The luxury river cruise line ‘Uniworld’ was recently featured in Jane McDonald’s new UK TV programme ‘Cruising With Jane McDonald’.
Jane who is a UK (Yorkshire) singer/celebrity rose to fame in a fly-on-the-wall show in 1993, filmed on-board Celebrity Galaxy. She was a singer on-board.
Jane cruised aboard the S.S. Maria Theresa on an Enchanting Danube luxury river cruise, departing from Budapest and concluding in Passau, Germany. One of the highlights for Jane was visiting Vienna on route.
The vessel which accommodates just 150 passengers, has been described as: “Regal in its opulent 18th-century décor, a floating homage to the former Austrian empress”.
(UK residents: ‘Cruising With Jane McDonald’ is on Channel 5 Catch-Up.)
Are you thinking of trying your first European river cruise?
The high fares 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 very good value, but I will not 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 and highlights some truths that the glossy brochures and web sites fail to tell you.
It’s an exciting time for Saga Cruises, as work is well underway on the planning and design of our first purpose-built cruise ship, to be delivered in Summer 2019. (There an option for a second ship to be delivered in 2021).
Carrying fewer than 1000 passengers (55,900gt), she will retain the intimacy and personal service for which we are renowned. There will also be single-sitting dining in a choice of speciality restaurants, a selection of bars, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, fabulous library, signature Britannia Lounge and much more – all with a fresh and contemporary twist on the traditions of classic Saga cruising.
The cabins are going to be a real showcase – spacious and modern, the ship’s design also means every one will have a balcony. In addition, around 15% of the accommodation will be for solo travellers, with a choice of single cabin grades.
David Pickett, who is spearheading the project says: “We are currently liaising closely with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Hamburg, and every day is full of exciting developments”.
Andy Yuill, an expert in creating cutting-edge designs for the world’s finest vessels, says: “I think people are going to be surprised by what Saga will deliver with this ship – expect the unexpected! We are maintaining the best bits of the existing brand, but introducing new and unexpected elements. It’s a ship built for a British company, with the customers at the forefront”.
Malcolm says: It’s nice to see a new smaller ship being built. The renderings show an extensive Promenade Deck. Inside there is an impressive atrium and a double-height restaurant.
The windows above the Bridge Deck must surely be a forward-facing observation lounge or maybe an alternative dining room with a view?
One of the world’s great bucket list travel experiences is getting a year-long reprieve – all thanks to an ill wind.
The 6,767 gross tonne cargo liner RMS St Helena, one of only two remaining Royal Mail Ships, is to continue serving the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena, where Napoleon was exiled from 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo to his death in 1821.
The Royal Mail Ship St. Helena was built in Aberdeen in 1989 specifically to supply the island of St Helena, a remote British Territory located 1,200 miles off the West Coast of Africa in the South Atlantic. She is British registered (London), 6,767 gross tonnes and has berths for a maximum of 156 passengers plus 56 officers and crew.
For the last 26 years RMS St Helena has been the only means of access to the island of St Helena.
She was due to be decommissioned once the island’s £285 million airport opened for commercial flights last spring, a scheme aimed at making the 47 sq mi British Overseas Territory self-sufficient and boosting tourism.However that has been delayed indefinitely because of concerns about dangerous weather conditions known as wind ‘shear’, which make it unsafe for large jets to land.
St Helena’s troubled new airport (Photo: PA)
Scheduled British Airways services from Johannesburg were due to start on May 21 last year but have been suspended, meaning the RMS has had a reprieve from the breakers’ yard so she can remain as the 4,000 islanders’ (they are known as Saints) essential link to the outside world.
It may be an ill wind for the airport, but now travellers with three weeks to spare can still make the voyage by ship up to next February; they will need to travel to South Africa, spend 10 days at sea and eight days on the island, which is 1,200 miles off the west coast of Africa and known for its isolation, scenery and rare wildlife.
They hope once the wind ‘shear’ problem is resolved commercial air services will begin.
The Norwegian Cruise Line has announced it has reached an agreement with Fincantieri to construct the next generation of ships for the brand.
Four ships are on order for delivery in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in 2026 and 2027.
The four 140,000 gross ton ships will each accommodate approximately 3,300 guests.
The new class of ships will build upon NCL’s most recent Breakaway-Plus Class ships and feature a host of innovative designs that will further elevate its guest experience.
A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimising fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment.
The contract price for each of the four vessels is approximately €800 million per ship.
Details on the ships’ many innovative guest-facing and first-at-sea features will be announced at a later date.
Innovation! (Norwegian Joy)
Malcolm says: So a change of shipyard from Meyer Werft, Germany, to Fincantieri, Italy. Meyer Werft must be disappointed, they have built most of NCL ‘s current fleet including their ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Breakaway-Plus’ ships.
This change of shipyard is not so surprising. In the past, new NCL CEO, Frank Del Rio, ordered some of the Regent and Oceania ships from Fincantieri. (Del Rio was previously chairman and CEO for Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc., the parent company operating both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.) He obviously has a good relationship with the Fincantieri shipyard.
Interestingly this new class of ship is based on a prototype developed by Fincantieri, and NOT by NCL, as in the past. I guess this truly approach guarantees a new design of ship.
NCL CEO Frank Del Rio (Courtesy NCL)
If accurate, the new ships size is slightly smaller (6,000 gt) than NCL’s existing ‘Breakaway’ class and almost 25,000gt smaller that their ‘Breakaway-Plus’ class. It looks like they will carry 1,000 less passengers than ‘Breakaway-Plus’ too. NCL have effectively down-sized their future product, when most of the other major cruise lines are up-scaling.
I would not surprise me if the new NCL ships resembled ‘MSC Seaside’, also a Fincantieri design.
I was expecting NCL to move to 200,000 gross tonne vessels in the next five years, like their competitors are: Carnival/Costa/P&O, MSC and Genting. Obviously NCL have decided that bigger is NOT better.
It’s hard to imagine what “….a host of innovative designs “ might be. I assume the vessels will still be packed with multiple dining rooms, due to the nature of NCL’s ‘Freestyle Dining’ system. How much room will that leave for innovation? I believe the ships will NOT be LNG powered, like some other lines future newbuilds will be.
However, I do think it will be a very long time before more details will be made available.