Columbus Beached

April 12, 2021

Monday 12 April, 2021

I am sad to report, that CMV’s Columbus (renamed Colus) was beached at Alang, India, this morning at approximately 11.11 UTC.

Scrapping will commence shortly.

Sadly, she is following in the footsteps of Astor, Marco Polo and Magellan.

(Thanks to Bill Fallows & Edwin Todd)

My Columbus Review: HERE

Art Deco Lover

April 12, 2021

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)

Fortunately the United kingdom still has some wonderful Art Deco buildings that have been well preserved…

Full article: HERE

Malcolm

 

Anthem UK Cruises

April 10, 2021

Royal Caribbean’s impressive ‘Anthem of the Seas’ is one of many ships offering UK cruises this summer.

In July and August, 2021, there will be 4, 5, 6 and 7 night itineraries on offer, from Southampton, return.

The four night itineraries are cruises to nowhere. Prices start at a whopping £699 per person, for a window cabin!

Now, I can’t believe Brits will be fighting to pay almost £175 per night for a 4 night UK mini-cruise to nowhere, post lockdown, or not. Even RCI’s other UK itineraries, with ports of call are a little uninspiring, as around-Britain cruises go.

Virgins and MSC’s UK cruises are also set at a similar price point.

My advice would be to save your money for a proper cruise, unless you really want to try one of these particular ships, from a UK port. Even if I did, I would not pay those fares.

Hopefully some deep discounts will be offered nearer the departure date.

Malcolm

Q: Would you pay those fares?

Virgin Comes To Portsmouth

April 9, 2021

(Above, Sister ship float-out)

Virgin Voyages has announced that it will set sail from Portsmouth, England in August 2021 with a limited series of voyages, branded the ‘Summer Soiree Series’.

The program will include six sailings available to fully-vaccinated UK adults, with the duration of two, three and four nights to choose from.

“Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we’re so excited to announce our plans to sail from the UK,” said the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson. “Our team has curated such a fantastic experience for our Sailors and know this is a holiday they will love.”

Sailing the southern coast of England, the Sneak-a-Peek sailings will offer a taste of the Virgin Voyages experience as its first foray with new Sailors at sea.

The Summer Soirée Series will go on sale on Apr. 13.

(Virgin Voyages)

Malcolm says: A rare opportunity to try a ship from a new cruise start-up, all be it a famous name. However from £499 pp, I hear, for 3 nights, NO ports of call. I’d only be interested for £150 pp.

2020/21 – The Unprecedented Loss of Classic Ships

April 8, 2021
Recent scrapping in Turkey (Courtesy of Nautica Goods)

I doubt if we have ever seen two years like 2020/21, for the unprecedented loss of so many ‘classic’ ships. (I like to call them ‘real ships’).

The global pandemic of course necessitated the suspension of most of the worlds cursing. Some lines have taken tentative steps to restart, but it’s a slow process. I doubt if things will really get up and running again until April, 2021, a year after the start of the lockdowns.

The cruise lines found themselves with idle fleets. I assume the take-up of cursing in 2021, will be slow at the beginning. Therefore, it made good business sense, for the cruise lines to prune their fleets and sell their older/smaller, less economically viable, tonnage.

The Carnival Cruise Line, in particular, lost at least 18 ships (with more to come?) ships from their various brands.

In addition, some small lines like ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ and ‘Pullmantur’, simply went bust, with no passengers and the inability to borrow large sums of money to bridge the gap. Both lines operated older/smaller tonnage, the former for the Spanish market, the latter mainly for the British market. Most of their two fleets respective have now been scraped.

Fred. Olsen sold the charming Black Watch and Boudicca. Their identical sister, Albatros, has also been sold. However, I believe that these ships will be used for accommodation, but are unlikely to sever cruise passengers ever again.

Marco Polo 14/01/21 (Courtesy of Gohil Viramdevsinh)

Many of these classic ships are over 25 years old. That is the age that the big players tend to offload them to smaller players. However, many of these ships probably still had 5-10 years of good service, or more, left in them However, the pandemic has accelerated their disposal.

The problem is that not everybody likes cruising on board big modern ships. There are many small ships still available, but there are generally now only the luxury and premium brands (expensive). It is the budget lines that have sold their ships or collapsed.

Classic ships are like vintage cars. A modern car has better comfort, better fuel economy, better acceleration, better speed, better brakes etc. etc. However even though technically inferior and less comfortable, the vintage car has so much more beauty and charm. Would you like a ride in Vintage Rolls Royce? I would!

Classic ships are so much more intimate and friendly. They are not floating theme parks. They are built on a human scale. They often have a great ‘connection with the sea’, that a big ship cannot ever achieve.

Below is a list of ships than have been sold in 2020 and have (or are are expected) to be scrapped. They are all 70,000 gross tonnes or a lot less. This makes them all small to medium sized, compared with modern ships. They are mostly over 25 years old.

Astor, Fremantle (By Bahnfrend – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

We have lost: Astor, Marco Polo, Magellan, Columbus, Marella Celebration, Monarch, Sovereign, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival’ Inspiration, Horizon, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Celebration, Ocean Dream, Zenith, Costa Victoria and Marella Dream. 

There are some other ships too, but it is difficult to keep count at the moment. Some have been sold and their future status is still in limbo.

It’s a very sad two years for classic ships.

Malcolm

Two Titanics!

April 6, 2021

Did you know that there were two Titanic projects?

Replica Titanic’s are like buses, you can wait ages for one, then two come along at once!

The first is a full sized replica, for a Chinese theme park, called Romandisea. It will not be a real ship, but a tourist attraction and hotel. Work began in 2017, but has dramatically slowed up in the past few years. One can only assume that the project has hit an proverbial iceberg and has run out of money.

The second is Clive Palmer’s Titanic II, which will be a full-sized replica ship. However, the completion date keeps on being delayed. In fact the ship is still allegedly in its design phase. However some commentators think that it has sunk before it’s maiden voyage.

Of course, there are those that think both projects are completely lacking in good taste and a waste of money!

See my dedicated Titanic II blog – HERE

Nobody wants to buy the world’s oldest cruiseship

April 6, 2021

With the collapse of  UK cruise line CMV, in June 2020, the fate of their fleet quickly became apparent. Marco Polo, Astor, Magellan and Columbus have all been scrapped. But what happened to their oldest/smallest ships, MV Astoria?

At 72 years old, she was the oldest ocean going cruise ship in operation. Ships half her age have been scrapped in 2020 and this year, mainly due to the suspended animation of the global cruise industry.

The 550 passenger Astoria joined the CMV fleet in January 2015 to replace Discovery. An inaugural 30-night voyage from Plymouth on 26thJanuary 2015 to the West Indies, set a course of varied cruise itineraries. In 2016,

Astoria commenced a summer charter to French tour operator Rivages du Monde with CMV operating spring and autumn sailings from the UK, which continued for five years.

She was not owned by CMV and had in fact been leased to them. She actually left their fleet, before their demise.

See Tradewinds News article: HERE

My Smallest ship Experience

Without, doubt, the smallest ocean cruise ship that I have cruised on is CMV’s Astoria. She is 16,144 gross tonnes, carrying 550 passengers. Now to the uninitiated, those numbers may sound pretty big, until you realise that there are many new ships at 150, 000+ gt caring 3,000+ passengers.

Astoria is a charming little ship offering a relatively intimate experience, compared to most.  She only has one real disadvantage – she is not so stable in rough seas. She also had no rock walls or water chutes, but I do not see that as a disadvantage.

Never Cruised On A Small Ship?

If you have only ever cruised on mega-ships, the idea of a small ship possibly underwhelms you. However trust me, you are missing out.

After all, on-board a small ship you normally get one main restaurant, one buffet, one theatre and a couple of bars.

Ask yourself this; If your mega-ship had multiple restaurants, entertainment venues and bars, how many did you actually visit?  If the food is very good in one restaurant, do you really need another? If there is a nice friendly bar, with a good range of drinks, do you need another? Likewise with one entertainment venue, which offers a different show each night – do you really need more?

The lack of choice of public rooms on-board small ships can be outweighed by the ships friendliness and intimacy. You are also likely to get better food and service in a restaurant catering for 275 passengers than you are in one catering for 1,500 passengers.

The crew are more likely to remember your name and favourite tipple, on-board a small ship.

Smaller ship have a much better ‘connection with the sea’. Wherever you cabin is, you can be on-deck within a few minute. The open decks are also not so far from the actual sea.

Small ship offer a more ‘nautical’ experience, rather than a sports-centre/shopping mall type one.

Malcolm

Here is my: Astoria Review

Twelve Lines Offer Around Britain Cruises

April 4, 2021

The first cruises to be offered to Brits, in the Summer 2021, will be around Britain cruises. In fact there are at least twelve cruise lines, at present, offering such itineraries. (Plus a few cruises from UK ports, to nowhere).

I guess some UK ports will have never seen so much action!  Given the large size of some of the ships on offer, there will be quite a bit of tendering.

These lines include  P&O, Cunard, Princess, Fred Olsen, Celebrity, Disney  and MSC. Many depart from Southampton, but some reginal UK ports are also on offer.

My cruise CV is full of the ghosts of CMV:

The first cruises to be offered to Brits, in the Summer 2021, will be around Britain cruises.

the cruise lines that serve the U.K., such as P&O, Cunard, Celebrity, Virgin Princess, Fred Olsen and MSC will all be offering non-international itineraries, mainly from Southampton.

I managed to avoid an around Britain cruise for a few decades:  I’m not actually a “sun lover” as such, but an around Britain itinerary did not sound as exciting to me, as one that offered foreign ports of call.

However, In April 2016 CMV’s Astor offered just one nine day cruises for the British cruise market. It was a nine day around-Britain itinerary from Tilbury. I jumped at the chance to try her.

This was a ship which ship, spent most of her year cruising around Australian and the Indian Ocean.

In March, each year, she offered a 38 night southbound voyage from Australia to Tilbury, via South Africa.

Each October she offers a northbound voyage back to Freemantle, Australia.

Between these two long voyages, she offers cruises for the German market from Bremerhaven, to Europe, under the ‘Transocean’ brand. Therefor a shorter cruise, for Brits, from a UK port, was a very rare occurrence.

I wrote a review HERE. However it is essentially a ship review, rather than a cruise/ports review.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the ship, the crew and the itinerary. Sadly the Astor was of course scrapped earlier this year.

However I would not dismiss an ‘around U.K.’ cruise again. Our island and it’s many islands, has a lot to offer.

Malcolm

MSC Virtuosa for UK Summer Cruises

April 3, 2021

MSC Cruises has announced it will deploy its latest flagship for British guests to enjoy safe summer sailings around the UK, 2021. The MSC Virtuosa will make its maiden voyage on May 20 with guests onboard from Southampton as the first of a series of three and four-night mini-cruises before she begins seven-night cruises from June 12 with three embarkation ports in England and Scotland.

Courtesy MSC

All voyages will be for British residents only and for guests of all ages who are either waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine or who have already been vaccinated. All guests will be tested before they embark the ship and non-vaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of a negative test conducted up to 72 hours prior to embarkation, the cruise line said. Other pre-boarding and onboard measures will also apply to both guests and crew, in line with MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol.

The range of four-night mini-cruises will offer a late sail from Southampton and will provide the ultimate short getaway for couples or friends in search of a quick escape. The ship will call at the Isle of Portland in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast, where guests will be able to go ashore to enjoy the perfect day out at the beach. The itinerary will also include two days at sea so that guests can enjoy the facilities that MSC Virtuosa has to offer.

From June 12, holidaymakers can join seven-night sailings that will include stops in Portland and Belfast (Northern Ireland) and offer multiple ports of embarkation including Liverpool and Greenock, close to Glasgow in Scotland.

The MSC Virtuosa was delivered in February and is one of MSC Cruises’ most innovative and environmentally-advanced ships and part of the generation of Meraviglia class vessels.

The 19-deck ship will offer its British guests of all ages restaurants, entertainment, bars and lounges, boutique shopping, spa and fitness centers, an aquapark and clubs for toddlers to teenagers. The Virtuosa also features the brand-new MSC Starship Club with the world’s first humanoid robotic bartender offering a futuristic immersive bar and entertainment experience.

The MSC Virtuosa was previously scheduled to serve itineraries in Northern Europe out of Germany, she will be replaced by MSC Seaview. Booked guests and travel agents will be contacted directly, the cruise line said.

(MSC)

Malcolm says: This is a great opportunity for Brits to try a very impressive, state-of-the-art modern ship. (If you like big and modern.)

Sister ship review: HERE

Celebrity Silhouette: UK This Summer

April 2, 2021

Celebrity Cruises has announced its return to the UK with the news that the Celebrity Silhouette will set sail from Southampton this summer for British guests.

Setting sail from Southampton beginning Saturday, July 3, the Celebrity Silhouette will embark on a series of six-to-eight-night itineraries around Britain’s coastline.

Guests will have the chance to explore Portland; discover Inverness, Kirkwall and Glasgow; and also visit Belfast and Liverpool.

The new sailings go on sale beginning April 6.

Celebrity Silhouette will sail with all guests ages 18 and above vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under the age of 18 with negative PCR test results. 

(Celebrity Cruises)

Disney From Tilbury!

April 1, 2021

Now that’s a headline that I NEVER thought that I’d write and it’s NOT a April fools joke, honest:

Disney Magic (courtesy of Disney)

Cruise fans have the chance to immerse themselves in the magical world of Disney this summer…. all while sailing at sea.

Disney Cruise Line has announced a new UK staycation package for summer 2021 – and they will be sailing from Essex.

Departing on select dates from Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton aboard the Disney Magic, the new staycation sailing is exclusive to UK residents.

Passengers will be immersed in Disney storytelling, thanks to a collection of onboard entertainment, dining and recreation for the entire family, with all the care you’d expect from Disney.

More information including pricing will be released when bookings open up in April.

(Courtsey Alex Gidden, Braintree & Witham Times)

CMV’s Amy Johnson Reborn?

March 30, 2021

Amy Johnson was to have been ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ new flagship.

Sadly, it was announced on 20/07/20  that ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ went into administration.  Amy Johnson would have entered service for CMV in Spring 2021.

However it appears that CMV may rise again like a phoenix from the flames – see article below.

The ship was built in 1991. She is 70, 285 gross tonnes, carrying 1,546 passengers. She enters service in2021 and will be based at Tilbury, London.

Malcolm.

Above are the interiors under the brand of P&O Australia, know as ‘ Pacific Dawn’.

Original press release:

We are today delighted to announce the Maiden Voyage of our latest ship Amy Johnson. Following delivery and a refurbishment programme, Amy Johnson sails from Singapore Thursday 15 April 2021 on a 43-night cruise through Asia, the Middle East, transiting the Suez Canal, before visiting exciting ports in Europe on the way to London Tilbury. The ship will be adult only.

Announcing Amy Johnson’s Maiden Voyage and her 2021 programme, CMV’s Marketing Director, Mike Hall said “Amy Johnson will be the flagship of the CMV fleet. A real step up for us whilst still maintaining our key brand values of a more traditional style of cruising and maritime experience.

Cruises in Amy Johnson’s inaugural season include a fascinating cultural odyssey sailing from London – Tilbury on Saturday 9 October 2021 cruising the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. This unique itinerary includes Odessa, Constanta, Bulgaria, Istanbul and Athens. Then calls at the historically fascinating Israel and Egypt followed by Malta, Sicily, Gibraltar and Vigo on the voyage back to London Tilbury. Fares for the 32-night Grand Black Sea & Mediterranean are available.

(Cruise & Maritime Voyages)

Has Former CMV Boss Purchased A Ship?

March 28, 2021

After the demise of ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’, the UK budget cruise line in July 2020, it was swiftly reported that the former boss of the cruise line was making an attempt to relaunch the cruise line.

According to Sky News in 2020, the former boss has bought the defunct cruise line’s customer database and booking systems, in a hope to get things back up and running. Sky News reports that a “number of assets” belong to CMV have been sold to a new vehicle established by former boss, Christian Verhounig. The new name is the “CVI Group“.

A New Development?

satoshi_1

The cruise ship Satoshi, which was destined for the scrapyard in Alang, has been resold to a new European company, whose management already has previous experience in the cruise industry, sources close to the ship report.

The resale took place after a tax dispute, which led to the arrest and imposition of a palliative order on the ship, which took place in the port of Colon, in Panama, where Satoshi was thus tied for almost two months. It is recalled that this ship was destined for a cryptocurrency project under the purview of Ocean Builders, its last owners, who announced even before it arrived in Panama, that Satoshi would have been resold to Indian scrap dealers after unforeseen bureaucratic difficulties.

With this unexpected last-minute deal, Satoshi is scheduled to re-enter service in February 2022, after entering a European shipyard, which should take place in the second semester of 2021. It’s next name and new company are expected to be revealed in the coming months, and the ship will be dedicated to the English market.

Satoshi recently called Malta, and is now sailing to Montenegro, where she is expected to be in cold lay-up, until entering a shipyard for her refit, possibly in the eastern Mediterranean.

Satoshi is part of a class of two ships, the original Crown Princess and Regal Princess, one of which, the current Karnika, is already in the process of being dismantled on the aforementioned Alang beach. The last commercial operation of the current Satoshi, dates back to early 2020, as Pacific Dawn, by P&O Australia.

Some commentators are speculating that the ship has been purchased by Christian Verhounig’s  “CVI Group“. 

Reader, Dave Dobbin kindly commentated: Interested to note that Christopher Coates and Simon Weeks were recorded at Companies House as being appointed Directors of CVI on 25 March. Both are ex-CMV management.

Malcolm/Cruise & Harbour News

Malcolm says: Good news for UK budget cruise lovers? But would you trust Mr. Verhounig with your holiday again? Many people who had booked cruises with CMV, were out of pocket for many months until their money was. I believe CMV were still taking cruise booking a few days before they ceased trading.

Olsen’s New Bollette For Tilbury

March 27, 2021

One of Fred Olsen’s new additions to their fleet, named “Bollette”, will be offering six cruises from Tilbury, Essex, UK, in 2022.

These itineraries are in October and December 2022 and range from 5 to 15 nights.

Olsen will also offer cruises from Dover, Southampton and a number of other regional ports, including Scotland and Ireland.

I assume Olsen is keen to capture some of CMV’s past passengers. However their fares can be 50% higher, in my experience.

For the record, I like the Olsen product, but £139 per person, for an inside cabin, in the winter, is a lot of money. After all they are NOT a Luxury or Premium cruise line either. Let’s hope that some deep discounts emerge later on.

Below is a slide show of the interiors of former Holland America Lines ‘Ms Amsterdam’, which was sold to the Fred. Olsen line in 2021 and renamed ‘Bolette’.

The ships is named Bollette, after Fred. Olsen Junior’s great-great-grandmother, and Fred. Olsen Senior’s great-grandmother. She was married to one of the original Olsen brothers behind the business, Petter Olsen, and was extremely well regarded in her community.

e5429d0a3b92215a179904a907885d63538df696

1903 Stave Church, Hvitsten

There is a church in Hvitsten in Norway, where the Olsen’s family live, that she helped to build and gifted to the village. The family have had many ships named after her.

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says: It’s a pity that Olsen did not retain Black Watch and Boudicca for a few more years and offered them as a budget product. I believe CMV fans would have embraced both vessels, if the price was right.

P&O’s Arvia: Caribbean Homeports

March 26, 2021

P&O’s next ship, Arvia, will offer a Caribbean maiden season of fly/cruise holidays from home port Barbados and Antigua.

Arvia is Iona’s near identical sister and enters service in December 2022,

The new Caribbean itineraries, running from January to March 2023, will also feature La Romana in the Dominican Republic – a maiden port of call for P&O Cruises; Curaçao; Martinique; St Kitts; St Lucia and St Maarten.

Arvia’s seven and 14-night fly/cruises from the UK also all include an overnight call in Barbados. 22-night holidays departing from or returning to Southampton with UK flights are also available.

(P&O)

Marella to Help Fill The CMV Gap?

March 24, 2021

Malcolm says: After the demise of CMV last year, who mainly served UK passengers, from UK regional ports, a big hole was left in the market. Fred. Olsen who offers a British experience on-board older/smaller ships can fill part of this gap, although their fares are much higher than CMV’s used to be.

Thomson cruises, now re-branded as Marella (a silly name in my opinion) used to offer a similar product to CMV (or vice-versa) and offered some UK reginal cruise departures. Like CMV, their ships were older/smaller and well worn, but good value. However, they later concentrated on fly cruises, probably because owners TUI, owned an airline.

Marella have updated their UK fleet over the past five years with newer, slightly bigger second-hand ships. ‘Cruise Industry News’ has reported that they are looking to fill the UK regional departure gap:

(Courtesy Marella)

Add TUI-owned Marella to the long list of brands that will offer a UK-based domestic cruise program this summer.

The four-ship British brand has a heavy presence in the UK and a strong fly-cruise program, and has promised details are coming soon.

“We’re really pleased to announce we’ll be offering domestic cruises sailing from the UK this year. We can’t wait to welcome you back onboard. More details will be revealed soon,” the company said, in a social media post.

(CIN)

Malcolm says: There are no details of itineraries yet. I also hear that TUI are closing around 50 high street Travel Agency shops.

STOP PRESS: I hear that Fred. Olsen will be using Tilbury cruise terminal (CMV’s old homeport) for selected cruises.

Thomson Celebration, which is about to be scrapped, was a favourite with Brits. See Review: Here

A Year Without Cruising

March 15, 2021

So it’s been a year since most of the world’s cruise lines suspended their operations.

Attempts to re-start have only been localized or short-lived, so far.

In January 2020, who could have imagined this situation?

A year, of course is a very long time for any business to survive without any income.  It is no surprise that only the big players have been able to borrow the funds to bridge the gap. Likewise, it should have been of no surprise, on reflection, that small cruise lines, like CMV, could not borrow, so went bust.

The cruise lines are unlikely to be able to fill all of their berths initially, so losing older/smaller tonnage was also inevitable. This is what the likes of Carnival, RCI and others have done.

There has been much criticism about how the U.K. governments (and the world’s governments), have handled the pandemic.  I don’t want to get into that here, but I will say that the U.K. appears to be roiling out the vaccination program, faster than many could have imagined. For example, the U.K. vulnerable have all received their first ‘jab’ and at the time of writing (March) they are now processing all the 55’s and over.  Therefore there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

Cruise lines that home-port at Southampton, like P&O and Cunard, are offering some shorter, around Britain cruises this summer. Hopefully they will go ahead and signal the start of “business as usual”.

Malcolm

Real Ships: The QE2 Remembered

March 13, 2021

2001, Southampton

I was lucky enough to take a December 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?

The United States Line

March 8, 2021

Here is a bit of nostalgia, for you:

ss-america-3

(Source unknown)

United States Lines was a former transatlantic shipping company that operated cargo services from 1921 to 1989, and ocean liners until 1969—most famously, the SS United States.

SS America was an ocean liner built in 1940 for the United States Lines and designed by the noted naval architect William Francis Gibbs. She was  26,454 GRT and carried 1,202 passengers.

the SS United States entered service in 1952. She was (and still is) the largest ocean liner built in the United States and the fastest ocean liner ever built. She was 53,330 GT and carried 1,928 passengers.

She immediately set transatlantic speed records, capturing the Blue Riband from the Queen Mary.

With the introduction of the larger and faster United States in 1952, America’s reign as queen of the US merchant marine was taken away from her. Their disparity in size and speed prevented them from becoming true running mates like the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth of the Cunard Line. But she still was a favourite of many.

The SS America is of course somewhat forgotten compared to the SS United States.

The SS America ran-aground in 1994 and the United States was laid-up in 1969 and is rusting away, in Philadelphia, to this day.

See the SS America story HERE

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Susan Gibbs (Daughter of the designer) & Edie Rodriguez, President Crystal Cruises ( AFP)

In 2016 Crystal Cruises launched a plan to renovate the SS United States and return her back to service as a ‘state-of-the-art cruise ship. However they quickly droped the plan, citing too many technical and commercial challenges. See slide-show of the proposed Crystal/SS United States renovation – HERE.

Malcolm

Arvia Steel Cut

February 23, 2021

(Courtesy P&O Cruises)

The first piece of steel has been cut for P&O Cruises’ latest ship Arvia.

The 5,200-passenger sister ship to Iona is being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. It is the second LNG-powered Excel class ship to join the P&O Cruises fleet.

The Arvia will be delivered in December 2022, and holidays on it will go on sale in March.

(P&O Cruises)

Introducing: P&O’s Next Ship Arvia

February 20, 2021

(Courtesy P&O)

P&O Cruises has revealed the name of their new 5,200-passenger, second LNG-powered Excel class ship, through a video reveal.

The ship, which will join the P&O Cruises UK six-ship fleet in December 2022, will be named Arvia.

The name means “from the seashore” in Latin.

“The Arvia will join the Iona as an innovative and future-focused ship offering an outstanding, varied and contemporary holiday. The Arvia has been designed to travel to the sun year-round and to maximize views of the ocean and the seashore from everywhere on board, so it seemed a very fitting name and one which will reflect the experience for guests on board,” said P&O Cruises President Paul Ludlow.

Cruises on the Arvia will go on sale in March and further details of the ship, its design and experiences onboard will be released over the coming months.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: Ariva will be a twin sister of Iona, a Carnival design of course, shared by other Carnival brands such as AIDA, COSTA and Carnival itself.

I believe the stated capacity above is double occupancy. She will actually accommodate up to 6,264 passengers. Bring back the Marco Polo and Astor!

The new name reminds me of  the UK bus company name’.  I note that P&O pronounce it: Ah – via.

(Not P&O’s Newbuild!)

The Innovative Solid Sail Project

February 18, 2021

(Courtesy Chantiers de l’Atlantique)

Chantiers de l’Atlantique has announced that it will install a prototype of its Solid Sail/AeolDrive at the shipyard.

Under development for more than a decade, the Solid Sail project hopes to eventually bring wind power to mid-sized cruise ships, in the 200-meter-long range. The eventual goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent using wind power.

The prototype will be one of the tallest composite masts of the world, towering 95 meters above the ground when it is installed in 2022. The centre-piece of the system, the rigging named AeolDrive – a mast tiltable through 70° – will support the Solid Sail, a 1,200 m² sail made entirely of composite materials.

(Chantiers de l’Atlantique)

Malcolm says: I believe MSC were very interested in such a concept.  I’m all for protecting the environment, as I believe that even modern cruise ships, are big polluters. However, most passengers (inc. me) will be primarily interested in a good cruise fare. If they can achieve both environmental progress and good value, that’s great!

Rob, the Humanoid Robot Bartender from MSC

February 12, 2021

Starship Club (Courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises has revealed details about its futuristic MSC Starship Club featuring Rob, the first-ever humanoid, robotic bartender at sea.

The MSC Starship Club will be exclusively available onboard the line’s newest flagship MSC Virtuosa, which will be in service from Apr. 16, 2021.

After completing a few three-, four- and five-night cruises in the Mediterranean from April 2021 onwards, the MSC Virtuosa will be deployed to Northern Europe in summer 2021 with a range of itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.

“This integrated bar and entertainment experience … includes 3D holograms, an immersive digital art wall and a 12-seater infinity digital interactive table, giving guests the possibility to explore space with their own personalized galactic tour,”

Rob will mix and serve his signature cocktails…

(Sorry I can’t be bothered to write anymore. Malcolm)

(MSC)

Malcolm says: This article says it all. While classic ships are being scrapped, another floating theme-park will enter service later this year.  Many of us do not need a Robot bartender, just an intimate ship with a wrap-around teak deck.

I’m not against floating theme-parks, many people enjoy them. Fine!  I’m against the growing lack of choice, because of the recent and ongoing cull.

I bet the Robot cost more to run/maintain than a member of crew would, let alone the purchase cost. A vending machine would be even cheaper – hang on, it is a vending machine as such. Progress!

Manxman – The New Isle of Man Ferry

February 7, 2021

A new passenger and freight ferry serving the route between the Isle of Man and Lancashire  is expected to be in service in spring 2023, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company chief executive Mark Woodward said.

It will be named ‘Manxman’.

The ship, which will be built in South Korea, would be more “manoeuvrable in poor conditions”.  It will also have “considerably more passenger space”, the operator has said.

The new vessel will be the previously reported ‘Heysham max’ size of 142m and will be able to carry 800 passengers, compared to the Ben-my-Chree’s capacity of 630. It will also have an increased freight capacity with 1,250 lane metres available.

It will replace the Ben-my-Chree, which will be kept as a back-up ship.

Mr Woodward said “following lengthy discussions” with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, a contract had been signed on Friday.

“It is expected the new vessel will be slightly larger than the Ben-my-Chree in most respects, but with considerably more passenger space,” he said. “It is also intended to be more environmentally efficient and manoeuvrable in poor conditions.”

The cost has not yet been confirmed, although the ferry operator previously said replacing both the Ben-my-Chree (the existing conventional ferry), which sails to Heysham, and the Manannan (a fast ferry), which serves its Liverpool route, would cost at least £70m.

Although government-owned, the company will fund the new vessel itself. Construction is due to start in summer 2021.

(BBC)

 Manannan (their fast ferry) is reported to be in good condition for her age and could be operated for several more years. The Manannan is required under an agreement to have a refurbishment by the end of March 2021 and to be replaced by ‘no later than December 31, 2026’. However, it is not clear whether the new vessel would be new or a refurbished ferry.  It is also not known if the new vessel will be a fast craft or a ‘fast conventional ferry’.

Ben-My-Cree

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The Ben-my-Chree and the Manannan (backgound) were both launched in 1998

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.

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 of ‘Ben My Chree’ and an ‘Isle of Man’ slide-show.

Ferry Review: HERE          Isle of Man slide-show: HERE

Malcolm

Magellan Beached

February 4, 2021

Thursday 04/02/21:

Magellan is now beached at Alang, India, awaiting dismantling.

CMV’s ex-MV Magellan, was auctioned last year and the Greek Ferry Operator,  Sea Jets ultimately won the auction paying $3.4 million and taking ownership of the MS Magellan. However, citing high operating costs.

Magellan has changed name to ‘Mages’, which is usual before scrapping.

She will join the Marco Polo on the beach of Alang.

Magellan became Cruise & Maritime Voyages flagship in March 2015, before Columbus took over the role in 2017.

Magellan entered service in 1985 for the Carnival cruise line, being named   ‘MS Holiday’. She was later re-named ‘MS Grand Holiday’.  She still has the distinctive Carnival trade-mark winged funnel. (Many other ex-Carnival ship have the funnel changed).

Magellan is  46,052 gross tonnes, so was CMV’s biggest vessel at the time, carrying  a maximum of 1,452 passengers. (Columbus is bigger).

At 36 years old, her future was always going to be uncertain, in these turbulent times for the travel industry.

Read my Magellan ship review: HERE

 

Carnival – New Miami Terminal

January 31, 2021

(Courtesy Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Cruise Line and PortMiami held a ground-breaking ceremony on January 29th, 2020, for the expansion of Terminal F which will serve as the homeport of the LNG-powered Carnival Celebration when the ship debuts in 2022.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Carnival President Christine Duffy, along with county commissioners and construction partners, used ceremonial shovels to officially mark the beginning of construction on the expansive 471,000-square-foot facility which will be Carnival’s third terminal at the port and its largest in South Florida.

The terminal’s clean and open design by will allow for exceptional efficiency and flexibility to accommodate Carnival’s newest class of ships, maximizing use of technology to move guests through the embarkation process, providing a seamless boarding experience.

(Carnival)

Celebrity Edge Moves to Caribbean For 2021

January 27, 2021

(Courtesy Celebrity/CIN)

The Celebrity Edge won’t be going to Europe in summer 2021.

The the cruise line will instead deploy its 1,38,818 gt, 2,900-guest ship, which entered service in 2018, in the Caribbean.  She will offer a program of seven- and eight-night cruises, from Port Everglades from July through November.

(Celebrity Cruises)

Costa Victoria – Another Doomed Ship

January 10, 2021

(Courtesy Costa)

The former Costa Victoria will be scrapped, according to multiple sources.

The 1996-built ship will be towed to India later this month where she will be demolished.

The former Costa vessel was quickly sold during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship was rumoured to have been considered for a hotel ship or for use for drydock work, with those deals falling through.

(CIN)

The Loss of The Marco Polo

January 8, 2021

Readers Julie and Phil Harris have just sent me a very poignant letter:

So, the beautiful Marco Polo is heading to Alang to be scrapped!

Malcolm, we have contributed to your page once before extolling the positives of this ship and how she has given many ordinary people some extraordinary experiences. She was very popular amongst her frequent travellers and we understand that she was usually fully booked.

We, like many others, hoped that she would have another life after CMV. Unfortunately, in this profit orientated world, there is little incentive to protect and maintain classic ships, so Marco Polo, will face the same ignominious end as many other beautiful ships before her.

We wonder how long it will be before the megaship cruising giants will become dinosaurs because many of us want quality of experience, not 24/7 entertainment. We want to watch the oceans on which we travel from a sensible viewpoint without plexiglass in front of us and not necessarily from a climbing wall or roller coaster ride around the ship!

Who wants to turn up to a small port of call with 5000+ other passengers, where the sheer numbers of people disembarking to view a beautiful part of the world actually affects that which they are trying to experience, simply because the beauty is swamped by bodies and the locals are outnumbered by the tourists Five or more to One!

We are very sorry to see such a demise, because Marco Polo gave us so many happy memories and we have two photos taken on a Bridge Tour in January 2020 between Cork and Bristol at the end of our brilliant Christmas cruise to The Canary Islands and New Year firework spectacular in Madeira.

The photos are particularly poignant because the first shows the amazing viewing deck (from the Bridge) where we spent may happy hours viewing Sea Life (Whales, Dolphins, Basking Shark, Flying Fish and Sea Turtles), Bird Life, Ice Flows, Glaciers, Icebergs and the Aurora Borealis on many occasions.

The second photo of the Big Red Abandon Ship Button was taken as a memory of our Bridge Tour, but little did we realise how significant ‘Abandon Ship’ would be just one year later!

In our humble opinion, you are too special to be scrapped, but thank you Marco Polo for all the pleasure you have provided and we hope you are recycled into something which offers as much enjoyment for future generations as you have for us!

Finally, we should like to take this opportunity to thank all the Staff and Officers of the Marco Polo who made all our trips so special. We wish you all the best for the future.

Julie and Phil Harris

My Marco Polo review can be read HERE

Travel Slideshows

January 6, 2021

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow.

I really enjoy travel, although I don’t do as much of it, as I would like.

However I don’t spend all of my holidays on-board ships either, especially in 2020! 

Below is a link to a small collection of slide shows, featuring some of the places that I’ve visited. You may have visited yourself?

Travel slideshows: HERE

Titanic vs Oasis Of the Seas

January 4, 2021

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

The ‘Oasis’ class is of course the biggest ‘class’ of cruise ship. In comparison, the RMS Titanic was small.

The article was really just meant to be a bit of fun.

Some commentators have regarded the premise of comparing two ship built almost 100 years apart as “SILLY”!  However every year the article attracts more views than anything else that I have ever written.

It’s quite ironic that the article was my most viewed again in 2020 and it will probably be by the end of 2021.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

Below is a slide show comparison between the Titanic and a modern cruise ship, just for fun!

Malcolm

Carnival Celebration To Visit UK

December 6, 2020

(Courtesy Carnival cruise Line)

Carnival Cruise Line has opened bookings for its newest ship Carnival Celebration, even thought it does not enter service until 2022.

The ship is due to enter service in 2022, the sister ship to highly anticipated Mardi Gras Carnival’s first XL-class ship.

Carnival Celebration is the sister ship to Mardi Gras – launching next year (2021).

Carnival Celebration is making its debut in 2022 as part of Carnival Cruise Line’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, which will kick off in March of that year.

Carnival has revealed that Carnival Celebration will offer 14 day transatlantic crossing from Southampton to Miami.

The ship will depart on 6 November 2022 and arrive in Miami on 20 November 2020.

Stops on the inaugural cruise will include La Coruna, Vigo, Maderia and Tenerife.

Following on from her maiden voyage, Carnival Celebration will then sail year-round itineraries in the paradise waters of the Caribbean.

BOLT (Courtesy of Carnival)

Celebration will be the second Carnival ship ever to have the BOLT rollercoaster – following on from Mardi Gras which is due to launch next year.

(Carnival)

MSC Signs Long-Term Agreement With Southampton

November 25, 2020

Magnifica (Courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises has announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with Southampton, starting in summer 2021.

The MSC Magnifica will base in Southampton’s new fifth terminal.

“We are really proud to be further supporting the UK cruise industry at this incredibly important time for both the industry and the UK economy. At MSC Cruises, we really believe in the potential of the UK cruise market and making this long-term commitment is evidence of that,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO at MSC Cruises.

As part of the agreement, at least one MSC vessel will homeport in Southampton every year, and more ships will be calling at Southampton within wider itineraries.

MSC Magnifica will sail 21 voyages in summer 2021 from Southampton – including two 14-night cruises to the Mediterranean in June and August with calls at Malaga, Lisbon, and Monte Carlo, weekend mini sailings to Northern Europe, and seven-night cruises to the Norwegian fjords.

(MSC)

Malcolm says: Magnifica entered service in 2010 and is 95,128 gross tonnes, accommodating 2,518 passengers, double occupancy.  The UK obviously does not deserve a newer MSC ship yet, although I believe newer/bigger ships will homeport at Southampton later.

Southampton’s New Fifth Cruise Terminal

A new “next-generation” cruise terminal will open at the Port of Southampton for the 2021 season.

Developed in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the terminal will use roof-mounted solar power and will also have shore power connectivity installed to boost sustainability. This will allow ships that have the necessary technology to plug in while at the port.

The £55 million project has received support from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership through the government’s Getting Building Fund with an £8 million grant.


MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato said: “Over the last five years MSC Cruises has increased our presence in the UK & Irish markets and following a positive response from travel agents and our guests we feel now is the right time to make a more substantial commitment”.

NCLH senior vice-president of commercial development Steve Moeller said the agreement “demonstrates our commitment to the region”.

(Cruise Trade News)

Malcolm says: They also need to improve the infrastructure (roads) in order to cope with the extra traffic.

Olsen’s Bolette Interiors

November 1, 2020

Below is a slide show of the interiors of Holland America Lines ‘Ms Amsterdam’, now sold to the Fred. Olsen line and to be renamed ‘Bolette’ (Full Story here).

Named Bolette, after Fred. Olsen Junior’s great-great-grandmother, and Fred. Olsen Senior’s great-grandmother. She was married to one of the original Olsen brothers behind the business, Petter Olsen, and was extremely well regarded in her community.

Olsen’s ‘Borealis’ Interiors

Below is a slide show of the interiors of Holland America Lines ‘Ms Rotterdam’, now sold to the Fred. Olsen line and to be renamed ‘Borealis’ (Full Story here).

Olsen. will of course change/renovate the décor, but these images give you a good idea of the public spaces on-board this charming ship.
.

The Olsen’s used to have a ship called Borealis in their fleet many years ago, in 1948, long before they became a cruise line.

unnamed

Olsen’s Borealis cargo ship 1948-73 (R.Cox)

The name ties in well with our company heritage stemming from Norway, with so many people going in search of the Northern Lights – the Aurora Borealis – with us, and celebrates the romanticism of cruising.

(Fred. Olsen)

My Last ‘Proper’ Cruise

October 19, 2020

DSC_0281

Porto, on the river Douro.

My last cruise was in fact a mini-cruise in November 2019. (Here)

However my last ‘proper’ cruise was in April 2019, and was a seven night river cruise on the beautiful river ‘Douro’.

I always recommend doing your research before you book any cruise and I did. However I obviously did not do it well enough! I picked the wrong river cruise line, CroisiEurope, and the wrong boat.

The river and scenery were FANTASTIC, my tablemates were lovely, however much of the experience on-board the boat was TERRIBLE.

All is revealed below.

My poor river cruise – review: HERE

CroisiEurope resumed sailings in September, through the French wine region of Bordeaux. Brits read my review first BEFORE you even consider them.

Malcolm

Brits: The end of inexpensive small ship cruising?

October 16, 2020

Marco Polo, Tilbury (M.Oliver)

I fear that with ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ (CMV) demise with some of their fleet being scrapped, and Fred. Olsen retiring Black Watch and Boudicca, Brits may have seen the end of inexpensive small ship cruising.

Fred. Olsen’s replacements for Black Watch and Boudicca, called Bolette and Borealis are hardly ‘big’ by modern standards, at around 43,000 gt. However I would not call Olsen ‘inexpensive’ either. Some of their 2021 cruise fares are eye-watering at the moment. Hopefully some discounts will be introduced.

There are of course some premium and luxury small ships, such as Viking ocean and Oceania cruises, on offer to us Brits with some departures from UK ports,. However they carry a high price tag.

CMV were genuinely affordable, especially their BOGOF (by one, get one free) deals applying in to one passenger of a couple. I recall comparing an Olsen Norwegian itinerary with a similar CMV one, departing on a similar date. Olsen offered me a lesser cabin grade for £600 more, per couple.

I’d suggest that the condition of Olsen’s and CMV’s aging ships, is similar. Maybe Olsen has the edge, with some more recently refitted décor. Some of the vessels are even a similar size to each others. The on-board atmosphere, food and entertainment is also of a similar standard and style.

I was hoping with the demise of CMV, Olsen may have decided to keep one or two of their older ships in order to try and capture a slice of the CMV market. However they did not. Mind you they would have to seriously drop their fares to attract the CMV fans.

Thomson Celebration (Courtesy Thomson)

Maybe Marella Cruises might consider offering cruises from UK ports, like their alter-ego ‘Thomson’ used to?

If not, I think that us Brits may have seen the end of inexpensive small ship cruising.

What do you think?

Malcolm

Black Watch & Boudicca’s Sister ‘Albatros’ Sold

October 10, 2020

Albatros (Courtesy Reisen)

The third Royal Viking sister ‘MS Albatros’ will be leaving the Phoenix Reisen fleet.

The German tour operator has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the need to sell the vessel.

The ship will now start a new life as a hotel vessel for the Albatros Group in the Middle East, which operates a number of hotels and resorts.

Built in 1973, the 28, 518gt 830 guest Albatros was the oldest ship in the Phoenix Reisen fleet, originally launched as the Royal Viking Sea.  She has had eight owners (including NCL and Star) and six names,  in her 47 year career.

She was one of three sisters: Star (1971), Sky (1973) and Sea (1973).

As for her two sisters: Star is best know today as Fred. Olsen’s ‘Black Watch’ and Sky as ‘Boudicca’. Olsen has also sold both ship to become hotel-ships.

(Phoenix Reisen)

Malcolm says: Another ‘classic’ ship stops cruising. Olsen fans will recognise her exterior shape and interior spaces. At least she will be utilised in a new role. Unfortunately, many classic ships will not.

See Albatros’s interiors – HERE

Arcadia Seen Off The Coast of Suffolk

October 5, 2020

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P&O’s Arcadia could be seen berthed at anchor on Monday 24/08/20, off the coast of Suffolk, from Southwold beach.

Officially she was on route to Southampton. However she was still there on 28/08.

On the 29 and 30/08 she could be seen off Suffolk’s Kessingland beach.

I took these picture myself, just using my phone.

Malcolm

When Was Your Last Cruise?

October 3, 2020

DSC_0140

Grandiosa, City Cruise Terminal, Southampton Nov. 2019

Dear Readers,

I struggled to remember when my last cruise was. I now recall that it was a mini-cruise, back in November 2019.

It seems a very long time ago now!

When was yours? Please let me know.

You may of noticed, how the MSC cruise line has been expanding at the rate of knots, in recent years.  Their total number of berths has toppled NCL from being the third biggest cruise line.

I was lucky enough  to spend a few days on MSC’s brand new flagship ‘Grandiosa’.

In Early November, 2019, Grandiosa had been delivered straight from the French shipyard. I joined her for a part of her inaugural cruise.

At 180,000gt, carrying up to 6,334 passengers, she is one of the world’s biggest ships.

At the time, I had not been on a big ship for three years.  I have been drawn to smaller ocean vessels (“real ships”) and river boats.  I had also NEVER been on-board an MSC ship before.

MSC get some very mixed reviews. In fact one commentator said that many MSC reviews actually start with start with the words: “Never again”!  On the other hand, MSC’s ‘Yacht Club’ facility (a ship within a ship complex) normally gets great reviews.  However I was NOT in the Yacht Club.  So what is the MSC experience like?

Malcolm

See my Grandiosa review: HERE

Marella Dream To Retire

October 2, 2020

(Courtesy Marella)

The TUI-owned brand also retired the Celebration earlier this year.

All Dream sailings due to take place from Oct. 26 and beyond will be cancelled and all affected customers are being notified, Marella said, in a statement.

Those booked on Marella Dream for summer 2021 will have their booking automatically moved to Marella Discovery, the company sail, which will now sail from Palma instead of Port Canaveral, Florida, covering the Marella Dream’s Mediterranean itineraries.

As a consequence, Marella said it has made the difficult decision to cancel all USA sailings for Marella Discovery in summer 2021.

(Marella)

Malcolm says: Another coronavirus casualty, probably headed for the scrap yard.  I never cruised onboard this ship, but I think that I would have liked her.