Olsen Pulls Out Of Falmouth

April 24, 2017
Boudicca---banner_original

(Courtesy Fred. Olsen)

Fred. Olsen cruises is pulling out of Falmouth and has blamed it partly on the lack of dedicated cruising facilities. Fred. Olsen only began using the port last year, but has already decided it is not suitable.

 

The company said it is withdrawing departures from half of the ten UK ports it uses from next year, including Falmouth.

It currently runs two cruises a year from the port, a 12-night Canaries and Portugal cruise and a ten-night Around the UK sailing cruise, both on-board Boudicca.

A spokesman said: “Regrettably, one of the five UK ports from which Fred. Olsen has decided to withdraw departure calls, with effect from its 2018/19 cruise season onwards, is Falmouth.

(cornwalllive.com)

Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, Reimagined

April 24, 2017

Crystal unveils the complete plans for Crystal Symphony’s and Crystal Serenity’s dry dock transformations. In what the company is calling the “Evolution of Crystal Luxury,” in 2017 and 2018, Crystal will embark on the multi-million-dollar investment that will see the two ships reimagined to new standards of innovative luxury.

The plans for Crystal’s two ocean ships are the latest in its tremendous brand expansion, which will also see new river yachts, new ocean-going vessels and a privately-owned Boeing 777 join the fleet in the next three years.

“Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are the foundation of Crystal and continue to embody the cornerstones of the celebrated Crystal Experience,” says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez.

“These ships have earned us not only acclaim from the world’s most eminent entities and publications for more than two decades, but more importantly, the loyalty of the world’s most discerning travelers and travel partners. We are committed to continuing their reign as the most luxurious ships at sea by investing in changes and updates that will far exceed our guests’ wishes.”

While the two ships’ refurbishments are scheduled almost a year apart, plans for both are predominantly streamlined, offering guests a consistently superlative experience on board whichever Crystal ship they choose to sail. As part of the extensive redesign, several staterooms will be converted into brand new luxurious penthouse categories to take the place of smaller staterooms; imaginative new dining options will be revealed; ships will be loaded with high-tech perks; and modern, elegant décor updates will be made in many public spaces.

New Penthouses and Penthouse Suites

Both ships will gain more of the spacious, butler-serviced Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Crystal Symphony will see two new categories of accommodations altogether: Seabreeze Penthouse Suite with Verandah (12 new suites added) and Seabreeze Penthouse with Verandah (28 new suites added), both occupying Deck 9, Seabreeze. The new accommodations will boast the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft., respectively), while Seabreeze Penthouses will be connected by a shared an entryway recessed from the hall.

Aboard Crystal Serenity, the 36 additional Penthouses and 2 additional Penthouse Suites will occupy the current Penthouse Deck 10, and will also offer the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (403 sq. ft. and 538 sq. ft., respectively).

Penthouse accommodations offer guests enhanced all-inclusive Crystal amenities, including butler service and in-room specialty dining. Penthouse guests will also now receive unlimited complimentary dining at the onboard specialty restaurants. The conversion of staterooms into the new penthouse accommodations effectively reduces the ships’ guest capacities – Crystal Symphony to 848 and Crystal Serenity to 980 – and increases the per-guest space ratio aboard the ships to 60.2 and 70.3 respectively. Abundant space throughout its luxury ships has long been a cornerstone of Crystal’s platform, and a key distinction between its ships and competitors.

Refreshed Dining Options

The world-class cuisine served on Crystal ships will also enjoy a revolution, as Crystal mainstays transform into inspired modern venues that still exude the elegant culinary atmosphere for which Crystal is known. Inclusive to the renowned Crystal Experience, the posh eateries feature diverse menus of Michelin-level cuisine inspired by the worldwide destinations Crystal visits.

The Crystal Dining Room, the ships’ centrally located main dining venue, will become Waterside, reflecting the chic décor and sophisticated ambiance of the main dining room aboard Crystal River Cruises’ Crystal Mozart. Additional tables for two and four guests offer expanded options for intimate dining in the expansive space, while a new open seating concept invites guests to dine at their leisure between 6 and 9:30 p.m., eliminating Crystal’s previous format of assigned seating and reservations. Waterside will also continue to serve breakfast and lunch during current timeframes.

The Lido Café, another hot spot aboard both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, will take on new life as the Marketplace by day and Churrascaria by night. Both venues will feature an open kitchen concept with dishes made to order. The Marketplace will continue to serve casual buffet style breakfast and lunch options, and will transition to Churrascaria, a stylish casual dinner venue, from 6 to 9 p.m., creating an additional evening option for guests. Churrascaria will feature a Caipirinha as a welcome cocktail and serve a selection of Brazilian-inspired tapas, ceviche, salads and grilled seafood and meats presented by Crystal “gauchos” on sword-like skewers.

New to the Crystal menu of onboard restaurants on both ships will be Silk, located in the Trident area of their respective Lido Decks. The contemporary space will offer modern Chinese-inspired fare with family-style dinner plates ideal for sharing, and self-service options for breakfast and lunch that include dumplings, Chinois salad, a soup and noodle bar and other Asian favorites. For the dinner hours between 6 and 9 p.m., reservations will be recommended, although open seating will be accommodated. The Trident Bar & Grill will remain in the adjacent space, serving casual grilled options including burgers and sandwiches.

Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, the specialty dining venues by famed Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will be rebranded as Umi Uma – reflecting the Japanese word for Crystal’s eponymous seahorses. The authentic venues will still serve the inspired cuisine of Nobu, prepared by his personally trained chefs, and will remain the only Nobu restaurants at sea. All specialty dining reservations for Umi Uma and Prego will be complimentary for Penthouse guests, while all other guests will enjoy one complimentary evening of specialty dining, with additional reservations available for a modest charge. Reservations are always required for specialty dining venues.

Technological Upgrades

Upon completion of Crystal Symphony’s dry dock in November 2017, guests will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi throughout any Crystal voyage aboard all Crystal vessels. Crystal’s investment in technological amenities for guests will include hardware and software enhancements to enable expanded internet connectivity and doubled satellite speed. Additionally, a new guest portal – Crystal Connect – will be launched and featured on the landing page of onboard internet connections. The portal enables guests to easily access the internet, as well as an array of shipboard information including daily menus from each restaurant, daily Reflections, day and evening activities, Crystal Adventures shore excursions and daily port maps. A number of international newspapers will also be available for digital viewing, as well as a library of box office hit movies, Crystal lectures on demand and much more. Crystal Connect will also be available in a mobile application for use on guests’ personal devices.

In all rooms throughout the ships – in each stateroom and in all public areas – ultra-thin, 42-inch, interactive flat-panel TVs will enable guests to conveniently access their onboard folios, view the Crystal Spa & Salon, Connoisseur Wine Selection, and dining menus, with the ability to make any onboard reservations, reserve shore excursions and order room service. These new interactive TVs will also showcase the latest Hollywood movies and hit TV series. Crystal’s acclaimed Computer University@Sea classrooms will also undergo updates and makeover, further enhancing the technological experience and enrichment for guests.

Reimagined Public Spaces

Several favorite shipboard spaces will enjoy reimagined designs, while maintaining their inherent function as part of travelers’ onboard experience. The top-deck, forward Palm Court lounge aboard Crystal Serenity will be entirely redesigned to feature more intimate seating, while Crystal Symphony’s mid-ship Starlite Club, a hub for evening dancing and cocktails, will also be refitted, still boasting panoramic sea views.

Crystal Symphony’s redesign is set for September 19-October 21, 2017; Crystal Serenity’s for October 14-November 10, 2018. The dry docks and subsequent relaunch of both ships mark additional milestones for the Crystal fleet, as the company increases its luxury presence throughout the world’s oceans, Europe’s rivers and the skies.

Adds Rodriguez, “Throughout this tremendous expansion, our commitment to setting an unprecedented standard of luxury travel experiences is unwavering. We will continue to place the quality of our guests’ experience above all other priorities, and our exquisitely designed vessels are integral to that experience.”

(Crystal Cruises)

NCL’s Leonardo v MSC Seaside

April 22, 2017

‘Made to measure’ or  ‘off the peg’?

Surprisingly the Norwegian Cruise lines next class of cruise ship, called ‘Project Leonardo’, is not a new a class of ship designed by themselves, but by the Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

I guess the advantage of this approach is that it must save development costs and time as the shipyard has already done the hard work.   However the disadvantage is that the shipyard can share this design with other buyers and it appears that they already have!

On closer inspection NCL’s ‘Project Leonardo’ looks remarkably similar to MSC’s ‘Seasisde’ also designed by Fincantieri.

However I believe Leonardo is shorter than Seaside, so will have a smaller gross tonnage and carry less passengers. Seaside is 154,000 gross tonnes and carry  4,140 (lower berth) passengers. Leonardo will be 140, 00 gross tonnes and carry around 3,300 passengers.

Seaside has a glass covered pool in front of her funnel, Leonardo appears to have a non-covered one in this location (for the Haven?) This may leaves just one sun-deck pool aft?

The big attraction of this ship design is the very large promenade deck, which is probably more expansive than NCL’s excellent ‘Waterfront’ feature found on-board their Breakaway and Breakaway+ classes.

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

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

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

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

(Courtesy NCL)

Malcolm

*(Why is the ship called ‘Leonardo’, anybody?)

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE

The Norwegian’s Get The Jersey Boys

April 22, 2017

The Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that their new ship, ‘Norwegian Bliss’ which will debut June 2018, will feature the Tony Award-winning Broadway Musical “Jersey Boys.”

“Jersey Boys,” which won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, portrays the story of Frankie Valli and 1960s rock ‘n’ roll band, The Four Seasons.

A second musical, produced exclusively for NCL by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, will pay tribute to Cuba’s culture through dancing, music and colourful costumes.

Liverpool’s Cavern club

Additionally, Norwegian Bliss will feature ‘The Cavern Club’. The space, which is a replica of the legendary Liverpool music venue, made famous by the Beatles, will feature tribute bands throughout the week.

(NCL)

NCL To Add Lifeguards

After several highly publicised incidents aboard mega ships, the Norwegian cruise line has announced that it will add lifeguards to its ships.

This follows suit of the Disney and Royal Caribbean lines.

(NCL)

Progress with Liverpool’s new cruise terminal

April 21, 2017
queenmary2-liverpool

QM2 Liverpool (Cunard Image)

Tom has covered this ongoing story nicely:

Tom's Cruise Blog

I’ve done a number of posts in the last few years about Liverpool’s cruise terminal. The earliest of these were about the dispute over financing when Liverpool City Council (who own and operate the terminal) announced their intention to start using it for turn-rounds as well as for day calls – the dispute was because national and EU funding had been obtained for the existing structure on the basis that it would be used for day calls only. Then I visited the terminal in 2015 and had its operation, capabilities and limitations explained, and also received news that Liverpool was seeking to build a new terminal capable of handling turn-rounds for much bigger ships – up to 3,600 passengers. Since then Liverpool City Council has been taking this project forward.

The present position, as I understand it, is that a suitable site has been identified – the old Princes Jetty…

View original post 367 more words

Royal Caribbean Sets Sail on First Cuba Cruise

April 21, 2017

(Source Cuba Tourism)

20th April 2017:

While Empress of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship, with 1,602 passengers, it is the largest that the port of Havana can accommodate…

Cruise Critic article: HERE

Thinking Of Taking Your First River Cruise?

April 20, 2017

A busy Danube – Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

It’s spring, so the major European river cruise lines are once again starting to operate cruises along the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Seine, Rhone/Saone and other European rivers.

River cruising is actually is the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry.

There are many myths about river cruising and many truths too.

As a brand new convert myself, I have created a short article to dispel some of the myths and confirm some of the truths. Enjoy!

River Cruising – Myth & Reality: HERE

Malcolm

Viking Order Two More Ocean Ships + Two

April 20, 2017

(Courtesy Viking)

Viking Ocean Cruises and the Italian Fincantieri shipyard have signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional 47,800gt ocean cruise ships, with an option for another two.

The newbuilds will be sister ships to the six ships already delivered/or on ordered and will enter the Viking fleet in 2021 and 2022, respectively. That makes a total of eight ocean ships + a possible two.

The first ship to be built by Fincantieri for Viking, Viking Star was delivered in spring 2015. The second and the third ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, were delivered in early 2016 and early 2017. Viking Sun joins the fleet this October 2017, Viking Spirit launches in June 2018. A third unnamed ship joins the fleet in 2019.

All ships will have an be identical specification: 47,800 gross tonnes and will accommodate 930 passengers.

(Viking)

Malcolm says: Not only are Viking dominating the worlds rivers, there Ocean fleet is expanding!

Viking Cruises Partners with National Geographic

Viking Cruises has announced that it has signed on to sponsor National Geographic’s global anthology series, “Genius”.

The first season of the season tells the story of Albert Einstein.

Viking To Cruise The Nile

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen has announced that Viking River Cruises will be the first foreign company allowed to have a license to operate ships along the Nile River.

The new ship, named Viking Ra, will begin sailing March 2018.

(Viking)

Malcolm says: Viking seem to be intent on the world dominance of river cruising. They operate more than 60 river vessels. They certainly have a high media profile, a good reputation, an rapidly expanding fleet and are able sustain some high fares. They also plan to offer Mississippi cruises in the future.

My first river cruise was the Nile (see below), which I loved. They are 200 boats on the Nile and they all claim to be five star, but they ae not. I cruised on a very nice boat, but the food was simplistic buffet style and by no means fine-dining. However the fare was very low compared to European river cruise standards.

Viking will bring a brand to the Nile that people trust, some higher standards and fares to match.

Balloon ride over Luxor: HERE

The Pyramids: HERE

Ferrari Go-Karts At Sea

April 19, 2017

(Courtesy NCL)

The world’s first go kart complex at sea will enter service soon aboard NCL’s Norwegian Joy.

The track was put together by German karting technology specialist RiMO Supply and Dutch decking specialist Bolidt.

Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled a new partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches, a division of Italian carmaker Ferrari, that includes the Ferrari-themed Go Kart track.

The 168,800 gross tonne, 3,850-passenger vessel also will feature a retail store next to the track that sells Scuderia Ferrari watches.

The Ferrari race track will accommodate up to 10 drivers at a time who will race each other in electric Go Karts

(Courtesy NCL)

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ story HERE

(Courtsey NCL)

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N. American Cruise Capacity to Grow 41%, by 2027

April 19, 2017

Miami (Courtesy Carnival)

North American cruise capacity is set to grow by an estimated 41 percent over the next 10 years, based on existing newbuild orders, known withdrawals and deployment plans…

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ article: HERE

Has Innovation Run Dry?

April 17, 2017

Over the past two decades we have seen unprecedented innovation in cruise ship design.

Not only has there been a quest to build the biggest cruise ships, they have increasing become floating resorts, rather than just ‘ships’.

There have been many defining moments in cruise ship innovation. However one moment which stands out to me is when ‘Carnival Destiny’ entered service in 1995. She was the first cruise ships to exceed 100,000 gross Tonnes.

Before Destiny, Cunard’s RMS Queen Elizabeth Ocean Liner (1929) was the biggest at 83,673 gross tonnes.

Carnival Destiny (Courtesy Carnival)

Another defining moment was in 1998 when Royal Caribbean’s ‘Voyager of the Seas’ entered service, at 138,194 gross tonnes.

Although external promenade decks and ‘sheltered’ promenades  date back to the great ocean liners, Voyager was the first cruise ship to have an internal ‘street’ down the middle, called the ‘Royal Promenade’. (Although the concept was originally featured on a Ferry).

Voyager was more like a floating theme park than any ship before her.

Royal Promenade (RCI)

Another milestone in ship design was the introduction of the world’s biggest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class at 225,282 gross tonnes.

Oasis had a unique split-superstructure design accommodating a Boardwalk, a Carousel and a Park.

The Norwegian Cruise line should also be credited for their ‘Freestyle’ dining innovation, which now dates back a couple of decades. Elements of it have been copied by most of the major lines. Today NCL also have a new cruise ship, Norwegian Bliss, with a Go-Kart track on the sun deck.

Norwegian Joy (Courtesy NCL)

Given all of this innovation in the past, is it still possible to build increasingly innovative ships in the future, or has the bar been set too high?

Are the major players running out of ideas to wow us?

RCI are famed for their originality, but personally I did not find RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class anywhere near as innovative as their previous, the ‘Oasis’ class, therefore a little disappointing.

RCI called their latest ship design, the ‘Quantum’ class,  innovative. RCI introduced much technology to the ‘Quantum’ class design and some sporty gimmicks (Bumper Cars and I-Fly ) plus an observation pod.

However take away the frills, and the Quantum ships internal design was very similar to NCL’s Epic/Breakaway/Breakaway+ ships. It has multiple dining and entertainment venues, coupled with flexible dining, but without the excellent NCL ‘Waterfront’ feature.  NCL call it ‘Freestyle’, RCI copied it and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’.

RCI have since revised Dynamic Dining, it did not impress their passengers.

North Star, Quantum of the Seas (RCI)

The Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) new mega-ship ‘Seaside’ features a wide promenade deck, which I assume will feature dining options etc. NCL pioneer this, with their ‘Breakaway’ design and it’s ‘Waterfront’ promenade. As I said earlier promenade decks are not a new idea, but NCL took the concept further than ever before.

MSC’s other newbuild, Meraviglia, features an internal street, RCI’ Royal Promenade’ in style. The main difference is MSC’s one will have a digital sky.

The Waterfront (NCL)

I’m not convinced about the innovations on-board Celebrity’s newest ship design, ‘Celebrity Edge’, either.

The new stateroom design called ‘Infinite Verandas’, which is very nice. However it was first featured on European river boats some years back.

The ‘Magic Carpet’ platform which climbs up one side of the ship is part ‘Rising Tide Bar’ (Oasis) and part ‘North-star’ (Quantum observation pod.) The jury is still out if this is a ‘real’ innovation or just another gimmick*.

The Magic Carpet (Courtsey Celebrity)

I certainly think it is increasingly difficult for the cruise lines to come up with something truly innovative, something that has not been done before on-board another cruise ship.

The cruise lines are intent in fitting more passengers on-board their newbuilds, so space can be a luxury, even on the biggest ships.  This is probably why many of the innovations are actually on the outside or sundeck of the ship.

However, when they do come up with something original, like a Go-Kart track on-board a ship, do we really need it?

Do we need constant ‘innovation’?

As somebody very wise once said: what happened to “just cruising”?

Malcolm

*(Definitions – Innovation: is a significant positive change.  Gimmick: a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade.)

A New Russian Cruise Line

April 16, 2017
Click to enlarge (Source unknown)

Click to enlarge (Source unknown)

A new Russian cruise line is set to commence service in the Black Sea in June.

The company Rosmorport, has purchased the former Royal Iris ship. The 764-passenger ship last sailed for Mano Cruises.

The ship will be renamed Prince Vladimir and undergo a refurbishment before starting its new summer program.

Cruises will depart every Sunday, round-trip from Sochi with calls in Novorossyisk, Yalta and Sevastopol. The ship will overnight in Yalta. The first sailing is scheduled for June 11.

(Rosmorport)

Bath Time (Courtney Mano cruises)

Bath Time (Courtesy Mano cruises)

Malcolm Says: MS Royal Iris (also formerly Azur) is a 1971 built car ferry which in 1981 was converted  into a cruise ship.

She is the last surviving ship ever owned by the Chandris Lines. She is the last surviving ship out of three near identical sisters, the others being the ill-fated Scandinavian Star* and the Fred. Olsen & Co. ferry Bolero. In late 2014, Mano Cruise stopped the ship’s service.

She is a modest 14,717 gross tons yet can carry 770 passengers. She looks a charming little vessel.

Mano Royal Iris promo-video HERE

*(The ship was set on fire by an arsonist in 1990, killing 159 people.)

Iran’s First Cruise Ship Completes Maiden Voyage

April 16, 2017

(Courtsey of ISNA)

News article: HERE

Malcolm says: It’s a car ferry! Has Iran never had a car ferry before?

MSC Magnifica, 22 Sailings From Southampton

April 16, 2017

(Courtsey MSC)

The Mediterranean Shipping Company have announced that MSC Magnifica will be based in Southampton for a season in 2018.

The 95,128 gross tonne ship, carrying up to 3,605 passenger, will be sailing a mix of Mediterranean and Northern European voyages.

The sailings will also offer special British touches such as roast dinners, afternoon tea, John Smith’s beer, a curry night, a full English breakfast, and various condiments like Marmite and HP Sauce.

The 22 sailing dates will also be all inclusive of drinks and wi-fi on-board!

(MSC)

Titanic Victims’ Families Furious At Chinese Replica

April 14, 2017

The story of the RMS Titanic holds as much fascination now as it ever did.

Tasteless, or not, a theme park in China is even building a full sized replica of the Titanic.

Replica Titanic – Daily Mail article: HERE

An Australia billionaire even said that he would build a cruising replica of the Titanic, until he lost interest.

Titanic II – Clive Palmer Gets Cold Feet: HERE

Bodies Of 3rd-Class Titanic Passengers Tossed Overboard

Rarely does a month go by without a story about the ill fated ship appearing in the media.

Here is a recent example.

Daily Mail article: HERE

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’.

Titanic v Oasis of the Seas: HERE  

Malcolm