NCL Takes Delivery of ‘Bliss’

April 20, 2018

Bliss in Emshaven (Aad Hoogesteger: cruisefans.nl)

Norwegian Cruise Line has officially taken delivery of the new 167,800-ton Norwegian Bliss in Bremerhaven, Germany, following a handover from Meyer Werft shipyard.

The Norwegian Bliss is the 11th ship built for Norwegian Cruise Line by the Papenburg-based shipyard.

Following the delivery, the ship will sail for Southampton, where the ship will be presented to the public for the first time. After a crossing, she will be previewed to media and VIPs in New York, and christened later in May in Seattle ahead of her debut summer season in Alaska.

The Details

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship. Bliss 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.

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.

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.

1 (1).jpg

(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 travellers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families travelling 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)

Advertisements

QM2 Guests To Get First Taste of QE2 Hotel

April 19, 2018

.

Dubai welcomed the Queen Mary 2, as her arrival coincided with the opening of the Queen Elizabeth 2 hotel.

Guests travelling on QM2 got the opportunity to join VIPs and local media at the opening of the QE2 on April 18.

(Courtesy QE2Dubai)

To celebrate this special occasion, PCFC Hotels CEO – Hamza Mustafa and SVP of DP World – Adnan Al Abbar SVP welcomed on board Captain Peter Philpott and senior officers from the Queen Mary 2.

Future guests will also have the chance to visit when QM2 returns to Dubai in January and April 2019 as part of her World Voyage.

(Cruise Industry News)

Queen Mary 2 review: HERE

Brits To Get ‘Mein Schiff 1’

April 18, 2018

(Courtesy TUI)

After almost nine years service, the ship that started the TUI Cruises brand has left its fleet.

TUI bid farewell to the ‘Mein Schiff 1’ (‘My Ship 1’) last week, having operated the vessel between 2009 and 2018, serving the German market.

The 1,924 guest ship was originally built at the Meyer Werft shipyard, Germany, in 1996 as ‘Galaxy’ for Celebrity Cruises. At 76,522 gross tonnes she was considered a mega-ship at the time.

Celebrity ‘Galaxy’ is well know to Brits as the ship that singer/personality Jane McDonald gained fame onboard. She was a cruise ship singer featured in the 1998’s fly-on-the-wall TV series, ‘The Cruise’.

(Courtesy BBC)

Mein Schiff 1 has been transferred to sister company Marella Cruises*. She will be refurbished over the next month and renamed ‘Marella Explorer’ to serve Marella cruises British customers.  She will join ‘Marella Explorer II’, the former ‘Celebrity Century’.

The new 110,000 gross tonne ‘Mein Schiff 1’ enters service for TUI Cruises in May 2018 and will have capacity for 2,900 guests.

(TUI)

*(Marella cruises is the new silly name for the re-branded ‘Thomson Cruises’ )

Malcolm says: Thought for the day – ‘My Ship’ is no longer ‘their Ship’ it’s ‘Our Ship’!

‘Thomson Celebration’ review: HERE

.

Featured Ship: CMV Columbus

April 16, 2018

Columbus (Courtesy CMV)

British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), added Columbus to their fleet as their new flagship in June 2017.

Columbus entered service in 1988, but does not feel her age. At 63,786 gross tonnes, carrying  1,400-18,00 passengers, she is CMV’s biggest ship.

Prior to Columbus entering service with CMV, she underwent a refit.  This included the adaptation of the existing child and teenage areas to suit CMV’s more mature market.

In addition the casino has been scaled down and renamed Captain’s Club & Casino while the previously named Captain’s Lounge has been renamed Taverner’s Pub offering a selection of draught beers, bottled beers and a wide selection of wines and spirits.

Columbus review: HERE

Damen Expedition Vessel

April 15, 2018

.

Malcolm says: Yet another expedition ship on the drawing board. Every week there seems to be plans announced for a new expedition ship. This has become a booming cruise niche-market.

The 5 Largest Cruise Lines Project Dramatic Growth

April 15, 2018

(Courtesy RCI)

The five largest cruise companies are projected to see dramatic capacity growth over the next 10 years, ranging from 114 percent for MSC Cruises to 36 percent for Royal Caribbean Cruises, according to the 2018-2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ article: HERE

Hapag-Lloyd’s Deluxe Expedition Ships

April 14, 2018

.

.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 .

QE2 Hotel Is Now Taking Booking!

April 12, 2018

The phrase “Eat my hat” springs to mind.

I admit it, I never thought that there would ever be a QE2 hotel. I though it was just a pipe-dream.

After ten years of neglect and uncertainty the classic ship is almost ready to open after two weeks renovation work – impressive!  As the owners put it:“After spending the past 2 weeks in Dubai’s Dry Docks for a bit of a deep cleaning and paint retouch, the Queen Elizabeth 2 took one final voyage back to her new home in Mina Rashid…. “

The QE2-Dubai web site is NOW taking booking for accommodation commencing on the 18th April 2018 – onward. IT IS REAL!

They have called it  a soft launch as apparently not all parts of the ship are ready. She will be fully open in October.

Her exterior now looks fabulous as does the images of the new cabins. (I am told that they are NOT just renderings).

The QE2 Ocean Liner  has been docked in Dubai’s Port Rashid, since 2008, after the original plans for a hotel on board fell through.

The ship has a rich nautical history after she was launched by the Her Majesty the Queen, for Cunard, in 1967.

However the Telegraph  reported that the vessel had become “mouldy” and “filthy” during her time in retirement.

Then in 2017, Dubai-based construction company Shafa Construction announced it was going to give the classic ship a refurbishment and  launched a web site.  It promised  “a new take on hospitality” as well as “a royal experience”.  Of course I took this with a pinch of salt – how wrong was I?

Renovated luxury Cabin: Click to enlarge (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

How Much To Stay On-board?

I assume that the prices vary with cabin grade, date and occupancy, as with all hotels.  Maybe the early prices have been set at a premium rate,  to capture the QE2 fans, maybe not?

I checked out the prices for a ‘room’ (they are calling them rooms) for Saturday 28/4, one night, two persons.

The QE2-Dubai web site gave me six grades of cabin: ‘Standard’ through to ‘Deluxe’. These were priced 955AED (£183, $260) to 1394AED (£268, $379)respectively.  I guess that is the going-rate for a luxury hotel in many parts of the world, although this is of course a very unique one.

Offical QE2 Hotel web site (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

I will be interested to read the first reviews of the on-board ambience, accommodation, food and service.

Of course I never  wanted to see the QE2 scrapped but old ships often don’t tend to have much of a future.

The QE2 is an out-dated vessel by modern cruise ship standards. She was when Cunard retired her. In addition Dubai is full of many impressive hotels and I believe the QE2 is quite isolated, in terms of her location, within a dock.

I assume that you will probably get a bigger (more modern) hotel room in a conventional hotel and extensive facilities (maybe a resort) for the same price, as  a more modest room and modest facilities, offered by an ageing ocean liner.

zxzxzxzx

A standard cabin (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

The Future

The problem is that if they have upgraded the QE2’s accommodation and public rooms too much, she is no longer the QE2. It must be difficult to combine the concept of a museum-ship and a hotel-ship. It remains to be seen what the new owners have actually done in terms of tasteful renovation – we have only seen limited images so far.

Hotel-ships traditionally struggle to be profitable   (It must cost more to maintain a floating hotel than a land based one, for example).

The original Cunard ‘Queen Mary’ (in Long Beach, USA) is still a wonderful Ocean Liner but a very mediocre hotel. The SS Rotterdam is still a wonderful ship too, renovated with much taste, but only ship nuts would probably want to stay on her. Mind you, I did.

I genuinely wish the QE2 Hotel every success, but I am still sceptical about her long term viability.

Malcolm

The new crew (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

.

.

.Slide-show – QE2 Transatlantic crossing 2008: HERE

Construction of 1st Global Class Ship Begins

April 12, 2018

Germany’s shipbuilder MV Werften launched construction works on the first Global Class ship, the largest cruise ship to be built in Germany, on March 8.

Two steel cutting ceremonies were held, one at MV Werften’s Wismar yard and another in the Rostock yard. Both sites will be needed to manufacture the 204,000 gross ton Global Class ship for the Hong Kong-based cruise line Star Cruises, owned by Genting Hong Kong.

Production will take place in parallel in Wismar and Rostock, with final assembly to be carried out in the Wismar yard. The first Global Class ship is to be delivered at the end of 2020. Around 600 companies are involved in the construction process.

After designing the Global Class ships for the last three years and investing over EUR 210 million to make MV Werften the-state-of-the-art cruise shipbuilding yard in the last two years, “we are very pleased to finally start construction on the first Global cruise ship,” Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong, said.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong, said: “These ships are not only the largest cruise ships to be built in Germany; they are also the most technologically advanced with artificial intelligence. The Global Class ships will follow the embrace of Asians of artificial intelligence in their daily lives, with facial and voice recognition for most services on-board and robots to perform mundane tasks, allowing the crew to focus on service delivery,”

The Global Class ships, which are designed specifically for the rapidly growing Asian cruise market, will be 342 meters long and 46.40 meters wide with a draft of 9.50 meters. The ship will be able to accommodate about 5,000 passengers in 2,500 cabins based on a twin share basis.

Construction on the second Global Class ship will begin in early 2019 for delivery at the end of 2021.

(STX)

‘Global Class’ slide-show: HERE

Fred. Olsen Welcomes Brabant

April 11, 2018

.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ new 156-guest river ship, Brabant, commenced its inaugural cruise season from Amsterdam, on a five-night Springtime Dutch Discovery itinerary.

The journey called at Amsterdam, Hoorn, Kampen, Deventer, Arnhem and Nijmegen in the Netherlands, before ending in Dűsseldorf, Germany.

Peter Deer, commercial director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “Today, our new river vessel, Brabant, sets sails from Amsterdam for the first time under a Fred. Olsen flag. These are exciting times, as Brabant will be visiting the wonderful rivers of Europe – the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Main – as well as pretty towns and ‘big name’ cities, such as Vienna and Strasbourg, for shopping, music and culture”.

Fred. Olsen is operating its inaugural European river cruising programme between April and November 3rd.

Guests can choose from a total of 30 departures on Brabant in 2018, on durations ranging from five to 25 nights, complemented by a selection of high-quality chargeable shore excursions, designed to enhance guests’ experience of the destination.

Fred. Olsen guests – who are predominantly British – will also feel at home on board Brabant, with English spoken throughout and all transactions conducted in sterling.

The British taste will also be reflected in the cuisine, customer service and shore tours on offer.

(Fred.Olsen)

Malcolm says: Olsen’s ‘Brabant’ is the ‘Amadeus Princess’ which entered service in 2006. It seems that this will essentially be an ‘Amadeus’ (Luftner Cruises) product, with Olsen tweaks, such as sterling as the on board currency and British menus.  I like the Amadeus product.

Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

Malcolm

Ventura’s Dry-docking Completed

April 10, 2018

.

P&O’s Ventura, has  just completed a routine two-week drydocking at Damen Shiprepair Brest.

The maintenance program included the installation of two exhaust gas scrubbers. The hull was water blasted and then, along with the superstructure, repainted. Additional work included maintenance of the propulsion systems and stabilizers, plus other minor repairs.

The scheduled work has been completed in time for a March 28 cruise from Southampton to the Canary Islands and Lisbon.

(P&O)

QE2 Hotel Opening Imminent

April 7, 2018

Many thought that it would never happen, but news sources now say that it will happen within the next few weeks: The QE2 will open as a hotel in Dubai.

Latest image: Click to enlarge (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

Her exterior looks fabulous as does the image of the new cabin. (I am told that they are NOT just renderings).

The QE2 Ocean Liner  has been docked in Dubai’s Port Rashid, since 2008, after the original plans for a hotel on board fell through.

The ship has a rich nautical history after she was launched by the Her Majesty the Queen, for Cunard, in 1967.

However the ‘Telegraph’ and ‘Daily Mail’ reported that the vessel had become “mouldy” and “filthy” during her time in retirement.

239C1D3500000578-2854836-image-101_1417359925872

QE2 languishes in Dubai (Daily Mail)

Then in 2017, Dubai-based construction company Shafa Construction announced it was going to give the classic ship a refurbishment and  launched a web site.  It promised  “a new take on hospitality” as well as “a royal experience”.

vbvbvbvbbdffff

Renovated Deluxe Cabin: Click to enlarge (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

The latest statements of April 2018 are:  QE2Dubai say “After spending the past 2 weeks in Dubai’s Dry Docks for a bit of a deep cleaning and paint retouch, the Queen Elizabeth 2 took one final voyage back to her new home in Mina Rashid…ready for the final phase of her restoration. “

“Comfortable, refined and complete with the authentic elegance of her former years, the Queen Elizabeth 2 rooms and suites have been thoughtfully restored with all of the modern technological conveniences of today, blended with her maritime interiors. Expect dark wood panelling, comfortable bedding and vintage appliances redefined. Each of the QE2’s rooms and suites feature either the original portholes, floor-to-ceiling-windows or balconies that peer out onto the Arabian Gulf or Dubai’s iconic skyline… We’ll be open for bookings very soon”.

The Queen Elizabeth 2 lobby will be home to a fascinating interactive museum portraying the amazing origins of the QE2. Complete with actual and replicated artefacts of those days, the museum reproduces three iconic spaces from the ship: the bridge, a first class cabin and the Queens Room. The self-guided exhibition will feature evocative sound effects and captivating information panels in both English and Arabic.

(QE2Dubai)

.

Oldest River Vessel

April 5, 2018

 

(Courtesy Gota Kanal)

Cruis Blog reader ‘Max M’ suggested that after discussing the biggest river boats (here) we should discuss the oldest.

I have done a little research and it would appear that the oldest registered marine vessel with overnight accommodation, is in fact a vintage steam canal boat called M/S Juno.  Juno was built in 1874 (yes, 1874) and has 29 passenger cabins.

M/S Juno operates on the 120 mile Göta Canal between Stockholm and Gothenburg, built with the help of Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.

In fact there are three vintage vessels on this route: The M/S Wilhelm Tham was built in 1912 and their youngest ship, is the M/S Diana, in 1931.

Doulos – The Oldest Ocean-Going Ship

The Medina was built in 1914 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. She was a freighter serving the Atlantic; during World War II she served with the United States Coast Guard.

The Panamanian company Naviera San Miguel SA acquired the Medina in 1948; they renamed the ship the Roma, and converted her into a passenger ship with cabins for 287 people, and dormitories for an additional 694 people.

In 1952 Naviera San Miguel resold the Roma to Linea Costa, an Italian company. At this time the SS Roma, a steamship, was converted into a motor vessel and renamed the MV Franca C. She carried passengers between Italy and Argentina. In 1959, the Franca C was adapted into a cruise liner, principally cruising the Mediterranean.

In 1977, Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All) acquired the Franca C, and renamed her the Doulos (Greek for servant). She was manned by a volunteer crew and made sea port visits worldwide as a missionary ship. The MV Doulos held the biggest floating library in the world. Normally there were somewhere between 3000 to 5000 books on the shelves and half a million in the hold.

She made her last world tour in 2009 and was de-commissioning at the end of 2009 due to expense of making her compliant with SOLAS (maritime safety) regulations .

The ship is currently known as the MV Doulos Phos. She is now owned by Mr. Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.

There are plans to use the ship as a floating hotel with restaurants, a bookshop and a banqueting hall. However such plans do not always come to fruition. The QE2 is a prime example.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Malcolm Says: As Doulos is no longer operational as cruise ship, this raises the question what ocean going ship is now the oldest? anybody know?

I got to go on-board MV Doulos in 2004, when she visited Southampton. Her interiors were quite a mess, looking more like a Hippy peace-camp than an historic ship. However you could certainly still see some of the Costa décor in places.

Why Don’t Cruise Ships Tip Over?

April 4, 2018

For all of you that have ever wondered:

Titanic Replica – Update

April 1, 2018

.

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’.

See – Titanic v Oasis Class: HERE

Malcolm

The SS Norway Remembered

March 31, 2018
SS Norway in Southampton waters 2001

SS Norway in Southampton waters, 2001

In 2008 the Norwegian Cruise Line’s  SS Norway was cut up on a beach, in Alang, India, and disposed of.

She entered service in 1962 as the ‘SS France’ Ocean Liner. She was the glory of  France’s glory – a ship of state.

She was decommissioned in 1974 and left to rust in the era when the jet aeroplane replaced the ocean liner as the preferred meth of intercontinental travel.

However in 1979 she was purchased by NCL and renovated, returning back to service in 1980 as the then biggest Caribbean cruise ship. Although only medium sized by modern standards, It can be argued that she started the era of the mega-cruise-ship.

I was lucky enough to take her final Transatlantic crossing on the SS Norway, on 2nd September 2001, from Miami to Southampton.  I know that many of you have very fond memories of this special ship. Why not join me?

You can read some background information here and my ‘Final Transatlantic’ review: HERE

Malcolm

Carnival Horizon Delivered

March 30, 2018

.

The Carnival Horizon was handed over on March 28, 2018, at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone to its ship owner.

The ceremony was attended, among others, for the ship owner, by Micky Arison, Chairman of Carnival Corporation, and Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line, while Fincantieri was represented by Giampiero Massolo, Chairman and Giuseppe Bono, CEO.

The Carnival Horizon was built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera and is a sister ship to the Carnival Vista. The ship is 133,500 tons and 323 meters long.

(Carnival)

Oceanwide Expeditions: Hondius

March 28, 2018

.

The new Hondius from Oceanwide Expeditions is launching for the summer 2019 Arctic season. The 196-guest, 6,300-ton ship ship is being built by Croatia’s Brodosplit shipyard. Oceanwide, is a Holland-based expedition cruise company.

Malcolm says: I’ve lost count of how many expedition ship are planned /on order. It has became a booming niche area of the cruise market.

Avalon Waterways: FlexDining for 2019

March 27, 2018

From a giant ship below, to small boats:

(Courtesy Avalon)

From morning breakfast to elegant dinners, Avalon Waterways has always invited travelers to free their taste buds from the ordinary. In 2019, the river cruise operator is taking even more steps to turn the tables onboard with the introduction of FlexDiningSM for Avalon guests.

“Our new FlexDining program invites Avalon guests to enjoy more flexibility at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “In addition to providing guests with multiple dining venues like the Panorama Bistro and the Sky Grill to bringing healthy food options to the plate with Avalon Fresh®, FlexDining offers our guests the opportunity to enjoy open dining times, more two-top tables for couples, bar service on the Sky Deck and daily night fare, on request, at the bar. We even provide complimentary picnic lunches to those interested in taking their dining experience off the ship.”

With the introduction of Avalon Fresh® in 2017 – a partnership with rising culinary stars Leo and Karl Wrenkh – that features healthy food options with the freshest ingredients from local farms and suppliers, Avalon Waterways has focused on bringing amazing to travelers plates.

Now, the company is inviting guests to choose the onboard dining venue – and times – that suit their mood, from a breezy al fresco lunch at the Sky Grill and less formal “sit-down” atmosphere of the Panorama Bistro to an elegant, four-course dinner in the glass-walled dining room.

“At whatever table setting or time our guests choose to dine, they have the opportunity to savor local flavors and the familiar favorites they may crave throughout their vacation,” said Hoffee. “On an Avalon cruise, every meal is part of the journey.”

(Avalon waterways)

Malcolm says: It’s nice to see a river cruise lines adopting ideas from ocean cruise ships, like flexible dining. Most ocean ship offer some form of flexible dining these days.  A full ‘Freestyle’ (flexible dining) system was pioneered by the Norwegian Cruise Line, being introduced several decades ago, and they still do it the best. RCI also attempted a full-blown version with ‘Dynamic Dining’ in 2014, but it was not popular with guests and was withdrawn.

Now the river cruise lines need to focus on upgrading the very sedate entertainment on offer.

Would you enjoy a river cruise? see HERE

Royal Caribbean Welcomes World’s Largest Cruise Ship

March 26, 2018
symphony-stx

(Courtesy RCI)

More details of this amazing ship: HERE

.

.

.

oasis_titanic

Little and Large

Titanic v The Oasis Class: HERE

Genting: Global Class Details

March 24, 2018

.

Genting Hong Kong has announced that Dream Cruises will get the first Global-class newbuild previously allocated to Star Cruises.

The 5,000-guest, 204,000-ton ship will join the Dream Cruises fleet starting in 2020. Genting Hong Kong has a sister ship set for a 2021 delivery as well, which could also be poised to join Dream Cruises.

Genting Hong Kong revealed more details of its upcoming 5,000-guest 204,000-ton Global-class ships, with the first set to debut for the Dream Cruises brand at the end of 2020, followed by a sister ship at the end of 2021.

The news was released at a steel cutting ceremony in Germany .

“The Global Class ships will follow the embrace of Asians of artificial intelligence in their daily lives, with facial and voice recognition for most services onboard and robots to perform mundane tasks, allowing the crew to focus on service delivery,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Genting.

According to a statement, the ships are designed specifically for the rapidly growing Asian cruise market with features such as a Cineplex, theme park, Asian spa, authentic multiple Asian dining experiences including fast food alternatives and affordable shopping facilities in addition to luxury shopping facilities.

The cabins are uniquely designed for the Asian family and can comfortably sleep two, three or four persons with split (two) bathrooms, allowing for a wider price point for the Asian market, Genting said.

The ship will also provide a variety of exciting entertainment including a roller coaster, water park and surf simulator, the company announced.

With total life-saving capacity of up to 9,500 passengers, the Global Class ships can cater for the extremely high peak holiday periods in Asia, Genting said, in a statement.

The new ships will also have eight sets of escalators connecting the public areas.

With facial recognition, there will be minimal queuing for boarding, disembarkation and payments; contextual marketing to even out demand on ship facilities and other artificial intelligent systems, the company announced.

(Genting)

Click to enlarge (Courtesy Genting)

Malcolm says: It’s taken a long while, but Royal Caribbean’s designs are starting to appear on other lines ships. From the renderings above, the ‘Global Class ‘appears to have a Cabins facing inwards overlooking some sort of forecourt (like Oasis’s Boardwalk cabins). She also appears to have a small sunken Garden (like Oasis’s ‘Central Park’). However whether this will be real plants and trees or artificial, remains to be seen. You can also see the Surf Simulator too (like Oasis’s Flow Rider) and some water chutes. These are now popular on many ships, but Carnival and NCL pioneered them. The stern area looks like NCL’s Spice H2O.

So where’s the roller coaster that has been mentioned?

Bellissima Will Be Christened In Southampton

March 22, 2018

(Courtesy MSC)

MSC Bellissima will be named in Southampton on March 2, 2019.

Antonio Paradiso, managing director UK and Ireland, said he believed the move would see the 5,700-guest Bellissima become the largest ship ever to be christened in the UK.

The Meraviglia-class vessel will sail its maiden voyage from Southampton to Genoa two days later. The last MSC vessel to be named in the UK was MSC Poesia in Dover in 2008.

Bellissima will become MSC Cruises’ fourth mega-ship to come into service in less than three years since 2017 as part of a 12-ship, ten-year €10.5 billion investment programme.

MSC also revealed that Bellissima will debut an onboard “digital personal assistant” system for passengers, which Onorato said would take the line’s MSC For Me technology programme “to the next level”.

The “conversational, voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence innovation” will see a speaker beacon placed in each cabin, offering information such as weather updates and excursion timings and, with its next phase, provide guests with tailored suggestions including dinner reservations.

It has been developed by MSC and Samsung subsidiary Harman, responsible for a number of voice-enabled technology created for Amazon, Google and Microsoft, and will be available on all future new ships.

(MSC)

CMV’s New Ship: Vasco da Gama

March 21, 2018

.

The CMV Travel & Leisure Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of Pacific Eden from P&O Cruises Australia.

Continuing the explorer theme, the ship’s new name is named ‘Vasco da Gama’.

Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese nobleman, navigator and explorer, famous for being the first European to reach India by sea. After thousands of lives and dozens of vessels lost in shipwrecks and attacks in search of this passage, da Gama successfully landed in Calicut on 20th of May 1498. In doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian Ocean and the Western World with the Orient, paving the way for an age of global commerce and European establishment in Asia. His outward and return journey around the Cape of Good Hope was at the time the longest ocean voyage ever undertaken, a distance equal to the equatorial circumference of the Earth, being about 24,000 miles! He successfully conducted three such voyages, and also served as the Second Viceroy of Portuguese India.

Here is snap shot of the ship’s wide range of facilities:-

  • Gross Tonnage: 55,820grt, Draft: 7.7m, Length: 219m, Beam: 31m
  • Built in Fincantieri Shipyard, Italy in 1994 and launched as Statendam.
  • A three-decked central Atrium with a fine selection of retail outlets
  • Impressive passenger lower bed space ratio of 48.
  • Nine passenger decks serviced by eight lifts.
  • Fabulous tiered main show lounge spanning two decks.
  • Dome Observatory & Nightclub providing wonderful seascapes & scenic panoramas.
  • 149 balcony cabins including 28 suites. 80% of cabins with an ocean view.
  • Starboard and port side promenades with splendid traditional timber decking.
  • A well-appointed wellbeing centre with a fully equipped fitness centre.
  • Two outdoor swimming pools with the main pool having an all-weather retractable roof.
  • A tennis and basketball court.
  • Cinema and casino.
  • Two Conference Rooms.
  • Six dining options including five fine dining options.
  • In all, a choice of five lounge bars, one pool bar and four entertainment venues.

 The ship has a rich heritage and maritime pedigree and was originally launched in 1994 by Holland America Line as the Statendam. At 55,820grt and with an impressive space ratio, she will carry 1150 passengers accommodated in 630 cabins (including 100 singles and 149 balcony suites and cabins with an 80% ocean view ratio). She will operate alongside CMV’s flagship, Columbus (1400pax), Magellan (1300pax), Marco Polo (800pax), Astor (600pax) and Astoria (550pax).

(CMV)

CMV Flagship Columbus review: HERE

Malcom says: It’s great to see a British cruise line offering some reasonably priced cruises on ‘classic’ small ships, in this world of leviathans. However ‘Vasco da Gama’ essentially replaces the very charming ‘Astor’.

At around 56,000 the ‘Vasco da Gama‘ is about 10,000 gt bigger than Magellan and about 9,000 gt smaller than Columbus. However based on the standard passenger capacity of 1,150 she has the best passenger-to-space ratio (48) of the entire CMV fleet. She is also the youngest of the CMV fleet by six years.

Massive Expansion of RCI’s CocoCay

March 20, 2018

.

Royal Caribbean have recently announced that here will be a $200 million transformation of their private island of CocoCay, in the Bahamas.

Highlights include: Thrill Waterpark, Oasis Lagoon, A 1,600-foot zip line, a helium balloon, two specially designed beaches and the exclusive Coco Beach Club, The island transformation will roll out in phases beginning September 2018 until November 2019.

(RCI)

P&O: Ventura Refit

March 19, 2018

(Courtesy P&O)

In March 2018, Ventura will head to a shipyard in Brest, France for a refit. We’ll be making a number of improvements on board and bringing her in line with the other ships in the fleet. Keep an eye out for refurbished shops stocked with new brands, a new LED screen in the theatre, and new carpeting in the rooms and suites and in a number of the public areas.

Upon returning from her refit, Ventura will embark on a 12-night cruise to the Canary Islands and Portugal. For the rest of the year she’ll remain based in Southampton and take guests on Short Breaks to Belgium and Guernsey, adventures in the Norwegian Fjords and sunny holidays to the likes of Spain, Portugal, Greece and France.

We can’t wait to welcome Ventura back to the fleet, and we hope you’ll join us soon for more fun-filled holidays.

Theatres

Whether you prefer the classic stylings of the two-tier Arena theatre, the opulent setting of the Tamarind Club or the Cuban vibe in Havana lounge, Ventura’s on board entertainment venues offer something for everyone. To make your nights out that much more special, we’ll be upgrading the Arena theatre with a brand new LED wall installation, similar to the ones found on Britannia and Azura. We’ll also be making updates to the sound and lighting desk.

Retail

Shopping is a popular pastime on any holiday, and whether you’re treating yourself to a luxurious new watch, handbag or fragrance or stocking up on travel essentials,our on-board shops are the perfect place to do it. We’re pleased to announce that Dufry, the world’s leading travel retailer, will be our new retail partner on Ventura.The ship’s shops will undergo a complete upgrade, and new brands such as Brics,Longines, Olivia Burton and Liu Jo will be sit alongside popular brands such as Radley, Cath Kidston and Kipling. A range of British gins will also be available. Further changes include a large glass display window added to the shops on deck 7.

Waterside and The Beach House

Ventura does laid-back dining right. As part of the refit, both Waterside (the ship’s 24-hour buffet) and The Beach House (the fun and informal Select Dining restaurant)will enjoy a spruce-up. Floors will be given new tiling in the main walkway area and a new carpet design, and new furniture will be incorporated.

Carpets

The refit will see Ventura refreshed with new carpeting in a number of areas. In addition to all suites and cabins, the carpeting will also be replaced in a number of public areas: the Atrium; Oasis Spa & Salon; restaurants including Saffron,Waterside, The Glass House and The Beach House; and bars such as The Red Barand Havana lounge.

Dixons Travel Store

Dixons Travel, located on deck 7 by the photo gallery, sells the latest technology, from tablets to headphones to binoculars. As part of the refit, the Dixons Travel store will increase in size and a range of new products – including the Dyson supersonic hairdryer and the latest technology from brands such as Amazon, Apple, Bose,Canon, Fitbit, GoPro and more – will be available. Additionally, new carpeting will beintroduced, and the Photo Now digital screen will be moved to the ship’s aft.

(P&O)

Ventura Review: HERE

Crystal Endeavor – Where Luxury Roams Freely

March 17, 2018

.

Olsen’s Boudicca: Extensive Refit

March 17, 2018

.

(Boudiccca’s old livery and interiors)

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 880-guest Boudicca is due to undergo an extensive refit starting on March 17 at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.

The schedule for Boudicca comprises engineering works, general refurbishments and painting of the interiors and exterior, the company said.

In addition, one of the main areas of work will be the stripping out and rejuvenation of the 462 rooms across the ship.

All rooms will have new carpets installed, along with new soft furnishings and lamps. As with the rest of the fleet, brand new balcony furniture will be installed, and all rooms will be equipped with mini-fridges, safes and interactive smart TVs.

There will be extensive upgrading and remodelling of the vessle’s public rooms and dining facilities. The ship’s Morning Light Pub – a feature across the whole of the Fred. Olsen fleet – will be moved from to the portside of the Secret Garden Café. The Heligan Room will be converted into the Indian Ocean Restaurant.

Black Watch benefited from extensive improvement work at the end 2016 and has been achieving record revenues since, according to a company statement. Braemar and Balmoral were refurbished before the end of 2017.

(Fred Olsen)

Ponant: Two More Expedition Ships

March 16, 2018

(Image courtesy of Ponant)

Ponant has announced an ordered an additional two expedition ships from the VARD shipyard. This means that the company will have 12 ships by 2021.

Similar to its four-ship Explorer-class order, the additional two ships are sisters, which will accommodate 180 passengers each.

The ships will be named Le Bellot and Le Surville and delivery is set for the first and second quarter of 2020, respectively.

(Ponant)

Slide show: HERE

Malcolm says: Even more new expedition ships. I wonder who books them? I’ve yet to meet anybody – but maybe I mix in the wrong circles? Don’t get me wrong, I’d be on-board if I could afford it!

Viking Ocean Cruises – 16 Ships On Order.

March 14, 2018

(Image courtesy Viking)

Viking Cruises and Fincantieri announced an agreement for six further ocean-going newbuilds. The deliveries would come in 2024 (one), 2025 (two), 2026 (two) and 2027 (one).

Viking’s current ocean fleet includes four all-veranda-stateroom ships of 47,800gt, each accommodating 930 passengers. The line will welcome two more sister ships in the next two years, including Viking Orion this June and Viking Jupiter in 2019. Plus, 10 additional ships are now on order.

Sixteen ships is an all-time record, the highest number from a single shipowner for a shipyard.

(Viking Ocean Cruises)

Crystal River Cruises Introduces: ‘Crystal Debussy’

March 13, 2018

(Image courtesy of Crystal)

Crystal River Cruises welcomed the 106-guest Crystal Debussy to its fleet, which will enter next month. The latest addition to the Crystal portfolio brings the river fleet to four river ships.

Crystal Debussy will cruise along the Rhine River, beginning with her April 9, 2018 maiden voyage round-trip from Amsterdam. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the ship will sail routes of seven and 10 days between Amsterdam and Basel along the Rhine and Moselle rivers, visiting Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.

In addition, Crystal will welcome the Crystal Ravel to the fleet next month, joining sister ships: the Crystal Bach, the Crystal Mahler, the Crystal Debussy, and the line’s first river ship the Crystal Mozart.

(Crystal)