Plans For A QE2 Hotel Back On?

February 11, 2018


The QE2 Ocean Liner  has been docked in Dubai’s Port Rashid, since 2008, after plans for a hotel on board fell through.

The ship has a rich nautical history after she was launched by the Her Majesty the Queen, for Cunard, in 1967.

However the Telegraph  reported that the vessel had become “mouldy” and “filthy” during her time in retirement.

Then in 2017, Dubai-based construction company Shafa Construction announced it was going to give the classic ship a refurbishment.

They have now launched a web site.  There isn’t much detail on the site as  yet, but is does promise “a new take on hospitality” as well as “a royal experience”.


(One of the past concepts)

New QE2 Web Site: HERE

Malcolm says: Firstly I will believe this news when it happens. There have been many rumours, about the QE2’s fate, over the past decade.   I don’t want to see the QE2 scrapped, but she is an out-dated vessel. She was dated when they withdrew her.

The problem is that if you modify the QE2’s accommodation and public rooms, to make big suites from smaller cabins, with balconies etc. she is no longer the QE2. It’s difficult to combine both a museum and a hotel, of a good standard,

The original Cunard ‘Queen Mary’ (in Long Beach) is still a wonderful Ocean Liner but a pretty mediocre hotel. The SS Rotterdam is still a wonderful ship too, but only ship nuts would probably want to stay on her. Mind you, I did.

Slide-show – QE2 Transatlantic crossing 2008: HERE


Scenic Orders Second Luxury Ship

February 9, 2018


Scenic announced its flagship, Scenic Eclipse launching this August, will be joined by a sister, the Scenic Eclipse II.

“Scenic Eclipse II will further strengthen Scenic’s position as the leading innovator in the cruise industry, setting an unparalleled benchmark in design, luxury and technology,” the company said.

The ship will be built at Uljanik in Croatia.

Launching in 2020, the Scenic Eclipse II will embark on her maiden voyage from Athens to Lisbon, before the debut sailing season, which will include the Europe and Russian Arctic.

The company also said the ship will head to the Northwest Passage, Southern Greenland and other exotic expedition locations,

The ship will feature 114 suites, nine restaurants, and eight lounges and bars.


Quantum Class Review

February 8, 2018

(Anthem @ Southampton)

Anthem of the Seas: HERE

Quantum Class Ship To Be Based In Southampton In 2020

February 8, 2018

Good news for Brits:


2020 will see a Quantum Class ship be based out of Southampton for its homeport for a season.

Speaking to TTG Media,  Michael Bailey, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, has said there will be a Quantum Class Ship sailing out of Southampton as its homeport in 2020. He said:

“There is going to be a ship in the UK market in 2020 – there is a Quantum-class ship coming to the UK market, and it will be sailing out of Southampton and homeporting there for a season.” 

He also indicated that it would likely be either Anthem or Quantum of the Seas that would be based from the Hampshire port.

Source: TTG Media

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RMS St Helena – Final Voyage

February 7, 2018


The RMS St Helena will depart on her final voyage from St Helena Island on Feb. 10, 2018.

The vessel is only one of two in the world still to carry the title of Royal Mail Ship,.

The ship served St Helena Island from 1990 and will have completed 268 voyages by the time she is decommissioned.

In addition to carrying passengers the has been a lifeline to St Helena carrying all the Island’s goods and supplies.

The island is a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Although remote, it now has an airport which now makes the RMS St Helena redundant.


NCL Celebrates Encore Steel Cutting

February 6, 2018

(Courtesy NCL)

The Norwegian Cruise Line has marked the start of construction for its newest ship – Norwegian Encore.

The latest addition to Norwegian’s fleet, will sail the Caribbean from Miami, seasonally beginning in the autumn of 2019.

She follows Norwegian Bliss, which will launch in April this year.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will sail weekly seven-day Caribbean cruises.

Encore will be the seventeenth ship in the NCL fleet and the line’s fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful Class in the brand’s history.

Encore is, however, currently the last vessel NCL plans to build at Meyer Weft, with construction of the new generation of ships, the Leonardo class, moving to Italy.


AIDAnova; the first Helios-Class Ship

February 4, 2018

AIDA Cruises is continuing its long-standing strategic partnership with the shipbuilder MEYER WERFT in Papenburg with an order for two new ships of the next AIDA ship generation.

The ships will each exceed 180,000 gross tons and have more than 2,500 staterooms. They will join the AIDA fleet in 2018 and 2021. The first ship is named AIDAnova.

As pioneer in the industry, AIDA Cruises is again setting an example for environmental protection with a revolutionary ship design: With the “Green Cruising” concept.  AIDA will be the first cruise line in the world to operate its new ships powered 100 percent by LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). This eliminates emissions of soot particles and sulfur oxides.

(Meyer Werft)

Short Cruises Before the Nova’s Maiden Voyage

AIDA Cruises has announced a series of what it calls pre-premiere cruises on the AIDAnova before the ship sails here maiden voyage on Dec. 2, 2018.

AIDA will take ownership of the first newbuild of the new generation of LNG-fueled ships from Meyer Werft on Nov. 15, 2018.

See ‘Cruise Industry New’ article: HERE

Malcolm says: Let’s not forget that P&O, Costa and Carnival will also be getting this design of mega-ship.

For Brits: Cruising Without Flying

February 3, 2018

You do not need to fly to cruise.

A few decades ago, most non-fly UK cruises departed from Southampton, Dover and occasionally Harwich – period.

If you lived in the North of England, it was quite a trek down South, to embark on your cruise. You may well have required an overnight stay in a hotel, pre and post cruise.

Southampton is still the biggest UK cruise port today. However there are now many other choices. Southampton still attracts the big cruise lines and the big-new ships, but the smaller players, likes of ‘Fred. Olsen’ and ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ (CMV), offer many regional ports of embarkation…

See full article: HERE

MSC To Go Luxury?

February 1, 2018

There are strong rumours that MSC is close to ordering four small cruise ships from the Fincantieri shipyard-Group. Their aim is to  enter the luxury cruise market.

Rumours suggests that the vessels would have a passenger capacity of 700 passengers. Initially the vessels would serve the Mediterranean area. It is not known if MSC would to keep them under its own brand or create a new one.

The Company’s 2017-2026 business plan provides for the arrival of 12 new ships divided into three different classes, Meraviglia, Seaside and World. This order is not featured, as yet.


Malcolm says: It is not beyond the realms of possibility that MSC might like a slice of the ‘luxury’ market as well as the ‘mass’ market. Although their mega-ships attract variable reviews, their ‘Yacht Club’ concept (a private ship-within-a-ship concept) featured on their mega-ships, gets many positive reviews.

An Encore For NCL

Norwegian Cruise Line’s next new ship will be called ‘Norwegian Encore’.

Norwegian has just cut steel for Norwegian Encore, which will homeport in Miami beginning in fall 2018.  At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will sail weekly seven-day Caribbean cruises each Sunday from PortMiami. She was originally destined for the Chinese market, but NCL have obviously had a re-think.

Norwegian Encore is the fourth ship in the cruise line’s Breakaway Plus class, joining Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy (sailing in China) and Norwegian Bliss (debuting in May).


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.


(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

The End Of The SS Norway

January 27, 2018

(Courtesy NCL)

In July 2008 the legendary SS Norway was dismantled at the ships’ graveyard: the beaches of Alang, India. Ship enthusiasts had been praying for a reprieve since she was removed from service following a boiler explosion in 2003, but several plans to save her came to nothing.

Many ship enthusiasts experienced a period of morning. On the other hand, many cruise passengers have probably never heard of the SS Norway, and others would have considered her to be an outdated rusty old tub, anyway…

Full article: HERE

Amadeus to Offer River Cruises for Millennials

January 24, 2018


Amadeus River Cruises has become the latest line to offer sailings specifically for the millennial generation.

Amadeus’ move follows that of Uniworld, which under the U by Uniworld brand (see below) launches two ships dedicated entirely to river cruises for millennials this April.

Full ‘Cruise Critic’ article: HERE

Malcolm says: I like the Amadeus (Luftner) product. Their fares are better than many.  However, like many (most?) river cruise lines the experience is sedate and the entertainment can be very weak. Unfortunately I’m not the ‘millennial generation’.  If you don’t know what that means you are probably not one either. (It is sometimes defined as 20’s 30’s and early 40 year olds).

However just because I’m not a millennial, does not mean that I don’t want a little more to do on my river cruise of an evening. As for “a special program for passengers, focusing on topics like healthy living, fitness and nutrition”.  I’m not going to pay for somebody telling me off about what I eat on-board.  And as for ‘celebrity influencer’ they were called ‘celebrities’ or ‘salesmen’, back in the day.

Joking aside, I do welcome the river cruise lines who are reaching out for a younger demographic. However I think striving for millennials might be a little  too ambitious. I think the river boats would need to be designed specifically with a little more excitement on-board. I’ll let my readers debate what features that might be.

P.S. Fred. Olsen’s new river cruise product, ‘Brabant’ is actually an Amadeus product in disguise. Mind you Fred. is not seeking out millennials.

Introducing Amadeus Provence & Fred Olsen’s Brabant: HERE

Amadeus Silver II review: HERE

‘U’ by Uniworld

‘U’ by Uniworld is a sub-brand form the river cruise line. In their own words: “U by Uniworld is a new take on experiential travel, with cruises designed for those with a passion for exploring and a taste for authentic adventures. We at U have always believed that travel should be relaxing, exhilarating, convenient and tailored to your interests — all at the same time. And on a U by Uniworld river cruise, that’s exactly what you’ll experience.”

Still confused? I believe ‘U’ is the first-ever river cruise brand for millennials. This is of course a younger demographic than river cruising normally attracts.


Would these young women book a river cruise? (U by Uniworld)

‘U’ by Uniworld has debuted its first ship in Paris, recently. The B is the only ship on the river to reveal a unique all-matte black exterior.

The ‘B’ set sail on its maiden voyage along the Seine River for invited guests.

“We’re thrilled to make history with the launch of U by Uniworld and introduce a whole new generation to river cruising,” said Ellen Bettridge, president of Uniworld.

The ship was originally called Uniworld’s River Baroness. The renaming ceremony was led by the ship’s ‘Guardian Angel’ Petra Nemcova, supermodel and noted philanthropist. The a renaming ceremony where guests released biodegradable lanterns to symbolize starting anew with The B.

(Courtesy Uniworld)

‘B’ accommodates up to 120 “fun-loving” travelers per voyage, spread across its four suites, 26 balcony bedrooms, 29 studio bedrooms and two studio bedrooms with triple occupancy – all with waterfront views and equipped with built-in Bluetooth speakers.

The inaugural events included a drum circle creating a spiritual energy onboard and sabering champagne on the top deck.

During the remainder of the maiden voyage, guests experienced yoga, camping on the top deck, a silent disco party, mixology, impressionist painting and wine classes.

(Courtesy Uniworld)

Malcolm says: ‘U’ certainly sounds a little different, if not a little bizarre, but then I was not on-board. The brochure is full of images of young people. In fact I am a little cynical that Uniworld can really attract people as young as the ones pictured, but I wish them luck.

The other big issue is the often high fares. I wonder how many financially comfortable millennials want to spend their money on a river cruise? An RCI, MSC or NCL mega-ship, full of high-energy activities and ‘gimmicks’, sounds much more likely to appeal to millennials, in my opinion. Mind you, I could be wrong!

A New Look For Ships Bows

January 23, 2018

NCL Leonado (Courtesy NCL)

Ship fans will have noticed that many of the new cruise ships that are entering service or are on the drawing board, have a very different looking bow.

The vertical bow which was commonplace a century ago, has made a comeback.

AIDA Cruises’ AIDAprima, which entered service in in April 2016, was one of the first new cruise ships that I saw with a vertical bow.

AIDAprima (Courtesy AIDA)

The new vertical bow is said to be more efficient and often provides better sea-keeping abilities that the traditional flared bow.

Celebrity Edge (Courtesy Celebrity)

The vertical bow also said to cause less stress and strain on the vessel as she slices through heavy seas instead of trying to part them as the flared bow does.

Expedition ships (Courtesy Hurtigruten)

However others say that the absence of the flare on the bow can make the forward decks get very wet.

I’m no maritime architect, but personally I really like the look of the new (old) bow.


MSC Increasing Presence In United Arab Emirates

January 22, 2018

(Courtesy MSC)

Increasing Their presence in the United Arab Emirates, MSC Cruises will base MSC Lirica in Dubai at the end of this year and, for the first time, offer calls to India.

MSC Lirica will reposition to its new homeport in November, joining MSC Splendida and featuring 11 and 14 nights.

New ports of call for MSC are India’s Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore.

Itineraries will include Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain; select voyages will include overnights in Dubai, Muscat and Mumbai.


New Ferry Route To Connect Ireland-Spain

January 22, 2018

(Courtesy Brittany Ferries)

Brittany Ferries has announced a new route into northern Spain.

Starting at the end of April, the service will link Cork and Santander (Spain), making two return-sailings a week.

The move will be the first time there has ever been a ferry service linking Ireland and Spain.

The announcement comes as Brittany Ferries celebrates its 40th year in Ireland.

The popular Cork to Roscoff (France) route opened on St Patricks Day in 1978 and has been serving Irish holiday makers and haulage companies ever since.

A new ship will be chartered to serve the route to Spain, and to deliver an additional weekly return-sailing from Cork to Roscoff.  To be called Connemara, she will follow the successful économie model that the company has established on services from the UK to France & Spain.

As well as opening a new route Connemara will add much needed capacity to the company’s existing line to France, creating more opportunities for short breaks.

(Breaking Travel News)

Another forthcoming Ferry:

What Does A ‘Luxuary Cruise’ Mean?

January 20, 2018

(Courtesy of Seaborne)

In general life, the term ‘Luxury’ does not have a fixed definition.  It is a very subjective term. It is also used as a sales term on occasions, to ‘big up’ a product , regardless of the merits of the product.

However from a cruise industry perspective, there are clear definitions of ‘quality’, without any debate. The cruise industry grades are: budget, standard, premium and luxury…

See full article: HERE

Cruise Ships Heading To Great Yarmouth (U.K)

January 19, 2018

Great Yarmouth’s harbour. (Courtesy Mike Page)

Great Yarmouth is set for a tourism spending boost after it was confirmed cruise ships will be docking with hundreds of passengers at the town’s port throughout the year.

See full ‘Great Yarmouth Mercury’ story: HERE

Malcolm says: Hardly ‘giant’ cruise ships. The harbour could not handle mega-ships.

Great Yarmouth is a traditional ‘seaside’ town coastal town in Norfolk, England, complete with a beach.  It is located at the mouth of the River Yare, approximately 20 miles east of Norwich. The town has been a seaside resort since 1760, and is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the North Sea. For hundreds of years it was a major fishing port, depending mainly on the herring fishery, but its fishing industry suffered a steep decline in the second half of the 20th century, and has now all but disappeared. The discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s led to a flourishing oil rig supply industry, and today it services offshore natural gas rigs.(Wikipedia)

Saga Offers TT Race

January 17, 2018

(Courtesy Saga)

The Saga Sapphire has a new cruise from Dover on the 29th May, scheduled this spring, sailing to the Isle of Man for the world famous Isle of Man TT, a motorcycle race.

Saga Cruises, the British line that specialises in cruises for mature passengers, will offer a seven-day, all-inclusive sailing. The ports of call will be Portland, Dublin and Liverpool, as well as the visit to the Isle of Man timed perfectly for the race, the company said.


Background: The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency.It is located in the middle of the northern Irish Sea, almost equidistant from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland (closest), and Wales (farthest). It is 52 kilometres (32 mi) long and, at its widest point, 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide. It has an area of around 572 square kilometres (221 sq mi).

The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is an annual motorcycle sport event run on the Isle of Man in May or June of most years since its inaugural race in 1907. The Isle of Man TT has been traditionally run in a time-trial format on public roads closed for racing.

Malcolm says: The Isle of Mann is quite a rare port of call. It is normally a tender port as Douglas harbour is quite small. The sea conditions can b quite unpredictable, even in the summer. The island is very un-spoilt and very charming.

Featured Ship: MS Astor

January 16, 2018

Astor, Fremantle (By Bahnfrend, click to enlarge)

MS Astor was built in 1987, in Kiel, West Germany, as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-Cape Town route. She is now operated by the British Cruise Line ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’

At just 20,606 gross tonnes, Astor offers an intimate experience, compared to today’s mega-ships. She can easily dock in relatively small ports.

Astor’s passenger capacity is only around 600.

Astor spends most of her year cruising around Australian and the Indian Ocean.

See my Astor ship review: HERE

Virtual Balconies

January 16, 2018

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

Construction Begins On Crystal Expedition Yacht

January 15, 2018


Steel was cut today at the MV Werften shipyard, Germany, for the new Crystal Endeavor, a luxury expedition yacht.

Set to enter service in 2020, Crystal Endeavor will be Crystal’s largest and most spacious purpose-built Polar Class ship featuring all-suite, butler-serviced accommodations, and adventure in polar regions and other remote destinations.

“The ‘Crystal Endeavor’ is a truly exceptional ship. We are proud to be able to implement this project and are particularly pleased to, once again, be starting shipbuilding activities in the Stralsund shipyard, creating hundreds of new jobs,” said Jarmo Laakso, CEO of MV WERFTEN.

(Crystal cruises)

P&O’s Oceana Refit In Focus

January 15, 2018

Family favourite Oceana recently returned from a well-­deserved refresh at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg. We explore what’s changed and where she’ll head next to show off her new look.

Yacht & Compass, post-refit (P&O)

Oceana has a distinctive style and character that makes her one of our best-­loved mid-sized family ships. With lots of deck space, there’s an open and luxuriously airy feel to life on board – she’s the perfect ship for enjoying outdoor activities and relaxation in the sunshine.

Oceana recently paid a visit to Hamburg’s Blohm+Voss shipyard, where she was given a spruce-up ahead of the spring and summer season. We listened to your feedback and brought Oceana’s wide range of dining, entertainment and relaxation experiences up to the high standards you expect. We also paid particular attention to the spacious decking areas to make this a key feature of life on board.

The refit work was undertaken by RPW Design, one of the world’s leading hospitality interior design practices that specialises in the creation of stunningly sophisticated interiors. The company’s vibrant, creative vision is sure to delight loyal fans of Oceana, while also tempting the next generation of guests to join her for new adventures.

In summer 2018, Oceana will be based in Valetta, Malta for a season of fabulous Mediterranean fly-­cruise itineraries. She is then charged with a special mission: to launch our new Dubai & Arabian Gulf fly-­cruises in early 2019. Her sunny disposition will come into its own in this fascinating part of the world. We hope you’ll join us soon on board the queen of sunshine holidays.

Terrace Bar

Expect a dash of the wow factor with the new-­look Terrace Bar – the place to be for stylish alfresco relaxation and refreshment. A bold new colour scheme, elegant lounge furniture and feature tiling create a retreat-­style space. In addition, hot tubs have been refurbished, new canopy shading has been introduced over the pool and bar area and sculptural planters add points of interest.

The Plaza

With new carpets, feature floor tiling and a fresh colour scheme inspired by marine tones, The Plaza now has a distinct identity with a clearer differentiation between dining spaces. Other upgrades to enhance the environment of this popular dining space include improved lighting and new chairs and banquette seating.


The much-­loved Champagne bar is the place to sparkle with a lighter and more luxurious colour scheme in neutrals, teals and soft greens. New bar stools, lounge chairs and sofas enhance the elegant atmosphere, while private spaces and a sense of intimacy have been created by screens with an antique mirror finish.

Yacht & Compass

The hugely popular bar has a strong new identity thanks to a fresh colour scheme in ocean hues, grounded by a stylish new carpet featuring a sail design. Yachting motifs run through the space with roped side tables and fabrics and soft furnishings with nautical details. Night owls with fancy feet can also strut their stuff on a new dance floor.

Youth spaces

Oceana is a family favourite, and young guests can also look forward to some improvements. The entertainment equipment in the children’s clubs and teen areas has been updated, and little ones can get active with new soft play features. Walls and floors have been fully redecorated with new colourful schemes, while furniture and storage for crafts and other activities have been restructured. The night nursery has been relocated to the end of the area, improving the flow and use of space.

(Images & Text courtesy of P&O)


Don’t Book An Ocean Cruise…

January 13, 2018

My most recent river cruise was something different again. It was on the  Mississippi, on-board the ‘American Queen’, a real paddle-wheeled steamboat.

So how did the experience differ from an Ocean cruise and a European river cruise?

…until you have read my river cruise reviews.


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

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

Each ship and line is different, yet they are all similar.

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

I did enjoyed it, it made a refreshing change, but the experience still felt a little ‘alien’ to me compared to an ocean cruise.

However something drew me back to river cruising and I took my second European river cruise over Christmas 2016.

This time something ‘clicked’ inside of me. (And I don’t mean my spine or knee cartilage.)

I really got into the format and style of the experience this time around. Many aspects of the experience were actually better than on-board most ocean ship.

Amadeus Elegant ship review: HERE

My most recent river cruise was something different again. It was on the  Mississippi, on-board the ‘American Queen’, a real paddle-wheeled steamboat.

So how did the experience differ from an Ocean cruise and a European river cruise?


American Queen ship review: HERE



Keel Laid for Ritz-Carlton’s First Ship

January 13, 2018


The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has just celebrated the keel laying of its inaugural vessel at the Hijos De J. Barreras Shipyard in Vigo, Spain.

Reservations for the first of three lavish yachts in this series will open in May.


Malcolm says: Not only is mass-market mega-ship production booming, so is the luxury and expedition end of the market. If only my bank account would ‘boom’ as well!

Titanic’s Harland & Wolff Makes A Comeback

January 10, 2018

A multi-million pound contract to refurbish a cruise ship has been won by a Newry firm, with all work to be done in Belfast.

MJM Group said it paves the way for future projects.

The 11-deck liner Azamara Pursuit, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, will arrive at Harland and Wolff in April for a full interior refit.

MJM, which employs 240 people, said it would be “one of the first major refits of a cruise liner in a UK dry dock”.

A spokesman for Harland and Wolff said it was “delighted” with the deal, and hoped others would follow.

Harland & Wolff was formed in 1861 by Edward James Harland (1831–95) and Hamburg-born Gustav Wilhelm Wolff (1834–1913).

Thomas Andrews became the general manager and head of the draughting department in 1907. It was in this period that the company built Olympic and the two other ships in her class Titanic and Britannic between 1909 and 1914.


Below you can see the Titanic’s original dry-dock, in Belfast:

Titanic Replica: See HERE

The World’s Biggest Cruise Ships

January 9, 2018

Allure of the Seas passes under the ‘Great Belt Bridge’ (RCI)

It’s quite amazing how big many of today’s cruise ship are. However most of the  future newbuilds will be even BIGGER.

200,000+ gross tonnes will not be unusual, within five years.  Remember the RMS Titanic was only around 45,000 gross tonnes.  We will see many new ships carry in excess of 6,000 passengers.

The ‘official’ way of comparing a ships sizes is  ‘Gross Tonnage’ which is a measurement of internal volume, not weight.

However occasionally the layman (and the Press) talk about the biggest ship being the one that carries the most passengers. This is a little misleading as the ‘Oasis class’, for example, is the biggest ship in terms of gross tonnage, but there will be slightly smaller ships in the future, which will cram more passengers on-board.

(Please note that some of the figures below are  based on rather sketchy details about some newbuilds).


Little and Large

By Gross Tonnage

230,000 GT (estimate): Symphony of the Seas, 2018, unnamed Oasis class ship, 2021.
226,963 GT: Harmony of the Seas (In service)
226,963 GT: Oasis of The Seas and Allure of the Seas (In service)
204,000 GT (estimate): “Global Class”: 2 Genting/Dream Cruises ships, 2020 & 21.
200,000 GT (estimate).  4 MSC “World Class” ships, 2022 & 26
185,000 GT: Carnival brands, 6x ships, 2019-21.
171,598 GT: MSC Meraviglia
168,666 GT: RCI’s Quantum Class Ships .


MSC’s World Class (Courtesy MSC)

By passenger capacity

6,870 passengers: Symphony of the Seas, due in 2018.
6,850 passengers (estimate): 4 MSC “World Class” ships, 2022 & 26..
6,780 passengers: Harmony of the Seas (In service).
6,600 passengers (estimated): Carnival brands, 6 ships, 2019-21.
6,360 passengers: An unnamed RCI Oasis class ship, 2021.
6,296 passengers: Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas (In service).

(“Global Class”: 2 Genting/Dream Cruises ships, 5,000 lower berths, upper berths unknown.)

A total of 17 ships which will accommodate at least 5,000 passengers are currently under construction.

(Source: The Times)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Oasis of the Seas Review: HERE

Viking: Now Ten Ocean Vessels

January 7, 2018

(Courtesy Viking)

Following the agreement signed in April 2017 between Fincantieri and Viking Ocean Cruises, the contracts for the construction of the 7th and 8th ships became effective and, in addition, the company announced in December that it has exercised the option for the 9th and the 10th vessel in the series.

The new vessels will be sister-ships of the previous series ordered, four of which have been delivered. The ships have a gt of 47,800 and can accommodate 930 guests in 465 all-veranda cabins.

The first of the series, ‘Viking Star’, built at Fincantieri Marghera, was delivered in March, 2015; the second, the third, and the fourth, ‘Viking Sea’, ‘Viking Sky’ and ‘Viking Sun’, built at Ancona, were delivered in March, 2016, January and September, 2017, respectively.

The other six, including the exercised options, will be delivered in 2018, 2019, 2021, two in 2022 and 2023.

Viking’s fifth ship, the ‘Viking Orion’ is due to be introduced in the summer of 2018 and the sixth, as yet unnamed, sister ship is due to be delivered in the spring of 2019.

In October, 2017, Viking also announced that it had placed an order for seven new river ships, including six additional Viking Longships and one additional vessel based on the Longships design that will sail on Portugal’s Douro River.

The new river cruise ships will enter service in 2019.


Malcolm says: There seems to be no stopping Viking.  Viking are very successfully building on their reputation for offering quality river cruises and are quickly gaining a reputation for offering quality ocean cruises too.  Viking have quite a dominance in European river cruising and are looking at offering more global river cruises such as on the Nile and Mississippi rivers. Although they have some stiff competition in the Ocean cruise market, their expansion has been at breakneck speed. In fact Viking well become the biggest small-ship operator in the near future.

More Viking ocean ships will mean more varied itineraries from them. However their fares are in line with their high quality experience: expensive.

Is river cruising for you? See HERE

Rise Of The Clones

January 5, 2018

SS United states (Top) and SS America, United States Line (Source unknown)

Ships Of State

In the era of the great Ocean Liners, each country that had the resources and know-how designed and built themselves unique ships. These were ‘ships of state’, each representing their country.

For example the UK had the likes of the Titanic and later the Cunard Queen’s ‘Mary’ and ‘Elizabeth’. France had their wonderful ‘Normadie’ and ‘France’. American had their ‘America’ and ‘United states’. Each ship represented their respective countries engineering achievements, excellent design and the finest decor and artwork.

Today cruise ship are much more generic and the design can actually be shared across different cruise brands. In fact the only differences in some cases, may be the funnels, livery and internal decor.

We are going to see even more ‘clones’ over the next few years.

‘Made to measure’ or  ‘off the peg’?

Carnival have shared ship designs between their brands for many years now: P&O have several Princess designs. Cunard have two generic Carnival ‘Vista’ class ships and P&O has one. P&O’s next mega ship (184,000 gt) is a design shared with Costa, AIDA and Carnival cruises. Cunard will be getting a new ship in 2022, a design shared with ‘Holland America’.

Surprisingly the Norwegian Cruise lines next class of cruise ship, called ‘Project Leonardo’, is not a new a class of ship designed by themselves either. It has been designed by the Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

I guess the advantage of this approach is that it must save development costs and time as the shipyard has already done the hard work.   However the disadvantage is that the shipyard can share this design with other buyers and it appears that they already have!

On closer inspection NCL’s ‘Project Leonardo’ looks remarkably similar to MSC’s ‘Seasisde’ also designed by Fincantieri.

However I believe Leonardo is shorter than Seaside, so will have a smaller gross tonnage and carry less passengers. Seaside is 154,000 gross tonnes and carry  4,140 (lower berth) passengers. Leonardo will be 140, 00 gross tonnes and carry around 3,300 passengers.

Seaside has a glass covered pool in front of her funnel, Leonardo appears to have a non-covered one in this location (for the Haven?) This may leaves just one sun-deck pool aft?

The big attraction of this ship design is the very large promenade deck, which is probably more expansive than NCL’s excellent ‘Waterfront’ feature found on-board their Breakaway and Breakaway+ classes.

I do find it a little sad when different cruise brands share a ship design. It just lacks originality.

I was going to say that Leanardo will be quite different internally to Seaside, as she will be designed to accommodate NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system with multiple dining rooms.  However looking at Seaside’s deck plans (HERE) there are three full decks and two half decks of restaurants and other public rooms. I guess little will need changing apart from the décor and branding. I guess that was part of the appeal of using Fincantieri’s existing design.


*(Why is the project called ‘Leonardo’, anybody?)

Irish Ferries Places Order for Another Vessel

January 3, 2018


Irish Ferries has ordered a second new cruise ferry, will be built in Germany at a cost of €165 million, She will enter service between the UK and Ireland in 2020.

The same shipyard in Flensburg, Germany, is building Irish Ferries’ new ship, the W.B. Yeats, which is due for delivery summer 2018.

When built, the new ship will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity, offering space for up to 1,500 cars, or up to 330 freight trucks. She is expected to be around 67,300 gross tonnes.

The cruise ferry will be designed specifically to sail between Holyhead and Dublin, in tandem with Irish Ferries’ current flagship Ulysses.

The additional capacity of the new ship on the Holyhead/Dublin route will, by 2020, will allow the W.B. Yeats to sail between Ireland and France year-round.

(Irish Ferries)

Ulysses Irish Super Ferry slide-show: HERE

‘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.


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

Sister: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ review – HERE