SS United States or QE2 for Pier 57, Manhattan?

March 4, 2015
(SS United States Today - source unknown)

(SS United States Today – source unknown)

RXR Realty and Youngwoo & Associates are considering the idea of redeveloping Manhattan’s pier 57 with a retired ocean liner as a hotel, according to a report.

The two companies formed a joint venture last year and are looking into bringing in a ship with the intention to create a hotel facility at pier 57.

The redevelopment plan around pier 57 includes some 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of office space and other real estate.

The pier sits at the end of 15th street on 11th avenue, and is south of the popular Chelsea Piers sports complex.

Youngwoo & Associates was selected in 2009 to redevelop the site.

The SS United States currently sits in Philadelphia with some movement on a redevelopment plan, and the SS United States Conservancy group, which oversees the vessel, has had its eye on New York.

The Queen Elizabeth 2, meanwhile, continues to be laid up in Dubai with no news on a previously announced plan to convert it into a hotel after moving the ship to Asia.

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: A great idea, but I will believe it when I see it. Hotel ships are rarely very successful. However I prefer the idea of the SS United States myself, the fact that she is one of America’s most historic Ocean Liners and deserves to be saved.

When the project is complete maybe I will visit pier 57 by taking the Titanic II from Southampton. (LOL)

Thomson Gains Splendour

March 3, 2015

Thomson Cruises’ fleet is to be boosted next year with the addition of a ‘Royal Caribbean’ ship.

The US cruise line is to sell 1,830-passenger Splendour of the Seas to Tui Cruises for an undisclosed sum.

(Image: M.Oliver)

(Image: M.Oliver)

The 69,130-ton vessel, which first entered service in 1996, will then be leased to Thomson Cruises.

The deal will see Splendour of the Seas operate its last sailing for Royal Caribbean on April 4, 2016, before being transferred to Tui.

Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and CEO Richard Fain said: “Splendour of the Seas debuted in 1996 and has served Royal Caribbean International extremely well. “The ship’s sale is in line with our strategic objective of divesting ourselves of older hardware.”

The ship will complete its scheduled cruises before being transferred and no sailings will be altered or disrupted due to the sale, according to the company.

All officers and crew will remain with the company and will be transferred to other vessels.

The ship will be the largest in the Thomson Cruises’ fleet, featuring a rock-climbing wall, nine hole mini golf course, indoor swimming pool, eight bars and lounges and multiple dining options.

Itineraries are due to go on sale at the end of next month.

Thomson Cruises managing director Helen Caron said: “We’re very excited to be welcoming the ship to our fleet next summer.

“This is the first step in our fleet modernisation and transformation strategy and will bring an enhanced offering to our customers with more balcony cabins than ever before, a wider choice of suites, an increased number of dining options and extra entertainment and activity facilities. We are confident that our customers will enjoy sailing on the new addition to our fleet.”

Tui Group strategic platforms chief executive Sebastian Ebel said: “Tui Group is pleased to have been able to secure the purchase of this ship. “Following the recent announcement of our purchase of luxury cruise ship Europa 2 for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, this continues to demonstrate our long term strategy of investing in our cruise operations as one of our key product areas.”

(Phil Davies, Travel Weekly)

Malcolm says: I cruised on Splendour in 2002 and she’s a nice ship. However at 69,000 gt she’s now only medium sized and is looking a little dated compared to RCI’s many big newer ships.

It was inevitable that with the addition of new tonnage (Quantum, Anthem and Oasis 3/4) RCI would shed some old tonnage.  However Splendour underwent a major ‘revitalisation’ in 2011, so she should serve Thomson well.

‘Thomson Destiny’, another ex-Royal Caribbean ship (original ‘Song of America’ 1982, later ‘Sunbird’) was operated by Thomson between 2005 to 2012 and was very popular.

Splendour review:

Viking to Launch River Cruises from New Orelans

March 1, 2015

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisana and Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen has announced the selection of New Orleans as the homeport for Viking River Cruises’ first North American river cruise itineraries, starting in late 2017.

(Viking Emerald operates in Asia - Click to enlarge)

One of Viking’s fleet -Viking Emerald (Asia)

The Mississippi River cruises will operate from docking facilities near the French Quarter in New Orleans. According to the Governor, Viking’s new service will result in the creation of 416 new direct jobs for Louisiana-based operations and vessel crews. The Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates the project will result in an additional 368 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 780 new jobs in the Southeast Region of the state.

Plans call for the construction of six new vessels over the next three years at an estimated cost of $90 million to $100 million per vessel, all of which will be built in U.S. shipyards and crewed by U.S. citizens. The vessels will be owned by Tennenbaum Capital Partners, a Los Angeles-based alternative investment management firm, and time-chartered to Viking.

Viking River customers are expected to travel to New Orleans from across the U.S., Europe and beyond, and bring new business to hotels, restaurants, museums and other attractions in the city, expanding sales for local merchants. More than 90 percent of sales created by the project are expected to come from out-of-state customers.

With the launch of cruise operations on the Mississippi River in late 2017, two boats will be deployed per year, for a total of six new boats in the first three years. Cruises will take passengers on a journey along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to itinerary stops in St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes; continuing upriver to Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis; or St. Paul, Minnesota, depending on the season.

The specialty-built riverboats will have a full complement of luxury amenities and host up to 300 passengers.

“We are thrilled by the choice of the Port of New Orleans as Viking’s initial entry into the North American market,” said Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “Viking is one of the premier cruise brands throughout Europe and Asia. Their worldwide reputation underscores New Orleans as a destination city for both international and domestic leisure travellers.

(Source: Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: I’ve always fancied a Mississippi river cruise on one of the few traditional-style over-night Paddle Steamers.  However Viking will be offering an interesting alternative. I doubt that they will be cheap, but Viking do have the knack of being very successful. They will definitely provide stiff competition for the Paddle Steamers.

I note at 300 passengers, the new American river boats will be a little larger than the European ones, which tend to carry 200 passengers, or less. I guess they may look more like the ‘Viking Emerald’ than the regular low-form European river boats.

(Traditional Paddle Steamer)

(The American Queen – a traditional style Paddle Steamer)

Viking are require to use American crew on these routes.  NCL had some problems using American staff for there ‘NCL America’ (Hawaiian) cruises which they also were required to have. For example, American staff expect (need?) higher wages than Pilipino/Easter European crew do, which eroded their profits.  NCL were reluctant to raise fares above the levels of many Caribbean cruises which they felt were their competition.  Some critics said that American crew were not as customer focussed, either.

Viking web site:

White Star Line Hotel, Liverpool

February 28, 2015

I’m just back from an excellent weekend break in Liverpool, UK.

I stayed at a newish hotel “30 James Street” which was the former offices of the ‘White Star Line’ (owners of the Titanic).

Below is a slide show.

I have now written a full review of my stay at the hotel, which unfortunately is not very favourable:

My review:

Hotel web site:

Her Majesty the Queen, will name P&O’s Britannia

February 27, 2015
(P&O Rendering)

(P&O Rendering)

P&O Cruises is pleased to announce that Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, will name the new P&O Cruises vessel Britannia at Ocean Terminal, on Tuesday March 10, 2015.

The biggest ship designed exclusively for Britain, Britannia is P&O Cruises latest “modern classic”, heralding a new era of holiday choice.

“We are honoured and proud that Her Majesty will name Britannia almost 20 years after she named the P&O Cruises ship Oriana.

“Britannia, a ship for the nation, will be the embodiment of contemporary Britain, and with her Union Jack livery she will fly the flag for Britain across the Globe.”

Carnival UK chairman, David Dingle

The naming will be a milestone in British maritime history and will be an event of great national interest. Let the celebrations begin.

(Source: P&O)

Malcolm Says: ‘David in Toronto’ has kindly reminded us that this will not be the first time that our Queen has launched a ship named Britannia. The previous Britannia, of course, was the Royal Yacht launched in April, 1953.

However just to confuse the issue, I hear that the Queen will NOT be the Godmother, Louis Hunt (Travel Counsellor) is the official Godmother.

Oasis 3 to have Quantum Innovations

February 26, 2015
(RCI Images)

(RCI Images)

As revealed here on the 2nd February, it has been confirmed by RCI, that Oasis 3 will be called: “Harmony of the Seas”

We already know that ‘Harmony’ will have multi-story waterslides that twist and turn over Central Park.  One of the slides will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.

(Click to enlarge - RCI image)

(Click to enlarge – RCI image)

‘Harmony of the Seas’ will have some of the innovations first introduced on-board Royal Caribbean’s latest ship, ‘Quantum of the Seas’:

There will be a Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade, featuring robot bartenders serving cocktails.


Passengers will be able to use the RFID bracelets known as WOWbands, which replaces the SeaPass card, with additional functions. (Passengers can still elect to have the traditional SeaPass card.)

There will also be the same high-speed internet access that the other Oasis-class ships have had via the new satellite internet technology.

(A WOWband)

(A WOWband)

There will be virtual balcony staterooms and suite guests will have access to a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen, as well as an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck.

(Virtual Balcony)

(Virtual Balcony)

There will also be studio stateroom choices for single travellers.

In the Boardwalk neighbourhood there will be classic arcade games and a relocated Starbucks.

Passengers will be able to choose between the two Dynamic Dining choices: “regular” and “classic”. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening.

Now on-board ‘Harmony of the Seas’

The restaurants on-board Harmony will include: Zumi Hibachi & Sabor Modern Mexican, Sushi Bar, and Wonderland.

(Source: RCI)

Malcolm says: Exciting news! I wonder if the waterslides leave room for the zip-wire, like those on-board ‘Oasis’ and ‘Allure’?

Has Titanic II Sunk Before Her Maiden Voyage?

February 24, 2015

What Ever Happened to the Titanic II project? No one seems to know, or if they do know, they are not saying.


Clive Palmer’s ‘Titanic II’ company, ‘The Blue Star Line’, has not updated their web site since September 2013. Twitter and Facebook have no news either. However, we do know that much behind the scenes work has taken place:

Design & Testing: Respected Marine architects, ‘Deltamarin’ were appointed in April 2013 to design the ship. Their contract with Blue Star Line covered a full review of the project to ensure the vessel would be compliant with all current safety and construction regulations, as well as meeting the design criteria laid down by Blue Star Line. Later Palmer appointed Deltamarin to be responsible for coordinating the various parties involved in the project including the shipyard, architects, interior designers and operations managers.

Water-tank model tests were coordinated by Deltamarin in Germany, along with the hull design with the optimisation of the propulsion arrangement . The original Titanic hull characteristics above the waterline were retained, but the lower part was re-designed for high fuel efficiency and better sea-keeping capabilities.

(Titanic II hull tests)

(Titanic II hull tests)

Originally Palmer said that Titanic II’s the Maiden Voyage, from Southampton to New York, would be in 2016. However a shipyard has not yet been commissioned, so no steel has yet been cut. That is a deadline that cannot be met as construction of such a ship would take two years, maybe three.

Promotion: In May 2014, Palmer announced that Blue Star Line, Deltamarin Ltd and AVIC Kaixin (Beijing) Ship Industry Co Ltd have signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ appointing AVIC as its latest Titanic II project partner. AVIC will represent Blue Star Line in the promotion of the Titanic II project and coordination of Titanic II sponsors from mainland China. .

“AVIC will assist in promoting the Titanic II and shortlisting sponsors from mainland China on behalf of Blue Star Line.”

Interior Design: Also in May 2014, Clive Palmer announced that the Blue Star Line has engaged ‘Tillberg Design’ of Sweden. They would provide architectural and design services for the interior of the Titanic II project. Mr Palmer said this would include the design of the first, second and third class accommodation, smoking room, first class lounge, Café Parisian, grand staircase and modern features on the ‘safety deck’.

(Blue Star Line)

So what might have gone wrong with the project?

Money: Maybe Palmer is running out of money?

“The man who likes to call himself a billionaire is now worth $631 million, according to Forbes Asia’s Australia Rich List a drop from an estimated fortune of $1.02 billion a year ago. With the end of the mining boom, the value of assets held by Mr Palmer’s various companies has declined sharply and all suffered losses in the last financial year”.

(The Courier Mail, Jan 2015)

Fraud: Police in Australia are investigating maverick MP and mining tycoon Clive Palmer over claims he received £6.6 million for a mining deal but used the money for his election campaign.

(Telegraph, Nov. 2014)

Chinese relations: “Clive Palmer sought to temper anger over an outburst in which he labelled Chinese “bastards” who shoot their own people and covet Australian resources, saying his comments were directed only at a Chinese state-owned company in a dispute with his business over royalty payments”.

(Wall Street Journal, 2014)

The shipyard: It is worth noting that although the SCS Jingling shipyard (China) is a major international shipbuilder of commercial ships, they have never built an Ocean Liner. The Titanic II would probably be more technically challenging to construct, than most.

Now if Palmer had said that the likes of the ‘Meyer Werft’ shipyard (in Germany) were building the Titanic II, with their impressive track record of building cruise ships, I’d be more convinced.

In an Asian Cruise News article, it was claimed that the project was “a bit frozen” and that Palmer was ‘thought to be reconsidering the project’ after failing to secure sponsorship or find a partner at a Chinese shipyard. He was also said to have been disappointed by the quotes to build in China in terms of both delivery time and price. It was also reported that the project was unlikely to go ahead, and that the Chinese ‘had lost interest in the project’.

(Asia Cruise News, March 2014)


A Big Job: In an interview Palmer cautioned that the project was “a big job”, that the original Titanic took seven years to build while they have been working for only two and a half, and said that he would have liked to start sooner but “wanted to make sure we don’t make any mistakes”. He claimed that a selection of cabins were being constructed on land for approval, and that this would be completed by July 2014.

(Politics with Michelle Grattan, Feb. 2014)

Deltamarin’s last statement said: “Deltamarin’s current commission has been finalised. Blue Star Line will inform in due course about the eventual continuation of the project.”

(Nov. 2014)

I’m not sure what the above statement really means. Has the design work been finished and the ship is ready to be built or has the project stalled and is unlikely to ever happen?

I have no idea, but it’s not looking very promising is it?



Titanic II discussion, see:

Oasis 3 WILL be called “Harmony”

February 23, 2015

As revealed here on the 2nd February, it has been confirmed by RCI, that Oasis 3 will be called: “Harmony of the Seas”


We do not know much about how ‘Harmony’ will differ form ‘Oasis’ and ‘Allure’, APART from the image* above showing multiple water slides. (*Courtesy unofficial RCI Blog/Tomáš Malíšek)


Royal Caribbean has filed trademark applications for the following names:

•Spectrum of the Seas
•Joy of the Seas
•Emblem of the Seas
•Apex of the Seas
•Pulse of the Seas
•Passion of the Seas
•Ovation of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has announced that “Ovation of the Seas” will be the name of its next Quantum class cruise ship.

This leaves six choices for ‘Oasis 4′. My guess is “Passion of the Seas”. (As yet unconfirmed!)

(Oasis 3, STX Yard)

(Oasis 3, STX Yard)


Anthem of The Seas – Float Out

February 22, 2015

New Shows For Anthem

February 20, 2015

Royal Caribbean announced new shows for its latest cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas.

Two shows will be performed in the Royal Theatre:

We Will Rock You: the smash hit musical featuring the greatest hits of legendary British rock group, Queen. Written by British comedian Ben Elton, the hilarious award-winning, record-breaking phenomenon is built around 24 of Queen’s greatest.


The Gift: an original Royal Caribbean production created exclusively for Anthem, The Gift is a musical journey of fantasy and illusion that begins one stormy night with the arrival of a “Magical Gift”. A beautiful production that is sure to delight, inspire and touch the hearts of all who come to see it.

There will also be a new show in Two70 degree lounge:

Spectra’s Cabaret: an original Royal Caribbean production created by Moment Factory, exclusively for Two70 on Anthem of the Seas, features the Maestro and his Agents of Rhythm as they invite you to an electric multi-dimensional cabaret where you will be transported into invisible realms. Each night, the portal opens for a limited period of time and the audience immerses themselves in a multi-media show brimming with kaleidoscopic sounds, effervescent colours and dazzling movement.


Spectra’s Cabaret blends live performance and experiential cinema along with music from popular culture. It creates a world seen through the lens of music and technology, all the while exploring the deepest recesses of the heart.

(Source: RCI)

Malcolm says: RCI have some of the best shows afloat. There Ice-skating shows and ‘Aqua’ shows are unique.  I’m sure these new ones will all be of a very high standard too.


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