Carnival Vista Homeport

February 5, 2015

Carnival Cruise Line will homeport Carnival Vista, its newest and largest cruise ship, in Miami after a short tenure in New York City.

According to the Miami Herald, the move is part of an extended deal between Carnival Corp. and PortMiami that would require Carnival to sail Vista out of Miami for at least 24 months in the three years after the ship launches next year.

The 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista will launch May 1, 2016, in the Mediterranean. The ship will feature a range of facilities  including the first-at-sea IMAX theater, the line’s largest WaterWorks water park with a water tube slide that’s more than 450 feet long and the suspended open-air SkyRide. She also will have an onboard brewery, the New England-style Seafood Shack and a dedicated families-only zone with lounge and cabins.

After a season of 18 sailings in Europe, the ship will embark on a 13-night transatlantic crossing October 21, 2016, arriving in New York City on November 3. She will then operate a series of sailings from New York before homeporting in Miami.

(Source: Carnival)

Below is a slideshow, showing some of the design highlights Carnival’s forthcoming ship:


Oasis 4

February 4, 2015
(STX Image)

(STX Image)

Royal Caribbean’s fourth Oasis-class cruise ship took a major step forward today when it had its steel cutting ceremony earlier today at STX France in Saint-Nazaire, France.

The steel cutting marks the official start of construction for any cruise ship. Royal Caribbean promises more details about this and sister third Oasis-class ship will be revealed in the coming months.

The unnamed Oasis-class ship will debut in mid-2018 but it’s just one of a few Royal Caribbean ships under construction. Anthem of the Seas is almost complete and will be ready for an April 2015 launch, followed by a third Oasis-class and Ovation of the Seas (Quantum-class), which will both debut in spring 2016.

(Unofficial Royal Caribbean Blog)

Oasis 3

February 3, 2015
(STX images)

(STX images)

In December 2012, STX France STX France SA signed a contract for building a cruise ship intended for the Royal Caribbean International fleet. The third ship of the OASIS class, featuring outstanding dimensions is due for delivery in mid-2016.


At 361 metres long and 66 metres wide, this ship is the biggest ever built in STX (in Saint-Nazaire, France) and the biggest ever with Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas built by STX Finland. Oasis 3, as her “sister ship” is an architectural marvels at sea, with her split superstructure and the cruise line’s neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas.


She introduces also extraordinary “firsts” at sea such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the AquaTheater high-diving performance venue, and the Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants. The Oasis class also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an iceskating rink, the H2O Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others. She will span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carrying 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms.

(Source: STX) 

Malcolm says: While I appreciate the ‘Oasis’ class of mass-market, floating resorts, will NOT be everybody’s cup of tea, the design and innovation is simply amazing!

Dynamic Dining Is Revised

February 1, 2015
Now so 'Wow' after all?

Not so ‘Wow’ after all?

It would appear after many complaints from Royal Caribbean passengers, that “Dynamic Dining” (which first appeared on their newbuild ‘Quantum’ of the Seas”) will undergo a revision. It would seem that ‘Dynamic’ was displeasing the traditional-dining fans.

It has been announced that on-board ‘Anthem of the Seas’,  ‘Dynamic Dining’ will be augmented with a ‘rotational’ dining system, known as ‘classic’.  The Disney cruise line have pioneered a similar system. There is no news about ‘Quantum’ or the ‘Oasis’ class yet, which ‘Dynamic’ was being extended to.

Malcolm says: As I have pointed out in this blog a number of times in the past: NCL have spent 15 years perfecting their ‘Freestyle’ dining system ( “In May 2000, Norwegian Cruise Line ushered in a new era of cruising when it introduced its innovative Freestyle Cruising aboard Norwegian Sky”).  It’s still not perfect and it is not without its critics, but it has many advantages over the traditional system and generally works quite well.

‘Dynamic Dining’ was a MAJOR change in direction for RCI and one which required a change in the whole design of the ship. It was both a very brave move which appears to have not completely worked.  The above news is proof-positive of this.  ‘Dynamic’ has caused much frustrations for the passengers, rather than the ‘Wow’ factor that it was meant to achieve.

So watch this space for further developments.

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.

Peter Knego, ship expert (of Maritime Matters/MidShipCentury) has very close links with Alang. He imports, collects and sells memorabilia from classic ships, that have been broken up. It is his way of preserving their memory. His facebook page currently shows an image featuring ‘Discovery’ on the beach at Alang.


(Thanks to Edwin Todd for information)

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:

Norwegian Escape Deck Plans

January 30, 2015


Norwegian Cruise Line’s next ship, ‘Norwegian Escape’, is due to enter service  in October 2015.  She will be followed by ‘Norwegian Bliss’ in 2017.

NCL have updated their deck plans to reveal more:!/ships/norwegian-escape/deck-plans

(Deck 8 - Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

Both ships are enlarged versions of the “Breakaway” class (2013), hence they are called the “Breakaway Plus” class. They will be NCL’s biggest ships yet. They will be 163,000 gross tonnes and carry 4,200 passengers (lower berths) when compared to the “Breakaway class” at 144,000 gt and 4,000 passengers. They will eclipse ‘Norwegian Epic’ at 156,000 gt and 4,100 passengers, which will become their second biggest ship.

Escape will boast an expanded ‘Haven’ complex (their “ship within a ship” concept) with more premium accommodation and a number of new brands of dining and drinking venues.

(District Brew House)

(District Brew House)

The  expansion of the ‘Haven’ has been achieved by adding a second deck (17 & 18) to the Haven, of luxury accommodation. The space, accessible by key-card, will have an outdoor terrace with its private restaurant as well as the same kind of private courtyard area with retractable roof, pool, two whirlpools, sauna, spa treatment rooms and sundeck.


The number of suites within the Haven more than doubles, from 42 on Getaway to 95 on Escape. These include four 1,300-square-foot deluxe owner’s suites (that’s nearly 100 feet larger than the one found on Getaway), four 572-square-foot owner’s suites, 25 two-bedroom family villas that sleep up to six, and 22 penthouses. Another 26 Haven-style penthouses are located in other areas of the ship, facing forward and aft, as well as 14 Haven spa suites that are close to the ship’s fitness centre and Thermal Suite.

The image below, from an NCL rendering, probably shows the Haven’s restaurant, with outdoor terrace:

this one

Norwegian Escape will also have an expanded Studio-cabin area, which consists of 82 cabins for solo travellers, 23 more than Breakaway. The Studio cabins  will have there own lounge, accessible by key-card only, as on-board Breakaway, Getaway and Epic.

(Studio Cabin)

(Studio Cabin)


(Escape Studio Lounge - NCL)

(Escape Studio Lounge – NCL)

Families will continue to have many options across the cabin categories, with 40 mini-suites located near ‘Splash Academy’, 172 family balconies near the children’s facilities, 48 ocean-view staterooms that can accommodate up to five and an unspecified number of inside staterooms with additional Pullman beds.

(NCL Image - click to enlarge

(Excellent NCL detailed rendering – click to enlarge)


Breakaway V’s Escape

When compared to Breakaway, Escape has an extra deck of cabins (20 decks in total). The ‘studio’ (single) cabins are spread over three decks (10, 11, 12) not just two, with the lounge being on 11 between all three decks.

The most significant difference is that Escape’s deck 5 has about 100 less cabins, which releases some extra space to house the ‘Splash Academy’, kids club (Breakaway has this on deck 13). This change is to locate the ‘Splash Academy’ near to a large number of family suites.

Getaway Deck 5

Getaway Deck 5 (Click to enlarge)

(Escape Deck 5)

Escape Deck 5

It appears that Escape has extra cabins on deck 13 where Breakaway’s ‘Splash Academy’ is.

In addition 18 cabins have been lost from deck 8 (the ‘Waterfront’ deck) and it appears the waterfront may have been extended and new public space has been created.

Below: Breakaway


Below: Escape (Less cabins on deck 8/new space)


 I while back I guessed that the bulges on the top of the ‘Haven’ (see below) were  cantilevered (overhanding) Hot Tubs, RCI style.


The deck plans now confirms this:

(NCL Image)

(NCL Image)

Comments: The ‘Breakaway’ class ships design was excellent.  The ‘waterfront’ is a simple idea, yet brilliant and this alone is a major improvement on Epic’s design.  All cruise ships. all lines,  should have a ‘Waterfront’ and I’m sure we will see more. In fact it appears that newbuils: Carnival (Vista) and MSC (Seaside) will have a similar facility.

However I am a little concerned that the Breakaway  ships are sometimes called “busy”, or even “crowded”, in passenger reviews. ‘Breakaway Plus’ will carry even more passengers.

Although NCL have added some extra public spaces on decks 5 and 8, not all of the facilities of the Breakaway class can expanded. The ship will be taller (an extra deck) but not significantly  longer or wider. I assume that Breakaway’s  busy ‘Pool Deck’,’ Aqua-Park’ and ‘Sports Deck’ will all have to be a similar size. Likewise, the Waterfront may be a little longer, but it cannot be wider.

Only time will tell.


See my Getaway review here:

Carnival returns to Europe in 2016

January 23, 2015

22 January 2015

(Carnival image - click to enlarge)

(Carnival image – click to enlarge)

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

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

(Carnival image)

(Carnival image)

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

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


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


Havana Cabana balcony (Carnival Image).


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

(By Hollie-Rae Merrick/Travel weekly)


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

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

Carnival Vista Slideshows:


Public Rooms:

Outer Decks:

(Images courtesy of Carnival)


Titanic Vs Oasis of the Seas

January 22, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

“This article is stupid”

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

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

You can read the silliness here:

MSC – Seven Newbuilds For 2022?

January 20, 2015

January 2015

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

(MSC Seaside, click to enlarge)

(MSC Project Seaside, click to enlarge)

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

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

(Source: Cruise Industry News)

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

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

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


Norwegian Escape culinary Experiences & Entertainment

January 19, 2015


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

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

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

New Concepts by Jose Garces

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

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

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

Food Republic

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


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

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

The District Brew House


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

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

The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar

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


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

 Carlo’s Bake Shop

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

New Entertainment Offerings

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


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

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


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

 (Source NCL)

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

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

More ‘Escape’ Information here:


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