Crystal Symphony @ Tilbury

July 24, 2016

Crystal Symphony (Crystal Cruises) was berthed at Tilbury cruise terminal yesterday (23rd July 2016). She’s did a turn-around, bound for Guernsey, the Channel islands.

To see a ‘luxury’ ship Tilbury is quite rare. Crystal use the Tilbury terminal only very occasionally.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages ‘budget’ fleet are the regulars. Occasionally Fred Olsen vessel’s also make an appearance.

Symphony at 51,044 gross tons, must be one of the biggest ships to use the terminal.

She was built in 1992 and carries just 922 passengers, hence the ‘luxury’ tag.

She is the sister-ship of Crystal Serenity and Crystal Harmony.

Malcolm

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Today @ Tilbury

June 11, 2016

There was more ‘action’ than usual at Tilbury this weekend.

Firstly: the legendary RMS St. Helena was berthed at the cruise terminal as part of her farewell tour.

The Royal Mail Ship St. Helena was built in Aberdeen in 1989 specifically to supply the island of St Helena, a remote British Territory located 1,200 miles off the West Coast of Africa in the South Atlantic. She is British registered (London), 6,767 gross tonnes and has berths for a maximum of 156 passengers plus 56 officers and crew.

For the last 26 years RMS St Helena has been the only means of access to the island of St Helena. But the passenger and cargo ship, built specifically to supply the island, was due to be decommissioned (sold) later this year (2016) because  St Helena’s first airport was to officially open in May.

However she may get a stay of execution because the airport has been suffering from wind-shear making it dangerous to land planes (See video below). In fact some say it may never open.

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Secondly: Silver Wind (Silversea luxury cruises) passed by Tilbury in the afternoon on her way to moor along side the historic Battleship HMS Belfast, near tower bridge. She had come from Lisbon.

She’s just 16,800 gross tons, entered service in 1995 and carries just 294 passengers.

Although Silver Wind is a very small cruise ship by modern standards, she dwarfs St. Helena. In fact the two ships could not have been more differen.

On Sunday, CMV’s flagship ‘Magellan’ was berthed at Tilbury for her turn-around.

Malcolm

Tendering

June 6, 2016

Tendering (the process of a cruise ship berthing at anchor and using small ships to transport passengers to ashore) can be quite fun. That is assuming that the sea conditions are not too rough which can not only make tendering uncomfortable, it can make it impossible.

Tendering is also a great way to get some good images of a ship.

Above is a short slide-show of images, taken by myself, of CMV’s Astor during an around Britain cruise.

The eagle-eyed will see that the ships lifeboats are NOT being used for the tendering, in the earlier images, but several larger (open) boats from the shore are. This of course increases the speed of the process. The latter images are from a different tender port and ARE using the ships lifeboats (orange).

Malcolm

My extensive Astor SHIP REVIEW

Genting/Star Megaships

June 3, 2016

Genting Hong Kong announced a few weeks ago that they would be building two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020.  These ships will be 201,000 gross tons with 5,000 lower berths.

The Star Cruises ships will be known as the Global Class for “worldwide” cruising.

At this early stage we do not know much more, but we do have a few renderings (above).

Malcolm

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

May 30, 2016

I recently spent the day at the Chatham historic dockyard, Kent, UK. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in maritime history.

80 acres in size, it has over 100 buildings and structures – the majority of which were constructed between 1704 and 1855. Today it is the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail in the world. 

By the mid-18th Century the Royal Yards had developed into the largest industrial organisations in the world with complex facilities supporting thousands of skilled workers in a wide number of trades. Indeed it was the level of the facilities and skills provided in the Royal Dockyard’s, particularly at Chatham that underpinned the Royal Navy’s success at sea – from victory in battle; through the epic voyages of discovery made by Cook, Darwin  and others.

Did you know that the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, was built at Chatham dockyard?

Above is a short slide show to give you a taste of what is on show.

Official website HERE

Have you been? Did you enjoy it?

Malcolm

Tilbury Today

May 28, 2016

28th May 2016

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Tilbury 16/05/16

Tilbury cruise terminal, on the Thames, London, used to be a sort of nautical Heathrow-airport .

In its heyday you could catch an ocean liner to destinations all over the world, including America, Asia and Australia. It used to have its own railway station and five star hotel next door.

These days Tilbury is a rather sleepy terminal. In the summer months it has a ship, once per week, at most, usually a ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ vessels.

Astoria, Tilbury, May 16

Astoria, Tilbury, 16/05/16

Today was a busy day at Tilbury. Unusually there were two CMV ships docked: the tiny Astoria (1948, formerly called Azores) at 15,614 gt, carrying around 600 passengers and Magellan, CMV’s flagship (1985, formerly Carnival’s  Holiday) at 46,000gt, carrying 1,450 passengers.

Magellan dwarfed Astoria, being three times as big. She still retains her Carnival funnel, complete with wings.

Magellan, Tilbury, May 16

Magellan, Tilbury, 16/05/16

Astoria left for Dunkirk this evening and Magellan headed for Ghent.

I have been lucky enough to cruise on both ships and links to my reviews are below.

Malcolm

Astoria review HERE

Magellan review HERE

New Rendering: Star Cruises 201,000 gt Ships

May 22, 2016
Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)

Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)

Genting Hong Kong announced a few weeks ago that they would be building two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020.

Genting has not surprisingly chosen the Lloyd Werft Group, there newly acquired shipyards in Germany, for the construction of their new vessels

new-ship

Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)

The Star Cruises ships will be known as the Global Class for “worldwide” cruising at 201,000 gross tons with 5,000 lower berths. (Not to be confused with MSC’s future “World Class” 200,000 gross ton ships)

Malcolm Says: Genting/Star’s  two ‘Global Class’ ships will enter service in 2020 and 2021, becoming the world’s second biggest class of ship, eclipsing RCI’s Quantum class.  (The world’s biggest class, is still Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class, with ‘Harmony’ at around 227,000 gt.)

MSC’s three ‘World Class’ newbuilds will not enter service 2024, 25 and 26 and are said to be around 200,000 gt. I guess we have to wait and see if they ate slightly bigger or slightly smaller than Star’s ships.

The forward  rendering of Star’s ships show a rather conventional design, externally – not unlike an RCI ship, although I do like the twin side-by-side funnels. (P&O’s Britannia has two funnels one behind the other).

 

The aft rendering reveals deck space not unlike NCL’s ‘Spice H2O’ area (Epic/Breakaway/Plus classes) with a giant screen.  This might have a pool, double as a night-club and be a performance space. (On-board RCI’s  Oasis class this space is used for their unique Aqua-Theatre).

There appears to be a lounge (or restaurant) under the aft deck area . There appears to be four decks of balcony cabins (probably big suites) overlooking the aft area. I also see at least two water tubes/slides on the sun deck and a rear public (or private) area behind the two mini-funnels.

So externally, nothing particularly original, but very exciting none the less.

Will NCL go 200,000gt? Speculation HERE

Oldest River Vessel

April 29, 2016

 

(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.

More Information HERE

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 20, 2016
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

The United States Line

March 19, 2016
ss-america-3

(Source unknown)

United States Lines was a former transatlantic shipping company that operated cargo services from 1921 to 1989, and ocean liners until 1969—most famously, the SS United States.

SS America was an ocean liner built in 1940 for the United States Lines and designed by the noted naval architect William Francis Gibbs. She was  26,454 GRT and carried 1,202 passengers.

the SS United States entered service in 1952. She was (and still is) the largest ocean liner built in the United States and the fastest ocean liner ever built. She was 53,330 GT and carried 1,928 passengers.

She immediately set transatlantic speed records, capturing the Blue Riband from the Queen Mary.

With the introduction of the larger and faster United States in 1952, America’s reign as queen of the US merchant marine was taken away from her. Their disparity in size and speed prevented them from becoming true running mates like the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth of the Cunard Line. But she still was a favourite of many.

The SS America is of course somewhat forgotten compared to the SS united states

See the SS America story HERE

Below is a slide-show by Crystal Cruises of renderings of the renovated SS United States:

SS United States Renovation News HERE

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Susan Gibbs & Edie Rodriguez, President Crystal Cruises (Courtesy AFP)

 

 

Anthem of The Seas Review

March 12, 2016

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My review of RCI’s latest ship, ‘Anthem of the Seas’ is available to read.

One of the biggest ships in the world inspired me to write one of the longest reviews in the world – well 6,500 words anyway!

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

Does Dynamic Dining actually Work?

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

Have RCI retained their ‘wow’ factor?

How does Anthem compare to Oasis and the other RCI megaships?

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

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

Malcolm

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

Hotel Ship

February 1, 2016

Continuing the topic of the SS United States (below) and her possible future, here is a slide-show of the SS Rotterdam, now a successful hotel ship in Rotterdam:

Have you cruised on the SS Rotterdam or visited/stayed on-board the Hotel?

What’s The Biggest River Boat?

January 14, 2016

Continuing with a river cruise theme, I was wondering what the ‘biggest’ river vessel in operation is.

Now the terms ‘river vessel’ and ‘biggest’ are open to some debate. However in this case I am talking about non-ocean going vessels with passenger cabins for overnight travel.

I believe the vessel below must be one of the biggest river ships, but if you know of a bigger vessel, please do let me know.

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American Queen is the largest river steamboat ever built.

I suppose her size was not constrained by the need to fit in locks or pass under low bridges  like many of Europe’s river vessels.

The vessel was built in 1995 and is a six-deck recreation of a classic Mississippi riverboat , built by McDermott Shipyard.

Although the American Queen’s stern paddlewheel is indeed powered by a genuine steam plant, her secondary propulsion, in case of an emergency and for manoeuvrability around tight areas where the paddle wheel cannot navigate, comes from a set of diesel-electric propellers on either side of the sternwheel.

She has 222 state rooms for a capacity of 436 guests and a crew of 160. She is 127m long and 27m wide.

Victoria Jenna

Victoria Jenna (Victoria Cruises) is a large river boat which cruises exclusively on the China’s Yangtze river.

(Courtesy Victoria cruises).

(Courtesy Victoria cruises).

Victoria Jenna certainly was biggest ship on the Yangtze in 2009 and may well still be?  She is 133.8m long, 18.8m wide, carries 378 passengers and 180 crew. So she is slightly longer than the ‘American Queen’, but not as wide and carries 20 more crew, but 58 less passengers.

Reader ‘Max M’  (see comments below) has kindly pointed out that the Russian waterways have some big vessels such as the Valerian Kuybyshev and Dmitriy Furmanov class.

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A Russian waterways vessel (Source Wikipedia)

To properly eventuate which ship is really bigger, we need to compare the gross tonnage (internal volume) figures of the above ships, as we do with ocean cruise ships. Their respective length, width or the passenger capacity is not so helpful.

However I do not accurately know their respective gross tonnages, although I believe the bigger river vessels are generally between 6,000-10,000 gross tonnes.  I’m not even sure that river vessel gross tonnage is measured in the same way as ocean ships?  Can anyone help?

(Source: Wikipedia, American Steamboat Company, Victoria Cruises)

Malcolm says: Do readers know of any bigger river vessels? Have you cruised on these impressive vessels? Please let me know your experiences.

Stop Press: Ben Roethig kindly tells me: As for the largest ships, that’s the Yangtze Gold 2-6 which are are just a hair under 150m by 24m x 2.6m of draft and 17m in height. These are more like small ocean vessels in size and have more amenities than your traditional boutique river cruise vessel. SEE HERE

 Review of  American Queen steamboat: HERE

 

Paddlewheel ship on the Loire

January 8, 2016

(Click to enlarge all images)

In May 2015, the French-based river cruise line CroisiEurope unveiled an innovative new paddlewheel vessel which is the first hotel ship to sail on the Loire River.

The 96-passenger Loire Princesse, named in Nantes, incorporates dual engine ‘paddlewheel’ technology enabling it to continue sailing when normal methods of propulsion would not be effective in the river’s notoriously shallow waters.

Founded by the Schmitter family in 1976, the line was one of the early pioneers of the river cruise booking business, and the dual commemoration brings the number of ships in the fleet to 43.

Speaking to an audience of 300, Lucas Schmitter, grand-nephew of founder Gerard Schmitter, said: “The Loire Princess is a landmark in shipbuilding and we are very proud that is 100 percent French as it was made in France, is French-owned and opened on a French river.”

le-loire-princesse-quitte-saint-nazaire

Until now, no ships with overnight cabins have operated on France’s longest river due to periods of low water. The 295-foot ‘Loire Princesses’ features 48 outside cabins, spread over two decks, a restaurant that can accommodate all passengers for single-service dining, a lounge with a central dance floor and sun deck.

The vessel will operate six- and eight-day round-trip cruises from Nantes visiting destinations such as Saint-Nazaire — where the ship was built — the chateaux of the Loire Valley and wine-growing regions.

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A second paddlewheel ship is currently being built for CroisiEurope at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard. The 80-passenger Elbe Princess will be launched this year (2016) and offer itineraries between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and Moldau rivers.

(J.Williamson)

Malcolm says: There’s something romantic about Paddle Wheels!

See My River Ship Review: Amadeus Silver II

The Onassis Yacht

December 29, 2015

It’s not all about big ships:

The Christina ‘O’ (1943) was moored in London in 2012 and open to the public for a short period.

John & Jackie Kennedy and Winston Churchill were regular guests of millionaire Aristotle Onassis, before Jackie later married him.

Here are my images of this charming and very historic yacht:

Boudicca at Tilbury

December 17, 2015

 17/12/2015

Fred Olsen’s ‘Boudicca’ was at Tilbury cruise terminal today, one of several visits this month.

Her brand new livery, with her dark grey hull, can be seen.

Boudicca - Tilbury 17th Dec. 2015

Boudicca – Tilbury 17th Dec. 2015

I love it! I have never been keen on all white ships. Boudicca looks like a proper ocean liner now. Her identical sister*, ‘Black watch’ will also look great when she gets her face-lift.

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Boudicca (1973) and Black Watch (1972) are full of charm and at around 28,000 gross Tonnes, carrying 900 passengers, are arguably the perfect size.

See Boudicca’s original livery below.

Boudicca ship review HERE

*(There is  a third sister currently called Albatros, operated by German travel agent Phoenix Reisen).

Beauty & The Beast

December 12, 2015

Many of my readers enjoy smaller ships. They enjoy their  intimacy and often prefer the aesthetics of smaller (often older) ships to todays floating apartment blocks.

I found this picture below, of two lovely ship models, to illustrate the point:

unitedstates7a

The apartment block in question is ‘Oasis of the seas’.  The smaller ship is the legendary ‘SS United States’ Ocean Liner.

Now I don’t doubt the achievement and facilities that Oasis represents. However in terms of aesthetics the SS United States wins hands down. She is a machine of beauty and the fastest Ocean Liner ever built.

‘Oasis of the seas’ is of course extremely successful, while the ‘SS United States’ is in lay-up, slowly rusting away. Over the years, she has regularly faced the prospects of being scrapped.

I love both ships.

You can find my review of  ‘Oasis’ and material about the ‘SS united States,’ on this site, if you want to know more about either ship.

Malcolm

Princess Margaret

October 6, 2015

Given the fact that I am a bit of a Hovercraft geek, I could not resist sharing the video below with you all:

More about Hovercraft: HERE

Giant Hovercraft

September 25, 2015

Ever since I was a child, I have had a ‘thing’ about Hovercraft, especially the big car carrying SRN4’s that operated from Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate (below) and Dover. I loved them!

Here is some nice footage of one of these amazing machines, that are sadly no longer operational:

However there are still passenger hovercraft operating daily from Southsea (near Portsmouth) to Ryde, the Isle of Wight. This hovercraft route has operated since 1965:

A Great British Invention for the 21st Century

Two new 12000TD hovercraft are being built for Hovertravel to take passengers from Southsea to the Isle of Wight.

Hovertravel made an official announcement that it is investing in the future of the company by purchasing 2 new 12000TD hovercraft. Hovertravel invited a group of people to view the new hovercraft in production at Griffon Hoverwork, ahead of testing next year.

Hovertravel is the longest serving passenger operator in the world and will be celebrating its 50th year in service next year. The new 22.4m long and 10m wide hovercraft will be able to seat up to 80 passengers and will be fitted with bigger propellers to reduce the level of external noise. See top right image.

The new hovercraft will bring quieter journeys and a quicker turnaround, as well as looking sleeker. Chief Pilot Peter Mulhern has been involved in the plans for the new craft ‘We are taking it down from four engines to two, the benefit of that is that noise is reduced by almost half. Another idea was to have the doors at the front. We have a five-minute turnaround to keep the service on time, by doing away with the steps and having to deflate the skirt every time it will be quicker. People will be able to use a ramp and just get their bike or wheelchair straight on.’

The front loading craft will have an ramp on one side of the entrance and steps on the other, this change in design will allow bicycles, wheelchairs and suitcases to go straight inside the craft. The seats are also expected to be quick release, to allow more space for luggage during the festival season.

Neil Chapman managing director of Hovertravel says ‘This is just another legacy for the future of us to make sure we are a prominent part of the seafront. Customers are very loyal to us but they want to see investment going forward. This brings it.’

The craft entered service in  2016.

(Griffon Hoverworks)

12000TD Solent Flyer Ryde Low Res

(image courtesy of Griffon Hoverworks)

Azura Meets Black Watch

September 13, 2015

(Image courtesy of Sergio Ferreira – click to enlarge)

P&O’s Megaship ‘Azura’ (2010) recently met Fred Olsen’s ‘Black Watch’ (1971).

This is what 115,000 gross tonnes ship, that can carry 3,000+ passengers looks like, when compared to 28,000 gross tonnes ship, that can carry 800 passengers.

The ships were built 39 years apart.

Malcolm

Black Watch Review: HERE

Ventura (sister of Azura) Review: HERE

The Sunborn Yacht Hotel, London

August 23, 2015
(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

A month ago I found myself walking past the ‘Suborn Yacht Hotel’, London, and I decided to take a quick look inside.

The Hotel (Yacht) opened in June 2014 and is located on the waterfront at the western end of the Royal Victoria dock. It is  within a very short walk of the main entrance of the ‘Excel’ Exhibition Centre.

There are a number of ‘Sunborn’ static yachts around the world.

I travelled across the Thames to The Royal Victoria dock, from North Greenwich (near the O2 Arena) via the Emirates ‘Air Line’, London’s only cable-car (in fact it’s a gondola). It’s a very spectacular ride and well worth experiencing. (See my slide show below).

There was initially a lack of hotels in this  area of London, hence the Yacht Hotel. Curiously there are a number of hotels nearby now, so the yacht has much competition.

The yacht is NOT a real ship. Yes it really floats, but it was purpose built as a hotel. It has no engines or navigational bridge. It was actually towed into position by tug.

As you enter by a lift (elevator), you walk straight into a very glitzy reception area with a reception desk and a double curved staircase to the upper decks. There does not appear to be many public rooms. There would be more on a ‘real’ ship.  However there is of course a bar/restaurant with a lido deck on the stern where you can eat and drink, overlooking the Royal Albert dock.

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Sunborn describe the facilities as follows: “The 4-Star deluxe yacht hotel has 136 spacious guest rooms over 5 floors including 4 spacious suites, along with an elegant reception area, bar and lounge, fine-dining restaurant, banqueting facilities, auditorium, conference rooms, and a three-level event venue with outdoor terraces facing towards Canary Wharf” .

I was unable to see the accommodation, however I have seen some renderings of the rooms. Although they look rather nice and spacious, they do not look like a ships accommodation, they look like hotel rooms.

1412252301432_wps_30_14077716722Sunborn_Intern

In fact the whole feel of the Yacht to me as a ‘ship enthusiast’ was one of a ‘fake’ ship. The less nautical person would probably not notice.

I am not suggesting that Sunborn Yacht Hotel does not provide good accommodation and a good experience. Although I have not stayed on-board, there are many very positive reviews on TripAdvisor.

However I have seen room rates from £135 (off-peak) to £750 per room, per night, depending on grade and date. A price of around £200+ looks to be more typical, which is hardly cheap for a four star establishment, although I guess that you are paying for its uniqueness and prime location.

Malcolm

(Have you stayed overnight on-board?)

Titanic hotel Liverpool, review HERE.

Carnival Megaships: Gibraltar Debates LNG Safety

August 9, 2015
The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship (Image courtesy of Costa)

Carnival cruise Line’s decision to order four liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered 180,000gt mega-ships has been highlighted by the Gibraltar Government in an  on-going row over proposals to develop LNG bunkering infrastructure.

The cruise ships (2 for the AIDA and 2 for Costa cruise brands) will be delivered in 2019 and 2020. They will be powered by LNG hybrid engines and carry up to 6,600 passengers, giving them the largest guest capacity in the world.

“This demonstrates that the use of LNG is becoming mainstream around the world and in particular in the shipping industry,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in a statement.

The harbour at Gibraltar.

The harbour at Gibraltar.

“It also demonstrates how safe a fuel LNG is. An American corporation like Carnival Cruises would not put up to 6,600 passengers in a situation of unacceptable risk or danger.” “As a Government we have already got in touch with Carnival to ensure that we see these new ships call at Gibraltar, refuelling and bringing us huge numbers of tourists.”

Carnival says: “Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, the four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea” Carnival said.

“LNG will be stored on board and used to generate 100% power at sea – producing another industry-first innovation for Carnival Corporation and its brands.”

“Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulphur oxides.”

The statement above by Carnival was flagged up by the Gibraltar Government as evidence of the shift in the maritime industry toward the use of LNG as a fuel.

LNG bunker barge and Viking Grace an LNG ferry. See her external tanks on the stern. (Karl Gabor )

LNG bunker barge and Viking Grace. LNG ferry. Click to enlarge (Karl Gabor )

The government is exploring the possibility of establishing LNG bunkering operations alongside infrastructure for a new power station powered by gas and diesel. But the project has drawn flak from the Opposition, which has expressed serious concerns about the safety of siting LNG operations so close to built-up areas.

However a report by leading risk assessor Lloyd’s Register concluded LNG operations could pose “potentially intolerable risks”. The government responded that the report was based on incomplete data about its proposals.

Yesterday Mr Picardo renewed the government’s criticism of the Gibraltar Social Democrats on this issue.

“Given that the Opposition have already said that they will not allow LNG bunkering or the operation of an LNG facility storage and regasification facility, which is exactly what these vessels have on board, the public can clearly see that the position of Mr Feetham is highly detrimental to Gibraltar’s economic interests, from tourism to bunkering and the cost of electricity generation,” he said.

“Would he now propose to ban these Carnival ships coming to Gibraltar? Would he ban Gibraltarians from cruising on them?”

“The nonsensical nature of the GSD’s arguments is slowly being exposed. The danger to our economy of their opportunistic position is becoming palpable.”

“The safe future of marine propulsion, power generation and bunkering is clearly in the use of LNG. That is where we will position Gibraltar for maximum economic advantage.”

(Source: Courtesy of Gibraltar Chronicle/Redazione GNL)

Costa's 180,000gt LNG ship

Costa’s 180,000gt LNG ship (Image courtesy of Costa)

Malcolm says: There is much internet debate about the safety of LNG. They seems to be many contradictory opinions from both the  the expert and amateur commentators.

I’m no expert, but as far as I see it, all transport which uses fossil fuels has the challenge of safely storing and burning a very explosive substance. We rely on technology to do so. That applies equally to your car, an aircraft or conventional ship.

Carnival are obviously convinced about the fuels safety, economic and environmental advantages.  If the ports want these big ships, they will need to offer LNG.

Carnival are the only cruise line that are building LNG ships. Being the worlds biggest, they cannot be ignored.  We will soon see how successful this experiment is, if the other major cruise lines begin to order LNG ships too.

Like it or not, Carnival obviously think LNG is the future.

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

The New Costa’s Megaships Analysed. See Here

It’s not all about Big Ships!

August 1, 2015
Hebridean Princess, leaving Jersey harbour

Hebridean Princess, leaving Jersey harbour, 28/07/15

Continuing my ongoing theme of praising smaller cruise vessels:

Probably Britain’s smallest cruise ship at just 2,112 gt, carrying 50 passengers, mainly around the Scottish Isles.

She started life as the MacBrayne car ferry and Royal Mail Ship, initially RMS then MV Columba, based in Oban for the first 25 years of her life, carrying up to 600 passengers, and 50 cars, between the Scottish islands.

She underwent a major refit at George Prior Engineering in Great Yarmouth in 1989, emerging as the luxury cruise ship, MV Hebridean Princess. She began operating on 26 May 1989 and provides luxury cruises around the Western Isles of Scotland. More recently, itineraries have been extended to include Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland islands, the Norwegian Fjords and the Isles of Scilly.

(Wikipedia)

Above is the Hebridean Princess leaving Jersey harbour (Channel Islands) on 27/07/15 bound for Guernsey.

Fun fact: Hebridean Princess carries 50 passengers. Each of Oasis’s lifeboats carry 370 passengers each!

On-board Hebridean Princess HERE

Malcolm

New 180,000gt Costa Renderings

July 30, 2015
(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

Carnival cruises has announced that its Italian brand, Costa Cruises, will get two new mega-ships as part of an agreement with German shipyard, Meyer Werft. The deal is to construct four cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world, the other two ships being destined for its German brand, AIDA Cruises.

The two new ships for Costa Cruises are expected to be delivered in 2019 and 2020.

NewCostashipsLNG1

(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

Each new cruise ship will exceed 180,000 gross tons, offering more than 2,600 passenger cabins and 5,200 (total capacity, all berths, 6,600 guests). A major part of the new ship design involves making more efficient use of the ship’s spaces, which includes multi-functional common areas, creating an “enhanced on-board guest experience”.

Carnival Corporation’s four next-generation cruise ships for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel.

NewCostashipsLNG4

(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

These new ships will be phenomenal additions to our fleet, and we’re looking forward to seeing our Costa and AIDA brands bring this ground-breaking new ship design to life for our guests in a way that is customized for each brand,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation.

The new Costa Cruises ships will prominently feature the brand’s “Italy’s finest” experience, with the new ship designs and creative uses of space serving to enhance the overall on-board immersion in Italian culture.

(Source: Costa)

AIDA & Costa To Get Two Mega-ships Each

July 29, 2015
Costa 180,000gt ship

180,000gt design in the Costa livery

The Carnival cruise line recently ordered four 180,000 gross ton mega-ships, with the German ship builder Meyer Werft.

Each ship will accommodate 6,600 passengers (all berths) which is a world record. Carnival have now confirmed that two of the new ships will go to their AIDA brand and two to their Costa brand.

They will be powered by Liquifed Natural Gas (LNG).

Now although I know who Costa are, I must admit that I don’t much about ‘AIDA’.

I was quite  surprised when I heard that a cruise line that I do not know much about was going to  get two such big ships. At 180,000gt they will be the second biggest ships in the world (based on gross tonnage).

Only Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class ships, at around 225,000gt,  are bigger.

History

AIDA was acquired by P&O/Princess cruises in 2000. In turn, in 2003 P&O Princess was acquired by the Carnival Corporation to form the world’s largest cruise holiday company, comprising of 11 cruise brands. Following the merger, executive control of AIDA Cruises transferred to the Costa Cruises Group, now responsibility for the European brands.

AIDA ships cater for the German-speaking market and are renowned for their youthful style and casual service. As seagoing “club resorts”, AIDA ships have many on-board amenities and facilities aimed at the younger, more active passengers.

The German Cruise Market

The UK cruise market was the second biggest in the world and was only superseded by America. However in the past year UK cruise growth has stagnated.

However Germany is set to become Europe’s biggest cruise market (it may already be so) as record employment levels, wages and leisure time all combine.

Over the last 10 years German passenger numbers have increased threefold. 1.7 million Germans cruised in 2014 and this is expected to rise this year (2015). Therefore it is hardly surprising that AIDA was the first choice to get two of the biggest cruise ships ever built for Carnival.

The AIDA Fleet

(AIDAprima courtesy of AIDA)

(AIDAprima courtesy of AIDA)

I was not aware that Aida currently has ten ships in their fleet:

AIDAcare (1996) is there oldest and smallest ship at 38,531 gross tonnes.

AIDAvita (2002) AIDAaura (2003) are 42,289gt.

AIDAdiva (2007) AIDAbella (2008) AIDAluna (2009) AIDAblu (2010) AIDAsol (2011) AIDAmar (2012) AIDAstella (2013) are all around the 70,000gt mark, give or take a couple of gross tonnes.

AIDAprima will be delivered later this year. A twin (as yet unnamed) will be delivered in 2016. These are the first AIDA megaships at around 125,000gt.

(Courtesy AIDA)

(AIDAprima rendering courtesy AIDA)

AIDAprima

AIDAprima

Then of course AIDA will have the two new ships at 180,000gt, somewhere between 2019 and 2022, names as yet unknown.

Malcolm

What is an LNG cruise ship? SEE HERE

Megaship Review: Anthem of The Seas

June 30, 2015

 

Ripcord

Ripcord -Anthem of The Seas (Click to enlarge)

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

Here is a short extract:

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

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

Malcolm

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

6,500 Words About ‘Anthem of the Seas’

June 11, 2015

DSC_0161

Just a reminder: My review of RCI’s latest ship, ‘Anthem of the Seas’ is now available to read.

One of the biggest ships in the world inspired me to write one of the longest reviews in the world – well 6,500 words anyway!

Let’s not forget that ‘Anthem’ does not have the ocean to itself.  She is in competition with a number of other cruise lines who now have  their own mega-ships, including NCL, Princess, P&O and Carnival. MSC also have some very big newbuilds too, on order.

Anthem: Some strange art!

Anthem: Some strange art!

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

Does Dynamic Dining actually Work?

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

Have RC retained their ‘wow’ factor?

How does Anthem compare to Oasis and the other megaships?

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

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

Malcolm

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

Marco Polo Meets Britannia

June 10, 2015
(Image Courtesy of Karen Bradbury – click to enlarge )

(Image Courtesy of Karen Bradbury – click to enlarge )

In Marco Polo’s 50th years she has seen many different ships but this is the first time she has met P&O’s newest addition to their fleet, Britannia (left of image).

These two ships met in the beautiful Norwegian town of Flam, which gave their meeting a spectacular backdrop.

(S.Law, CMV)

Malcolm says: See, NOT all ships are the same. That’s what 143,000 gross tonnes (4,324 passengers) looks like compared to 22,000 gt (900 passengers).

Marco Polo review HERE

Shrinking Ships

May 12, 2015
Not quite what I meant!

Not quite what I meant!

Have you noticed that when some ships get refitted, some public rooms disappear and additional cabins appear in the same location?

Now the cruise lines call this “an enhanced choice of accommodation”.

Well, it is only an advantage to the people who book those cabins. What about the hundreds of passengers who loose a public room or two. What about the fact that then ship will become more crowded with extra passengers from the extra cabins.

Adding more cabins is of course a method of making a ship more profitable. Even a handful of additional cabins, must generate a significant income, when viewed over a five year period. Let’s not forget those extra passengers (2+ per cabin) will also spend extra money on-board.

Losing public rooms is quite common on older/smaller ships. However even bigger/more modern ships can suffer from this unpleasant fate.

RCI’s ‘Freedom of the Seas’ (2006) had many new cabins added in her recent re-fit, including 19 in the space that was the ‘Crypt’ discotheque.

One loss of a public room which personally upset me, is the cinema on-board the ‘Thomson Celebration’

Now I do enjoy a dedicated cinema on-board a ship, but they are becoming increasingly rare. New ships just do not tend to have purpose built cinemas. It’s become too much of a luxury. It does not generate income.

Modern ships occasionally use the main Theatre for movies, have a big screen on deck or expect you to watch movies on you cabin TV – sometimes even pay-per-view.

(Thomson Spirit - Click to enlarge)

Thomson Spirit, with cinema (Click to enlarge)

(Thomson Celebration, 6 cabins replace cinema)

Thomson Celebration, 6 cabins replace the cinema.

Thomson Cruises are a prime example:

‘Spirit’ and ‘Celebration’ (ex Holland America Line) were identical ships. Both had charming dedicated cinemas. However in a recent refit, Celebration lost hers. It was replaced with six cabins (see deck plans above).

Fortunately Celebration’s sister ship, ‘Thomson Spirit’ still retains her original cinema, but for how long?

Malcolm

Thomson Celebration Review HERE:

Magellan & Marco Polo @ Tilbury

April 5, 2015
(Magellan Left, Marco Polo Right - Tilbury 03/15. Click to enlarge))

Magellan Left, Marco Polo Right – Tilbury 03/15. Click to enlarge

The Tilbury cruise Terminal (AKA The London Cruise Terminal) is located on the Thames, in Essex, England.

These days it is a sleepy place, with maybe a few dozen ship arrivals and departures per year. Many of those are ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ (CMV) ‘Marco Polo’, which homeports there. Fred Olsen has occasionally offered some departures, too.

There was a time that the Tilbury landing stage was a very busy place. It had it’s own railway station at the terminal, a Hotel next door and many Ocean Liners arriving and departing for Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

However, Friday 27th March 2015 was a very busy day for Tilbury, by modern standards. There were two cruise ships in – CMV’s ‘Marco’ Polo and their new flagship ‘Magellan’, which will also homeport at Tilbury.

Marco Polo from the deck of Magellan - Click to enlarge

Marco Polo from the deck of Magellan – Click to enlarge

Magellan at 45,052 gross tonnes and 1,452 passengers is twice as big (by volume) as Marco Polo at 22,080 and 915 passengers. The Marco Polo is 50 years old this year (2015) but Magellan is a mere 30 years old.

I undertook a short cruise on Magellan and have written a review:

New: Magellan Ship review: http://wp.me/PfRKD-35p

Marco Polo Ship Review: http://wp.me/PfRKD-1oF

Malcolm