NCL Summer Itiniaries 2020

September 19, 2018

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The Norwegian Cruise Line, has opened their summer 2020 itineraries for 11 of its 17 ship

Alaska – Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Jewel will sail to Alaska in summer 2020, as the youngest and most exciting fleet in the region. Sister ships, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss, return to the state with seven-day cruises from Seattle, Washington beginning May 9 and May 10 respectively. In Alaska, Norwegian Joy will call to Holkham Bay, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan, and in British Columbia, she will call in Victoria. Norwegian Bliss will call to Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska as well as Victoria, British Columbia.

Rounding out the Alaskan fleet, beginning May 11, Norwegian Jewel returns to Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska to sail her incredibly popular seven-day Glacier Bay Northbound and Inside Passage itineraries.

Europe – Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Escape will make her European debut on May 29 offering nine-day cruises to the Baltic region from Copenhagen, Denmark with calls to Warnemünde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia, Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm (Nynashamn), Sweden and an overnight in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Norwegian Escape will be one of the newest and largest Norwegian ships to homeport in Europe offering guests flexibility and choice with over 27 dining options, 21 bars and lounges, Broadway-style entertainment and more.

For the first time, beginning May 15, Norwegian Dawn will cruise from Europe offering seven-to-eleven-day sailings to the Greek Isles from Venice, Italy. From May 8, Norwegian Getaway will offer ten-and-eleven-day cruises to the Greek Isles and Italy from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy. Both Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Getaway will visit Kotor, Montenegro; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece, among other Mediterranean cities. Norwegian Epic’s European summer 2020 itineraries will open for sale on October 16, 2018.

Bermuda – Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Gem

Following her inaugural season in the Caribbean, Norwegian Encore will reposition from Miami, Florida to New York City offering seven-day cruises to Bermuda beginning April 22, while Norwegian Gem will offer seven-day voyages from Boston to Bermuda beginning May 1. Both ships’ seven-day itineraries overnight in port offering guests three days in Bermuda.

Caribbean – Norwegian Breakaway

Beginning April 23, Norwegian Breakaway returns to Miami with a selection of five-and-seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean visiting Roatan and Bay Islands, Honduras; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; and the resort-style island destination of Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. She will also sail a variety of three-and-four-day cruises to the Bahamas calling to Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island.

Bahamas & Florida / Canada & New England – Norwegian Pearl

As of May 23, for the first time, Norwegian Pearl will homeport in New York City offering select seven, ten and eleven-day cruises to Canada and New England with calls to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine; and Newport, Rhode Island. She will also offer seven-day voyages to Bahamas and Florida with visits to Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau and Norwegian’s private island paradise, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, which will have recently undergone enhancements as part of Norwegian Edge®, the company’s commitment to elevating the standard of excellence across its fleet and resort-style destinations.

Hawaii – Pride of America

Pride of America will continue cruising her seven-day inter-island itinerary that offers nearly 100 hours of port time in Hawaii’s main islands, including calls in Hilo, Kona, and overnight stays in Kahului, Maui and Nãwiliwili, Kauai with an afternoon cruising past the breath-taking Nãpali Coast. Norwegian’s Pride of America will depart from Honolulu every Saturday beginning May 1, 2021 through April 2022.

(NCL)

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The Anchor Line Restaurant, Glasgow

September 18, 2018

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The Anchor Line was originally an Ocean Line operating ships from Glasgow (U.K.) to New York.  The former 1st class office, is now a restaurant, in Glasgow.

Below the main restaurant, there is also a bar downstairs called the ‘Atlantic’. This also serves food and has its own separate kitchen. I ate in the main restaurant, above.

The restaurant is beautiful with much ocean liner memorabilia, featuring the Anchor lines many vessels of course.

This is fine-dining, so the A La Carte menu is expensive. HOWEVER there are some very reasonable set menus, including Sunday lunch and a pre-theatre menu, which both have a good selection of quality dishes at reduced prices.

The service was excellent as was the food.  The Truffle Roast Mushrooms were the best that I have ever tasted. The Thyme Butter Chicken was also very tasty.

I could not rate this establishment and the whole dining experience much higher – it is very classy. If you are ever in Glasgow, I highly recommend this fine establishment.

Malcolm

(Do you know of any dining venues with a nautical theme?)

Web site: HERE

Anchor Line 12 St. Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2EU, Scotland

The Isle of Man – Record Cruise Visits

September 17, 2018

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The Isle of Man has had its recorded its highest number of cruise visits ever in 2018 with 24 cruise ships carrying 8,391 passengers visit the Island, along with 6,026 crew.

These figures represent a 20 percent increase from 2017 in cruise passengers participating in an organised shore excursion with a total of 4,493 visitors enjoying the many guided tours, heritage sites, vintage transport, bespoke and artisan activities, along with local entertainment.

Longer term, the prospects for attracting increased cruise business to the Isle of Man were boosted earlier this year when the creation of a 240-metres long deep water berth in Douglas harbour, costing £11m, was supported in principal, as part of the Isle of Man Harbours strategy.

(Visit Isle of Man)

Malcolm says: The Isle of man is a somewhat forgotten island in the Irish Sea,  between Great Britain and Ireland. It is both charming and steeped in history. Highlights are a steam railway, a Victoria electric railway and horse draw trams running along the 2 mile Victorian promenade.  It makes a very good port of call. (See slide show above). Have you ever been?

Isle of Man Ferry, Ben My Cree: HERE

Spectrum of the Seas – Construction Update

September 16, 2018

An apology for small ship lovers: but it is very difficult to write about small ships at the moment, with so much news flooding in (pardon the pun) about mega-ships!

‘Spectrum of the Seas’ is another step closer to completion. The ship’s two large mega-blocks were merged and fastened together at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg Germany – the latest milestone in her unique building process. Spectrum is scheduled for delivery in 2019.
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‘Spectrum of the seas’ is the fourth ‘Quantum’ class cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International, previously known by the code name Project Sunshine. The Quantum-class ships surpass the earlier Freedom-class ships by over 14,000 GT, becoming the second largest class of passenger ships behind Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class ships on a gross tonnage basis. The first two ships of this class, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas were delivered in November 2014 and April 2015, respectively. The third ship, Ovation of the Seas, was delivered in April 2016.

The gross tonnage of the class is around 168,666, and they can accommodate 4,180 passengers (double occupancy) and 4,905 passengers (maximum occupancy).

(RCI/Wikipedia)

What’s the ‘Quantum’ class really like? ‘Anthem of the Seas’ review: HERE

Marella Say Goodbye to ‘Spirit’

September 15, 2018

At last some small ship news, but unfortunately it may not be good news:

(Image Clive Curry)

Marella Cruises is set to say goodbye to the Marella Spirit on October 21, 2018, during her Continental Coasts itinerary sailing to Malaga, Barcelona, Toulon and Valencia.

The ship launched service in 1984 as the Nieuw Amsterdam for Holland America Line, also spending time with American Classic Voyages before moving to Thomson (now Marella) in 2003.

Spirit is 33,930 gross tonnes and carries 1,350 passengers.

(Marella)

Malcolm says: I still don’t like the new name ‘Marella’.  I cruised on Spirit’s sister ship, ‘Thomson Celebration’, a few years back and loved her.  My review is HERE

Celebrity Cruises Unveils The Grand Plaza

September 13, 2018

(Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

With Celebrity Edge less than three months from its first official sailing, Celebrity Cruises completes the final chapter of the ship’s transformational design story, with the reveal of iconic spaces designed by renowned designers, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku Studio. This includes the stunning space that will become the beating heart of the year’s most anticipated new ship, The Grand Plaza, yet another venue designed to break from traditional cruise ship thinking and shatter all expectations.

THE HEART AND SOUL BEHIND THE HEART AND SOUL OF CELEBRITY EDGE

With the aspiration to completely transform the way guests connect to the world, Celebrity sought creative thinkers who were new to the cruise industry to ensure every aspect of Celebrity Edge would be a departure from traditional thinking about cruising.

Among those chosen were the Paris-based design duo of Jouin Manku, who are celebrated for drawing inspiration from a multitude of cultures and for merging cutting-edge technology with old-world craftsmanship. They are credited with world-famous works such as the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Together, the visionaries collaborated with the Celebrity team to bring these new concepts to life.

WELCOME TO THE GRAND PLAZA

Mixing simplicity and modernity, The Grand Plaza takes inspiration from the glamourous days of transatlantic travel. At a time when cruise ships were at the heart of chic society, the center of these ships were traditionally spectacular ballrooms, accented with dramatic staircases and ornate chandeliers. They were social places to meet, greet, dine, drink and dance. The Grand Plaza pays homage to these powerful historic spaces and reinterprets them for the 21st century.

Spanning three decks at the heart of the ship, The Grand Plaza acts as the epicenter of Celebrity Edge, which radiates an energy that lures guests throughout the day, as it transforms both physically and atmospherically. Guests are drawn to the space by The Chandelier, a striking lighting feature – and art installation – that rises over the Martini Bar to the ceiling three decks above. Composed of five levels of 765 blades illuminated by dynamic LED strips that change color from day to night, The Chandelier weighs in at seven tons.

Here, guests will be transported to the lively piazzas of Italy, of which this sprawling 5,167 sq. ft. space was also inspired. Home to many of the incredible new specialty restaurants – including Raw on 5 and Fine Cut Steakhouse on Deck 5; Le Grand Bistro and Café al Bacio on Deck 4; and the new Grand Plaza Café on Deck 3 – The Grand Plaza truly is a grand space. At its center, on Deck 3, guests will find the breathtaking next evolution of the always-buzzing Martini Bar, one of the most popular venues across Celebrity’s fleet. Adorning the edges of The Grand Plaza are intricately hand-stitched mesh screens, combining more than 13,500 pieces of metal, leather, and fabric.

In the morning, The Grand Plaza invites guests to enjoy a cappuccino and a croissant at either of the cafés. Guests can return to The Grand Plaza for afternoon tea or to indulge in a pre-dinner cocktail while enjoying unexpected pop-up performances. At nightfall, the energy transforms completely, and the space becomes the social epicenter of the ship, coming alive with live music.

(Celebrity Cruises)

Malcolm says: You can read the full text about the Grand Plaza on the Celebrity web site, the above is an edited version.  I am a celebrity fan, but I must say they have used a lot of words to explain just an another ‘Atrium’. on another big ship. So what do you think of it?

Celebrity Apex will be Named in Southampton

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(Courtesy Celebrity)

Celebrity Cruises has just revealed that its new ship Celebrity Apex will be named in Southampton in 2020 before offering a mini-series of sailings from the UK.

Apex will be the line’s second Edge-class ship.

The news of Apex’s deployment makes 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.

(Celebrity)

Fred. Olsen: Historic Coming Together Of Its Fleet

September 13, 2018

(Courtsey Fred. Olsen)

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has celebrated an historic coming together of its fleet of four ocean ships – Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch – in Cadiz, Spain.

The four ships came together in Cadiz on Sept. 10 for the “Captains in Cadiz” event. It marks only the second time the entire Fred. Olsen fleet has been in the same place.

This year marks the 170th anniversary of Fred. Olsen’s start as a shipping company

(Fred Olsen)

Balmoral review: HERE

Iona’s Maiden Cruise Almost Sold Out

September 12, 2018

Iona’s stylish inside cabin (Courtesy P&O)

P&O’s latest ship, Iona, has almost sold out for her maiden 9 night cruise to the Fjords on the 14th May 2019.

I say ‘almost’ because there are still some ‘Inside’ cabins available at the time of writing, but there are no sea-view, balcony or suites left.

Having said that I note that Iona has approximately 250 inside cabins, although I cannot be bothered to actually count (anyone?)

An inside cabin for the maiden cruise will currently cost from £2,114  for a couple (£117 pp, per night) – so hardly cheap. (And a room without a view in the picturesque Fjords is far from ideal).

Maiden cruises often sell out and this is potentially a very exciting big new ship. However I’d be very surprised in the other 18  Fjord itineraries (7 nights) sell out so quickly. Norway is very beautiful, but It’s hardly a mass-market/family-friendly/sunshine destination.

Malcolm

Norwegian Encore Hull Art Revealed

September 11, 2018

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The Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, the Spanish artist, has created the hull artwork for the fourth and final ship of its Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Encore. The cruise ship is due to debut in Miami in November 2019.

A representation of his modern and abstract style, the ship’s hull will feature a “labyrinth of color” inspired by Arranz-Bravo’s life by the sea in Barcelona and pay tribute to the vibrant guest experience for which the Norwegian brand is recognised, the company said.

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(NCL)
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Malcolm says: I don’t mind NCL’s hull art because it is very distinctive, however I would not want to see it on all cruise ships. Personally I preferred ‘Norwegian Escape’s ‘ hull art by Guy Harvey, with it marine life theme, to Encore’s which does not have a theme (to me anyway).

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NORWEGIAN ESCAPE

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Genting: Name That Ship!

September 11, 2018

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Celebrating 25 years in the Asian cruise industry, Genting Hong Kong announced today it has launched a naming contest for the first of two Global-class ships for Dream Cruises.

The 204,000 gross tonne,  5,000 guest passenger ships, will join Genting’s fleet in Asia in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The ships will be designed for Asian guests, but will be deployed globally.

With a keel laying set for next week, Dream Cruises will now take submissions on the name of the ship (in English or Mandarin) online.

The grand prize: not one but 25 complimentary cruises on Genting’s advanced 5,000-guest ship, which is under construction at MV Werften.

(Genting)

Malcolm says: Since December 2009, RCI have had the biggest class of cruise ship in the world, with their ‘Oasis’ class. Nothing has challenged their dominance in size, since. However with ships on order, such as Gentling’s ‘Global’ class (above) and MSC’s ‘World’ class,  both classes at around 200,000 gross tonnes, the gap is closing!

Iona Deckplans Released

September 10, 2018

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P&O have just revealed the deckplans for their new ship, Iona, entering service in 2020.

The design of the ship is not particularly revolutionary, apart from being very big and having lots of cabins (for up to 6,600 passengers). In fact some aspects of the design are quite traditional.

The public decks span form 4 to 18, with no deck 13.

Iona has no real ‘gimmicks’, unlike RCI, NCL and MSC vessels which often do have.  P&O fans will welcome this.

Many of the public spaces are exactly what you might expect and are located where you might expect to find them.  However there is no single main restaurant, in keeping with P&O’s total adoption of ‘freedom-dining’ on-board this ship.

Here are a few initial observations:

  • There are four main restaurants: the ‘Pearl’ is at the stern of deck 7, on deck 6, directly below is the ‘Coral’ with the ‘Aqua’ and ‘Opal’ just forward of the Coral, located on the port and starboard sides. The latter two look smaller than the former two.
  • Horizon, the buffet, is located on deck 16.
  • There is one main theatre, located at the bow of deck 6/7, although I suspect other public spaces (Grand Atrium and maybe the Dome) will also host some entertainment.
  • Ocean Studios (deck 6) is a four screen cinema.
  • The Crows Nest, on deck 17 gives a forward over-the bow-view, which P&O regulars will enjoy.
  • The Dome on deck 18 (covered pool/public space) is a very impressive glass roof over a pool area. It will be ideal for the unpredictable UK climate.
  • Iona has an infinity pool aft on deck 16 (the Lido deck) which sister-ship, AIDAnova, doesn’t have. However I can imagine the demand will create some big queues.
  • Deck 8, (the Promenade deck) does feature a complete wrap-round promenade, always very popular with us Brits. It shows some outside dining – NCL ‘Waterfront’ style?
  • I’m told that there will be a Library somewhere (deck 7?) but it’s not on the plans.
  • I note that’s that the balcony sizes is not the same for all cabins in a given class. For example, the decks between the Promenade and the Lido – decks 9 to 15 inclusive, is wider in some and narrower in others, and balcony sizes can vary between these locations. You’ll need to be aware of this when booking.
  • I also note that there are some front facing smaller-balcony cabins (GE grade) located right the bow, overlooking it, on decks 10 11, 12 and 14. Such accommodation is often reserved for premium grade cabins on many ships. However I suspect that the balconies would often be too windy to use, even on a summers day, due to the forward movement of the ship.
  • There are a lot of inside cabins. I’ve not counted them properly, but there must be around 250, I estimate.  It would be nice to see a big ship that has none, but the opportunities for extra income generation is too tempting for the designers and the cruise line.

Malcolm

See Iona Deck plans HERE

Ponant Icebreaker: Le Commandant Charcot

September 9, 2018

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Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Ponant has revealed the name of its newest polar exploration vessel: Le Commandant Charcot.

The hybrid electric icebreaker, the first of its kind, has been named in honor of Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot (1867 – 1936) had a true passion for sailing and was an emblematic figure of French polar expeditions.

Le Commandant Charcot is scheduled to enter service in 2021.

The Itineraries on Le Commandant Charcot will offer passengers a chance to discover the Geographic North Pole (latitude 90 degrees North) and parts of Antarctica, such as the Ross Sea, Charcot Island and Peter Island, that were inaccessible prior to the arrival of the ship.

Powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Le Commandant Charcot will be fitted with the latest environmental protection technology.

(Ponant)

Introducing the Enchanted Princess

September 8, 2018

(Rendering courtesy Princess)

Princess Cruises has named its 143,700 gt, 3,660 passenger Royal-class newbuild the ‘Enchanted Princess’.

The Enchanted Princess is scheduled to enter service in 2020.

Princess has a full order book, with the arrival of Enchanted Princess, followed by the debut of the sixth Royal-Class vessel for Princess Cruises in 2022.

The cruise line also has two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered ships on order, bringing its total new ship order to five ships in six years.

The Enchanted Princess is a sister ship to four other Royal-class ships in the cruise line’s fleet – Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess and Sky Princess, joining the fleet in October 2019.

(Princess Cruises)

What is a Princess cruise like? See my ‘Sapphire Princess’ review: HERE

Iona boasts a Gin Distillery and a Boutique Cinema

September 8, 2018

There are no shortages of P&O stories at present, while P&O’s publicity machine promotes their new mega-ship:

P&O Cruises has revealed more new features on-board its newest ship Iona.

Features will include an on-board distillery and gin bar as well as a “boutique cinema”.

The ship will boast its own distillery, as well as bar selling 30 different varieties of the most popular drink.

The line also revealed ‘Ocean Studios’ will be a four screen boutique cinema showing films throughout the day and with premium seating and surround-sound technology.

It is also rumoured that former bassist for Blur, Alex James will be curating the music on-board, although this has not yet been confirmed by P&O.

Olly Smith, will have his signature restaurant, The Glasshouse, on-board.

(P&O Cruises)

Malcolm says: I’m not big on Gin, but I do like a cinema. Many modern ships just do not have a ‘proper’ cinema. They went out of fashion a few decades ago. Some older ships have had their cinema’s converted into different public spaces or even turned into cabins (Thomson/Marella Celebration, for example).  It’s nice to see that Iona will have a Cinema – in fact four, really!

River Cruise Popularity Soars

September 6, 2018

The popularity of river cruising across Europe is soaring, with more Britons than ever taking to the continent’s waterways, according to new figures.

The River Cruise Review, published by the Cruise Lines Association (Clia), reported a 21 per cent increase in the number of UK bookings in 2017 compared to 2016…

See full ‘Telegraph’ article HERE

Wold You Enjoy A River Cruise?

I know many of you out there enjoy ocean cruises but have yet to take the plunge (pardon the pun) and take a river cruise.

Have you ever wondered how ocean and river cruises compare?

Why are river cruises often so expensive?

Are they worth the money?

Aren’t they just too boring?

Aren’t the boats too small?

Well, I’m pretty new to river cruising myself and have answered all these questions and more.

See my river cruising article: HERE

Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral Review

September 6, 2018

By guest contributor, Gillian Walsh

Balmoral underwent some refurbishment late 2017 and I wish to report that, for me, the significant addition was a fridge in the cabin. This can be set up as a minibar but is empty on arrival.

The bedding and linen is sparkling and generous and our bathroom had separate loo within, twin wh basins and shower, equipped with mobility aids as requested…

Gillian Walsh’s full review: HERE

Carnival’s Biggest Ship Yet

September 5, 2018

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The Carnival Corporation has christened its biggest ship to date. The giant vessel able to accommodate up to 6,600 passengers (a world record).

Friday’s christening (31/08/18) ceremony attracted 25,000 spectators and DJ David Guetta performed as a light show also took place.

The ship cost £630m to build and boasts 17 restaurants, 23 bars and a water park.

This ship is a ‘Helios’ class ship which Carnival, Costa and P&O (Iona) brands will be getting as well.  All the ships will all be based on the same basic design, but there will be some internal/external differences in structure, funnels and livery.

Malcolm

New Liverpool Cruise Terminal Moves Ahead

September 4, 2018

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has approved £20m funding from its Single Investment Fund for a new Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal.

The £20m will contribute to the construction of a new terminal building to replace the current temporary terminal on Princes Dock…

Full ‘Liverpool Express’ story: HERE

The Titanic Hotel, Belfast

September 2, 2018

There are at least three Titanic Hotels in the UK/Ireland (and a Spa) that I know of.  The one in Belfast, Ireland is the best, by far.

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

However my experience of the Hotel was not prefect.

My full hotel review is HERE

Iona: Too Big For The Fjords?

August 31, 2018

(Image Courtesy of P&O)

P&O Cruises giant new ship Iona will operate seven-day sailings from Southampton 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.

You can now pre-register Cruises on Iona via the P&O web site or phone.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: Her early fares (from £100+, pp, per night, with some incentives) are of course ‘premium’. New ship always are. However I assume some bargains may be available in 2020,  if the hundreds of cabins do not sell as well as they hope.

I’ve heard a rumour 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. This 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?

Malcolm

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

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

Iona slide show: HERE

SS Nomadic, The Titanic Tender

August 30, 2018

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The SS Nomadic, known as Titanic’s little sister, was built at the same time as the Titanic (complete by 1911), for the same people (the White Star Line) , in the same Harland and Wolff shipyard, as the Titanic.

Nomadic was used as a Tender and transferred those boarding the great liner at Cherbourg (France) to the ship, as Titanic was too big to dock there. Above is a slide-show of Nomadic in her permanent home in Belfast, fully restored after a long lay-up in Paris.

Aberdeen Harbour Set To Welcome Megaships

August 29, 2018

(Courtesy Aberdeen Harbour)

Aberdeen Harbour, Scotland, U.K., expects 28 cruise calls this year.

The harbour expansion project continues and this will allow large vessels to berth by summer 2020, according to Matt North, commercial director, Aberdeen Harbour.

“In 2018, Cruise Scotland estimates this will increase to more than 820,000 tourists who will visit the country on 812 cruise ships. Aberdeen Harbour plays an important role in growing these numbers even further, with the introduction of our direct alongside facilities,” said North.  The Harbour is conveniently located within a five minute walk to the city centre,

The expansion of the harbour will allow Aberdeen to become Scotland’s largest port in berth capacity, also offering a water depth of 10.5 meters, suitable to most large cruise ships.

Aberdeen Harbour is also located next to the city’s train station, which is directly connected to the country’s East Coast Main Line with direct services to all major cities including London.

(Aberdeen Harbour)

Celebrity Cruises Reveals Edge Entertainment

August 28, 2018

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WE’RE NOT PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN. WE’RE THROWING IT AWAY.

The Celebrity Edge will offer the brand’s most technologically advanced main theatre, including the most production shows of any ship in the brand’s history, the largest cast of performers on any premium cruise ship, and more entertainment venues than ever.

The main stage extends into the audience creating a theatre-in-the-round sensation. A duo-directional rotating platform raises almost seven feet above the stage to take performances to a new level. With two rotating spiral staircases, 10 synchronized panoramic projection screens, 16 state-of-the-art video mapping laser projectors, aerial performance rigging, and more, the technology behind the scenes will at times steal the show.

“In designing Celebrity Edge, we developed and used some of the most advanced technology available” said Brian Abel, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations, Celebrity Cruises.

KALEIDOSCOPE

Prepare yourself for Kaleidoscope, a high-energy music and dance extravaganza that utilizes The Theatre’s revolutionary screens, 18 synchronised projectors, and state-of-the-art technology to take the whole performance to another level.

A HOT SUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

In A Hot Summer Night’s Dream, you’ll be thoroughly immersed in a light-hearted journey that fuses music with extraordinary acrobatics and yes – a little bit of Shakespeare. It’s a tale of love, intoxication, and midnight madness.

THE JEWELRY BOX

Step into the bold and daring production of The Jewelry Box, where jaw-dropping technology and evocative acts are merged to create an entertainment experience.

RESIDENT PERFORMER SERIES

Along with a list of incredible productions, The Theatre will feature resident mainstage performers ranging from top comedians to globally-acclaimed musicians and singers like Ashlie Amber and Marcus Tyrell to create some of the hottest concerts anywhere.

The Club

The Club on Celebrity Edge is another venue, a progressive space that changes its persona through the day and night.

During the day, The Club offers experiences such as the Funovation Laser Maze Challenge, the Drone Hunting laser obstacle course, and more.

At night, The Club undergoes yet another transformation. Undercover at The Club puts a contemporary spin on the Prohibition era with 20’s-inspired craft cocktails and an aerial saxophonist. The futuristic body scanner of Andromeda allows guests to become someone else for the evening. And Celebrity’s Hypno Cam Experience is a first-at-sea dance party featuring a high-tech camera that’s passed around to capture photos, which are instantly displayed on a giant LED screen.

(Celebrity)

Malcolm says: ‘The Theatre on Edge’ as it is officially called, sounds like it is inspired by RCI’s Quantum class ‘360 Degree Lounges’, which is also an entertainment space with a circular stage and much high-tech,  including video-mapping.

I’m a fan of Celebrity and I welcome the news about the “most production shows” and the “largest cast of performers”. However, without wishing to sound too cynical (as the the shows have not even been performed for us yet), I’ve seen some excellent shows on-board ships, that had zero high-tech. I’ve also seen a couple of high-tech shows on-board ‘Anthem of the Seas’ which were pretty average, really.  The best shows that I’ve ever seen on one cruise, was probably on-board ‘Oasis of the Seas’. They were largely low tech, apart from the Aqua-Theatre.  The quality of a show essentially comes down to the material and the skills of the performers, rather than ‘gimmicks’.

On the subject of gimmicks: do Celebrity customers really need a ‘Funovation Laser Maze Challenge’?  And did I really read the phrase “an aerial saxophonist”

 

Anyone seen my saxophone? (The Club, courtesy Celebrity)

Imagine “aerial saxophonist” on your CV. I can’t imagine that there are too many people out there, that have both saxophone and aeial performance skills.

While we are on the subject of wacky ideas: I recall that around 2004, Celebrity had the idea of having ‘Cirque du Soleil’ characters mingling with guests in a bar. I don’t mean the acclaimed production-show, I mean that costumed and masked characters peddling expensive drinks. I believe it was called “Masquerade” and the guests even had to pay to attend. Unsurprisingly, it did not last very long at all.

Virgins: Vitamin Sea

August 27, 2018

You too could look like this!

According to Virgin Voyages: “To us, Vitamin Sea is everything. Learn more as our crew talks about our well-being philosophy”.

See the Virgin Voyages video: Here

I appreciate that Virgin are trying to do things a little differently with their new cruise brand, but ‘Vitamin Sea’ does not appeal to me.

So is it an innovation or as one commentator put it “A load of patronising b**”?

Malcolm

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Why sunbathe on the prom when you can box? (Courtesy Virgin Voyages)

Do you like to keep fit at sea, or like me, keep fat?

Please discuss!

P&O Cruises To Scrap Their Service Charge

August 27, 2018

P&O Cruises will abolish their daily service charge on-board its entire fleet next year.

The move, which will come into effect from May 2019, means passengers’ bills will not include a discretionary charge – currently £7 – for service received onboard.

If passengers want to pay a service charge they can visit reception during their cruise.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: This very short story above, is probably one of the most significant changes in British cruising for decades.  Over the years, there have been endless debates about ‘tipping’ on-line.

Us Brits are NOT a nation of tippers and many British cruise passengers have begrudged paying this almost hidden cost, in addition to their cruise fares. I say hidden, because it is always tucked away in the small print. However the problem was always was one of guilt. The service charge (gratuity or tips, call it what you will) effectively paid the crews wages. The cruise lines hardly do.

I don’t think the issue was the fact that us Brits are mean, we just believe than employees should be paid a decent wage and not have to rely on ‘tips’. We also don’t like add-ons to the ‘sticker price’.  P&O’s decision gives British cruise passengers what we have been demanding for decades. Couple that with reasonably bar prices and P&O are onto a winner! Cunard, RCI and NCL have just become a little less attractive.

Mind you, P&O are not the first UK cruise line to abolish tips. Thomson cruises have successfully had a no tipping policy for decades.

Comments please!

Second ‘Celebrity Edge’ Class To Be Called ‘Apex’

August 26, 2018

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Celebrity Cruises has named its second Edge-class cruise ship, Celebrity Apex. The naming was made official during a steel cutting for the ship at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard  in Saint-Nazaire, France.

Celebrity Edge, the first ship in the line’s new edge class, launches in December 2018.

Celebrity Apex, previously rumoured to be named Celebrity Beyond, is scheduled to enter service in spring 2020. A third and fourth Edge-class ship are scheduled for Autumn 2021 and Autumn 2022, respectively.

(Celebrity)

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Fancy a Duplex suite? (Courtesy Celebrity)

Cabin grades (slide show): HERE

Carnival’s New 180,000gt Ship For Port Canaveral

August 24, 2018

First Rendering (Courtesy of Carnival)

The Canaveral Port Authority and Carnival Cruise Line have reached an agreement to build a new cruise terminal at Port Canaveral, Florida, USA.

The new terminal will be designed to accommodate Carnival’s new 180,000-ton LNG ship, the largest ever constructed for the line, set to enter service in 2020. The unnamed 6,600 ship will homeport at Port Canaveral.

(Carnival)

Malcolm says: Some sources say that this first Carnival LNG ship will be called ‘Carnival Reflection’ (unconfirmed). This will be a ‘Helios’ class ship, which the AIDA, COSTA and P&O brands will also be getting, called: AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda, P&O Iona and Carnival (unnamed as yet).

Carnival’s LNG Ships Compared

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.

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Top left, clockwise: Carnival (Unnamed), P&O’s Iona, AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda

We 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’.

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Above: Costa Smeralda (Courtesy Costa)

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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’.

Iona-Grand-Atrium

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.

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

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P&O Model

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.

Malcolm

*(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

P&O’s Iona: Stateroom renderings: HERE

NCL Revitalises Three Ships

August 23, 2018

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The Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the completed refurbishments of three ships, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Star, further showcasing its commitment to extraordinary quality and the guest experience.

As part of The Norwegian Edge, the company’s program designed to elevate the standard of excellence across its fleet, the revitalized ships now feature new designs and venues including Los Lobos Cantina, an upscale Mexican restaurant; the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O; and Syd Norman’s Pour House – an American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge, which makes its debut aboard Norwegian Breakaway.

“What a year this has been for us at Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Andy Stuart, the brand’s president and chief executive officer. “Not only did we introduce our latest and record-breaking ship, Norwegian Bliss, and announce the redeployment of her sister ship Norwegian Joy, but we are now unveiling our newly revitalized ships, Norwegian Breakaway, Sun and Star. This is a testament to how invested we are in our guests’ experience. Although we are one of the youngest fleets in the industry, we are very committed to The Norwegian Edge program which allows us to remain consistent, relevant and exciting.”

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway, which was built in 2013, debuts the new American rock ‘n’ roll bar and lounge Syd Norman’s Pour House as well as upgraded accommodations, public spaces and more, following a two-week dry dock in Brest, France. 

A testament to Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to providing the best entertainment at sea, Syd Norman’s Pour House is an authentic and immersive experience inspired by the greatest clubs in American rock ‘n’ roll history.  Replacing Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club, Syd Norman’s is a tribute to the grandfather of “Rock of Ages” playwright Chris D’Arenso and modeled after influential rock houses such as CBGB’s, The Rainbow and the Fillmore.  Vintage décor, diner-style seating and an unforgettable playlist of classic rock from the late 1960’s to 1980’s come together to bring this high-caliber entertainment offering to life. Three times a week, cast members from “Rock of Ages” will treat guests to specialty cocktails named after rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “The Witchy Woman” among others in the interactive Syd Norman’s Experience. Guests will also rock-out to a five-person band playing classics six nights a week.

Additional upgrades include enhancements to Bliss Ultra Lounge with new, premium furniture; new carpet in all 2,014 staterooms and suites; a full transformation of the gift shop; and new carpet installations in the staircases, elevators and lobbies.

Norwegian Sun

Built in 2001, Norwegian Sun underwent a three-week bow-to-stern renovation in Victoria, BC.  As a result, she now features refreshed staterooms and public spaces, and boasts three new venues including Los Lobos Cantina, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spinnaker Lounge. 

Los Lobos Cantina is a Mexican restaurant offering a modern take on traditional favorites like guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole and handcrafted margaritas. Replacing Las Ramblas Bar and Restaurant, Los Lobos Cantina features leather banquettes, dark wood tables and seating and ranchero-style design accents.

Bliss Ultra Lounge, formerly Dazzles, is the new bar and nightclub where guests can begin or end their evenings. Enhancements include an updated look with new plush seating, cocktail tables, bar stools, chandeliers, wall sconces, wall coverings, ornamental ceilings and a wooden dance floor.

The Spinnaker Lounge replaces the Observation Lounge and showcases a fresh design with a natural color palette reminiscent of blue, beige and tan. New to the venue are leather chairs, carpet, chandeliers, wall coverings and a stone top bar.

All 968 staterooms were upgraded with smart televisions and USB ports as well as new carpet, artwork and select furniture. The newly revitalized accommodations pay tribute to the beauty of the surrounding ocean with a palette of cool blue hues and silver and turquoise accents. The adorning abstract art within the staterooms and suites are the ideal complement to the new and modern feel.

The renovations also touched dining outlets and public spaces including Cagney’s, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Teppanyaki, the Mandara Spa, Stardust Lounge Theater, Splash Academy and more.

Norwegian Star

Following a nearly three-week dry dock in Barcelona, Spain, Norwegian Star underwent extensive enhancements to its staterooms, public spaces, restaurants, bars and lounges. The ship, built in 2001, also unveiled three new venues: Sky High Bar, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Spice H2O.

Sky High Bar showcases a new design complete with an updated bar and seating for close to 120 guests.  Replacing Bier Garten, the outdoor bar and lounge offers the best views on board.

Bliss Ultra Lounge replaces Spinnaker Lounge for late-night entertainment and now boasts a light, neutral color palette and a complete redesign with new carpet, custom loungers, seating, an upgraded bar and artwork.

For the first time, Norwegian Star will offer the adults-only enclave, Spice H2O. This well-appointed venue features a private pool, hot tubs, full bar and uninterrupted ocean views. During the day, it makes an ideal spot for sunbathing, and at night, it transforms into an open-air lounge with live entertainment, DJs and energizing themed nights.

All 1,174 staterooms and suites were outfitted with USB ports, enhanced with over 1,500 works of art and upgraded with new carpet, headboards and select furniture. The three-bedroom garden villas which feature private deck areas and can accommodate up to seven people were also remodeled to offer a light and airy design.

Additional enhancements were made to the bars and lounges, restaurants and public spaces including Atrium Café & Bar, Garden Café and the main dining rooms. A VIP section was also added in the casino.

(NCL)

AIDAnova Floats Out

August 22, 2018

(Courtesy AIDA/Meyer Werft)

AIDAnova left the shipyard building hall at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany.

The 180,000 gross tonne LNG ship was floated out on Tuesday evening the 21st August 2018. She was then positioned at the dock-side for her final hotel outfitting, ahead of a delivery this autumn.

Later in August, AIDA will christen the ship and delivery is scheduled for November 15th in Bremerhaven, Germany.

(AIDA)

Malcolm Says: This is the same design of ship that will become Costa, Aida and Carnival ships, plus P&O’s Iona in 2020, onwards Although each line will have them adapted a little to their own requirements.  This design of ship is NOT the biggest in the world, but will have the biggest passenger capacity in the world at 6,600 – all berths.

My Most Unique Ships

August 17, 2018

There are hundreds, of cruise ships out there, but only one modern day Ocean liner.

In 2003, when she entered service, Cunard’s QM2 at 151,400 gross tonnes was the biggest, the longest, tallest and most expensive passenger ship in the world,

The QM2 was built as an ‘Ocean Liner’ for the rigours of the North Atlantic, even in winter. Other cruise ships are now bigger than her, but the QM2 will still retain the crown of world’s biggest ‘Ocean Liner’ for many years to come.

The QM2 is a unique one-off design. She is stronger, more powerful/faster and has a longer endurance than all other cruise ships, which are often designed for fair-weather cruising in the Caribbean.

The other Queen’s (Victoria and Elizabeth) are actually vista design ‘cruise ships’ with Ocean liner decor.

The Queen Mary 2 is DEFINITELY one of my most unique ships, that I have cruised on.

Queen Mary 2 review: HERE

Celebrity Edge – 4 Main Dining Rooms

August 5, 2018

It has now been confirmed that Celebrity Edge will have four main complimentary restaurants on-board.

Cosmopolitan Restaurant

Cosmopolitan Restaurant (Courtesy Celebrity)

The walkthrough wine display at the entrance of our Cosmopolitan restaurant sets the scene for the cuisine to be enjoyed here – new American with international influences. With an exclusive menu, including dishes like the Classic Manhattan cocktail, an appetiser of Seared Scallops, and a succulent Braised Beef Short Ribs, you’ll discover favourite dishes prepared in exciting ways that will make them your brand-new favourites all over again.

Cosmopolitan Restaurant is one of the four complimentary main restaurants on-board Celebrity Edge, and maintains the essence of the main dining rooms onboard our Solstice and Millennium Class ships with its wine display.

Cyprus Restaurant

Cyprus Restaurant (Courtesy Celebrity)

In Cyprus Restaurant you’ll discover a stunning atmosphere that perfectly reflects the Mediterranean fare served here. In Cyprus, the menu’s main focus is seafood and features simple, clean dishes that celebrate the food and beverages of the Mediterranean region.

Sip a Black-Olives Brine & Strawberry Martini. Start your meal with a Moroccan Lentil Soup. Amaze your palate with the Basque-style Cod as an entrée. The menu choices are inspired – and exclusive to Cyprus Restaurant.

Cyprus Restaurant is one of the four complimentary main restaurants on-board Celebrity Edge, and is designed by world-renowned designer, Patricia Urquiola.

Tuscan Restaurant

Tuscan Restaurant (Courtesy Celebrity)

Step inside Tuscan Restaurant and discover the delicious ambiance, with a modern classical design inspired by Italian fashion and film and mouthwatering cuisine inspired by authentic southern Italian eateries. In Tuscan Restaurant, you’ll savour Italian-inspired dishes, featuring all homemade pastas prepared with a rustic flair. From a Classic Italian Negroni cocktail to mouthwatering Rosemary Roasted Chicken and a hearty bowl of Tagliatelle Carbonara, your taste buds will get a tour of southern Italy without even stepping ashore.

Tuscan Restaurant is one of the four complimentary main restaurants on-board Celebrity Edge, and is inspired by the speciality dining venue Tuscan Grille found onboard our Solstice and Millennium Class ships.

Normandie Restaurant

Normandie Restaurant (Courtesy Celebrity)

Normandie Restaurant features contemporary French cuisine in a modern, upscale, refined design that evokes the romance of springtime in Paris, with a color palette reminiscent of cherry blossoms in full bloom. Discover regional European wines, unique cocktails, including Le Forum Cocktail (a perfectly proportioned blend of gin, vermouth, and Grand Marnier), tantalising starters like the Alsatian Potato and Gruyere Tart, and main courses such as Cassoulet of Confit Duck. It’s refined, delicious, and oh so French.

Normandie Restaurant is one of the four complimentary main restaurants on-board Celebrity Edge, inspired by our elegant Murano speciality dining venue offered on several of our Solstice and Millennium Class ships.

(Text and images courtesy Celebrity)

Malcolm says: RCI’s experiment with ‘Dynamic Dining’ (multiple dining rooms, very similar to NCL’s ‘Freestyle’) on board their ‘Quantum’ class ships (2014-16: Quantum, Anthem and Ovation) did  not prove popular with their fans. They preferred one large dining room. In fact their ‘Dynamic Dining’ concept was abandoned. The next ‘Quantum-Ultra’ class ship (Spectrum, 2019) will have one large dining room again, plus smaller alternative options.

It will be interesting to see if four dining rooms works for RCI’s ‘Celebrity’ brand with ‘Edge’.

Today At Tilbury

August 5, 2018
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Tilbury 05-08-18

Today at the Tilbury Cruise Terminal, was an uncharacteristically hot day, complete with a blue sky’s. There was  an infrequent visitor, the ‘Aegean Odyssey’.  I took a few photos.

MV Aegean Odyssey is a cruise ship owned and operated by Voyages to Antiquity, a one-ship cruise company established in 2009. Originally built as a ferry, it was converted to a cruise ship in 1988, and substantially rebuilt again in 2010.

Launched: 18 June 1972
Capacity: 380 passengers
Crew: 180
Tonnage: 11,906 GT

Deck Plan: HERE

She was embaking on a 16 night cruise. It the words of the brochure: “Discover the dramatic and unique landscape of Iceland with gushing geysers, rumbling volcanoes and creeping glaciers. Visit the small volcanic island of Heimaey in the remote Westmann archipelago the island’s cosmopolitan capital Reykjavik. From here you will visit the dramatic landscapes of Thingvellir National Park”.

“Sail to the port of Isafjordur on the edge of the Arctic Circle and on to Akureyri with its magnificent green pastures, waterfalls and whale-filled bays. Call at Husavik a charming harbour surrounded by snow-covered mountains, which is full of colourful houses and home to the geothermal Myvatn Nature Baths. On this trip you will also visit Scottish castles, Viking settlements in the Faroe Islands and the remote Orkney and Shetland Islands.”

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I bet her sail-away at 19.00 will be lovely. No rain, no gales, no choppy seas.

I’ve never been on board this ship, but she looks right up my street: intimate and very charming.

Have you cruise on board her? What is she like?

Malcolm

What Do You Want From Me?

August 4, 2018

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RCI Completes Silversea Acquisition

August 3, 2018

Royal Caribbean has successfully completed its acquisition of Silversea Cruises.

RCI has a two-thirds stake in Silversea.

“We are proud to officially welcome Silversea’s industry-leading team to the RCL family,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. “This is a dynamite combination and we can’t wait to work with Manfredi, Roberto and the entire team as together we take Silversea to the next level.”

The companies also announced Project Invictus, a multi-year initiative to take Silversea’s ultra-luxury offerings to the next level. Project Invictus enhancements will range from product upgrades to ship revitalization programs.

The first Invictus enhancements will begin rolling out on the Silver Muse this upcoming August, where an upgraded champagne and caviar offering will be initiated.   The planned renovation of Silver Whisper in December 2018 will be much more comprehensive than initially anticipated.  The Silver Wind will also enter into an enhanced drydock in December 2018. The plan will be completed shortly after with an enhanced drydock of the Silver Shadow.

(RCI/Silversea)

Malcolm says: So RCI now five  brands: RCI, Celebrity, Azamara. Silversea and Pullmantur (Spanish). Take your pick, assuming that you your wallet is flexible.

Carnival Triumph to Become ‘Sunrise’, After Multi-Million $ Refit

August 2, 2018

(Courtesy Carnival)

The Carnival Cruise Line has announced plans for a “$200 million bow-to-stern makeover” for ‘Carnival Triumph’ in the spring of 2019. This will include renaming the ship ‘Carnival Sunrise’.

The two-month-long refurbishment will take place in Cadiz, Spain, starting March 1.

The drydock will add all of Carnival’s branded food, beverage and entertainment innovations, as well as update all staterooms in a broad spectrum of new accommodations providing guests fresh and exciting seagoing vacation choices, the company said.

Following a renaming ceremony, Carnival Sunrise will re-enter service with a series of five- to seven-day voyages from Norfolk, Va., beginning April 29, 2019, a summer schedule of four- to 14-day departures from New York commencing May 23, 2019, then move to Fort Lauderdale in October.

(Carnival)

Malcolm says: That’s an interesting approach to refreshing an old ship, change it’s name!  I though traditional sailors regarded re-naming a ship as very unlucky?

However in February 2010, Triumph was fire-damaged and sustained a loss of propulsion/power which stranded her in the Gulf of Mexico . Conditions on board became very unpleasant for the passengers and even her toilets even stopped working. Triumph had to be towed back to Miami by two tugs. You can see why Carnival would want to erase that episode and change her name.

I do recall ‘Carnival Destiny’ became ‘Carnival Sunshine’. Were there others?

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Sky Pad’

July 31, 2018

“Hop into the Sky Pad for an out-of-this-world bungee trampoline experience. Strap in, put on your virtual reality headset and get transported to another time, place, or planet. Whether you’re smashing candies in a sugar-coated world or travelling light years into the future, your virtual adventure will launch you high into the stratosphere and let your imagination soar”. (Royal Caribbean)

Sky Pads are being retro-fitted to some of RCI’s existing tonnage. ‘Spectrum of the Seas’, Royal Caribbean’s  first “Quantum Ultra” class of ship,  which will enter service in spring 2019, will also have one.

My Smallest Cruise Ship

July 28, 2018

Just a random image – for fun!

I actual like big, small and medium sized cruise ships. Each size has its advantages and disadvantages.

I don’t normally pick a cruise exclusively for the ships size, other factors such as cost, itinerary and departure date play a part in my decision.

The exception to the rule was my Caribbean cruise on-board ‘Oasis of the Seas’ – the world’s biggest class of cruise ship. I was not particularly drawn to the Caribbean, but the ships record-breaking size did entice me.  Anyway my judgement was sound, the ship really IMPRESSED me, but the Caribbean did not.

In contrast, I have taken cruises on Fred Olsen and Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) vessels, all of which are a fraction of Oasis’s size.

Anyway, I got to thinking what was the smallest cruise ship that I have cruised on. I’m going to discount small Ferries, pleasure boats and rowing boats (over the park) etc. My criteria is ships with overnight accommodation.

Without doubt the smallest ships that I have been on are “River” ones.  I have cruised on three and these have all carried under 170 passengers. However are these “ships” or “boats”? This is open to much debate, but does it matter anyway?

The smallest ocean cruise ship that I have cruised on is CMV’s Astoria. She is 16,144 gross tonnes, carrying 550 passengers. Now to the uninitiated, those numbers may sound pretty big, until you realise that there are many new ships at 150, 000+ gt caring 3,000+ passengers.

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

smaller azores

Astoria (CMV Image)

Never Cruised On A Small Ship?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is my: Astoria Review

What is the smallest ship that you have cruised on?

Anywhere Within The World, Within An Hour

July 26, 2018

What if you take the ship that goes to Mars and use it to go anywhere else on Earth?

Here’s how Elon Musk and SpaceX is planning to make most long distance trips no longer than 1/2 hour.

This would make fly-cruises,  from remote ports easy to reach. All you would need to do is find the rocket-fare!

Malcolm

Malcolm says: I first saw this kind of concept,  many decades ago as a teenager.  I don’t doubt that it is possible, especially as SpaceX has already landed their reusable rockets on their own feet. However, I can’t imagine a rocket (even a reusable one) is ever going to be a cheap option. How many people could fit in a SpaceX rocket? How much would the rocket fuel cost? It is surely going to be an expensive ticket. It would probably make the fare for the rich man’s aircraft, Concorde, look like a bargain! And what would the environment impact be in terms of pollution and noise? Imagine the carbon footprint!

Princess: Two New 175,000 Ton Ships

July 25, 2018

We don’t know what these 175,000 gt ships will look like, yet!

Princess Cruises has announced a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build two new cruise ships on a next-generation platform designed. The new builds are slated to be delivered in late 2023 and spring 2025, respectively.

The new vessels will be Princess Cruises’ first ships to be dual-fuel powered — primarily by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the marine industry’s most environmentally friendly advanced fuel technology and the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, which will significantly reduce air emissions and marine gasoil (MGO). The new ships, which will be the largest by capacity in the Princess Cruises fleet, will be built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

“This revolutionary platform for next-generation, LNG-powered cruise ships will introduce innovative design and leisure experiences driven by the future vacation and lifestyle trends of our guests – further evolving the already best-in-class Princess Cruises experience we deliver today,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We look forward to collaborating with Fincantieri to bring our vision for this next- generation premium cruise ship into service,” added Swartz.

The two ships will be 175,000 gross tons and will accommodate approximately 4,300 guests (lower berths). Specification details for the ship design, along with anticipated features and amenities of this all-new platform design for Princess Cruises, will be shared in the future.

Added Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri: “We are proud to extend our long-established partnership with Princess Cruises, a brand we have been tied to since our return to the cruise ship building industry in 1990. After so many years, we are ready to enter, together, a new era of this industry, increasingly aimed at reducing even more of our environmental impact. We proudly do this with an all-time record project, both in terms of size and technology. We believe that there are no more significant milestones than these to reaffirm our market-leading position. This builds upon the solid partnership between our country and Carnival Corporation — the largest foreign investor in Italy – while at the same time building upon our technological strength and increasing employment.”

In addition to today’s news, Princess Cruises has three new Royal-class ships on order with Fincantieri, including its next new ship, Sky Princess, which is currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in October 2019. The two other Royal-class ships are planned for delivery in 2020 and 2022.

The agreement for Princess Cruises’ next-generation cruise ships represent Carnival Corporation’s 10th and 11th contracted LNG-based vessels and are part of the company’s ongoing fleet enhancement strategy, aimed at creating excitement in the vacation market while accelerating demand for cruising, the fastest growing segment in the vacation industry. Carnival Corporation currently has 20 new ships under contract and scheduled for delivery between 2018 and 2025.

(Princess)

Malcolm says: When I first stated cruising, some twenty years ago, 70,000 gt was a mega-ship. Today, many are twice as big or more. It will not be long before the standard size for a cruise ship will be a massive 200,000 gt. There are some already in the order books (Msc World class and Genting Global class).  By comparison ‘Majestic Princess’, the newest Princess ship (2017) is a mere 141,000 tons.

This new Princess design may well be a different ‘platform’ to Carnival’s ‘Helios’ class (Around 185,000 gt) which AIDA, Costa, P&O and Carnival will get new ships from.

In the next twenty years,  small and medium sized cruise ships are likely to become increasingly rare.

Introducing Emerald Harmony

July 24, 2018

It’s not all about ocean cruising:

Luxury river cruising along the Mekong

We’re delighted to introduce our newest Star-Ship to the Emerald Waterways fleet: Emerald Harmony. Join our brand new Star-Ship on her inaugural season next year.

Innovatively designed to allow sailing into the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, this spectacular boutique Star-Ship will exceed all of your expectations, as it introduces you to the majesty of the Mekong river.

Boasting luxurious and contemporary facilities, you can savour a sumptuous night’s sleep in our spacious suites, indulge in authentic flavours in our Reflections Restaurant, toast to your travels with a cocktail in our Lotus Lounge, and retreat to the Sun & Pool Decks for tranquil views across Cambodia and Vietnam.

To celebrate the launch of our stunning new Star-Ship, you can enjoy generous savings across our 3 BRAND NEW itineraries. Be one of the first to sail on-board Emerald Harmony by calling our cruise experts to book your place today.

We’d love for you to join us on this unforgettable journey.

The Details

Our spectacular Emerald Harmony Star-Ship will exceed all your expectations, as it introduces you to the majesty of the Mekong. Reaching 239ft (73m) in length, 42 cabins accommodate 84 guests and 40 crew members, enabling us to provide spacious suites and public areas, as well as an excellent staff-to-guest ratio. Unlike other similar sized ships, we have specifically designed the Emerald Harmony to sail into the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, allowing us to dock in the heart of this fantastic city.

HORIZON BAR & LOUNGE

Enjoy a regional beer, glass of wine, cocktail or mocktail in the Asian-inspired surrounds of the Horizon Bar & Lounge. Dark wooden interior and indigenous plants create an authentic environment. And, of course, delicious teas and coffees are always available.

REFLECTIONS RESTAURANT

From delicious buffet breakfasts and lunches to decadent five-course à la carte dining, the Reflections Restaurant is a great place to meet up with your fellow guests and recall the highlights of the day’s on-shore exploration.

SUN & POOL DECKS

These truly remarkable spaces have been designed with your total relaxation in mind. Take a refreshing dip in the pool on warm days, before enjoying a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from the bar. Sit back and relax in one of the comfortable chairs or sun loungers in the open-air space, or take shelter from the sun, as the river breeze invigorates you.

(Text: Emerald Waterways)

Malcolm says: This looks to be a lovely river boat and its dimensions are not constrained by narrow rivers or locks, hence there are some big suites on offer. Emerald Waterways European boats look very nice too, although they have  a more generic design and size (similar to Amadeus boats).  I will be reviewing Emerald Harmony as soon as they give me a free cruise on her. (Unlikely)

AIDAnova’s Theatrium Offers New Entertainment Experiences

July 23, 2018

Theatrium (Courtesy AIDA)

New ‘Helios’ class ships will join the AIDA fleet in 2018 and 2021. The first ship is named AIDAnova.

The ships will each exceed 180,000 gross tons and have more than 2,500 staterooms. P&O’s ‘Iona’, to be delivered in 2020, will also be based on the ‘Helios’ design.

AIDA Cruises is promising that the new AIDAnova will offer “different and innovative entertainment experiences for all tastes every day in a total of 13 venues.” The company said there will be a number of new entertainment formats exclusive to the ship, for the German market.

AIDA said that five new shows will premier in the Theatrium, which continues to be the brand’s signature entertainment venue. In the evening – it’s showtime on the 360-degree stage, featuring technical highlights such as the 11 LED walls, seven different laser shows and the LED Tube inclusive of an “artists’ elevator.”

A new venue is Studio X, the ship’s TV studio. Guests can observe live how AIDA TV shows are produced.

Another venue is The Mystery Room, where players go on a treasure hunt. In the Rock Box, guests will get “an earful” of music, according to AIDA, either with a mix of favorites from the jukebox, or unplugged and live. Guests can also enjoy dinner in the Time Machine Restaurant – described as the realm of Professor Tempus. He will take them on a voyage through time to distant worlds.

The Four Elements venue is a highlight for the whole family featuring a rope course, waters slide and next door, a Caribbean-like beach that doubles as a night spot with live music and dancing.

In addition is nightly entertainment at The Cube dance club and at the Casino.

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says; As cruise ship increasingly get bigger and in some cases, the cruise lines like to pack them in, I can see that a combined Atrium/Theatre (Theatrium) is a good dual purpose use of space and would save building some other entertainment venues on board. This leaves more space for cabins, bars and alternative restaurants which are all income generating.

I don’t think Iona’s public rooms include a ‘Theatrium’ as such, but she will have ‘The Dome’ which I believe is a multi-purpose space that will be used in part for entertainment.

The United States Line

July 21, 2018
ss-america-3

(Source unknown)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the SS America story HERE

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

In 2016 Crystal Cruises launched a plan to renovate the SS United States and return her back to service as a ‘state-of-the-art cruise ship. However they quickly drooped the plan, citing too many technical and commercial challenges.

Below is a slide-show of Crystal’s renderings of a renovated SS United States:

 

Virgin Voyages “Scarlet Lady”

July 20, 2018

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Virgin Voyages has unveiled the long-awaited name of its first ‘Lady Ship’ today – “Scarlet Lady” – at its shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

Founder Sir Richard Branson and president and CEO Tom McAlpin revealed further details about the cruise line’s debut ship, including a ban on single-use plastics on board and the plans for its wellbeing programme, “Vitamin Sea”.

Virgin Voyages describes its Vitamin Sea wellbeing programme for passengers as being inspired by the oceans and their importance in health and well-being for the planet and our daily lives.

VV-Athletic-Club-Training-Center

Looks like hard work! (Courtesy Virgin)

Also on board will be The Runway running track, The B Complex with rooms for spin, yoga and cardio and The Athletic Club, which includes a boxing ring and gym equipment modelled on what you’d find in 1920s New York sports clubs.

Passengers will have ample opportunity for pampering in the ship’s Spa, Redemption, and in the blow dry bar, barber shop, male pedicure spa and mani-pedi spa.

virgin-voyages-scarlet-lady(Text/Image Virgin Voyages)

Malcolm says: The Virgin Voyages fleet will comprise three 110,000 ton, 2,750 passenger ships (lower berths). So they are pretty big, but not enormous, when compared to the P&O’s Iona, RCI, NCL and MSC ships.

The first one, which will debut in 2020, will sail seven-night Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. Deployment for the second and third, which will sail starting in 2021 and 2022, is not yet known.

Elandess Superyacht

July 17, 2018

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July 2018: The £75million ‘Elandess’, superyacht, is owned by Travelex founder Sir Lloyd Dorfman. It is worth around £905 million and was making her maiden voyage via the Thames.

The yacht was built in a German shipyard and even has a full sized tennis court on-board.

Featured Ship: Norwegian Epic

July 15, 2018

An early rendering. (Courtsey NCL)

As NCL announce an additional two new ‘Leonardo’ ships (making a total; of six), lets look at an existing ship: Norwegian Epic

Epic has had an interesting history:  Built in 2010,  she was going to be one of two new ships for the Norwegian Cruise Line. At around 156,000gt these were to be the biggest NCL ships yet.  However for whatever reason, NCL cancelled number two. I believe they had to pay a large penalty to the shipyard for this and probably fell out with the French shipyard,  STX Europe Chantiers de l’Atlantique,  in the process. (They have not constructed a ship for them since).  However all NCL’s  focus (and money) went on making Epic pretty  ‘Epic’.

Epic felt like NCL existing fleet of ships on ‘steroids’. Everything was bigger from the entertainment to the number of dining options. The cabins were very stylish, although the in-cabin bathroom arrangement shocked some commentators.

In my opinion Epic was the first mega-ship to really compete with Royal Caribbean’s mega-ships.

I must say that Epic’s private ‘Haven’ complex (a ship within a ship), which is perched above he bridge, makes he look a rather top heavy ship, in fact ugly. I would go as far to say that externally Epic is one of the ugliest purpose-built ships I have ever seen. Fortunately her interiors are very stylish and not too OTT, as NCL ones used to be

NCL later now moved onto the ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Breakaway-Plus’ designs (built by Meyer Werft Germany, this time) however many of the design ideas were  borrowed from ‘Epic’, apart from the bathroom configurations!

Norwegian Epic review: HERE

New Cruise Terminal For Copenhagen

July 15, 2018

According to a statement, Copenhagen will be  building a new cruise terminal with capacity for 5,000 guests, a quay length of 370 meters and a water depth of 12 meters, for  April 2020.

The terminal building will have two floors, totalling 10,000 square meters and two gangway bridges.

Overall more than 1.1 million cruise passengers are expected to visit Danish ports this year, with an economic impact of 200 million euro.

(Net)

NCL Confirms Fifth & Sixth ‘Project Leonardo’ ships

July 13, 2018

Even more big ship news:

July 12, 2018 – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced it confirmed its previously announced options for the fifth and sixth Project Leonardo Class ships with the Fincantieri  shipyard, Italy, for Norwegian Cruise Line for delivery in 2026 and 2027.

“These orders extend our disciplined and measured newbuild program and strong growth trajectory well into the future and will further drive long-term returns for our shareholders,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “Our six ship Leonardo Class fleet will allow us to broaden our deployment into strong performing and mature unserved and underserved markets and offer new experiences to our guests.”

At 140,000 gross tons and accommodating approximately 3,300 guests, this next generation class of ships will build upon the highly successful offering of freedom and flexibility found across Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, including the most recent Breakaway Plus Class ships, and feature a host of inventive designs that will further elevate its already award-winning guest experience. A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment. The smaller footprint will also broaden deployment opportunities around the world. Details on the many innovative guest-facing and first at sea features will be announced at a later date.

“Following the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful class in our Company’s history, the highly anticipated Leonardo Class will fuel future growth with exciting and innovative offerings that will meaningfully drive demand from new and loyal returning guests alike,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

With today’s announcement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has seven ships on order for Norwegian Cruise Line and one for Regent Seven Seas Cruises for a total of eight vessels for delivery through 2027. The Company will take delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, in fall 2019.

(NCL)

Malcolm says: This new ships are based on the Fincantieri MSC Seaside design.  NCL Leonardo compared to MSC Seaside: HERE

A New Cruise Terminal For MSC’s ‘World’ Class vessels.

July 12, 2018

More big ship news:

MSC Cruises and Miami-Dade county announced the signing of an agreement for extended preferential berthing rights as well as of a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a new Cruise Terminal at PortMiami. This will be built to accommodate MSC’s 200,000-ton World Class vessels.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, commented: “The new agreement and expanded partnership with PortMiami and Miami-Dade County is another key step forward in the business growth of MSC Cruises, as we continue to strengthen our global footprint, with a strategic focus on North America.”

In 2017, MSC Cruises worked with PortMiami on the completion of Terminal F, home to MSC Seaside, the first MSC Cruises ship to be built specifically for North American market and the Caribbean.

The new terminal is projected to be completed by October 2022.

(MSC)

Dining/Entertainment On-board P&O’s New Iona

July 10, 2018

The Grand Atrium (Courtesy P&O)

“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” (P&O)

Iona will offer guests unprecedented levels of quality and flexibility when it comes to food and drink. The exciting array of options combines brand-new dining and drinking concepts with much-loved signature venues to give new meaning to the word ‘choice’. With 29 different venues to choose from, there’s something for everyone, whatever their mood, at any time of day and night.

A P&O Cruises First, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in the main restaurants. This puts guests in the driving seat, giving them the flexibility to dine with friends and family any time from 6–9pm. At peak times, a pager will alert them when the table is ready so there’s time to relax with an aperitif.

Other P&O Cruises Firsts include two brand-new dining concepts and a new live music venue.

The Quays is an exciting foodie piazza offering a great range of self-service and takeaway venues and a lively atmosphere for sociable dining. Within The Quays, a host of new dining venues showcasing cuisines from around the world will create a vibrant buzz – from American diner classics to Asian fast-food favourites. Another foodie first is The Keel and Cow, a fabulous British gastropub serving hearty pub fare. The 710 Club serves up live music and stylish cocktails: the perfect combination to let the good times roll long into the night.

Of course, it’s not just about the new. Iona also celebrates the best P&O Cruises dining and drinking traditions with favourites such as Brodie’s, The Crow’s Nest, The Epicurean, Sindhu and The Beach House, along with pool bars and a pizzeria and grill.

Iona brings iconic P&O Cruises stars and new trends in food and dining under one fabulous roof.

The 710 Club, Deck 6

It’s all about the music at The 710 Club. The secret haven – exclusively for adults – is the perfect spot in which to relax and enjoy the musical atmosphere, day or night. During the day, it’s a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering something a little different. At night, it transforms into a sophisticated venue hosting a diverse range of top-class singers and bands tailored to British tastes: acoustic covers, ‘impromptu’ performances, classic and modern jazz, swing, Rat Pack, modern and acoustic rock music will feature. The 710 Club offers a fun and lively atmosphere, and is sure to captivate guests night after night.

The Keel and Cow, Deck 8

The Keel and Cow is an unpretentious gastropub, where food and drink have been crafted into something truly special. Located on deck 8, it offers a quick and convenient breakfast for those going ashore, and lunchtimes bring top-quality, authentic gastropub fare to the fore, with dishes such as a signature beef and stout burger, beer-battered fish and triple-cooked chips, black-pudding scotch eggs and more. At night, guests can gather with friends to enjoy hearty dishes or select from a range of steaks from the dry-ageing fridge. With views over the Grand Atrium or out to sea, or even to the chefs at work in the open galley, The Keel and Cow is the perfect place to bring friends and family together to enjoy delicious food, real hand-pumped ales and a great selection of craft ales in a relaxed, informal environment.

The Quays, Deck 8

Head to The Quays for informal dining options to suit every mood. This multi-venue dining piazza offers an amazing array of eateries and restaurants and is a lively hub for socialising over food and watching the world go by. There’s a fun street-food atmosphere with plenty of buzz, theatre and colour adding to the beachfront promenade vibe. With access onto the Promenade Deck, outdoor dining is available too. It’s all about flexible, fun, family-friendly food – the perfect place for a quick snack, light lunch or informal dinner.

With such a choice of foodie venues, The Quays will hit the hunger spot, from morning breakfasts to late-night snacks. New dining concepts found in The Quays include:

• The Boardwalk Diner (all-day, self-service): American classics meet Southern soul food with an all-day menu including chargrilled burgers, hot dogs, eggs over easy, southern-fried chicken with a side of slaw and so much more. Head on over for informal fast-food dining from breakfast until dinner.

• Fusion (all-day, take-away): Fusion is a hot spot for lovers of authentic Asian flavours. Offering take-away dishes all day, enjoy an odyssey around South East Asia in a relaxed and casual environment.

• Hook Line and Vinegar (all-day, self-service): For seaside hunger cravings at lunch or dinnertime, nothing beats traditional British fish and chips. Think crispy battered fish, calamari, fish burgers, scampi, crab cakes – all served with chips and mushy peas.

• The Olive Grove (restaurant, lunch and evening service): With a strong focus on food provenance, The Olive Grove celebrates the flavours of the southern and eastern Mediterranean with authentic dishes and sharing platters. Mouthwatering aperitifs and a well-chosen list of regional wines completes the menu and adds to the relaxed dining experience. The Olive Grove is the ideal venue for intimate dinners for two or a celebratory family meal – with options to eat in the restaurant or in the conservatory area.

Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea, Deck 17

For the ultimate daytime indulgence, Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is an on-board experience not to be missed. His unique twist on this classic British institution elevates the humble afternoon tea into something utterly decadent. As expected from the imagination of master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, delicious savoury and sweet surprises adorn each tempting cake stand, all served with a wide array of speciality teas.

Andersons, Deck 6

By day, Andersons is a quiet lounge bar with a library for browsing – the ideal spot for reading and relaxation. By evening, it becomes the place for before or after-dinner drinks – the main dining restaurants are located next door. The atmosphere is intimate, stylish and sociable with the feeling of a private members’ club. The exciting focal point of Andersons is a boutique gin distillery. Situated to the side of the bar, the statement piece in shining copper champions the art of artisanal gin. Guests will gather around it for masterclasses and gin tastings. Andersons is a must for connoisseurs in search of the finest tipples.

Beachcomber Pool and Bar, Deck 18

Situated to the fore of the ship, the Beachcomber Pool and Bar area offers plenty of space to relax in the sun and shade. The bar will rustle up a wide range of much-loved cocktails while guests relax and soak up the sunshine.

Brodie’s and Casino, Deck 7

Brodie’s, the much-loved British pub, is a sociable place where a good time is guaranteed. It boasts the ship’s largest range of British and international bottled beers, ciders and real ale. There’s a great selection on tap too, not to mention a well-stocked wine menu and tasty traditional British bar snacks such as pork scratchings, peanuts and crisps.

During the day, Brodie’s hosts quizzes and live sport. By night, it’s a popular spot for live entertainment, karaoke, quizzes and game shows. And don’t forget the adjacent Casino, which offers the latest gaming technology and games to suit all pockets, for novices and experts alike.

Crystal Bar and Laguna Bar, Deck 16

These poolside bars offer a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and are perfectly placed for al fresco refreshment when relaxing by the pool or enjoying fun activities such as sail-away parties. Both bars are located in the SkyDome.

Emerald Bar, Deck 6

For evening glamour, the stylish Emerald Bar in the Grand Atrium is the cocktail hotspot, thanks to its relaxed living-room feel and a Covent Garden-style buzz. With a large menu of premium cocktails, it’s an ideal location for pre-dinner drinks or as a late-night bar. From mid-morning, the space will host pop-up entertainment such as buskers and musical performances. From the early evening, guests will be treated to aerial circus performances. Whatever the time of day or night, spectacular sea views add to the unforgettable ambience.

Horizon Restaurant, Deck 16

The all-day self-service buffet is the perfect option for casual, flexible dining. The elegant design adds to the relaxed and easy atmosphere. Whatever the time of day or night, Horizon offers a wide range of tempting dishes, from traditional British favourites to foods from around the globe. Catering to a wide range of dietary requirements, vegetarian dishes, gluten-free choices and healthier eating options are all available. To top it off, all meals come with the best panoramic ocean views on the ship.

Main dining restaurants: Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal, Decks 6 & 7

All four main dining restaurants will offer Freedom Dining. This allows guests to enjoy dining with little more sense of occasion, and the flexibility to dine with chosen companions at a time that suits them. Although the surroundings are elegant in each restaurant, the atmosphere is always relaxed and welcoming with sittings for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

All Main Dining venues will also host the popular Gala Nights with a special Gala menu devised by P&O Cruises Food Hero Marco Pierre White.

Each of the restaurants has a distinctive design and style. Although grand in scale, the dining rooms will include more intimate areas with low balustrades and atmospheric mood lighting.

The largest, Pearl and Coral, are located on decks 6 and 7 respectively at the aft of the ship – and combine to make one large dining space over two levels. Here, the dining space spanning both decks is glazed full height with a feature staircase and

uninterrupted views over the ocean. Aqua and Opal are smaller restaurants, located port and starboard side respectively.

Gelateria, Deck 8

Located at the top of the Grand Atrium at the entrance to The Quays, and with access to the Promenade Deck, this is an informal and family-friendly gelateria serving scoops of modern Italian-style gelato in addition to premium tea and coffee. Guests can enjoy their goodies in the Gelateria or take them away to savour on the Promenade Deck.

Sindhu, Deck 16

Visit Sindhu to be treated to authentic Indian cuisine with a British twist. This Select Dining favourite offers a menu that is a triumph of perfectly balanced spices, delicate flavours and wonderful aromas. Dining amidst its sumptuous fabrics and opulent décor is a treat for the senses and an experience not to be missed.

SkyDome Pizzeria and Grill, Deck16

For peckish moments at any time of day, deck 16 is the place to go for fresh oven-baked pizzas and grilled goodies such as top-quality burgers and classic fish and chips. The food venue will also offer more global flavours with popular street foods from around the world.

Sunset Bar, Deck 8

At the aft end of the Promenade Deck, the Sunset Bar is the best place to enjoy a sundowner at the end of the day, with easy access to The Club House and its chilled evening vibe. By day, it’s equally atmospheric with cooling sun canopies to relax under and drink in the sea views.

Sundaes, Deck 16

For happy holiday treats, Sundaes in the SkyDome is perfect for all the family with a wide range of ice cream favourites to choose from.

The Beach House

In the evenings, the forward section of Horizon Restaurant transforms into a fun and informal Select Dining venue, The Beach House. Inspired by South American, Caribbean and Stateside cuisines, the menu offers hearty dishes and comfort-food favourites.

Highlights include the steaks, ribs, grills and burgers, hanging kebabs and a range of sharable sides. Save space for the decadent and delicious desserts.

The Club House, Deck 8

This flexible venue leads out into the aft end of the Promenade Deck to offer relaxing inside and outside spaces. It’s a bright, spacious, multi-purpose lounge by day – ideal for afternoon entertainment and family fun. By night, it transforms into a modern live-lounge and late-night disco, offering entertainment and dancing long into the night. The extensive bar area inside serves drinks and bar snacks.

The Crow’s Nest, Deck 17

The iconic observation lounge is a well-established feature of the fleet. Offering panoramic views of the ocean in a relaxed, modern and elegant setting, it’s a delightful spot for daytime reveries and reading. In the evening, the venue becomes a sophisticated cocktail lounge with a live pianist adding to the nostalgic sense of style. Located adjacent to The Epicurean, it’s a popular spot for aperitifs or after-dinner drinks, and relaxed socialising into the night.

The Epicurean, Deck 17

The Epicurean offers a gastronomic blend of classic and contemporary fine dining in elegant surroundings with uninterrupted sea views. The mood in this Select Dining restaurant is refined and intimate: impeccable service, crisp white tablecloths and a premium wine list complement the extraordinary food.

The focus is on provenance. Dishes are made with the finest and freshest local produce and prepared with great skill, fusing the best modern British and destination culinary traditions. The simple ingredients are the stars of the show. A Chef’s Table and a private dining area for up to eight guests provide further opportunity for special occasions and celebrations.

The Glass House, Deck 7

Created by award-winning wine expert and P&O Cruises Food Hero Olly Smith, The Glass House is for lovers of fine wine and great food. The premium wine bar boasts an impressive wine list curated by Olly and offers a sophisticated environment in which to enjoy breakfast, a light lunch, a leisurely glass of wine or an evening meal with family or newfound friends. Wine connoisseurs are well taken care of: Cellar Door at The Glass House offers wine talks, tastings and wine-pairing dinners. It’s in prime position to enjoy the Grand Atrium’s aerial performances, as well as magnificent views out to the horizon.

The Limelight Club, Decks 6

This supper-club venue is a fixed favourite. After the daytime dancing classes, The Limelight Club is the place to be for adult-only evening dining and entertainment. The club exclusively hosts established and emerging vocalists and is the dedicated venue for resident performers and the house band. As the entertainment gets underway, guests enjoy a unique dining experience: it starts with a welcome drink before a themed multi-course menu is served at intervals throughout the show. After the performances, the bar is open to all and becomes a lively late-night hotspot.

Vistas Café Bar, Decks 6

Located in the heart of the Grand Atrium, Vistas is a warm and welcoming café with a buzzing atmosphere. Serving premium tea, coffee and snacks, as well as tempting treats from P&O Cruises Food Hero and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing pit stop while looking at fabulous ocean views or watching the world on ship go by.

In the evenings, it’s an ideal spot for an after-dinner coffee or wind-down tea. From mid-morning there will also be pop-up entertainment, and from early evening impromptu aerial circus performances will add to the drama and excitement of the Grand Atrium space.

(P&O)

Entertainment:

The 710 Club, Deck 6

This is the venue all about the music, a secret haven exclusively for adults where relaxing in a musical atmosphere is the priority (day or night).

For guests who prefer this vibe during the day, what you will find is a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering something a little different.

At night though, the spot transforms into somewhere oozing sophistication with a diverse range of top-class singers and bands tailored to British tastes.This can include acoustic covers, ‘impromptu’ performances, classic and modern jazz, swing, Rat Pack, modern and acoustic rock music.

SkyDome, Decks 16 and 17

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.

Ocean Studios, Deck 6

This is one for the film fanatics where you’re greeted with a warm welcome, comfortable seating and a relaxing environment for that premium cinema experience!

Four cinema screens will host everything from classics to recent blockbusters in surround sound with screenings throughout the day, popcorn and snacks for plush boutique surroundings.

The Club House, Deck 8

The non-stop upbeat atmosphere entertains both day and night where daytime sees the space function as a vibrant multi-purpose space that’s perfect for families to play games and enjoy afternoon entertainment including game shows!

Once the sun goes down, The Club House becomes Iona’s late-night venue, offering dancing in a modern ‘live lounge’ environment.

P&O guests can also enjoy the sounds of Iona’s talented house band, Pulse, at night with an indoor/outdoor space, boasting bar areas leading to the outdoor aft end of the Promenade Deck.

The Limelight Club, Deck 6

A feast for the senses, this venue blesses you with fantastic food, great company and top-notch entertainment.

The venue showcases established and emerging entertainers and is the dedicated space for resident performers, all accompanied by a gregarious compère and Iona’s house band.

Exclusively for adults, it’s also a hotspot for dancing, with daytime classes and hosted dancing events; guests can enjoy a drink on arrival before tucking into a menu full of unique, innovative dishes.

To heighten the sense of occasion, P&O have made sure the menus have a ‘show business’ theme where after each night’s show, the club transforms into a late-night venue for post-show drinks and revelry.

Headliners Theatre, Decks 6 and 7

This is perfect for a classic yet contemporary night with a sleek and sophisticated theatre experience: plush, comfortable seating and the latest LED technology deliver the ‘wow’ factor.

The two-deck-high auditorium on decks 6 and 7 ensures everyone has the best view in the house and during the day, guests can enjoy matinee performances and activities such as talks, films and Q&As.

But once night falls, full-scale production shows hit the stage– think dazzling West End style performances, cabaret, comedy and more!

The Ivory Suite, Deck 17

Love is in the air in The Ivory Suite as the primary venue for weddings and renewals of vows, it’s perfect for intimate and mid-sized ceremonies, all tailored to guests’ requests.

The premium location next to the Crow’s Nest and The Epicurean is light, airy whilst the elegant surroundings and ocean views provide a romantic backdrop for photographs.

Kids Clubs:

The Reef, Deck 17

This free on-board activity programme for children is a place to keep them safe and entertained throughout their entire cruise as and when they need, a place they can forge friendships with other children their own age.

Staffed by a crew of enthusiastic and qualified Reef rangers, it offers clubs with a wide range of age-specific entertainment:

  • Nursery (6 months-2 years)
  • Splashers (2-4 years)
  • Surfers (5-8 years)
  • Scubas (9-12 years)

There is also a secure outdoor play area and a designated splash park for these age groups whilst parents can make use of then complimentary Night Nursery available for ages six months to four years, open from 6pm to 2am each night.

A quiet area is created for the perfect surroundings for an infant to sleep; parents are contacted via a pager if their child wakes up.

Scene, Deck 6

Scene is a secret on-board hang-out for teens aged 13 to 17 and is separated from the rest of the children’s club, giving teens a chance to have their own space and allowing them to dip in and out of planned events.

It operates during high peak cruising season and in the low season, it becomes an entertainment space for adults.

Guests should note that in all children’s clubs, including the night nursery, allocation is on a first come, first served basis due to limited spaces available.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: This design of mega-ship will also be given to Costa, AIDA and Carnival. One assumes that much of the hardware, such as the dining rooms, will be similar for all brands. I fear that P&O will lose many of their traditions (such as two sitting for dinner and silver service) and become just another big mass-market line.  This ship will surely be aimed at multi-generational families, just like RCI, NCL and MSC ships are.  The ‘socks & sandal’ brigade are history!

I’m not suggesting that Iona will be a bad ship or offer a poor product. I am suggesting P&O are losing their original identity.  Did you know that ‘Oriana’ (1995) and ‘Aurora’ (2000) were the last two ships specifically built for P&O, all others since have been Princess/Carnival designs. (Oriana will be leaving the P&O fleet in 2019).

Iona will hold the record for the most number of passengers on-board a cruise ship (around 5,200 lower berths, + upper berths), although she is about 22% smaller than RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, the worlds biggest cruise ships. That sounds a little worrying to me.

CMV’s 2019/20 Programme

July 6, 2018

Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ winter and spring 2019/20 cruise programme includes new winter voyages to Africa, a world cruise, Christmas and New Year cruises to the Canary Islands & Madeira, plus Mexico and Caribbean.

See full SEATRADE article: HERE

(Image Courtesy of CMV)

Details of new ship, Vasgo Da Gama: HERE