Scarlet Lady Arrives at Dover, UK

February 22, 2020


21/02/20: Sir Richard Branson chose to launch his first Virgin Voyages ship in Dover, UK.

The Scarlet Lady is now moored at the Western Docks in the port, illuminated in sparkling lights as darkness falls.

Sir Richard, who woke up in Dover after an overnight stay on board his luxury vessel, took to Twitter to speak about how his dream became a reality.

He said: “I’ve wanted to launch a cruise line since I was in my 20s and I’m so excited that it’s finally happening with Virgin Voyages.

“When I woke up in one of the Rockstar Suites this morning, I really had to pinch myself.”

Sir Richard on-board the Scarlet lady at Dover today (Virgin/Twitter).


The White Cliffs of Dover

Dear Readers, I like to keep my blog non-political and today is no exception. Other blogs and other forms of media can carry all the political debate.

However it is a fact that Britain left the European Union at 11.00pm yesterday evening (31/01/20) after three years of political struggle. I am posting the image above simply because it impressed me!

Why you may well ask? Firstly I like the white cliffs of Dover, they remind me of cruises that I have taken from Dover (mainly Fred. Olsen ones).

When you return to Dover on your cruise ship, which is normally early morning in the summer months, the cliffs look very impressive, being illuminated by the sun rise.

Secondly I was impressed how they managed to project such a big image onto a cliff face. I guess that they used a boat and a very powerful data-projector.

Dover is only 26 miles from Calais, France, by sea. As well as a cruise terminal, Dover has a thriving Ferry port carrying cars, foot passengers and freight.

The cliffs of course have there own song, made famous by Dame Vera Lynn, poplar during world war Two: “(There’ll be bluebirds over) The white cliffs of Dover” (Click to hear song)

On the subject of Brexit, the UK passports will now become blue instead of a burgundy colour:


The QE2 Open’s Her Bridge To The Public

February 22, 2020

Daily Heritage Tours to The Bridge start from 20th February 2020

(Courtesy QE2Dubai)

Once reserved only for access by senior crew and VIP’s visiting the ship, the QE2’s Bridge will open for daily tours to the public on 20th February 2020 for the first time since launching in 1967. Passengers can take a tour of the iconic bridge which has been left almost intact since the QE2 retired from service as one of the world’s most famous ocean liners.

Get up close to the old maritime equipment that safely circumnavigated the QE2 around the world 25 times and through 812 transatlantic crossings. Stand at the helm where 25 of the QE2’s captains stood before. Find out what happened when a 40 foot wave engulfed the bow of the ship and discover where the crew would charter the waters before the modern technology of today’s maritime navigation overtook traditional map reading.

The Bridge Tour starts by taking you through notable areas of the main ship, then behind the scenes and up to the main bridge. Take a selfie from the bridge with the iconic skyline of Dubai in the distance, then follow your tour guide into the main bridge. Learn all about the main control features of the bridge suite then navigate the Captain’s day room, the Chart Room and the Flag Room, as well as the Chief Crew Captain’s offices where plans to avert a crisis would take place and where the captain would entertain the world’s most notable Passengers.

Bridge Tours are available daily at 10am, 12pm and 4pm.

(Mina Rashid, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Malcolm says: I’ve not been, but the owners seem to be doing a good job of running the QE2 as an hotel/attraction in Dubai.

Slide-show: QE2 Transatlantic crossing 2008 HERE

CMV Announces Fleet Parade and Rotterdam Regatta

February 21, 2020

We are very proud to today announce preliminary details of our first-ever special fleet parade and regatta event which will be held in Rotterdam on Saturday 28 August 2021.

The entire Cruise and Maritime Voyages seven ship fleet will join together for a special parade and regatta in Rotterdam on Saturday 28 August 2021. This is part of a unique maritime celebration of CMV’s traditional style of cruising, the introduction in 2021 of the latest classic ships to join the fleet Amy Johnson and Ida Pfeiffer, and to celebrate Cruise Port Rotterdam’s 25th Anniversary. CMV’s classic and traditional ships will sail in convoy in both directions, up and down the Maas River for twenty-eight nautical miles.

The iconic Marco Polo (22,080grt, 800 guests) has been chosen to spearhead the parade in recognition of being CMV’s first-ever deployed vessel and her illustrious maritime career spanning over half a century. Following in her wake will be CMV’s new flagship, Amy Johnson (70,285grt, 1,500 guests) followed by Magellan (46,052grt, 1,300 guests), Columbus (63,786grt, 1,400 guests), Astor (20,606grt, 570 guests) and sisterships, Vasco da Gama (55,877grt, 1,220 guests) and Ida Pfeiffer (55,819grt, 1,100 guests).

Chris Coates, CMV’s Group Commercial Director commented, “This unique maritime celebration and event will bring together over 8,000 cruise passengers onboard our fleet of seven cruise ships sailing from four British, two German and one French home port to Rotterdam, Europe’s largest commercial and growing cruise port. We were looking for a North European port with a rich maritime heritage and seafaring tradition, an impressive river transit to the heart of a city and the berths to support such an event. Rotterdam was the clear winner and we are delighted to be working with such a great team at Cruise Port Rotterdam.”

The CMV ships will be arriving in Rotterdam between 0900-1000hrs, stay in port all day and depart early evening between 1700-1800hrs. Complimentary shuttle buses will operate between the ships to transport local residents and tourists alike to view the ships and join in the fun and celebrations, with quayside folkloric events planned. Special celebratory events are also planned in the city of Rotterdam with complimentary shuttle buses available for the passengers.

Mai Elmar, Executive Director Cruise Port Rotterdam said, “Rotterdam is thrilled and honoured to receive all of CMV’s ships at once. We are so excited and cannot wait to see all of them in Admiral sailing on our river.


Below are my reviews of five of their current ships: Marco Polo, Columbus, Astor, Astoria and Magellan.

Marco Polo review: HERE


Columbus review: HERE


Magellan review: HERE


Astor review: HERE


Astoria review: HERE


Magellan review: HERE


(NOTE: I’m not a travel agent, I don’t sell cruises and I don’t get commission or perks from CMV or any other cruise line, for that matter.)


Iona: Too Big For The Fjords?

February 19, 2020


In just a few month’s time, P&O’s Cruises giant new ship Iona will be operating seven-day sailings from the U.K. to the Norwegian fjords, in her inaugural season.

The 180,000 gross tonne ship is due to commence operating the no-fly itinerary from its UK home port of Southampton, from May 2020.

Malcolm says:

I’ve heard that the Fjords were picked for her maiden itineraries, because the LNG fuel required to power this new breed of ship will NOT fully available in the Mediterranean, by mid-2020.  It is also not widely available in Norway, but I believe full LNG tanks at Southampton will last the whole 7 days, before being re-filled again at Southampton.

The Norwegian Fjords are very beautiful and can be easily reached from Southampton (UK) and cruised within 7 days. She offers seveal itineraries with slightly different ports of call. (See the P&O web site).

However Iona will be one of the BIGGEST ships in the world, with the BIGGEST passenger capacity in the world: 6,600 – all berths. She must be the BIGGEST ship to ever to visit the Fjords?

Is Iona really a suitable vessel for this intimate and largely un-spoilt destination?

Interestingly, Geiranger has a population of around 200 people and Olden 500 people. Imagine 6,600 P&O passengers arriving on-board Iona, each week!

I’d suggest that a ship 4-5 times smaller than Iona, in terms of gross tonnage, carrying less than a quarter of her  passengers, would be much more suitable for this itinerary.  Ships of the Fred Olsen and the CMV fleets, most of which are under 45,000 gt,  would better fit the bill.

From a sales point of view: Traditionally the Norwegian Fjords have generally appealed to the more mature passenger and NOT families. Now it’s hard to imagine that P&O can fill Iona (17x 7 day Fjord cruises) without attracting lots of families. That might be quite a challenge for her inaugural season, given the destination. Mind you the kudos of a big new ship will help a little. However I’ve already heard some P&O faithfuls say that Iona is just too big and the inaugural destination is not suitable.

What do you think? Am I wrong?


(In case you are wondering: I don’t get paid by cruise lines, I don’t sell cruises or get given free cruises, so I can say what other cruise blogs/web sites can’t!)


P&O’s Britannia meets CMV’s Marco Polo, in the Fjords (Courtesy of K.Bradbury )

Gary Barlow – P&O Brand Ambassador

February 18, 2020


Singer, songwriter, producer and performer…Gary Barlow’s many talents speak for themselves. And now, we’re delighted to announce he has taken on the exciting role of P&O Cruises brand ambassador. This pioneering partnership will fuse music with amazing travel experiences to deliver spine-tingling moments on board, with Gary’s debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on our new cruise ship, Iona.

(Images/text courtesy of P&O)

P&O’S Iona: Freedom Dining Only

February 16, 2020

Iona 02/20 (Courtesy P&O)

P&O Cruises giant new ship, ‘Iona’,  is due to commence operating from her UK home port of Southampton, in May 2020.

Iona will be around 180,000 gross tonnes and will carry up to 6,600 passenger.

However, many P&O faithfuls were shocked to here than Iona will offer ‘Freedom Dining’ only.

A P&O’s statement said:

“As part of a new approach to dining, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in all of its main restaurants, a first for P&O Cruises. The move is designed to give more flexibility to each and every guest. They can choose just where and with whom they want to eat, and when they will sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

The History Of Flexible Dining

Now, the Norwegian cruise Line (NCL) invented flexible dining and they call it  ‘Freestyle Dining’. They have been operating it on their whole fleet for over two decades.

Even on-board NCL’s largest new mega-ships, ‘Freestyle’ generally works pretty well. However Royal Caribbean International (RCI) ‘borrowed’ the idea for their then new ‘Quantum of the Seas’ ship (2014) and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’. The plan was to extend ‘Dynamic’ to all the Quantum class ships and retro-fit it to other ships in their fleet to accommodate the system, including the ‘Oasis’ class. However RCI’s customers just didn’t like it and RCI COULDN’T make it work for them.

Personally I think ‘Dynamic Dining’ made the RCI experience feel too much like NCL one, with multiple dining rooms rather than one big/impressive main restaurant. RCI lost their identity. After all if RCI customers wanted to cruise NCL, they would.  RCI have since dropped the ‘Dynamic Dining’ concept completely.

I hope that P&O do better with their roll-out of ‘Freedom Dining’ on-board Iona.

More About Iona’s Dining

P&O announced: “The clean lines of the design will offer incredible views through the three storey high glass walls of the Grand Atrium and will also be open for quick and convenient breakfasts,” 

There is also a new “foodie market” as The Quays piazza will be home to a wide range of self-service and “takeaway” venues, with a lively atmosphere for sociable dining. 

P&O said the ship will offer 30 food and beverage venues. 

Other highlights include the The Glass House with small plates, charcuterie and cheese as well as around 40 wines by the glass chosen by wine expert Olly Smith; the British-Med specialities in Epicurean; contemporary fine dining Indian in Sindhu and the best of British in Brodie’s among a long list of restaurants, self-service choices, cafes and bars.

P&O Past and Present

Before being owned by Carnival, P&O used to be a very traditional line, which included the dining: Their ships had one main dining room and two fixed seating times at around 6.00 and 8:00pm.

However a ‘Freestyle’ system fits in better with the modern attitudes to life – many passengers (especially the younger generation) now find the fixed dining times just too regimented. The dress codes on just about all ships/lines are also being softened.

It is also worth bearing in mind that ‘Iona’ is a Carnival ship that other the Carnival brands: AIDA, Costa and Carnival are also taking delivery of them. The design of the dining rooms/dining system was probably NOT up to P&O at all – the design had to satisfy all four brands.

Iona will have FOUR main dining rooms and many alternatives.

I think it is increasingly difficult to have one big main restaurant on a ships carrying up to 6,600 passengers. Having said that, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class manages to achieve this. Their ‘Oasis’ class ships carry 5,000+ passengers and still have one main dining room and two sittings, plus some more flexible alternatives.

Personally I love to see a ship with one big/main opulent dining room with a double or triple height ceiling. Many Royal Caribbean ships and Cunard’s ‘Queen Mary 2’ have excellent examples.

‘Allure of the Seas’ Dining Room (RCI Image)

In conclusion

The ‘old’ P&O cruise line which once attracted the more mature ‘socks & sandal’ brigade has rapidly evolved.

P&O are morphing into another mass-market line. They now have some of the worlds biggest ships such Britannia and Iona. They need to attract younger passengers, including families, to fill such big ships.

Traditions will be abolished to achieve this, whether the die-hard fans like it or not. Let’s hope that P&O do not “throw the baby out with the bath water”.

I do wonder how different the Iona experience will really be, from an RCI or NCL one?


Q: Will you miss the tradition of fixed dining time and one main restaurant? Or is ‘freedom Dining’ the way forward?

P&O Iona Floats Out

February 15, 2020

(Courtesy Meyer Werft/P&O)

P&O’s new flagship ‘Iona’ has left the building at the Meyer Werft shipyard Germany, floating out on Friday 14/02/20.

This marks another construction milestone for the LNG-powered vessel.

Iona will remain in the shipyard for final hotel outfitting until the transfer from the River Ems, which is expected to take place at the end of March.


(Courtesy Meyer Werft/P&O)

The ship joins the P&O fleet this summer as the British brand’s flagship, and will be the largest ship in the company’s fleet at 5,200 guests and 183,900 tons.

A sister ship follows in 2022.

(Courtesy Meyer Werft/P&O)


Scarlet Lady Delivered

February 14, 2020

(Courtesy Virgin)

The Scarlet Lady, the first of four ships for Virgin Voyages, was presented today for delivery at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Genoa Sestri Ponente.

The new ship is 110,000 tons, 278 meters long and 38 meters wide. A second ship, the Valiant Lady, follows in 2021 while more sister ships come in 2022 and 2023.

The ships all feature over 1,400 guest cabins designed to host more than 2,770 passengers, accompanied by 1,160 crew members onboard to deliver Virgin service.

(Virgin Voyages)

Celebrity Apex Completes First Sea Trials

February 13, 2020

(Courtesy Celebrity)

The Celebrity Apex has undertaken her first sea trails.

She is now back at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France, following her first set of sea trials.

The trial, conducted between February 4 – 8, 2020, near the shipyard, was overseen by more than 50 crew aboard, including engineers and nautical experts.

The ship was able to sail through challenging conditions, including strong winds.

The Celebrity Apex will begin its inaugural season on April 1, 2020.

(Celebrity Cruises)

Emerald Azzurra Superyacht

February 12, 2020

(Courtesy Emerald Waterways)

In the same way that Viking River Cruises expanded their fleet to include ocean vessels,  Emerald Waterways, the River boat company, has announced a new 100-guest super ocean yacht called the Emerald Azzurra.

Emerald Azzurra’s delivery is set for 2021.

(Images courtesy of Scenic)

Amy Johnson’s Maiden Voyage

February 10, 2020


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. Fares are available from £3399pp, on sale 6 February 2020.

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. CMV passengers and our trade industry partners will welcome the similar style on board to Columbus and Vasco da Gama. Amy Johnson’s maiden voyage will be an epic adventure in the spirit of her pioneering namesake.”

Inaugural guests will fly from London overnight to join the ship in Singapore. The Maiden Voyage includes ports in Malaysia, then to India, visiting Egypt and a chance to see Luxor and Jordan. From the Suez Canal, there is the opportunity to explore Cairo followed by other interesting and ancient sites in Greece and Italy. The South of France, Southern Spain plus Portugal’s Lisbon and Oporto are towards the end of this amazing journey with La Coruna and Amsterdam the final calls on the way to London Tilbury.

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 from £2239pp.

(Cruise & Maritime Voyages)

What Is The Fastest Ship?

February 8, 2020

I was wondering what the fastest ship is (or was).

However, my first hurdle is to actually define what a ‘Ship’ is.

When I say “ship”, I mean “passenger vessel”. Now I don’t doubt that there are some super-charged speed-boats out there, but my criteria is a larger vessel that regularly carries paying passengers.

(SS United States Today - source unknown)

(SS United States Today – source unknown)

Ocean Liner fans will know of the SS United States, built in 1952 for the United States Line. She broke the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage. She still holds the Blue Riband for being the fastest ocean liner of all time. They say she could achieve 38 knots. (The SS United States was laid-up in 1996 and her fate still remains uncertain).

Given the fact that she was a very big Ocean liner carrying 2,000+ passengers, that is a VERY impressive and unparalleled achievement.

The Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner must certainly be one of today’s fastest cruise ships. She can achieve 30 knots, which is faster than most.

(Courtesy Incat)

(Courtesy Incat)

My research tells me that Fast-Ferries (SeaCats etc.) hold the maritime speed records today.

The fastest ferry in commercial service on the planet was Incat’s ‘Francisco’ (2012). She operates on the Rio de la Plata estuary (River Plate) between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

The 99-metre long ‘Wave Piercing Catamaran’ accommodates 1024 passengers and 150 cars. Her water-jet engines can achieve a maximum speed of up to 58.1 knots, or 67 mph.

Interestingly she can be powered by duel fuel, one being LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which looks set to also be the future choice of cruise ships.


The SRN4 Hovercraft

Hovercraft, such as the mighty car-carrying SRN4 was very fast, compared to conventional ferries. However are they a even “ship” ? After all they effectively “fly” across the water and land.

The SRN4 could accommodate 400+ passengers and 60 cars at a cruising speed 60 knots, but capable of 83 knots, dependant on payload.

The various fast-ferries, including some Hovercraft around the world, are all very impressive. However their service normally has to be suspended when the seas get rough. Condor currently operate fast-ferries up to a 3.5 meter wave height.  After this they become very uncomfortable for passengers.  In contrast the Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner is designed to cross the North Atlantic, in the winter, whatever the weather.

I still think that the SS United States 38 knots is probably the most impressive achievement of the lot!


On-board Art Collections

February 7, 2020

Modern cruise ships often have extensive on-board art collections, worth millions of dollars.

MSC’s new ‘Grandiosa’ mega-ship is a very good example.

To begin with, the 13 pubic decks are each named after a famous artist: 5 Caravaggio, 6 Leonardo da Vinci, 7 Michelangelo, 8 Monet, 9 Van Gogh, 10 Mirò, 11 Dalì, 12 Raffaello, 13 Goya, 14 Magritte, 15 Cezanne, 16 Velàzquez, 18 Gauguin and 19 Degas.



The ship is full of art. Some are reproduction pieces and some are original pieces. In the case of Dali (deck 11) the art is  ‘in the style-of’ featuring dripping clocks and MSC cruise ships, lining the corridors and public rooms.

However, the ‘Atelier Bistrot’, the French alternative restaurant on-board, has the ‘Art Wall’. This is a collection of 26 original drawings from the French master, Degas. These are his of his favourite theme of ballet dancers.

Please take a look at the video below:

See my Grandiosa review: HERE

Q: Have you been on a ship with impressive art?

MSC’s Newbuilds

February 6, 2020

Just in case anybody doubts MSC’s massive expansion of thier fleet over the next few years:

(courtesy CIN/MSC)

Titanic II Update Feb. 2020

February 4, 2020

(Titanic followed by Oasis)

The Titanic II project is NOT dead.

Here are my recent communications with Deltmarin, the Swedish Navel Architects designing the actual ship.

I discussed the progress of the Titanic II project with them:

Malcolm: (December 2019) So it’s the end of Q4. Have you finished the design of Titanic II as expected?

Deltamarin: Design work is still going on and will also continue after the shipbuilding contract. We are still in the stage where we are finalizing the conceptual design.

Malcolm: (January 2020) Hi Deltamarin, does these mean that the project is behind schedule?

Deltamarin: This project is like any other passenger vessel projects typically are.  The conceptual design phase often continues longer than possibly expected because new ideas, all different features and possible technical solutions are considered at this particular stage.


See my dedicated Titanic II blog – HERE

25th Anniversary of the American Queen

February 2, 2020

The American Queen, the largest steamboat paddlewheeler in the world and the American Queen Steamboat company’s flagship, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020.

During Wave season, guests can save up to $2,500 per stateroom ($1,250 per person) on select 2020 voyages.

In 2018, I was lucky enough to take a cruise on the American Queen. It was very different from the norm.

If fact the vessel itself was very different, a real paddle-wheeled steamboat, as was the waterway, the Mississippi.

Below is my review.

So how did the experience differ from an ocean cruise and a European river cruise, read on?

Extensive review: HERE


Celebrity Cruises cut steel on 3rd Edge-class ship

February 1, 2020

(Image courtesy of Celebrity)

Celebrity Cruises has cut steel on and named the third Edge-class ship the as steel was cut at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

“Celebrity Beyond is the perfect natural next-step in the Edge Series,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The Edge Series is all about innovation and pushing beyond boundaries and convention, and Celebrity Beyond will continue this legacy.”

With the second-in-class Celebrity Apex set to arrive in Southampton in April 2020, the brand expects delivery of Celebrity Beyond in fall 2021.

(Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity review: HERE

Carnival: The Biggest Ship They Never Built

January 29, 2020

Pinnacle (Fincantieri rendering)

In 2004, the Carnival Corporation launched a development program called the ‘Pinnacle Project’.

The project was shrouded in secrecy, however it is said that the aim was to design the world’s biggest cruise ship at the time.

They say project Pinnacle was to be about 200,000+ gross tonnes, carrying some 6,000+ passengers.

Read full article HERE


Carnival’s Giant LNG Ships Compared

January 27, 2020

Although the four Carnival cruise brands (Carnival, AIDA, COSTA and P&O) will get the same basic design of ship, they will be adapted a little for each brand.

For example, the bows are different. Carnival and P&O appear to have similar bows to each other (below: top two images ), as  Costa and Aida’s versions are similar to each other (below: bottom two images). 

Image1Another example is that the P&O and Costa’s  sterns are different. The Carnival stern looks similar to the P&O one, the Costa similar to the AIDA one.


Top left, clockwise: Carnival Mardi Gras, P&O’s Iona, AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda

At the time of writing I do not have the full deck plans or details of the public room yet, for this class of ship, so here are my speculations:

It appears from the renderings that the Carnival and Costa versions will NOT have  a ‘SkyDome’* as the P&O version will. The Costa version has a large open-air glass canopy behind the funnel. The AIDA appears to have a glass-house at the stern, for want of an official name.

SkyDome, Iona (Courtesy P&O)

These differences are because the Carnival and Costa versions of the ship are designed to operate in the warmer Mediterranean climates.  Ships designated for cruises from the U.K. (P&O) and Germany (AIDA) will need a large space protected by a roof (the Dome or ‘glass-house’) for inclement weather that that part of Europe can experience.

It appears from the renderings that the Carnival and Costa versions will NOT have  a ‘SkyDome’* as the P&O version will. The Costa version has a large open-air glass canopy behind the funnel. The AIDA appears to have a glass-house at the stern, for want of an official name.

Early deck plans show that the Costa and AIDA designs have a circular space amidships spanning a number decks 6, 7 and 8, reminiscent of AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’  – a combined atrium and entertainment space featured on their previous ships.  On-board Costa Smeralda it is called ‘Closseo’.


Above: Costa Smeralda (Courtesy Costa)


Above: Theatrium (Courtesy AIDA)

Early deck plans show that the Costa and AIDA designs have a circular space amidships spanning a number decks 6, 7 and 8, reminiscent of AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’  – a combined atrium and entertainment space featured on their previous ships.  On-board Costa Smeralda it is called ‘Closseo’.


Above: Iona’s Grand Atrium (Courtesy of P&O)

P&O’s Grand Atrim and ‘SkyDome’ sounds like a variation of AIDA’s Theatrium and Costa’s Closseo (all being circular) with a dome on top.

Above: Iona, with her ‘SkyDome’ (Courtesy P&O)

The Costa and AIDA sterns features a low extended deck area, reminiscent of MSC’s ‘Seaside’ ships. Seven decks rise from the stern offering prime real-estate: many aft facing balcony cabins. The two rows of windows below the stern deck (5 and 6) are to restaurants sitting on top of each other. There is also a third restaurant sitting on the stern promenade deck (7).

The P&O design  (and maybe the Carnival) appear to have have their stern-promenade located a deck higher. P&O have said that there are four main dining restaurants: Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal.  Maybe three are stacked on top of each other below the stern promenade and one is located o the stern promenade. (just a guess!)

Looking at the Costa renderings: Leading from the aft deck area, are some steps to a raised promenade deck which runs along 80% of the side of the ship. This prom deck is above the lifeboats and obviously solely for public use and not for lifeboat boarding. It does not appear to wrap around the bow, unless it has an internal tunnel. The rendering is not specific, but this could feature some bars and restaurants like NCL’s ‘Waterfront’. (“A much wider, half-mile promenade deck allowing for al-fresco dining.” was recently reported by P&O) 

The P&O model and Carnival renderings do NOT appear to show ‘steps’ on the promenade. They show an uninterrupted one level prom. P&O call it the ‘Lanai’ deck.


Costa Smeralda Above: (Courtesy of Costa – click to enlarge)

This ship design of these ships is NOT the biggest in the world, that is RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class at around 35-40,000 gt bigger, but they will have the biggest passenger capacity in the world at an all-berth figure of 6,600.


Slide show: HERE

*(A brand new entertainment done will be the SkyDome and guests can expect it to be one of Iona’s star attractions.  The roof will be one of the most impressive features along with a pool with a retractable stage, offering a unique space whatever the weather and the time of day.  During the day, SkyDome is the ideal place for relaxation and informal dining with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and poolside features, and shaded seating areas.  But by night, it comes alive with aerial performances, immersive shows and deck parties and above it all, it is a glazed dome roof designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, the team behind glass masterpieces such as Bulgari’s flagship New York boutique.) P&O

What is LNG? See: HERE

Introducting: Amy and Ida

January 25, 2020

We are delighted to reveal the names of our two new ships. On 28 November 2019, we announced that CMV will take delivery of two ships from P&O Australia in Singapore next year.

As a tribute and celebration of the intrepid and courageous exploits and journeys of past female explorers and adventurers, CMV decided to recognise their truly remarkable achievements by naming their two new ships after them.

For Pacific Dawn, which will take over from Columbus as CMV’s new flagship, we selected five great names and invited Columbus Club members and followers on social media, to make their favoured choice from the list below.

  1. Gertrude Bell
  2. Isabella Bird
  3. Amy Johnson
  4. Mary Kingsley
  5. Lady Hester Stanhope

And the winning name with 41%of the total vote is Amy Johnson. 

Amy Johnson (1903-1941) was a pioneering English pilot who was the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia. In 1931, aged just 27, Johnson set off from Croydon, Surrey to Darwin, Northern Territory. She went on to set many records including; the first woman to fly from London to Moscow in one day, setting record flying times from Britain to Japan and Cape Town and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club. During WWII, Johnson joined the Air Transport Auxillary (ATA).

Amy Johnson

Pacific Aria which will sail under the TransOcean Kreuzfahrten brand on the German market will be renamed, Ida Pfeiffer.

Ida Pfeiffer (1797-1858) was an Austrian explorer, travel writer, and ethnographer. Aged 45, Pfeiffer set off on her own to the Holy Land with the aim of completing a pilgrimage. Future trips were funded through her writings.  She set off on ‘A Lady’s Voyage Round the World’ in 1846 travelling to South America, China, the South Sea Islands, India, Persia, Russia, Turkey, Greece and Italy. The first journey, and its book, was such a success Pfeiffer undertook ‘A Lady’s Second Journey Round the World’ in 1851 returning in 1855.

Ida Pfeiffer

At 70,285grt, with 798 passenger cabins and carrying about 1400 passengers, Amy Johnson will be deployed on the UK market in late May 2021 bolstering much needed capacity and cruising year-round alongside Columbus ex-London Tilbury.

Ida Pfeiffer at 55,819grt, with 630 passenger cabins and carrying about 1100 passengers will be deployed on the German market under the TransOcean Kreuzfahrten brand with a much-needed increase in capacity cruising alongside Vasco da Gama and replacing the 580 passenger Astor. She is being re-named Jules Verne and will be re-deployed to the French market in May 2021.

Christian Verhounig, CEO commented, “We are delighted with the chosen names and the opportunity to recognise two outstanding female adventurers and pioneers. Most of all, we are pleased to confirm that Amy Johnson will take over from Columbus as the fleet’s new flagship.”

The 2021 summer programs will go on sale next month with special 2021 launch edition brochures being released offering some enticing early booking incentives and great new opportunities.


Slide shows: Amy’s Interiors, Ida’s Interiors

Malcolm says: Well I’m a Columbus Club member and they did not ask me!  I like the name Amy Johnson, but how strange to pick an aviator as the name for a ship. Mind you she crashed in Thames Estuary, the river where the ship bearing her name will be based! (Sorry, tasteless, I know, but I could not resist.)  I’ve never heard of Ida Pfeiffer, but I have now.

Farewell Astoria

Astoria a Azores, Liverpool

With two new larger ships joining the CMV fleet in 2021, we have taken the difficult decision not to renew the charter contract for Astoria. Sadly, Astoria will be leaving the CMV fleet and 2020 will be her Farewell Season.

The 550 passenger Azores (renamed 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 has continued for five years.

Astoria’s Farewell Season includes four cruises from Poole in March and April plus three sailings from Hull in September and October. Limited space is available for the last chance to sail with CMV on board this truly classic cruise liner.

Malcolm says: The  sad loss of a charming little ‘real’ ship. I suppose us Brits have been lucky – for about a decade we have had the choice of some big new ships and some smaller classic ships, with reasonable fares. However those smaller ship are slowly being replaced with second-hand ship, which are progressiveness bigger.  Read my Astoria ship review: HERE

Edwin (contributor) says:  The ending of CMV’s charter of Astoria is something of a disappointment. They now have only one vessel that can sail from Hull. Whereas before they had two. Thus reducing the number of sailings from North Eastern side of England which, for us, is a shame.  I know the move to larger ships is inevitable, as there are no smaller ones around and if there are they are now of an age, but think we will loose something when we can no longer cruise on smaller vessels of say 20,000grt.

Real Ships (7): P&O’s Aurora

January 23, 2020


2009: P&O’s Aurora at Southampton’s then new ‘Ocean Terminal’.

O.K. MV Aurora is a bigger than my ‘real ships’ definition. In fact when she entered the P&O fleet,  she was a mega-ship, but not now.

It can be argues that she is the last P&O ship, now Oriana has left the fleet. Aurora was specifically designed and built for P&O. She’s a one-of. She’s not a Carnival (Princess) clone like all the P&O ships since.

Aurora was built by Meyer Werft at their shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At over 76,000 tonnes, Aurora is the smallest and oldest of six ships currently in service with P&O Cruises. She officially entered service with the company in April 2000 and was named by Anne, Princess Royal in Southampton.  Her gross tonnage is 76,152 and she can accommodate up to 1,878 passengers.

Aurora was designed to appeal to the British market, and was built as an extended and improved version of P&O Cruises’ Oriana. The ship’s hull and superstructure were designed to be attractive to this market with features similar to more traditional ocean liners, such as her raked, tiered stern.


Q: have you cruised on her? Any good?

So What’s MSC’s Grandiosa Like?

January 22, 2020

City Cruise Terminal, Southampton Nov. 2019

Dear Readers,

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

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

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.

I had not been on a big ship for three years,  as more recently, 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?

See my Grandiosa review: HERE

MSC: Now a Third & Fourth World Class Ship

January 21, 2020



MSC’s World Class (Courtesy MSC)

Paris, France, 20 January 2020 – Today MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique further extended their long-term partnership by making a number of strategic announcements at a ceremony held at the Matignon Palace, the French Prime Minister’s the official residence.

First, the two companies announced the signing of firm contracts for the construction of MSC Cruises’ third and fourth LNG-powered MSC World Class ships, to be delivered in 2025 and 2027. The first of the initial two ships in the class is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and is due to enter service in 2022. With 205,000 GT, she will become the biggest vessel operated by a European cruise line as well as the first LNG-powered cruise ship built in France. Compared to standard marine fuel, LNG decreases sulphur emissions and particulate matter by 99%, NOx emissions by 85%, and CO2 emissions by 20%.

Today MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique also extended their partnership over the next decade with two additional projects. First, the companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of yet another new prototype class of LNG-powered cruise ships to operate under the MSC Cruises brand. For this project, MSC Cruises, the shipyard and other partners will focus on developing emerging environmental technologies in line with IMO’s vision for 2030 and 2050. The four vessels in this new class would represent a capital investment exceeding EUR 4 billion and an extra 30 million working hours for the yard, the suppliers and subcontractors involved in the project.

A second MoU sees MSC Cruises partnering with Chantiers de l’Atlantique in the development of yet another innovative prototype ship class concept with which they will explore opportunities that wind power and other advanced technologies could bring to passenger shipping.

The three agreements signed today represent an investment in excess of EUR 6.5 billion in the French economy.


Malcolm says: So hang on, that’s two more world class ships, then four of another new class, then another new prototype. Is that seven more ships in total? MSC are clearly for gunning for RCI and Carnival. I wonder if their new classes will supersede 205,000gt?

MSC World Class Get Wartsila Engines

January 20, 2020

Wartsila will supply Chantiers de l‘Atlantique comprehensive package of integrated solutions designed for the first two MSC World class cruise ships, which will operate on LNG fuel.

These will be the first two cruise ships to run on LNG with Wartsila 46DF engines, and with Wartsila LNGPac systems.

Each ship will get five 14-cylinder Wartsila 46DF dual-fuel engines fitted with nitrogen oxide reduction (NOR) units, two Wartsila LNGPac fuel storage and supply systems, seven Wartsila thrusters, and two Wartsila fixed pitch propellers.


Introducing: Silver Origin

January 19, 2020

(Image courtesy of ahoogesteger )

The first destination specific ship built by Silversea, the Silver Origin took to the water for the first-time at Shipyard De Hoop in late December. The 100-guest ship will begin her Galapagos operation on July 18, 2020.

Guests traveling on the Silver Origin will enjoy the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the Galapagos.


(Image courtesy of ahoogesteger )

Part of the ship’s crew, a team of expedition experts will lead the shore experiences for guests. In addition to guided Zodiac excursions, hikes, and nature walks ashore, these professionals will offer onboard lectures, discussions and recaps in Silver Origin’s innovative Basecamp.


(Image courtesy of ahoogesteger )

(Text Silversea. Excellent images by Ahoogesteger)


Gary Barlow To Perform On-board Iona

January 16, 2020

(Courtesy P&O)

Singer, songwriter, producer and performer…Gary Barlow’s many talents speak for themselves. And now, we’re delighted to announce he has taken on the exciting role of P&O Cruises brand ambassador. This pioneering partnership will fuse music with amazing travel experiences to deliver spine-tingling moments on board, with Gary’s debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on Iona.

Meet our new brand ambassador Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters and record producers. As part of pop group Take That, he has won eight BRIT Awards and sold over 45 million records. Aside from his achievements with Take That, he has also co-written and produced music for other renowned artists, including Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams.

Gary’s last solo record Since I Saw You Last sold more than 600,000 copies and was the ninth biggest-selling album that year. In more recent years, Gary has also turned his attention to the world of theatre, composing the score for the hugely successful production Finding Neverland, working alongside screenwriter Tim Firth to write the music and lyrics for musical The Girls and also working alongside his Take That bandmates to produce The Band, a record-breaking musical featuring the music of Take That.

Curated and crafted by Gary Barlow on Iona

As musical director of The 710 Club, Gary is set to make Iona’s intimate music bar the most exciting live music venue at sea. Showcasing an eclectic range of performances, curated to appeal to British music lovers, this atmospheric late-night music venue will offer an opportunity for up-and-coming musicians to get their break. This collaboration highlights our commitment to providing world-class entertainment on Iona that places music firmly at its heart.

(Courtesy P&O)

“It’s all about the music”

A place to immerse yourself in the seductive sounds of an array of musical genres that have inspired Gary over the years, The 710 Club is a sophisticated bar that is being crafted to Gary’s creative vision.

Atmospheric and low-lit, the club will serve up live music with an unmistakably vintage vibe, stylish cocktails and the most important ingredient of all; a little escapism, to ensure the good times continue long into the night.

Gary is bringing his vision and personality to The 710 Club, exclusively on Iona

Exclusively for adults, its stage will light up to the sounds of its talented resident band; a group guided by Gary. Yet his involvement runs far deeper; to choosing music for the club, guiding future performers and playlists and even shaping the interiors and signature cocktails.

Having performed at countless pubs and clubs at the start of his career, Gary loves to see up-and-coming talent catch that all-important break and this is exactly what The 710 Club is all about. The club will showcase a new guest performer every month, giving new talent the chance to shine, while the resident band will weave their own spell with numbers inspired by Gary’s life, loves and musical style, creating atmospheric sets that have been crafted for the true music lover.

(Courtesy P&O)

Slide show: HERE

Performances On-board

Gary Barlow will sail twice on new ship Iona this year as well as perform at the naming ceremony in July. Gary will also perform on a Norwegian fjords sailing on August 29th and a Spain and Portugal sailing on October 31st 2020.


Introducing: Viking Expeditions

January 16, 2020


Viking has announced their expansion into expedition voyages.

Viking Expeditions will begin sailing in January 2022 with its first vessel, the Viking Octantis, offering voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

A second expedition vessel, the Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. Viking’s arrival to the Great Lakes will bring the newest and most modern vessels ever to explore this region of North America.

The ships will be built by VARD with a capacity of 378 guests each.

“Explore Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Great Lakes on our new purpose-built expedition ships. Learn about your destination from our Viking Resident Scientists and enrichment program, developed with Cambridge University and other leading academic institutions, and explore by sea and onshore with our fleet of expedition equipment.”


Malcolm says: Expedition cruising continues to be a cruise growth area and Viking have an excellent reputation on rivers and the ocean. I was interested in their expedition product for a nano-second, until I saw the fares! Take a look for yourselves. Q: Has anybody reading done a Expedition cruise? How was it?

See Viking’s website: HERE

Britain’s Maritime Heritage (3): SS Great Britain

January 15, 2020

Over the years, I have had several excellent weekends in Bristol, UK.

Bristol has been an important seaport for more than a thousand years.  The term “ship-shape and Bristol Fashion” is said to have originated from Bristol and refers to their ability to build strong ships, that can sit on Bristol’s Avon river bed, when the tide goes out, without sustaining damage.

One of the highlights is visiting the ‘SS Great Britain’, now a museum ship.

The SS Great Britain is a former passenger steamship, which was very advanced for her time. She was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship.

She was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the time of 14 days. Her four decks provided accommodation for a crew of 120, and 360 passengers who were provided with cabins and dining and promenade saloons.

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position. In 1884 the SS Great Britain was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, the vessel was towed back to the UK, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, she is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour.


Web site: HERE 

2020: Southampton’s Battle of The Megaships

January 13, 2020

Bad news for small shop lovers:  Southampton, U.K. will be a battleground for three new mega-ships spring/summer, 2020.

The biggest will be P&O’s new Iona at  around180,000 gross tonnes. She’s not the world’s biggest cruise ship, but her passenger capacity is, at a maximum of 6,600.

(Courtesy P&O)

A counter attack comes form Royal Caribbean. Their 2020 programme will see the return of Quantum-Class ship ‘Anthem of the Seas’ cruising itineraries from Southampton. Anthem is a mere 168,000 gross tonnes and carries up to 4,905 passengers.

Anthem of the Seas (Courtesy RCI)

RCI are also sending reinforcements in the form of another big new ship, form their premium brand, Celebrity, to Southampton in 2020.

Celebrity‘s second Edge-class ship, ‘Celebrity Apex’ will in fact be named in Southampton in April 2020. She will be a almost modest 129,500 gross tonnes (for a mega-ship) and carry 2,918 passengers (lower berths).

Celebrity Apex (Courtesy Celebrity)

President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: “When Celebrity Apex launches in Southampton in April 2020, it will be another incredible moment for our company and the UK market, especially as it will be 10 years since we last named and operated a brand new ship from the UK (with Celebrity Eclipse in 2010).”

This will make it the very first time Celebrity will operate two ships from the UK’s largest port, with ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ returning to Southampton for her third consecutive year.

QM2 (Courtesy Cunard)

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (QM2) has been home-porting at Southampton since 2004. At 149,00 gross tonnes, she was very briefly the worlds biggest cruise ships and is of course still the worlds biggest ocean liner. Yet she carries a respectable 2,695 passengers.

In 2020 the QM2 will sail World Voyage, departing from Southampton. The iconic flagship will take guests to explore the wonders of the Orient, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. The itinerary is 99 nights, visiting 28 countries.

I also note that in the Spring/Summer/Autumn of 2020 Princess cruises 113,000 gt ‘Crown Princess’ will be operating from Southampton.  Virgin Voyages first new ship, ‘Scarlet Lady’ will be operating in the Caribbean in 2020.

Cunard are also preparing fans for the launch of their fourth ship set to join the fleet in 2022! It will be the first time since 1998 that the luxury cruise brand will have four ships in simultaneous service.

Q: Are you booked on one of these megaships?

So Which of The Above Ships/Lines Are Best?

Regular cruisers will know that there is no ‘best’. The different lines aim their products/ships at different markets (people).

Royal Caribbean offer an American product and are particularly good at serving multi-generational families. There ships (all big to very big) have some impressive sports facilities and entertainment, dare I even say ‘gimmicks’. The ‘Quantum’ class has  a lot of hi-tech on-board and the ‘North Star’ observation pod and ‘I-Fly’ a free-fall experience,  for example. Please see my review of ‘Anthem of The Seas’.

Cunard offer an Anglo/American an experience steeped in years of tradition, on ships with Ocean Liner décor and ambience. Passengers almost feel like ‘royalty’ on-board with some high levels of food and service, depending on which cabin grade you book. Cunard do accept children, but it is not their strong point. Please see my Queen Mary 2 review or Queen Victoria review.

Celebrity offer a premium America experience on ship with contemporary décor. Everyone agrees that Celebrities food is some of the best on board big ships. Once again, Celebrity do accept children, but it is not their strong point. (That’s what RCI are for).

P&O’s Iona is a bit of an unknown quantity, being a new class of ship and their biggest yet. She will probably sit in the  mid-ground between the other ships mentioned.

P&O do have a very LOYAL following, but I’m not sure why. I don’t find their product to be bad, but I don’t find them to be great either. They offer a British experience, so sterling is the on-board currency, yet Iona is an American designed ship. However the décor will be tailored for Brits.  There bar prices are reasonable which is a bit attraction for many and the new ‘no tipping’ policy will be appreciated.

Iona is a very big ship (one of the world’s biggest) and will have the worlds highest passenger capacity, if all berths are sold. If she does not feel crowded, she will DEFINITELY feel very busy.  She is unlikely to offer the ‘class’ and ‘standards’ of food that Cunard and Celebrity do. She will offer ‘Freedom Dining’ (flexible) only.  The concept of two fixed sittings and one main dining room is slowly vanishing.

I assume that P&O will have to appeal to families in order to fill such a big ship, but she will not have all the family orientated facilities that RCI ships do.

In conclusion,  opinions about the best ships/best cruise lines are all very subjective. I’m sure that all these big new ships will offer a very good cruise experience, but some will be better than others, depending who you are and what you want.

It is worth noting that such big ships can be restricted to which ports they visit. Also tendering (using small boats to go ashore when no suitable dock is available) may not be possible, especially for Iona. These ships are all likely to have a premium fares as big/new ships normally do.

However if you want a ‘good deal’ and/or some ‘solace’, you are best to look at smaller/older ships in my opinion. These can offer you a more personal and refined experience, rather than a floating-resort type one.


25 New Ships For 2020

January 11, 2020

Saga – 58,250 gt, 1,000 passengers

Order Book

The new decade starts with a record cruise orderbook for new ships, 116, compared to previous decades’.

For the new decade, the industry is preparing for its largest 10-year fleet and passenger capacity growth.

25 New Ships

Twenty-five new cruise ships will enter service in 2020, representing over 38,000 new berths entering the global cruise market, according to the Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

The smallest of the new vessels is the 120-guest Coral Geographer, built for expedition itineraries in Australia, while the largest vessels are the 5,200-guest Carnival Mardi Gras and P&O’s Iona, bothy which will run on clean-burning LNG. The former will be sailing Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, the latter various itineraries from Southampton, U.K.

New Brands

While 2020 will see a record number of new ships entering, two new brands will steal the show as Virgin Voyages is set to introduce the Scarlet Lady to the world early in the year and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will follow with an ultra-luxury product aboard the 298-guest Evrima.

Virgin – 110,000 gt, 2,770 passengers

Expedition ships

Ten expedition ships are scheduled to enter operation in 2020.

Hurtigruten – 20,000 Tons, 530 Guests

The 530-guest Fridtjof Nansen has already been delivered to Hurtigruten, ahead of schedule, but won’t start offering cruises until March. Ponant will take delivery of two 180-guest newbuilds, while Lindblad Expeditions will introduce the National Geographic Endurance in April.

(Courtesy of Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: P&O’s Iona is the most significant ship to enter service this year for the British market. Iona will be the UK’s biggest ship at 183,900 Tons and carring 5,200 Guests.

Q: Will you be cruising on any new ships this year?

Titanic Hotels

January 9, 2020

There are at least four Titanic Hotels and a Spa, in the UK, that I know of, maybe more?

Several of them have no historical connection with the RMS Titanic at all, apart from the name. However three do.

The Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is probably my favourite one.

It was the former Harland & Wolff drawing office, the builders of the ill fated Titanic. Therefore it has the authenticity to bear the great ships name. It is opposite the slipway where the Titanic was built.

Unfortunately my experience of the Hotel, was far from prefect.

Belfast Titanic hotel review is HERE


The Hotel in Liverpool know as “30 James Street” also has some authenticity. It  was the former offices of the ‘White Star Line’ (owners of the Titanic).

30 James Street, Liverpool

Likewise my experience when staying was not as great as I had hoped.

Liverpool Titanic hotel review is HERE


The White Swan Hotel is a hotel in the middle of the historic market town of Alnwick, Northumberland, England.

The hotel is a 300-year-old coaching inn.

You might think that it would have no connection with the Titanic at all. However, Its most distinctive feature is the Olympic Suite, a large room furnished with interior decorations from the RMS Olympic. These are virtually identical to those aboard her sister ship, the RMS Titanic.



2020 – The Year of Titanic II?

January 8, 2020

Titanic II (Image courtsey of the Blue Star Line)

I have being writing about Clive Palmer’s dream of building a replica Titanic ship for seven years. Few other blogs have.

Most of the general public believes that the whole project is a pipe-dream and will never see the light of day, as does the maritime industry.

Even the media stopped writing about Titanic II a few years ago.

Many of my readers probably think that I’m delusional.  However you are all very wrong!

The Facts

The Titanic II project was announced by Australian millionaire Clive Palmer in April 2012. The intended launch date was originally set as 2016, then delayed to 2018. The project was then ‘put on ice’ (no pun intended).  However the development of the project was resumed in November 2018, with a new launch date set in 2022. (However given the fact that a shipyard does not yet have the contract to build the ship, the launch date is not a fact.)

Deltamarin are the firm actually designing the ship. They are a ‘proper’ firm of Finnish Navel architects, highly respected in the maritime world. They have designed many modern cruise ships including vessels for Celebrity, RCI, NCL and Genting to name a few. They are the real deal. Deltamarin have been busy designing the titanic II since late 2018 and throughout 2019.

Information has been sparse. However, as of January 2020, Deltamarin’s design of the Titanic II should either now complete or very nearly complete – hence this will be the year that Titanic II becomes “REAL”.

Titanic II tank testing

The Next Steps

In 2020 Deltmarin will be shopping around  for a shipyard to build the Titanic II. Palmer did originally say that the ship would be built in China’s Jinling shipyard, but this is by no means certain. Deltamarin will be looking at shipyard availability, capability and of course cost.

It is important to note that the Titanic was not a big ship by modern standards (around 56,000 gross tonnes) the hull will be welded not riveted and the engines will be modern.  I’m guessing the construction may only take a year or so? Maybe the décor, being a re-creation of the original RMS Titanic designs will be more challenging than actually building the ship itself?

Now I don’t suppose that the worlds various shipyards have too many gaps in their construction schedules in 2020/21, waiting to be filled, so I’m guessing construction would not start until at least 2021. This would mean that ship would not be delivered until at least 2022 or later.

The time-line is not confirmed, but I do believe that she will be constructed.

Clive Palmer

I believe that 2020 is going to be the year when the public, the industry and media finally believe that they really will be a new “ship of dreams”

Trust me!


See my dedicated Titanic II blog – HERE

China’s Titanic Replica

January 7, 2020


Not to be confused with Clive Palmer’s Titanic II project (more about that above):

In 2017 another replica-Titanic project, for ‘Romandisea’, a Tourism Resort in Sichuan Province, China, was announced. However, this was never going to be a real ship. It was to be a hotel/tourist attraction, within a theme park.

Although construction work progressed steadily throughout 2017 and 2018, there were  few updates or construction images in 2019. The ship is clearly not yet finished (Jan. 2020) and construction seems to have hit a proverbial ice berg.

I note that Romandisea are now  appealing for volunteers to help finish the project.

See my dedicated Titanic II blog – HERE

Titanic vs Oasis

January 5, 2020


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

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. However the article has attracted more views than anything else that I have ever written. It has also attracted some interesting comments, including some quite negative ones, such as:

“This is stupid, how can you compare these two ships, they are Apples and Oranges”

“These two ships were built 100 year’s apart, of course they are not the same”

“The Titanic was a work of art, Oasis is just a floating shopping mall”

“This article is stupid”

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

It’s quite ironic that the article was my most viewed again in 2019, as it was in 2018.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

CMV’s New Look Magellan

January 4, 2020


(Image courtesy of CMV)

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) Magellan has a new livery, following work being carried out in the Dutch shipyard, Damen in December 2019.

The 1985-built ship now has CMV’s trademark blue hull with a double white line, like the Marco polo does. Her funnel is also now blue with a stylisation of the CMV logo to add a more contemporary edge. The CMV logo appears on the sides of each ship towards the aft section and also on the centre bow as they do currently.

The ship was originally built for Carnival Cruise Line in Denmark, debuting as the Holiday. The 1,452-guest vessel then moved to Iberocruceros in 2009, serving the Spanish and Latin American markets. The ship joined CMV in 2015.


Malcolm says: She looks so much better with a dark hull, as do all cruise ships in my opinion, including the Fred. Olsen fleet. All white ships are ‘old hat’ now. White also shows any rust marks and scrapes more prominently.

Magellan’s original livery and review: HERE

Britain’s Maritime Heritage (2) The Cutty Sark

December 30, 2019

Greenwich, London, on the river Thames, is famous for its nautical connections. The two main attractions are the ‘National Maritime Museum’  and the ‘Cutty Sark’.  The museum is very good, but on this occasion I’m going to focus on the ‘Cutty Sark’.

The ‘Cutty Sark’ is an historic 1869 Tea Clipper, built on the Clyde, Scotland, which has been on display in Greenwich (in dry-dock) since 1957.  The ‘Cutty Sark’ is in fact the last surviving tea clipper and fastest and greatest of her time.  The quickest the first ship got back to Britain from China to sell the tea, the more profitable the cargo was. Later she was used to transport wool from Australia.

However in 2007, the Cutty Sark was seriously damaged in Greenwich, by a fire, during renovation work.

Some five years later and £45 million pounds later the ‘Cutty Sark’  was returned to her former glory. I had been a few times to see her over the years, as a child and as an adult.  I tried to visit her in 2012 shortly after she re-opened, to see the restoration. However she was a victim of her own success with queues snaking out of the door, so I gave her a miss.

I finally got to see her in January 2015.

(Paining courtesy of Colin Ashford)

I was pleased to be able to say that she looks better than ever – inside and out. Although some  of her timbers were lost in the fire, many were also off-site in storage. You cannot tell the difference now.

Cleverly they have raised her up (like the SS Great Britain, In Bristol) by three meters so she looks down, more majestically than ever, over Greenwich. You you can walk right underneath the hull. There is even a café down there and display of historic figure-heads. On occasions the space below the hull is used as a venue. They even have the occasional silent-disco held down their.

There is a new entrance/foyer area with an enlarged gift shop. Visitors enter the hull and work their way up the ships inner decks to the open deck.

I’d certainly recommend a visit if you are in London.

Below is my slide-show, taken on my last visit


Cutty Sark/National Maritime Museum Web Site: HERE 

Q: Have you ever been to see the Cutty Sark?

Britain’s Maritime Heritage (1): Historic Dockyard Chatham

December 29, 2019

I have decide to focus on some of Britain’s maritime heritage. After all Britain is an island, a seafaring nation and one of the biggest consumers of cruises in the world. We have also built some of the worlds finest ships. All this is not bad for a little nation.

I would definitely recommend Chatham’s historic dockyard, Kent, UK, to anyone interested in maritime history.

80 acres in size, it has over 100 buildings and structures – the majority of which were constructed between 1704 and 1855. Today it is the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail in the world. 

By the mid-18th Century the Royal Yards had developed into the largest industrial organisations in the world with complex facilities supporting thousands of skilled workers in a wide number of trades. Indeed it was the level of the facilities and skills provided in the Royal Dockyard’s, particularly at Chatham that underpinned the Royal Navy’s success at sea – from victory in battle; through the epic voyages of discovery made by Cook, Darwin  and others.

Did you know that the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, was built at Chatham dockyard?

Above is a short slide show to give you a taste of what is on show.

Official website HERE

Have you been? Did you enjoy it?


Ferries (3) MV Ulysses

December 23, 2019


MV Ulysses is a RORO car ferry currently owned and operated by Irish Ferries. The ship was launched on 1 September 2000[3] at Aker Finnyards shipyard in Rauma, Finland and services the Dublin – Holyhead route.

The vessel stands 12 decks high, towering over most other vessels at a height of 167.5 feet[2] (approx. 51 metres) from keel to mast. The vessel has five vehicle decks, including a stowable mezzanine deck consisting of two ‘swing decks’, called ‘Plates’, which are lowered to accommodate a greater number of ‘low vehicles’ (i.e. vehicles up to 2 metres high) – these swing decks are primarily used in holiday seasons when there is a much greater number of passenger vehicles.

When launched she was the world’s largest car ferry in terms of vehicle capacity. (Color Line’s sister ships Color Fantasy and Color Magic remain the largest ferries in terms of tonnage).


Ferries (2): Stena Hollandica

December 20, 2019

I’ve decided to features some more ferries, over the coming weeks.

The British Isles still has still has fair choice of ferries serving it’s coast, although competition from the budget airlines have caused some routes to become extinct.

In 2014, I travelled to Holland by Stena’s then new ‘Hollandica’ super-ferry.

I must say that she was lovely. She really is cruise ship ‘standard’ with some excellent cabins and passenger facilities.

See my review: HERE 

Costa Smeralda’s First LNG Refueling

December 19, 2019

(Courtesy CIN)

The Costa Smeralda has completed her first LNG bunkering in the port of Barcelona, the line announced Wednesday.

The refueling gives the 5,224-passenger ship power for at least two weeks of cruising.

The Coral Methane tanker ship filled Costa Smeralda’s three tanks…

Full ‘Cruise Industry News’ story: HERE

What is LNG? See: HERE