Archive for the ‘Royal Caribbean (RCI)’ Category

Legend Becomes Discovery 2

May 22, 2017

Time-lapse video.

TUI Discovery 2′ is the former Royal Caribbean ship ‘Legend of the Seas’. The ship which entered service for RCI in 1994 is a modest 69,130 gross tonnes and carries 2,074 passengers.

Malcolm says: I do like what Thomson have done to the livery, It make this mature ship look quite contemporary.

My review of sister ship ‘Splendour of The Seas’: HERE

Taking Center Stage

May 19, 2017

On the subject of entertainment:

The big mass-market lines, like RCI, NCL and MSC, have really upped their game in recent years, in terms of entertainment.  In fact RCI have some of the best shows at sea, in my opinion.

RCI Returns To New Orleans

May 8, 2017

Vision of the Seas (Courtesy RCI)

Royal Caribbean International has announced its return to New Orleans with a seasonal home-based cruise ship in late 2018.

The Vision of the Seas will sail seven-night itineraries each Saturday, across the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula from the Port of New Orleans’ Julia Street Cruise Terminal.

Before repositioning to New Orleans on Dec. 15, 2018, Vision of the Seas will offer two 16-night sailings through the Panama Canal from Miami to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to New Orleans. This is the  –first time in three years a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has navigated through the Panama Canal.

(Royal Caribbean)

RCI Makes Inaugural Visit To Havana

April 26, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

It was a historic day for Royal Caribbean on Sunday 24th April 2017, when the cruise line made its inaugural visit to Cuba with the newly revitalised Empress of the Seas, as part of a five-night sailing from Miami. Adventure-seeking holidaymakers were among the first guests to explore the island country known for its legendary nightlife, iconic music and distinct culture. Guests participated in curated excursions throughout Havana, including rides in 1950s classic American cars to the city’s most famous locales, such as the Old Quarter and the Havana Club Museum.

Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International said, “We’re thrilled to be a part of Cuba’s future, ushering in Royal Caribbean’s next big adventure with Empress of the Seas’ first visit to Havana. Holidaymakers will now be able to experience a destination like no other, with authentic and immersive experiences that bring to life the vibrancy of Havana and its traditions.”

The vibrant Cuban culture extends beyond land to the experience onboard Empress of the Seas. From cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal, to salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge, guests will enjoy a range of on-board activities designed to bring the spirit of the island to life throughout the entire journey.

After returning to Miami, Empress of the Seas will reposition to Tampa, Florida, for the summer season – Royal Caribbean’s first ever summer programme from the destination – offering a series of four, five and six-night sailings, including day and overnight visits to Havana, along with stops in Key West and Belize City, as well as Costa Maya and Cozumel. Sailings from Tampa are available until the 4th November 2017, when Empress will return to Miami for the winter season, adding calls to CocoCay and Nassau in The Bahamas.

(RCI)

‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ For Sale?

April 7, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

It is being rumoured on the net that Royal Caribbean has put ‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ (1997) has been put up for sale.

I cannot confirm that this is true, but ‘Splendour’ (1995) and ‘Legend’ (1994) have already been sold to Thomson/TUI, so RCI are clearly off-loading their older tonnage.

All these ships are are at least 20 years old. Although they still have plenty of life left, they are small and dated by modern standards.

RCI are clearly not a brand about classic/intimate ships, they are all about floating family-friendly resorts. The above ships were considered to be big and state-of-the-are in their day, but RCI are now building ships more than twice as big.  Economies of scale make bigger ships more profitable to operate.

RCI have an extensive new-build program. At the time of writing, RCI have a fourth ‘Oasis’ class ship currently being constructed and a fourth and fifth ‘Quantum’ class ships on order.  I almost forgot the forthcoming ‘Icon’ class ships too.

Project Icon

.

Royal Caribbean Cruises had announced their next class of cruise ship, ‘Project Icon’, in October 2016.

The reason that I almost forgot about ‘Icon’, is that there is so little information available and so many other newbuilds around, offering more information. Icon had slipped my memory.

Of course it is not usual these days that new ships are shrouded in secrecy. The cruise line enjoy slowly drip-feeding the pubic with snippets of information.

In fairness to RCI, their is still a long time to go until these new vessels enter into service. I’m just very impatient!

However it was very exciting news that there was to be another new ‘class’ of ship from RCI.  I was not expecting this so soon after the introduction of the ‘Quantum’ class

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?

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. There new mega-ships should provide plenty of room on-board for wow-features.

The delivery of the Icon ships may well see the departure of  RCI’s older tonnage.

Malcolm

Some Details – Project Icon

Project Icon is just the preliminary name for RCI’s two upcoming cruise ships.

However, Royal Caribbean has already trademarked the name “Icon of the Seas”, which could be an indication as to the name of the first ship.

The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024, by the shipbuilder Meyer Turku.

At 200,000 gross tonnes, carrying 5,000 passengers, the ships will be smaller than the Oasis class (in terms of gross tonnage), but larger than the Quantum class.

The ‘Icon’ ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will introduce the use of fuel cell technology. However they are expected to also be able to operate using conventional maritime fuel as a well, for ports without the necessary LNG infrastructure.

These innovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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.

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See 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

Has The Mega-Ship ‘Bubble’ Burst?

March 3, 2017

Pop?

We have come a long way since the ill fated RMS Titanic was the world’s biggest ship. Today a ship of the Titanic’s size (about 46,000 gross tonnes) would be regarded as ‘small’.

However, has the mega-ship ‘bubble’ finally burst?

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class of ships are currently the world biggest cruise ship. ‘Oasis Of The Seas’ entered service in 2007 at around 225,000 gross tonnes. She was more than twice the size* of many of her rivals. She currently has two sisters, which are both slightly bigger.

We are now experience a ‘boom’ period of  shipbuilding. However ten years on, the ‘Oasis’ class is still the biggest cruise ship design by far, with nothing bigger on the horizon.

Very big ships do of course have the space for some amazing public rooms, suites and facilities on board. The cruise line also benefit from the economies-of-scale that such a big ship brings.

However ports of call and cruise terminals can be a major issue. Some ports simply cannot physically accommodate such a big ships and their thousands of passengers.

Let’s not forget that some passengers simply do not want to share their cruise with 5,000 other people. They are looking for a more intimate experience.

No one appears to be planning to build a bigger ship than the ‘Oasis’ class, including Royal Caribbean, as far as we know. In fact mega-ships design appears to be shrinking a little.

For many years now, it has been the norm that a cruise lines next class of ship would be bigger than the previous one. However, the Royal Caribbean class which superseded the ‘Oasis’ class,  called the’Quantum’ class is around 168,000 gt.

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Project Icon’ (2022) newbuilds will be around 200,000 gt so a step up from the ‘Quantum’ class. However this is still significantly smaller than their ‘Oasis’ class.

NCL’s recently announced new ships will be around 140,000 gt. Once again this is significantly smaller than their current class, the ‘Breakaway Plus’ at 164,000 gt.

The Exceptions To The Rule

They are exceptions to the rule. Some cruise lines will be building their biggest vessels yet, within the next few year and are definitely not down-sizing.

Carnival have  newbuilds on order for their brands: Carnival, Costa, AIDA and P&O (2019-22), at around 180,000 gt.

The Mediterranean shipping company are also undergoing an impressive expansion over the next few years.

MSC Seaside (Nov. 2017) will be 154,000 gt. Meraviglia (May 2017) will be 167,000 gt and  Megaviglia Plus (2019) will be 177,000. MSC’s ‘World Class ships (2022-2026) will be an impressive 200,000 gt.

Genting (Star cruises) have their ‘Global Class’ ship (2019-20) on order at  to 200,000 gt. Either  Genting’s ‘Global Class’ and MSC’s ‘World Class’ will be the world’s second biggest class of ship, depending which on is bigger. However it will still be 25,000 gt smaller than the Oasis class.

So back to the opening question: has the mega-ship bubble burst? Will anybody ever build a ship bigger than RCI’s Oasis class?

To be honest, I don’t know. Maybe ship size has reached it’s practical limit. Maybe not?

Malcolm

.

*(Gross tonnage is a measurement of a ships volume, not weight. GT is the standard way to compare ship sizes to each other).

Symphony of the Seas

January 20, 2017
Oasis (M.Oliver)

Oldest Sister: Oasis of the seas

The name for Royal Caribbean’s fourth Oasis class ship has been leaked.

The release allegedly came from FlowRider, Inc, which manufactures Royal’s signature surf simulators.

In the line’s exclusive announcement that the fourth Oasis-class ship will feature two simulators, the name Symphony of the Seas was revealed. The post has since been taken down from the website.

There is even an image from the shipyard which shows a partial name on the ships hull: “Symph…” so I take that as proof positive.

The ship is currently under construction and like its sister ship, Harmony of the Seas, will sit amongst the largest cruise ships in the world.

There has not been any details on itineraries or the ship itself revealed as of yet, although the line’s International CEO, Michael Bayley, confirmed in an interview that Royal’s next  ship will be coming to the United States, following a brief European summer season.

Bayley has also recently referenced the fourth in the line’s Quantum class by a name unheard of until now: “In 2019 we will have Quantum Plus.”

(cruise.co.uk)

Oasis review: HERE

Titanic Vs Oasis of The Seas

December 26, 2016

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. Interestingly the article continues to attract more comments than anything else that I have ever written, 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”

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 2016 as it was in 2015.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff!

You can read it: HERE

XXL – Is The New Standard

October 30, 2016
(Genting's Global Class)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Have you ever noticed how 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 be building a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember some 20 years ago (mid to late nineties), when many mega-ships were being built at 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.

In about 2005, many megaships built for NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard etc. we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

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) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We now see a new wave of ships in the order book for 2019 onwards, which are 180-200,000 gt in size. These new mega-ships, or maybe they should be called ultra-ships, will each carry up to 6,600 passengers.

  • Carnival has announced that they have ordered seven 180,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting Hong Kong announced they have ordered two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises announced that they would be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These would be around 200,000 gt and would be delivered between 2022 and 2026.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class.

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

Older/smaller tonnage will be retired. Cruise ships rarely have a life longer than 30 years. This means that most of the cruise lines fleets, have ships growing in size. What was once a megaship (say 70,000gt) look like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaship are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms and multiple entertainment venues, even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Bumper cars. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks 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 mega-ships.

Megaships are also limited to what ports they can visit as 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 passenger arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) has on the local environment.

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

As a result the existing smaller/older ships will be facing extinction. 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

(There are reviews of some of the world’s biggest ships, menu right)

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.

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.

The pressure is now on NCL to go bigger and go LNG.

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

RCI Abandons Dynamic Dining On Anthem

September 13, 2016
Not so

Not so “Dynamic” after all? (Image courtesy of RCI)

Earlier this year I wrote an article suggesting that RCI’s culinary innovation: ‘Dynamic Dining’, had failed.

‘Dynamic Dining’ was launched on-board ‘Quantum of the Seas’ in 2014. The entire ship was specifically designed to support it, but it proved very controversial.

‘Dynamic’ was a very significant change in direction for RCI. They completely changed their dining system on-board their newest ‘Quantum Class’ ships after 46 years of cruise ship operations. Up until that moment all their ships had traditional dining with just one main/large dining room, even on-board the giant ‘Oasis of the Seas’.

However ‘Dynamic’ proved to be unpopular with many of RCI guests. In short they felt that feel that the system did not work very well. Some found themselves queuing for a table each evening.

Essentially ‘Dynamic’ was a copy of the Norwegian Cruise Lines ‘Freestyle’ dining concept.

However NCL have had almost twenty years practice to make their system work. RCI have not been so successful at operating theirs.

Malcolm

See full story @ RC Unofficial Blog: Here

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

A 5th Oasis Class For RCI

May 25, 2016
89715678_da2dfa95-8ef8-41e8-8683-6f0cf63bf311

(Image courtesy of BBC)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with STX France to build a fifth Oasis-class ship for delivery in spring 2021, and two additional Edge-class ships for Celebrity Cruises that would arrive in autumn 2021 and autumn 2022.

(RCI)

Oasis review: HERE

Malcolm says: The first of the ‘Edge’ class ships is just over two years away and we know nothing about it. I can remember a time when new ships were not so very secretive.

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

Anthem of the Seas Review

May 16, 2015

DSC_0078

At last, I have finished my review of RCI’s latest ship, ‘Anthem of the Seas’.

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! Even then I only got to comment on a fraction of the public rooms and facilities.

I have tried to address some fundamental question, which many other reviews have ignored:

Does Dynamic Dining actually Work?

Kids look well served, but what does Anthem offer adults?

Have they retained their ‘wow’ factor?

How does Anthem compare to Oasis and the other megaships?

Does the ship feel like RCI or have they morphed into NCL?

It’s not a review for those who want a quick overview of the ship. It’s not all good either – there were bits that I really did not like. It will probably upset some RCI fans.

I hope that you find the time to read at least some of it and find it useful.

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!