Archive for the ‘Royal Caribbean (RCI)’ Category

Quantum Class Review

February 8, 2018

(Anthem @ Southampton)

Anthem of the Seas: HERE

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My Worst Cruise Meal Ever!

January 29, 2018

I had my worst cruise meal ever on-board Royal Caribbean’s ‘Anthem Of The Seas’ in 2015, when she had just entered service.

Read on:

Wonderland (Speciality Dining)

(Courtesy RCI)

Wonderland is an intimate dining room which carried a surcharge of £26.50 ($40 approx.) per person at the time. The room has a charming whimsical design.

The food was created by chef is Cornelius Gallagher and the best way I can describe it, is it was like Heston Blumenthal in style.

RCI say: “At Wonderland, our chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes to invent an elaborate dreamscape of never-before-seen fare”.

It was not some much a ‘dreamscape’ as a ‘nightmare’.

I should have realised that I was about to experience something scary, when I noticed that the muzak being played in the restaurant, was the theme tune to “Friday 13th”!

Wonderland should be renamed ‘Marmite’ as some passengers love it and others hate it.

Food is incredibly subjective and the internet is already full of some very positive reviews of wonderland, but this is NOT one of them. I consider myself to be quite adventurous with food, but Wonderland took me to uncharted territory, which I did not enjoy.

The culinary experience starts with a blank menu which you are required to paint with water to reveal the food. The menu contains little that one would recognise, which should all be part of the fun. In fact did not get to choose the dishes at all, the waitress just brought me a selection.

The presentation of the food was quite amazing, an art form in itself, however the flavours ranged from ‘bland’ to ‘unpleasant’, with a touches of very ‘weird’ in between.

The multiple starters were served cold. There is a limit to how much cold food I like to eat for dinner and this experience exceeded it.

One of the early dishes was “baby vegetables in the garden”. It actually looked amazing, like vegetables growing in soil. However the vegetables were tasteless and the ‘soil’ component tasted like what I imagine soil might taste like – yuk!  I did not finish it and very few of the other diners appeared to finish it either.

Appetising or not?

Appetising or not?

The ‘Slow cooked baby beetroots’, were tasteless. I’ve has better from a jar.

‘Buffalo Chicken Eggs’ were cold Boiled eggs, served in a cloud of nitrogen. They tasted like intense charcoal and made me gag.

The ‘crispy crab cones’ were also cold and tasted bitter. Although small, I could only eat one.

The ‘crispy tempura chee leaves’ were fried in a very greasy batter and also made me feel nauseous.

I was beginning to dread the waitress bringing out each new course. I began fantasizing about pizza and was getting very close to walking out.

In a regular restaurant the staff will normally ask you once: “Is everything OK”. In wonderland they were much more specific and repeatedly asked me: “Are you enjoying the food”. I could see in the waitresses’ eyes that she was dreading my response. My reply was “well it’s very different and I would not call it enjoyment”.

Like myself, the diners on the three surrounding tables were also very dissatisfied with the food quality.

One table of four actually walked out, the two other tables shared their complaints with each other, then the manager.

One dish saved the meal and was more conventional in style. The ‘Terroir Beef’ was a large portion of marinated beef on the bone. It was very tender and very tasty.

The ‘slow roasted chicken’ looked unconventional and tasted very bland, but at least it did not actually taste weird or bad.

Towards the end of the meal, the thought of a sweet began to fill me with dread.

I was actually allowed to choose a sweet. I choose the ‘Boston cream pie maz’. Once again it looked great on the plate, but was just four cubes of incredibly bland cake. I’ve had better cake for from a supermarket for £1.

The quantity (not quality) of food was good, but I did not eat very much, as I was simply did not enjoy it. I’m sure that I could have had even more dishes, if I had wanted, but I could simply not stomach them.

In short, this was the worst meal that I have ever had afloat. In fact it is probably one of the worst meal that I have has anywhere. It was a total waste of £53.10p. If they had served me with KFC or McDonald’s, it would have been more preferable. I really regretted that i had not chosen the buffet instead.

Wonderland’s concept is great and the food presentation is amazing, but the flavours were very poor. Maybe I’m just more into tradition ‘plain cooking’ than I ever thought possible?

The menu is far too ambitious for most people. A mass market ship is probably not the right vehicle for these avant-garde creations, in my opinion.

I’d be amazed if the menu is not dramatically revised or the restaurant completely re-branded.

Malcolm

(Postscript: Wonderland is still alive and well. Wonderland has been added to other RCI ships, such as the ‘Oasis’ class. The concept has not changed, but I’d be surprised if the food is still as weird and inedible. However food is very subjective.)

Full Anthem review: HERE

Virtual Balconies

January 16, 2018

A Royal Caribbean Cruise Line innovation. What do you think? Have you stayed in one?

‘Symphony’ Is Coming, This Year!

January 1, 2018

The world’s largest cruise ship, ‘Symphony of the Seas’will be delivered in March 2018. She will be 230,000 gross tonnes, slightly bigger than her sister ‘Harmony of the Seas’.  She will also have 28 more staterooms, carring up to 6,870 passengers.

She will begin service cruising the Mediterranean in Spring and Summer 2018. Symphony of the Seas will visit the ports of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Rome and Naples.

In Autumn 2018, Symphony of the Seas will travel transatlantic to her home-port of PortMiami in Miami, Florida.

From Miami, she will cruise from Royal Caribbean’s brand new cruise terminal. Symphony will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

New Cabin Option for Families

A new Ultimate Family Suite will cater to those with little ones in tow, with features such as a slide from the kids-only bedroom to the living room; a movie theater-style TV room with a popcorn machine and library of video games; a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall; and an air hockey table.

The cabin also will have a 212-square-foot wraparound balcony with a full-sized whirlpool, climbing wall and kid-friendly pool table.

Redesigned Boardwalk

Symphony of the Seas’ Boardwalk will be enhanced with a new entertainment venue.

The Playmakers Sports bar will span the length of the Boardwalk and will be aimed at families, with more than 30 TVs streaming sports games (such as professional football, college basketball and soccer) and a variety of arcade games including Ms. Pacman and Skeeball. A menu offering craft beer and pub-style fare such as wings and burgers also will be available.

Passengers also will be able to satisfy their sweet tooth at Sugar Beach, the Boardwalk’s candy shop — an expanded version of the candy shop found on other Oasis-class ships.

Rendering (Courtesy RCI)

New Dining Venues

Symphony of the Seas will introduce two new eateries to the line. El Loca Fresh will be located in the Sports Zone and focus on quick bites such as tacos and Mexican food to-go.

In the Solarium, seafood lovers can get their fill of New England-inspired fare at Hooked Seafood. The casual venue will feature a menu of fresh seafood and a raw bar; it will be open for lunch and dinner.

New Production Shows and Laser Tag Arena

In addition to its headlining show “Hairspray,” which Royal Caribbean revealed only a couple weeks ago, the Royal Theater will host “Flight,” a historical satire on the evolution of air travel, with homage to the Wright Brothers.

The AquaTheater high-diving outdoor theater and Studio B ice rink theater also will feature new shows: HiRo (a high-energy acrobatic show) and 1977 (inspired by time traveling), respectively.

Another highlight for families, Symphony of the Seas will boast a laser tag arena — which Royal Caribbean touts as the world’s-largest laser tag arena. The experience, which will take over Studio B, will be glow-in-the-dark and boast a galactic theme.

(RCI)

Malcolm says: Big ship fans will be delighted. Small ship fans will be unimpressed!

Sister: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ review – HERE

XXL – Is The New Standard

December 30, 2017
(Genting's Global Class)

Genting’s Global Class (201,00 gt)

Have you ever noticed how the major cruise lines tend to build similar sized ships?

O.K, there are exceptions where a luxury line will build a smaller ship. There are also exceptions when a cruise line will build a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general, the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember in the mid to late nineties, when many mega-ships were around the 75,000 gross tons, in size. For example, RCI’s five ‘Vision’ class ships and NCL’s ‘Sun’ and ‘Spirt’ classes. Although Carnival (Destiny, 1995) and Princess (Grand Princess, 1998) pushed the boundaries with vessels over 100,000 gt.

Around  2005, many megaships, such as those of NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

However Royal Caribbean’s 225,000 gt ‘Oasis of the Seas’, which entered service in 2008, was the world’s largest cruise ship. She was considerably larger than anything else. The ‘Oasis’ class (Oasis, Allure and Harmony, Symphony and one as yet unnamed) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 184,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We are now seeing a new wave of ships, in the order book for 2019 onward, which are around 180-200,000 gt in size.

  • Carnival has ordered seven 184,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting has ordered two new “Global” class ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be around 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises will be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These will be around 200,000 gt and carry up to 7,000 passengers. They will be  delivered between 2022 and 2026.
  •  Royal Caribbean will have a new class of ship called project Icon, to be delivered in 2022.  The project is so secretive,  all we really know is that the ship will be 200,000 gt and carry around 5,000 passengers.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class, although still not superseding it.

However this constant race for size, is not without its issues.

Most cruise lines fleet have ships which are growing in size. Economies of scale make bigger ships more profitable to operate. What was once called a mega-ship (say 70,000gt) looks like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaships are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms, multiple entertainment venues and even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Go-Kart track. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks often lack intimacy and a ‘connection’ with the sea. Arguably the world’s best cruise experiences, in terms of fine-dining and attentive service, are not to be found on-board such big ships.

Megaships are also limited to which ports they can visit. They need long berths, deep water and extensive shore-side terminal facilities to deal with the thousands of passengers that they carry.

There is also much debate about the impact thousands of passengers arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) will have on the local environment.

Irrespective of  the negative aspects, the big ships are still coming thick and fast. The ‘masses’ love them. They almost generate their own publicity. A new “Giant Ship” makes a great news headline.  A new “Small Ship” does not.

As a result of the introduction of so many big ships, the existing smaller/older ships will face extinction within the next ten years. However there will always be some intimate ships on offer, but these are likely to get rarer and will become an increasingly expensive option to cruise on.

Malcolm

Titanic Vs Oasis of The Seas

December 27, 2017

wHyxSE0

A few years back I wrote an article for this blog called “Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas”.

Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it. I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. The article has attracted more views than anything else that I have ever written. It has also attracted some interesting comments, including some quite negative ones, such as:

“This is stupid, how can you compare these two ships, they are Apples and Oranges”

“These two ships were built 100 year’s apart, of course they are not the same”

“The Titanic was a work of art, Oasis is just a floating shopping mall”

“This article is stupid”

Little and Large

Well, the commentators are fully entitled to their own opinions.  The two ships ARE completely different to each other and they WERE built almost 100 years apart. However silly it is to compare these two ships, I still did it!

It’s quite ironic that the article looks like it will be my  most viewed again in 2017, as it was in 2016 and 2015.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff.

You can read my Titanic article: HERE

A Modern & A Vintage Ocean Liner Compared

.

Malcolm

Oasis For Holyhead?

December 26, 2017

(Courtesy Richard Williams)

A multi-million pound cruise ship berth could be built in Holyhead (U.K) by 2020 as liner visits continue to surge.

Holyhead will welcome 34% more passengers next year than in 2017, bringing the total to 36,000 on 43 ships.

These will include vessels like the 2,500 passenger Brilliance of the Seas and help pump extra money into the tourism economy across north west Wales. But the port is still restricted by its berthing facilities – currently using the Orthios jetty or anchorage and tender vessels to bring passengers to and from shore.

Now a multi-use berth development is again under consideration on Salt Island which could accommodate the biggest cruise ships in the world in Holyhead port.

A spokesperson for Anglesey County Council said: “Royal Caribbean have been advising uson all the technical aspects with regard to the Oasis class(cruise vessels)”.  In addition they said: “43 cruise ships have already been confirmed for 2018. A traditional Welsh welcome will be included in all of the visits as well as a full itinerary of fun activities for all to do in Anglesey and North Wales.”

(Daily Post)

Independence of the Seas – Refit

December 19, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas will receive a bow-to-stern makeover in April 2018.

During the revitalization the ship will receive several new features including, A trampoline park, Water slide, Escape rooms and Laser tag.

These ideas were proposed by travel agents in the UK and Ireland as part of a contest held with Travel Weekly UK.

The ‘Royal CaribbeanBlog’ has listed the changes:

Deck 3

  • Alhambra Theatre name changed to Royal Theater.
  • The Raven nightclub replaced with new staterooms.
  • On Air Club replaced with staterooms.
  • Photo Gallery moved to Deck 3.
  • Art Gallery area reduced, with more staterooms added.
  • Romeo & Juliet Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

Deck 4

  • Alhambra Theatre name changed to Royal Theater.
  • The Raven nightclub replaced with Izumi.
  • Photo Gallery replaced with Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade.
  • Macbeth Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

Deck 5

  • Pyramid Lounge becomes Star Lounge.
  • Connoisseur Club becomes Library and RC Online.
  • God & Badger Pub becomes Ale & Anchor.
  • Cupcake Cupboard replaced with Sugar Beach.
  • King Lear Dining Room renamed to Dining Room.

(Unofficial Royal CaribbeanBlog)

Malcolm says: There’s nothing wrong with a good refit. However It’s always a shame when they add more cabins to an already busy ship! Many will be inside cabins too. Calling the ‘Dining Room’ the ‘Dining Room’ would seem to lack a little imagination.

Tui Discovery To Homeport In Southampton

August 4, 2017

.

Thomson Cruises’ ship ‘Tui Discovery’ will homeport in Southampton, for the first time next year as part of its 2018 programme.

The 35,000-tonne ship is ex-Royal Caribbean’s ‘Splendour of the Seas’, built in 1996. She carries 2,000 passengers and will homeport at Southampton form September 2018, operating four new itineraries – Fantastic Fjords, Baltic Treasures, European Experience and Seeking the Northern Lights.

More details of the itineraries will be available on the Thomson web site in due course.

Talk Of Newbuilds For Thomson

TUI Group’s Chief Executive Friedrich Joussen has said Thomson Cruises may be the next cruise expansion project for the travel company, which also operates Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and TUI Cruises.

Joussen said that Thomson has older ships, and that they were looking at moving to the “TUI model” – which could include building new ships for Thomson.

TUI Cruises, aimed at the German market, started with two ex-Celebrity ships before building new ships.

Thomson Choose ted.

Thomson Cruises announced that UK-based ‘The Entertainment Department’ (ted) will be providing all entertainment on board TUI Explorer and the yet-to-be-named addition, currently sailing as Mein Schiff 2, for the German market.

With a specially-created modern package of entertainment shows and attractions, the ted offering will be ready for launch on board TUI Explorer (currently Mein Schiff 1) from May 2018, providing a balanced mix of contemporary entertainment designed to suit customers of all ages.

The content includes original theatre shows, light entertainment, musicians and children’s concepts, all of which embrace the latest technologies such as virtual reality and interactive screens.

(Thomson)

Malcolm says: You can see a slide-show of TUI discovery in her former guise of RCI’s ‘Splendour Of The Seas’: HERE

RCI’s Passion & Pulse To be LNG Powered

March 24, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean’s fourth ‘Quantum’ class ship (actually called ‘Quantum-Plus’ class) will be named ‘Passion of the Seas’ and will be delivered by Meyer Werft, Germany, in 2019.

Their fifth ‘Quantum-Plus’ class ship, to be named ‘Pulse of the Seas’, will be deliver in 2020.

It has been strongly rumored that both ships will be LNG powered, in keeping with many newbuilds form other major cruise lines, such as Carnival and MSC.

Royal Caribbean’s next class of ship, currently shrouded in secrecy, know as ‘Project Icon’ will also be LNG powered.

Quantum Class: Anthem of the Seas review HERE

What is LNG?

Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea. However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly for a megaship design.

LNG is superior to pipeline gas in quality. This is because LNG is purer, has more methane as well as other energy content, and also because of its chemical structure since it has a stable composition. Its combustion generates no unburned residues, particulates or soot, and releases less greenhouse gas than traditional marine gas oil (MGO). Future maritime emissions regulations, especially in sensitive environments are likely to demand this. Perhaps the most appealing aspect about LNG is that under the right operating conditions it can reduce fuel costs.

In addition, using  LNG can double the maintenance intervals, because the gas is so clean,  ship owners may get  25,000 hours between maintenance intervals, maybe more, opposed to 12,500 hours with standard fuel.

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Gas take up more space than fuel-oil. In fact six times more space. Therefore large tanks for the gas are located on deck, of the ferry, to save space in the hull (See image above).

However the renderings of  Carnival’s newbuilds do not appear to have LNG storage tanks on the deck.

(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

LNG cruise ship ‘concepts’ have been around a long time. The renderings below are a design by Wärtsilä, the marine engine company.

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä)

Interestingly the concept ship uses drive shaft technology, rather than pods. The LNG tans are located internally, below the funnel area.

2-ship-innards

( Wärtsilä)

The engines on-board the new Carnival ships will not exclusively be powered by LNG, but will be ‘dual fuel’ being capable of burring both LNG and liquid fuel, and combinations of both at the same time. burning exclusively LNG could be saved for environmentally sensitive areas. This would reduce the fuel storage space required.

Malcolm

RCI Announce Project ‘Icon’ LNG Newbuilds

October 10, 2016

smaller

Royal Caribbean International has today announced that its newest class of ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will introduce the use of fuel cell technology.

These innovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The cruise line said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon.” The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024.

The ships will carry 5,000 passengers. They are expected to also be able to operate using conventional maritime fuel as a well, for ports without the necessary LNG infrastructure.

Icon is the first new ship class announced by RCI since Celebrity Cruises’ new Edge class, which debuts in 2018. (Also shrouded in secrecy)

RCI said it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels being built in the next several years.

(Play within Youtube for larger images/text)

Malcolm says: Wow, exciting news – another new ‘class’ of ship from RCI. I was not expecting this so soon after the introduction of the ‘Quantum’ class (see video below). 

Mind you building LNG ships simply follows suit with Carnival and MSC who also have big LNG ships on order. Let’s also not forget that Quantum’s ‘Dynamic Dining’ system was a flop – maybe they are keen to move on?

RCI are masters of secrecy, so I don’t suppose we will get any more details for months/years.

We know very little facts about Icon, apart from she will carry 5,000 passengers, but is that lower berths or full capacity? Even the all-important gross tonnage has been omitted form some press releases.

However several sources suggests that ‘Icon’ will be 200,000 gt which makes  the 5,000 passenger figure  look like a lower-berth statistic. (A 200,000 gt ship with 5K passengers gives us a similar space-ratio to ‘Harmony’)  This size of ship is in keeping with Carnival, MSC and Genting’s newbuilds, so this size sounds very likely to me.

In contrast, the ‘Quantum’ class is  approximately 168,00 gt., carrying 4,905 passengers – all berths. The Oasis class is around 227,000 gt carrying 6, 780 – all berths. Icon would sit in-between the two, in terms of gross tonnage.

I wonder what new innovations RCI will come up with this time? How do you beat a park, bumper-cars, skydiving simulator and an observation pod?  It must get increasingly difficult  to keep being innovative. However, if Icon is a 200,000 gt ship, there will be plenty of room for wow-features onboard, if they want.

The arrival of these new ships may well see the departure of  RCI’s older tonnage.

Majesty has now been in the fleet for 24 years, Grandeur 20 years, Enchantment and Rhapsody 19 years and Vision 18 years. Although the life expectancy of a cruise ship can be 30+ years, in six-eight years time, when the ‘Icons’ arrive, RCI’s older tonnage will look even smaller and more dated.

Malcolm

STOP PRESS: On October 2016, Royal Caribbean filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Icon of the Seas”.

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

Megaship Review: Anthem of The Seas

June 30, 2015

 

Ripcord

Ripcord -Anthem of The Seas (Click to enlarge)

One of the biggest ships in the world inspired me to write one of the longest reviews in the world (well probably) – it’s around 6,000 words!

Here is a short extract:

Anthem is different to all other RCI ship. If fact she did not feel like a RCI ship to me. This is because the ships basic design is not unlike NCL’s new ships, with multiple dining options and multiple entertainment venues.

‘Dynamic Dining’ is very similar to NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining. It does offer more choice and flexibility than on-board any other class of RCI ship. However RCI still appear to be struggling to manage it effectively.

Malcolm

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

Large and Larger

March 5, 2013
(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

‘Celebrity Solstice’ (122,000 gt, 2,850 passengers) dwarfed ‘Oasis of the Seas’ (225,000 gt, 5,400 passengers).  Solstice is hardly a small ship!

So How Big Is ‘Oasis of the Seas’?

December 9, 2009

Does my bum look big in this?

The image above is a web cam grab of ‘Oasis of the Seas’ at St. Thomas. She is docked next to ‘Costa Atlantica’ (85,700 gross tons) a Vista class ship like Cunard’s Queen Victoria and many others.  It’s not so long ago that a ship the size of ‘Atlantica’ would have been the worlds biggest cruise ship, but NOT now!