CMV get a New Flagship in 2015

November 3, 2014

Not all cruising is about big new American ships:

British based Cruise Operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), is pleased to announce the addition of Grand Holiday from Costa Crociere to the CMV fleet, commencing ex-UK operations under the CMV livery in spring 2015.

(CMV - click to enlarge)

(CMV – click to enlarge)

She will be re-named Magellan and at 46,052grt will carry about 1250 passengers becoming the proud 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).

Chris Coates, Commercial Director commented, “We are delighted to have secured this excellent addition to our fleet which we believe will be very well suited to our core British market. The introduction of Magellan will increase UK capacity by 40% increasing carryings up to 74,000 passengers. Having already sold 65% of capacity for next year we remain confident that Magellan will help satisfy the growing demand for our product”.

Christian Verhounig, CEO and Chairman of CMV explained, “The introduction of Magellan to our growing ocean fleet is another important milestone in the expansion and strategic development of the Group’s presence in the UK and wider international markets which will increase overall capacity to 115,000 passengers. The CMV brand is now creating much wider recognition and we remain confident that our medium to longer term growth objectives will be achieved”.

A new 2015 special launch edition brochure will be released on Tuesday 4th November 2014 detailing Magellan’s inaugeral CMV summer 2015 and winter 2015-16 programme. Special introductory fares with savings of up to 50% plus a 25% single supplement deal for the solos market will be on offer to launch the programme. The maiden CMV voyage will be a 12 night cruise to Iceland and the Faroes for the Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights sailing from London Tilbury on Sunday 15th March 2015. She will also be sailing from Newcastle Tyne.

Other programme changes include an Azores ex-Liverpool summer season and an 11 night Autumn Mediterranean fly cruise series plus a second Marco Polo 34 night Autumn Commemorative voyage to Canada. Magellan will be cruising to the Amazon in winter 2016 while Marco Polo will embark on a new 54 night voyage to Brazil, Argentina & Chile and Tierra del Fuego.


Malcolm Says: This was a surprise to me. MS Grand Holiday is a ‘Holiday’ class cruise ship, formerly owned by Carnival Cruise Lines and entered service in 1985. In April, 2010, she underwent dry dock refurbishment and was then transferred to the Ibero Cruises fleet. Sailing as the Grand Holiday began on May 18, 2010.


At 46,052 gross tonnes Magellan will be CMV’s biggest ship (although hardly big by modern standards. At 29 years old, verses Azores 66 years, Marco Polo’s 50 years and Astor’s 27 years, Magella will be their second newest ship.


The Ibero refit looks rather good, see video link below:

Eurostar London-Amsterdam Service

October 29, 2014

Not all travel news is about ships or ‘Quantum of the Seas’.  Here is something different, that may interest many Brits:

Starting in 2016, Eurostar will launch direct services between the British and Dutch capitals. The new link will further expand the  high-speed train network after the addition in May 2015 of new destinations in France.


As traffic on the Eurostar network continues to rise (+3% in Q3 2014 to 2.8 million passengers), the company hopes to reinforce the rise in demand by expanding its services.

Due to open in December 2016, the new direct service between London and the Amsterdam-Centraal station will include stops in Antwerp and Rotterdam and at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. Eurostar hopes to attract some of the around three million travellers per year who travel by plane between the Dutch and British capitals, not to mention customers of rival operator Thalys, which already runs high-speed train services between the cities.

News of the launch follows another significant expansion announcement made by Eurostar last July, when it revealed plans to launch services between London, Lyon, Avignon and Marseille from May 2015. Tickets are due to go on sale this December for the new service linking the British capital to the south of France.

Currently, Eurostar operates trains between Paris, London, Brussels and Lille (France). The rail operator’s expansion announcements coincide with the year of its 20th anniversary, which it will officially celebrate on November 1st.

(Source: MSN Travel)

The Train Guru:

Malcolm says: Direct trains to destinations in France, as well as Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam could prove very useful for British cruise passengers, if they can easily reach London.   Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam all have cruise terminals. Many river boats also depart from Amsterdam

Escape Gets Legendary Miami Bar

October 23, 2014

31st October 2014

In celebration of Norwegian Escape’s one year to launch milestone, Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that Miami’s oldest and most legendary bar, Tobacco Road, will find a new home aboard the line’s newest and largest ship.

32246-5The acclaimed establishment, which was issued Miami’s very first alcohol license, is closing its original location this week after 102 years in business. In an effort to preserve the tradition of this iconic Miami landmark, Tobacco Road and Norwegian Cruise Line partnered to bring the Tobacco Road experience on board Norwegian Escape, which will begin sailing from Miami in November 2015.

Located within 678 Ocean Place, the new location of the celebrated tavern will incorporate elements of the original Tobacco Road, including the iconic neon sign, memorabilia and photographs that will showcase the history of Miami through the lens of events and happenings at the bar over the past century.

In addition to favourite beers and spirits, Tobacco Road Bar on board Norwegian Escape will also feature a selection of cocktails created by Tobacco Road’s resident mixologist, Leo Holtzman. The delicious drinks from Holtzman’s Cocktail Collection will include favourites like the Chili Mule, featuring ginger puree, Cointreau and vodka topped with a sliced seranno pepper; and the Gateway, a rum-based drink that incorporates yuzu juice, elderflower syrup and Prosecco.

(Escape, NCL Image - click to enlarge)

(Escape, NCL Image – click to enlarge)

Norwegian Escape will begin weekly seven-night cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on 14 November 2015. The ship will be the largest 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. The ship’s signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation, Guy Harvey, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife.


Malcolm Says: Norwegian Escape will be NCL’s biggest ship at 163,000gt (10% bigger than Breakaway/Getaway). This class will be the worlds third largest, being slightly smaller than RCI’s  ‘Quantum’ class and with RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class being the worlds biggest.  Escape’s design will be similar to Breakaway’s with an extra deck. Some  of Breakaways public rooms will be substituted for new ones. There will also be some extra ones.

I wonder if ‘Tobacco Road’ will be designated non-smoking? That would be ironic!

Cunard Building Disapointment

October 17, 2014

UK: Liverpool city leaders have admitted the dream of turning the Cunard Building into a cruise liner terminal will not be realised.


When the building – one of the city’s Three Graces was bought by the council for 1.5m, it was hoped it could become a spectacular ticket hall for a new city facility.

But Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has now revealed converting the building and the demands of installing border controls would simply cost too much.

It has been suggested that the council only received a consultants’ report showing the “astronomical” price tag after it had gone ahead with buying the building.

Mayor Anderson said the report commissioned by the council – which it is not releasing until the end of the month – suggests the price tag to convert the Cunard would have been anything from £5m to £60m.

In order to satisfy border control requirements, options including creating a monorail from the building to the embarking point would have had to be considered.

“In light of these findings it is clear we will not be able to progress with this plan.  “However, I want to reassure the city that we will find a solution and we will create a first class cruise liner terminal for our city and we have already begun conversations about other possible waterfront locations.”


Cllr Kemp said: “Buying this building without checking if it was feasible to pull it off is like somebody buying a house without having the survey done.

“It’s now about 100% certain it won’t be being used as a ticket hall when we were told that’s what it was going to be.  “If they’re not doing that, then it’s just another office block.”

(Source: Liverpool Echo)

Malcolm Says: Duh! I think the Council have suddenly realised that building a big B&Q style shed (like Southampton’s new ‘Ocean Terminal’) is a lot cheaper than adapting a historic building. Which do you like best:

(Southampton's newer Ocean Terminal)

(Southampton’s newer Ocean Terminal)

(Southampton's 1950 Ocean Terminal)

(Southampton’s 1950 Ocean Terminal)

Titanic Hotel Opens For Business

It’s not all bad news for Liverpool:

The 30 James Street Hotel, “The Home of the Titanic”, in Liverpool, has opened for business.

(30 James Street, Liverpool)

(30 James Street, Liverpool)

The grade-two listed building was once home to the White Star Line HQ, the shipping company responsible for building the Titanic.

The building has been transformed into a luxury 65 bedroom hotel and spa by developers Signature Living.


Malcolm Says: There is now also ‘Titanic Hotel’ in the regenerated Stanley Doc, Liverpool. I belive the building was a disused warehouse. However unlike ’30 James Street’, it has no connection with the Titanic what so ever.

Is Traditional Dining Dead?

October 10, 2014

The Norwegian Cruise Line have their ‘Freestyle’ dining system and Royal Caribbean are about to introduce’Dynamic Dining’. Both do away with the ‘one big main dining room’ system, with two fixed sittings. images3YV6N6EB The traditional system is being replaced by multiple dining rooms and greater flexibility. Flexible dining is definitely more suited to the modern lifestyle. Today, many passengers do not want to pay for a holiday only to be told what to wear and when to eat. In fact it is amazing that RCI have stuck with the ‘one main dining room’ concept for so long.

I can see Carnival quickly following suit on-board their fleet, followed by Princess and then P&O. I

s this the beginning of the end?


Oasis To Get Dynamic Dining

October 2, 2014

Royal Caribbean announced a while back announced that ‘Dynamic Dining’ will be introduced to Oasis of the Seas during upcoming revitalization.

Dynamic Dinning is their new system (not unlike NCL’s ‘Freestyle’) and will debut on their newbuilds Quantum of the Seas (2014) and Anthem of the Seas (2015)

The Opus Dining Room, Oasis

The Opus Dining Room, Oasis

There has been much speculation how this could be achieved on-board a ship which was not built with Dynamic Dining in mind. An unofficial source says that Oasis’s giant three tier main dining room ‘Opus’ will be split into three restaurants:

Deck 3 – American Icon Grill

Deck 4 – The Grande

Deck 5 – Silk

Each floor will be decorated differently, but no subdividing of individual floors will be required. I guess this will prove to be a pretty easy and will be mainly cosmetic changes.

(RCI rendering - Quantum)

(RCI rendering – Quantum)

I assume that each tier has probably got it’s own kitchen anyway.

Sadly the Royal Viking Crown will become the ‘Coastal Kitchen’ and a lounge, both for suite guests only. This is quite a loss for the general passengers.

The main dining spaces will be re-modelled during Oasis of the Seas’ dry-docking (October 2014) but Dynamic Dining itself will not begin until March 2015.

New Oasis deck plans here:

(Thanks to the Unofficial RCI Blog)

Malcolm Says: I’ve experienced NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ and it has its advantages and disadvantages. However is definitely more suited to the modern lifestyle. Today, many passengers do not want to pay and be told what to wear and when to eat. In fact it is amazing that RCI have stuck with the “one main dining room” concept for so long.

The sad thing in my mind, is that Freestyle (and Dynamic) dramatically changes the design of a ship. A purpose built ‘Dynamic’ (or ‘Freestyle’) ship will be crammed with multiple restaurants, bars and multiple entertainment venues. This does not leave very much room for ‘wow’ spaces – just look at Quantum and Breakaway/Getaway. Even double height public rooms and tall atriums become too much of a waste of space, which can be used for more dining options.

If Oasis was purpose built for ‘Dynamic’ I wonder if she would have a Royal Promenade, Central park, Boardwalk and Studio B?

RCI are being very brave because they do not even know how well it will work or how well it will be received until Quantum enters service, yet they are already extending it to Oasis.

NCL did the same some years back and retro-fitted their fleet. Freestyle certainly worked better on the NCL ships that were purpose built for it, than on-board their older tonnage (like Norwegian Dream). There purpose built ‘Freestyle’ ships had so many more dining choices, so more flexibility.

Note: It has now been announced that Dynamic Dining will also be extended to ‘Allure of the Seas’. I guess the whole RCI fleet will get it in time.

‘Oasis of the seas’ review:

Norwgian Escape Details

October 1, 2014

Norwegian Cruise have revealed that Norwegian Escape will incorporate The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, the immensely popular design innovation first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway and also on Norwegian Getaway. This concept includes an oceanfront boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars and shops, combined with three expansive, flowing decks of dining, bars, entertainment, gaming and more. The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place have taken cruising to new heights and offer an unparalleled experience with a unique connection to the ocean. Norwegian Escape is currently under construction and is scheduled for delivery in October 2015.


(Click Images to enlarge NCL)

Located on deck 8, The Waterfront is a revolutionary outdoor experience that adds a whole new dimension to Norwegian’s signature Freestyle Cruising, by offering a number of seaside venues that will feature breath-taking views and a sense of connection with the ocean. The hub of the ship will be 678 Ocean Place, a space that uniquely flows, intertwines and connects three decks of daytime and night-time amusements.

A private group dining venue for up to 100 guests will be one of the new features.

As part of Taste, one of the complimentary dining options on board, the Private Room at Taste will accommodate up to 100 guests, offering the opportunity for groups to dine together in a private setting. Located just below the main Taste restaurant on deck 5, the Private Room at Taste features its own entrance, lounge and private dining area.

The new Skyline Bar, will be located within the Escape casino. It is an elegant and sophisticated lounge highlighted by brushed gold and metallic finishes. The lounge will also feature entertainment, a bar with video poker and multiple walls lined with ultra, high definition LED screens that can create an array of scenes to transform the mood of the space.

(Skyline Bar - NCL)

(Skyline Bar – NCL)

The popular Manhattan Room returns (deck 7) as the complimentary aft dining room with cool, sophisticated tones of blue and silver. As guests dine on cuisine that reflects the elegant nature of the room, they will enjoy live music and dancing. The two-story high restaurant showcases floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows looking aft, lined with mirrored accents and glamorous lighting.

(Manhattan Room - NCL)

(Manhattan Room – NCL)

New to Norwegian Escape is a portrait studio, where guests will have the opportunity to take professional photographs. There will also be a number of exciting dining and entertainment venues located within 678 Ocean Place and in other locations on the vessel that will be revealed at a later date.

(The Waterfront - NCL)

(The Waterfront – NCL)

Following inaugural events in Southampton and its maiden transatlantic voyage, Norwegian Escape will begin weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean on 14 November 2015. The ship will be the largest 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.


(Teppanyaki Restaurant – NCL)

The ship’s signature hull artwork is designed by marine wildlife artist and champion of ocean conservation, Guy Harvey, which features an underwater scene of marine wildlife. Norwegian’s newest ship is Harvey’s largest canvas to date, at 1065 feet in length.

(Source: NCL)

Malcolm says: Escape is essentially ‘Breakaway’ with an extra deck. There will be some new public spaces, but many will be very similar.

See More about Escape’s design Here:

Breakaway Review:

Quantum’s Royal Esplanade Revealed!

September 29, 2014

Since RCI announce their new ship ‘Quantum of the Seas’ in February 2013, there has been much speculation about the ships facilities.

Even a month before Quantum enters service,  the speculation still continues. This is because RCI have been frustratingly secretive and slow at revealing the facts. We still do not know them all yet.

A major point of speculation was whether  ‘Quantum’ would have  ‘Royal Promenade’, similar to those on-board the Voyager, Freedom and Oasis class ships, or at least something similar.

(The Crossing - RCI)

(The Crossing – RCI)

RCI did say that Quantum would have a Royal Promenade. However, it was not clear what form it would take and if it would have an internal ‘street’ feel, like the ‘Royal Promenade’ that we have grown to love.

In fact it has been confirmed that Quantum’s ‘Royal Prom’ will be called the “Royal Esplanade”.

The name alone suggests that it will be different.  It certainly does not have cabins overlooking it, like all of it’s counterparts.  It is not clear if there will be any (or much) natural light either.

The cut-away shows that Quantum has a two-deck high walkway (deck 4 and 5) passing through her centre of the ship, for maybe half  the length . There appears to be an upper and lower walkway. It has dining rooms, retail and entertainment venues on either side. It looks as if  the two levels are linked by staircases.  It appears  not pass through the ship in a straight line, but deviate around venues, so you cannot see form one end of it to the other.

Parts of it remind me of the Celebrity Solstice design, which features a short two deck shopping arcade.

Wave of light

(Quantum – ‘Waves of Light’ in the Rotunda. RCI)

(RCI - Creating 'Waves of Light')

(RCI – Creating ‘Waves of Light’)

Below are latest images from the Meyer Werft, ship yard, Germany,  which give us the best insight yet, as to what the ‘Royal Esplanade’ will look like.

(RCI/Meyer Werft)

(RCI/Meyer Werft)

(The Crossing - RCI/Meyer Werft)

(The Crossing – RCI/Meyer Werft)

Above: A pretty tall atrium with an equally tall butterfly artwork. We do know that vertical glass art-work is called “The Crossing” and it encompasses a wall of 210 butterflies representing 30 species, each made of aluminium, stainless steel, acrylic and enamel.

(RCI/Meyer Werft)

(RCI/Meyer Werft)

Above: The ‘Royal Esplanade’ is clearly two decks high in places.

(RCI/Meyer Werft)

(RCI/Meyer Werft)

The structure above reminds me a little of NCL’s 678 Ocean Place, instead of a chandelier, there is a modern artwork.

It’s fun to speculate, but we can only really Jude the differences and similarities between the ‘Promenade’ and ‘Esplanade’ once we get on-board. (Although RCI seem to have forgotten to send my invitation).


Blue Star Line readjusts Titanic II Launch Date

September 26, 2014

Clive Palmer’s ambitious Titanic II project has been delayed by two years, with the self-proclaimed billionaire blaming difficulties with building the replica to meet modern safety standards.

The businessman-cum-politician made a big splash in 2012 when he unveiled plans to build a replica of the doomed 269-metre RMS Titanic.

“Her maiden voyage … is scheduled for late 2016,” Mr Palmer said at the time.

That deadline has been routinely mentioned by his company in subsequent press conferences and official media releases, which even proclaimed tests on a 9.3m wooden model.

Now the launch date has been quietly readjusted to 2018. The new date was briefly mentioned in the last paragraph of a release by Palmer’s Blue Star Line – the company responsible for the ambitious Titanic II project.

A spokesman for Mr Palmer said: “There is a lot of work involved in replicating a ship from another century to ensure it is compliant with today’s maritime safety laws.”

(Fraser/Walsh – The Courier-Mail)


Britannia Interiors Revealed

September 24, 2014



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