The Flying Bum Crashes Again!

November 21, 2017

More news about the future of Airships:

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy Daily Mail)

The world’s largest aircraft, Airlander 10, came loose from its moorings causing its hull to rip and deflate.

The part-plane, part-airship, which is the length of a football pitch, lays collapsed in Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire after the mishap at around 9.30am on Saturday 18th November 2017.

It is the latest accident to befall the aircraft, which carried out its first flight in May since crashing in August last year.

Manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) said it was investigating why the £25 million aircraft broke free. “The aircraft was not flying at the time of the incident. Our initial assessment is that the aircraft broke free from its mooring mast for reasons that will be investigated”.

“The aircraft has a safety system which operates automatically in circumstances of the aircraft breaking free of its mast, and is designed to rip open the hull and deflate the aircraft. We are testing a brand new type of aircraft and incidents of this nature can occur during this phase of development.”

(Source: Daily Mail)

Malcolm says: As well as conventional ships, I’ve always been interested in ships of the skys. The Airlander is supposed to be the future of lighter than air aircraft.

Irrespective of the positive ‘spin’ the manufactures put on such incidents, it’s safety record has not been great, in its short life.  It lost control and hit power cables/the ground in 2016. Airlander can carry 10 tonnes and up to 60 passengers. However, would you like it flying over you house carrying ten tonnes?

The damage this time looks considerable to me. Unfortunately, lighter than air aircraft are prone to being seriously affected by strong winds.

The Zeppelin NT is a smaller but more conventional modern ‘airship’ with a proven track record:

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2 Million Hits

November 20, 2017

Those with a key eye, may have noticed that my modest cruise blog has recently exceeded 2 Million hits!

I started my blog in May 2008, for a bit of fun, but it is now one of the most popular in the U.k. It also has a growing worldwide following, especially from my American friends.  Some major cruise lines are now taking an interest in it too.

Thanks to all of you out there in cyber-land who read my blog and even contribute your comments to it.

I look forward to achieving 3 Million hits.

Malcolm

Introducing: MSC Grandiosa

November 18, 2017

Meraviglia (Image courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises’ newest ship will be called MSC Grandiosa. She will be the first in the line’s ‘Meraviglia Plus Class’

The name was announced at the ship’s recent steel cutting ceremony at the STX France shipyard, marking the official start of the vessel’s construction.

Grandiosa is one of four ships currently under construction for MSC, which is scheduled to launch 11 new vessels between 2017 and 2020 as part of a €9 billion plan which will double MSC’s fleet.

Others ships currently being built include North America-focused ship MSC Seaside, which launches next month. She will be based in Miami and christened there. Seaside’s sister ship, MSC Seaview, will follow next year.

The fourth is MSC Bellissima, a 181,000-ton, 6,334-passenger identical twin to MSC Meraviglia, which launched in June. Bellissima is also being built at STX France, where its coin ceremony and keel laying were held today, immediately following Grandiosa’s steel cutting.

Highlights planned for Grandiosa and Bellissima feature on-board fine-art museums, indoor promenades with virtual skies overhead, extensive water parks, indoor amusement park areas and new entertainment, including Cirque du Soleil performances. MSC also revealed that Bellissima will have a French bistro on-board.

(MSC)

Malcolm says: As yet I’m not sure what the ‘plus’ means in this case. In many cases,  it means a slightly bigger version of a ship’s design – such as NCL’s ‘Breakaway Plus’ class which has an extra deck of cabins and some extra public spaces.

I have heard some great things about MSC’s new ships (the hardware) but I am still hearing about issues with the on-board organisation, crowd control and customer Services (the software). You can build big new ships, but they do not successfully operate themselves.

MSC Seaside ship interiors: HERE

MSC Meraviglia reviews: HERE

Exclusive – Jane McDonald Goes Steamboating

November 17, 2017

(Courtesy American Queen Steamboat Company)

EXCLUSIVE

On Monday 13th November, British celebrity and singing star,  Jane McDonald boarded the ‘American Queen’ paddle wheeled steamboat, In New Orleans.

She is taking a one week cruise, to Memphis, along the Mississippi with her camera crew. They are filming a new episode of her successful U.K. TV show ‘Cruising with Jane’. This new series will be shown in 2018.

The American Queen is the biggest paddle-wheeler ever built (1995), carrying around 428 passengers and has a ‘real’ paddlewheel powered by ‘real’ steam.

This should be a really interesting program, showing a very different type of river cruise, in a very different environment.

I wonder what song Jane will pick to sing at the end credits ‘Proud Mary’ (Rolling on the River) or ‘Old Man River’ maybe?

Malcolm

Virgin Voyages First Rendering

October 31, 2017

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The shiptease is over:

we’ve been excited about our first ship for some time now. After lots of planning and design, the latest in a series of reveals took place with our inaugural keel laying ceremony.

“Getting laid we’ve heard of, but what on earth is a keel?” you ask. Totally valid question.

In short, it’s the foundation of a ship. In the olden days, it was when shipbuilders first placed the backbone of a vessel.

Today, ships are built in sections; 399 on our ship to be precise. Our keel laying was the lowering of the first section into the drydock. We also welded newly minted coins into the keel for good luck.

Adorned at the hull you’ll find our beautiful, mermaid guide. Inspired by the traditional bows from ships of yore, she is our ship’s muse. The soul of the voyage. Our elegant leader. The feminine spirit of the ship.

Designed with the glitter and glam of a yacht, the ship’s livery stands out on the high seas. She glides with a unique level of sophistication paired with an unapologetic aire of mystery. A design meant to excite and inspire sailors to want to explore every corner.

“From dining and entertainment to wellness and rejuvenation, nearly every single element of the Virgin Voyages journey will bring a unique Virgin Style to the high seas – and not just for our 2,800 Sailors, but also for the 1,150 crew members who will reside there and make amazing happen”.

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(Virgin)

Malcolm says:  The company, led by President and CEO Tom McAlpin, has promised to reinvent the cruise vacation.  Although Virgin is a powerful brand, there is a lot of competition in the cruise market, form some very big players such as Carnival, RCI and NCL.  I wonder if Virgin can really offer something original?

The three ships will be built at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente yard, in Italy and will enter service in 2020, 21 and 22, respectively. They will each carry  2,800 passengers and be 110,000 gross tonnes. They will offer year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami.

The cruise experience will be for guests aged 18 and over, with no children allowed. Virgin is also offering a pre-sale, in which a $500 deposit will guarantee a spot on the list for a cabin in 2020.

To ensure a close connection to the sea, 86% of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93% an ocean view. ‘She will be the most recognizable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience,’ Richard Branson pledged.

Scanship will provide an advanced wastewater management system. Plus, an innovative energy production system of approximately 1 MW will use the diesel engine’s waste heat. These systems will will reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

virgin-702x336

(What the Virgin ships will NOT look like)

As I suspected,  the new ship rending (page top) does NOT really  look as good as the wonderful Art-Deco style rendering originally ‘leaked’ (above). The ship will clearly has a vertical-bow  like the new AIDA ships, which has gained in design popularity. Most other aspects of the external design of the ship look pretty standard, as far as I can see. Although it does look like the promenade deck will be sheltered and wrap around the bow, which is nice. The stern (see slide-show above) looks a little like MSC’s Seaview’s stern. Interestingly both will be built by Fincantieri.

Maybe the Virgin Voyages interiors will be more innovative?

P.S. Richard Branson  invited good friend Boy George to the Virgin Voyages Keel Laying party.

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Malcolm

Titanic v Oasis Of The Seas

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

Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it. I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. Interestingly the article continues to attract more comments than anything else that I have ever written, 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”

Little and Large

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. However silly it is to compare these two ships, I still did it!

It’s quite ironic that the article looks like it will be my  most viewed again in 2017, as it was in 2016 and 2015.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

Titanic Replica

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The “Unsinkable Titanic” which will be part of the the Romandisea Seven Star International Cultural Tourism Resort, is under construction in Daying County, Suining, Sichuan Province, China.

This is the world’s first life-sized remake of the original Titanic. However it’s not a real ship. It will be a hotel/tourist attraction on a river next to the resort.

It is not to be confused with Clive Palmer’s abandoned ‘Titanic II’ project, which would have been a fully functioning ship.

A Modern & A Vintage Ocean Liner Compared

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Malcolm

Arcadia Refit News

October 29, 2017

(Courtesy P&O)

Arcadia, one of our much-loved ships exclusively for adults, is taking time out this autumn for a bit of a spruce up. Having entered service in 2004, she’s won the hearts of all who have sailed on her thanks to her relaxed and intimate atmosphere, classic elegance and array of features designed for pampering and indulgence.

In preparation for her 2018 World Cruise, which departs Southampton in January, she sets sail for the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg at the end of October. Here, she’ll get the TLC she deserves to improve the guest experience on board and reinvigorate the unique character and key features that guests know and love.

We’ve listened to guest feedback and are investing in a range of updates to the Suites, public areas, bars (such as the Piano Bar and Spinnaker Bar), and main restaurants including The Belvedere food court. We’ve entrusted this work to RPW Design, one of the world’s leading hospitality interior design practices that specialises in the creation of stunningly sophisticated interiors. We are sure that guests will be delighted with the new design concepts and improvements to levels of luxury and comfort. Expect new carpets and furniture, soft furnishing refreshes, fixture and fitting upgrades and elegant new colour schemes, among other highlights.

This is an exciting time for Arcadia and we look forward to welcoming her back in time for Christmas. We can’t wait to show off her new-and-improved charms to loyal fans and introduce a new generation of guests to one of our favourite ships.

Aquarius pool and bar

Few moments define a cruise holiday quite like relaxing by the swimming pool, drink in hand. To bring Arcadia’s Aquarius pool and bar up to the task, we’re refreshing the furnishings and creating a brighter colour scheme. Look out for updated chairs, bar stools, sofas, coffee tables, signage, wall tiles and more. This space, located at the stern of the Lido Deck, will soon become your favourite place to relax in the shade and enjoy a cocktail or two.

Atrium/Reception

The Atrium is the heart of any ship. It acts as a focal point; a place for people watching, meeting up with friends and family or simply soaking up the ship’s atmosphere. Following your feedback, we’re updating Arcadia’s Reception and three-deck-high Atrium to give it the true ‘wow factor’ it deserves. We’ll be making changes to a number of items including the carpets, chairs, banquettes and cushions.

Oasis Spa

Arcadia’s Oasis Spa is a key attraction for guests in search of some serious relaxation. The sense of calm and total relaxation will be further enhanced with new carpets and blinds in the reception area. Loungers and armchairs will be refreshed to enhance the soothing atmosphere and new cushions will add the finishing touches.

Intermezzo

Intermezzo will enjoy a refresh with a relaxed but sophisticated new colour scheme referencing the Mediterranean. This will be visible in updated carpets, blinds, chairs, sofas, bar stools, coffee tables, lampshades and more. Look out, too, for subtle nods to nautical details in the lighting and ironmongery.

Suites

Your Suite should be your sanctuary; a relaxing home away from home and a place to unwind at the end of a busy day on ship and on shore. We’ll be giving Arcadia’s Suites a refresh. The new design will create a warm and inviting ambience and introduce an elegant design scheme that reflects the ship’s journey, while also improving energy efficiency. New furniture – including sofa beds, armchairs and coffee tables – will create a comfortable ambience, with the help of new decorative items such as curtains, bed cushions, throws and lamps.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: Arcadia is increasingly looking like a ‘medium’ sized ship, being around 85,000gt, when compared to Ventura and Azura at around 116,000gt.  Oriana and Auora are of course smaller still.  P&O next newbuild (2020) will be  a whopping 184,000 gross tonnes – so more than twice the size of Arcadia.

Below P&O’s next ship:

2016-10-26-21-49-14-12

See the details: HERE

World Dream Delivered

October 28, 2017

World Dream (By Arno Redenius)

Genting Hong Kong and Dream Cruises have taken delivery of the second vessel for the brand, the World Dream.

The handover ceremony took place at the Meyer Werft shipyard, Papendurg, Germany on Thursday 26th October 2017.

The ship is 150,695 gross tonnes and will carry 3,360-passengers.

Dream is the second ship in the series, following the Genting Dream that was delivered a year ago. In November, the World Dream will launch year-round service in China’s Pearl River Delta, sailing from Nansha and Hong Kong.

The ship also carries a small deep sea submarine that can take four guests down to a depth of up to 200 meters. There is also a motorboat which can be booked for excursions.

(Meyer Werft)

Carnival Horizon LED Artwork Unveiled

October 26, 2017

Carnival Cruise Line announced today that the LED “Dreamscape” atrium sculpture on the new Carnival Horizon will featured artwork created by patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital when the ship debuts next spring.

Full ‘Cruise Industry News’ story and picture: HERE

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm Says: I appreciate the work involved and the raising of awareness for a good cause, but I do hope that the sculpture looks a lot more impressive in the flesh, than it does in the image.

Horizon enters service in March 2018. She will be 133,500 gross tonnes and will carry up to 4980 passengers.

Take a virtual tour of our newest ship HERE, Carnival Horizon! It’s an incredible place in the middle of the sea that brings out the fun ‘you’ that’s kept hidden too often. Get a sneak peek at favorites like SkyRide, the ropes course, and the brand new Dr. Seuss WaterWorks which features the Cat in the Hat slide and the Fun Things slide! Feeling hungry? Take a look at everything Carnival Horizon has to offer – from the brand new Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse Brewhouse to the Far East flavors of Bonsai Sushi and Teppanyaki.

(Carnival)

Carnival To Accelerate Removal Of Old Tonnage?

Finnish news sources have rumoured that that Carnival Corporation & plc is in talks with Meyer Turku shipyard for three newbuilds.

Should this happen, it could accelerate removal of older ships from the Carnival group fleet and demolition of old units worldwide

(cruisebusiness.com)

Tilbury Cruise Terminal Invests

October 25, 2017

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London International Cruise Terminal Tilbury continues to invest in its facilities with £1.5m (€1.68m) being spent on refurbishing the old baggage hall.

In addition the roof of the terminal is being renewed at a cost of £1m. The second part of the landing stage was completed at the end of September at a cost of £2.5m which provides for a quay of 350m in length and 10m depth and hence no restriction on the size of cruiseship that can come alongside.

Visiting the port this year for the first time are Voyages to Antiquity with Aegean Odyssey, TUI Cruises and AIDA Cruises. Passengers can travel on Thames Clipper vessels into Greenwich in 35 minutes or to Tower Bridge in 50.

There were 64 calls this year, 55 of which were from Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Next year 71 are booked with 2019 also looking promising. On September 12, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3 called as part of a seven-night European cruise. The 293m-long vessel carrying 2,700 passengers is the largest that the terminal has welcomed to date.

(Cruise Europe)

Cunard Are Back In Alaska

October 24, 2017

(Courtesy Cunard)

For the first time in 20 years Cunard are back in Alaska.

Join Queen Elizabeth on her maiden Alaska season.

Itineraries include:

25 Jun 19 – 29nts – Vancouver to New York with The Rocky Mountaineer
15 Jun 19 – 53nts Vancouver to Southampton with The Rocky Mountaineer & Reykjavik
25 Jun 19 – 44nts – Vancouver to Southampton with The Rocky Mountaineer & Panama Canal
1 May 19 – 22nts – Tokyo to Vancouver with The Inside Passage
5 June, 10 June, 15 Jun 19 – 12nts – Best of Alaska with The Rocky Mountaineer

(Cunard)

U by Uniworld unveils first ship, The B

October 21, 2017

The above headline is probably one of my most obscure. Uniworld have obviously discovered the joys of the alphabet.

‘U’ by Uniworld is a sub-brand form the river cruise line. In their own words: “U by Uniworld is a new take on experiential travel, with cruises designed for those with a passion for exploring and a taste for authentic adventures. We at U have always believed that travel should be relaxing, exhilarating, convenient and tailored to your interests — all at the same time. And on a U by Uniworld river cruise, that’s exactly what you’ll experience.”

Still confused? I believe ‘U’ is the first-ever river cruise brand for millennials (those born in the 1980’s or 90’s.) This is of course a younger demographic than river cruising normally attracts.

girls-on-train-tracks

Would these young women book a river cruise? (U by Uniworld)

‘U’ by Uniworld has debuted its first ship in Paris, recently. The B is the only ship on the river to reveal a unique all-matte black exterior.

The ‘B’ set sail on its maiden voyage along the Seine River for invited guests.

“We’re thrilled to make history with the launch of U by Uniworld and introduce a whole new generation to river cruising,” said Ellen Bettridge, president of Uniworld.

The ship was originally called Uniworld’s River Baroness. The renaming ceremony was led by the ship’s ‘Guardian Angel’ Petra Nemcova, supermodel and noted philanthropist. The a renaming ceremony where guests released biodegradable lanterns to symbolize starting anew with The B.

(Courtesy Uniworld)

‘B’ accommodates up to 120 “fun-loving” travelers per voyage, spread across its four suites, 26 balcony bedrooms, 29 studio bedrooms and two studio bedrooms with triple occupancy – all with waterfront views and equipped with built-in Bluetooth speakers.

The inaugural events included a drum circle creating a spiritual energy onboard and sabering champagne on the top deck.

During the remainder of the maiden voyage, guests experienced yoga, camping on the top deck, a silent disco party, mixology, impressionist painting and wine classes.

(Uniworld)

Malcolm says: I am a fairly new convert to river cruising. I am on record as saying that I’d like to see a broader range of river cruise products, aimed at a broader range of clientele and not just the ‘mature’ variety. Therefore I welcome ‘U’ by Uniworld.

‘U’ certainly sounds a little different, if not a little bizarre, but then I was not on-board. The brochure is full of images of young people. In fact I am a little cynical that Uniworld can really attract people as young as the ones pictured, but I wish them luck.

I think one of the big weaknesses of river cruising is the very low-key entertainment that is normally offered on-board most river ships. I’m not clear if ‘U’ addresses this on-board ‘B’?

The other big issue is the often high fares. I wonder how many financially comfortable millennials want to spend their money on a river cruise? An RCI, MSC or NCL mega-ship, full of high-energy activities and ‘gimmicks’, sounds much more likely to appeal to millennials, in my opinion.

Is river cruising for you? See HERE

Which Ship Was I On?

I took a cruise at the very end of 2016. Can you guess what type of ship I was on?

question-mark-on-a-circular-black-background_318-41916

  1. Embarkation and disembarkation took five minutes.
  2. The meals were all served in a single sitting.
  3. The food was five star.
  4. The wine with dinner was free.
  5. There was no ‘scrum’ for breakfast. There were no queues for anything.
  6. The sun deck had a chair for every passenger.
  7. The waters were very calm so nobody got sea-sick.
  8. There were no inside cabins.
  9. The ship was easy to get around and nobody got lost.
  10. The views were almost constant.
  11. Coach excursions at the ports of call were not generally required.
  12. I did not ever need to dress-up.
  13. There was no hard sell.
  14. There were no kids, water slides or rock climbing walls.

Malcolm

See the answer HERE

Rodriguez Jumps Ship To Ponant

October 20, 2017

Edie Rogriguez (Courtesy of Crystal)

Ponant announced it has hired Edie Rodriguez as its new Americas Brand Chairman and Corporate Special Advisor.

Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of Ponant and Navin Sawhney, CEO of Ponant Americas said in a statement they pleased that she is joining the team. Rodriguez was most recently president and CEO of Crystal Cruises.

She will be responsible for increasing Ponant’s brand awareness in the Americas, especially with professional networks including travel agencies, media and prospective passengers.

(Courtesy Ponant)

 (Ponant)

World’s Largest Cruise Ship Will Be Early

October 19, 2017

(Courtsey RCI)

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, the line’s fourth Oasis class ship, will enter service earlier than planned, with its first sailing now departing three weeks ahead of schedule.

Symphony of the Seas will now sail three additional voyages. The first, a pre-inaugural sailing departing March 31, 2018, will be a five-day cruise out of Barcelona with stops in Naples and Rome. Two seven-night cruises will depart on April 7 (the ship’s official inaugural cruise) and April 14, with stops in Palma De Mallorca, Marseille, Livorno, Civitavecchia and Naples.

Symphony of the Seas will be the world’s largest cruise ship . She will introduce new-to-the-line cabin categories, restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as a re-imagined Boardwalk.

(Royal Caribbean)

Sister: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ review: HERE

Celebrity Announces 2019 European Program

October 18, 2017

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Celebrity Cruises has announced its 2019 European deployment, highlighted by the new Celebrity Edge, which will spend the summer sailing in the Mediterranean.

The new state-of-the-art Celebirty Edge will offer seven- to 11-night sailings from Barcelona and Rome. . The itineraries will also feature two of the new ports of call: Nauplion, Greece, and Santa Margherita, Italy.

In addition to Celebrity Edge, four more ships will be in Europe: the Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Reflection, and Celebrity Silhouette.

In 2019, Celebrity Infinity will return to Europe for the first time since 2014, offering seven- to 12-night itineraries with to countries such as Italy, Malta, Greece, and Croatia.

The Celebrity Constellation will also be returning to Europe in 2019 with new itineraries, including visits to a brand-new port of call, Rijeka, Croatia. The ship will offer sailings from Venice, Barcelona and Rome.

For the 2019 season, Celebrity Reflection will call Dublin and Amsterdam home with eight- to 12-night sailings across northern Europe, from the British Isles to Scandinavia, Russia, and Iceland.

The Celebrity Silhouette returns to Southampton in 2019 to offer a variety of three- to 14-night sailings.

(Celebrity)

Silver Spirit To Be Lengthened

October 17, 2017

Silversea has unveiled plans for its first-ever ship lengthening.

The turnkey transformation of ’Silver Spirit’ will take place early next year at Fincantieri’s Palermo shipyard.

Starting in March 2018, ’Silver Spirit’ will be lengthened by inserting a pre-built 49 ft long mid-section housing six Silver Suites, 26 Veranda Suites and two Panorama Suites. Other technical upgrades will also undertaken.

As the ship’s extensive re-design is based on the innovations of the line’s new flagship, ’Silver Muse’, creative dining concepts will be incorporated, and stylish décor enhancements will be made to existing suites and throughout the public spaces and outdoor areas.

The above news follows Silversea’s plans to upgrade their fleet to the same standards as ‘Silver Muse’ (‘Muse-ization’) with ‘Silver Wind’ and ‘Silver Whisper’ scheduled to drydock this December.

‘Silver Whisper’ will have a “significant redesign” of its public areas. Silver Wind will have similar upgrades, also drawn from Silver Muse, the company said. Among the improvements will be new chairs and carpets in the casino and floor upgrades in the spa and salon.

(Silversea)

Titanic Replica – October Update

October 15, 2017

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The “Unsinkable Titanic” which will be part of the the Romandisea Seven Star International Cultural Tourism Resort, is under construction in Daying County, Suining, Sichuan Province, China.

This is the world’s first life-sized remake of the original Titanic. However it’s not a real ship. It will be a hotel/tourist attraction on a river next to the resort.

It is not to be confused with Clive Palmer’s abandoned ‘Titanic II’ project, which would have been a fully functioning ship.

Below is a link to my article comparing the worlds biggest ocean liner in 1912, ‘RMS Titanic’, to the biggest modern class of cruise ship ‘Oasis of The Seas’.

See – Titanic v Oasis of the Seas: HERE

Malcolm

Six New River Ships For Viking

October 15, 2017

(Courtesy Neptun Werft)

Warnemünde-based Neptun Werft has confirmed another order for six vessels for Viking River Cruises. They are due for delivery in 2019.

These additional Viking Longships will be 135 metres in length and are 11.45 metres wide. Each will  accommodate 190 passengers in 95 outside cabins.

Equipped with diesel-electric propulsion, the vessels are tailored for operation on numerous European rivers including the Rhine, Main and Danube as well as Dutch inland waters.

Neptun Werft has already delivered 51 ships for Viking River Cruises of 68 river vessels built in total over the past 15 years.

(Neptun Werft )

Is river cruising for you? See HERE

A Third Newbuild For Saga?

October 14, 2017

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Saga Cruises’ chief executive has confirmed the line “would be foolish not to consider a third ship”,if it can fill the two currently on order.

He added advance sales played a significant part in confirming a second new build, Spirit of Adventure, which launches the following year. Saga confirmed the second new-build at a company meeting just last week.

“But clearly if we fill those two ships at the right per diems then we would be foolish not to consider further expansion plans — but [it] is dependent on us filling those two ships.”

The 999-passenger, all-balcony ships will be similar to boutique hotels, with fine-dining options, personalised service and custom-designed cabins.

Shaw emphasised that Saga’s new ships will be unique to the U.K. cruise market as they are the only new-build small ships being built specifically for the U.K. cruiser.

Both ships in the current Saga fleet, which are more than 30-years-old, will be retired: Saga Pearl II by Spirit of Discovery and Saga Sapphire by Spirt of Adventure.

(Cruise Critic)

Malcolm says: I am all in favour of new-small ships. The U.K is lucky that we are served by a number of older-small ships, but new ones are pretty rare. However I assume that Saga will charge a premium fare for these new ships.

Symphony of the Seas

October 12, 2017

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Symphony of the Seas, the fourth Oasis-class ship launches in April 2018 and will begin home-porting November in Miami, 2018.

After its launch, the ship will offer seven-night Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona; it will then re-position to Miami and sail seven-night Caribbean cruises. Symphony of the Seas will become the fourth Oasis-class ship in Florida when it arrives at PortMiami’s Terminal A, which is under construction and expected to be completed by October 2018.

New Cabin Option for Families

A new Ultimate Family Suite will cater to those with little ones in tow, with features such as a slide from the kids-only bedroom to the living room; a movie theater-style TV room with a popcorn machine and library of video games; a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall; and an air hockey table.

The cabin also will have a 212-square-foot wraparound balcony with a full-sized whirlpool, climbing wall and kid-friendly pool table.

Redesigned Boardwalk

Symphony of the Seas’ Boardwalk will be enhanced with a new entertainment venue.

The Playmakers Sports bar will span the length of the Boardwalk and will be aimed at families, with more than 30 TVs streaming sports games (such as professional football, college basketball and soccer) and a variety of arcade games including Ms. Pacman and Skeeball. A menu offering craft beer and pub-style fare such as wings and burgers also will be available.

Passengers also will be able to satisfy their sweet tooth at Sugar Beach, the Boardwalk’s candy shop — an expanded version of the candy shop found on other Oasis-class ships.

New Dining Venues

Symphony of the Seas will introduce two new eateries to the line. El Loca Fresh will be located in the Sports Zone and focus on quick bites such as tacos and Mexican food to-go.

In the Solarium, seafood lovers can get their fill of New England-inspired fare at Hooked Seafood. The casual venue will feature a menu of fresh seafood and a raw bar; it will be open for lunch and dinner.

New Production Shows and Laser Tag Arena

In addition to its headlining show “Hairspray,” which Royal Caribbean revealed only a couple weeks ago, the Royal Theater will host “Flight,” a historical satire on the evolution of air travel, with homage to the Wright Brothers.

The AquaTheater high-diving outdoor theater and Studio B ice rink theater also will feature new shows: HiRo (a high-energy acrobatic show) and 1977 (inspired by time traveling), respectively.

Another highlight for families, Symphony of the Seas will boast a laser tag arena — which Royal Caribbean touts as the world’s-largest laser tag arena. The experience, which will take over Studio B, will be glow-in-the-dark and boast a galactic theme.

(RCI)

Sister: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ review: HERE

Celebrity Offer Gay Marriages @ Sea

October 12, 2017

Celebrity Cruises has announced that legalised same sex marriages will be offered on all of its ships, effective immediately, making it the world’s first cruise line to legally conduct gay weddings at sea.

(Celebrity)

Thomson Cruises To Rebrand

October 11, 2017

(Courtesy Thomson)

Thomson Cruises will be re-branded and will become ‘Marella Cruises’ for the UK market.

Marella means ‘shining sea’ in Celtic.

The Mein Schiff 1, which was set to transfer to Thomson as the TUI Explorer next year, will now be named the Marella Explorer.

Other ships will get similar name changes, as the TUI Discovery 1 and 2 will become the Marella Discovery 1 and Marella Discovery 2.

There is also a deployment change for winter, 2018: the company will offer an Asia program sailing from Bangkok aboard the Marella Discovery.

For the first time in the company’s history, two ships will be based in Barbados for winter 2018. Marella Explorer will sail its first ever winter season from the Bajan paradise and will be joined by Marella Celebration, operating established itineraries,

Sister travel company ‘Thomson’ will also be re-branding later this month, moving to one aligned, global brand as TUI.

(Thomson)

Malcolm says: I like the Thomson product, but I do not like the new name.  It rhymes with ‘Marbella’ and ‘Piella’, so it sounds like a Spanish cruise line to me. Maybe it’s meant to be ‘exotic’?

Thomson is a very powerful brand and they need to be careful that they are not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Irish Ferries New: W.B.Yeats

October 9, 2017

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A new 144 million euro (£112 million) vessel from Irish Ferries is being constructed in Flensburg, Germany and is due to enter service on 1st July, 2018.

The new super-ferry has been named via a public competition “W.B.Yeats”, after Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.

This new super-ferry will have a cinema, restaurants, shops and premium cabins with balconies. The ship is expected to serve the Dublin to Holyhead in Anglesey route during the week and take passengers from Ireland to France on weekends.

Irish Ferries revealed that the 50,000 tonne ‘Ice Class’ vessel will have capacity to accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew.
Facilities on board, spread over four decks, will include 435 cabins and a choice of bars, restaurants, cinemas and shops.
There will even be dedicated facilities for pets.

For the first time, there will be a dedicated car deck for 300 cars, which will be separate from the parking area for the freight vehicles. There will still be room for 165 freight vehicles with separate facilities for their drivers.

It is also the first time that Irish Ferries are introducing premium accommodation with balconies.

Those staying in these premiums Club rooms will have access to a separate, dedicated lounge with its own dining options.

The new Ice Class ship will be fitted with emissions scrubber technology, which helps to reduce pollution, making it the greenest vessel to date.

Irish Ferries CEO Eamonn Rothwell said that the cruise ferry ‘will offer a premium experience’ for customers.

The new ship will likely replace MV Epsilon on the three-hour journey from Dublin to Holyhead and the 19-hour journey from Ireland to France.

(Irish Ferries)

Ulysses Irish Super Ferry slide-show: HERE

A Closer Look: Cunard’s New Ship

October 7, 2017

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In 2022, a new ship will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth as the fourth member of the fleet, the first new Cunard ship in 12 years and the first time since 1998 that we’ll have four ships in simultaneous service.

She will be the biggest Cunarder yet, in terms of passenger capacity (not volume/gross tonnage). She’s the first new Cunard ship to enter service in 7 years, making it the first time since 1998 that Cunard will have four ships in simultaneous service.

The new ship will be 113,000-gross-tonne and will carry 3,000 passengers. It will be built by the Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri.

However I hear that the design will be based on Holland America Lines’s  ‘Koningsdam’. This ‘Pinnacle’ class design is a slightly bigger version of the ‘Vista’ class, like Cunard’s QV and QE are. Using existing ship designs is a cheap way for Carnival to add tonnage to thie brands.

QV and QE are around 91,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 2,547 passengers. The new ship will carry 453 more passengers. (The Queen Mary 2 is around 150,000 gt  but only carries up to 2,620 passengers. That’s spacious!)

hero_bro1

Four Ships (Courtesy Cunard)

The new ship is no beauty Queen, with a very top-heavy superstructure, when compare to QV and QE.

 The ‘Koningsdam’ design does have a walk-around promenade deck, but it is not the traditional design, which has always been a popular Cunard feature. The lifeboats sit on the promenade deck with just a narrow walkway behind them, obscuring much of the promenade view. I hear ‘HAL’ regulars were not impressed with this aspect of the design. Will the new Cunarder have the same design flaw?

Cunard is currently undertaking a fleet-wide upgrade programme that saw $90 million spent on the refurbishment of Queen Mary 2 in 2016 and $40 million spent on Queen Victoria earlier in 2017. Queen Elizabeth is expected to undergo a similar upgrade in 2018.

Cunard’s ‘Vista’ class cruise ships are quite different, from a technical point of view, from the bespoke ‘ocean liner’ Queen Mary 2. She is specifically designed for the rigours of the North Atlantic during transatlantic crossings. The other Cunarder’s (and the new one) are all conventional ‘cruise ships’.

Queen Mary 2 review: HERE

Queen Victoria review: HERE

(Malcolm)

Viking Name Fifth Ship

October 6, 2017

(Courtesy Viking)

Viking Ocean Cruises will take delivery of its fifth ship in 2018, and has renamed the 930-passenger vessel the Viking Orion. It was previously named the Viking Spirit.

Viking Orion will be deployed into Alaska for the 2019.

The line’s sixth ship is on schedule for a 2019 delivery, followed by two more ships being built by Fincantieri, with deliveries scheduled in 2021, and 2022, respectively.

Stop Press:  Dr. Anna Fisher has been invited to be the godmother of Viking Cruises’ fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion, which enters service in July 2018

Dr. Fisher is an American chemist, emergency room physician and recently retired NASA astronaut.

The ship  is named after the prominent constellation and in honour of Fisher’s contributions to NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project

(Viking)

Featured Ship: Magellan

October 5, 2017

Magellan became Cruise & Maritime Voyages  new flagship in March 2015.

Formerly Carnival’s MS Holiday, she entered service in 1985.

Magellan is  46,052 gross tonnes, so CMV’s biggest vessel, carrying  a maximum of 1,452 passengers.

At 32 years old (In 2017), verses Azores 68 years, Marco Polo’s 52 years and Astor’s 29 years, Magellan will be their second youngest ship.

Read my Magellan ship review: HERE

Breakaway To Homeport In New Orleans For Winter 2018/19

October 4, 2017

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Norwegian Cruise Line has just announced an update to the line’s 2018/2019 deployment, offering guests an exciting new opportunity to set sail from the Port of New Orleans to their dream Caribbean destinations on one of the line’s newest and largest ships. After returning from her summer 2018 season in the Baltic, the 4,000 passenger Norwegian Breakaway will reposition from the Big Apple to the Big Easy for her winter 2018/19 season and cruise to the Caribbean, visiting ports of call including Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and the beautiful island destination of Harvest Caye, Belize. Harvest Caye offers a diverse, enriching experience highlighting the natural beauty and culture of Belize along with lush native landscaping, a swim up pool bar, luxury beach villas, private pool cabanas, thrilling aerial activities and water sports. The destination also features first ever pier in Belize that allows guests to walk straight off the ship and into paradise. Norwegian Gem, a fan favorite Jewel-class ship, will now sail from New York City for the winter 2018/19 season.

“Norwegian Breakaway will be the largest and newest ship from Norwegian to sail from New Orleans, and we are thrilled to bring our signature Breakaway-class ship to this important homeport,” said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.

With the overwhelming positive response to Norwegian Bliss’ deployment to the West Coast next year, Norwegian is providing guests another new departure port for guests to experience Norwegian’s signature cruise vacation. By repositioning the 145,655 gross ton Norwegian Breakaway to New Orleans, Norwegian is offering a more convenient departure port along with a newer and larger ship for cruisers sailing from the Crescent City to explore. The ship will undergo a two-week dry dock next spring, and will receive a full refresh in public spaces, including new flooring, updated furniture, new décor and new carpeting in staterooms. Norwegian Breakaway will arrive in her new homeport of New Orleans on 11 November 2018 and will sail a variety of cruises to the Caribbean through 7 April 2019.

The recently refurbished Norwegian Gem will remain in New York City and sail a series of cruises to the Caribbean, Canada & New England and the Bahamas & Florida. She will share her Manhattan homeport with Norwegian Escape, which will reposition for summer 2018 for the first time since she was christened in 2015, sailing from New York City to Bermuda on seven-day cruises every Sunday beginning 22 April 2018. Norwegian Escape features entertainment from the Tony-award winning After Midnight and critically-acclaimed For the Record: The Brat Pack, along with a bevy of food and beverage concepts.

Guests currently booked onboard Norwegian Gem from New Orleans will have their reservations protected and will be automatically moved to the new vessel and itinerary. Norwegian Breakaway’s new Caribbean itineraries from New Orleans will open for sale on 24 October.

(NCL)

Norwegian ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Escape’ ship  reviews.

Celebrity Edge To Target Conference Market

October 2, 2017

Celebrity Cruises aims to attract conferences and trade shows to its new design-led ship Celebrity Edge.

The latest feature to be unveiled on the vessel is a 1,970-square-foot venue called The Meeting Place.

Designed by Wilson Butler Architects, the space will include advanced audiovisual capabilities, varied seating options, private office space for event planners, mobile bars set up for food and drinks and a fully equipped pantry.

Sales, trade support and service senior vice president Dondra Ritzenthaler said: “Of course, the most advanced ship we’ve ever designed would include the most exciting venues for get-togethers, including The Meeting Place.

The Meeting Place (Courtesy Celebrity)

Previously unveiled venues on Celebrity Edge are also available for private events and meetings, including Eden which spans three decks; the cantilevered Magic Carpet on the side of the ship; the Rooftop Garden; and high-tech Destination Gateway. Each venue offers audio-visual capabilities.

Celebrity Edge is due to enter service in October 2018 with sailings on two seven-night itineraries to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Sister ship Celebrity Beyond will follow in spring 2020 with third and fourth Celebrity Edge class ships joining the fleet in late 2021 and 2022 respectively.

(Celebrity)

Celebrity Edge, more info. HERE

Portsmouth International Port Welcomes Viking

October 2, 2017

Viking Cruises made a maiden call at Portsmouth International Port on Friday 29th September 2017, when ‘Viking Star’ arrived at the UK south coast port.

Viking Star berthed after sailing overnight from Le Havre, part of a 15 night cruise. The cruise started in Viking Star’s home port of Bergen, Norway. After leaving Portsmouth the ship is heading to Falmouth, and then onto stops in Portugal and Spain.

Situated just off the English Channel, Portsmouth International Port is scheduled to welcome Viking Cruises again in 2018.

(Viking)

Southseas’s New Hovercraft

October 1, 2017

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Britain have always been at the forefront of Hovercraft design and manufacture. After all, we invented them!

Hovertravel’s cross-Solent service between Ryde (Isle of Wight, UK) and Southsea (near Portsmouth) is the longest running Hovercraft service in the world. It was established in 1965 and has ran ever since using a number of different models of hovercraft over the years. Hovertravel normally provide a two hovercraft service.

In 2016 Hovertravel introduced two new Hovercraft, the 12000TD craft ‘Solent Flyer’ and ‘Island Flyer’.

There were initially some concerns about the comfort and reliability of these new machines, compared to the previous models.

Malcolm

Q: Have you been on one of the new Hovertravel craft? What are they like?

Malcolm says: They can be noisy and bumpy, but it’s quite a thrill ride!

What Happened To The Giant Hovercraft?

October 1, 2017

Regular readers will know that I’m a big Hovercraft fan.

They were once considered machines of the future, but in the case of the giant car-carrying hovercraft, the SRN4, they are now machines of the past.

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Malcolm says: It seems that the majority of my readers have never been on a Hovercraft. That’s hardly surprising as there are not too many in public service around the world. They can be noisy and bumpy, but it’s quite a thrill ride!