MS Sudan

February 11, 2017

Here is a feature on a classic river vessel:

sudan3

(Click to enlarge)

M/S Sudan Nile Cruise Is like being on no other cruise ship on the Nile, build at the dawn of the 20th century, the steam ship Sudan brings turn-of-the-century travel on the Nile to life again.

The 5 suites and 18 cabins are laid out between the two decks, off broad passageways where the passengers can sit, relax and read in the evening, or enjoy a drink. Each cabin proudly bears a name linked to Egyptian history.

On the upper deck, the Agatha Christie and Lady Duff Gordon suites, at the prow of the vessel, benefit from spectacular views over the river. The Aida and Queen Victoria suites nestle spaciously in the gentle curves of the stern. The warm-toned wooden panelling, gilded and copper bed-frames, classical furniture and distinguished parquet floors bestow a definite period charm, revealed in every detail, such as the bathroom fittings.

A Legendary boat

A boat inhabited by the memory of the King Fouad who received it as a gift in 1885, the memory of the Belle Époque travellers who used it, or that of Hercule Poirot who Agatha Christie had walking its decks in her writings. (The BBC’s ‘Death on the Nile’ with David Suchet, was filmed on-board).

Almost one hundred years old, the Steam Ship Sudan is the last witness to the Belle Epoque days of Nile cruising. In its wake floats the visionary spirit of Sir Thomas Cook and the history of cruises on the legendary river.

Poirot (Courtesy BBC)

Poirot on board Sudan (Courtesy BBC)

Sudan Web Site: HERE

History

1869 The Suez canal is created, opening the maritime trade route between Europe and Asia. Egypt’s economy and tourism immediately benefit. Thomas Cook, the visionary British entrepreneur, seizes the opportunity to explore a country boasting thousands of years of history and a uniquely comfortable climate and way of life.

Convinced that this potential would appeal to the British aristocracy, Cook and his son (Cook & Son) organise the first cruise on a boat rented from the Khedive, or vice-roy.

1876 Egypt becomes a British protectorate. Cook further develops his Nile cruises. In 1880, he obtains the concession for all tourism-related river sailing. In 1884, his vessels are requisitioned for the military campaign in Sudan, and return seriously damaged. The British pioneer therefore launches his own fleet of steam ships. Prince Abbas, Tewfik, Rameses are built in Scotland, and the parts later assembled in Cairo.

1899 Cook extends his empire along the Nile banks with the construction of the Old Cataract Hotel at Aswan, designed to cater to cruise passengers obliged to stop off on their way to the great temples of Upper Nubia, reached on another ship. The Aswan dam, inaugurated in 1902, changes the situation, and the numbers of tourists rises constantly.

1911-1921 Cook builds a new fleet of faster steam ships, composed of the Egypt, the Arabia, and the Sudan. They reduce the length of a Cairo-Aswan voyage to 20 days, and eager tourists flock on board.

1922-1935 The Sudan and Nile cruising in general enjoy a golden age. Diplomats, businessmen and archaeologists pay handsomely to discover the fabulous sites of Ancient Egypt. In 1933, Agatha Christie embarks, accompanied by her husband, on an archaeological mission. During the cruise, the grand dame of mystery is inspired to write Death on the Nile.

1939-1991 The Second World War rings the death knell of tourism in Egypt. The Sudan lies abandoned and docked for more than 50 years. In the early 90s, with the advent of more democratic tourism and a new boom in Nile cruises, an Egyptian shipowner relaunches the Sudan for a German tour operator, but the vessel is once more abandoned.

2000 Two directors of Voyageurs du Monde discover the Sudan in a pitiful state. They join forces with the Egyptian owner and after six months of refitting work the vessel is ready to sail.

2017 – onwards: This classic boat continues to charm its many passengers.

(egypt-nile-cruise.com)

Malcolm says: Here is a slide show from my Nile cruise, on-board  a more modest boat than Sudan:

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Swan Hellenic Flys Again

February 3, 2017
Minerva (Courtesy Swan Hellenic)

Minerva (Courtesy Swan Hellenic)

The British cruise line ‘Swan Hellenic’ has been acquired by adventure travel specialist ‘G Adventures’, following the collapse of the line’s former parent company ‘All Leisure Group’.

In January 2017, All Leisure Group, which also operated ‘Voyages of Discovery’, among other travel brands, went into administration.

G Adventures has revealed it will restart Swan Hellenic cruises in 2018, with new itineraries set to be announced this summer.

(Source: G Adventures)

Stop Press: G Adventures have not chartered Minerva, the ship that Swan Hellenic was using to deliver its cruises and it’s not yet known what ship they will use. 

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G Adventures’ ship Expedition

G runs operates expeditions and safaris for tour groups in 100 countries and also runs the 134-passenger ship Expedition, which specialises in cruising to the Polar regions.

There’s no sign of a rescuer for Voyages of Discovery or its ship, Voyager.

(Daily Mirror)

CroisiEurope Builds Second Ship For The Elbe

January 28, 2017
Elbe Princesse (Courtesy CroisiEurope)

Elbe Princesse (Courtesy CroisiEurope)

CroisiEurope has started construction on a third paddle wheel riverboat to be called MS Elbe Princesse II, to cruise the shallow Elbe River.

This follows the success of the MS Loire Princesse in 2015 and the Elbe Princesse in 2016.

Taking into consideration the navigational limitations on these rivers, MS Elbe Princesse II also has only two decks, a very shallow hull draft and stern paddlewheels. These  do not require a lot of water under them, compared to conventional propellers. .

MS Elbe Princesse II will be the second ship operating between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and the Vltava Rivers.

(CroisiEurope)

Malcolm says: Old propulsion technology being used on a new ship, clever. However I have heard that these ships can rattle a bit at higher speeds.

Interestingly the MS Loire Princesse (not surprisingly cruising on the River Loire) has two paddle wheels, one mounted on each side of her hull. However the Elbe Princesse has two mounted at her stern.

I wonder why the difference? Maybe the best technical location for paddle wheels is on the ships sides. Maybe this allows for more manoeuvrability? Maybe the Elbe is too just narrow for that configuration?

Loire Princesse (Courtesy Croisieurope)

Loire Princesse (Courtesy Croisieurope)

The British ocean going paddle steamer, the PS Waverly (1946) has two paddle wheels, one on the on the port side of the hull and the other on the starboard side of her hull. This is similar to the Loire Princesse.

However traditionally the Mississippi type paddle-steamers of course have one very large stern paddle wheel. This of course has more in common with the Elbe Princesse, although she has two smaller stern mounted paddle wheels rather than one large one.

American Queen: the biggest, carrying 436 passengers

American Queen: the biggest, carrying 436 passengers

Can anybody tell me why there are two different paddle-wheel locations on these ship?

Malcolm

The Carnival Horizon to Launch in Europe

January 25, 2017
(Courtney Carnival)

(Courtesy Carnival)

Carnival Horizon will debut in April of 2018 and will offer a short Mediterranean season  before moving to New York in May.

The ship will be 133,500 gross tons and be able to carry 3,936 guests at double occupancy.

(Courtney Carnival)

(Courtesy Carnival)

“Carnival Vista delivered the next generation of ship for our brand with new, never-before-seen features at sea. From our amazing SkyRide and the WaterWorks aqua park to first IMAX Theatre on a cruise ship, Carnival Vista has offered our guests a brand new view of fun.  With Carnival Horizon, we continue to expand those themes to provide guests of all ages with the ultimate fun vacation with Carnival!” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

(Carnival)

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(Courtesy Carnival)

Images of Carnival Horizon Staterooms: HERE

Crowded Waters

January 10, 2017

There has been a lot of talk about the increasing number of ocean cruise ships in the past decade. In particular about the negative impact of mega-ships on the environment and their ports of call.

There are now ships on order that will carry in excess of 6,000 passengers, plus crew.

However, what about European river cruising which is a now booming business?

‘Viking River Cruises’ are a good example of success and expansion…

Read more…HERE

A busy Danube - Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

A busy Danube – Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

 

The Danube

January 7, 2017

Below is a short slide show of the Danube River form on-board Amadeus Elegant:

 
Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE.

BlacK Watch @ Tilbury

December 14, 2016
14-12-16

14-12-16 (Click to enlarge)

Today was a mild and  sunny winters day at the Tilbury Cruise Terminal (London).

A rare visitor was Fred Olsen’s ‘Black Watch’.

I do like her new livery with a dark coloured hull.

Tomorrow she departs on a 7 night itinerary: Christmas Markets of Germany & Denmark

BW is 28,613 gross tonnes and carries 820 passengers. She was built in 1972.

 

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Click to enlarge

Black Watch Review/slide-show: HERE

 

 

The World’s Biggest Sailing Ship

November 2, 2016

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Sailing Ship ‘A’ is a  £330 million superyacht owned by a Russian billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko, is thought to be the largest sailing vessel to ever take to the seas.

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.

He also owned ‘Motor Yacht ‘A’ below which looks more like a submarine to me!

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P&O Cruises Reveals Details Of ‘Most Ambitious’ Ship

October 27, 2016

 

P&O Newbuild 180,000 gt

P&O Model (Courtesy P&O)

Construction of the latest addition to the fleet will get underway next year at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany. The ship will enter service in the UK in 2020. At 180,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of the ship, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

The ship will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

Our new star of the show, The Dome

P&O newbuild 180,000 gt

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of our new ship. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Our new ship has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

STOP PRESS: P&O cruises has decided that it will throw open the naming process for its new cruise ship to the public. Another ‘Boaty McBoatface’ maybe?

(Source: P&O)

Below slide show:

Malcolm says: Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with these ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

I’m still not convinced that such a large ship is a good ‘fit’ for P&O. But then I’m forgetting that P&O are no longer just catering for the ‘socks & sandals’ brigade, they are now a mass-market line hoping to attract the same passengers as Carnival, RCI and NCL.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that this cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton will surely need more investment, in order to handle a ship carrying up to 6,600 passengers.

P&O/Costa Megaships Analysed: HERE

What is an LNG ship? See HERE

RCI Announce Project ‘Icon’ LNG Newbuilds

October 10, 2016

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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.

(Play within Youtube for larger images/text)

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.

Malcolm

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

A Question Of Decor

October 9, 2016

Cruise ships often have more impressive décor than most shore-side buildings.  In fact it is often braver décor than most buildings have.

Many ships also have impressive art collections on board. Some ship even have art work on deck and sport impressive hull-art.

(Quantum's Bear - RCI Image)

(Quantum’s Bear – RCI Image)

How important is a ships décor really is to the passenger experience?

Cruise lines obviously think that the décor is VERY important, given the fact they spend millions of pounds/dollars on it and regularly undertake refurbishments, re-styling the decor.

I’ve certainly been on board ships where I  have loved the décor . I’ve also been on board ships where the décor has not generally been to my liking. However sometimes different public rooms are created by different designers, so it is very possible to love some rooms, think some are mediocre and dislike others – all on the same ship.

There certainly used to be a different between UK and US style  décor on-board ships.

P&O Orian Interior (1995, Courtsey Ian Boyle)

P&O Orian Interior (1995, Courtesy Ian Boyle)

For example P&O ships décor was regarded as rather tasteful to the reserved and often very traditional Brits, when compared to the Las Vegas ‘glitz’ of many American ships. However by American tastes it was understated’ or even bland.

Since Carnival acquired P&O and provided new mega-ships, we have seen more vibrant décor for British passengers. There have also been frequent visits of big US ships to UK ports offering cruises for Brits. I believe the British cruising masses are getting acclimatised to a more bold colour schemes and more glitz.

Carnival Sensation Atrium by J. Farcus (Courtesy Carnival)

Carnival Sensation Atrium by J. Farcus (Courtesy Carnival)

Joe Farcus, the American Navel Architect, has designed some mind-blowing interiors for Carnival and Costa ships. He calls it ‘Entertainment Architecture’. It’s very original, very colourful and often very loud.  It’s Las Vegas ‘Glitz’ in style with maybe a hint of psychedelia. His work is definitely not to every-bodies taste.

Décor and ‘taste’ changes over time, of course. I think the pure-glitz has gone out of fashion and in some cases is being replaced with a more sophisticated cappuccino-café style, as I call it.

For example the ‘Norwegian Cruise Lines’ (NCL) ships built between 2001-2007 (Star, Jade, Gem etc.) all have very colourful décor in places, not unlike Farcus’s work.

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL)

However NCL’s ‘Norwegian Edge’ which is a $400 million revitalization program of their fleet, will see the décor updated.  For example, the image above is Norwegian Gem’s original Atrium décor. Below is the refurbishment which less over-the-top, being more sophisticated.

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL) Refurbished

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL) Refurbished

So how important is the décor to you? Have you been on board a  ship where the décor was not to you liking? Do you love some ships décor?  Please tell me.

Malcolm

The New P&O/Carnival Mega-Ships Analysed

September 12, 2016

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

So far we have seen the renderings of the ship in the Costa livery and  a model of the P&O version. All versions are likely to be similar, but there are clearly some differences.

As per usual the renderings are not very clear in detail. If fact details can be deliberately withheld on early renderings. However I am not going to let a lack of facts stop me at least speculating about the ships design.

Firstly we can see that the design looks relatively conventional, with no split superstructure (like Oasis) and no unusual external features like ‘North Star’ (Anthem’s observation pod).

These ships will carry a maximum of 6,600 passengers, which is a world record. That’s up to 300 more passengers than Oasis, yet she will be 20% smaller. Therefore I don’t think we can expect Parks, Ice rinks, long Internal promenades or large indoor sports halls.  These sort of features may well be too space-hungry. In addition the Costa, AIDA, P&O and to an extent Carnival brands tend to avoid such ‘gimmicks’.  Their clientele do not expect them , although such big ships are likely to have extensive family/children’s facilities. They cannot ignore that sector of the market, if they want to fill their ships.

In fact the ships design looks rather like AIDA Prima, AIDA’s newbuild. Maybe some of AIDA’s design features will feature on-board the new  megaships?

The new ships bow is quite distinctive and rather like the one featured on AIDAprima. In fact AIDAprima does not have the traditional bulbous-bow, as she uses the MALS system. Maybe these newbuilds will use the same system?

AIDAprima, Nagasaki Japan. No bulbous bow.

AIDAprima, Nagasaki Japan. No bulbous bow.

There are clearly no big LNG tanks on deck, like some LNG ships (see here), so the tanks have been integrated into the ships hull. However I believe they are not allowed to be low/deep within the hull like normal fuel tanks, for safety reasons. This may alter the ships engine room design/internal layout quite significantly.

I count 8 lifeboats per side (Oasis has seven per side). However given the higher passenger numbers, the lifeboats must be bigger. In fact I believe they are the new ‘Fassmer’(See here) ones carrying 414 passengers each, compared to the Oasis/Schat-Harding lifeboats at 370 passengers each.

The lifeboats appear to be served by their own promenade deck, to enable passengers to board the lifeboats. Such prom. decks are not great for giving passengers a sea views as the lifeboats often obscure much of them. However their appears to be a second promenade deck.

The stern features a low extended deck area, reminiscent of MSC’s ‘Seaside’ ships. There appears to be six cabanas against the railings. Seven decks rise from the stern offering prime real-estate: many aft facing balcony cabins. Maybe the row of windows below the stern deck could be a restaurant?

Looking at the Costa renderings: Leading from the aft deck area, are some steps to a raised promenade deck which runs along 80% of the side of the ship. This prom deck is above the lifeboats and obviously solely for public use and not for lifeboat boarding. It does not appear to wrap around the bow, unless it has an internal tunnel. The rendering is not specific, but this could feature some bars and restaurants like NCL’s ‘Waterfront’. (“A much wider, half-mile promenade deck allowing for al-fresco dining.” was recently reported by P&O) 

The P&O model does NOT appear to show ‘steps’ on the prom, but seems to show a level, uninterrupted one level prom. P&O call it the ‘Lanai’ deck.

NewCostaShipsLNG2ddf3

Above: Courtesy of Costa. (Click to enlarge)

 

2016-10-26-21-49kk-14-1

P&O Model

Costa: CostaThe upper superstructure (amidships) appears to have  a glass skylight and a pool. Some structures run along side of ‘skylight’ and pool, on both the port and starboard sides, sloping down to the deck. Are these the tubes of a slide or maybe a track, for some sort of ride.

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In front of the funnel appears to be two spirals which definitely look like slides/water chutes (flumes).

(Courtesy of Seatrader)

(Courtesy of Seatradeinsider)

Costa: The central Skylight could suggest a central internal space like AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’ – a combined Atrium and performance space, with seating, rather than a conventional theatre at the bow. Carnival did mention the clever use of internal space with multi-function public rooms . (“An atrium with a glass wall the full height” has recently been reported by P&O)

I was not expecting a ‘tall’ atrium unless it had a duel role, as they are essentially a waste of space on such a busy ship.

23. (Red) AIDAprima Theatrariun

23. AIDAprima Theatrium (amidships)

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An AIDA Theatrarium – cick to enlarge (Image courtesy of AIDA)

Costa: Towards the front of the upper deck there is a cut-out which appears to be the location for a pool. The structure above it, looks like a sliding roof.

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Costa: Behind the funnel there appears to be a glass-canopy, probably covering a pool and maybe forming a ‘Solarium’. That makes three pools on the upper deck. (It is now reported by P&O that there are three outside pools and one inside).

'Dome' behind funnel.

‘The Dome’ behind funnel.

It has since been reported by P&O : “The dome at the top of the new ship will be an entertainment space, with a pool and retractable stage, water feature and whirlpools, that can act as an all-weather venue for entertainment and dining during the day”. The Costa renderings do NOT show a Dome. It appears that the P&O’s Dome replaces a water-chute/flume on the Costa ship. This would seem to shrink the space available on the P&O sun deck.

2016-10-26-21-49-14-1bbb

The Dome

Costa: There appears to be a giant outdoor video screen at the very stern (image below), with tiered seating facing it. There appears to be a ‘scenic’ (Princess ‘Skywalkers’ type) walkway above the screen. I’m not sure if a fourth pool is hidden down there in the space.

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Costa: Amidships, but nearer the hull, there are three lines of windows on a curved section of the hull. This may be part of a possible ‘Theatrium’ a lounge or a dining room?

Internal Décor: I wonder if the now elderly, Mr. Joe farkus, will be creating more mind blowing interior décor as he has done for Carnival and Costa?  P&O will obviously have a more conservative approach to her décor.

One main dining room and one main theatre each holding half the ships compliment of passengers at two sittings, with two matching show-times, is the most efficient use of space (apart from when they are empty). However it is not very flexible.

Carnival ships have often had this traditional feature. However I would  expect multiple dining rooms – like NCL’s Freestyle/RCI Dynamic Dining. This may be Carnivals first real shot at a ‘flexible dining’ system like NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ or RCI’s ‘Dynamic Dining’. Although RCI have struggled to make their new system work well, so scapped it.

Four entertainment spaces have sine been reported by P&O, the Dome being one. A Theatrium could be a second, a conventional theatre could be a third, the screen with seating, at the stern, could be the fourth.

Costa 180,000gt ship

Courtesy of Costa. (Click to enlarge)

P&O have reported that there will be:

17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

In conclusion, the above text is a mixture of observation and guess work.

I do wonder if this new ship design will be a  little more like existing AIDA ships in design, than existing Costa, Carnival or P&O ones.

Interestingly I understand AIDA (aimed at the German market) are more relaxed in style, with a younger, more active demographic whose passengers favour buffet food. The entertainment is not the big Broadway type productions. Whereas Costa (Italian) are more traditional in style, with more formal dining and more lavish production shows.

It’s hard to imagine that one design of ship can entirely satisfies all camps.

I don’t think these ships will be very exciting, in terms of innovative spaces; Carnival tend to ‘play it safe’. They will probably be pretty conventional mass-market ships with thousands of cabins and many bars, dining rooms and shops. I believe that will be designed for maximum income generation and not spaciousness or unique facilities. Carnival have always focused on functionality and profit and leaves the innovation to the likes of RCI and NCL.

The most exciting aspects about these ships design will probably be their ‘scale’ and the LNG propulsion. However, the propulsion of course will have little impact on the passenger experience. (Apart from a soot free deck?)

Even with a half-mile promenade deck, given the passenger numbers, the pool deck is likely to be very crowded at anytime the sun shines.

I’m not suggesting that they will be bad ships. I just don’t think they will have room for generously sized public spaces or too much design-innovation. However the aspects of the design to manage the high passenger numbers, could be classed as an innovation in itself.

However the passenger density and ‘economies of scale’ offered by this ship design should enable Carnival to sell the cabins at very competitive rates.

Of course aspects of my speculation are likely to completely wrong. All comments welcome.

Malcolm

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

Is LNG safe? See Here

Art Deco Lover

September 10, 2016

I do love a bit of Art Deco architecture. This was the style that became first became popular in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Art Deco influenced the design of almost everything from paintings, jewellery, clothing, buildings, furniture, cars, movie theatres, trains and ocean liners.

During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Cunard’s original RMS RMS Queen Mary (1936) ocean liner has wonderful Art Deco interiors.

Southampton’s original ‘Ocean Terminal’ also had an Art Deco design and décor to compliment the ocean liners of the day. Unfortunately they knocked it down to build a car park!

(Southampton's 1950 Ocean Terminal)

(Southampton’s 1950 Ocean Terminal)

Fortunately the United kingdom still has some wonderful Art Deco buildings that have been well preserved.

In 2011 I visited the Midland hotel, in Morecambe, Lancashire, on the UK coast. Built in 1933, this 40 bedroom Hotel was an Art Deco marvel. She initially thrived, but would eventually fall into disrepair in the 1990s.

In 2008 her refurbishment was complete. The architects had combined her original feature with some modern facilities.

In 2014 I was lucky enough to visit Burgh island,  a small Tidal island on the coast of South Devon in England near the small seaside village of Bigbury-on-Sea.

There are several buildings on the island, the largest being the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel and a Pub the Pilchard Inn.

Part of the Hotel is actually shaped like the stern of an old frigate and has a keel. Inside is a ships wheel.

The island is approximately 270 yards from the mainland and is approachable on foot at low tide. At high tide, the sea tractor, which is operated by the hotel, transports passengers back and forth.

The holiday island of ‘Jersey’ (one of the UK’s ‘Channel Islands’) is located nearer the coast of France than it is from the cost of Britain.

This beautiful little island (5 x 9 miles) which still has a lovely 1937 Art Deco Airport building, along with a new terminal building. However I am saddened to hear that the Art Deco building may be demolished in the future.

Malcolm

The Black Prince Remembered

September 4, 2016
BP Tilbury

BP Tilbury

Does anybody remember Fred Olsen’s ‘Black Prince’? Maybe you even cruised on her? She was very popular with Brits.

She was quite a quirky ship.

She was originally a ferry, that was converted into a cruise ship. She was small, even in her day. Now she would be regarded as minute!

In fact each of the ‘Oasis’ class of ships has lifeboats which each carry more passengers than the ‘Black Prince’ could.

The Black Prince article HERE

What Is The Fastest Ship?

August 31, 2016

I was wondering what the fastest ship is TODAY.

When I say “ship”, I mean “passenger vessel”. Now I don’t doubt that there are some super-charged speed-boats out there, but my criteria is a large vessel that carries paying passengers.

(SS United States Today - source unknown)

(SS United States Today – source unknown)

Ocean Liner fans will know of the SS United States, built in 1952 for the United States Line. She broke the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage. She still holds the Blue Riband for being the fastest ocean liner of all time. They say she could achieve 38 knots. (The SS United States was laid-up in 1996 and her fate remains uncertain).

Given the fact that she was a bloody-great Ocean liner carrying 2,000+ passengers, that is a VERY impressive and unparalleled achievement.

The Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 must certainly be one of today’s fastest cruise ships (liner). She can achieve 30 knots, which is faster than most.

(Courtesy Incat)

(Courtesy Incat)

People no longer cruise for speed.  My research tells me that Fast-Ferries (SeaCats etc.) hold the maritime speed records today.

The fastest ferry on the planet is Incat’s ‘Francisco’ (2012). She operates on the Rio de la Plata estuary (River Plate) between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

The 99-metre long ‘Wave Piercing Catamaran’ accommodates 1024 passengers and 150 cars. Her water-jet engines can achieve a maximum speed of up to 58.1 knots, or 67 mph.

Interestingly she can be powered by duel fuel, one being LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which looks set to also be the future choice of cruise ships.

Malcolm

Video of ‘Francisco’ HERE

Malcolm says: The various fast-ferries around the world are very impressive. However their service normally has to be suspended when the seas get rough. Condor currently operate fast-ferries up to a 3.5 meter wave height.  After this they become very uncomfortable for passengers.  In contrast the QM2 is designed to cross the North Atlantic, in winter, whatever the weather.

The SRN4 Hovercraft HERE

Fast Ferry

August 26, 2016

I know a few of my readers have an interest in ferries and fast-ferries.

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After all the big car ferries (such as Ulysses) are just like state-of-the-art cruise ships with a car deck or two.

Then we also have the fast-ferry technology: often catamarans (Seacats) propelled by water-jets.

Below is a slide-show of the fast-ferry ‘Condor Rapide’:

Regular readers will also know that I am a big fan of HOVERCRAFT.

Malcolm

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

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

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

DSC_0001

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

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

960x0

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

 

 

Anthem of The Seas Review

March 12, 2016

DSC_0161

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.

DSC_0200

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.

1280px-Projekt_92-016_Michail_Frunse_15

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.

DSC_0019

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