Meet Columbus

April 1, 2016

An alternative to todays many mega-ships:

A slide-show of the new addition to Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet, formerly ‘Pacific Pearl’ for P&O Cruises Australia and before that P&O (UK) ‘Arcadia’.

Her 2017 itineraries have now been published: HERE

I hope to cruise on this ship and write a review  ASAP. If CMV are reading a free cruise would speed the whole process up!


(Reviews of CMV’s Marco Polo, Magellan and Astoria can be found, menu right)

Norwegian Joy Gets Go-karts & Bumper Cars

March 30, 2016
(All images courtesy of NCL)

(All images courtesy of NCL)

The Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has now revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Joy 喜悦号 (Xǐ Yuè Hào), its most innovative and luxurious ship ever, built and styled exclusively for Chinese guests, arriving Summer 2017. Home porting in Shanghai & Tianjin (Beijing).

Norwegian Joy was designed by the team at Norwegian Cruise Line to provide First Class at Sea experiences specifically for the Chinese traveller, with on-board amenities that cater to the unique holiday desires of Chinese guests. Built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, the ship features German precision engineering to the highest possible standard, while offering superior customisation for the culture and preferences of Chinese guests along with the exciting and innovative features found on Norwegian Cruise Line’s most recent vessels.



With a capacity of 3,900 guests, Norwegian Joy will deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy ‘First Class at Sea’ experiences, starting with her VIP accommodation. As the World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line, an honour bestowed upon the company by the World Travel Awards, Norwegian Cruise Line is known in the industry for offering innovative, stylish and first class accommodations. Norwegian Joy will feature The Haven by Norwegian®, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship suite luxury complex. Accessible only by personalised key card, The Haven offers a private respite for the most discerning travellers. It features a personal butler service, a dedicated concierge, priority access to entertainment and specialty dining, a private restaurant, enclosed courtyard and 74 spacious and meticulously decorated suites. The ultra-exclusive experience in The Haven on Norwegian Joy will also include an all-new Observation Deck featuring 180 degree views, the same as the ship’s officers experience from the Bridge, with gourmet canapés and premium beverages.

Norwegian Joy will also debut an all new accommodation category: the first at sea Concierge level. Guests who stay in the Concierge staterooms aboard Norwegian Joy will enjoy a VIP experience, featuring larger balcony staterooms with luxurious en suite amenities and the services of a dedicated concierge to make arrangements on board, from entertainment to dining. A perfect category for families and guests looking for extra personal service, the Concierge staterooms will also offer guests an exclusive Concierge lounge, with a private bar and refreshments available throughout the day.

The ship also features a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies, to fit every traveller’s need. Accommodation offerings also include staterooms designed specifically for families and a multitude of connecting staterooms, for extended families travelling together.


(All images courtesy of NCL)

Entertainment & Activities

Norwegian Joy will continue Norwegian Cruise Line’s long history of innovation in providing engaging, exciting features and amenities for guests to enjoy. Sure to delight guests of all ages, the ship’s top decks will offer a wide-range of never-before-seen at sea experiences.

At the very top of the ship, guests will take the ride of a lifetime on a thrilling two-level competitive racetrack– the first ever at sea. Cruisers can race family and friends in electric cars (a 5-6 minute course) and even share a photo of their first place finish. Afterwards, they can challenge one another to a game of laser tag in the open-air course, sure to be a hit with both kids and kids-at-heart.


When guests step inside Norwegian Joy’s Galaxy Pavilion, they will find themselves in a world unlike anything they’ve ever seen at sea, complete with immersive virtual reality experiences, thrilling simulator rides and interactive video walls. Guests can go for a spin with friends or family on exciting hover craft bumper cars or start their engines in a professional single-seat race car that’s been converted into a state-of-the-art racing simulator. Three interactive dark ride simulators provide guests with a captivating experience featuring real-time 3D graphics, 360- degree surround sound and multi-sensory special effects, while flight and car simulators will let guests take flight or take to the road for an adrenaline-filled experience. Movie buffs will be transported to a galaxy far, far away and into an intense battle as they pilot a fighter to take on the forces of the dark side in a Star Wars® battle pods video game, and gamers can partake in a contest of skill at six Xbox® console stations. Those guests who enjoy advanced technology will be exhilarated by state-of-the-art virtual optic experiences by Oculus that include designing and then riding a personal roller coaster; soaring to new heights over mountains and oceans; or living on the edge and walking along a cliff or on top of a ten-story building.

Galaxy Pavilion - Hover Craft Bumper Cars

Galaxy Pavilion – Hover Craft Bumper Cars

Continuing the adrenaline pumping recreation activities on the ship, Norwegian Joy will also feature two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Double Aqua Loop free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and second see-through loop that stretches down to the deck below, sure to offer a wet and wild ride. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet as they twist and turn to the finish line.

The top deck of Norwegian Joy will also feature a tranquil open space park, where guests can enjoy a partially covered serene setting designed for relaxation. Offering greenery, a soothing pool and chaise lounges, it’s the perfect spot to meditate in the fresh air, gaze out to the open sea or practice tai chi and yoga.


Tranquil open space park

No holiday experience is complete without shopping, and Norwegian Joy will not disappoint. The ship will feature an upscale shopping venue, the largest in Norwegian’s fleet, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to high-end international brands. The shops will offer renowned global luxury brands, in fashion, jewellery and electronics.

Of course, Norwegian Joy will also offer bow to stern Wi-Fi connectivity, the fastest in the Norwegian fleet, so that guests can share their exciting First Class at Sea cruise experiences and stay in touch with family and friends during their cruise.

Norwegian Joy fuses a western cruise holiday with the comforts and preferences that Chinese guests expect, plus the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can offer, for a fabulous combination of culture and cuisine and a true east meets west experience.


Malcolm says: NCL’s  ‘Breakaway Plus’ and RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class ships have just become even more similar.  RCI have obviously borrowed NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining concept and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’ on-board the Quantum class ships. Likewise NCL have obviously borrowed RCI’s bumper cars and the ‘Central Park’ ideas. However I doubt if the NCL version will have real plants.

Go-karts are at least an original idea. I believe the track will located in the space (or part of the space) that the rope-climbing course used to be located in. Both take away sun-bathing deck space, which these mega-ships often lack.  I am surprised that NCL have been able to add these ‘innovations’ to an existing ship design.

I can’t imagine how hover craft bumper cars would work on-board a ship. I guess they will also be electric, but a large force is normally needed to get anything to hover, so they are also likely to be very noisy. I wonder if they are similar to these in this video:  Hover Bumper Cars

Viking Orders Three More Ocean Ships

March 29, 2016
Viking Star (Courtesy NFH - Own work)

Viking Star (Courtesy NFH – Own work)

Viking Ocean Cruises has ordered three more ocean ships.

The additions, which will be built at the Fincantieri shipyard, will take Viking’s fleet to six vessels by 2020.

The new ships were announced at the float-out ceremony of Viking Sky, which launches early next year. Following will be Viking Star (2016), Viking Sea (2017), Viking Sun (2017) the two unnamed new ships which will be delivered in late 2018 and 2020.

All of the ships will be 47,500 gross tonnes and carry 930-passengers.


Malcolm says: Viking are expending on both river and ocean fronts. They must be doing something very right!

The Swiss cruise line was only formed in 1997, for river cruising. They have quickly grown, and have become market leaders in river cruising. They have more than 65 river vessels, serving many of the worlds major rivers, with more being added each year, at present.

Liverpool Commissions Design Work For A Cruise Terminal

March 28, 2016
(Cunard Image)

Click to enlarge (Cunard Image)

Liverpool City Council appointed an international consultancy team to produce a concept design for a permanent cruise terminal.

They are tasked with producing a robust, fully costed plan for a terminal capable of handling 3,600 embarking and disembarking passengers with baggage—three times as many as the existing facility. The site would include passport control, passenger lounge, café, toilets, taxi rank, vehicle pick-up point, coach layover area and a car park.

Full ‘Seatrade’ article HERE

Malcolm says: This sounds like a more professional approach than in 2014 when the city council re-acquired the historic Cunard building in Liverpool, announcing that it would become the new cruise terminal, only to later announce it was not suitable. (See here)

Fred Olsen To Sail From More UK Ports

March 27, 2016

Boudicca – Tilbury 17th Dec. 2015

The recent itineraries published by Fred. Olsen, clearly show that the cruise line is to sail it’s fleet of four ships from more regional UK ports than any other cruise line.

The Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is reinforcing its reputation for offering the greatest choice of ex-UK departures to cruise guests in 2017/18 sailing from ten convenient regional ports: Southampton, Dover, Tilbury, Harwich, Falmouth, Liverpool, Newcastle, Greenock (Glasgow), Rosyth (Edinburgh) and Belfast.

(Fred. Olsen)

Malcolm says: We also have CMV offering some regional port departures (Tilbury, Avonmouth, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle, Greenock, Dundee & Leith) so we Brits are getting a good choice of smaller/classic ships on our doorstep.

I quite a fan of Olsen’s fleet of smaller ‘classic’ ships. They offer a refreshing contrast to the increasing number of mega-ships being built.

Black Watch (1972) review: HERE, Boudicca (1972) review: HERE, Balmoral (1988) review: HERE, Braemar (1993) review: HERE

Genting Dream Hull Art Revealed

March 25, 2016
(Courtesy Genting)

(Courtesy Genting)

Dream Cruises have unveiled the artwork set to adorn Genting Dream, the cruise line’s inaugural ship purpose-built for the China and Asia cruise market. The ship debuts later this year.
Conceived by Chinese pop-artist Jacky Tsai, the art piece entitled “Voyage of a Lover’s Dream” envisages an ethereal and fantastical journey of love between a mermaid and an astronaut.
London-based Tsai, best known for his creative work with iconic fashion designer Alexander McQueen, combines the essence of Chinese culture and the popular elements of western art in his unique hull art piece, said Genting in a statement.

Jacky has created a giant-sized art piece on both port and starboard sides of Genting Dream measuring more than 335 metres in length. The artist has then recreated an acrylic and gold leaf on canvas work – measuring 3.1 metres by 1.35 metres, which will be displayed on board.


Malcolm says: Genting Dream is based on NCL’s ‘Breakaway’ design. However I believe the passenger numbers will be reduced to provide a ‘premium’ experience, rather than a mass-market (standard) one.

Cunard To Add Cabins To Queen Victoria

March 21, 2016
(Courtesy of Cunard)

(Courtesy of Cunard)

Cunard is to extra add Britannia Club cabins to Queen Victoria during the ship’s next dry-dock in June 2017.

The move will follow the line introducing 30 more Britannia Club cabins and 15 new single cabins to their flagship Queen Mary 2. This is part of a ‘remastering’ of the ship during a period in dry dock between May 27 and June 21.

Cunard also announced that all accommodation on Queen Mary 2 would be refurbished in time for the ship’s 2017 world cruise. Tea and coffee makers will be included in each cabin as part of the renovation.

The decision to increase Britannia Club capacity on Queen Victoria is due to passenger demand, according to the company.


Queen Victoria review: HERE

Malcolm says: Whatever the cruise lines say, the motivation in adding extra cabins to any ship is to increase the profits. However you loose public spaces and the ship becomes a little more crowded. Extra cabins are only advantageous if you are staying in one.

Queen Vic’s profile will be similar to Queen Elizabeth’s after the cabins are added (see below).


QE bottom, QV top (click to enlarge)

The SS Norway Remembered

March 20, 2016
SS Norway in Southampton waters 2001

SS Norway in Southampton waters, 2001

In 2008 the Norwegian Cruise Line’s  SS Norway was cut up on a beach, in Alang, India, and disposed of.

She entered service in 1962 as the ‘SS France’ Ocean Liner. She was the glory of  France’s glory – a ship of state.

She was decommissioned in 1974 and left to rust in the era when the jet aeroplane replaced the ocean liner as the preferred meth of intercontinental travel.

However in 1979 she was purchased by NCL and renovated, returning back to service in 1980 as the then biggest Caribbean cruise ship. Although only medium sized by modern standards, It can be argued that she started the era of the mega-cruise-ship.

I was lucky enough to take her final Transatlantic crossing on the SS Norway, on 2nd September 2001, from Miami to Southampton.  I know that many of you have very fond memories of this special ship. Why not join me?

You can read some background information here and my ‘Final Transatlantic’ review: HERE


The United States Line

March 19, 2016

(Source unknown)

United States Lines was a former transatlantic shipping company that operated cargo services from 1921 to 1989, and ocean liners until 1969—most famously, the SS United States.

SS America was an ocean liner built in 1940 for the United States Lines and designed by the noted naval architect William Francis Gibbs. She was  26,454 GRT and carried 1,202 passengers.

the SS United States entered service in 1952. She was (and still is) the largest ocean liner built in the United States and the fastest ocean liner ever built. She was 53,330 GT and carried 1,928 passengers.

She immediately set transatlantic speed records, capturing the Blue Riband from the Queen Mary.

With the introduction of the larger and faster United States in 1952, America’s reign as queen of the US merchant marine was taken away from her. Their disparity in size and speed prevented them from becoming true running mates like the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth of the Cunard Line. But she still was a favourite of many.

The SS America is of course somewhat forgotten compared to the SS united states

See the SS America story HERE

Below is a slide-show by Crystal Cruises of renderings of the renovated SS United States:

SS United States Renovation News HERE


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



Crystal Cruises

March 18, 2016

In 2015/16 Crystal announced some impressive plans to expand their range of luxury products (see here)

Here is an update of their plans:

  • Five new luxury river cruise boats in Europe: one revamp of an existing ship (Mozart); four newly-built ships (Debussy, Bach, Ravel, Mahler) to be delivered summer 2017 (here).
  • Three new 100,000-gross-ton luxury cruise liners  with condos for sale on-board, the first entering service 2019
  • Three new jets, which they just purchased for airborne cruising. Two are wide-bodies (a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a Boeing 777) that will go into service in 2017; a GlobalExpress charter plane is up-and-running now.
  • The Esprit, the first in their new yacht line, sleeping a maximum of 62 passengers in suites. The yacht will even feature its own mini-sub.
  • Newbuild Crystal Endeavor polar megayacht with 100 suites, entering service in August 2017.(See story below)

Edie Rodriguez, President & CEO said “This is just the beginning”. 

What we could have never guessed is that  in February 2015, Crystal Cruises are set to purchase the classic America Ocean Liner, the SS United States, currently in lay-up. Their plan is to return her back to service as a fully renovated luxury vessel.


SS United States renovation: HERE


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