Brits To Get ‘Mein Schiff 1’

April 18, 2018

(Courtesy TUI)

After almost nine years service, the ship that started the TUI Cruises brand has left its fleet.

TUI bid farewell to the ‘Mein Schiff 1’ (‘My Ship 1’) last week, having operated the vessel between 2009 and 2018, serving the German market.

The 1,924 guest ship was originally built at the Meyer Werft shipyard, Germany, in 1996 as ‘Galaxy’ for Celebrity Cruises. At 76,522 gross tonnes she was considered a mega-ship at the time.

Celebrity ‘Galaxy’ is well know to Brits as the ship that singer/personality Jane McDonald gained fame onboard. She was a cruise ship singer featured in the 1998’s fly-on-the-wall TV series, ‘The Cruise’.

(Courtesy BBC)

Mein Schiff 1 has been transferred to sister company Marella Cruises*. She will be refurbished over the next month and renamed ‘Marella Explorer’ to serve Marella cruises British customers.  She will join ‘Marella Explorer II’, the former ‘Celebrity Century’.

The new 110,000 gross tonne ‘Mein Schiff 1’ enters service for TUI Cruises in May 2018 and will have capacity for 2,900 guests.

(TUI)

*(Marella cruises is the new silly name for the re-branded ‘Thomson Cruises’ )

Malcolm says: Thought for the day – ‘My Ship’ is no longer ‘their Ship’ it’s ‘Our Ship’!

‘Thomson Celebration’ review: HERE

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Featured Ship: CMV Columbus

April 16, 2018

Columbus (Courtesy CMV)

British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), added Columbus to their fleet as their new flagship in June 2017.

Columbus entered service in 1988, but does not feel her age. At 63,786 gross tonnes, carrying  1,400-18,00 passengers, she is CMV’s biggest ship.

Prior to Columbus entering service with CMV, she underwent a refit.  This included the adaptation of the existing child and teenage areas to suit CMV’s more mature market.

In addition the casino has been scaled down and renamed Captain’s Club & Casino while the previously named Captain’s Lounge has been renamed Taverner’s Pub offering a selection of draught beers, bottled beers and a wide selection of wines and spirits.

Columbus review: HERE

QE2 Hotel Is Now Taking Booking!

April 12, 2018

The phrase “Eat my hat” springs to mind.

I admit it, I never thought that there would ever be a QE2 hotel. I though it was just a pipe-dream.

After ten years of neglect and uncertainty the classic ship is almost ready to open after two weeks renovation work – impressive!  As the owners put it:“After spending the past 2 weeks in Dubai’s Dry Docks for a bit of a deep cleaning and paint retouch, the Queen Elizabeth 2 took one final voyage back to her new home in Mina Rashid…. “

The QE2-Dubai web site is NOW taking booking for accommodation commencing on the 18th April 2018 – onward. IT IS REAL!

They have called it  a soft launch as apparently not all parts of the ship are ready. She will be fully open in October.

Her exterior now looks fabulous as does the images of the new cabins. (I am told that they are NOT just renderings).

The QE2 Ocean Liner  has been docked in Dubai’s Port Rashid, since 2008, after the original 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 and  launched a web site.  It promised  “a new take on hospitality” as well as “a royal experience”.  Of course I took this with a pinch of salt – how wrong was I?

Renovated luxury Cabin: Click to enlarge (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

How Much To Stay On-board?

I assume that the prices vary with cabin grade, date and occupancy, as with all hotels.  Maybe the early prices have been set at a premium rate,  to capture the QE2 fans, maybe not?

I checked out the prices for a ‘room’ (they are calling them rooms) for Saturday 28/4, one night, two persons.

The QE2-Dubai web site gave me six grades of cabin: ‘Standard’ through to ‘Deluxe’. These were priced 955AED (£183, $260) to 1394AED (£268, $379)respectively.  I guess that is the going-rate for a luxury hotel in many parts of the world, although this is of course a very unique one.

Offical QE2 Hotel web site (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

I will be interested to read the first reviews of the on-board ambience, accommodation, food and service.

Of course I never  wanted to see the QE2 scrapped but old ships often don’t tend to have much of a future.

The QE2 is an out-dated vessel by modern cruise ship standards. She was when Cunard retired her. In addition Dubai is full of many impressive hotels and I believe the QE2 is quite isolated, in terms of her location, within a dock.

I assume that you will probably get a bigger (more modern) hotel room in a conventional hotel and extensive facilities (maybe a resort) for the same price, as  a more modest room and modest facilities, offered by an ageing ocean liner.

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A standard cabin (Courtesy QE2Dubai)

The Future

The problem is that if they have upgraded the QE2’s accommodation and public rooms too much, she is no longer the QE2. It must be difficult to combine the concept of a museum-ship and a hotel-ship. It remains to be seen what the new owners have actually done in terms of tasteful renovation – we have only seen limited images so far.

Hotel-ships traditionally struggle to be profitable   (It must cost more to maintain a floating hotel than a land based one, for example).

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

I genuinely wish the QE2 Hotel every success, but I am still sceptical about her long term viability.

Malcolm

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.Slide-show – QE2 Transatlantic crossing 2008: HERE

Construction of 1st Global Class Ship Begins

April 12, 2018

Germany’s shipbuilder MV Werften launched construction works on the first Global Class ship, the largest cruise ship to be built in Germany, on March 8.

Two steel cutting ceremonies were held, one at MV Werften’s Wismar yard and another in the Rostock yard. Both sites will be needed to manufacture the 204,000 gross ton Global Class ship for the Hong Kong-based cruise line Star Cruises, owned by Genting Hong Kong.

Production will take place in parallel in Wismar and Rostock, with final assembly to be carried out in the Wismar yard. The first Global Class ship is to be delivered at the end of 2020. Around 600 companies are involved in the construction process.

After designing the Global Class ships for the last three years and investing over EUR 210 million to make MV Werften the-state-of-the-art cruise shipbuilding yard in the last two years, “we are very pleased to finally start construction on the first Global cruise ship,” Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong, said.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong, said: “These ships are not only the largest cruise ships to be built in Germany; they are also the most technologically advanced with artificial intelligence. The Global Class ships will follow the embrace of Asians of artificial intelligence in their daily lives, with facial and voice recognition for most services on-board and robots to perform mundane tasks, allowing the crew to focus on service delivery,”

The Global Class ships, which are designed specifically for the rapidly growing Asian cruise market, will be 342 meters long and 46.40 meters wide with a draft of 9.50 meters. The ship will be able to accommodate about 5,000 passengers in 2,500 cabins based on a twin share basis.

Construction on the second Global Class ship will begin in early 2019 for delivery at the end of 2021.

(STX)

‘Global Class’ slide-show: HERE

Ventura’s Dry-docking Completed

April 10, 2018

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P&O’s Ventura, has  just completed a routine two-week drydocking at Damen Shiprepair Brest.

The maintenance program included the installation of two exhaust gas scrubbers. The hull was water blasted and then, along with the superstructure, repainted. Additional work included maintenance of the propulsion systems and stabilizers, plus other minor repairs.

The scheduled work has been completed in time for a March 28 cruise from Southampton to the Canary Islands and Lisbon.

(P&O)

Oldest River Vessel

April 5, 2018

 

(Courtesy Gota Kanal)

Cruis Blog reader ‘Max M’ suggested that after discussing the biggest river boats (here) we should discuss the oldest.

I have done a little research and it would appear that the oldest registered marine vessel with overnight accommodation, is in fact a vintage steam canal boat called M/S Juno.  Juno was built in 1874 (yes, 1874) and has 29 passenger cabins.

M/S Juno operates on the 120 mile Göta Canal between Stockholm and Gothenburg, built with the help of Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.

In fact there are three vintage vessels on this route: The M/S Wilhelm Tham was built in 1912 and their youngest ship, is the M/S Diana, in 1931.

Doulos – The Oldest Ocean-Going Ship

The Medina was built in 1914 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. She was a freighter serving the Atlantic; during World War II she served with the United States Coast Guard.

The Panamanian company Naviera San Miguel SA acquired the Medina in 1948; they renamed the ship the Roma, and converted her into a passenger ship with cabins for 287 people, and dormitories for an additional 694 people.

In 1952 Naviera San Miguel resold the Roma to Linea Costa, an Italian company. At this time the SS Roma, a steamship, was converted into a motor vessel and renamed the MV Franca C. She carried passengers between Italy and Argentina. In 1959, the Franca C was adapted into a cruise liner, principally cruising the Mediterranean.

In 1977, Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All) acquired the Franca C, and renamed her the Doulos (Greek for servant). She was manned by a volunteer crew and made sea port visits worldwide as a missionary ship. The MV Doulos held the biggest floating library in the world. Normally there were somewhere between 3000 to 5000 books on the shelves and half a million in the hold.

She made her last world tour in 2009 and was de-commissioning at the end of 2009 due to expense of making her compliant with SOLAS (maritime safety) regulations .

The ship is currently known as the MV Doulos Phos. She is now owned by Mr. Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.

There are plans to use the ship as a floating hotel with restaurants, a bookshop and a banqueting hall. However such plans do not always come to fruition. The QE2 is a prime example.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Malcolm Says: As Doulos is no longer operational as cruise ship, this raises the question what ocean going ship is now the oldest? anybody know?

I got to go on-board MV Doulos in 2004, when she visited Southampton. Her interiors were quite a mess, looking more like a Hippy peace-camp than an historic ship. However you could certainly still see some of the Costa décor in places.

The SS Norway Remembered

March 31, 2018
SS Norway in Southampton waters 2001

SS Norway in Southampton waters, 2001

In 2008 the Norwegian Cruise Line’s  SS Norway was cut up on a beach, in Alang, India, and disposed of.

She entered service in 1962 as the ‘SS France’ Ocean Liner. She was the glory of  France’s glory – a ship of state.

She was decommissioned in 1974 and left to rust in the era when the jet aeroplane replaced the ocean liner as the preferred meth of intercontinental travel.

However in 1979 she was purchased by NCL and renovated, returning back to service in 1980 as the then biggest Caribbean cruise ship. Although only medium sized by modern standards, It can be argued that she started the era of the mega-cruise-ship.

I was lucky enough to take her final Transatlantic crossing on the SS Norway, on 2nd September 2001, from Miami to Southampton.  I know that many of you have very fond memories of this special ship. Why not join me?

You can read some background information here and my ‘Final Transatlantic’ review: HERE

Malcolm

Avalon Waterways: FlexDining for 2019

March 27, 2018

From a giant ship below, to small boats:

(Courtesy Avalon)

From morning breakfast to elegant dinners, Avalon Waterways has always invited travelers to free their taste buds from the ordinary. In 2019, the river cruise operator is taking even more steps to turn the tables onboard with the introduction of FlexDiningSM for Avalon guests.

“Our new FlexDining program invites Avalon guests to enjoy more flexibility at breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “In addition to providing guests with multiple dining venues like the Panorama Bistro and the Sky Grill to bringing healthy food options to the plate with Avalon Fresh®, FlexDining offers our guests the opportunity to enjoy open dining times, more two-top tables for couples, bar service on the Sky Deck and daily night fare, on request, at the bar. We even provide complimentary picnic lunches to those interested in taking their dining experience off the ship.”

With the introduction of Avalon Fresh® in 2017 – a partnership with rising culinary stars Leo and Karl Wrenkh – that features healthy food options with the freshest ingredients from local farms and suppliers, Avalon Waterways has focused on bringing amazing to travelers plates.

Now, the company is inviting guests to choose the onboard dining venue – and times – that suit their mood, from a breezy al fresco lunch at the Sky Grill and less formal “sit-down” atmosphere of the Panorama Bistro to an elegant, four-course dinner in the glass-walled dining room.

“At whatever table setting or time our guests choose to dine, they have the opportunity to savor local flavors and the familiar favorites they may crave throughout their vacation,” said Hoffee. “On an Avalon cruise, every meal is part of the journey.”

(Avalon waterways)

Malcolm says: It’s nice to see a river cruise lines adopting ideas from ocean cruise ships, like flexible dining. Most ocean ship offer some form of flexible dining these days.  A full ‘Freestyle’ (flexible dining) system was pioneered by the Norwegian Cruise Line, being introduced several decades ago, and they still do it the best. RCI also attempted a full-blown version with ‘Dynamic Dining’ in 2014, but it was not popular with guests and was withdrawn.

Now the river cruise lines need to focus on upgrading the very sedate entertainment on offer.

Would you enjoy a river cruise? see HERE

Royal Caribbean Welcomes World’s Largest Cruise Ship

March 26, 2018
symphony-stx

(Courtesy RCI)

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oasis_titanic

Little and Large

Titanic v The Oasis Class: HERE

Genting: Global Class Details

March 24, 2018

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Genting Hong Kong has announced that Dream Cruises will get the first Global-class newbuild previously allocated to Star Cruises.

The 5,000-guest, 204,000-ton ship will join the Dream Cruises fleet starting in 2020. Genting Hong Kong has a sister ship set for a 2021 delivery as well, which could also be poised to join Dream Cruises.

Genting Hong Kong revealed more details of its upcoming 5,000-guest 204,000-ton Global-class ships, with the first set to debut for the Dream Cruises brand at the end of 2020, followed by a sister ship at the end of 2021.

The news was released at a steel cutting ceremony in Germany .

“The Global Class ships will follow the embrace of Asians of artificial intelligence in their daily lives, with facial and voice recognition for most services onboard and robots to perform mundane tasks, allowing the crew to focus on service delivery,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Genting.

According to a statement, the ships are designed specifically for the rapidly growing Asian cruise market with features such as a Cineplex, theme park, Asian spa, authentic multiple Asian dining experiences including fast food alternatives and affordable shopping facilities in addition to luxury shopping facilities.

The cabins are uniquely designed for the Asian family and can comfortably sleep two, three or four persons with split (two) bathrooms, allowing for a wider price point for the Asian market, Genting said.

The ship will also provide a variety of exciting entertainment including a roller coaster, water park and surf simulator, the company announced.

With total life-saving capacity of up to 9,500 passengers, the Global Class ships can cater for the extremely high peak holiday periods in Asia, Genting said, in a statement.

The new ships will also have eight sets of escalators connecting the public areas.

With facial recognition, there will be minimal queuing for boarding, disembarkation and payments; contextual marketing to even out demand on ship facilities and other artificial intelligent systems, the company announced.

(Genting)

Click to enlarge (Courtesy Genting)

Malcolm says: It’s taken a long while, but Royal Caribbean’s designs are starting to appear on other lines ships. From the renderings above, the ‘Global Class ‘appears to have a Cabins facing inwards overlooking some sort of forecourt (like Oasis’s Boardwalk cabins). She also appears to have a small sunken Garden (like Oasis’s ‘Central Park’). However whether this will be real plants and trees or artificial, remains to be seen. You can also see the Surf Simulator too (like Oasis’s Flow Rider) and some water chutes. These are now popular on many ships, but Carnival and NCL pioneered them. The stern area looks like NCL’s Spice H2O.

So where’s the roller coaster that has been mentioned?

Bellissima Will Be Christened In Southampton

March 22, 2018

(Courtesy MSC)

MSC Bellissima will be named in Southampton on March 2, 2019.

Antonio Paradiso, managing director UK and Ireland, said he believed the move would see the 5,700-guest Bellissima become the largest ship ever to be christened in the UK.

The Meraviglia-class vessel will sail its maiden voyage from Southampton to Genoa two days later. The last MSC vessel to be named in the UK was MSC Poesia in Dover in 2008.

Bellissima will become MSC Cruises’ fourth mega-ship to come into service in less than three years since 2017 as part of a 12-ship, ten-year €10.5 billion investment programme.

MSC also revealed that Bellissima will debut an onboard “digital personal assistant” system for passengers, which Onorato said would take the line’s MSC For Me technology programme “to the next level”.

The “conversational, voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence innovation” will see a speaker beacon placed in each cabin, offering information such as weather updates and excursion timings and, with its next phase, provide guests with tailored suggestions including dinner reservations.

It has been developed by MSC and Samsung subsidiary Harman, responsible for a number of voice-enabled technology created for Amazon, Google and Microsoft, and will be available on all future new ships.

(MSC)

CMV’s New Ship: Vasco da Gama

March 21, 2018

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The CMV Travel & Leisure Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of Pacific Eden from P&O Cruises Australia.

Continuing the explorer theme, the ship’s new name is named ‘Vasco da Gama’.

Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese nobleman, navigator and explorer, famous for being the first European to reach India by sea. After thousands of lives and dozens of vessels lost in shipwrecks and attacks in search of this passage, da Gama successfully landed in Calicut on 20th of May 1498. In doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian Ocean and the Western World with the Orient, paving the way for an age of global commerce and European establishment in Asia. His outward and return journey around the Cape of Good Hope was at the time the longest ocean voyage ever undertaken, a distance equal to the equatorial circumference of the Earth, being about 24,000 miles! He successfully conducted three such voyages, and also served as the Second Viceroy of Portuguese India.

Here is snap shot of the ship’s wide range of facilities:-

  • Gross Tonnage: 55,820grt, Draft: 7.7m, Length: 219m, Beam: 31m
  • Built in Fincantieri Shipyard, Italy in 1994 and launched as Statendam.
  • A three-decked central Atrium with a fine selection of retail outlets
  • Impressive passenger lower bed space ratio of 48.
  • Nine passenger decks serviced by eight lifts.
  • Fabulous tiered main show lounge spanning two decks.
  • Dome Observatory & Nightclub providing wonderful seascapes & scenic panoramas.
  • 149 balcony cabins including 28 suites. 80% of cabins with an ocean view.
  • Starboard and port side promenades with splendid traditional timber decking.
  • A well-appointed wellbeing centre with a fully equipped fitness centre.
  • Two outdoor swimming pools with the main pool having an all-weather retractable roof.
  • A tennis and basketball court.
  • Cinema and casino.
  • Two Conference Rooms.
  • Six dining options including five fine dining options.
  • In all, a choice of five lounge bars, one pool bar and four entertainment venues.

 The ship has a rich heritage and maritime pedigree and was originally launched in 1994 by Holland America Line as the Statendam. At 55,820grt and with an impressive space ratio, she will carry 1150 passengers accommodated in 630 cabins (including 100 singles and 149 balcony suites and cabins with an 80% ocean view ratio). She will operate alongside CMV’s flagship, Columbus (1400pax), Magellan (1300pax), Marco Polo (800pax), Astor (600pax) and Astoria (550pax).

(CMV)

CMV Flagship Columbus review: HERE

Malcom says: It’s great to see a British cruise line offering some reasonably priced cruises on ‘classic’ small ships, in this world of leviathans. However ‘Vasco da Gama’ essentially replaces the very charming ‘Astor’.

At around 56,000 the ‘Vasco da Gama‘ is about 10,000 gt bigger than Magellan and about 9,000 gt smaller than Columbus. However based on the standard passenger capacity of 1,150 she has the best passenger-to-space ratio (48) of the entire CMV fleet. She is also the youngest of the CMV fleet by six years.

Massive Expansion of RCI’s CocoCay

March 20, 2018

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Royal Caribbean have recently announced that here will be a $200 million transformation of their private island of CocoCay, in the Bahamas.

Highlights include: Thrill Waterpark, Oasis Lagoon, A 1,600-foot zip line, a helium balloon, two specially designed beaches and the exclusive Coco Beach Club, The island transformation will roll out in phases beginning September 2018 until November 2019.

(RCI)

P&O: Ventura Refit

March 19, 2018

(Courtesy P&O)

In March 2018, Ventura will head to a shipyard in Brest, France for a refit. We’ll be making a number of improvements on board and bringing her in line with the other ships in the fleet. Keep an eye out for refurbished shops stocked with new brands, a new LED screen in the theatre, and new carpeting in the rooms and suites and in a number of the public areas.

Upon returning from her refit, Ventura will embark on a 12-night cruise to the Canary Islands and Portugal. For the rest of the year she’ll remain based in Southampton and take guests on Short Breaks to Belgium and Guernsey, adventures in the Norwegian Fjords and sunny holidays to the likes of Spain, Portugal, Greece and France.

We can’t wait to welcome Ventura back to the fleet, and we hope you’ll join us soon for more fun-filled holidays.

Theatres

Whether you prefer the classic stylings of the two-tier Arena theatre, the opulent setting of the Tamarind Club or the Cuban vibe in Havana lounge, Ventura’s on board entertainment venues offer something for everyone. To make your nights out that much more special, we’ll be upgrading the Arena theatre with a brand new LED wall installation, similar to the ones found on Britannia and Azura. We’ll also be making updates to the sound and lighting desk.

Retail

Shopping is a popular pastime on any holiday, and whether you’re treating yourself to a luxurious new watch, handbag or fragrance or stocking up on travel essentials,our on-board shops are the perfect place to do it. We’re pleased to announce that Dufry, the world’s leading travel retailer, will be our new retail partner on Ventura.The ship’s shops will undergo a complete upgrade, and new brands such as Brics,Longines, Olivia Burton and Liu Jo will be sit alongside popular brands such as Radley, Cath Kidston and Kipling. A range of British gins will also be available. Further changes include a large glass display window added to the shops on deck 7.

Waterside and The Beach House

Ventura does laid-back dining right. As part of the refit, both Waterside (the ship’s 24-hour buffet) and The Beach House (the fun and informal Select Dining restaurant)will enjoy a spruce-up. Floors will be given new tiling in the main walkway area and a new carpet design, and new furniture will be incorporated.

Carpets

The refit will see Ventura refreshed with new carpeting in a number of areas. In addition to all suites and cabins, the carpeting will also be replaced in a number of public areas: the Atrium; Oasis Spa & Salon; restaurants including Saffron,Waterside, The Glass House and The Beach House; and bars such as The Red Barand Havana lounge.

Dixons Travel Store

Dixons Travel, located on deck 7 by the photo gallery, sells the latest technology, from tablets to headphones to binoculars. As part of the refit, the Dixons Travel store will increase in size and a range of new products – including the Dyson supersonic hairdryer and the latest technology from brands such as Amazon, Apple, Bose,Canon, Fitbit, GoPro and more – will be available. Additionally, new carpeting will beintroduced, and the Photo Now digital screen will be moved to the ship’s aft.

(P&O)

Ventura Review: HERE

Olsen’s Boudicca: Extensive Refit

March 17, 2018

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(Boudiccca’s old livery and interiors)

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 880-guest Boudicca is due to undergo an extensive refit starting on March 17 at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.

The schedule for Boudicca comprises engineering works, general refurbishments and painting of the interiors and exterior, the company said.

In addition, one of the main areas of work will be the stripping out and rejuvenation of the 462 rooms across the ship.

All rooms will have new carpets installed, along with new soft furnishings and lamps. As with the rest of the fleet, brand new balcony furniture will be installed, and all rooms will be equipped with mini-fridges, safes and interactive smart TVs.

There will be extensive upgrading and remodelling of the vessle’s public rooms and dining facilities. The ship’s Morning Light Pub – a feature across the whole of the Fred. Olsen fleet – will be moved from to the portside of the Secret Garden Café. The Heligan Room will be converted into the Indian Ocean Restaurant.

Black Watch benefited from extensive improvement work at the end 2016 and has been achieving record revenues since, according to a company statement. Braemar and Balmoral were refurbished before the end of 2017.

(Fred Olsen)

Viking Ocean Cruises – 16 Ships On Order

March 14, 2018

(Image courtesy Viking)

Viking Cruises and Fincantieri announced an agreement for six further ocean-going newbuilds. The deliveries would come in 2024 (one), 2025 (two), 2026 (two) and 2027 (one).

Viking’s current ocean fleet includes four all-veranda-stateroom ships of 47,800gt, each accommodating 930 passengers. The line will welcome two more sister ships in the next two years, including Viking Orion this June and Viking Jupiter in 2019. Plus, 10 additional ships are now on order.

Sixteen ships is an all-time record, the highest number from a single shipowner for a shipyard.

(Viking Ocean Cruises)

Crystal River Cruises Introduces: ‘Crystal Debussy’

March 13, 2018

(Image courtesy of Crystal)

Crystal River Cruises welcomed the 106-guest Crystal Debussy to its fleet, which will enter next month. The latest addition to the Crystal portfolio brings the river fleet to four river ships.

Crystal Debussy will cruise along the Rhine River, beginning with her April 9, 2018 maiden voyage round-trip from Amsterdam. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the ship will sail routes of seven and 10 days between Amsterdam and Basel along the Rhine and Moselle rivers, visiting Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.

In addition, Crystal will welcome the Crystal Ravel to the fleet next month, joining sister ships: the Crystal Bach, the Crystal Mahler, the Crystal Debussy, and the line’s first river ship the Crystal Mozart.

(Crystal)

 

Disney – New Ship Renderings

March 12, 2018

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Disney Cruise Line has released the first rendering of its new generation of ships, with deliveries set for 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.

The ships will be powered by LNG with capacity for 2,500 passengers and will be 140,000 tons.

(Disney)

New Cruise Line Aimed At Millennials Scraps Age Limit

March 12, 2018

(Image Courtesy of Uniworld)

The world’s first cruise line for millennials – which intended to ban over-45s when it launches in April – has been forced to ditch its age limit just weeks before setting sail.

U by Uniworld, a new brand from the well-established cruise operator, had billed its two trendy new ships, called A and B, as strictly for 21- to 45-year-olds.

girls-on-train-tracks

An image from Uniword’s ‘U’ Concept: But would these young women really take a river cruise? (Given the fact that they are probably models, you are more likely to find them on-board  a private yacht!)

“Originally, U was specific in defining its target market between the ages of 21 and 45, but has learned that the experience is less about a number, and more about attracting a new generation of adult travellers to river cruising.” said Chris Townson, the Uniworld’s UK managing director.

(Uniworld)

Malcolm says: I hate say that I told you so, but a while back I said: “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. “

What were Uniworld’s marketing department thinking? Giving the brand a trendy new name and painting the boats black was obviously not enough! It was still a laid-back/very expensive river cruise experience, more suitable for the well-heeled, more mature guest.

I’m all for attracting a wider clientele to river cruising. However I think they need a total redesign of the boats and product, before river cruising will even begin to appeal to a younger crowd. Some good entertainment might help, for starters. I believe that many younger people generally need a higher level of activity and a more lively  atmosphere on-board a ship – ‘relaxation’ and a jigsaw puzzle may not be enough.

How long before they paint the boats white again? I’m taking bets!

Celebrity Edge – Dining Details

March 7, 2018

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Our newest ship, Celebrity Edge, is truly designed to change the way you experience the world – and such an unbelievable ship needs cuisine to match. Celebrity Edge boasts a total of 29 distinctive restaurants, cafés, bars, and lounges to choose from, you’re sure to find a new favourite dish or cocktail every night of your holiday. With an incredible palate-pleasing collection of menus inspired by the destinations we visit, and visionary recipes created by our Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher, we’ll bring the flavours of the world to you – right on-board.

OMPLIMENTARY MAIN RESTAURANTS

Celebrity Edge boasts four main restaurants.

Our most revolutionary ship had to boast a main dining experience to match, so we have created not one but four complimentary main restaurants, each inspired by the destinations we visit. Each restaurant will feature regionally inspired wines, cocktails, and dishes served nowhere else onboard, and a rotating selection of Signature dishes that changes every evening as well as our most popular Classic dishes available every evening.

The main restaurants onboard Celebrity Edge offer more intimate dining experiences than any other ship in our fleet, with the same impeccable service. Every table has a dedicated wait staff including a head waiter, assistant waiter, and sommelier to ensure every need is met.

CELEBRITY TRADITIONAL DINING

We may have reinvented the main restaurant experience on Celebrity Edge, but we haven’t changed the way you plan your dining in our new main restaurants. You can still choose traditional early or late seating for your dining times, which allows you to enjoy dinner at the same table with the same waiter every evening. You’ll be assigned one of the four main dining restaurants, while having the option to dine in the other three upon request.

NEW CELEBRITY SELECT DINING PLUS

On Celebrity Edge, we continue to offer our Celebrity Select Dining option, but because you have four restaurants to choose from, we’ve renamed it Celebrity Select Dining Plus. This option allows you to dine when and where you’d like each evening. You can make reservations in any of the four restaurants if you know you want to eat at a specific time and restaurant, or you can simply show up and enjoy dinner on your own time. The choice as to how you plan your evening meals is, as always, up to you.

COMPLIMENTARY EXCLUSIVE RESTAURANTS

Exclusive complimentary restaurants for our Suite & AquaClass guests.

Amongst the 29 dining venues onboard Celebrity Edge, we have made sure to keep your favourite exclusive restaurants: Luminae and Blu.
Onboard Celebrity Edge, Luminae becomes Luminae at The Retreat, and forms part of our luxurious, private space exclusively for our guests staying in Suite Class accommodation. Guests staying in AquaClass accommodation will enjoy the exclusive restaurant, Blu. Blu features an undeniably delicious spa-inspired menu with clean, crisp flavours and inventive cuisine.

COMPLIMENTARY DINING VENUES

Complimentary dining venues in addition to our main restaurants.
In addition to our four main restaurants, we have plenty of complimentary venues to savour. Head to our signature Oceanview Café, now featuring more live action stations than ever before including a brand new bakery. Step outside and grab a burger in a relaxed poolside environment at the Mast Grill. If you’re looking for something new, try a creative take on healthy fare at the Spa Café & Juice Bar.

Or try Eden Café, offering a wide variety of choices for breakfast and lunch. At breakfast don’t miss the freshly baked to order Cinnamon Roll, the Steak and Egg Bagel, or for a healthier start try Steel Cut Oatmeal. Lunch brings new choices, including salads, and an incredible assortment of sandwiches and paninis. Whichever meal you’re enjoying at Eden Café, just steps away are two areas of outdoor seating where you can enjoy your meal al fresco.

SPECIALITY DINING

Speciality dining, now even more special.
In addition to our complimentary restaurants, for Celebrity Edge we have designed exciting new speciality restaurants found nowhere else at sea.

BARS & LOUNGES

A diverse range of bars and lounges for every taste.

So many mouth-watering restaurant choices need bars and lounges to match. Onboard Celebrity Edge we have a diverse range of eleven bars and lounges to suit every taste:

  • Café al Bacio
  • Eden
  • The Club
  • Martini Bar
  • The Sunset Bar
  • The Pool Bar
    Il Secondo Bacio
  • The Casino Bar
  • The Theatre Bar
    The Retreat Lounge
  • The Retreat Pool Bar

(Celebrity)

Fred. Olsen Jnr Hints At New-Build Ship

March 5, 2018

Black Watch (Tilbury, 14-12-16)

Stories about Fred. Olsen cruise line building a new ship/s has been circulating the Net for a few years now.

‘ShipMonk’ – Dave Monk’s excellent cruise blog, has some exciting new information on the subject:

See Here

Malcolm says: I think part of the charm of Fred. Olsen and CMV is their fleets of small old ships. They have so much more charm than big new ships. An Olsen newbuild will be a very different product. I can only imaging Olsen’s fare would go up to pay for for newbuilds and they are not cheap now. This would make Olsen a competitor of the likes of Viking Ocean Cruises, Saga’s new build and Oceania cruises etc.

Marco Polo To Be Sold?

Dave Monk also has some information about the rumour that CMV’s classic ship, ‘Marco Polo’ will be sold to become a ‘residential community’.

See Here

(Courtesy Storylines)

Storylines web site

Malcolm says: I have no idea is the Marco Polo story is true, but I can’t really think of a ship less suitable to become a luxury residential community. She is 53 years old with small cabins and no balconies.  I love the Marco Polo, but I would not spend 40 million on renovating a ship that old to become a  “contemporary” community’. She’s a modest little ocean liner and public cruising is what she does best.

Marco Polo Review

AIDA: Third LNG-Powered Cruise Ship

February 28, 2018

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Carnival Corporation announced it has signed a shipbuilding contract for a third LNG-powered cruise ship for its AIDA Cruises brand. The ship will be built at Meyer Werft, with an estimated 2,700 staterooms at 180,000 tons.

With today’s announcement, AIDA Cruises now has a total of three LNG ships on order. AIDAnova is scheduled to join AIDA Cruises’ fleet in December as the first ship of its new generation of LNG vessels, and the first-ever cruise ship in the world to be fully powered by LNG. The second ship of this series will be christened in the spring of 2021.

(Carnival)

Malcolm says: Carnival, Costa and P&O will also be getting this class of ship.

Carnival Paradise Month-Long Refit

February 26, 2018

(Courtesy Carnival)

The Carnival Paradise is undergoing an extensive, multi-million-dollar refurbishment that will add a number of new features, including a spectacular water park, 38 new cabins, 98 balconies to existing staterooms, and new food and beverage concepts.

Following the month-long dry dock, which takes place in Freeport, Bahamas, Carnival Paradise will resume its year-round schedule form March 26, 2018. She will offer four- to eight-day cruises from Tampa, Florida.

(Carnival)

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style Exhibition

February 26, 2018

I went to the ‘Ocean Liners’ exhibition on Saturday, at London’s ‘Victoria & Albert’ Museum. It was excellent.

It focused on posters, decor, furniture and clothing of the Great Ocean Liner era. It’s not really about steam engines and rivets, ladies! (Although these are mentioned).

It’s not exactly cheap, but I thought it was worth the money – but then I do have an interest in maritime history.

If you live near London or are visiting, it may be worth a visit. The exhibition is on until the 17th June, 2018.

Booking a timed slot in advance, is recommended, via the museum’s web site: http://www.vam.ac.uk

Malcolm

(Courtesy V&A)

Aurora Goes Adults Only

February 22, 2018

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P&O Cruises has announced that Aurora will return from its March 2019 refit as an adult-only ship.

From April 8, 2019, Aurora will join Arcadia and Oriana as a ship exclusively for adults.

(P&O)

Comments?

Queen Elizabeth to be Based in Australia

February 20, 2018

(Courtesy Cunard)

Cunard have  announced that the Queen Elizabeth will be based in Australia for a 101 days for the 2019-2020 cruise season.

The Queen Elizabeth will sail on six roundtrip cruises from Melbourne and two from Sydney during the season, which will feature an array of itineraries to South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between December 2019 and March 2020.

The new 2020 Australian deployment will be almost double the length of Queen Elizabeth’s scheduled 54-day season Down Under early next year, which will see the ship sailing from Sydney and Melbourne during February-March 2019, according to a statement.

(Cunard)

Roald Amundsen Launched

February 18, 2018

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Hurtigruten’s new MS Roald Amundsen was launched at Kleven shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway in a ceremony on Saturday 17-02-18.

It will be the first Hybrid cruise ship equipped with battery power, enabling short, silent sailing periods.

Delivery is scheduled for August, and it is the first of two new ships the company will get in the next two years. For 2018-2019, the 530-passenger hybrid ship will sail in Antarctica.

the MS Lofoten, the oldest vessel in Hurtigruten’s fleet, sailed to Ulsteinvik to attend the launch.  The Lofoten was built in 1964.

The Lofoten (Samferdselsfoto, Oclin/ Hurtigruten)

(Hurtigruten)

Malcolm says: These days only some small ships are actually ‘launched’. Big ships are built in a shed, water is introduced and they are ‘floated out’.

Virgin Voyages: New Headquarters In South Florida

February 16, 2018

Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced that Virgin Voyages has selected ‘Plantation’ for its new headquarters, which will create 300 new jobs.

The company will also invest $15.9 million in the local community, according to a statement.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin said, “We basically decided, ‘Let’s have a blank sheet of paper, let’s create the kind of voyage company that we would like to go on,’ and that’s what we’ve done.”

Virgin Voyages will be hiring a range of roles in different departments from Finance to Customer Care, according to the statement.

Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic of the City of Plantation said, “Plantation has a long reputation as a location of choice for game-changing companies like Virgin Voyages. We look forward to their success and are proud to be home to the newest Virgin brand.

(Virgin)

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.

(NCL)

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.