Archive for the ‘Cruising’ Category

A £50m Cruise Terminal For Hull?

September 19, 2017

Artists rendering (courtesy HDM)

An ambitious £50m funding bid is being drawn up aimed at turning plans for a new cruise ship terminal in Hull, U.K.,  into reality…

Full Hull Daily Mail article: HERE

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Crystal Cruises’ Edie Rodriguez Resigns

September 18, 2017

Edie Rogriguez (Courtesy of Crystal)

Edie Rodriguez, who has led Crystal Cruises in its expansion since October 2013, resigned on Friday 15/09/17.

Rodriguez said her sudden departure from the luxury cruise line, which has offices in Miami, was “very amicable.” She expects to announce plans to join another venture in the coming weeks, she said.

Rodriguez will be succeeded by travel veteran Tom Wolber, effective immediately.

Wolber has worked at the Walt Disney Company for nearly 30 years, including 10 years at Disney Cruise Line as senior vice president of operations.

(Crystal)

Malcolm says: Unfortunately my outstanding memory of Ms. Rodriguez, is that she is the woman who suggested that Crystal would return the classic ocean liner, ‘SS United States’ (1951) back to service. However they didn’t!

The concept proved to be too difficult/expensive. I could have told them that and I’m not an expert. It is always going to be cheaper to construct a newbuild than renovate a piece of maritime history.

World Dream Navigates River Ems

September 18, 2017

(Courtesy Dream Cruises)

A giant, brightly painted cruise ship has been seen looming above the German countryside, sending herds of perplexed sheep running as it made its seemingly impossible journey down a narrow river…

Full Daily mail on-line article: HERE

Whatever Happened To “Just Cruising”?

September 17, 2017

In my opinion one of the great pleasures of being at sea, is the sea itself.

I like the fragrance of the sea in my nostrils, the wind in my hair and to see the interaction between the ship and the passing land.

The sea is best experienced while walking around a wrap-around (full 360 degree) promenade deck, ideally made of teak.

I don’t need gimmicks when cruising; I just want some good food, with good service, some tranquil lounges and some interesting ports of call…

Read full article: HERE

Costa Smeralda: Costa’s first LNG-Powered Ship

September 13, 2017

The steel cutting ceremony for the first of two ‘Helios-Class’ Costa Cruises ships  was held Wednesday 13th September 2017 at the Meyer Turku shipyard, Finland.

The ship, named Costa Smeralda, (Emerald Coast) is named after Sardinia’s main tourist area.

The ship will enter service in October 2019, with a sister ship following in 2021.

Carnival will be building a total of seven ‘Helios-Class’ cruise ships which will all be fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The ships will be shared between the Carnival brands: Carnival (2), AIDA (2), Costa (2) and P&O (1).

Each ship will be around 184,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 6,600 passengers, which will be a record.

Costa Cruises’ president Neil Palomba said, ‘The two new Costa Cruises ships are a true innovation and set new standards for the entire sector. They will be among the first cruise ships powered by LNG, spurring the development of this green technology.’ He added, ‘at 183,900gt, Costa Smeralda is also a step up in ship size – we need the new facilities to answer to the demand of our customers and to increase our competitiveness for the future.’

During the steel cutting ceremony, Costa also announced a new livery that will appear on the bow of all its ships over the coming months. The design is a stylised version of the tricolour Italian flag fluttering in the wind at sea. The ship names will also be updated and will be larger in size than the current names.

(Costa)

Malcolm says: AIDA’s first vessel called AIDAnova also had her steel cut, at the German yard, Meyer Werft on 6th September 2017. The ship will be delivered in late 2018 and an as yet unnamed sister ship, in 2021.

The Helios-class:

P&O’s Helios-class ship, see HERE

Mein Schiff 3 @ Tilbury

September 13, 2017

On Tuesday the 12th of September, the German TUI ship, Mein Schiff 3 (My Ship 3), visited Tilbury cruise terminal (U.K.), on the river Thames.

At 99,526 gt, carrying 2,500 passengers (lower berths), she is probably the biggest cruise ship to ever visit Tilbury.

The ship entered service in 2014.

(Click to enlarge)

Malcolm

Helios-Class: AIDAnova Keel Laid

September 11, 2017

(Courtesy AIDA)

Carnival marked the start of construction of a total of seven ‘Helios-Class’ cruise ships with a keel laying ceremony, of the first. This took place on September 6th, for the AIDAnova, at the Meyer Werft shipyard, in Germany.

The seven vessels will all be fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The ships will be shared between the Carnival brands: Carnival (2), AIDA (2), Costa (2) and P&O (1).

Each will be around 184,000 gross tonnes and carry up to 6,600 passengers, which will be a record.

AIDAnova will be delivered to AIDA in late 2018 and an as yet unnamed sister ship, in 2021.

In AIDAnova’s maiden season, the ship will offer trips around the Canary islands for the German market.

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy AIDA)

On-Board

Among the facilities aboard is a revamped Beach Club concepts, with lush greenery, guests can climb above the treetops or float along the Wild River.

For the first time, there will be three water slides on board. Cozy lounge seating offers the perfect spot for daydreaming, while movies and sporting events are screened on the LED wall.

The Art Club is the multimedia version of the AIDA Gallery, offering an exciting mix of art, photography, videos, games and high-tech. Apart from the works of well-known artists that are on show, guests can also enjoy virtual art using 3D glasses. The bar is designed to look like the lobby of a city hotel.

There will be 17 restaurants across the ship, including the traditional German self-service options, a-la-carte restaurants and five speciality options .

Among the speciality options will be French Kiss, Casanova and the Brauhaus.

Deck 16 will be an activity deck with a waterslide, water park, mini golf and a ropes course.

The pool deck will have a light-weight retractable glass roof, giving the ships the deployment option of Northern Europe in the winter. This will also bring back AIDA’s trademark beach-club which has been a solid hit on the AIDAprima.

AIDAnova Beach Club (AIDA – Click to enlarge)

(AIDA)

P&O’s Helios-class ship, see HERE.

Balmoral Pleasure Steamer – Horrific Weather

September 11, 2017

(Courtesy Liverpool Echo)

This cruise was definitely NOT “too comfortable”:

The  700-tonne Balmoral pleasure steamer (not to be confused with Fred Olsen’s cruise ship) experienced very rough sea conditions  cruising the English coast, on Saturday 9 September.

Passengers were reportedly  ‘thrown around like ragdolls’ with some vomiting from seasickness for SIX HOURS.

Daily Mail article/Video: HERE

I enjoyed an excellent river cruise on Balmoral in August 2011.

I took this ‘classic’  motor cruiser  down the Thames, through the Thames estuary, briefly stopping off at Southend pier, then on to the charming Whitstable, and back.

Balmoral was built in Southampton in 1949 and operated under the Southampton Red Funnel Fleet for 20 years.  She later became a floating restaurant and fell into disrepair.

She returned to service in 1986 and to this day operates her main summer season in the Bristol Channel, offering day excursions to popular Coastal Resorts, as well as making visits to other ports & piers throughout the UK in Spring & Autumn.

I’d also recommend the  paddle steamer ‘Waverley’ (1947)  as well, for a day out.

Web Site HERE

In July of this years, the Balmoral unfortunately smashed into a pier as she attempted to navigate choppy seas: HERE

See the Waverley: HERE

Has Cruising Become Too Comfortable?

September 10, 2017

A few years ago I wrote an article entitled: “Has Cruising Become Too Comfortable?”

I suspect that many of my readers probably thought that I had gone mad, after all the concept of being “too comfortable” is a difficult one to grasp. Nevertheless, I stand by its sentiment.

Here it is:

Although I love cruising, just occasionally I feel that I am a little too insulated from the outside world and the local cultures, when I’m on-board a cruise ship.

It is worth noting that most cruise ships themselves are very multi-cultural, in terms of the crew and passengers, however a ship is still very much it’s own ‘world’. In fact today’s modern mega-ships are so big that they are no longer just a ‘means of transportation’, they have become the ‘destination’…

See full article HERE

Meraviglia: What Jane Did NOT tell you!

September 9, 2017

(Courtesy Channel 5)

UK singer/personality Jane McDonald, has her second ‘Cursing’ series currently on UK TV.

Episode two featured Jane in the Mediterranean cruising on MSC’s new ‘Meraviglia’.

Now although I love Jane and enjoy her programme, it never gives proper reviews of the chosen ships. The show is a great piece of entertainment, rather than being a well balanced appraisal.

Some early passenger reviews of Meraviglia’, which have appeared on-line, have been quite negative about the experience on-board the ship. In fact I also read a very recent review (September, 2017) which highlighted the same issues as many June reviews did.

Not surprisingly, these issues were never mentioned or shown on Jane’s TV show.

(MSC )

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

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

MSC’s origins are Italian, but they strive to offer a multi-national product.

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

In short is Meraviglia really ‘Wonderful’?

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

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

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

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

MSC Meraviglia reviews: HERE

A Cruise Liner Is Finally Coming to Swansea

September 6, 2017

(Source: Wikipedia/Christof46)

It looks like it’ll be third time lucky for Swansea (Wales, U.K.) after confirmation that a luxury cruise ship will stop off at the city.

Swansea missed out on the last two planned cruise ship visits but Associated British Ports (ABP), which owns the city’s port, said the MS Hanseatic was docking for a day on October 1.
Tourism and port officials are arranging quayside facilities for the 175 passengers, who will be en route from Iceland to Portugal.

See full WalesOnline article: HERE

P&O Cruises Summer 2019 Cruise Program

September 5, 2017

(P&O’s Britannia)

P&O Cruises has launched its summer 2019 cruise program: “with increased emphasis on appeal to newcomers and past guests alike,” according to the cruise line.

Around 180 itineraries are on offer, with key features being:

·  Weekly 7-night Norway Fjords: Britannia, Ventura & Azura, April-Sept.
·  Fortnightly 14-night West-Med: Britannia, Ventura & Azura, May-Oct.
·  Past guest oriented immersive: Arcadia & Aurora
·  Discovery-led itineraries & scenic cruising on Oriana
·  A Malta Mediterranean fly-cruise program on Oceana.

Theme cruises include Strictly Come Dancing, the Monaco Grand Prix and various food cruises.

The Western Mediterranean continues to be a mainstay of the P&O Cruises summer program, with a variety of itineraries and durations,

Six ships will operate 19 cruises round-trip from Southampton. Azura, Britannia and Ventura will deliver the classic 14-night itinerary visiting headline destinations in the region, including Rome (from Civitavecchia), Florence & Pisa (from Livorno or La Spezia), Barcelona and Monte Carlo. Oriana and Aurora itineraries will appeal to past guests with longer discovery cruises and calls to smaller and lesser frequented destinations. Highlights include Sorrento, Propriano, Olbia and Calvi.

The Central Mediterranean will be offered via five itineraries on three ships –  Azura, Arcadia and Oriana. All itineraries are 19 nights and are designed to give guests a well-paced experience with a mix of highlight ports of call and relaxing days at sea, the company said.

The Azura will operate the only Aegean itinerary in September, including calls to Athens (from Piraeus), Mykonos and Santorini. Arcadia and Oriana will both operate the classic Adriatic itinerary, with all cruises featuring Venice and Dubrovnik, as well as calls to Corfu, Split and Messina.

In the Baltic, the Azura, Britannia, Arcadia and Aurora will all operate the classic 14-night itinerary from Southampton including a two-day call in St Petersburg. In addition, all cruises will feature calls to Stockholm, Copenhagen and Tallinn, offering guests the most popular destinations in the region.

Arcadia and Aurora will each operate a longer 16-night cruise, designed to balance some of the key destinations as well as lesser frequented ports of call. Both cruises feature the overnight in St Petersburg, but also offer calls to Klaipėda, Visby and Gdynia, while Arcadia will offer a maiden call to Fredericia in Denmark.

In 2019, seven-night cruises to the Norwegian Fjords will be on Britannia, Azura and Ventura, and will run throughout the season from April to September.  Arcadia and Aurora will continue to offer a more immersive 12-night experience with plenty of ports and scenic cruising, including calls to Olden and Flåm as well as Geiranger, Skjolden and Eidfjord. Oriana will offer a unique 18-night Discovery cruise to the very top of Norway and beyond, including a sail-by of the North Cape followed by a call and scenic cruising in Longyearbyen in Svalbard.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: So there is no news yet of Adonia’s itinerary for any dates after March 2019. This is ominous! Surely she can’t be leaving the fleet again? However new tonnage tends to make older tonnage redundant. They have all those Britannia cabins to fill. P&O’s next ship will be a MONSTER – see HERE.

The next P&O ship at 184,000gt

Hanseatic Inspiration Itineraries

September 4, 2017

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)

Featured Ship: The Marco Polo

August 28, 2017

Marco Polo @ Tilbury – Click to enlarge

CMV’s Marco Polo is a ‘classic’.

She is a ‘real’ ship.

There are no water slides or rock walls.

She is  52 years old.

She was built in East Germany.

She has an ice-strengthen hull.

She accommodates 820 passengers.

At 22,800 gt she is one of the  smaller cruise ships to regularly operate from UK ports.

In 2017/18 she will be offering cruises from Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Hull, Harwich & Tilbury.

My Marco Polo review can be read HERE

Donald Trump’s Breathtaking Yacht

August 27, 2017

It would have been very impressive, but it never did get built…

MSC Seaview Floated Out

August 24, 2017

 

Seaview (Courtesy MSC)

MSC Cruises has celebrated the float out of MSC Seaview.

The ceremony, held at the Fincantieri shipyard on 23/8/17,  in Italy, officially marked the first time that the vessel has been waterborne since beginning construction.

At 323 metres long with a GRT of 154,000 tonnes, MSC Seaview will feature a maximum capacity of 5,179 guests. She will be the second of two sister ships in the MSC Cruises’ Seaside generation to be built by FINCANTIERI. Her sister ship MSC Seaside is set to enter service later this year in December 2017 and is scheduled to be christened in Miami, where she will homeport.

MSC Seaview will sail her inaugural 2018 summer season in the Mediterranean, followed by a winter in Brazil for 2018-2019.

(MSC)

Vega Expedition Ship

August 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

(Bassoe Technology)

Big New Ships

August 18, 2017

Above: Celebrity Edge see HERE

Above: NCL Leonardo see HERE

Above: MSC Seaside see HERE

Above: MSC Meraviglia see HERE

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

Norwegian Bliss – The Details

August 14, 2017

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

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

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(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine Exhilaration

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

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

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

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

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(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine Delectable

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

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

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

The Manhattan Room (NCL)

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine Tranquility

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

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

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(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine a New Scene

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

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

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

(NCL)

CMV Columbus

August 11, 2017

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(New slide show above)

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

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

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

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

Columbus Ship Reviews: HERE

Malcolm

Great Cruise Journeys Is Launched

August 10, 2017

(Courtesy GCJ)

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

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

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

(GCJ)

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

Bliss Sells Like Bliss

August 9, 2017

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

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

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

NCLH to Double Cuba Capacity

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

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

NCLH Shares Up

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

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

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

(NCLH)

Costa neoClassica To Leave Fleet

August 7, 2017

Costa-neoClassica (Courtesy Costa)

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

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

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

(Costa/*CIN)

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

Big v Small Ships

August 5, 2017

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

Both big and small have their advantages and disadvantages:

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

Big ships:

Are often newer ships.

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

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

Can be more stable in heavy seas.

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

May offer ‘flexible’ dining.

Greater choice of cabin grades and often more balconies.

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

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

Better internet and high-tech features.

Are orientated towards multi-generational families.

May have more on-board surcharges for alternatives.

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

Tendering will often be slow or even impossible.

Small ships:

Are often older ships.

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

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

Can be less stable in heavy seas.

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

Less choice of cabin grades and balconies may be rare.

More intimacy, charm and friendliness.

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

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

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

Easier for those with mobility problems to navigate the ship.

A better connection with the sea.

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

Less gimmicks.

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

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

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

Zeebrugge To Get New Terminal

July 31, 2017

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

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

144 cruise ships have applied for berth space for 2018.

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

(CIN)

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

Mega-Ship Copycat Syndrome

July 25, 2017

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

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

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

Voyager Royal Promenade (RCI)

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

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

Internal Prom, Queen Mary, 1936 (Source unknown)

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

Royal Caribbean obviously borrowed their internal promenade design from Silja.

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

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

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

Oasis (Courtesy RCI)

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

The Waterfront (NCL)

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

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

Seaside Prom. Deck (Courtesy MSC)

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

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

Internal prom. deck, MSC Meraviglia (MSC)

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

MSC’s ‘World Class’ (MSC)

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

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

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

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

“Viva la difference.”

Malcolm

Hanseatic Nature & Hanseatic Inspiration

July 23, 2017

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

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

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

(Hapag-Lloyd)

Quark Expeditions Adds ‘World Explorer’

July 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Quark’s brochure says:

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

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

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

(Quark Expeditions )

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

Disney Order Third LNG Ship

July 17, 2017
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Disney Dream (Courtesy Disney)

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

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

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

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

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

(Disney)

Independence of the Seas Refit – 2018

July 15, 2017

(Images courtesy of RCI)

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

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

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

More details will be revealed at a later date.

(Royal Caribbean)