30 James Street Liverpool, White Star Line Hotel

April 24, 2015


In February 2015, I had an excellent weekend break in Liverpool, UK.

I stayed at a newish hotel “30 James Street” which was the former offices of the ‘White Star Line’ (owners of the Titanic).

I have now written a full review of my stay at the hotel, which unfortunately is not very favourable:

My review: http://wp.me/PfRKD-2YK

SS United States For Pier 57?

April 24, 2015
(In lay-up)

(In lay-up)

RXR Realty and Youngwoo & Associates (YWA) are considering the idea of redeveloping Manhattan’s pier 57, using a retired ocean liner as a hotel. The pier sits at the end of 15th street on 11th avenue, and is south of the popular Chelsea Piers sports complex.


The redevelopment plan around pier 57 includes some 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of office space and other real estate.


A proposal has been drawn up to include the SS United States ocean liner, which is currently laid-up in Philadelphia.

(In lay-up)

The SS United States was built in 1952 for the United States Line. Not only was she a ship of state, she broke the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage. She still holds the Blue Riband today, for being the fastest ocean liner. The SS united States was laid-up in 1996.


(Click on images to enlarge them)

(RXR & YWA)   

Malcolm says: The SS United States is one of the most important ocean liners ever built. She’s definitely one of the most important American ships. Amazingly she still exists, but is slowly rusting away. I can’t think of a better home for her than pier 57, Manhattan.

Hotel ships are notoriously difficult to maintain and make a profit from. Hotel re-fits can also drastically change the ship from what it originally was. However this is still a better option than losing this iconic vessel.

I very much doubt if this project will ever happen, but it’s a nice idea, none the less.

SS United States, Broken promises: http://wp.me/PfRKD-l

Astor @ Tilbury

April 23, 2015

MS Astor was at the London Cruise Terminal (Tilbury) today. She departed at 16:30 on a 9 night British Isles cruise.

On Saturday 17th October she will cruise from Tilbury, southbound to Fremantle, Australia. she will take 55 days and visiting 15 ports of call.

Later in 2015 and early 2016, Astor will cruise around Australia and the Far East, returning to Tilbury on the 2nd April 2016, via Cape Town.


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

Another Reason To Take A Ship!

April 22, 2015

Airbus has announced plans to offer an 11-across economy seat configuration on new A380 superjumbo, reports ‘Aviation Week’.

(Image courtesy of Airbus)

(Image courtesy of Airbus)

Currently, the Airbus A380 seats 10 passengers in an economy row with a 3-4-3 configuration. The new layout would add an extra seat to the middle row, squeezing people into a 3-5-3 configuration.

Although the new seats will be same width as the current design—18 inches across—Airbus has slightly modified the entire cabin to raise the plane’s capacity from 525 passengers to 544.

(Image courtesy of Airbus)

(11 seats across. Image courtesy of Airbus)

The average human shoulder width is also 18 inches. Airbus has not released official measurements detailing length on the entire row, but given the seat dimensions, passengers could expect to be siting shoulder to shoulder.

This innovation may help keep fares down, but it does not sound very comfortable, does it?

(Aviation Week)

(Seating, cruise ship)

(Seating, cruise ship)

Malcolm says: I flew on an A380 in November last year: BA Hong Kong to Heathrow. I was at the very rear of the upper deck (cattle class). Apart from being a bit quieter, in terms of engine noise, it felt no different to any other economy cabin, on any other large aircraft.

The seat width and leg room was adequate for me (I’m not particularly big/tall) but nothing special. The food and service was nothing special either. It was just a plane.

MSC Vista To Be Called Meraviglia

April 21, 2015

The first steel for MSC’s new Vista generation of megaships was cut at STX France. MSC cruise Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said the new ship will be named MSC Meraviglia.


MSC Meraviglia will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.   “MSC Meraviglia will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman. “We chose a name that denotes the sense of awe and wonderment felt when you experience the ship’s stunning features, which only an MSC cruise, with its unique Mediterranean-style, can deliver.

Among the ships’ features will be specially crafted ‘cluster cabins’ for families, and an extended MSC Yacht Club.   MSC Meraviglia will also feature a range of technological advancements, such as ‘Near Field Communication’ technology, enabling guests to do things like make on-board payments, access their staterooms or geo-locate children, simply by using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone.

Interior Prom To Have Digital Sky

Another innovative feature will be a 5,167 square foot LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship’s interior promenade. Like a digital sky, this LED image vault will beam out compelling images and vistas day and night.

MSC Meraviglia is the first of two identical ships on order from STX France, the second of which will be entered in to service in 2019. In addition, MSC Cruises has options for two further Vista project ships to be delivered by 2022.

(Meraviglia pool area rendering - MSC)

(Pool area rendering – MSC)

MSC 1st Project ‘Seaside’ Ship, To Be Called ‘Seaside’

In other news, MSC Cruises recently announced that the first of its next generation “Seaside” class of ship, set to debut in November 2017, will be named MSC Seaside.

The ship will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean. The company also revealed that its Miami-based cruise operations will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at Port Miami,

(Cruise Industry News)

Malcolm says: If MSC want to increase their British and America passenger base, they should have picked a name for the first Vista ship that we could pronounce!  For the record the name is Italian for: wonder, astonishment, amazement, surprise, or marvel.

Below a slide show of renderings of some of the public spaces, of the MSC Vista class:

Two Vista class ships are scheduled to enter service in 2017 and 2018. At 167,000 gross tonnes. These ships will carry up to 5,700 passengers.

See my video about MSC Seaside HERE:


Magellan Ship Review

April 18, 2015

British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), has added ‘Grand Holiday’ from Costa Crociere to their fleet. She commenced ex-UK operations under the CMV livery earlier in March 2015.

(Magellan Newcastle 03/15)

(Magellan Newcastle 03/15)

She has been re-named Magellan and at 46,052grt will carry about 1250 passengers. She becomes  the new flagship of the CMV ocean fleet operating as an adult only (16 years plus) ship alongside Marco Polo (800pax), Astor (600pax) and Azores (550pax).

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

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

It’s Not Rocket Science!

April 17, 2015

We are used to cruise  innovations being on a grand scale, such as RC’s ‘Central Park’ or NCL’s ‘Waterfront’. However a river cruise line has come up with something so much simpler:

Avalon Waterways, the river cruise line, have thought of a new innovation and are calling on all river cruisers to experience their re-designed staterooms.

(Image courtesy of Avalon)

(Image courtesy of Avalon)

The newly re-designed rooms have all had their beds moved to face the rooms giant picture-windows: “allowing all passengers to experience some of the most incredible views of Europe available rather than just a view of the wall as most of their competitors do”.

Whatever next? A shower curtain that does not stick to you back like superman’s cape and a toilet that does make your ears ‘pop’.

Disney/AmaWaterways Family River Cruises

(Image courtesy of AmaWaterways)

(Image courtesy of AmaWaterways)

European river cruising continues to be a growth area and is slowly evolving:

Disney is to partner with AmaWaterways to offer family-focused river cruises on the Danube from 2016.

A new AmaWaterways vessel will run the seven-night voyages between Budapest, Hungary and Vilshofen in Germany.

The 158-passenger AmaWaterways vessel AmaViola will feature several family-friendly cabin configurations, with the ability to accommodate up to five people. Shore excursions and on-board activities are also being designed to be family-friendly.

Adventure guides will run special entertainment activities for children such as movie nights.

Disney will add interactive games to family competitions on the ship’s top deck, and the company is lining up parks along the route where families can take a break from touring to play sports.

Custom-designed, family-friendly shore excursions will range from family bike rides along the Danube, to learning archery and other medieval activities at a historic castle, to strudel making.

“We think the Disney brand will bring families to the river cruising category, and we think that’s a very exciting development for the industry,” Disney executive Ken Potrock told USA Today.

Just five departures are planned initially, on July 7, 14, 21 and 28, and December 22, 2016.

 (USA Today)

Malcolm says: I’ve been saying for a while now, that River Cruises ALL seem to be aimed at the grey pound (or dollar). I want to see a wider range of products aimed at different clientele and a range of fares, not just the high-end variety. This new Disney/AmaWaterways partnership certainly breaks the mould, although I guess that we can still expect high fares.

Ovation will Home-Port in Australia

April 16, 2015

Royal Caribbean dominate the cruise news at the moment:

(Image source unknown)

(Image source unknown)

Royal Caribbean has announced that ‘Ovation of the Seas’, the third Quantum-class cruise ship, will be home-ported in Sydney, Australia for the winter of 2016-2017.

Ovation will be the largest cruise ship to ever sail out of Australia.

Ovation will be the fifth ship in the Royal Caribbean Australian fleet for winter 2016-17, joining four other Royal Caribbean ships: Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas in Sydney and Legend of the Seas in Brisbane.


Splendour Becomes Thomson Discovery

Thomson Cruises’ new ship will be called Thomson Discovery and it will homeport in Palma when it launches in June 2016.

The ship was formerly Royal Caribbean International’s ‘Splendour of the Seas’. The ship is 69,130 gross tonnes and carries 2,074 passengers.

Before cruising for Thomson, she undergo a re-branding and refurbishment.

The vessel will be the largest in the Thomson Cruises fleet.


Splendour Review: http://wp.me/PfRKD-h

MSC’s Vista Interiors Revealed

April 14, 2015

(MSC - Click to enlarge)

In 2014 MSC cruises signed a letter of intent with STX France for the construction of two new ‘Vista Class’ cruise ships , with an option for two more.

The two ships will join MSC Cruises’ fleet, currently comprising 12 ships, all built in the Saint-Nazaire yards.

Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises said  “The new prototype will be the biggest cruise ship ever built by a European ship owner and the most versatile and flexible of the world: not only will it be able to call in most of the ports and destinations on earth, without compromise, but it will have extraordinary features that will make it the perfect choice at sea, in summer and in winter. The two new ships will reaffirm MSC Cruise’s dedication to outstanding and genuine dining options and out-of-this-world entertainment with new panoramic spaces, a bigger theatre and a spectacular amusement park connected to an outdoor aqua park as well as a two-deck inside promenade.”

Internal renderings have been leaked giving us an insight into the Vista ship interiors:

The Vista ships are due for delivery in 2017 and 2019 and will have a a gross tonnage of about 167,600 tons, boasting 2,250 cabins for guests, nearly 820 crew cabins, and accommodating 5,700 passengers and 1,536 crew members.

Among the new features of the ships there will be specially designed cabins for families and an “extend” MSC Yacht Club, the entirely self-contained private club on the prestigious foredecks that will now be completed with a vast solarium, a private lounge and restaurant and duplex suites.

(MSC - Click to enlarge)

(MSC – click to enlarge)

The contract signed is worth 16 million working hours for STX France and its subcontractors, 9 million for the prototype and 7 for the second unit. Building is due to start in spring 2015.

(‘MSC Vista’ ships are not to be confused with the Carnival ‘Vista’ ships .)

Malcolm Says: Looks like MSC have borrowed ideas from RCI’s ‘Seaplex’ ‘360 degree lounge’ and the ‘Royal Promenade’.

There two ships will be 167,600 gross tons, so just slightly smaller than Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class ships which will be 167,800 gross tons. However the MSC Vista ships will hold more passengers (at double occupancy) than Quantum (4,180 passengers), with 2,250 cabins (4,500 double occupancy) and a maximum capacity of 5,700 passengers.

These new ships will be the third biggest class in the world (based on gross tonnage).

The Quantum class will be in second place with the Norwegian Breakaway ‘Plus’ ships being pushed down to fourth place. Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class ships (Oasis, Allure and Harmony) will continue to hold the crown for being the biggest, by miles, at around 220,000 gt.




KONE will provide Meraviglia (MSC’s other newbuilds) with a total of 39 elevators and escalators.

This will include 17 elevators KONE MiniSpace (TM) for passengers, two panoramic elevators KONE MiniSpace (TM) , 13 KONE elevators service MonoSpace , KONE Motala 2000 for people with limited mobility and a dumbwaiter.

The design features of these elevators of high-end, include Italian marble floors.

Is the image below possibly a rendering of Meraviglia’s atrium?


(Daniela Pisano)

MSC Seaside Flythrough

April 8, 2015
(MSC Image - Click to enlarge)

(MSC Image – Click to enlarge)

The first of a pair of MSC Cruises’ new generation of ships known as ‘Project Seaside’ is due to make its debut in November 2017. She will be  followed by the second in May 2018, with a possible third option in 2021.

At 154,000 gross tons, up to 5,300 passengers, the ships will some of the most innovative and  the largest ever built by Fincantieri.

MSC has created a video rendering of the Aqua-Park of their ‘Seaside’ newbuild, here:


More MSC information here: http://wp.me/pfRKD-33m

(MSC image - click to enlarge)

(MSC image – click to enlarge)


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