Carnival returns to Europe in 2016

January 23, 2015

22 January 2015

(Carnival image - click to enlarge)

(Carnival image – click to enlarge)

Carnival Cruise Line will make a return to Europe when it launches new ship Carnival Vista in Spring 2016.

The news comes after the line announced in May 2013 that it would have no ships sailing in Europe during 2014 and 2015, citing increasing airfares as the reason behind the decision.

(Carnival image)

(Carnival image)

New itineraries for summer 2016 on Carnival Vista include Athens, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Izmir, Corfu, Livorno, Marseille, Messina (Sicily), Naples, Rome, Trieste and Valetta.

The ship will have its first European sailing on May 1 and will then have 18 sailings in Europe before moving on to New York in October. The ship’s official homeport has yet to be revealed.


The ship will have the first IMAX cinema at sea, as well as new dining options, more alfresco dining and the biggest Waterworks of any Carnival ship. The ship will also have a new Havana pool at the back of the ship, with Havana cabana staterooms available to book.


Havana Cabana balcony (Carnival Image).


Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations, said: “I really feel and we do [at Carnival] that this is the greatest ship to date and certainly the best ship to come from Carnival Cruise Line.  “We set out to make this our most innovative ship to date. This is about creating connects and a connection to the sea. This ship, like no other ship, brings that all together.“

(By Hollie-Rae Merrick/Travel weekly)


Malcolm says: Vista will be offering cruises from Barcelona, Athens and Trieste – May to October, 2016.

Vista has managed to slip under my radar up until know. She will be 133,500 gt carrying 3954 passengers. I did not realise that she has an NCL style ‘Waterfront’ feature and a water-sports deck called ‘Waterworks’, also not unlike NCL’s, plus an Imax cinema.

Carnival Vista Slideshows:


Public Rooms:

Outer Decks:

(Images courtesy of Carnival)


Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas

January 22, 2015


A few years back I wrote an article for this blog called “Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas”.

Now I must admit that I did not spend weeks researching it, I put it together quite quickly. It was really just meant to be a bit of fun. Interestingly the article continues to attract more comments than most, including some negative ones, such as:

“This is stupid, how can you compare these two ships, they are Apples and Oranges”

“These two ships were built 100 year’s apart, of course they are not the same”

“The Titanic was a work of art, Oasis is just a floating shopping mall”

“This article is stupid”

Well, the commentators are fully entitled to their own opinions.  The two ships ARE completely different to each other and they WERE built almost 100 years apart. However silly it is to comparison these two ship, I still wrote it!

It’s quite ironic that the article continues to be one of my most viewed.  If I want a larger readership, I obviously need to write more silly stuff!

You can read the silliness here:

MSC – Seven Newbuilds For 2022?

January 20, 2015

January 2015

With four new ships on order through 2019, MSC Cruises may be intending to pick up three options between STX France and Fincantieri, taking them through 2022.

(MSC Seaside, click to enlarge)

(MSC Project Seaside, click to enlarge)

When MSC’s double-order at Fincantieri  was placed in 2014 (project Seaside), the Italian cruise line said it had an option for one additional ship. Prior to that, MSC signed with STX France for two ships (project Vista), plus an option of two more.

In a MSC Sinfonia drydock release, MSC said: “MSC Cruises currently carries roughly 40,000 guests per day, but by 2022 will double its capacity to 80,000 guests a day (3.4 million per year) once the Renaissance Program* is completed and the last of seven planned ships is delivered.”

(Source: Cruise Industry News)

*(A two year project to upgrade four older ships).

Malcolm says: There is little doubt that MSC are set to be a major player in the cruise industry within the next seven years. In fact they will move up to be the number three cruise line, ahead of NCL, in terms of berths.  Although the details are still secret, there new ‘Vista’ and ‘Seaside’ mega-ships look to be world class and will provide Carnival, RCI and NCL with some SERIOUS competition.

*(A two year project to upgrade four older ships).


Norwegian Escape culinary Experiences & Entertainment

January 19, 2015


Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a multitude of new partnerships with leaders in the fields of dining, beverage and entertainment to feature innovative branded experiences on board Norwegian Escape. During an exclusive event in New York City, the line revealed that its largest ship ever, Norwegian Escape, will include several new culinary experiences, along with two Tony Award-winning musicals, and a unique Supper Club, when she begins sailing from her homeport of Miami in November 2015.

Foodies will enjoy Norwegian Escape’s ultimate culinary experiences, which will be helmed by James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces and Miami restaurateurs Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group; in addition to new beverage concepts The District Brewhouse, featuring craft beers from Wynwood Brewing Company, and The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. Guests will be dazzled by three new shows, including Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals After Midnight and Million Dollar Quartet, along with a new supper club concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, For The Record presents Dear John Hughes, featuring classic soundtracks from favourite motion pictures in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret and dinner experience.

“With Norwegian Escape, we are transforming culinary experiences at sea and continuing our legacy of innovation that has revolutionised dining in the cruise industry,” said Drew Madsen, Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “We are building on our solid foundation of branded partnerships, including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and welcoming new ideas and flavours from award-winning chefs. Norwegian also continues to pave the way as a leader in entertainment, as we bring two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals and a post-modern cabaret direct from Los Angeles to Norwegian Escape.”

New Concepts by Jose Garces

James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces will launch two speciality restaurants on board Norwegian Escape, his first at sea. Jose Garces brings Latin-inspired culinary expertise, ranging from classic Mexican dishes to Cuban specialties. His breadth of culinary expertise along with his passion for cooking made him the perfect choice to lead the signature dining concepts on Norwegian Escape. Bayamo by Jose Garces will highlight Latin dishes with a heavy Cuban-influence in a chic dining room and al fresco on The Waterfront. Dishes will feature the flavours of Latin America with Spanish influences, such as Berenjenas, roasted aubergine with tomato rice and a saffron emulsion; and Bacalao Carbonizado, black cod with a squid ink glaze, saffron, and tomato and chorizo rice, among others.

Pincho Tapas Bar by Jose Garces will offer traditional Spanish tapas à la carte in a lively, casual setting. Plates will be prepared on an authentic la plancha grill right at the bar in front of guests and feature Latin dishes including Tortilla Española (Spanish omelette), Boquerones (white anchovies with pine nuts), and Jamón Ibérico (speciality ham imported from Spain).

Sugarcane Mojito Bar, a Norwegian guest favourite, will complete the space and serve as an entry to Bayamo. Guests who wish to have a cocktail before dinner can settle into the tropical setting, enjoy live Latin music, and select from more than 10 different mojitos and rum-based cocktails and can even select a “flight” of mojitos to sample to tantalise their taste buds.

Food Republic

A brand new concept for Norwegian, the Food Republic will be a modern, upscale food emporium from The Pubbelly Restaurant Group featuring global cuisine for sampling and sharing. Guests dining in the Food Republic will experience a culinary journey via small plates, with flavours ranging from Asia to Central Europe and the Mediterranean, all available à la carte.


As some of the hottest restaurateurs in Miami, partners Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro, have opened six concepts in the Magic City over the past three years. With a focus on creating unique flavour combinations and precise techniques, Director of Culinary Operations and Founding Partner Jose Mendin has been recognised as a semi-finalist for Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation for three consecutive years, as well as nominated as People’s Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine.

Open for lunch through dinner, Food Republic menu highlights include Dates with Chorizo featuring smoked bacon, spicy tomato and goat cheese crema; Japanese Amberjack with lemongrass romesco, charred tomato and hazelnuts; and Black Truffle Braised Short Rib Dumplings, with white corn soy, red shiso leaf, and grana padano. The Food Republic offers guests the freedom and flexibility to choose what they want, when they want it, with convenient iPad ordering. With a simple swipe of their key card, food is prepared to order and brought directly to the guest’s table.

The District Brew House


A concept never before done at sea, the District Brew House is a hip, urban craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami’s own Wynwood Brewing Company. Complete with a keg room, 24 draft beers on tap and more than 50 different bottled beers, the District Brew House is sure to be the new hangout on board for beer connoisseurs and fans alike.

The award-winning Wynwood Brewing Company is known for their signature brew, La Rubia Blonde Ale, perfect for the warm Caribbean weather. Along with La Rubia, the District will also serve an all-new brew from Wynwood Brewing Company that will be available exclusively on Norwegian Escape. The District Brew House will also offer a menu of gastropub-style plates for snacking that will complement the beer and beverage offerings, including handcrafted cocktails from Bar Lab’s James Beard Award-nominated mixologists Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi. Guests sampling the District’s many offerings will also be well-entertained, with interactive nightlife and sing-alongs of everyone’s favourite tunes, as well as a traditional photo booth, where guests can add their photo to the District’s pin board and leave their mark on this cool new space.

The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar

Norwegian Escape will also be home to the line’s first wine bar in partnership with the Michael Mondavi Family – The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. From the novice to the enthusiast, The Cellars features an array of immersive wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine, all accompanied by small plates and tapas, available à la carte.


The curated wine list features 35 grape varietals including top selections from Tuscany’s Ornellaia and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate. The Wine Bar offers guests both a sleek indoor tasting room, and 180 degree ocean views at the outdoor wine bar on The Waterfront, with service provided by a Court of Master Sommeliers certified Sommelier.

 Carlo’s Bake Shop

While on board, guests will also enjoy delicious treats from Carlo’s Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC’s “Cake Boss” and “Next Great Baker”. The decadent confections that the original Carlo’s bakery is known for, including Carlo’s Bake Shop’s famous cannoli’s, lobster tails, tiramisu, plus a variety of other unique cakes, cupcakes and Italian cookies, will all be available à la carte for guests who wish to indulge their sweet tooth.

New Entertainment Offerings

Continuing with Norwegian’s commitment to excellence in entertainment, Norwegian Escape will feature two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals headlining in the Escape Theatre that will have guests dancing in the aisles. Winner of the Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Astaire Awards for Best Choreography, After Midnight, which recently completed its run on Broadway, is the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington, a roof-raising onstage jazz band, and the best dancing from Broadway. A cast of megawatt singers, dancers and tappers will bring Harlem’s Cotton Club to life in a never-before-seen phenomenon at sea.


Also showing in the Escape Theatre following a successful run on Broadway and currently touring nationally as well as performing in Las Vegas, Million Dollar Quartet is the smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. On 4 December 1956, these four young musicians gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Fever”, “Great Balls of Fire”, “Walk the Line”, and more. This thrilling musical will bring guests inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ‘n’ roll band for one unforgettable night.

In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, the Supper Club has been re-imagined for an unforgettable dinner and show. For The Record is a critically acclaimed Hollywood night that celebrates classic soundtracks of motion picture masters in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret. Guests will spend an evening with a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal in this mashed-up retrospective of the John Hughes’ coming of age 1980’s teen films. The audience will laugh, cry, stomp their feet and relive the classic new wave sounds from Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


Expanding a successful run that began on Norwegian Getaway, Headliners Comedy Club will offer up top comedians through the line’s expanded partnership with Levity Entertainment Group, the world’s largest producer of live comedy. Levity employs over 300 artists each week, including some of the biggest names in US comedy, including Daniel Tosh, Amy Shumer and Jeff Dunham, who is currently the most successful touring comedian worldwide.

 (Source NCL)

Malcolm says: This is going to one big-impressive floating resort. However many of the bars, dining options and entertainment are very American in style – in fact some are local to Miami.  They may be unknown brands to some Americans, they are almost certainly unknown brands to most Brits and Europeans.  They are certainly unfamiliar to me.

Escape will probably be permanently based in the Caribbean and is clearly aimed at Americans.  She may not have the international draw that the likes of ‘The Blue Man Group’ gave Epic.

More ‘Escape’ Information here:

Aurora’s New Livery

January 16, 2015
AURORA New Livery Elbe PDM 16-12-2014 12-42-055-XL

(Click images to enlarge)



AURORA New Livery Elbe PDM 16-12-2014 12-44-009-XL

Excellent/recent images of P&O’s Aurora, sporting her new livery at Southampton, thanks to Pam Massey.

Pam’s excellent web site is here:

Anthem to float-out In February

January 14, 2015
(Quantum - RCI Image)

(Quantum – RCI Image)

Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas, will have her ‘float out’ next month.

The 167,800gt vessel will be floated out of Meyer Werft’s building dock II for her official float out on February 8, 2015. (However, float-out dates are subject to weather conditions and can be delayed).

(Meyer Werft Image)

(Meyer Werft Image)

Anthem of the Seas is the second Quantum-class cruise ship built for Royal Caribbean and follows sister ship Quantum of the Seas, which was launched just a few months ago.

(Meyer Werft Image)

(Meyer Werft Image)

(Source: RCI)

Kevin Sheehan Leaves NCL

January 11, 2015

January 9, 2015

The Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that its Board of Directors has named Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Del Rio succeeds Kevin Sheehan, who has decided to leave the Company.

Kevin Sheehan, CEO, NCL

Kevin Sheehan, CEO, NCL

Mr. Del Rio is the Chief Executive Officer of Prestige Cruises International, Inc. (“Prestige”), which was acquired by Norwegian in November 2014. Mr. Del Rio, a co-founder of Oceania Cruises, Inc., a subsidiary of Prestige, has more than 20 years of experience in the cruise industry.

“Frank Del Rio has established himself as a leader and innovator in our industry,” said Steve Martinez, member of Norwegian’s Board of Directors. “Norwegian is poised for continued growth and we are delighted to have Frank lead our team during the next phase of the company’s evolution. We also thank Kevin Sheehan for his service to the company. Kevin has built Norwegian into the highly successful company it is today – a company that has reported 25 consecutive quarters of growth in trailing twelve month Adjusted EBITDA coupled with consistent margin improvement. Most recently, Kevin was integral to the Prestige acquisition, assembling a diversified portfolio of brands that spans all market segments in the cruise industry, which we believe puts the company in a strong position for the future.”

“It has been a privilege to lead Norwegian over the last seven years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and take comfort in the knowledge that I am leaving the company much healthier and stronger than when I joined. With the company set for success, I hand the baton off to Frank, a proven leader in the cruise industry,” said Mr. Sheehan.

“I am excited to begin this new chapter in my long career in the cruise industry,” said Mr. Del Rio. “I am blessed with a great team at Norwegian, and I am confident that together we can help our company continue to realize great things.”

Frank Del Rio has served as Chief Executive Officer of Prestige or its predecessor since April 2007. Prestige, a subsidiary of Norwegian, is a global cruise line operator in the upscale cruise segment. Prestige operates two upscale cruise brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which operate in over 300 ports around the globe.


O'sheehan's (Epic)

O’sheehan’s (Epic)

Malcolm says: Sheehan has definitely salvaged NCL and gave them some very big state-of-the-art ships, the only ships that really compete with RCI’s mega-ships. He’s quite a character too.  An Irish style  bar & grill  on-board Epic, Breakaway and Getaway is named “O’Sheehans” after him.  Mind you “Del Rio’s” sounds even cooler.

However, I wonder why the sudden departure?

Escape Gets Snow Room and Largest Thermal Suite at Sea

January 9, 2015

(Click to Enlarge)

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will offer a wide array of spaces for guests to relax and unwind while at sea when the ship debuts in October 2015. Guests will be transported into sheer serenity with the line’s most innovative Mandara Spa to date, a tranquil hideaway that at its epicentre will feature the largest Thermal Suite at sea, outfitted with the line’s first Snow Room. In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will have two private lounge spaces to enjoy on board at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O, which will feature an all-new grotto area for guests to cool off after a day of sunbathing.

Norwegian Escape’s Mandara Spa experience, spanning two decks, will transport guests to a deep state of relaxation, with unobstructed views of the ocean, the opportunity to melt away on one of the 17 heated loungers, or find instant stress relief in the spa’s hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools, steam room, dry sauna, sanarium and salt room.


Once guests have heated up, they can step into the rejuvenating Snow Room, a first for the line. The Snow Room, which ranges from a frosty minus 6 to 0 degrees Celsius, sends out a flurry of powdery snow throughout the day, offering guests a multitude of health benefits, including stimulating blood circulation in the body and strengthening the immune system.

The Ice Pool

The Snow Room

In addition to the spectacular Thermal Suite, Norwegian Escape’s Mandara Spa will be equipped with 24 contemporary furnished treatment rooms offering more than 50 signature services for both men and women.

Norwegian Escape’s full service salon will have guests looking their very best with a wide-array of hair, nails, waxing and kid-friendly services, along with acupuncture, teeth whitening and cosmetic medical treatments, performed by a licensed medi-spa doctor, such as Botox® Cosmetic, Dysport™, Restylane® and Perlane®. In addition, guests can go home tightened and toned by opting for a Thermage® CPT treatment, a premier non-invasive skin rejuvenating therapy that uses radiofrequency. The salon area will also feature a Barber Shop, offering exclusive men’s services.

Guests looking to stay fit while sailing, or who wish to try an exciting new exercise experience, can do so in Norwegian Escape’s state-of-the-art fitness centre furnished with the latest Technogym® weight training and cardio equipment. Norwegian group fitness favourites will be offered on board including Pilates, body sculpting boot camp, yoga, Zumba and TRX. Boxing buffs can enjoy Norwegian’s Fight Klub™, a high-intensity cardio boxing class. Personal training sessions will also be available, along with nutritional consultations and metabolic testing.

Spice H2O

Spice H2O

Norwegian Escape will also feature Spice H2O and Vibe Beach Club, two adult-only outdoor favourites perfect for lounging away the day. Spice H2O, located at the back of the ship on deck 17, is an adult-only enclave offering day-time complimentary leisure. A bevy of sun loungers surround a huge video screen, while two hot tubs await for those looking to de-stress. An all-new soothing grotto area, complete with waterfalls and perfect for cooling off from the warm Caribbean sun, will offer an exotic escape.

At night, all guests can dance under the stars in this open-air dance club or enjoy a cocktail at the bar with accompanying lounge area, featuring comfortable seating while admiring the ocean views.

Guests aged 18 and over will also have the opportunity to enjoy another private retreat – Vibe Beach Club – by purchasing an access pass. Complete with ocean views, a large hot tub, luxurious chaise longue-style sun loungers and a soothing water feature.

The Vibe Beach Club

The Vibe Beach Club

Norwegian Escape

Currently being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Escape will sail weekly seven-night cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on 14 November 2015. The 164,600 gross ton ship will be the largest ever to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

(Source NCL)

More ‘Escape’ Information here:


Sapphire Princess Review

January 6, 2015

Last year (2014), I saw a cruise deal for a November departure.

I was not looking for a holiday at that time of the year, in fact neither was my bank balance. However it was so exotic and so cheap, that it was just too good to miss.

The Holiday began with 3 nights in Beijing, China, then a 9 night cruise on the Sapphire Princess, finishing with three nights in Hong Kong. The ports of call in-between were Shanghai (China), Nagasaki (Japan) and Busan (South Korea).

As per usual I have written a comprehensive review. It is not a holiday review. It does not focus on the ports of call, but the ship and cruise line itself: the on-board experience.

My rational is that you may be thinking of taking a Princess cruise in another part of the world, maybe even on a different Princess ship.  Enjoy.



Brits: The Big Ships Are Coming!

January 1, 2015


Later this year there will be quite a collection of big ships based at Southampton, or at least visiting : Britannia (P&O) home-porting, Explorer of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas (RCL), Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape (NCL) and Royal Princess, spring to mind. There are probably more.

Many of these new ships can carry 3,600+ passengers each, so there will be thousands of berths for sale.

Let’s also not forget our other home-porting ships: Ventura, Azura (P&O) and  Queen Mary 2 (Cunard). None of them are exactly light-weights either. Then there are their slightly smaller fleet mates.

Having been the world’s biggest cruise ship, I can confirm that the likes of ‘Oasis of the Seas’ absorbs her 6,000+ passengers remarkably well. Some big ships are in fact more spacious, so feel less crowded, than ships a fraction of their size, with less passengers.

I’m not worried about the new ships.  However, I am concerned if Southampton’s existing cruise terminals and roads will be able to handle the crowds efficiently. They have not always done so well in the past, when more modest sized ships have docked.

It does not help that the modest road system near Southampton’s cruise terminals is now shared with the large ‘WestQuay’ shopping centre and an Ikea store. There will almost certainly be traffic issues when multiple ‘big’ ships are in port on the same day, especially if it’s a Saturday.


Below: World’s Biggest Cruise Ship/Class (slide show):


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers