Cruise Ships Heading To Great Yarmouth (U.K)

January 19, 2018

Great Yarmouth’s harbour. (Courtesy Mike Page)

Great Yarmouth is set for a tourism spending boost after it was confirmed cruise ships will be docking with hundreds of passengers at the town’s port throughout the year.

See full ‘Great Yarmouth Mercury’ story: HERE

Malcolm says: Hardly ‘giant’ cruise ships. The harbour could not handle mega-ships.

Great Yarmouth is a traditional ‘seaside’ town coastal town in Norfolk, England, complete with a beach.  It is located at the mouth of the River Yare, approximately 20 miles east of Norwich. The town has been a seaside resort since 1760, and is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the North Sea. For hundreds of years it was a major fishing port, depending mainly on the herring fishery, but its fishing industry suffered a steep decline in the second half of the 20th century, and has now all but disappeared. The discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s led to a flourishing oil rig supply industry, and today it services offshore natural gas rigs.(Wikipedia)

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The Carnival Triumph Will Operate New Itineraries

January 18, 2018

The Carnival Triumph will operate a new itinerary schedule in 2019-2020, Carnival said, with a wide variety of four- to 14-day departures from New York, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Norfolk, Va.

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ article: HERE

Saga Offers TT Race

January 17, 2018

(Courtesy Saga)

The Saga Sapphire has a new cruise from Dover on the 29th May, scheduled this spring, sailing to the Isle of Man for the world famous Isle of Man TT, a motorcycle race.

Saga Cruises, the British line that specialises in cruises for mature passengers, will offer a seven-day, all-inclusive sailing. The ports of call will be Portland, Dublin and Liverpool, as well as the visit to the Isle of Man timed perfectly for the race, the company said.

(Saga)

Background: The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency.It is located in the middle of the northern Irish Sea, almost equidistant from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland (closest), and Wales (farthest). It is 52 kilometres (32 mi) long and, at its widest point, 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide. It has an area of around 572 square kilometres (221 sq mi).

The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is an annual motorcycle sport event run on the Isle of Man in May or June of most years since its inaugural race in 1907. The Isle of Man TT has been traditionally run in a time-trial format on public roads closed for racing.

Malcolm says: The Isle of Mann is quite a rare port of call. It is normally a tender port as Douglas harbour is quite small. The sea conditions can b quite unpredictable, even in the summer. The island is very un-spoilt and very charming.

Featured Ship: MS Astor

January 16, 2018

Astor, Fremantle (By Bahnfrend, click to enlarge)

MS Astor was built in 1987, in Kiel, West Germany, as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-Cape Town route. She is now operated by the British Cruise Line ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’

At just 20,606 gross tonnes, Astor offers an intimate experience, compared to today’s mega-ships. She can easily dock in relatively small ports.

Astor’s passenger capacity is only around 600.

Astor spends most of her year cruising around Australian and the Indian Ocean.

See my Astor ship review: HERE

Virtual Balconies

January 16, 2018

A Royal Caribbean Cruise Line innovation. What do you think? Have you stayed in one?

Construction Begins On Crystal Expedition Yacht

January 15, 2018

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Steel was cut today at the MV Werften shipyard, Germany, for the new Crystal Endeavor, a luxury expedition yacht.

Set to enter service in 2020, Crystal Endeavor will be Crystal’s largest and most spacious purpose-built Polar Class ship featuring all-suite, butler-serviced accommodations, and adventure in polar regions and other remote destinations.

“The ‘Crystal Endeavor’ is a truly exceptional ship. We are proud to be able to implement this project and are particularly pleased to, once again, be starting shipbuilding activities in the Stralsund shipyard, creating hundreds of new jobs,” said Jarmo Laakso, CEO of MV WERFTEN.

(Crystal cruises)

P&O’s Oceana Refit In Focus

January 15, 2018

Family favourite Oceana recently returned from a well-­deserved refresh at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg. We explore what’s changed and where she’ll head next to show off her new look.

Yacht & Compass, post-refit (P&O)

Oceana has a distinctive style and character that makes her one of our best-­loved mid-sized family ships. With lots of deck space, there’s an open and luxuriously airy feel to life on board – she’s the perfect ship for enjoying outdoor activities and relaxation in the sunshine.

Oceana recently paid a visit to Hamburg’s Blohm+Voss shipyard, where she was given a spruce-up ahead of the spring and summer season. We listened to your feedback and brought Oceana’s wide range of dining, entertainment and relaxation experiences up to the high standards you expect. We also paid particular attention to the spacious decking areas to make this a key feature of life on board.

The refit work was undertaken by RPW Design, one of the world’s leading hospitality interior design practices that specialises in the creation of stunningly sophisticated interiors. The company’s vibrant, creative vision is sure to delight loyal fans of Oceana, while also tempting the next generation of guests to join her for new adventures.

In summer 2018, Oceana will be based in Valetta, Malta for a season of fabulous Mediterranean fly-­cruise itineraries. She is then charged with a special mission: to launch our new Dubai & Arabian Gulf fly-­cruises in early 2019. Her sunny disposition will come into its own in this fascinating part of the world. We hope you’ll join us soon on board the queen of sunshine holidays.

Terrace Bar

Expect a dash of the wow factor with the new-­look Terrace Bar – the place to be for stylish alfresco relaxation and refreshment. A bold new colour scheme, elegant lounge furniture and feature tiling create a retreat-­style space. In addition, hot tubs have been refurbished, new canopy shading has been introduced over the pool and bar area and sculptural planters add points of interest.

The Plaza

With new carpets, feature floor tiling and a fresh colour scheme inspired by marine tones, The Plaza now has a distinct identity with a clearer differentiation between dining spaces. Other upgrades to enhance the environment of this popular dining space include improved lighting and new chairs and banquette seating.

Magnums

The much-­loved Champagne bar is the place to sparkle with a lighter and more luxurious colour scheme in neutrals, teals and soft greens. New bar stools, lounge chairs and sofas enhance the elegant atmosphere, while private spaces and a sense of intimacy have been created by screens with an antique mirror finish.

Yacht & Compass

The hugely popular bar has a strong new identity thanks to a fresh colour scheme in ocean hues, grounded by a stylish new carpet featuring a sail design. Yachting motifs run through the space with roped side tables and fabrics and soft furnishings with nautical details. Night owls with fancy feet can also strut their stuff on a new dance floor.

Youth spaces

Oceana is a family favourite, and young guests can also look forward to some improvements. The entertainment equipment in the children’s clubs and teen areas has been updated, and little ones can get active with new soft play features. Walls and floors have been fully redecorated with new colourful schemes, while furniture and storage for crafts and other activities have been restructured. The night nursery has been relocated to the end of the area, improving the flow and use of space.

(Images & Text courtesy of P&O)

P&O’s next mega-ship, details: HERE

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

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Don’t Book An Ocean Cruise…

January 13, 2018

My most recent river cruise was something different again. It was on the  Mississippi, on-board the ‘American Queen’, a real paddle-wheeled steamboat.

So how did the experience differ from an Ocean cruise and a European river cruise?

…until you have read my river cruise reviews.

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For twenty years I have been ocean cruising. I am lucky enough to have experienced many big ships, small ships, old ships and new ships.

To keep the whole thing fresh I tried many different ships and some different cruise lines. These have included Cunard, P&O, Fred. Olsen, RCI, P&O, Princess, Celebrity, Thomson and CMV.

Each ship and line is different, yet they are all similar.

While searching for something different, I tried my first European River Cruise in 2015.

I did enjoyed it, it made a refreshing change, but the experience still felt a little ‘alien’ to me compared to an ocean cruise.

However something drew me back to river cruising and I took my second European river cruise over Christmas 2016.

This time something ‘clicked’ inside of me. (And I don’t mean my spine or knee cartilage.)

I really got into the format and style of the experience this time around. Many aspects of the experience were actually better than on-board most ocean ship.

Amadeus Elegant ship review: HERE

My most recent river cruise was something different again. It was on the  Mississippi, on-board the ‘American Queen’, a real paddle-wheeled steamboat.

So how did the experience differ from an Ocean cruise and a European river cruise?

 

American Queen ship review: HERE

 

Malcolm

Keel Laid for Ritz-Carlton’s First Ship

January 13, 2018

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The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has just celebrated the keel laying of its inaugural vessel at the Hijos De J. Barreras Shipyard in Vigo, Spain.

Reservations for the first of three lavish yachts in this series will open in May.

(Ritz-Carlton)

Malcolm says: Not only is mass-market mega-ship production booming, so is the luxury and expedition end of the market. If only my bank account would ‘boom’ as well!

Where will Swan Hellenic return?

January 12, 2018

An article form the world’s second best cruise blog:

Tom's Cruise Blog

We plan to restart the operation of Swan Hellenic in early 2018 with a new ship and new voyages…..

About a year ago the All Leisure Group collapsed, taking with them two cruise lines, Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery. Some parts of All Leisure Group live on – the Travelsphere operation, which was apparently profitable, was taken over by G Adventures and has continued to trade.

G Adventures also took over the Swan Hellenic brand, and made statements to the effect that they would make an announcement about the line’s future sometime in 2017. (I did a post about this here.) We’re now into 2018 and there has been no word. There is still a basic web page for Swan Hellenic, but it just repeats G Adventures’ statement and asks for contact details.

I tried contact G Adventures last week to enquire about their plans for Swan…

View original post 226 more words

2018: 94 Cruise Ships on Order

January 12, 2018

The global cruise ship orderbook keeps breaking records, as 2018 has opened with 94 cruise ships on order, with two more additions from Viking Ocean Cruises and a luxury state-of-the-art LNG-powered ice breaker from Ponant.

Full story from ‘Cruise Industry News’ – HERE

Best and Worst Cruise Lines

January 11, 2018

 

MS Riviera (Courtesy Oceania cruises)

The much respected Consumer group ‘Which?’ has published its annual report based on U.K. cruise passengers’ experiences on board. The study looked at 13 cruise companies and rated them out of five stars across eight different categories.

See Daily Mail article: HERE

Malcolm says: There is of course no ‘best’ or ‘worst’ cruise line, it all depends on what experience you are looking for and your budget.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:  “Want to have a fantastic cruise? Book aboard a smaller ship is the simple advice”.  I can’t disagree, you are not going to get excellent food and attentive/personal service, on a vessel with 6,000 passengers.

In the which? chart, generally the passenger satisfaction goes down the less you pay, so a £283 pppd cruise is more satisfying than a £132 pppd cruise, the latter being less than half the price – no surprise there really!  (To put it another way, the highest rated cruise lines are generally the ones with the highest fares.) 

However I wonder how many of the survey respondents have cruised on multiple lines, in order to be able to directly compare the range of products listed – possibly none.

Personally, when I have booked with a budget brand (Thomson and CMV) I have slightly lower expectations, so are more easily satisfied. If I paid £283 a night for a cruise, the experience might never reach my expectations, let alone exceed them.

Q: What do you think of the results of the survey?

 

Titanic’s Harland & Wolff Makes A Comeback

January 10, 2018

A multi-million pound contract to refurbish a cruise ship has been won by a Newry firm, with all work to be done in Belfast.

MJM Group said it paves the way for future projects.

The 11-deck liner Azamara Pursuit, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, will arrive at Harland and Wolff in April for a full interior refit.

MJM, which employs 240 people, said it would be “one of the first major refits of a cruise liner in a UK dry dock”.

A spokesman for Harland and Wolff said it was “delighted” with the deal, and hoped others would follow.

Harland & Wolff was formed in 1861 by Edward James Harland (1831–95) and Hamburg-born Gustav Wilhelm Wolff (1834–1913).

Thomas Andrews became the general manager and head of the draughting department in 1907. It was in this period that the company built Olympic and the two other ships in her class Titanic and Britannic between 1909 and 1914.

(BBC)

Below you can see the Titanic’s original dry-dock, in Belfast:

Titanic Replica: See HERE

The World’s Biggest Cruise Ships

January 9, 2018

Allure of the Seas passes under the ‘Great Belt Bridge’ (RCI)

It’s quite amazing how big many of today’s cruise ship are. However most of the  future newbuilds will be even BIGGER.

200,000+ gross tonnes will not be unusual, within five years.  Remember the RMS Titanic was only around 45,000 gross tonnes.  We will see many new ships carry in excess of 6,000 passengers.

The ‘official’ way of comparing a ships sizes is  ‘Gross Tonnage’ which is a measurement of internal volume, not weight.

However occasionally the layman (and the Press) talk about the biggest ship being the one that carries the most passengers. This is a little misleading as the ‘Oasis class’, for example, is the biggest ship in terms of gross tonnage, but there will be slightly smaller ships in the future, which will cram more passengers on-board.

(Please note that some of the figures below are  based on rather sketchy details about some newbuilds).

Malcolm

Little and Large

By Gross Tonnage

230,000 GT (estimate): Symphony of the Seas, 2018, unnamed Oasis class ship, 2021.
226,963 GT: Harmony of the Seas (In service)
226,963 GT: Oasis of The Seas and Allure of the Seas (In service)
204,000 GT (estimate): “Global Class”: 2 Genting/Star Cruises ships, 2020 & 21.
200,000 GT (estimate).  4 MSC “World Class” ships, 2022 & 26
185,000 GT: Carnival brands, 6x ships, 2019-21.
171,598 GT: MSC Meraviglia
168,666 GT: RCI’s Quantum Class Ships .

 

MSC’s World Class (Courtesy MSC)

By passenger capacity

6,870 passengers: Symphony of the Seas, due in 2018.
6,850 passengers (estimate): 4 MSC “World Class” ships, 2022 & 26..
6,780 passengers: Harmony of the Seas (In service).
6,600 passengers (estimated): Carnival brands, 6 ships, 2019-21.
6,360 passengers: An unnamed RCI Oasis class ship, 2021.
6,296 passengers: Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas (In service).

(“Global Class”: 2 Genting/Star Cruises ships, 5,000 lower berths, upper berths unknown.)

A total of 17 ships which will accommodate at least 5,000 passengers are currently under construction.

(Source: The Times)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Oasis of the Seas Review: HERE

Celebrity Edge To Be Delivered Early

January 9, 2018

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The construction of the new ‘Celebrity Edge’ cruise ship is ahead of schedule and the cruise line is adding a number of new sailings.

Celebrity has added four three-night Bahamas, scheduled for Nov. 21, Nov. 24, Dec. 3 and Dec. 6, 2018, all round-trips from Port Everglades.

In addition is a new seven-night Western Caribbean sailing on Dec. 9, with calls in Key West, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Grand Cayman.

The 2,900-passenger, 129,500 gross tonne ship will be based at Port Everglades’ Terminal 25, which is being designed with a tailor-made experience especially for Edge.

(Celebrity)

MSC Meraviglia – Style Over Substance?

January 8, 2018

Very big cruise ships are increasingly becoming the norm. This year onward, and over the next five years or more, we are going to see the biggest ships ever built, enter service.

MSC’s ‘Meraviglia’ mega-ship has now been in service since June 2017.

I’ve not cruised on her. However many early passenger reviews of Meraviglia, which have appeared on-line, saw the reviewers impressed with the ship itself, but sometimes critical about the on-board experience. Even some later reviews, such as this one, from December 2017, highlighted the same issues.

(MSC image – Click to enlarge)

MSC’s Meraviglia (‘Wonder’ in English) 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 was the first of these ships to be delivered.

MSC’s origins are Italian, but they strive to offer a multi-national product. In fact they particularly want their big new ships, to appeal to the enormous North American cruise market.

Some commentators have been critical of the MSC experience on-board their smaller ships, in the past.  This poses two questions: Do MSC need to  raise their game to deliver a higher quality experience?  Can they achieve this on their big new ships?

In short is Meraviglia really ‘Wonderful’?

I’ve not cruised on her yet, but 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 and has written two reviews.

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

He has kindly given me permission to share his reviews with you.

MSC Meraviglia reviews: HERE

Viking: Now Ten Ocean Vessels

January 7, 2018

(Courtesy Viking)

Following the agreement signed in April 2017 between Fincantieri and Viking Ocean Cruises, the contracts for the construction of the 7th and 8th ships became effective and, in addition, the company announced in December that it has exercised the option for the 9th and the 10th vessel in the series.

The new vessels will be sister-ships of the previous series ordered, four of which have been delivered. The ships have a gt of 47,800 and can accommodate 930 guests in 465 all-veranda cabins.

The first of the series, ‘Viking Star’, built at Fincantieri Marghera, was delivered in March, 2015; the second, the third, and the fourth, ‘Viking Sea’, ‘Viking Sky’ and ‘Viking Sun’, built at Ancona, were delivered in March, 2016, January and September, 2017, respectively.

The other six, including the exercised options, will be delivered in 2018, 2019, 2021, two in 2022 and 2023.

Viking’s fifth ship, the ‘Viking Orion’ is due to be introduced in the summer of 2018 and the sixth, as yet unnamed, sister ship is due to be delivered in the spring of 2019.

In October, 2017, Viking also announced that it had placed an order for seven new river ships, including six additional Viking Longships and one additional vessel based on the Longships design that will sail on Portugal’s Douro River.

The new river cruise ships will enter service in 2019.

(Viking)

Malcolm says: There seems to be no stopping Viking.  Viking are very successfully building on their reputation for offering quality river cruises and are quickly gaining a reputation for offering quality ocean cruises too.  Viking have quite a dominance in European river cruising and are looking at offering more global river cruises such as on the Nile and Mississippi rivers. Although they have some stiff competition in the Ocean cruise market, their expansion has been at breakneck speed. In fact Viking well become the biggest small-ship operator in the near future.

More Viking ocean ships will mean more varied itineraries from them. However their fares are in line with their high quality experience: expensive.

Is river cruising for you? See HERE

Rise Of The Clones

January 5, 2018

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

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.

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.

We are going to see even more ‘clones’ over the next few years.

‘Made to measure’ or  ‘off the peg’?

Carnival have shared ship designs between their brands for many years now: P&O have several Princess designs. Cunard have two generic Carnival ‘Vista’ class ships and P&O has one. P&O’s next mega ship (184,000 gt) is a design shared with Costa, AIDA and Carnival cruises. Cunard will be getting a new ship in 2022, a design shared with ‘Holland America’.

Surprisingly the Norwegian Cruise lines next class of cruise ship, called ‘Project Leonardo’, is not a new a class of ship designed by themselves either. It has been designed 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.

Malcolm

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

Irish Ferries Places Order for Another Vessel

January 3, 2018

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Irish Ferries has ordered a second new cruise ferry, will be built in Germany at a cost of €165 million, She will enter service between the UK and Ireland in 2020.

The same shipyard in Flensburg, Germany, is building Irish Ferries’ new ship, the W.B. Yeats, which is due for delivery summer 2018.

When built, the new ship will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity, offering space for up to 1,500 cars, or up to 330 freight trucks. She is expected to be around 67,300 gross tonnes.

The cruise ferry will be designed specifically to sail between Holyhead and Dublin, in tandem with Irish Ferries’ current flagship Ulysses.

The additional capacity of the new ship on the Holyhead/Dublin route will, by 2020, will allow the W.B. Yeats to sail between Ireland and France year-round.

(Irish Ferries)

Ulysses Irish Super Ferry slide-show: HERE

Cashback Card (U.K)

January 3, 2018

My recent article about using the excellent Topcashback site, for travel bookings, has proved very popular.

I also use a cash-back credit card for most of my purchases, on-line or in shops, travel or other goods.  I use a ‘Platinum’ American Express’ card.

In short, I use the card and I get 1% cashback on most of my purchases. I also use it in conjunction with Topcashback to get extra discount. Now although 1% does not sound very impressive, in the course of a year, it mounts up. It’s essentially free money.

What’s the catch? There is no fee on this particular card. However you need to use it for most of your monthly spend to make it worthwhile. (Not difficult in this increasingly cashless society). There is a minimum spend of 5k per year, to get 1%, spend less and you get 0.5%.

What about the interest you ask? The interest is higher than some cards, but I have set up a direct debit to pay my monthly credit card bill in full. I do not use the credit facility as such. I pay NO interest.

American Express normally offers and introductory period when you get extra cashback. It is currently 5% for three months, to a maximum of £100 cashback.

What is the downside?  Not all shops and retailers accept American Express, but most do.

If you are interested, there are some terms and conditions that you should read. I’ve just given you the basic facts. I’m not a fiance expert. The card may not be suitable for everybody.

If you want more details and to possibly apply, please follow this link: HERE

Malcolm

(The terms and conditions quoted or the U.K ones at the time of writing and may change, please check with Amex.  American and other countries T&C’s may be different.)

Virgin Voyages Video

January 1, 2018

I found this video on YouTube. It does not appear to be from an ‘official’ source, but it does appear to show the new Virgin ship.

I must say the aft looks a lot like MSC’s ‘Seaview’, although the vessel is smaller.

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

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

The cruise experience will be for guests aged 18 and over, with no children allowed.

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

(Virgin)

‘Symphony’ Is Coming, This Year!

January 1, 2018

The world’s largest cruise ship, ‘Symphony of the Seas’will be delivered in March 2018. She will be 230,000 gross tonnes, slightly bigger than her sister ‘Harmony of the Seas’.  She will also have 28 more staterooms, carring up to 6,870 passengers.

She will begin service cruising the Mediterranean in Spring and Summer 2018. Symphony of the Seas will visit the ports of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Rome and Naples.

In Autumn 2018, Symphony of the Seas will travel transatlantic to her home-port of PortMiami in Miami, Florida.

From Miami, she will cruise from Royal Caribbean’s brand new cruise terminal. Symphony will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

New Cabin Option for Families

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

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

Redesigned Boardwalk

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

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

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

Rendering (Courtesy RCI)

New Dining Venues

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

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

New Production Shows and Laser Tag Arena

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

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

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

(RCI)

Malcolm says: Big ship fans will be delighted. Small ship fans will be unimpressed!

Sister: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ review – HERE

XXL – Is The New Standard

December 30, 2017
(Genting's Global Class)

Genting’s Global Class (201,00 gt)

Have you ever noticed how the major cruise lines tend to build similar sized ships?

O.K, there are exceptions where a luxury line will build a smaller ship. There are also exceptions when a cruise line will build a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general, the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember in the mid to late nineties, when many mega-ships were around the 75,000 gross tons, in size. For example, RCI’s five ‘Vision’ class ships and NCL’s ‘Sun’ and ‘Spirt’ classes. Although Carnival (Destiny, 1995) and Princess (Grand Princess, 1998) pushed the boundaries with vessels over 100,000 gt.

Around  2005, many megaships, such as those of NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

However Royal Caribbean’s 225,000 gt ‘Oasis of the Seas’, which entered service in 2008, was the world’s largest cruise ship. She was considerably larger than anything else. The ‘Oasis’ class (Oasis, Allure and Harmony, Symphony and one as yet unnamed) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 184,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We are now seeing a new wave of ships, in the order book for 2019 onward, which are around 180-200,000 gt in size.

  • Carnival has ordered seven 184,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting has ordered two new “Global” class ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be around 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises will be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These will be around 200,000 gt and carry up to 7,000 passengers. They will be  delivered between 2022 and 2026.
  •  Royal Caribbean will have a new class of ship called project Icon, to be delivered in 2022.  The project is so secretive,  all we really know is that the ship will be 200,000 gt and carry around 5,000 passengers.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class, although still not superseding it.

However this constant race for size, is not without its issues.

Most cruise lines fleet have ships which are growing in size. Economies of scale make bigger ships more profitable to operate. What was once called a mega-ship (say 70,000gt) looks like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaships are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms, multiple entertainment venues and even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Go-Kart track. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks often lack intimacy and a ‘connection’ with the sea. Arguably the world’s best cruise experiences, in terms of fine-dining and attentive service, are not to be found on-board such big ships.

Megaships are also limited to which ports they can visit. They need long berths, deep water and extensive shore-side terminal facilities to deal with the thousands of passengers that they carry.

There is also much debate about the impact thousands of passengers arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) will have on the local environment.

Irrespective of  the negative aspects, the big ships are still coming thick and fast. The ‘masses’ love them. They almost generate their own publicity. A new “Giant Ship” makes a great news headline.  A new “Small Ship” does not.

As a result of the introduction of so many big ships, the existing smaller/older ships will face extinction within the next ten years. However there will always be some intimate ships on offer, but these are likely to get rarer and will become an increasingly expensive option to cruise on.

Malcolm

Peaceboat Ecoship

December 28, 2017

The Peaceboat is a new green cruise ship concept . Using 10 retractable wind generators and 10 retractable solar panels that double as large sails, the eco-friendly vessel is projected to use 20 percent less fuel and reduce carbon emissions by up to 40 percent than conventional cruise ships. The ship will accommodate up to 2,000 passengers.

(Oliver Design)

Malcolm says: It’s far easier to design a concept than build a ship, therefore I wonder if it will ever happen? Alternatively, maybe all cruise ships will look like this one day?

Titanic Vs Oasis of The Seas

December 27, 2017

wHyxSE0

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

Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it. I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. The article has attracted more views than anything else that I have ever written. It has also attracted some interesting comments, including some quite negative ones, such as:

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

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

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

“This article is stupid”

Little and Large

Well, the commentators are fully entitled to their own opinions.  The two ships ARE completely different to each other and they WERE built almost 100 years apart. However silly it is to compare these two ships, I still did it!

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

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

A Modern & A Vintage Ocean Liner Compared

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Malcolm

CMV Launch New Mexican Cruise Brand

December 27, 2017

British based cruise operator, CMV Travel & Leisure Group Limited is pleased to announce the deployment of the 46,052grt Magellan to the Pacific Coast of Mexico for winter 2019 to support the launch of an exciting Cruceros Marítimos Vacacionales and Mexican Riviera cruise programme – aimed exclusively at the Mexican domestic market.

Magellan will commence operations on 3rd February 2019 with an introductory winter debut season of eight seven-night sailings homeporting from both Acapulco every Sunday and Manzanillo every Friday with the season finishing on 31st March 2019. The voyages to/from the UK will be marketed internationally.

Christian Verhounig, CEO explained, “CMV specialise in the development of dedicated source markets having successfully established markets and programs in the UK & Ireland, Germany, Australia and France. CMV will currently be the only exclusive Mexican cruise product available on the domestic leisure market. The Mexican market offers great potential and we plan to extend the season in 2020. This exciting new initiative is part of the Group’s continued strategic international development plan in achieving our longer-term growth objectives”.

The itinerary will include calls to Manzanillo and Cabo San Lucas in the Baja California peninsula plus two days at sea. Acapulco will be the primary gateway port serving the region of Guerrero and Mexico City. Both Mazatlan & Puerto Vallarta, apart from being transit calls will also provide secondary gateway ports to the cities of Guadalajara, Leon and the northern Mexico States.

Chris Coates, Group Commercial Director added, “With the recent growth of domestic tourism in Mexico we firmly believe that the market conditions are now suited to the launch of an authentic Mexican cruise product, multi-resort and vacation experience. The product will be very much tailored to Mexican tastes and aspirations. We believe that Magellan’s quality, size, bed configuration makes her ideally suited to this business with the focus very much on the domestic home market and developing a product for Mexico.”

(CMV)

Magellan review: HERE

Oasis For Holyhead?

December 26, 2017

(Courtesy Richard Williams)

A multi-million pound cruise ship berth could be built in Holyhead (U.K) by 2020 as liner visits continue to surge.

Holyhead will welcome 34% more passengers next year than in 2017, bringing the total to 36,000 on 43 ships.

These will include vessels like the 2,500 passenger Brilliance of the Seas and help pump extra money into the tourism economy across north west Wales. But the port is still restricted by its berthing facilities – currently using the Orthios jetty or anchorage and tender vessels to bring passengers to and from shore.

Now a multi-use berth development is again under consideration on Salt Island which could accommodate the biggest cruise ships in the world in Holyhead port.

A spokesperson for Anglesey County Council said: “Royal Caribbean have been advising uson all the technical aspects with regard to the Oasis class(cruise vessels)”.  In addition they said: “43 cruise ships have already been confirmed for 2018. A traditional Welsh welcome will be included in all of the visits as well as a full itinerary of fun activities for all to do in Anglesey and North Wales.”

(Daily Post)

NCL Summer 2018 and Autumn/Winter 2018/19 Itineraries

December 20, 2017

Norwegian Cruise has now announced its summer 2018 and autumn/winter 2018/19 itineraries:

Europe

Guest sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line can again look forward to a wide variety in Europe in summer 2018 with two ships in Northern Europe and in the Baltic as well as three ships in the Mediterranean. Norwegian Breakaway will depart New York on April 15 for the first time since her inaugural season in 2013 for a 12-night transatlantic voyage to London (Southampton). Following her arrival in Europe, Norwegian Breakaway will undergo enhancements in dry dock and then journey to her new seasonal homeports of Copenhagen and Warnemünde, where she will sail nine-night Scandinavia & Russia cruises through the summer season. Norwegian Jade will return to Europe in summer 2018 and sail a series of Norway, Iceland and North Cape cruises from Southampton and Hamburg, showcasing the spectacular Norwegian fjords, along with British Isles cruises on select dates. Norwegian Spirit will return as well, sailing longer 10-night Western Mediterranean and 11-night Mediterranean & Adriatic cruises from Civitavecchia. Norwegian Star will reposition from the US West Coast to Venice, sailing a series of seven-night Greek Isles and Adriatic & Greece cruises from The Floating City. Norwegian Epic, which received ship wide enhancements earlier this year during an extensive dry dock will once again sail seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Civitavecchia, showcasing the best of Italy, France and Spain.

In winter 2018/2019, Norwegian Spirit will set sail from Barcelona to the Canary Island & Morocco, on a series of 10- and 11-night cruises that will bring guests looking to escape winter weather to the exotic bazaars of Northern Africa and Tenerife, which boasts the world’s third largest volcano and the highest elevation in all of Spain.

Alaska

In summer 2018, Norwegian will once again offer guests the opportunity to sail through the glacier-filled waters and gaze upon the snowy mountaintops of Alaska on three unique ships, making up the youngest fleet sailing to the region. The brand-new Norwegian Bliss, arriving in June 2018, will lead Norwegian’s 2018 Alaska fleet with her inaugural season to the region, offering seven-night voyages departing each Saturday from Seattle. The largest and most innovative ship sailing in Alaska, Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience and the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in Seattle. Following an extensive renovation in 2017 as a part of the Norwegian Edge programme, Norwegian Pearl will sail seven-night Glacier Bay Alaska cruises from Seattle departing on Sundays. Rounding out the Alaska fleet, Norwegian Sun will return to Vancouver and Seward to offer her incredibly popular northbound and southbound seven-night Alaska highlights voyages, offering guests the opportunity to combine back-to-back sailings for an immersive 14-night roundtrip cruise.

Caribbean

Guests can set sail to the Caribbean on seven of Norwegian ships, sailing from convenient departure ports including New York, Port Canaveral, San Juan, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa.

From December 2018 to February 2019, Norwegian Escape will set sail from New York on extended 12- and 14-night Southern Caribbean cruises, as well as 14-night Western Caribbean cruises, which will include a call at Harvest Caye, Belize’s newest resort-style port of call featuring a cruise ship pier for easy access, seven acre white sand beach and 15,000 square foot pool, among other eco-friendly adventures. Norwegian Breakaway will also sail 10- and 11-night Eastern Caribbean cruises from New York, for a sunshine-filled extended getaway including calls in the Virgin Islands during the heart of winter. New for 2018, guests can set sail to the Caribbean from Boston on Norwegian Dawn for a 14-night Eastern Caribbean cruise in October 2018.

Norwegian Gem will reposition to New Orleans, sailing to the Western Caribbean on seven-, 10- and 11-night cruises from the Crescent City. Guests sailing from Miami in winter 2018 can cruise to the Western Caribbean on Norwegian Getaway, which will sail seven-night cruises that will also include a call to Harvest Caye. Norwegian Pearl will homeport in Tampa during winter 2018, sailing seven-night cruises to the Western Caribbean.

Norwegian Dawn will seasonally homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico during the winter 2018/2019 season, sailing to the heart of the Southern Caribbean on seven-, 10- and 11-night cruises, with calls in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and more. Guests can also sail to the Southern Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian Jade, on a 10-night cruise on select dates from November 2018 – April 2019.

Norwegian Epic will again return to Port Canaveral in autumn 2018, sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, along with select longer 10- and 11-night Western Caribbean cruises from November 2018 – January 2019 that will include a call at Harvest Caye. Guests who wish to visit Norwegian’s private island Great Stirrup Cay can do so from Port Canaveral in March 2019, as Norwegian Epic will also offer a four-night Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral and a five-night Western Caribbean cruise that calls in Cozumel and Great Stirrup Cay.

Bermuda

Norwegian will continue its tradition of sailing from both New York City and Boston to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda between April and September 2018. Norwegian’s newest ship, Norwegian Escape, will reposition for the first time since she was christened in 2015, and will sail from New York City to Bermuda on seven-night cruises every Sunday, offering guests a new ship to enjoy, featuring Norwegian’s first brew pub at sea, the Tony-award winning After Midnight and critically-acclaimed For the Record: The Brat Pack, along with two restaurants from Iron Chef Jose Garces and The Cellars, a Michael Mondavi Family Wine bar. Norwegian Dawn, essentially a new ship after bow to stern enhancements this year, will sail seven-night cruises from Boston to Bermuda, departing every Friday.


Bahamas & Florida

In summer 2018, Norwegian Gem will set sail for the Bahamas and Florida each Saturday from New York City, bringing guests the best of beaches, theme parks and sunshine. Norwegian Sky will continue to sail three- and four-night Bahamas cruises from Miami year-round, providing guests a private island escape to, Great Stirrup Cay, which is currently undergoing enhancements that include a luxury lagoon area for Haven guests, along with enhanced facilities, premium cabana furnishings and more family-friendly amenities.

In winter 2018/2019, Norwegian Escape will remain in New York, and bring guests to the tropical beaches of the Bahamas & Florida on seven-night cruises. Norwegian Breakaway will return to New York from Europe and will also sail seven-night Bahamas & Florida cruises from Manhattan during winter 2018/2019.

Canada & New England

Norwegian will offer guests the opportunity for prime “leaf peeping” in Canada &New England on three vessels in autumn 2018. Norwegian Escape will be the company’s largest vessel to bring guests on spectacular autumn foliage cruises, sailing seven-night Canada & New England cruises from New York on select dates in September 2018. For those looking for a summer cruise to the Pinetree State and Great White North, Norwegian Gem will also sail north from the Big Apple in June 2018 on two seven-night cruises, calling in Maine, St. John and Halifax. For those guests looking to explore Canada & New England further, Norwegian Gem will sail extended 10-night cruises from New York that include an overnight in Québec City, while Norwegian Dawn will sail a series of northbound and southbound seven-night cruises between Boston and Quebec, offering the opportunity to combine for the ultimate autumn getaway with a 14-night roundtrip cruises.

Hawaii

The recently refurbished Pride of America will continue to sail her very popular seven-night Hawaii itinerary departing from Honolulu every Saturday through May 2019. Offering more than 100 hours of in-port sight-seeing time, the only ship to sail the islands features an itinerary with calls that include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawai`i; Kona, Hawai`i; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; and an afternoon cruise past the breath-taking Nãpali Coast.

Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera

A true bucket-list experience, Norwegian will offer one-way and roundtrip Panama Canal cruises on three ships in 2018/2019. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Pearl will sail 11-night and 14-night roundtrip canal cruises from Tampa and Miami in 2018/19, providing guests with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the seven wonders of the modern world. For guests looking for an extended Panama Canal cruise, they can embark Norwegian Star from either Miami or Los Angeles during select dates in January – March 2019 for a 14-night one way cruise that includes a day-time transit of the canal. Norwegian Pearl will also sail a one-way 15-night Panama Canal cruise from LA to Tampa in October 2018.

Guests looking for a sun and fun cruise can embark on a seven-night Mexican Riviera sailing from Los Angeles on select dates in December 2018 and March 2019 that features calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas.

South America

Norwegian Sun will once again return to South America, sailing a series of alternating westbound and eastbound 14-night itineraries between Valparaiso, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina in Winter 2018/2019, featuring a sail around Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego’s splendid fjords.

(NCL)

Independence of the Seas – Refit

December 19, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas will receive a bow-to-stern makeover in April 2018.

During the revitalization the ship will receive several new features including, A trampoline park, Water slide, Escape rooms and Laser tag.

These ideas were proposed by travel agents in the UK and Ireland as part of a contest held with Travel Weekly UK.

The ‘Royal CaribbeanBlog’ has listed the changes:

Deck 3

  • Alhambra Theatre name changed to Royal Theater.
  • The Raven nightclub replaced with new staterooms.
  • On Air Club replaced with staterooms.
  • Photo Gallery moved to Deck 3.
  • Art Gallery area reduced, with more staterooms added.
  • Romeo & Juliet Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

Deck 4

  • Alhambra Theatre name changed to Royal Theater.
  • The Raven nightclub replaced with Izumi.
  • Photo Gallery replaced with Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade.
  • Macbeth Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

Deck 5

  • Pyramid Lounge becomes Star Lounge.
  • Connoisseur Club becomes Library and RC Online.
  • God & Badger Pub becomes Ale & Anchor.
  • Cupcake Cupboard replaced with Sugar Beach.
  • King Lear Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

(Unofficial Royal CaribbeanBlog)

Malcolm says: There’s nothing wrong with a good refit. However It’s always a shame when they add more cabins to an already busy ship! Many will be inside cabins too. Calling the ‘Dining Room’ the ‘Dining Room’ would seem to lack a little imagination.

Natchez Steamboat

December 13, 2017

The Natchez is stern paddle-wheeler which normally operates short cruises on the Mississippi, USA.

She has no accommodation, but does have a real steam engine.

There are now very few paddle-wheelers, powered by steam,  in operation, in the world.