Hurtigruten Names New Ships

October 24, 2016

Hurtigruten has named its two new hybrid powered expedition ships.

The first two ships have been named the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen after the two Norwegian polar explorers.  The ships are due to be delivered in 2018 and 2019.

“On December 14th, it will be exactly 105 years since Roald Amundsen became the first person in the world to plant his flag on the South Pole,” said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO, Hurtigruten. “It has been 128 years since Fridtjof Nansen skied across Greenland and it is 120 years since Richard With, Hurtigruten’s founder, first started exploration tourism in the Arctic. So what could be more natural and appropriate than to name our new ships after these inspiring trailblazers.”

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.

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. A special pool deck will include infinity pools, Jacuzzis and bars.


The Next P&O/Carnival Megaships: The World’s Most Crowded?

October 22, 2016

Back to the subject of VERY BIG ships:

Carnival has announced that they have ordered seven 180,000 gross ton mega-ships from the German ship builder Meyer Werft: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O between 2019 and 2022.

Each ship will accommodate 5,200 passengers double occupancy and up to a maximum of 6,600 passengers, which is a world record.

Carnival’s new ships won’t be the largest by size (gross tonnes/volume), as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships at around 225,000 gross tons still wear that crown. However they could be called the biggest by passenger capacity.  The new Carnival mega-ships will carry up to 300 passengers more than the ‘Oasis of the Seas’, yet are smaller.

Carnival were obviously well aware that their initial press release might attract some media criticism (see here) regarding the high passenger capacity. Therefore they were careful to state that they will be: “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces”.

Too crowded?

The big question is: Will these be the most crowded cruise ships in the world?

Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison, who has been involved with the design process, said that the space ratio on the new vessels is the same as most of the existing ships in the AIDA and Carnival Cruise Line fleets.


We need to do a little math(s) to check if Micky is right.

There are a number of factors which determine how crowded a ship is and/or feels. This includes the ship design which hopefully allows for a good passenger flow, without too many bottle-necks. However passenger-flow cannot be easily measured, it has to be ‘experienced’.

A quantifiable gauge is to compare the space available per-passenger, on-board Carnival’s new mega-ships, then compare the figures with some other big mass-market* ships. Although this will not reveal the whole story about how a ship feels,  it is a reasonably good measure.

The Math

Space per passenger can be calculated by dividing the ships gross tonnage (a measurement of volume) by the passenger capacity, to get a passenger-to-space ratio. So in the case of Oasis it’s 225,000 gt/ 6,296 (maximum occupancy) and you get a figure of 35. This represents 35 gt of space per passenger.

RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class ships have a similar ratio to ‘Oasis’ at 34.


Oasis on the far right dwarfing Carnival, Disney and MSC ships. (Click to enlarge)

We do know that the new Carnival ships will be around 180,000 gt, which is 20% smaller (approx. 45 gt) than RCI’s  ‘Oasis’ class. However the Carnival ships will carry a maximum of 6,600 passengers. That’s 304 more passengers than ‘Oasis of the Seas’, to be precise. If we calculate the ratio we get 27, which clearly means less room per-passenger, than on-board the Oasis and Quantum classes.

Let’s have a look at the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, ‘Escape’ (2015). At 164,600gt and carries a maximum of 5,400 passengers, she has passenger-to-space ratio of 30. So less generous than Oasis, but only slightly better than the Carnival new builds.

Carnival’s latest ship, ‘Vista’ (2015) is 133,500gt and carries a maximum of 4,683 passengers. That gives us a ratio of 28, only one point more than there 180,000gt new-builds.

The latest Costa ship ‘Costa Diadema’ (2014) is 132,500gt and carries a maximum of 4,947 passengers. This gives us a ratio of 27. (The same as the 180,00gt newbuilds).

The statistics available about AIDA fleets maximum passenger capacity are a little vague. Only the double occupancy figures are generally available. However if I am correctly informed, AIDAstella and AIDAmar appear to have a passenger to space ratio of 26. (Fractionally less than the 180,00get newbuilds)

Costa 180,000gt ship (Courtesy Carnival)

Costa 180,000gt ship (Courtesy Carnival)

In Conclusion, the media and many commentators have simply picked up on the figure “6,600 passengers” and have assumed that the Carnival new-build megaships will be the most crowded ships ever built. This is simply not true.

Micky Arison is correct; there are many ships in service out there, with passenger-to-space ratios of 27 or lower. These do includes Carnival, AIDA and Costa ships.

However I am told that Carnival have sales policy which involves doing their best to sell every berth. For example, I believe they will not sell a 3-4 berth cabin to a couple, if they can avoid it. I’m told that some other cruise lines impose this rule far less rigorously. Therefore it is said that Carnival ships often sail fuller than the industry standard of 104%.

If the above is true, these new mega-ships are bound to feel busier. A quiet corner to read a book will not be so easy to find. However the on-board passenger density will not be unique in the mass-market (or budget) cruise industry and should not feel unbearable. Carnival are very unlikely to sell every berth, every cruise.

It will be interesting to see if Carnival really can ““make more efficient use of the ship’s spaces” to benefit the passenger experience, or is that just sales talk?


(*Premium and Luxury ships, even big ones, always offer more space per-passenger.)

Oasis Review: HERE

Astor’s Return Voyage To Australia sells-out

October 21, 2016

All of the cabins were sold on-board Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Astor before she left Tilbury on Sunday 16th of October 2016. She embarked on her 54-night sailing to Fremantle, Australia.

Astor, under the command of Captain Emmanouil Psarrakis who has brought the ship to Australia for her three previous summer seasons, arrives in Fremantle on December 9.

At 20,606 gross tonnes and carrying just 600 passengers, she offers a very intimate experience when compared to many of today’s mega-ships.

She was built in 1987 under the name Astor in Kiel, West Germany, as a combined ocean liner/cruise ship for the Southampton-cape town route.

Following the success of her 2015 voyage from London to Fremantle via the Panama Canal which sold out in nine weeks, Astor is heading for the Panama Canal again and then Mexico, French Polynesia, Auckland, Sydney, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.

She will depart Fremantle on March 15 on her 39-night re-positioning voyage to the UK.


Here is my extensive Astor SHIP REVIEW

(Reviews of the rest of the CMV fleet: Marco Polo, Magellan and Astoria are also available menu right).

Virgin Voyages

October 19, 2016

“Virgin Cruises” has officially become “Virgin Voyages.”

The name change was made to reflect that a journey aboard a Virgin ship will be more than just a cruise; it will be transformative, Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said.

“It should be a departure from the ordinary getaway,” McAlpin told the media.

The company also announced it has signed a shipbuilding contract with Fincantieri, which will build all three of the ships to debut between 2020 and 2022. The three vessels will be identical, coming in at 110,000 tons and holding 2,700 passengers. The first will sail out of Miami, while the homeports for the other two have yet to be announced.

McAlpin said ship delivery is on pace, and steel-cutting — the first step in ship construction — for the first ship will take place early next year. The keel-laying, when the ship’s first block is set in place, is scheduled for late 2017.


Virgin Voyages also announced a multimillion-dollar partnership with Swedish clean-energy company Climeon. 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.

“Transforming hot water to electricity will be a major source of energy production going forward,” said Thomas Ostrom, founder and CEO of Climeon, which has done work on ferries.

Virgin will “usher in what I call a sea change to the industry,” McAlpin said.



Virgin’s vision of a voyage.

Malcolm Says:

Externally the ship rendering 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.

So three mid-sized ships and a 7 night itinerary from Miami to the Caribbean – it is hardly ground-breaking, is it? However this will allow ‘Virgin Cruises’ 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 and Carnival etc. already offer some very Hi-Tech ships aimed at the multigenerational family market. MSC, Costa and Genting/Star  also have some very impressive ships on order.

It will be a tough market to crack, but virgin has a well established infrastructure.


Travelweekly Tom McAlpin Interview HERE

World’s Biggest Sailing Vessel

October 17, 2016
(Image courtesy of the Daily Mail)

(Image courtesy of the Daily Mail)

A £330million superyacht owned by a Russian billionaire is thought to be the largest sailing vessel to ever take to the seas after it underwent its first official sailing test.

It’s cruising speed is 18mph and it has a top speed of 24mph. The hull is made of steel, with a teak-finish deck.

Read full Daily mail on-line article HERE

It’s Not All About Mega-Ships

October 16, 2016

Azores, Liverpool, Aug 2015.

Most of the cruise news these days is about very big new ships. They generate their own publicity. There is an assumption that if they are the biggest, they must be the best!

However some of the worlds best cruise experiences are to be found on considerably smaller cruise ships. However you will not generally find these ships grabbing the maritime headlines.

Contrary to popular misconception, not all small ship offer expensive cruises. Cruise and maritime Voyages (CMV) and Fred Olsen are living proof.

Last year I took a mini-cruise on-board ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ MV Astoria (called ‘Azores’ at the time).

Astoria s was one of the smallest cruise ships operating regularly from UK ports, such as Bristol and Liverpool. She’s certainly the smallest cruise ship that I have ever cruised on.

However Astoria sadly leaves the CMV fleet spring, 2017.

Astoria, is around 16,000 gross tonnes. For comparison this makes ‘Oasis of the Seas’ @ 220,000 gt, fourteen times bigger than Astoria.

Astoria carries just 555 passengers, whereas Oasis carries 6,000+ passengers. In fact each of Oasis’s lifeboats carries 300 passengers.


Astoria top, Oasis below (Courtesy

Astoria also has a very long history, being one of the oldest ocean cruise ships still in operation, in the world. She is currently 68 years old. She’s also in very good condition.

See Full Astoria Review Here

Fred’s small ships:  I have had the pleasure of cruising on-board all of the current Fred Olsen fleet:

Black Watch (1972) review: HERE

Boudicca (1972) review:       HERE

Balmoral (1988) review:       HERE

Braemar (1993) review:        HERE

Norwegian Bliss to Homeport in Seattle

October 14, 2016
(All images courtesy NCL)

(All images courtesy NCL)

The Port of Seattle and Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the Norwegian Bliss will homeport in Seattle beginning in 2018 when the ship is delivered.

The ship is a‘Breakaway Plus’ class at approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests. She will be constructed at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany.

The Port of Seattle also said it will have its biggest cruise year ever in 2017, expecting over one million revenue passengers through its cruise terminals.

“The Port of Seattle is proud to partner with Norwegian Cruise Line as we work to bring people from around the world to see Alaska,” said Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick.


“Norwegian was the first line to begin cruising to Alaska from Seattle in 2000 and it’s only fitting that we bring our newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, directly to this incredible location,” said Andy Stuart, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “Alaska is one of the top destinations for our guests to explore and we are thrilled to be the first cruise line to offer guests the opportunity to experience this coveted destination on a brand new, state-of-the-art cruise ship from Seattle.”

The Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-day Alaskan cruises from Pier 66 in Seattle. The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juno, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising.


Norwegian has also announced that marine wildlife artist Wyland has been commissioned to design the hull artwork for Norwegian Bliss.


Genting Dream Delivered

(Courtesy Genting)

(Courtesy Genting)

October 12, 2016: In Bremerhaven, Meyer Werft handed over the new Genting Dream to Genting Hong Kong’s Dream Cruises.

It is the first new ship to be built specifically for the Asian market in over 15 years.

Dream is based on the Norwegian Cruise Lines ‘Breakaway’ design.


(Reviews of NCL ships, menu right)

Is This MSC’s World Class Ship?

October 13, 2016

On the 6th April 2016, MSC Cruises announced that the STX France shipyard would be building up to four new class cruise ships for them, called the “World Class”. (What a great play on words!)

These would be delivered between 2022 and 2026.

Interestingly MSC’s ship will be powered by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) fuel, like Carnival’s proposed megaships for Aida, Costa and P&O and Royal Caribbean’s project ‘Icon’ ships.

MSC’s ‘World Class’ ships will over 200,000 gross tons, so will be one of the biggest class of ships in the world, possibly only superseded by  RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class ships, depending how big Genting’s ‘Global Class’ (2019) and RCI’s ‘Icon’ (2022) newbuilds are. All these newbuilds are currently listed at around 200,000 gt. (Carnival’s LNG ships will be a little smaller at around 180,000 gt).

Global Class (Courtesy Genting)

Global Class (Courtesy Genting)

No renderings have yet been released of MSC’s ‘World Class’.

In 2013 STX came up with a ship ‘concept’ called the ‘XP Tray’ which they revealed at the annual Miami ‘Seatrade’ show. It was an alternative design to Oasis, a mega-ship of around 200,000 gt powered by LNG fuel.

As you can see form the slide-show above, there are definitely similarities between the ‘concept’ and the basic facts that we know about the MSC’s ‘World Class’. (In fact there are also some similarities between the ‘concept’ and MSC’s new ‘Seaside’ class too).


Don’t Get Too Excited: Ship ‘concepts’ are a bit like fashion shows. The girls parade in some outrageous designs, but you will never see these exact designs on the street. Some ideas from the fashion collections may get adopted, but they are then watered-down for the commercial market.

Likewise, I have never seen a ‘real’ cruise ship which looked exactly like the original ‘concept’. Likewise MSC’s ‘World Class’ is unlikely to look exactly like the ‘XP Tray’, even if it is based on the concept, but only time will tell.


More details of the ‘World Class’: HERE

RCI Announce Project ‘Icon’ LNG Newbuilds

October 10, 2016


Royal Caribbean International has today announced that its newest class of ships will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will introduce the use of fuel cell technology.

These innovations will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The cruise line said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon.” The vessels will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024.

The ships will carry 5,000 passengers. They are expected to also be able to operate using conventional maritime fuel as a well, for ports without the necessary LNG infrastructure.

Icon is the first new ship class announced by RCI since Celebrity Cruises’ new Edge class, which debuts in 2018. (Also shrouded in secrecy)

RCI said it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels being built in the next several years.

Malcolm says: Wow, exciting news – another new ‘class’ of ship from RCI. I was not expecting this so soon after the introduction of the ‘Quantum’ class (see video below). 

Mind you building LNG ships simply follows suit with Carnival and MSC who also have big LNG ships on order. Let’s also not forget that Quantum’s ‘Dynamic Dining’ system was a flop – maybe they are keen to move on?

RCI are masters of secrecy, so I don’t suppose we will get any more details for months/years.

We know very little facts about Icon, apart from she will carry 5,000 passengers, but is that lower berths or full capacity? Even the all-important gross tonnage has been omitted form some press releases.

However several sources suggests that ‘Icon’ will be 200,000 gt which makes  the 5,000 passenger figure  look like a lower-berth statistic. (A 200,000 gt ship with 5K passengers gives us a similar space-ratio to ‘Harmony’)  This size of ship is in keeping with Carnival, MSC and Genting’s newbuilds, so this size sounds very likely to me.

In contrast, the ‘Quantum’ class is  approximately 168,00 gt., carrying 4,905 passengers – all berths. The Oasis class is around 227,000 gt carrying 6, 780 – all berths. Icon would sit in-between the two, in terms of gross tonnage.

I wonder what new innovations RCI will come up with this time? How do you beat a park, bumper-cars, skydiving simulator and an observation pod?  It must get increasingly difficult  to keep being innovative. However, if Icon is a 200,000 gt ship, there will be plenty of room for wow-features onboard, if they want.

The arrival of these new ships may well see the departure of  RCI’s older tonnage.

Majesty has now been in the fleet for 24 years, Grandeur 20 years, Enchantment and Rhapsody 19 years and Vision 18 years. Although the life expectancy of a cruise ship can be 30+ years, in six-eight years time, when the ‘Icons’ arrive, RCI’s older tonnage will look even smaller and more dated.

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


STOP PRESS: On October 2016, Royal Caribbean filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for “Icon of the Seas”.

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

Civitavecchia: New Cruise Terminal

October 10, 2016


Roma Cruise Terminal has signed an agreement for the construction of a 10,000-square-meter cruise passenger terminal in the port of Civitavecchia. Civitavecchia is the cruise port for Italy’s capital city, Rome.

At a cost of €20 million, the new passenger terminal will be one of the largest cruise terminals to be built in Europe.

The ground floor will feature passenger and luggage screening areas. The first floor includes a 60 check-in counter facility, a VIP area with separate check-in counters, a bar and restaurant and ample seating space. Offices will be located both on the ground floor and the first floor.

Work on the terminal is scheduled to start in November and the new terminal is expected to be completed in 2018.


Malcolm says: Good news, as the cruise ship get bigger and carry more passengers bigger terminals are obviously needed. many of todays ships carry twice the passenger numbers of 10 years ago. The future Carnival 180,000 gt ships will carry a record number of passengers, up to: 6,600 passengers.

However big ship also need bigger port infrastructures. The roads, for example, from Civitavecchia to Rome can get gridlocked when up to six ships are in port. Are they building bigger roads too? The bus and train links could also be improved.