Wind-Assisted Propulsion

August 23, 2017

(Courtesy Quadriga)

Lloyd’s Register has joined the Quadriga sustainable shipping project – an initiative from Hamburg-based Sailing Cargo, which aims to build the world’s biggest sailing cargo ship.

Wind-assisted propulsion offers one of the few realistic options for introducing renewable power into shipping, Lloyd’s stated.

The project outlines a plan to build a 170-meter car carrier, capable of carrying up to 2,000 cars.

It will be equipped with four DynaRig masts and will operate on hybrid propulsion with sails and diesel-electric engines, with an optional battery system for peak loads. The vessel will be capable of sailing at 10 to 12 knots.

(Lloyd’s Register)

Crystal Bach, Christened.

August 23, 2017

(Rendering by Crystal)

Crystal River Cruises has christened Crystal Bach, the first of its four newbuild Rhine-class river ships.

The ceremony took place on Sunday, August 20 in Rüdesheim, Germany.

Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, presided over the ceremony.

The ship’s godmother, German opera star Anna-Maria Kaufmann, christened the ship with the traditional blessing and the breaking of a champagne bottle.

“The enthusiasm surrounding this groundbreaking ship has been tremendous already, and we could not be prouder to welcome her to the award-winning Crystal River fleet,” said Rodriguez. Addressing the crowd in attendance, she elaborated on the innovative approach to creating Crystal Bach and her upcoming sister ships. “The fact that she is Crystal’s first-ever new build river ship means that we had the opportunity to go beyond the best and create a luxury river cruise experience that is truly unprecedented. She is the first – and, until her sisters join her – the ONLY all-balcony, all-suite river ship.”

(Crystal)

Malcolm says: I will be cruising on this ship and reviewing it, as soon as I win  the national lottery!

Vega Expedition Ship

August 21, 2017

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Yet another new player has entered the expedition cruise market. Sweden’s Bassoe Technology has partnered with Yantai CIMC Raffles Shipyard, in China, to offer a designed-in-Scandinavia, built-in-China 240-passenger expedition vessel.

The concept – code-named Vega has been designed to Polar Code 7 requirements, is 147 meters in length, and will carry up to 240 passengers.

Optional features include a helicopter hanger and landing pad, as well as submarine operation options.

Among the design highlights is a top-deck observation lounge.

(Bassoe Technology)

Big New Ships

August 18, 2017

Above: Celebrity Edge see HERE

Above: NCL Leonardo see HERE

Above: MSC Seaside see HERE

Above: MSC Meraviglia see HERE

Above: P&O 185,000 gt ship see HERE

Carnival Horizon Construction Update

August 16, 2017

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Norwegian Bliss – The Details

August 14, 2017

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Norwegian Cruise Line today revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship, which will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera beginning in June 2018. Custom-built for the spectacular, Norwegian Bliss will boast many firsts at sea for the global market place.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss is currently being constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018.

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(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine Exhilaration

Norwegian Bliss will boast excitement around every corner and delight guests with thrills, with activities spanning the entirety of the ship’s top deck. Following overwhelming popularity aboard Norwegian Bliss’ sister ship in China, Norwegian Joy, guests will be able to put the pedal to the metal for the first time aboard a North American-based cruise ship with a two level electric-car race track. The competitive track, the longest at sea at nearly 1,000 feet, will rev up the hearts of all who race around her many twists and turns with four speed settings accommodating novice, intermediate and advanced drivers, reaching up to 30 miles per hour — with a special “turbo boost” available on each lap. The electric cars run silent so as to not disturb those seeking to enjoy the serene environment. But guests will have the full racing experience while they channel their inner Andretti, as the sounds of a race car engine are piped in through speakers located in the car’s headrest.

After burning rubber at the race track, guests can test their agility at the open-air laser tag course. Themed as an abandoned space station, the course comes to life both day and night as guests go into stealth-mode and compete against family and friends with state-of-the art laser guns.

After working up a sweat, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can cool down at the ship’s expansive pool and sundeck featuring two spacious pools and six infinity hot tubs that scale the side of the ship. The ship’s Aqua Park also includes two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Ocean Loops free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and a second see-through loop that stretches down to the deck below, sure to offer a wet and wild ride. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet, with a translucent section that provides stunning ocean views as guests twist and turn to the finish line.

Junior cruisers can splish, splash and have a blast at the Kids’ Aqua Park, a watery wonderland of splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and slides. The little ones will also have a blast at Splash Academy, the fleet’s award-winning complimentary youth program. Centrally-located on Deck 5, Splash Academy will offer age-appropriate supervised activities for children aged three to 12 with fun and energetic programming including games with the conservation-minded Officer Snook, a circus spectacular celebration, jungle-themed nights and more. Teens aged 13 through 17 will enjoy their own space aboard Norwegian Bliss on deck 5, Entourage, adjacent to the ship’s arcade. The exclusive teen space features plush lounge furniture, gaming stations, foosball, air hockey and a dancefloor with neon lighting, as the space transitions to the hottest teen nightclub at sea in the evening hours. Even tiny cruisers, ages six months to just under three years old, will have an dedicated space to enjoy aboard Norwegian Bliss with the fleet’s largest Guppies playroom, where Early Years Coordinators will host sensory-play activities for parents and babies including messy play, exploration, music and movement. In line with its youth programming across the fleet, Norwegian Bliss will offer a wide range of family-friendly activities for guests to enjoy including family balloon twisting, interactive games and the Family Glow Party.

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(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine Delectable

Foodies and cocktail connoisseurs will be able to dine, sip and savor to their heart’s delight with a breadth of dining and bar options aboard Norwegian Bliss, including signature Norwegian favorites as well as exclusive new concepts that will debut aboard the line’s newest ship.

Modern décor and premium ingredients will meet southern flavors at the all-new Texas Smokehouse, Q, where guests will be able to tap their boots to the beat of live contemporary pop country music each night as they indulge in authentic Texas barbeque in a sleek urban setting. The new à la carte specialty restaurant will infuse an explosion of flavors in every bite with a selection brisket, ribs, chicken and sausages and more freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods. Q will offer generous portions of sides and starters including deviled eggs with natural air cured ham, pickled jalapeños, fresh cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac-n-cheese, baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon and more. Guests can round out their meal at Q with a mason jar of fresh banana pudding or indulge in bread pudding in whiskey sauce.

The flavors aboard Norwegian Bliss will travel south-of-the-border with Los Lobos, an outpost of the brand’s new restaurant serving elevated Mexican cuisine that made its debut in 2016 aboard Norwegian Dawn during her extensive dry dock enhancement under the Norwegian Edge, the brand’s investment program that encompasses the entire guest experience. Los Lobos will offer an upscale, modern take on traditional favorites like fresh guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole, handcrafted margaritas featuring private-label Patron Barrel Select, Norwegian’s own tequila blend, and more. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating located on deck 8 aft, Los Lobos will be adjacent to Cagney’s Steakhouse, Norwegian’s incredibly popular signature American-style steakhouse that serves up choice cuts of Hartley Ranch Premium Black Angus Beef including the larger-than-life 20 oz. Porterhouse, an incredibly tender 8 oz. filet mignon and signature ribeye. Between Los Lobos and Cagney’s Steakhouse, The A-List Bar, named for Norwegian President & CEO and 30-year veteran Andy Stuart, will serve handcrafted cocktails, wines and premium spirits.

The Manhattan Room (NCL)

Sweets and treats will be served up day and night at Coco’s, a completely new à la carte dessert venue located on deck 6 in the heart of the ship, 678 Ocean Place, where liquid chocolate in an enclosed oversized chocolate fountain will adorns its entranceway, delighting kids and kids at heart. The chocolate-themed dessert restaurant will feature handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other decadent treats paired with fine coffees and teas.

In a nod to the ship’s homeport of Seattle, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can warm up for their glacier walk with a Caramel Macchiato or grab a Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade to sip on while lounging on a pristine Caribbean beach with a full service Starbucks® store on board. Guests can start their day with Starbucks® coffees, teas and bites available à la carte.

Norwegian will bring together the best of its specialty dining experiences aboard Norwegian Bliss with signature à la carte restaurants including French cuisine at Le Bistro; the tastes of Tuscany at La Cucina; the finest fresh seafood at Ocean Blue; global fusion cuisine featuring sushi, dumplings, handhelds and more at Food Republic; Cheeseburgers in Paradise® at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville® at Sea; and handmade cupcakes and macarons at The Bake Shop. Teppanyaki, the brand’s family-favorite Japanese hibachi steakhouse will also be onboard at cover charge pricing.

Norwegian Bliss will serve up premium quality cuisine with fresh ingredients in all complimentary dining venues with rotating menus curated by the brand’s coveted culinary team. In a new complimentary dining concept, The Local will offer guests pub fare in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere 24 hours a day.

Norwegian’s original beverage concepts will round out the ship’s culinary offerings. The District Brew House will serve 24 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers, along with bites from the adjacent Food Republic. Local favorites on tap at The District will include craft beers from Red Hook Brewery and Elysian Brewery in Seattle as well as Wynwood Brewery and M.I.A. Beer Company in Miami. The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar will offer a curated wine list featuring 35 grape varietals including top selections from Washington-area vineyards, Tuscany and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate, as well as light bites from La Cucina. Wine will come to life at The Cellars with interactive educational seminars and tastings daily. Paying homage to her homeport cities, Norwegian Bliss’ beverage program will also feature a selection of local craft cocktails developed by Seattle-based celebrity mixologist and chef Kathy Casey as well as Miami-based Gabe Orta, one of the master curator’s behind the city’s ultra-popular BarLab concepts.

Imagine Tranquility

After glacier trekking in Alaska or discovering hidden caves and sea pools at the Baths of Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean, Norwegian Bliss guests will be able to revive, refresh and recharge at the ship’s Mandara Spa. Located on deck 16 aft, the Mandara Spa will offer the ultimate pampering experience with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon and barber shop, fitness center and thermal suite. The Fitness Center will offer latest state-of-the-art TechnoGym® cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as personal training and group fitness classes including TRX, Norwegian Fight Club, RYDE Cycle and more. The ship’s expansive thermal suite will be an exclusive enclave of relaxation where guests can soothe aching joints in the vitality pool and heated whirlpool; rinse off and clear mind and spirit in special experience showers; reduce inflammation and improve respiratory functions in the salt room; cleanse the body in the steam room or sauna; cool down in the snow room; or catch up on their latest reading on one of the 17 heated stone loungers. Passes to the exclusive enclave of relaxation will be available for purchase for a limited number of guests each sailing.

In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will be able to unwind in two private lounge spaces while cruising aboard Norwegian Bliss at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O.

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(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine a New Scene

During her inaugural summer season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, where she will be the largest and most innovative ship to ever seasonally homeport on the West Coast. Unlike any other ship sailing the West coast, Norwegian Bliss will feature the brand’s most celebrated elements of freedom and flexibility including 678 Ocean Place, a three-deck central hub where the pulse of the ship’s action takes place with restaurants, shops, entertainment and guest services all conveniently located in one area. Also a first for a ship on the West coast will be The Waterfront, a popular feature that debuted on Norwegian Breakaway in 2013; the outdoor promenade is designed to enhance guests’ connection to the ocean with al fresco dining, bars and lounge spaces and offer spectacular views of Alaska’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife or the Caribbean’s stunning turquoise waters.

Norwegian’s vibrant nightlife scene will be taken to the next level aboard Norwegian Bliss with live entertainment, electrifying deck parties at Spice H2O and an expansive casino featuring hundreds of slot machines and table games to suit the likes of novice and pro gamblers alike. In a first for Norwegian, the casino will now offer a smoking and a non-smoking casino to cater to all guest preferences.

Norwegian Bliss’ custom design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodations including luxurious suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms for solo travelers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families traveling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature an incredible lineup of entertainment offerings including the Tony-Award winner for “Best Musical” Jersey Boys and two observation lounges, including the exclusive Horizon Lounge for guests of The Haven®, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean, and more. Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ship’s hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line has commissioned Wyland, one of the world’s premier marine life artists, to design the hull art for Norwegian Bliss.

(NCL)

Titanic Replica Update

August 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

Titanic v Oasis of the Seas: HERE

Malcolm

CMV Columbus

August 11, 2017

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(New slide show above)

Cruise & Maritime Voyages welcomed their new flagship Columbus into their fleet on the 8th June 2017.

The 64,000 tonnes ship can carry up to 1400 people and will be cruising year round from London – Tilbury.

Columbus was at Tilbury  today (11/08/17), before departing on a two week itinerary to the canary islands.

I have been on the ship and so has guest contributor Bruce Tucker. Therefore we have two reviews for you:

Columbus Ship Reviews: HERE

Malcolm

Great Cruise Journeys Is Launched

August 10, 2017

(Courtesy GCJ)

Great Rail Journeys Ltd – incorporating Rail Discoveries, Great Rail Journeys and GRJ Independent – has announced the launch of their new UK tour operation under the name of Great Cruise Journeys (GCJ).

​The new venture offers customers booking directly a selection of independent cruise holidays that showcase river cruising.

In partnership with AMA and Travelmarvel (including the vessel ‘Spirit Of Chartwell’) the collection offers tours to destinations including Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Switzerland.

(GCJ)

Malcolm says: Another choice of River cruise operator, which can’t be a bad thing. It makes a change from reading about ‘Expedition’ cruises which is another growth area, but not too many of us are likely to try.

Bliss Sells Like Bliss

August 9, 2017

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Norwegian Bliss, scheduled to be delivered in May 2018, is in the best booked position of any prior NCL newbuild ahead of introduction.

In addition, the pricing for Norwegian Bliss is exceeding pricing for Norwegian Breakaway prior to its introduction.

Norwegian Bliss is scheduled to enter service in Alaska and following a season sailing from the Port of Seattle, will reposition to PortMiami for eastern Caribbean cruises starting in November 2018.

NCLH to Double Cuba Capacity

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is doubling its Cuba program in 2018 to 4% of its capacity, primarily driven by the addition of Norwegian Sun’s Havana cruises from Port Canaveral.

The Norwegian brand will offer 59 Cuba cruises in 2018, while Oceania will operate 21.

NCLH Shares Up

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shares rose more than 7% early on Tuesday (o7/08), as the company reported a stronger than expected second quarter.

President and CEO Frank Del Rio cited an ‘extraordinarily strong booking environment’.

All three NCLH brands are delivering well. While North American demand is particularly strong for cruises in Europe, Del Rio said the company’s efforts in the European source market have closed the gap in spending between Americans and Europeans.’

(NCLH)

Costa neoClassica To Leave Fleet

August 7, 2017

Costa-neoClassica (Courtesy Costa)

Costa Cruises has announced that the 1,302-passenger Costa neoClassica, will embark on her final sailing for the line on March 3, 2018, with a seven-night India and Maldives voyage. She is their oldest ship at 26 years.

The Italian cruise line will introduce four brand-new vessels to the market from 2019, although there are no further details about these ships.

Costa have not commented on what will happen to neoClassica after she is sold. However one Internet source* says that Costa neoClassica is believed to be heading to Florida next year to join Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, however president Kevin Sheehan Jr. (son of the former Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings ceo, Kevin) could not confirm that.

(Costa/*CIN)

Malcolm says: In 2014 Costa neoClassica changed her name from Costa Classica and underwent a major €90 million refurbishment. At 26 years old (1991) she should still have a few good years service left in her. Costa probably want to recoup some of her refit costs, so I very much doubt if they will scrap her. Sister ship Costa neoRomantica was built in 1993 and might just be the next ship to leave their fleet, in a few years time.

Big v Small Ships

August 5, 2017

Not all ships are the same. Some are considerably bigger than others, carrying significantly more passengers than others.

Both big and small have their advantages and disadvantages:

P&O Britannia and Marco Polo (Image Courtesy of Karen Bradbury – click to enlarge )

Big ships:

Are often newer ships.

More likely to offer a mass-market (standard) product.

Embarkation and disembarkation , including ports of call, can be slow.

Can be more stable in heavy seas.

More choices of public rooms, sports/fitness/beauty facilities, dining and entertainment choices.

May offer ‘flexible’ dining.

Greater choice of cabin grades and often more balconies.

Given the large number of cabins (economies of scale) the fare should be cheaper than smaller ships, but this in not necessarily so.

More passengers but they can actually be more spacious than smaller ships.

Better internet and high-tech features.

Are orientated towards multi-generational families.

May have more on-board surcharges for alternatives.

Can be limited as to where they can dock. May not support tendering.

Tendering will often be slow or even impossible.

Small ships:

Are often older ships.

More likely to offer a premium product, but their are ‘budget’ small ships.

Embarkation, disembarkation and ports of call can be easier due to smaller passenger numbers.

Can be less stable in heavy seas.

Less choices of public rooms, sports/fitness/beauty facilities, dining and entertainment choices.

Less choice of cabin grades and balconies may be rare.

More intimacy, charm and friendliness.

Evening dining may be fixed with two pre-allocated sittings in one main dining room.

Possibly better food and service. (Service can also be more personal).

Can often dock nearer cities. Tendering is always an option.

Easier for those with mobility problems to navigate the ship.

A better connection with the sea.

Are often aimed at more mature passengers – some are child free.

Less gimmicks.

Carry less passengers (but may not actually be more spacious.)

Smaller cabins, less balconies on offer. (If there any at all).

Some cabins on older ships, on the lowest couple of decks (aft) can suffer from noise and engine vibration.

Tui Discovery To Homeport In Southampton

August 4, 2017

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Thomson Cruises’ ship ‘Tui Discovery’ will homeport in Southampton, for the first time next year as part of its 2018 programme.

The 35,000-tonne ship is ex-Royal Caribbean’s ‘Splendour of the Seas’, built in 1996. She carries 2,000 passengers and will homeport at Southampton form September 2018, operating four new itineraries – Fantastic Fjords, Baltic Treasures, European Experience and Seeking the Northern Lights.

More details of the itineraries will be available on the Thomson web site in due course.

Talk Of Newbuilds For Thomson

TUI Group’s Chief Executive Friedrich Joussen has said Thomson Cruises may be the next cruise expansion project for the travel company, which also operates Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and TUI Cruises.

Joussen said that Thomson has older ships, and that they were looking at moving to the “TUI model” – which could include building new ships for Thomson.

TUI Cruises, aimed at the German market, started with two ex-Celebrity ships before building new ships.

Thomson Choose ted.

Thomson Cruises announced that UK-based ‘The Entertainment Department’ (ted) will be providing all entertainment on board TUI Explorer and the yet-to-be-named addition, currently sailing as Mein Schiff 2, for the German market.

With a specially-created modern package of entertainment shows and attractions, the ted offering will be ready for launch on board TUI Explorer (currently Mein Schiff 1) from May 2018, providing a balanced mix of contemporary entertainment designed to suit customers of all ages.

The content includes original theatre shows, light entertainment, musicians and children’s concepts, all of which embrace the latest technologies such as virtual reality and interactive screens.

(Thomson)

Malcolm says: You can see a slide-show of TUI discovery in her former guise of RCI’s ‘Splendour Of The Seas’: HERE

SunStone Expedition Ship

August 3, 2017

Malcolm says: Yet another Expedition ship. This has become a booming cruise niche-market.

Balmoral (Pleasure Steamer) Smashes into Harbour Wall

August 1, 2017

A tourist filmed the scary moment a 700-tonne Balmoral, pleasure steamer, smashed into a pier as she attempted to navigate choppy seas.

Daily Mail article/Video: HERE

Malcolm says: She’s NOT a ferry as the article says, she’s a ‘Pleasure Steamer’ own by the same company that operates the charming ‘Waverley’ Paddle Steamer

See the Waverley: HERE

Genting World Dream Hull-Art

July 31, 2017

(Courtesy Genting)

Genting Hong Kong’s World Dream is inching closer to its launch for Dream Cruises later this year in the Chinese cruise market.

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ article and images: HERE

Zeebrugge To Get New Terminal

July 31, 2017

The port of Zeebrugge, Belgium, will have a new cruise terminal for turnarounds by 2018.

While the port is mainly a transit port, there is significant hotel and transport infrastructure that could provide a homeport for cruise ships.

144 cruise ships have applied for berth space for 2018.

Cruise passengers will arrive on the first floor, with separate arrival and departure areas. The second floor will house a large waiting area with full catering facilities and the ability to be flexed into a mixed-use space on non-cruise days. It is set to carry the name Terminal Zeebrugge.

(CIN)

Malcolm says: Belgium is not normally top of the list for British tourists to visit. However Belgium should not be underestimated as a tourist destination. It has much to offer, with many beautiful cities (Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Brussels etc.) much culture and beer!

The World’s Biggest Submarine

July 30, 2017

Dmitry Donskoy – The world’s biggest submarine, measuring 574 feet and capable of holding 20 nuclear missiles among its 200 weapon arsenal, arrives at a Russian naval base. The massive Typhoon-class sub can reach speeds of 16.5 knots.

(Daily Mail)

Meraviglia Review

July 28, 2017

(MSC )

MSC’s Meraviglia (‘Wonder’ in English) is their most exciting and biggest class of ship to date. She entered service in June 2017.

Meraviglia is 171,598 gross tonnes and carries up to 5,714 passengers. She is part of a rapid expansion of MSC’s fleet comprising of three new classes of ship: Meraviglia, Seaside and The Word Class.

Meraviglia is the first to be delivered.

Some of MSC’s fares have been very competitive.   However MSC have received some criticism in the past over the quality of their on-board experience, including food, entertainment and service.

The companies origins are Italian, but they strive to offer a multi-national product. However it is obviously not easy to please all cultures at once and if they do not tread carefully they may end up pleasing nobody. Some English speaking passengers have been critical of the on-board experience, others really enjoy the diversity of the MSC product.

The questions are do MSC need to  raise their game to deliver a higher quality experience and can they achieve this on their bigger ship yet?

In short is Meraviglia really ‘Wonderful’?

Guest contributor, Tony Barraclough (UK), took  Meraviglia’s maiden voyage.

In fact Tony did a back-to-back itinerary: Le Havre to Genoa, then Genoa to Barcelona. He occupied two different grades of cabin.

Tony has done ten MSC cruises, as well as ten cruises with other cruise lines, so he knows what he is talking about.

Tony  has written two reviews and tells it how it is.  He has kindly given me permission to share his reviews with you.

MSC Meraviglia review: HERE

Mega-Ship Copycat Syndrome

July 25, 2017

I  call it  ‘Megaship Copycat Syndrome’ (or MCS), which ironically is a mnemonic with the same letters as MSC  (The Mediterranean Shipping Company), but in a different order. This is pure coincidence!

In 1998  Royal Caribbean’s ‘Voyager of the Seas’ entered service, at 138,194 gross tonnes, she was the world’s biggest cruise ship at the time.

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

Voyager Royal Promenade (RCI)

Although external promenade decks and ‘sheltered’ (internal) promenade decks date back to the great ocean liners, Voyager was the first cruise ship to have an internal ‘street’ down the middle, called the ‘Royal Promenade’. It even had cabins overlooking it.

promenade-deck-queen-mary-ocean-liner-02-thomas-woolworth

Internal Prom, Queen Mary, 1936 (Source unknown)

However the internal promenade concept, with cabins, was originally featured on-board the ‘Sllja Serenade’. This was a ferry operating between Sweden and Finland, in the early 1990’s.

Royal Caribbean obviously borrowed their internal promenade design from Silja.

Internal prom. on-board  Sllja Serenade (Source unknown)

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

Oasis has a unique split-superstructure design accommodating a Boardwalk, a Carousel and a Park.  There were even cabins with balconies overlooking ‘Central Park’ and the’Boardwalk’.

Oasis (Courtesy RCI)

Norwegian Cruise Lines’s impressive ‘Norwegian Breakaway’, which entered service in 2013. NCL took the Promenade concept further than ever before.
Breakaway has a large external promenade running around the the port and starboard sides of the ship and around the bow, called ‘The Waterfront’.  It contains bars and resultants offering sea views.

The Waterfront (NCL)

RCI’s Royal Promenade and the split-superstructure and NCL’s Waterfront were exclusive features to their particular brands for a number of years.

However The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) are undergoing a rapid period of expansion. They are building a series of new mega-ships and have borrowed some ideas from RCI and NCL.

Seaside Prom. Deck (Courtesy MSC)

MSC’s new mega-ship ‘Seaside’ features a wide promenade deck, which I assume will features dining options etc. There are some similarities to NCL’s ‘Waterfront’ feature.

Another MSC’s  newbuild, Meraviglia, features an internal street, not unlike RCI’s ‘Royal Promenade’. The main difference is MSC’s one will have a digital sky.  Meraviglia also has a ‘sports court’ not unlike RCI’s ‘Seaplex’ on-board RCI’s ‘Anthem’ class ships.

Internal prom. deck, MSC Meraviglia (MSC)

MSC, third new class of ship,  the ‘World Class’  will have a split superstructure design rather like that of RCI’s ‘ Oasis’ class. We have yet to find out if the ”World Class’ will also have an internal promenade too.

MSC’s ‘World Class’ (MSC)

However as we have already seen with RCI’s  ‘Royal Promenade’, that they are not beyond a bit of design copying themselves.  Their ‘Quantum class’ ships internal design is very similar to NCL’s Epic/Breakaway/Breakaway+ ships. They had multiple dining and entertainment venues, coupled with a new flexible dining system.  NCL call it ‘Freestyle’, RCI copied it and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’. (Although RCI  have not copied NCL’s  excellent ‘Waterfront’ feature.)

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

In conclusion, companies copying other companies ideas and designs is nothing new. However it does seem more commonplace with mega-ships of late.

I hope that this trend does not result in cruise ships becoming more similar to each other – that would be very boring!

“Viva la difference.”

Malcolm

Meet The USS Gerald R. Ford

July 24, 2017

Malcolm says: It’s a mega-ship, just not of the cursing variety!

Hanseatic Nature & Hanseatic Inspiration

July 23, 2017

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Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will take delivery of two state-of-the-art expedition ships in 2019. The Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration are being built at an estimated cost of $155 million each.

“The expedition market has been tremendously successful for us. When I took over the company the plan was to restructure the company and stabilize it. And then we had our most successful year ever in 2016 and had to target growth,” said Karl Pojer, CEO.

The new ships will have a full viewing area on the bow accessible to passengers, which is designed to hold all guests at once.

(Hapag-Lloyd)

The World’s Busiest Cruise Ports

July 22, 2017

Miami port (Courtesy Miamiandbeaches.com)

The top 21 ports reporting their 2016 traffic numbers were:

Miami: 4,898,000 passengers

Everglades: 3,890,000 passengers

Canaveral: 3,685,833 passengers

Cozumel: 3,637,321 passengers

Shanghai: 2,847,000 passengers

Barcelona: 2,683,594 passengers

Civitavecchia: 2,339,676 passengers

Nassau: 2,034,685 passengers

Canary Islands: 1,981,489 passengers

Balearic Islands: 1,957,429 passengers

U.S.Virgin Islands: 1,776,685 passengers

Galveston: 1,730,289 passengers

Grand Cayman: 1,711,565 passengers

Southampton: 1,700,000 passengers

St. Maarten: 1,668,863 passengers

Jamaica: 1,655,565 passengers

Venice: 1,605,660 passengers

Marseille: 1,597,213 passengers

Sydney (Australia): 1,309,000 passengers

Naples: 1,306,151 passengers

New Orleans: 1,070,323 passengers

 

(Source: Cruise Industry News)

Quark Expeditions Adds ‘World Explorer’

July 20, 2017

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Quark Expeditions has announced its 2018-2019 Antarctica program which will introduce the ‘World Explorer’, a new luxury expedition cruise vessel.

Quark, one of the biggest expedition operators confirmed that the new ship will be built to Quark’s own specifications.

Her keel laying will be at an as yet un-named shipyard in Norway shortly, for delivery in late 2018.

The ship is an all-suite all balcony vessel that will embark on 10 voyages during the upcoming season. The ship has six premium suites.

The 1B ice-class hull will be  powered by twin Rolls Royce engines.

Quark’s brochure says:

The personal space is exceptional. Every cabin has either a private walk-out or Juliet balcony for direct ocean views. World Explorer also delivers plenty of public areas to unwind in after a day outdoors, including the glass-domed Observation Lounge for quiet contemplation and full skyline views, the Explorer Lounge for a drink and a chat, and the library for more intimate relaxing and reading. Presentations and discussions are facilitated in a dedicated lecture theatre.

Health and wellness facilities feature an outdoor running track, a small gym and a sauna, plus a spa with change rooms, showers and lockers. For the active adventurers, add-ons include kayaking, camping and stand-up paddleboarding.

Blending high design with total functionality, World Explorer is all set to be your home away from home on the seas.

(Quark Expeditions )

Malcolm says: The luxury Expedition market is experiencing a boom. However they must tread carefully, these regions of the world are more vulnerable to ‘tourist impact’ than most.

Send In The Clones

July 19, 2017

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Ships Of State

In the era of the great Ocean Liners, each country that had the resources and know-how designed and built themselves unique ships. These were ‘ships of state’, each representing their country.

For example the UK had the likes of the Titanic and later the Cunard Queen’s ‘Mary’ and ‘Elizabeth’. France had their wonderful ‘Normadie’ and ‘France’. American had their ‘America’ and ‘United states’. Each ship represented their respective countries engineering achievements, excellent design and the finest decor and artwork.

SS United states (Top) and SS America, United States Line (Source unknown)

Today cruise ship are much more generic and the design can actually be shared across different cruise brands. In fact the only differences in some cases, may be the funnels, livery and internal decor.

‘Made to measure’ or  ‘off the peg’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Courtesy NCL)

Malcolm

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

Disney Order Third LNG Ship

July 17, 2017
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Disney Dream (Courtesy Disney)

Last year’s the Disney cruise line announced that they would build two more ships at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, to enter service in 2021 and 2023.

However Disney has increased their order from two to three ships, revealing another new ship is set to enter service in 2022.

This latest 135,000-ton ship will be built at the same shipyard and launched the year in between the two previously announced vessels.

All three are designed to be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas and have around 1,250 cabins, carrying upwards of 2,500 passengers, so slightly larger than the newest Disney cruise Line ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, launched back in 2011 and 2012.

The new names, design plans and itineraries will be announced at a later date.

(Disney)

Independence of the Seas Refit – 2018

July 15, 2017

(Images courtesy of RCI)

RCI have announced that ‘Independence of the Seas’ will undergo a major refurbishment during the ship’s dry dock in April 2018.

The ship, which entered service in 2008, has not had a  major refurbishment since 2013.

Independence of the Seas will receive some high-energy features including a trampoline park, water slides, escape room and laser tag.

More details will be revealed at a later date.

(Royal Caribbean)

Damen Expedition Cruise Vessel

July 14, 2017

Malcolm says: Expedition cruising has become quite a growth area and is ideal for those with a sense of adventure and a very large bank balance!

6,000 Cruise Passengers Arrive In Guernsey

July 13, 2017

(Courtesy ITV)

Within cruise forums and this blog, we have often disused the impact on small islands by multiple cruise ships docking for the day. In addition  increasingly bigger cruise ships are replacing the small-medium sized ones.

Traditionally we were often talking about the various Caribbean islands becoming crowded, which are regular ports of call for the worlds biggest ships – normally American ships.

My Back Yard

However in recent years,  the UK has seen more big cruise ship visiting or operating from our ports.  Our own cruise lines like Cunard and P&O now have some vessels twice as big as they were a few decades ago. P&O has a 180,000 gross tonne vessel (Excellence class) on the order books for 2020 that will probably carry up to 6,000 passengers alone.

The UK also has many of it’s own islands, including ‘Gurnsey’, one of our ‘Channel Islands’.

Guernsey has an area of just 25 sq miles and a population of around 63,000. St. Peter Port is the capital, with a harbour. However the harbour is very small, so she is a tender-port for most cruise ships.

Adverse sea conditions and high winds often mean that this charming port of call gets cancelled, even in the UK summer time – but not always…

Read this ITV News Report : HERE

If 6,000 passengers arrive at Guernsey on the same day, the population almost increases by 10%.

I don’t see a problem if big ships are well organised (unlike Meraviglia recently) and stop at cities with good infrastructures (cruise terminals, roads etc.). However a little island like Guernsey must surely struggle to cope with the passenger numbers.

St. Peter Port is pretty small and in some cases there is one bus an hour.  Even tendering two large ships must be a very slow process and must over-crowd the harbour.

What is the solution? Improve the infrastructure and possibly take away some of an islands charm or limit the number/size of cruise ships visiting.

Malcolm

MS Olympia, Rhine River Cruise Review

July 13, 2017

msolympia01_0

Guest contributor, Edwin Todd, has recently come back from his first ever river cruise. It was the Romantic Rhine Cruise, with Newmarket Holidays (UK), on MS Olympia.

“Whilst not in her first flush of youth, having been launched in 1984, she had been refurbished for the 2016 season and appeared well looked after…”

Full review: HERE