Archive for the ‘Non Cruising’ Category

Wind-Assisted Propulsion

August 23, 2017

(Courtesy Quadriga)

Lloyd’s Register has joined the Quadriga sustainable shipping project – an initiative from Hamburg-based Sailing Cargo, which aims to build the world’s biggest sailing cargo ship.

Wind-assisted propulsion offers one of the few realistic options for introducing renewable power into shipping, Lloyd’s stated.

The project outlines a plan to build a 170-meter car carrier, capable of carrying up to 2,000 cars.

It will be equipped with four DynaRig masts and will operate on hybrid propulsion with sails and diesel-electric engines, with an optional battery system for peak loads. The vessel will be capable of sailing at 10 to 12 knots.

(Lloyd’s Register)

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Ritz-Carlton Goes Cruising

June 22, 2017

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As part of the newly created Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, the five-star hotel brand will launch three small, ultra-luxury ships.

These luxury ships are expected to cost around $220 million each. The first delivery is in 2019, followed by two sister ships in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The ship’s design is a radical departure from traditional cruise ships, inside and out. Its exterior is meant to capture “the Maserati effect,” which begs onlookers to see what’s inside.

Fredrik Johansson, owner and executive project director of Tillberg Design of Sweden said that the Ritz-Carlton project represents the first time he’s designing a cruise line’s maiden ship and from scratch. To that end, he drew inspiration from other superyachts — as well as Maserati—rather than from his competitors.

He thinks of the 190-meter (623-foot) vessels as hybrids between ultra-luxury small ships and yachts. If small cruisers carry about 650 passengers, on average, and a typical superyacht can hold a couple dozen, these are right in between, with 298 passengers in 149 suites.

Most small luxury ocean liners that are currently sailing—are being built or reconfigured as expedition ships to meet the demand of a the adventure cruise sector. They’re largely heading to the polar regions of Antarctica and Greenland and the Scandinavian fjords.

So Ritz-Carlton saw an opening in the market: small-ship cruising along the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and New England. They’re classic destinations that are popular with cruisers—yet they’re exclusively serviced by mega-ships that overwhelm the regions’ biggest ports.

The Barreras Shipyard, Vigo, Spain-based shipyard is rumored to be building the three vessels for Ritz-Carlton. It has not previously built cruise ships, but has experience in mega ferries and container ships.

(Ritz-Carlton)

Circular Runways – The Future?

May 30, 2017

Not cruise related, but travel related:

Could circular runways be the future of air travel? Aviation expert Henk Hesselink of the Netherlands Aerospace Centre believes so.

(BBC News)

Princess Margaret

October 6, 2015

Given the fact that I am a bit of a Hovercraft geek, I could not resist sharing the video below with you all:

More about Hovercraft: HERE

Giant Hovercraft

September 25, 2015

Ever since I was a child, I have had a ‘thing’ about Hovercraft, especially the big car carrying SRN4’s that operated from Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate (below) and Dover. I loved them!

Here is some nice footage of one of these amazing machines, that are sadly no longer operational:

However there are still passenger hovercraft operating daily from Southsea (near Portsmouth) to Ryde, the Isle of Wight. This hovercraft route has operated since 1965:

A Great British Invention for the 21st Century

Two new 12000TD hovercraft are being built for Hovertravel to take passengers from Southsea to the Isle of Wight.

Hovertravel made an official announcement that it is investing in the future of the company by purchasing 2 new 12000TD hovercraft. Hovertravel invited a group of people to view the new hovercraft in production at Griffon Hoverwork, ahead of testing next year.

Hovertravel is the longest serving passenger operator in the world and will be celebrating its 50th year in service next year. The new 22.4m long and 10m wide hovercraft will be able to seat up to 80 passengers and will be fitted with bigger propellers to reduce the level of external noise. See top right image.

The new hovercraft will bring quieter journeys and a quicker turnaround, as well as looking sleeker. Chief Pilot Peter Mulhern has been involved in the plans for the new craft ‘We are taking it down from four engines to two, the benefit of that is that noise is reduced by almost half. Another idea was to have the doors at the front. We have a five-minute turnaround to keep the service on time, by doing away with the steps and having to deflate the skirt every time it will be quicker. People will be able to use a ramp and just get their bike or wheelchair straight on.’

The front loading craft will have an ramp on one side of the entrance and steps on the other, this change in design will allow bicycles, wheelchairs and suitcases to go straight inside the craft. The seats are also expected to be quick release, to allow more space for luggage during the festival season.

Neil Chapman managing director of Hovertravel says ‘This is just another legacy for the future of us to make sure we are a prominent part of the seafront. Customers are very loyal to us but they want to see investment going forward. This brings it.’

The craft are due to be in service in early 2016.

(Griffon Hoverworks)

 

12000-26-11-14

(Image courtesy of Griffon Hoverworks)

 

The Sunborn Yacht Hotel, London

August 23, 2015
(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

A month ago I found myself walking past the ‘Suborn Yacht Hotel’, London, and I decided to take a quick look inside.

The Hotel (Yacht) opened in June 2014 and is located on the waterfront at the western end of the Royal Victoria dock. It is  within a very short walk of the main entrance of the ‘Excel’ Exhibition Centre.

There are a number of ‘Sunborn’ static yachts around the world.

I travelled across the Thames to The Royal Victoria dock, from North Greenwich (near the O2 Arena) via the Emirates ‘Air Line’, London’s only cable-car (in fact it’s a gondola). It’s a very spectacular ride and well worth experiencing. (See my slide show below).

There was initially a lack of hotels in this  area of London, hence the Yacht Hotel. Curiously there are a number of hotels nearby now, so the yacht has much competition.

The yacht is NOT a real ship. Yes it really floats, but it was purpose built as a hotel. It has no engines or navigational bridge. It was actually towed into position by tug.

As you enter by a lift (elevator), you walk straight into a very glitzy reception area with a reception desk and a double curved staircase to the upper decks. There does not appear to be many public rooms. There would be more on a ‘real’ ship.  However there is of course a bar/restaurant with a lido deck on the stern where you can eat and drink, overlooking the Royal Albert dock.

1412252312831_wps_31_Sunborn_International_yac

Sunborn describe the facilities as follows: “The 4-Star deluxe yacht hotel has 136 spacious guest rooms over 5 floors including 4 spacious suites, along with an elegant reception area, bar and lounge, fine-dining restaurant, banqueting facilities, auditorium, conference rooms, and a three-level event venue with outdoor terraces facing towards Canary Wharf” .

I was unable to see the accommodation, however I have seen some renderings of the rooms. Although they look rather nice and spacious, they do not look like a ships accommodation, they look like hotel rooms.

1412252301432_wps_30_14077716722Sunborn_Intern

In fact the whole feel of the Yacht to me as a ‘ship enthusiast’ was one of a ‘fake’ ship. The less nautical person would probably not notice.

I am not suggesting that Sunborn Yacht Hotel does not provide good accommodation and a good experience. Although I have not stayed on-board, there are many very positive reviews on TripAdvisor.

However I have seen room rates from £135 (off-peak) to £750 per room, per night, depending on grade and date. A price of around £200+ looks to be more typical, which is hardly cheap for a four star establishment, although I guess that you are paying for its uniqueness and prime location.

Malcolm

(Have you stayed overnight on-board?)

Titanic hotel Liverpool, review HERE.

Titanic Hotel, Liverpool

March 21, 2015

Last month I had 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: http://wp.me/PfRKD-2YK

Hotel web site:

http://rmstitanichotel.co.uk

The Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

February 8, 2015

I recently visited Greenwich (London) which is on the Thames and is famous for its nautical connections. The two main attractions are the ‘National Maritime Museum’  and the ‘Cutty Sark’.

The ‘Cutty Sark’ is an historic 1869 Tea Clipper, built on the Clyde, Scotland, which has been on display in Greenwich (in dry-dock) since 1957.  The ‘Cutty Sark’ is in fact the last surviving tea clipper and fastest and greatest of her time.  However in 2007 she was seriously damaged by fire, during a renovation.

Some five years later and £45 million pounds later the ‘Cutty Sark’  was returned to her former glory. I had been a few times to see her over the years, as a child and as an adult.  I tried to visit her in 2012 shortly after she re-opened, to see the restoration. However she was a victim of her own success with queues snaking out of the door, so I gave her a miss.

I finally got to see her in January 2015.

I am pleased to say that she looks better than ever – inside and out. Although some  of her timbers were lost in the fire, many were also off-site in storage. You cannot tell the difference now.

Cleverly they have raised her up (like the SS Great Britain, In Bristol) by three meters so she looks down, more majestically than ever, over Greenwich. You you can walk right underneath the hull. There is even a café down there and display of historic figure-heads. There is a new entrance/foyer area with an enlarged gift shop. Visitors enter the hull and work their way up the ships inner decks to the open deck.

I’d certainly recommend a visit if you are in London.

Below is my slide-show, taken on my recent visit

Malcolm Oliver

Cutty Sark/NMM Web Site: http://www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark

My visit to the Nat. Maritime Museum: http://wp.me/pfRKD-1ur

Hovercraft – A Love Affair

May 4, 2014

Many decades ago, when I was a kid, I saw my first Hovercraft, the SRN1 on the Isle of Wight (UK). This was one of the first production Hovercraft in passenger operation.

It was love at first sight: this big machine left the sea and roared up the beach, to stop and deflate like a burst car tyre. After quickly swapping passengers, it re-inflated and rotated 180 degrees like a prima-ballerina, making the transition from beach to sea effortlessly.

I was later to see and experience the SRN6 Hovercraft running a passenger service from Southsea (near Portsmouth, UK) to Ryde, the isle of Wight. This route, which takes just ten minute, is the longest running Hovercraft route in the world. It started in 1965 and still operates daily.

Sitting inside the SRN6 was a rather noisy experience and the spray prevented you from actually seeing much out of the windows, but nevertheless, I loved it.

In the early 1970’s I regularly viewed the giant car carrying Hovercraft (SRN4’s) at Dover and Ramsgate (Pegwell Bay).These mainly went to Calais (France), taking just 30 minutes. The giant machines initially carried 30 cars and 250 passengers. They were of course even more impressive and even more noisy. Later the SRN4 Mk.III had a capacity of 418 passengers and 60 cars.

Mum & Dad took to Calais for the day, on one. What a thrill, although sea conditions on the day made it a very bumpy ride.

In 2000 the last SRN6’s were retired from the Dover route, due to rising fuel costs. There are now no car carrying Hovercraft in commercial service, but my love still lives on.

More Hovercraft slide-shows: Here

Seacat: Here

 

Back in the USSR

April 24, 2014
(Image: M.Oliver)

(Image: Red Square, M.Oliver)

I have recently returned from an excellent city-break in Moscow. (Sorry no ships were involved).

I did in fact visit Russia in 1983. Quite a lot has changes as you might expect, yet other things have stayed the same.

I booked my recent trip myself using the UK budget Airline ‘Easyjet’, booked a Hotel on-line and applied for my own tourist Visa.

Moscow is a wonderful, safe, friendly city – full of culture. I’d really recommend it if you enjoy Museums, architecture and history. However I appreciate that few people would chose it as a tourist destination at present. The only down-side is Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

For the record, the ‘Ukraine situation’ had NO affect on my experience as a tourist. Below is a short slide show of my trip:

Any Questions?

Malcolm

Giant Car-Carrying Hovercraft

November 25, 2012

Regulars will know that as well as a ship-nut, I’m quite a big Hovercraft fan.

Do fellow Brits remember the big car carrying Hovercraft (SRN4’s) that operated form Ramsgate in the 1969 to 1981, crossing to France? They also operated from Dover until 2000.

These were incredibly impressive machines, with later versions carrying up to 60 cars and 415 passengers.

My first time on the SRN4 was when I was a child in 1971. We travelled to Calais on a rather rough day. Unfortunately were allocated seats at the bow and the craft slapped down on every wave. The noise and vibration was also quite high – but I still loved it!
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