Archive for the ‘Cruising’ Category

P&O’s New Mega-ship Named: Iona

May 24, 2018

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On Thursday 24 May at 4pm P&O announced live to the world, the name of our their new ship, which enters service in 2020.

She will be called: IONA

The announcement comes as a result of a competition that P&O ran last year, when we invited members of the public to suggest a suitable name for the ship. Over 30,000 submissions were received with a panel of experts making the final decision. 

Iona will be delivered in 2020. A sister ship for P&O is due for delivery in 2022.

The Scottish island of Iona.

Construction

P&O says: On 25 April 2018, the very first piece of steel was cut for Iona at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At around 184,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of Iona, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

Iona will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

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Our new star of the show, The Dome

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of Iona. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

P&O newbuild 180,000 gt

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Iona has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

(Source: P&O)

Malcolm says: The name ‘Iona’ comes from the beautiful scottish Island of the same name. Arthur Anderson, one of P&O’s co-founders, was born in Scotland. P&O was created in 1837.

Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with these ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

Perhaps a little worrying, is the fact is that this new class of cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton and it’s infrastructure (terminals, parking and roads) will surely need more investment, in order to handle multiple ships, two of which can carry up to 6,600 passengers each.

P&O/Costa Megaships Analysed: HERE

What is an LNG ship? See HERE

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Introducing: Fred. Olsen’s ‘Brabant’

May 23, 2018

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ new 156-guest river ship, Brabant, commenced its inaugural cruise season from Amsterdam in April 2018.

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

New Rome Cruise Terminal Opens

May 21, 2018

(Courtesy CIN)

Roma Cruise Terminal has unveiled its new cruise terminal: Terminal Amerigo Vespucci.

Covering 11,000 square meters, the terminal is one of the largest in Europe and marks an important milestone for the company jointly owned by Costa, MSC and Royal Caribbean Cruises, according to a statement.

See full ‘Cruise industry News’ article: HERE

Revealed: Celebrity Edge Spa

May 19, 2018

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Celebrity Cruises has unveiled The Spa on the Celebrity Edge with more than 22,000 square feet of space.

The company said The Spa was inspired by nature, and masterfully designed by world-renowned designer Kelly Hoppen, MBE, and features an “ahh-inspiring assortment of treatments in collaboration with industry-leading partners.”

SEA THERMAL SUITE

Eight distinct experiences. One incredible place to relax.

At the heart of The Spa on Celebrity Edge is the SEA Thermal Suite, a playground for the senses where connecting with your fellow spa-goers is as central to the experience as time alone to focus on you. We’ve taken everything that has made the Persian Garden such a hit on our current fleet and brought it to a new a whole new level of tranquility. At the Thermal Suite, you’ll embark on a wellness journey made up of eight distinct spaces each harnessing natural elements.

THERAPIES & TREATMENTS

Inspired by nature’s most rejuvenating elements.

Choose from a number of enticing options inspired by nature’s most rejuvenating elements, each one ending with the mellow tones of sound therapy. Our therapies and signature treatments include the Salt Stone Therapy, ELEMIS Thousand Flower Detox Wrap, and Thai Herbal Poultice Massage – just to name a few. Our treatments combine the restorative natural elements of sea, earth, and air with state-of-the-art technology.

ELEMIS BIOTEC FACIALS

For the first time on Celebrity, we’re thrilled to offer a collection of ELEMIS BIOTEC facials, using the latest and most advanced facial technology to help increase your skin’s natural cellular energy. Oxygen, light therapy, and galvanic stimuli switch your skin back on. Choose from eight ground-breaking BIOTEC skin therapies focused on anti-aging, skin pigmentation and brightening, and regular care and maintenance.
High-Tech Treatment Table.

Celebrity Edge is the first ship ever to feature a Spa Wave MLW Amphibia table, with water-filled cushions that adapt to your unique anatomy for the ultimate in comfort, as well as customizable color therapy lighting. And, introducing another first for Celebrity – the WellMassage 4D table. This award-winning treatment table uses breakthrough technology to deliver a deeper and more relaxing massage. We’re also excited to offer the first MLX Quartz table in our fleet. Warm crystals mould and shape around your body, releasing muscle tension and promoting a deeper state of relaxation.

There’s nothing like coming home from a vacation looking better than when you left. So we’ve turned to the leading experts in the field when it comes to offering unrivaled cosmetic treatments on Celebrity Edge. Ideal Image® Ocean, The Advanced MedSpa, will feature Dysport® Wrinkle Treatments, Restylane® Dermal Filler Treatments, Thermage®, and Botox®. We’re also proud to offer CoolSculpting®. Everyone back home will want to know your secret to looking so fabulous, but our lips are sealed.

THE FITNESS CENTRE

Take your fitness game to the next level.
The Fitness Centre on Celebrity Edge will have you looking for any excuse to work out. The latest, state-of-the-art Technogym® weight machines and cardio equipment will challenge you to take your fitness game to the next level. With floor-to-ceiling windows that keep you connected to the sea at all times, you couldn’t ask for more refreshing views as you work up a sweat.

Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga is heating up the fitness world. A first on-board Celebrity, this restorative form of yoga uses a heated environment and variety of props to stimulate and relax your mind and body.

RYDE

The next evolution in indoor cycling classes, RYDE®, powered by Technogym®, ups the thrill factor by giving you a real road-cycling sensation and surrounding you in an immersive, inspirational atmosphere that’s sure to get your adrenaline and endorphins flowing.
Pulse Barre

Challenge yourself to the max and discover why barre is considered one of the fastest, most effective total body workouts you can do. Balance is the key to this high-intensity, low-impact workout.

The Contender

A Celebrity first, this cardio boxing class will increase your stamina and strength together in one exhilarating workout.

Fitness on  Demand

The first Fitness on Demand programme in our fleet puts more than 1,200 pulse-pounding workouts instantly at your fingertips, all led by expert instructors and perfect for individual or small group workouts.
Peloton

Celebrity Edge is the first ship ever to feature high-tech Peloton® cycles, which offer the freedom and flexibility of cycling on your own while taking part in live-streamed classes that give you the motivation you need to go the extra mile.

DINING AT THE SPA

Spa-inspired cuisine at its best.

On Celebrity Edge, you can enjoy a truly spa-inspired holiday from the massage table to the dining table. The Spa Café and Juice Bar is the perfect place to refuel after your workouts and spa treatments with something fresh and flavourful. You’ll love our creative take on healthy cuisine, from nourishing salads to nutritious smoothies and cold-pressed juices.

Or, for our guests staying in AquaClass accommodation, we have the exclusive dining venue Blu. In Blu you’ll savour clean, crisp flavours and inventive cuisine complemented by an extensive list of sustainable and biodynamic wines. Pair all of that with personalised service, inviting surroundings, and natural light, and you have the fresh and bold experience of Blu.

(Source: Celebrity)

Celebrity Edge, the Dining rooms: HERE

Malcolm says: I’ve never met too many people that use ships Spas, but I guess that their fees make up for those of us who do not!

Introducing Seabourn Ovation

May 16, 2018

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In 2018, Seabourn will introduce Seabourn Ovation (40,350gt, 604 passengers), a sister-ship to the already prestigious Seabourn Encore. Seabourn Ovation represents another welcome stage in the evolution of small-ship cruising, which Seabourn pioneered and has consistently expanded and enriched. Both ships will deliver a wealth of new concepts, a fresh vision and a host of illuminating ideas to delight the world’s most discerning travellers.

(Seabourn)

Hapag-Lloyd Orders Third Expedition Ship

May 12, 2018

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Inspired by a strong financial performance  this year, the TUI Group said its board had approved a third Hanseatic-class newbuild for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

The 230-guest ship will join the Hapag-Lloyd fleet from VARD in 2021, following the  and Hanseatic Nature and Inspiration, which will be delivered next year.

Hanseatic Nature and Inspiration: Internal Images: HERE

Itineraries

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has announced itineraries for their new Hanseatic Inspiration, which will be delivered in October 2019, offering an international experience to English- and German-speaking guests.

The Hanseatic Nature debuts six months earlier, in April 2019, offering a German-speaking experience.

Hapag-Lloyd’s two new expedition ships will both hold a ‘Polar Class 6’, the highest ice class ranking for passenger ships.

The almost identical ships raise the bar in the expedition segment, according to the company, and feature numerous structural elements that make the expeditionary experience even more intense.

“Retractable glass balconies give guests the feeling of hovering directly above the water, and guests can stand on the circuit on the bow of the ship to be closer to the action, even closer than the captain.” a Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson said.

Sample Itineraries:

HANSEATIC INSPIRATION:
Maiden voyage, October 14-29, 2019 (15 days) from Antwerp, Belgium to Tenerife, Spain including travel via France (Honfleur), the Channel Islands (Guernsey), Spain (including La Coruna, Islas Cies), Portugal (overnight in Lisbon, Portimao), Morocco (Casablanca), Madeira (Porto Santo Island, and overnight in Funchal).

Expedition Amazon, March 25-April 11, 2020 (17 days) from Belem to Iquitos: upstream on the Lower and Upper Amazon with numerous expedition activities and Zodiac landings (via Manaus).

The Great Lakes, June 3-17, 2020 (14 days) with cruises on the Detroit River, Lake Huron (including Tobermory, Parry Sound and Mackinac Island), Sault Ste. Marie, Lake Superior (including Thunder Bay), and Lake Michigan.

(Hapag-Lloyd)

Titanic Replica In Trouble?

May 9, 2018

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Readers may recall that Clive Palmer’s (the Australian mineral billionaire) ‘Titanic II’ project.

Palmer’s pipe-dream was to build a replica Titanic: a real working-ship, but it sank without trace a few years ago now.  Palmer did spend quite a lot of money on research and the initial design concept, but he appeared to lose interest, when he experienced some financial troubles.

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Clive Palmer

Then in 2017 there was another replica-Titanic project, but this time it was for the Romandisea Tourism Resort in Sichuan Province, China. However this was never going to be a real ship. It was to be a hotel/tourist attraction, within a theme park.

Although construction work progressed steadily throughout 2017, there have been no updates or construction images, for most of this year, 2018. Two-thirds of the replica ship still remains unfinished. Completion deadlines have been missed.

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Unofficial reports note that steel is now twice as expensive as it was last year. It has been said that the workers have either quit or have yet to show up – dormitories are largely empty and cranes dotting the site are frozen in time. It has been said that only a few people are working on the ship. It has been rumoured that Romandisea does not  have money to even pay their salaries.

I cannot confirm that these statements as true, but it does appear from the lack of media updates, that construction has virtually ceased.

Maybe this replica Titanic has also hit an iceberg, like Clive’s, of the financial variety?

Maybe from a point of view of good-taste and respect for the hundreds of passengers that lost their lives, the ill-fated vessel should just be left alone?

Malcolm

Superyacht, Ida Pfeiffer

May 8, 2018

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Malcolm says: Not a very pretty vessel on the outside, but the capabilities and facilities look very impressive.

RMS Titanic In Colour

May 6, 2018

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Antarctica Tourism Numbers Surge

May 2, 2018

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(The latest design of polar expedition ship)

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has reported its visitor numbers for the 2017-2018 Antarctic season at the start of its annual meeting in Newport, Rhode Island.

The upward trend in visitor numbers recorded since 2011-2012 continued in 2017-2018, the group said.

See ‘Cruise Industry News’ article: HERE

Featured Ship: Cunard’s Queen Victoria

May 1, 2018

MS Queen Victoria (QV) is a Vista-class cruise ship operated by the Cunard Line and is named after the British Monarch Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria is of the same basic design as other Vista-class cruise ships including Queen Elizabeth. The external and internal designs are more in keeping with Cunard’s style and at 90,049 GT, and is the smallest of Cunard’s ships in operation.

Queen Victoria’s facilities include seven restaurants, thirteen bars, three swimming pools, a ballroom, and a theatre.[3]

Unlike many previous Cunard ships, Queen Victoria is not a traditional ocean liner as she does not have the heavy plating throughout the hull nor the propulsion system of a dedicated transatlantic liner. However the bow was constructed with heavier plating to cope with the transatlantic run, and the ship has a high freeboard. The Queen Mary 2 had cost approximately $300,000 US per berth, nearly double that of many contemporary cruise ships, so Cunard made the economical decision to base Queen Victoria on a modified Vista-class cruise ship, and Queen Elizabeth retains the same design with some minor changes.

Originally destined to be an addition to the Holland America Line fleet, the order for a Vista-class vessel put into Fincantieri was soon transferred by Carnival Corporation & plc (parent company to Holland America, Cunard, and P&O) to Cunard with the intent that the vessel would become the MS Queen Victoria.

(Wikipedia)

Cunard Queen Victoria review see: HERE

Don’t book an ocean cruise…

April 29, 2018

…until you have read my river cruise reviews.

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

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

Each cruise is different, each ship is different, yet they are all similar.

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

I did enjoyed it, it made a refreshing change. However the experience still felt slightly ‘alien’ to me, compared to the many an ocean cruises that I have done.

Yet 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 Silver II ship review: HERE

My most recent river cruise was something different again. It was on the  Mississippi river, 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? Please read on….

 

American Queen ship review: HERE

Malcolm

Hamburg Slide-Show

April 28, 2018

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The nautical city of Hamburg, Germany is famous for it’s impressive port, its shipping and the notorious Reeperbahn, where the Beatles learnt their trade there.

Hamburg also has an excellent Zoo, Maritime Museum and an attraction called ‘Miniature Wonderland’ (see slides).

Seabourn Ovation Delivered

April 27, 2018

(Courtsey Seabourn)

The new 604-guest Seabourn Ovation was delivered today at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Sestri, Genoa, Italy.

Among the participants of the ceremony, welcomed by the CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono: Giovanni Toti, Governor of Liguria, Marco Bucci, Mayor of the city of Genoa, Micky Arison, Chairman of Carnival Corporation, and Richard D. Meadows, President of Seabourn Cruise Line.

The Ovation is a sister ship to the luxury Seabourn Encore, which was also built by Fincantieri and entered service in 2016.

The new ship is 40,350 gross tons, 210 meters long and 28 meters wide and is able to reach a cruising speed of 18.6 knots.

(Seabourn)

NCL: New PortMiami Terminal

April 27, 2018

(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings today celebrated the ‘groundbreaking’ of the new and dedicated Norwegian Cruise Line terminal at PortMiami.

The Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners approved the project on April 10, 2018, with construction beginning May 1.

At nearly 166,500 square feet, the Norwegian terminal will accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers and will feature state-of-the-art technology to support faster and more efficient embarkation and disembarkation, the company said, as well as expedited security screening and luggage check-in. 

(NCL)

Bellissima For China

April 24, 2018

(Courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises has just announced that the new MSC Bellissima will be based in China and Asia-Pacific starting in 2020.

The ship will reposition to Shanghai in spring of 2020, MSC announced, at an event coinciding the MSC Splendida’s arrival into the Chinese market this week.

The 4,500-guest Bellissima will be delivered from STX France in March 2019 and will spend its inaugural season in Europe before moving to Asia. In China, it will become the largest ship homeporting in the local market.

(MSC)

Hurtigruten To Feature Art Selected by Queen Sonja of Norway

April 22, 2018

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Hurtigruten’s new expedition ship, the Roald Amundsen, which is expected to enter service in May 2019 will feature an art collection selected by Her Royal Highness Queen Sonja of Norway and her art foundation, the Queen Sonja Print Award (QSPA).

The QSPA is focused on promoting young artists, and the ship will feature around 600 works by 20 young Norwegian artists, as well as works of art by the Queen herself.

Hurtigruten and the QSPA are also discussing art for a sister ship, the Fridtjof Nansen, which is scheduled for completed in 2019.

(Hurtigruten)

Bliss Observation Lounges

April 22, 2018

Bliss is not unlike the other NCL Breakaway and Breakaway+ ships in her basic design. Although the decor and bars/dining rooms have new branding in many cases and the Go-kart track is unique to Bliss (and Joy).

However Bliss (and Joy) have the addition of a couple of nice observations lounges, not included on other ships in the series.

Bliss Go-Karts

April 21, 2018

Norwegian have made quite a big thing about their Go-karts on-board Norwegian Bliss (and Joy). For example: “Guests will be able to put the pedal to the metal for the first time aboard a North American-based cruise ship”. and “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, reaching up to 30 miles per hour”.

Now I’ve not seen the facility on-board myself, but videos are beginning to appear on YouTube.

I must say it all looks to be a rather “sedate” experience. It hardly looks like a “pedal to metal” experience. Mind you maybe the peddles were on the metal, but the-horse power was missing. I have not seen anything that looks like 30 mph in the videos. As for “competitive” – overtaking looks very difficult without much acceleration and speed.

However these are electric cars, they are not Formula 1 cars. They have to be pollution free and relatively quiet, after all the track is on the sun deck. (I bet the sunbathers do not appreciate the lost space!)

However I’m still surprised how slow they appear to be. I don’t think they will be needing that high fence – I can’t see the cars leaving the track!

Malcolm

QM2 Guests To Get First Taste of QE2 Hotel

April 19, 2018

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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

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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

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.

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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

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.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

Ventura’s Dry-docking Completed

April 10, 2018

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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)

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

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)

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oasis_titanic

Little and Large

Titanic v The Oasis Class: HERE

Genting: Global Class Details

March 24, 2018

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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)