this angle.

There does not appear to be any large wrap-around promenade deck on the port or starboard side, apart from behind the lifeboats. Most of the public deck space appears to be on the sun-deck.

Malcolm

NCL’s Project Leonardo “Optimal Size”.

March 21, 2017

 

nclproject_2

(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line has ordered at least four 140,000 tonne, 3,300-passenger Project ‘Leonardo’ ships from Fincantieri. These will be delivered from 2022 through to 2025.

This news represents a downsizing  from the recent Breakaway+ class ships at 163,000 gross tonnes, carrying 4,300 passengers.

Speaking on the company’s year-end earnings conference, President and CEO Frank del Rio called it an “optimal size”.

“The size of these vessels provides an optimal balance between deployment flexibility and earnings potential, allowing us to add new ports of call worldwide while maintaining a strong return profile with a payback of roughly five years, in line with our most recent newbuild,” said del Rio.

The ships will also allow Norwegian to redeploy existing vessels to other domestic and international homeports, where the company does not yet have a presence, according to del Rio.

(Cruise Industry News)

nclproject_3.jpg

(Courtesy NCL)

Malcolm says: Interestingly this new class of ship is based on a prototype developed by Fincantieri, and NOT by NCL, as in the past.  I guess the advantage of this approach truly guarantees a new design of ship. However the disadvantage is that the ship can share this design with other lines. ‘Project Leanoaro’ is clearly a slightly smaller version of MSC ‘Seaside’,  also designed by Fincantieri.

It’s curious  how one management team must have thought that 163,000 gt (Breakaway-Plus) is an ‘optimal size’, yet the next team think 140,000 gt is better. However many experienced cruise passengers have expressed their opinion that modern cruise ships are getting too big, although the new NCL ships are hardly small.

It depends what sort of experience that you are seeking. I personally think that mass-market ships can benefit from being very big – there is simply more room for for public rooms, facilities and innovations. The ‘Oasis’ class (the world’s biggest) is an amazing design.   However a ship of say 30,000 gt can provide you with a more intimate experience that a mega-ships cannot compete with.

I was expecting to see an 200,000 gt NCL design to be delivered within the next decade. It looks as if I’m wrong.

Project Leonardo slide show: HERE

The Worlds biggest class of cruise ship review: HERE

Norwegian Escape Review HERE

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE

Celebrity Edge – The Movie

March 20, 2017

Above: The official ‘Celebrity Edge’ reveal movie.

Celebrity has finally revealed that ‘Celebrity Edge’ has an “outward facing design”, which is a quest for a better connection with the sea.

Edge has a Magic Carpet, staterooms with infinite verandas, designer suites and a Rooftop Garden with artificial trees.

The Magic Carpet, by visionary architect Tom Wright, is a platform the size of a tennis court that’s cantilevered from the side of the ship. It serves as a lounge-like tender embarkation area where travellers will be taken ashore via Edge tenders.

The Magic Carpet can rise from sea level all the way up to Deck 16, where a ‘Dinner on the Edge’ experience for up to 90 people will be unlike any other. Or, when alongside Deck 14, the Magic Carpet becomes an extension of the pool area. And, at Deck 5, it provides alfresco seating for the restaurants.

The resort deck, also by Wright, features a Rooftop Garden with artificial trees and plentiful cabanas .  Continuing the quest for a better connection to the sea, the resort deck has sun-loungers which face outward, overlooking the ocean. At night, the space will transform for live music and movie/meal area.

1588-4511a616161

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

The design of the Edge Staterooms addresses what passengers have always asked for: bigger bathrooms, bigger beds, more storage, more living area and a closer connection to the sea.

The Edge staterooms (900 of them, with 16 for single passengers) will have infinity verandas, making them 23% bigger than the industry standard.

Celebrity Edge more than doubled the number of suites compared to the industry standard. The Retreat, featuring a private pool, lounge and the exclusive restaurant Luminae form a new, exclusive suites area.

Interlocking staterooms + infinity verandas (Click to enlarge)

Two suite categories are new. The top grade: a pair of ‘Iconic Suites’, positioned above the bridge. These are over nearly 2,600 square feet with two bedrooms and two baths, panoramic windows and a 700-square-foot veranda with 270-degree views.

Also new are the six split-level Edge Villas, with stunning views from two stories of windows, private plunge pools and direct walk-out access to The Retreat Sundeck.

The 146 Sky Suites were redesigned with beds that face the balcony, and each has a rocking chair. The bathroom bath has a large oval tub with shower and a view of the sea.

All suites and double occupancy staterooms are fitted with plush king-sized cashmere mattresses, with queen-sized mattresses in the solo rooms.

In all accommodations, small touchscreens control temperature, ‘scenes’, such as romantic mood lighting, curtains, a ‘green’ mode and service request icons.

Celebrity Edge’s maiden revenue cruise sails Dec. 16, 2018. Reservations open today. The ship will alternate weekly cruises to the eastern and western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades.

The 2,918 passenger (3,373 max), 129,500 gross tonne ship will be based at Port Everglades’ Terminal 25, which is being designed with a tailor-made experience especially for Edge.

(Celebrity)

European River Cruise Market Grew 2.7% In 2016

March 19, 2017

1.36m passengers cruised on Europe’s rivers in 2016, up 2.7% from the previous year.

The North American source market provided the greatest share of guests, corresponding to 38.7%, followed by the Germany with 28.4%

(Seatrade)
dsc_0115

Are you a keen ocean cruiser?

Are you thinking of trying your first European river cruise?

The high fare that are charged for many river cruises is the main stumbling block for many would-be-river cruisers.

River cruises are often called ‘good value’ by the river cruise lines, but their definition of ‘value’ is quite different to mine. (A million pound diamond on sale for half-a-million pounds is fantastic value, but I won’t be buying one.)

You can easily pay twice the price for a river cruise, when compared to an ocean cruise – but will it be twice as good?

I made the swap from ocean to river about a year ago. My latest/second river cruise review is available to read.

My review helps explain the differences between the two genres (ocean & river) and highlights some truths that the glossy brochures and web sites fail to tell you.

Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

Malcolm

 

A Cruise Ship With Go-Karts

March 18, 2017

Not all ocean cruising is the same. It ranges from Fred. Olsen’s classic little ships (below), to giant floating ‘theme parks’:

See ‘Norwegian Joy’ float-out news: HERE

Fred. Olsen – Most Successful Day Ever

March 17, 2017

Black Watch, Tilbury – 14-12-16

It’s not all about big new ships:

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said it had its most successful sales day ever on Tuesday, March 7, 2017,  with bookings totalling over £3 million for the day, following the launch of its exciting new 2018/19 cruise program to its top tier loyalty club members.

This represents an increase of 15 percent on the same launch day in 2016, said the company.

In 2018/2019, the line’s four ships, Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch, will be visiting no fewer than 228 destinations in 73 countries around the globe, plus 91 areas of scenic cruising, on over 135 different itineraries.

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says: I’m a big fan of the Olsen product. Us lucky Brits have the choice of cruising on four of Olsen’s smaller/classic ships and there’s not a ‘rock wall’ in sight.

I particularly like ‘Black Watch’ and her sister ‘Boudicca’. At around 28,000 gross tonnes, they are the perfect size. However, ‘Balmoral’ and ‘Braemar’ are very nice ships too.

Black Watch (1972) review: HERE

Boudicca (1972) review: HERE

Balmoral (1988) review: HERE

Braemar (1993) review: HERE

Introducing NCL’s Project Leonardo

March 15, 2017

The wait was not too long!

Norwegian Cruise Line has named the new generation of cruise ships as ‘Project Leonardo’. The new class will be delivered in 2022. The other vessels will arrive in 2023, 2024 and 2025 which will all be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

The ships will be 140,000 gross tons and carry around 3,300 guests.

“Continuing the trend not only at Norwegian Cruise Line, but throughout the cruise industry of bringing the sea closer to our guests, this vessel has at the lower decks a huge expansive area where you’ll have infinity pools, restaurants, broad decks to be beach-like so people can really connect with the sea,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio.

(NCL)

Malcolm says: Interestingly this new class of ship is based on a prototype developed by Fincantieri, and NOT by NCL, as in the past.  I guess the advantage of this approach truly guarantees a new design of ship. However the disadvantage is that the ship yard could share this design with other lines and it appears that they already have!

On closer inspection ‘Project Leonardo’ does not look dissimilar the MSC’s ‘Seasisde’ also designed by Fincantieri.

Top: MSC Seaside. Below: NCL Leonardo (Click to enlarge)

However I believe Leonardo is shorter than Seaside, which will be bigger: 154,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 5,179 passengers. Seaside also has a glass covered pool in front of her funnel, Leonardo appears to have a non-covered one in this location (for the Haven?) This appears to leaves just one sun-deck pool aft.

The big attraction of this ship design is the very large promenade deck, which is probably more expansive than NCL’s ‘Waterfront’ feature (Breakaway and Breakaway+ classes).

I do find it a little sad when different cruise brands share a ship design. It just lacks originality.

I was going to say that Leanardo will be quite different internally to Seaside, as she will be designed to accommodate NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system with multiple dining rooms.

However looking at Seaside’s deck plans (HERE) there are three full decks and two half decks of restaurants and other public rooms. I guess little will need changing apart from the décor and branding. I guess that was the appeal of using Fincantieri’s existing design.

os-pictures-norwegian-cruise-line-project-leon-010

(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Escape Review HERE

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE

CMV – 2018 Programme

March 15, 2017

Columbus (Courtesy CMV)

We are delighted to announce the launch of our 2018 programme with a new preview brochure. The preview is on sale now and contains 100 worldwide cruising prospects.

For 2018, we are offering Buy One Get One Free fares on all summer cruises included in the new programme when booked before 31 May 2017. Our new fleet addition Columbus, which joins the fleet this June, will sail from London Tilbury throughout 2018, meanwhile Astoria is set to return due to popular demand. Nine British departure ports are featured with Harwich a new addition. The introduction of Cobh (Cork) will no doubt please Irish passengers. Fares are available from £379pp for a 6 night European Cities cruise.

Chris Coates, Commercial Director at CMV said ‘Our aim is to reward early bookers so we have issued a preview brochure much earlier. Since adding Magellan and Columbus to the fleet we have increased the number of passengers travelling with us. They in turn re-book and recommend the traditional British cruise experience to their relatives and friends. The new programme is predominantly with no flying involved. Many more people are wishing to cruise from closer to home rather than waste a day out and back at crowded airports. The new CMV brochure makes the decision easy with a choice of nine UK departure ports .’

Among the exciting range of new itineraries is a voyage on Marco Polo that includes a journey into the White Sea and a visit to Murmansk. Astoria has an eye-catching cruise that includes the Scottish Lochs and Glens, and Magellan will be sailing the Mediterranean. Details of the Columbus Round the World cruise in January 2018 are highlighted along with CMV’s most popular choices; the Norwegian Fjords, Baltic Cities & St Petersburg, British Isles and Iceland and in the winter time, the Canaries & Madeira, Amazon & West Indies and the Land of the Northern Lights.

In addition to the BOGOF fare deals 150 twin cabins will be set aside on Columbus and Magellan for the benefit of solo travellers with a modest 25% supplement on the twin share price. This year the two multi-generational cruises introduced on Columbus have been well received. In 2018 CMV are offering a choice of eight multi-generational cruises so guests can take their children and the grand-children. Child fares from £99.

(Cruise & Maritime Voyages)

Web site: http://www.cruiseandmaritime.com

Magellan Review: HERE

Marco Polo Review: HERE

Reviews of the rest of  CMV fleet – See menu right.

Norwegian Bliss

March 15, 2017

This video is a reminder that ‘Celebrity Edge’ is not the only mega-ship in the world.