Thomson Reveals Details of its New Ship TUI Explorer

May 11, 2017

My humble blog cannot compete with the news-gathering might of the excellent ‘Cruise Critic’:

(Courtesy Thomson)

Thomson Cruises has revealed more features on its newest ship TUI Explorer including a new-to-the-line kids’ mini pool and a “really innovative and exciting entertainment” line up.

Cruise Critic article: HERE

Thomson Cruises Reveals a Host of Unique Features on TUI Discovery 2

 Cruise Critic article: HERE

Malcolm says: I am surprised about the poll results. I have found the Thomson product to be very good for the fare paid.  Some aspects of their operation are arguably better than some aspects of the big mass-market lines.  Their major weakness has been their hardware: older/well worn ships. However maybe this is about to change.

Introducing Viking Ra

May 10, 2017

Viking River Cruises has announced new details of its latest ship, the Viking Ra, which will sail the Nile River starting March 2018.

Recently acquired the vessel has been stripped down to the steel to undergo a complete renovation.

Viking said Viking Ra’s interiors are being designed by the same team of architects and engineers that developed its popular Longships in Europe. The design will blend the clean Scandinavian design for which Viking is known with local influences that include traditional geometric Arabic patterns and terrazzo floors.

Tailored to accommodate just 48 guests, Viking Ra will sail on a new Egypt cruisetour, ‘Pharaohs & Pyramids’ next March.

The development by Viking, North America’s biggest river cruise operator is the latest sign that river cruising on the Nile could be poised for a comeback, after years of security fears.

Viking said Viking Ra’s interiors are being designed by the same team of architects and engineers that developed its popular Longships in Europe. The design will blend the clean Scandinavian design for which Viking is known with local influences that include traditional geometric Arabic patterns and terrazzo floors.


My Nile cruise review: HERE

Former Carnival Jubilee To Be Scrapped

May 8, 2017

(Courtesy RCI)

Carnival Jubilee is finally destined for the scrapyard. She was sold by Carnival in 2004 and has sailed under several names since

When introduced in 1986, Jubilee was one of three Holiday-class ships, along with the Holiday and the Celebration. And while Jubilee was the first of her class to be sold, by 2009, Carnival had divested itself of all three. The ships were around 47,000 gross tonnes and carried approximately 1,800 passengers.

The ship formerly known as Celebration, which was sold by Carnival in 2007, is known as the MS Grand Celebration and has sailed with the Bahamas Paradise Cruise lines since 2015. The Holiday was sold by Carnival in 2009, and now sails as the MS Magellan for the British company Cruise & Maritime Voyages.


Magellan review: HERE

Magellan, Tilbury 18/07/15

‘Home’ Super-Yacht

May 5, 2017

Fan Theory About Titanic Movie Changes Everything!

May 2, 2017

Jack/Leo and Rose/Kate (Capital Pictures)

Whether you love James Cameron’s Titanic movie or hate it, the story of the ill fated ocean liner continues to endure.

However a fan theory has emerged which changes the entire meaning of Cameron’s classic movie:

Jack Dawson was a figment of Rose’s imagination – WHILE she was on board the ship.

Let’s examine the evidence.

The classic ‘poor little rich girl’, Rose Dewitt Bukateer was one unhappy soul. So much so, Rose suffered from a psychotic episode on board.

First of all, she was engaged to be married to a man she did not love, because their family had fallen on hard times.

Her mum wasn’t exactly the warm-and-friendly type kind either.

Remember when Rose and Jack met? He talked her out of ending her life.

Jack, although penniless understood Rose in a way that her fiance Cal did not.

Also, recall Jack’s words of encouragement to Rose: “If you don’t break free, you’re gonna die.” He’s telling Rose to stay alive – and live well.

Having come along at a troubled and vulnerable point in her life, the theory goes Jack is the embodiment of her inner-strength and resourcefulness.

There’s NO trace that Jack was ever on board. As an elderly lady, Rose tells the treasure hunters, “No, there wouldn’t be, would there?”

Then, of course, there is the fact that Rose allowed Jack to freeze in the sea without offering to share her driftwood.

On the other hand did Rose paint herself? Did Molly Brown’s Tuxedo attend dinner by itself?

You can decide!

(Daily Mirror)

Titanic II – Clive Palmer Gets Cold Feet: HERE

Titanic v Oasis of The Seas: HERE

Lady M, Super-Yacht

May 2, 2017

NCL Takes Delivery Of First Purpose-built Ship For China

April 27, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line today took delivery of Norwegian Joy, the brand’s fifteenth ship and the first custom-designed for the Chinese cruise market, from MEYER WERFT during an on board ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany. At 167,725–gross-tons and accommodating 3,883 guests, Norwegian Joy is the second ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class and features an innovative design with amenities tailored to provide a “First Class at Sea” experience for Chinese guests with the elements of freedom and flexibility that Norwegian Cruise Line has become known for across the globe.

In advance of the delivery, David Herrera and executives from Norwegian’s offices in China gathered for a traditional blessing from the Chinese Goddess of the Sea, Mazu, to ask for safe and pleasant voyages for the ship and all its guests who set sail. The ceremony was at the Mazu Temple in Shanghai where, one year ago, the Norwegian team held a ceremony to obtain a blessing for the coins that were used in Norwegian Joy’s Keel laying ceremony, signifying the start of construction in April 2016. Following this recent visit, a ceramic statue of Mazu was gifted to the company by the temple representatives and brought to Germany for the occasion of the ship delivery. The statue has been given a place of honour aboard Norwegian Joy and will carry the blessings of Mazu on the journey to China.

VIP Casino (Courtesy NCL)

Following her delivery, Norwegian Joy will begin her journey to China, where she will be showcased through a grand inaugural port tour featuring one-day events at the ports of Singapore, Qingdao, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s home-ports of Shanghai and Beijing (Tianjin). The ship will be christened in an exclusive star-studded event for honoured guests on 27 June, led by her Godfather, the ‘King of Chinese Pop’, Wang Leehom.

Norwegian Joy is Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built ship customized for the Chinese cruise market. The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the experience that the ship will offer, a promise that guests will ‘Experience Paradise on the Sea.’ Accommodating 3,883 guests, Norwegian Joy is designed to provide First Class at Sea experiences with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests. Norwegian Joy will provide a multitude of VIP accommodations including The Haven by Norwegian®, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship luxury suite complex, which will also include an all-new The Haven Observation Lounge that features 180 degree views, and a Concierge level, an all-new accommodations category that will provide a VIP experience. Accommodation offerings will also include staterooms designed specifically for families including a multitude of connecting staterooms, for extended families travelling together, as well as a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies.

(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Joy will offer engaging and innovative activities including a first at sea two-level competitive racetrack, an open-air laser tag course, thrilling simulator rides, Oculus virtual reality technology and interactive video walls at the Galaxy Pavilion, hover-bumper cars and two multi-story waterslides. In addition, Norwegian Joy will house a tranquil open space park as well as the line’s largest upscale shopping district, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to world-renowned global luxury brands.


Dilbar Super-Yacht

April 27, 2017

Big Ships, Big Reviews

April 25, 2017

(Courtesy P. Massey)

I am fortunate enough to have cruised on some of the world’s  biggest cruise ships. Here are some of my reviews, which are often as big as the ships themselves:

Anthem of the Seas: HERE

Norwegian Escape: HERE

Oasis of the Seas: HERE

NCL’s Leonardo v MSC Seaside

April 22, 2017

‘Made to measure’ or  ‘off the peg’?

Surprisingly the Norwegian Cruise lines next class of cruise ship, called ‘Project Leonardo’, is not a new a class of ship designed by themselves, but 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.


(Courtesy NCL)


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

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE

Viking Order Two More Ocean Ships + Two

April 20, 2017

(Courtesy Viking)

Viking Ocean Cruises and the Italian Fincantieri shipyard have signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional 47,800gt ocean cruise ships, with an option for another two.

The newbuilds will be sister ships to the six ships already delivered/or on ordered and will enter the Viking fleet in 2021 and 2022, respectively. That makes a total of eight ocean ships + a possible two.

The first ship to be built by Fincantieri for Viking, Viking Star was delivered in spring 2015. The second and the third ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, were delivered in early 2016 and early 2017. Viking Sun joins the fleet this October 2017, Viking Spirit launches in June 2018. A third unnamed ship joins the fleet in 2019.

All ships will have an be identical specification: 47,800 gross tonnes and will accommodate 930 passengers.


Malcolm says: Not only are Viking dominating the worlds rivers, there Ocean fleet is expanding!

Viking Cruises Partners with National Geographic

Viking Cruises has announced that it has signed on to sponsor National Geographic’s global anthology series, “Genius”.

The first season of the season tells the story of Albert Einstein.

Viking To Cruise The Nile

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen has announced that Viking River Cruises will be the first foreign company allowed to have a license to operate ships along the Nile River.

The new ship, named Viking Ra, will begin sailing March 2018.


Malcolm says: Viking seem to be intent on the world dominance of river cruising. They operate more than 60 river vessels. They certainly have a high media profile, a good reputation, an rapidly expanding fleet and are able sustain some high fares. They also plan to offer Mississippi cruises in the future.

My first river cruise was the Nile (see below), which I loved. They are 200 boats on the Nile and they all claim to be five star, but they ae not. I cruised on a very nice boat, but the food was simplistic buffet style and by no means fine-dining. However the fare was very low compared to European river cruise standards.

Viking will bring a brand to the Nile that people trust, some higher standards and fares to match.

Balloon ride over Luxor: HERE

The Pyramids: HERE

Ferrari Go-Karts At Sea

April 19, 2017

(Courtesy NCL)

The world’s first go kart complex at sea will enter service soon aboard NCL’s Norwegian Joy.

The track was put together by German karting technology specialist RiMO Supply and Dutch decking specialist Bolidt.

Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled a new partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches, a division of Italian carmaker Ferrari, that includes the Ferrari-themed Go Kart track.

The 168,800 gross tonne, 3,850-passenger vessel also will feature a retail store next to the track that sells Scuderia Ferrari watches.

The Ferrari race track will accommodate up to 10 drivers at a time who will race each other in electric Go Karts

(Courtesy NCL)

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ story HERE

(Courtsey NCL)


A New Russian Cruise Line

April 16, 2017
Click to enlarge (Source unknown)

Click to enlarge (Source unknown)

A new Russian cruise line is set to commence service in the Black Sea in June.

The company Rosmorport, has purchased the former Royal Iris ship. The 764-passenger ship last sailed for Mano Cruises.

The ship will be renamed Prince Vladimir and undergo a refurbishment before starting its new summer program.

Cruises will depart every Sunday, round-trip from Sochi with calls in Novorossyisk, Yalta and Sevastopol. The ship will overnight in Yalta. The first sailing is scheduled for June 11.


Bath Time (Courtney Mano cruises)

Bath Time (Courtesy Mano cruises)

Malcolm Says: MS Royal Iris (also formerly Azur) is a 1971 built car ferry which in 1981 was converted  into a cruise ship.

She is the last surviving ship ever owned by the Chandris Lines. She is the last surviving ship out of three near identical sisters, the others being the ill-fated Scandinavian Star* and the Fred. Olsen & Co. ferry Bolero. In late 2014, Mano Cruise stopped the ship’s service.

She is a modest 14,717 gross tons yet can carry 770 passengers. She looks a charming little vessel.

Mano Royal Iris promo-video HERE

*(The ship was set on fire by an arsonist in 1990, killing 159 people.)

MSC Magnifica, 22 Sailings From Southampton

April 16, 2017

(Courtsey MSC)

The Mediterranean Shipping Company have announced that MSC Magnifica will be based in Southampton for a season in 2018.

The 95,128 gross tonne ship, carrying up to 3,605 passenger, will be sailing a mix of Mediterranean and Northern European voyages.

The sailings will also offer special British touches such as roast dinners, afternoon tea, John Smith’s beer, a curry night, a full English breakfast, and various condiments like Marmite and HP Sauce.

The 22 sailing dates will also be all inclusive of drinks and wi-fi on-board!


Siverseas’s Silver Muse

April 12, 2017

Silversea’s ‘Silver Muse’ is their largest ship, but still a very modest 40,700 gross tonnes, accommodating 596 passengers.

She is an all-suite luxury ship which will enter service in spring 2017.

Balmoral To Sail From Edinburgh

April 10, 2017

Balmoral (Courtesy Fred Olsen)

In 2018/2019, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral will be sailing from Edinburgh (Rosyth) U.K. for the first time, operating a total of nine cruises.

Cruises from May to July 2018, include a five-night “Norwegian Fjords” departure, a 14-night “Scandinavia & St. Petersburg” Baltic discovery, and a nine-night “German Waterways” experience.

Justin Stanton, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:  “We are proud of Fred. Olsen’s long-standing links with Scotland, and we are looking forward to introducing our flagship Balmoral to Edinburgh in 2018, further enhancing our cruises for Scottish guests”.

(Fred Olsen)

My Balmoral review: HERE

Delta Queen Could Cruise Again

April 9, 2017

The Delta Queen (© Jeremy Atherton, 2003).

The U.S. Senate approved Monday a bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill that would let the historic Delta Queen riverboat operate once again on the Mississippi River.

Full St.LuisPublicRadio story HERE


(Courtesy Delta Queen Steamboat Company)

The Delta Queen was launched in 1925 and first began cruising operations in 1927, to sail the Mississippi and its tributaries caring 176 passengers.

While designated as a National Historic Landmark, Delta Queen currently cannot sail with more than 50 passengers, based on requirements of the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS), passed in 1966.  That law prohibits overnight sailings on wooden vessels.

While the historic ship has a steel hull, the ship’s 88 staterooms and public spaces are mostly of wooden construction.

However she sailed for decades under a SOLAS exemption, but that expired in 2008.  The Delta Queen is currently docked in Chattanooga, TN, where it served as a hotel.

(Delta Queen Steamboat Company)

Project Infinity, Super-Yacht

April 8, 2017


Inside the proposed £160 million 34 foot super–yacht complete with a glass elevator, helipad plus indoor AND outdoor cinemas.

(Fraser Yachts)

Saga Ruby/Caronia To Be Scrapped

April 5, 2017

Caronia (Cunard)

The last British built cruise ship, still in operational condition, which entered service in 1973, has been sold to breakers in India.

This 24,492 gross tonne, 655 passenger, cruise ship was built as ‘Vistafjord’ (Norwegian America Line) by Swan Hunter, Newcastle, became ‘Caronia’ (Cunard) and spent her last years as ‘Saga Ruby’ (Saga Cruises).

She sold in 2014 for use as a floating hotel in Myanmar, Burma, which never happened.

Saga Ruby (renamed ‘Oasia’) is currently under her own power and is expected to arrive off the Indian ship breakers yards in Alang, 5th April 2015 at 17.30 hrs.


Malcolm says: I’ve never been on board ‘Ruby’ but it is always sad to me when a  ‘classic’ ship ends up at the nautical graveyard of Alang, India.    This one is particularly sad, because Ruby represents the end of the era when Britain was the ‘workshop of the world’ and built great ships. We no longer build cruise ships at all.

Unfortunately there are few uses for an old cruise ship. Floating hotels do not tend to work, with a few notable exceptions: the RMS Queen Mary and the SS Rotterdam. I guess Ruby will become razor blades or similar? Her fixtures and fitting may find their way to restaurants, bars and hopefully collectors.

On a more positive note, Saga are building their first new ‘small’ ship, ‘Spirit of Discovery’ (see link below).

Slide-show ‘Saga Rose’, Dover 2006: HERE

New Saga ship ‘Spirit of Discovery’: HERE

Silver Cloud – Expedition Ship

April 4, 2017

The luxury cruise ship, Silver Cloud, launched Silversea Cruises in 1994.

Silver Cloud will be extensive refurbished in August 2017 and made suitable for expedition cruising.

The new renderings highlight public spaces including La Terrazza, The Restaurant, Observation Lounge, Panorama Lounge and Venetian Lounge.

The extensive refurbishment will include the creation of the Observation Lounge, new teak flooring, upholstery and lighting in La Terrazza and new carpet and upholstery in The Restaurant. Silver Cloud will also feature a new gym with Technogym equipment.

In addition to interior updates, the multimillion-dollar refurbishment will strengthen Silver Cloud’s hull for safe exploration in polar waters. Passenger capacity will be 260 in non-polar regions and limited to 200 in polar regions so everyone can disembark to explore at the same time.

Silver Cloud will carry up to 19 experts to ensure passengers get the most from their expeditions. Daily presentations and lectures by experts in the theatre will also be streamed live to all suites.

(Silversea Cruises)

Carnival Reflection – 184,000 gt Newbuild Leaked

April 3, 2017

The Costa version of Carnival’s 184,00 gt ship.

In 2015, Carnival Corporation announced that they would be building four 183,900 gross tonne LNG ships.  Each ship will accommodate 5,200 passengers.

Costa, AIDA, P&O and Carnival would get one each between 2020 and 2022.

So far we have only seen renderings of the ‘Costa’ version.

However Travel Journalist Jordan Bailey at the excellent ‘Cruise Capital’ has found a ship model, which appears to be of the Carnival version of the 180,000 gt newbuild. This version of the ship is set to enter service in 2022.

Interestingly the model carries the name ‘Carnival Reflection’

There appears to be some new bow/hull graphics too and the distinctive Carnival funnel.

See the Carnival model at ‘Cruise Capital’ HERE


Astoria @ Tilbury

April 2, 2017

Yesterday, 1st April 2017, CMV’s charming little ‘Astoria’ left Tilbury on a 10 night around Britain itinerary. (Note the dancing tug!)

Cruise & Maritime Voyages  had previously announced that 2017 would be the Astoria’s  ‘farewell season’.

However due to strong demand, Cruise & Maritime Voyages will offer several sailings on the ship from London Tilbury in 2018.

I cruise on her in 2015 when she was called ‘Azores’, yet still operated by CMV. Carrying just 555 passengers, she is CMV’s smallest and oldest ships.

She is a lovely ship with interiors that are in great condition for her age.

I have heard her called “the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger vessel” although I am not convinced that is strictly true. Never the less, being built in 1948, she’s a lot older than nearly all other cruise ships!

She is definitely one of the smaller cruise ships operating from U.K. ports.


Here is my Astoria REVIEW

Magellan Review: HERE, Marco Polo Review: HERE , Astor Review: HERE

Carnival’s Next Generation of Ships, Get A Little Bigger

March 31, 2017

The Carnival Corporation’s next generation of ships, powered by LNG, have slightly increased in size.

Originally the ships volume was announced at 180,000 gross tonnes. However  in February, when the steel was cut for the first AIDA LNG-powered newbuild, a Meyer Werft statement said that the ships are in fact 183,900 gross tonnes .

The delivery date has also changed, from early 2019, to late 2018.

See Original Story Below

Courtesy of Costa. (Click to enlarge)

1800,000 gt, LNG ship in Costa livery (Courtesy of Carnival)

The Carnival Corporation and PLC, today signed a memorandum of agreement with leading German and Finnish shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku to deliver three additional next-generation cruise ships that will be fully powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the cleanest burning fossil fuel in the world. The shipbuilding agreements are subject to several conditions, including satisfactory financing.

Carnival Corporation said two of the new LNG-powered ships are designated for the world’s most popular cruise brand, Carnival Cruise Line, and will be built by Meyer Turku at its shipyard in Turku, Finland, with delivery dates expected in 2020 and 2022.

The third ship will be for P&O Cruises UK will be built by Meyer Werft at its shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, with an expected delivery date in 2020. In conjunction with the order, the delivery dates for the new builds for Germany-based AIDA Cruises and Italy-based Costa Cruises for 2020 will shift to 2021 to allow the company to more effectively allocate measured capacity growth across its 10 global cruise brands in more markets throughout the world.

In total, the company now has agreements in place to build seven LNG-powered cruise ships across four of its 10 global cruise brands in coming years. As previously announced, the first of these ships is expected to be in service for AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises in 2019.

Based on Carnival Corporation’s next-generation “green cruising” ship design, these new vessels will be part of the first generation of cruise ships to be fully powered by LNG, which is an industry first and an environmental breakthrough that will produce the most efficient ships in the company’s history.

Pioneering a new era in the use of alternative fuels that reduce air emissions, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 per cent of the ship’s power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support the company’s aggressive sustainability goals.


Carnival’s Micky Arison talks mega-ships. See HERE

P&O/Carnival Mega-ships Analyzed: See HERE

Saga’s Spirit of Discovery

March 30, 2017

Saga have now announced that their first purpose-built cruise ship will be named ‘Spirit Of Discovery’.

The  newbuild is due for delivery in 2019. She is an intimate 55,900 gross tonnes  and will carry just 1,000 passengers.
There will also be single-sitting dining in a choice of speciality restaurants, a selection of bars, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, fabulous library, signature Britannia Lounge and much more – all with a fresh and contemporary twist on the traditions of classic Saga cruising.

The cabins are going to be a real showcase – spacious and modern, the ship’s design also means every one will have a balcony. In addition, around 15% of the accommodation will be for solo travellers, with a choice of single cabin grades.


Malcolm says: It’s nice to see a new smaller ship being built. The renderings show an extensive Promenade Deck. Inside there is an impressive atrium and a double-height restaurant.

The windows above the Bridge Deck must surely be a forward-facing observation lounge or maybe an alternative dining room with a view?

Saga Cruises From Portsmouth (UK)

Saga Pearl II (Courtesy Saga)

Saga Cruises will have 15 departures from Portsmouth International Port (Uk).

The Saga Pearl II will be based at Portsmouth International Port between January and April, with eight cruises starting and ending in the first four months of 2018. The Saga Pearl II will then return in the autumn with another six turnaround calls between October and December.

The Saga Sapphire also makes a return trip to Portsmouth International Port. Following a successful visit last year, Sapphire’s 2018 schedule sees a port of call, overnighting during a visit in June, according to the port.

Saga’s first cruise from Portsmouth International Port in January 2018 will be a 17-night holiday that heads to Morocco and the hidden Canaries.



Inside The Hurtigruten Explorer Ships

March 27, 2017

Continuing our look at smaller ships and niche-markets:

The Norwegian company, Hurtigruten has now released some renderings of the public rooms and cabins on-board their forthcoming  ‘Explorer’ ships.

Construction has begun of the first ship, named after the Norwegian polar explorer, Roald Amundsen. The ship will enter service in summer 2018.

A sister ship, Fridtjof Nansen (also named after a Norwegian polar explorer) follows in 2019.

The company has an option for two additional 20,000-ton, 600-passenger vessels.

The new ships are designed by Rolls-Royce, in collaboration with the Norwegian yacht designer Espen Øino.

The interiors will mirror the exterior waters and landscapes. They will have infinity pools, hot tubs, and large observation platforms to spot wildlife

Six out of ten cabins will have their own balcony; two out of ten will be suites.

The vessels will have three restaurants with menus reflecting local flavours and destinations.

The cost of the ships is estimated at $220 million each. The vessels will be the first cruise ships in the world to utilise hybrid power using a battery system.


Malcolm says:  The expedition cruise ship market is booming.  There have been orders from a number of existing cruise lines and one new market entrant placed since last March 2016.

There are 12 orders which include Hurtigruten (2 ships + a possible 2 more), Oceanwide (1 ship), Hapag-Lloyd (2 ships), Ponant (4 ships), Crystal (3 ships) a new market entrant (1 ship).

River Cruising – The Future

March 26, 2017
Douro River (Courtesy visit Portugal)

Douro River (Courtesy

River cruising is continuing it’s growth in 2017, with a dozen brand-new river cruise ships scheduled to entering service on Europe’s rivers.

Portugal’s Douro River, is becoming Europe’s most up and coming river destination. The Douro River is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

River cruising has traditionally appealed to mature couples, hence most of Europe’s river ships mainly offer double or twin cabins.

However CroisiEurope’s river vessels have some triples and quads cabins, on board some of its ships, with children being welcome.

MS AmaKristina (Courtsey AmaWaterways)

AmaWaterways’ new AmaKristina will feature triple-occupancy cabins in order to appeal to multi-generational families.

AmaWaterways’ has a partnership with ‘Disney’ in order to appeal to families with kids and persuade them to take a river cruise.

We may well see some river cruise products in the future which are a little more mainstream.

I would certainly welcome a more diverse range of river products and fares.


Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

A Newbuild For Fred Olsen?

March 25, 2017

The Fred, Olsen cruise line, based in Ipswich (U.K) currently has four small ‘classic’ ships: Black Watch, Braemar, Boudicca and Balmoral.

Curiously in June 2016 Fred. Olsen e-mailed past customers saying:  “We just wanted to share with you the exciting news that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is making a significant investment across its fleet and moving in a different direction…”.

Now we do know that the fleet will be renovated, which is probably part of the ‘significant investment’ mentioned, however Olsen never made a further announcement about the “new direction”.

All four of Olsen’s charming vessels were purchased second-hand, but there is a strong internet rumour going around that Mr. Olsen. Jnr. is thinking of building a new ship.

I can’t confirm this, but it does not sound beyond the realms of possibility that this could be the “new direction”.

I did wonder if there was going to be Fred Olsen’s ‘River Cruises’, but there are no rumours about that.


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.


( 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.


Virgin Voyages Cuts Steel

March 23, 2017

Image Courtesy: Fincantieri

Virgin Voyages cut the steel on Wednesday 22/03/17 for its unnamed first ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

The ceremony, which marks the first milestone in the ship’s construction, included a steel cutter bearing a humorous banner that read, “Hi. I’m the steel cutting machine.”

Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin said “Up until now, Virgin Voyages has been just an idea …But tonight, that all changes. … We’re not just building a ship here. We are building a whole new brand..the world’s most irresistible and talked-about travel brand”.

The line’s first 110,000 ton, 2,860-passenger vessel is due for delivery in 2020. Virgin Voyages has two additional unnamed ships on order, for delivery in 2021 and 2022

Virgin Voyages also announced a multimillion-dollar partnership with Swedish clean-energy company Climeon last year. Virgin will install Climeon Ocean, a system that will to turn waste into clean electricity, thereby reducing carbon footprint, on all three ships.

According to Virgin, the system will eliminate about 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per ship per year.

Malcolm Says: Virgin have been very secretive about  their cruise product. Even the available rendering are very sketchy. 

Externally the ship looks unique – rather like an Art Deco railway train , which I fully approve of.  However these are all just concepts/renderings. There are no guarantees that the ships will look much like any of the renderings, when they are finally constructed. The offices of marine architects must be full of drawings of unfulfilled concepts. I guess that the final design of the ships will probably be less Art deco and more conventional.

It is very unlikely Virgin have designed a ship from scratch. Therefore I wonder if the Virgin ships will be scaled down version of MSC’s ‘Seaside’, also designed by Fincantieri? NCL have purchased a similar design for their ‘Project Leonardo’.

So three mid-sized ships and a reported 7 night itinerary from Miami to the Caribbean – it is hardly ground-breaking, is it? However this will allow ‘Virgin Voyages’ to have synergies with ‘Virgin Atlantic’, Branson’s airline.

Branson is a great entrepreneur, but I wonder what the Virgin brand can bring to cruising that is genuinely new? I don’t doubt that the product will be well marketed and probably aimed at a younger clientele. We can also expect the entertainment and technology on-board to be impressive, after all Virgin started as a record label and diversified into communication and travel.

The problem is that the competition: Royal Caribbean, the Norwegian Cruise Line, Genting, Carnival, and MSC already offer some very modern Hi-Tech ships aimed at the multigenerational family market.

It will be a tough market to crack, but Virgin has a very well established travel infrastructure.

Travelweekly Tom McAlpin Interview HERE


NCL’s Project Leonardo “Optimal Size”.

March 21, 2017



(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line has ordered at least four 140,000 tonne, 3,300-passenger Project ‘Leonardo’ ships from Fincantieri. These will be delivered from 2022 through to 2025.

This news represents a downsizing  from the recent Breakaway+ class ships at 163,000 gross tonnes, carrying 4,300 passengers.

Speaking on the company’s year-end earnings conference, President and CEO Frank del Rio called it an “optimal size”.

“The size of these vessels provides an optimal balance between deployment flexibility and earnings potential, allowing us to add new ports of call worldwide while maintaining a strong return profile with a payback of roughly five years, in line with our most recent newbuild,” said del Rio.

The ships will also allow Norwegian to redeploy existing vessels to other domestic and international homeports, where the company does not yet have a presence, according to del Rio.

(Cruise Industry News)


(Courtesy NCL)

Malcolm says: Interestingly this new class of ship is based on a prototype developed by Fincantieri, and NOT by NCL, as in the past.  I guess the advantage of this approach truly guarantees a new design of ship. However the disadvantage is that the ship can share this design with other lines. ‘Project Leanoaro’ is clearly a slightly smaller version of MSC ‘Seaside’,  also designed by Fincantieri.

It’s curious  how one management team must have thought that 163,000 gt (Breakaway-Plus) is an ‘optimal size’, yet the next team think 140,000 gt is better. However many experienced cruise passengers have expressed their opinion that modern cruise ships are getting too big, although the new NCL ships are hardly small.

It depends what sort of experience that you are seeking. I personally think that mass-market ships can benefit from being very big – there is simply more room for for public rooms, facilities and innovations. The ‘Oasis’ class (the world’s biggest) is an amazing design.   However a ship of say 30,000 gt can provide you with a more intimate experience that a mega-ships cannot compete with.

I was expecting to see an 200,000 gt NCL design to be delivered within the next decade. It looks as if I’m wrong.

Project Leonardo slide show: HERE

The Worlds biggest class of cruise ship review: HERE

Norwegian Escape Review HERE

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE