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.

Photo by Thegreenj (click to enlarge)

Photo by Benroethig (Click to enlarge)

American Queen is said to be 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.

“American-Queen-Dubuque” by Thegreenj (Click to enlarge)

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

 Extensive review of River Vessel: Amadeus Silver II

The Rhine, Germany

January 12, 2016

Here is a little slide-show for you of my recent River Cruise:

Malcolm

 Review of River Vessel: Amadeus Silver II

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.

9270_2_90_0_php3rP27K

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

Just Back From Europe

January 3, 2016
Amadeus Silver II (courtesy of Luftner)

Amadeus Silver II (courtesy of Luftner)

I’m just back from my first European River Cruise.

After many ocean cruises, I decided it was time that I should give this growing holiday type a try.

I spent a week on the Rhine, Germany, including Christmas day. I chose Amadeus/Luftner cruises, rather than one of the bigger players.

The boat (or is it a ship?) was a fairly new one, Amadeus Silver II.

Did I like it?  How does it compare to ocean cruising?

Here is my extensive review: Amadeus Silver II

Malcolm

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

Princess Margaret

October 6, 2015

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

More about Hovercraft: HERE

Giant Hovercraft

September 25, 2015

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

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

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

A Great British Invention for the 21st Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

The craft are due to be in service in early 2016.

(Griffon Hoverworks)

 

12000-26-11-14

(Image courtesy of Griffon Hoverworks)

 

Azura Meets Black Watch

September 13, 2015

(Image courtesy of Sergio Ferreira – click to enlarge)

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

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

The ships were built 39 years apart.

Malcolm

Black Watch Review: HERE

Ventura (sister of Azura) Review: HERE

The Sunborn Yacht Hotel, London

August 23, 2015
(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

(Image courtesy of Sunborn)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1412252312831_wps_31_Sunborn_International_yac

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

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

1412252301432_wps_30_14077716722Sunborn_Intern

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

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

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

Malcolm

(Have you stayed overnight on-board?)

Titanic hotel Liverpool, review HERE.

Carnival Megaships: Gibraltar Debates LNG Safety

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

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

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

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

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

The harbour at Gibraltar.

The harbour at Gibraltar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: Courtesy of Gibraltar Chronicle/Redazione GNL)

Costa's 180,000gt LNG ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

The New Costa’s Megaships Analysed. See Here

It’s not all about Big Ships!

August 1, 2015
Hebridean Princess, leaving Jersey harbour

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

Continuing my ongoing theme of praising smaller cruise vessels:

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

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

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

(Wikipedia)

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

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

On-board Hebridean Princess HERE

Malcolm

New 180,000gt Costa Renderings

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

(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

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

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

NewCostashipsLNG1

(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

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

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

NewCostashipsLNG4

(Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

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

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

(Source: Costa)

AIDA & Costa To Get Two Mega-ships Each

July 29, 2015
Costa 180,000gt ship

180,000gt design in the Costa livery

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

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

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

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

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

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

History

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

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

The German Cruise Market

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

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

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

The AIDA Fleet

(AIDAprima courtesy of AIDA)

(AIDAprima courtesy of AIDA)

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

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

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

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

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

(Courtesy AIDA)

(AIDAprima rendering courtesy AIDA)

AIDAprima

AIDAprima

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

Malcolm

What is an LNG cruise ship? SEE HERE

Megaship Review: Anthem of The Seas

June 30, 2015

 

Ripcord

Ripcord -Anthem of The Seas (Click to enlarge)

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

Here is a short extract:

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

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

Malcolm

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

Carnival: The Biggest Ship They Never Built

June 17, 2015

Not a news item, but a bit of nostalgia.

Pinnacle?

Pinnacle? (Fincantieri rendering)

In 2004, the Carnival Corporation launched a development program called the ‘Pinnacle Project’. It was shrouded in secrecy, however it is said that the aim was to design the world’s biggest cruise ship, at the time.

They say project Pinnacle was to be a 200,000 gross tonnes, 6,000 passenger prototype, cruise ship.

untitled

(Fincantieri rendering)

Around the same time Royal Caribbean International were developing their ‘Genesis’ Project, which later went on to become ‘Oasis of the Seas’.

Carnival abandoned their Pinnacle project, stating that the Dollar to Euro rate was not conducive to making such a large investment in a giant ship.

(Photo from intelcom)

(Oasis: Photo, intelcom)

Clearly RCI disagreed and ‘Oasis’ entered service in 2009, at 225,000 gt easily making her the world’s biggest cruise ship – and her class still is.

In fact there is now a third ‘Oasis’ class ship, ‘Harmony of the Seas’ in service, which is slightly bigger at around 227,000gt. RCI also have a fourth on their order books ‘Symphony of the Seas’ which will enter service in 2018.

However Carnival have announced some ‘new big’ ships for some of their Carnival, AIDA, Costa and P&O brands at around 185,000 gross tonnes carrying up to 6,600 passengers.  The first ship will be delivered in 2019 for AIDA.

I wonder if ideas from the ‘Pinnacle’ design will be incorporated into their design?

 

Below is a video from the Fincantieri shipyard, designed by Maurizio Cergol, which was almost certainly one of the ‘concepts’ for the Carnival Pinnacle:

However begining in 2019, Carnival and some of their brands such as P&O, Costa, AIDA, Carnival, will receive their biggest ships yet at 185,000 gt:

Biggest class of ship today: ‘Oasis of the Seas’ review: HERE

Malcolm

4x 180,000gt: Carnival Is Back In the ‘Big Ship’ Game

June 15, 2015

Introduction

When ‘Carnival Destiny’ entered service in  1996, she was the first cruise ship to be built over 100,000 gross tonnes.   In 1998  ‘Grand Princess’ (‘Princess Cruises’ brand) at 109,000gt was the largest cruise ship afloat.  Again in 2004, the ‘Queen Mary 2’ (‘Cunard’ brand) at 148,000gt  was the world’s biggest cruise ship.

Since 2004 Carnival have dropped out of the “my ships bigger than yours” game, blaming the unfavourable US Dollar to Euro exchange rate.  Since 2004, NCL, RCI and others have built increasingly bigger vessels. However  Carnival are back in the game with plans to build the world’s second largest class of ships*, only eclipsed by RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class. (*Based on the gross tonnage, the sandard measurement to compare ship sizes.)

However if your criteria to compare ship size is ‘passenger capacity’, these newbuilds can  legitimately be called the ‘worlds biggest’ ships.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carnival Destiny (Image courtesy of Carnival)

News – 15 June 2015

180,000gt (Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

180,000gt (Images courtesy of Costa. Click to enlarge)

Carnival Corporation today announced it has finalized a multi-billion dollar contract to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the industry.

The contract with Meyer Werft is part of larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022.

The four new ships will also feature a new “green cruising” design. The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The company said two of the ships will be manufactured for AIDA Cruises at Meyer Werft’s shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Additional information about the ships, including which new ships will be added to each brand, will be made available at a later date.

Based on Carnival Corporation’s innovative new ship design, each of the four next-generation ships will have a total capacity of 6,600 guests, feature more than 5,000 lower berths, exceed 180,000 gross tons and incorporate an extensive number of guest-friendly features. A major part of the innovative design involves making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces, creating an enhanced on-board experience for guests, said Carnival.

The four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored on-board and used to generate 100 percent power at sea.

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

In addition to the two ships being built in Germany, Meyer Werft – which had the capacity to accommodate these four ship-building orders in its production schedule — will also build the two additional ships detailed in today’s announcement at its shipyard in Turku, Finland.

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said: “We are looking forward to executing on the next step in our fleet enhancement plan,” said Donald. “At a cost per berth in line with our existing order book, these new ships will enhance the return profile of our fleet. These are exceptionally efficient ships with incredible cabins and public spaces featuring a design inspired by Micky Arison and Michael Thamm and developed by our new build teams.” Arison is chairman of the board of directors for Carnival Corporation & plc and Thamm is CEO of the Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.

“These ships will expand our leadership position for the Costa Group, the market leader in all the major European markets,” said Thamm. “These will be spectacular ships designed specifically for our guests who sail on our Costa Group brands.”

(Carnival)

Malcolm Says: This is very exciting news. The press release is a bit ambiguous, but it looks like AIDA and Costa will get two of these big ships each.

So, these will be the second biggest class of ships, just 45,000 gt smaller than the ‘Oasis’ class, yet with a bigger passenger capacity of  6,600 compared to Oasis’s 6,296, all berths. (Space ratio, Oasis = 35, Carnival Newbuild = 27). Even though Carnival say they will be “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces” I would still expect this to make the Carnival newbuilds feel more crowded than Oasis.

I bet that these new ship shave some sort of ‘flexible’ dining, with multiple dining rooms, like RCI have now adopted, in line with NCL

Carnival tend to retain their ship designs for many years, just making slight modifications over time. Therefore I would not be surprised if we don’t see P&O and/or Cunard and Princess, getting one of these new ships, sooner or later.

Liquefied Natural Gas: Using LNG to power ships is not a completely new idea.  However to date, LNG use has been restricted to smaller vessels operating rather short runs. This is due to the large size of fuel tanks required and the few bunkering facilities available. However it is a new idea for cruise ships and certainly a megaship design. 

The most attractive aspect of LNG to the cruise line is cost.  Under the right operating conditions LNG can reduce fuel costs.

Here is an interesting example: VIKING GRACE is a European passenger ferry (2013, 57,000gt, STX, Finland) powered by LNG. Large tanks for the gas are located on deck, to save space in the hull (See image below). Will the Carnival newbuilds mimic this feature, somehow?

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

Viking Grace, LNG Ferry

More information about LNG: HERE

6,500 Words About ‘Anthem of the Seas’

June 11, 2015

DSC_0161

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

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

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

Anthem: Some strange art!

Anthem: Some strange art!

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

Does Dynamic Dining actually Work?

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

Have RC retained their ‘wow’ factor?

How does Anthem compare to Oasis and the other megaships?

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

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

Malcolm

Anthem of the Seas review HERE

Marco Polo Meets Britannia

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

(Image Courtesy of Karen Bradbury – click to enlarge )

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

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

(S.Law, CMV)

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

Marco Polo review HERE

Anthem of the Seas Review

May 16, 2015

DSC_0078

At last, I have finished my review of RCI’s latest ship, ‘Anthem of the Seas’.

One of the biggest ships in the world inspired me to write one of the longest reviews in the world (well probably) – it’s around 6,000 words! Even then I only got to comment on a fraction of the public rooms and facilities.

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 they retained their ‘wow’ factor?

How does Anthem compare to Oasis and the other megaships?

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

It’s not a review for those who want a quick overview of the ship. It’s not all good either – there were bits that I really did not like. It will probably upset some RCI fans.

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

 

Shrinking Ships

May 12, 2015
Not quite what I meant!

Not quite what I meant!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Thomson Spirit - Click to enlarge)

Thomson Spirit, with cinema (Click to enlarge)

(Thomson Celebration, 6 cabins replace cinema)

Thomson Celebration, 6 cabins replace the cinema.

Thomson Cruises are a prime example:

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

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

Malcolm

Thomson Celebration Review HERE:

Magellan & Marco Polo @ Tilbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marco Polo from the deck of Magellan - Click to enlarge

Marco Polo from the deck of Magellan – Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

Malcolm

SS Great Britain

March 31, 2015

I have recently returned from an excellent weekend in Bristol, UK.

Bristol has been an important seaport for more than a thousand years.  The term “ship-shape and Bristol Fashion” is said to have originated from Bristol and refers to their ability to build strong ships, that can sit on Bristol’s Avon river bed, when the tide goes out, without sustaining damage.

One of the highlights is visiting the ‘SS Great Britain’, now a museum ship.

The SS Great Britain is a former passenger steamship, which was very advanced for her time. She was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship.

She was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the time of 14 days. Her four decks provided accommodation for a crew of 120, and 360 passengers who were provided with cabins and dining and promenade saloons.

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position. In 1884 the SS Great Britain was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, the vessel was towed back to the UK, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, she is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour.

Malcolm

Web site: http://www.ssgreatbritain.org

Titanic Hotel, Liverpool

March 21, 2015

Last month 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).

Below is a slide show.

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

Hotel web site:

http://rmstitanichotel.co.uk

The Cutty Sark, Greenwich, London

February 8, 2015

I recently visited Greenwich (London) which is on the Thames and is famous for its nautical connections. The two main attractions are the ‘National Maritime Museum’  and the ‘Cutty Sark’.

The ‘Cutty Sark’ is an historic 1869 Tea Clipper, built on the Clyde, Scotland, which has been on display in Greenwich (in dry-dock) since 1957.  The ‘Cutty Sark’ is in fact the last surviving tea clipper and fastest and greatest of her time.  However in 2007 she was seriously damaged by fire, during a renovation.

Some five years later and £45 million pounds later the ‘Cutty Sark’  was returned to her former glory. I had been a few times to see her over the years, as a child and as an adult.  I tried to visit her in 2012 shortly after she re-opened, to see the restoration. However she was a victim of her own success with queues snaking out of the door, so I gave her a miss.

I finally got to see her in January 2015.

I am pleased to say that she looks better than ever – inside and out. Although some  of her timbers were lost in the fire, many were also off-site in storage. You cannot tell the difference now.

Cleverly they have raised her up (like the SS Great Britain, In Bristol) by three meters so she looks down, more majestically than ever, over Greenwich. You you can walk right underneath the hull. There is even a café down there and display of historic figure-heads. There is a new entrance/foyer area with an enlarged gift shop. Visitors enter the hull and work their way up the ships inner decks to the open deck.

I’d certainly recommend a visit if you are in London.

Below is my slide-show, taken on my recent visit

Malcolm Oliver

Cutty Sark/NMM Web Site: http://www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark

My visit to the Nat. Maritime Museum: http://wp.me/pfRKD-1ur

MV Discovery Broken-Up

February 1, 2015
(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)

Although there was never an official announcement that MV Discovery was scrapped, she was tracked by cruiseblog contributors (John, Edwin, Bill, Mikep et al) to Alang, India. Here she was broken-up, on the beach.

Owners, the ‘All Leisure Group’ sold the loss-making cruise ship mv Discovery for $5 million, less than half her value.

Discovery (20,186 gt, 698 passengers) was originally the ‘Island Princess’, built in 1971, was one of the ships used to film the classic American TV series, the ‘Love Boat’. For the past few years Cruise & Maritime Voyages have been chartering her.

Discovery departed Bristol, Avonmouth, for the final time on October 9th bound to anchor off Falmouth for a few hours the day after.

Following her brief anchorage off Falmouth she sailed south to the Strait of Gibraltar and upon entering the Mediterranean she was reported to be renamed “AMEN” and flagged in St. Kitts and Nevis. She sailed directly towards Port Said and days later transited the Suez Canal. Like her sister Pacific, she has been broken up.

Malcolm Say’s: Unfortunately, I never cruised on Discovery, but did visit her in October this year, shortly before she made her final cruise. I was amazed how spacious she was for a small ship and how many public rooms she had. Her interiors reminded me of aspects of the SS France, QE2 and SS Rotterdam. How’s that for a pedigree! My mediocre images do not begin to do her justice.

Please see my slide show below:

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.

Malcolm

Sapphire Princess Review: HERE

MV Discovery

September 14, 2014

Sept. 2014

I recently visited ‘Discovery’ at Bristol’s Avonmouth Docks, and was amazed how many spacious public rooms the ship offered, for her relatively small size (20,186 gt, 698 passengers). Although some of her carpets were a little worn, I was generally very impressed with the overall operation.

She is a real ‘classic’ ship with aspects that reminded me of SS Norway, QE2 and even the SS Rotterdam. My slide show below hardly does her justice – you really need to see her in the flesh.

Discovery was originally the ‘Island Princess’, built in 1971, was one of the ships used to film the classic American TV series, the ‘Love Boat’.

For the past few years Cruise & Maritime Voyages have been chartering her.  However the owners, ‘All Leisure Group’, have gone into the red so are keen to sell her.  CMV will be replacing ‘Discovery’ with ‘Azores’, which they will charter from Portuguese operator Portuscale.

Regular readers will know that I am quite a fan of CMV’s Marco Polo.  MV Discovery is about the same size, carries less passengers and has so many more public lounges and bars. She even has a cinema. (Although internally MP seems to have benefitted form a more recent refit).

Malcolm

images

 

Stop press: MV Discover Scrapped?  http://wp.me/pfRKD-2PA