What Is The Fastest Ship?

August 31, 2016

I was wondering what the fastest ship is TODAY.

When I say “ship”, I mean “passenger vessel”. Now I don’t doubt that there are some super-charged speed-boats out there, but my criteria is a large vessel that carries paying passengers.

(SS United States Today - source unknown)

(SS United States Today – source unknown)

Ocean Liner fans will know of the SS United States, built in 1952 for the United States Line. She broke the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage. She still holds the Blue Riband for being the fastest ocean liner of all time. They say she could achieve 38 knots. (The SS United States was laid-up in 1996 and her fate remains uncertain).

Given the fact that she was a bloody-great Ocean liner carrying 2,000+ passengers, that is a VERY impressive and unparalleled achievement.

The Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 must certainly be one of today’s fastest cruise ships (liner). She can achieve 30 knots, which is faster than most.

(Courtesy Incat)

(Courtesy Incat)

People no longer cruise for speed.  My research tells me that Fast-Ferries (SeaCats etc.) hold the maritime speed records today.

The fastest ferry on the planet is Incat’s ‘Francisco’ (2012). She operates on the Rio de la Plata estuary (River Plate) between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

The 99-metre long ‘Wave Piercing Catamaran’ accommodates 1024 passengers and 150 cars. Her water-jet engines can achieve a maximum speed of up to 58.1 knots, or 67 mph.

Interestingly she can be powered by duel fuel, one being LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which looks set to also be the future choice of cruise ships.

Malcolm

Video of ‘Francisco’ HERE

Malcolm says: The various fast-ferries around the world are very impressive. However their service normally has to be suspended when the seas get rough. Condor currently operate fast-ferries up to a 3.5 meter wave height.  After this they become very uncomfortable for passengers.  In contrast the QM2 is designed to cross the North Atlantic, in winter, whatever the weather.

The SRN4 Hovercraft HERE

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Fast Ferry

August 26, 2016

I know a few of my readers have an interest in ferries and fast-ferries.

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After all the big car ferries (such as Ulysses) are just like state-of-the-art cruise ships with a car deck or two.

Then we also have the fast-ferry technology: often catamarans (Seacats) propelled by water-jets.

Below is a slide-show of the fast-ferry ‘Condor Rapide’:

Regular readers will also know that I am a big fan of HOVERCRAFT.

Malcolm

Crystal Symphony @ Tilbury

July 24, 2016

Crystal Symphony (Crystal Cruises) was berthed at Tilbury cruise terminal yesterday (23rd July 2016). She’s did a turn-around, bound for Guernsey, the Channel islands.

To see a ‘luxury’ ship Tilbury is quite rare. Crystal use the Tilbury terminal only very occasionally.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages ‘budget’ fleet are the regulars. Occasionally Fred Olsen vessel’s also make an appearance.

Symphony at 51,044 gross tons, must be one of the biggest ships to use the terminal.

She was built in 1992 and carries just 922 passengers, hence the ‘luxury’ tag.

She is the sister-ship of Crystal Serenity and Crystal Harmony.

Malcolm

Today @ Tilbury

June 11, 2016

There was more ‘action’ than usual at Tilbury this weekend.

Firstly: the legendary RMS St. Helena was berthed at the cruise terminal as part of her farewell tour.

The Royal Mail Ship St. Helena was built in Aberdeen in 1989 specifically to supply the island of St Helena, a remote British Territory located 1,200 miles off the West Coast of Africa in the South Atlantic. She is British registered (London), 6,767 gross tonnes and has berths for a maximum of 156 passengers plus 56 officers and crew.

For the last 26 years RMS St Helena has been the only means of access to the island of St Helena. But the passenger and cargo ship, built specifically to supply the island, was due to be decommissioned (sold) later this year (2016) because  St Helena’s first airport was to officially open in May.

However she may get a stay of execution because the airport has been suffering from wind-shear making it dangerous to land planes (See video below). In fact some say it may never open.

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Secondly: Silver Wind (Silversea luxury cruises) passed by Tilbury in the afternoon on her way to moor along side the historic Battleship HMS Belfast, near tower bridge. She had come from Lisbon.

She’s just 16,800 gross tons, entered service in 1995 and carries just 294 passengers.

Although Silver Wind is a very small cruise ship by modern standards, she dwarfs St. Helena. In fact the two ships could not have been more differen.

On Sunday, CMV’s flagship ‘Magellan’ was berthed at Tilbury for her turn-around.

Malcolm

Tendering

June 6, 2016

Tendering (the process of a cruise ship berthing at anchor and using small ships to transport passengers to ashore) can be quite fun. That is assuming that the sea conditions are not too rough which can not only make tendering uncomfortable, it can make it impossible.

Tendering is also a great way to get some good images of a ship.

Above is a short slide-show of images, taken by myself, of CMV’s Astor during an around Britain cruise.

The eagle-eyed will see that the ships lifeboats are NOT being used for the tendering, in the earlier images, but several larger (open) boats from the shore are. This of course increases the speed of the process. The latter images are from a different tender port and ARE using the ships lifeboats (orange).

Malcolm

My extensive Astor SHIP REVIEW

Genting/Star Megaships

June 3, 2016

Genting Hong Kong announced a few weeks ago that they would be building two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020.  These ships will be 201,000 gross tons with 5,000 lower berths.

The Star Cruises ships will be known as the Global Class for “worldwide” cruising.

At this early stage we do not know much more, but we do have a few renderings (above).

Malcolm

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

May 30, 2016

I recently spent the day at the Chatham historic dockyard, Kent, UK. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in maritime history.

80 acres in size, it has over 100 buildings and structures – the majority of which were constructed between 1704 and 1855. Today it is the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail in the world. 

By the mid-18th Century the Royal Yards had developed into the largest industrial organisations in the world with complex facilities supporting thousands of skilled workers in a wide number of trades. Indeed it was the level of the facilities and skills provided in the Royal Dockyard’s, particularly at Chatham that underpinned the Royal Navy’s success at sea – from victory in battle; through the epic voyages of discovery made by Cook, Darwin  and others.

Did you know that the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, was built at Chatham dockyard?

Above is a short slide show to give you a taste of what is on show.

Official website HERE

Have you been? Did you enjoy it?

Malcolm

New Paddlewheeler Debuts on the Mississippi

May 29, 2016
(Courtesy American Cruise Lines )

(Courtesy American Cruise Lines )

The American Cruise Lines newest ship, the America, started its inaugural season on the Mississippi River, on 7th May.

The America is the cruise line’s largest ship with a capacity of 185 guests. The launch of America brings its fleet up to eight small ships, four of which are authentic paddlewheelers while the additional four are coastal cruisers.

(American Cruise Lines)

Tilbury Today

May 28, 2016

28th May 2016

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Tilbury 16/05/16

Tilbury cruise terminal, on the Thames, London, used to be a sort of nautical Heathrow-airport .

In its heyday you could catch an ocean liner to destinations all over the world, including America, Asia and Australia. It used to have its own railway station and five star hotel next door.

These days Tilbury is a rather sleepy terminal. In the summer months it has a ship, once per week, at most, usually a ‘Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ vessels.

Astoria, Tilbury, May 16

Astoria, Tilbury, 16/05/16

Today was a busy day at Tilbury. Unusually there were two CMV ships docked: the tiny Astoria (1948, formerly called Azores) at 15,614 gt, carrying around 600 passengers and Magellan, CMV’s flagship (1985, formerly Carnival’s  Holiday) at 46,000gt, carrying 1,450 passengers.

Magellan dwarfed Astoria, being three times as big. She still retains her Carnival funnel, complete with wings.

Magellan, Tilbury, May 16

Magellan, Tilbury, 16/05/16

Astoria left for Dunkirk this evening and Magellan headed for Ghent.

I have been lucky enough to cruise on both ships and links to my reviews are below.

Malcolm

Astoria review HERE

Magellan review HERE

A 5th Oasis Class For RCI

May 25, 2016
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(Image courtesy of BBC)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with STX France to build a fifth Oasis-class ship for delivery in spring 2021, and two additional Edge-class ships for Celebrity Cruises that would arrive in autumn 2021 and autumn 2022.

(RCI)

Oasis review: HERE

Malcolm says: The first of the ‘Edge’ class ships is just over two years away and we know nothing about it. I can remember a time when new ships were not so very secretive.

Titanic II Plans All At Sea – Clive Palmer Gets Cold Feet

May 24, 2016
Dreamer: Clive Palmer, Times Square, 2013. (Photo: Twitter)

Dreamer: Clive Palmer, Times Square, 2013. (Photo: Twitter)

An audacious plan to build a full-size, seaworthy replica of the Titanic has run aground.

Ironically, today was the original date proposed for the launch of Australian tycoon Clive Palmer’s Titanic II which, like its ill-fated, Belfast-built predecessor, was to be one of the most luxurious vessels ever built…

Full Belfast Telegraph article HERE

Malcolm says: It never did seem very likely, did it?  Mr Palmer is strong on ideas, but seems to lose interest very quickly and often fails to follow his ideas through. Sources say that he is not quite as rich as he once was. Maybe he has though of better ways to spend his retirement fund than building an historic Ocean Liner?

New Rendering: Star Cruises 201,000 gt Ships

May 22, 2016
Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)

Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)

Genting Hong Kong announced a few weeks ago that they would be building two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020.

Genting has not surprisingly chosen the Lloyd Werft Group, there newly acquired shipyards in Germany, for the construction of their new vessels

new-ship

Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)

The Star Cruises ships will be known as the Global Class for “worldwide” cruising at 201,000 gross tons with 5,000 lower berths. (Not to be confused with MSC’s future “World Class” 200,000 gross ton ships)

Malcolm Says: Genting/Star’s  two ‘Global Class’ ships will enter service in 2020 and 2021, becoming the world’s second biggest class of ship, eclipsing RCI’s Quantum class.  (The world’s biggest class, is still Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class, with ‘Harmony’ at around 227,000 gt.)

MSC’s three ‘World Class’ newbuilds will not enter service 2024, 25 and 26 and are said to be around 200,000 gt. I guess we have to wait and see if they ate slightly bigger or slightly smaller than Star’s ships.

The forward  rendering of Star’s ships show a rather conventional design, externally – not unlike an RCI ship, although I do like the twin side-by-side funnels. (P&O’s Britannia has two funnels one behind the other).

 

The aft rendering reveals deck space not unlike NCL’s ‘Spice H2O’ area (Epic/Breakaway/Plus classes) with a giant screen.  This might have a pool, double as a night-club and be a performance space. (On-board RCI’s  Oasis class this space is used for their unique Aqua-Theatre).

There appears to be a lounge (or restaurant) under the aft deck area . There appears to be four decks of balcony cabins (probably big suites) overlooking the aft area. I also see at least two water tubes/slides on the sun deck and a rear public (or private) area behind the two mini-funnels.

So externally, nothing particularly original, but very exciting none the less.

Will NCL go 200,000gt? Speculation HERE

Oldest River Vessel

April 29, 2016

 

(Courtesy Gota Kanal)

Cruis Blog reader ‘Max M’ suggested that after discussing the biggest river boats (here) we should discuss the oldest.

I have done a little research and it would appear that the oldest registered marine vessel with overnight accommodation, is in fact a vintage steam canal boat called M/S Juno.  Juno was built in 1874 (yes, 1874) and has 29 passenger cabins.

M/S Juno operates on the 120 mile Göta Canal between Stockholm and Gothenburg, built with the help of Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.

In fact there are three vintage vessels on this route: The M/S Wilhelm Tham was built in 1912 and their youngest ship, is the M/S Diana, in 1931.

More Information HERE

Doulos – The Oldest Ocean-Going Ship

The Medina was built in 1914 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. She was a freighter serving the Atlantic; during World War II she served with the United States Coast Guard.

The Panamanian company Naviera San Miguel SA acquired the Medina in 1948; they renamed the ship the Roma, and converted her into a passenger ship with cabins for 287 people, and dormitories for an additional 694 people.

In 1952 Naviera San Miguel resold the Roma to Linea Costa, an Italian company. At this time the SS Roma, a steamship, was converted into a motor vessel and renamed the MV Franca C. She carried passengers between Italy and Argentina. In 1959, the Franca C was adapted into a cruise liner, principally cruising the Mediterranean.

In 1977, Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All) acquired the Franca C, and renamed her the Doulos (Greek for servant). She was manned by a volunteer crew and made sea port visits worldwide as a missionary ship. The MV Doulos held the biggest floating library in the world. Normally there were somewhere between 3000 to 5000 books on the shelves and half a million in the hold.

She made her last world tour in 2009 and was de-commissioning at the end of 2009 due to expense of making her compliant with SOLAS (maritime safety) regulations .

The ship is currently known as the MV Doulos Phos. She is now owned by Mr. Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.

There are plans to use the ship as a floating hotel with restaurants, a bookshop and a banqueting hall. However such plans do not always come to fruition. The QE2 is a prime example.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Malcolm Says: As Doulos is no longer operational as cruise ship, this raises the question what ocean going ship is now the oldest? anybody know?

I got to go on-board MV Doulos in 2004, when she visited Southampton. Her interiors were quite a mess, looking more like a Hippy peace-camp than an historic ship. However you could certainly still see some of the Costa décor in places.

Further Details of MSC Seaside

April 25, 2016

21/04/2016:  MSC Cruises marked an important construction milestone in the building of MSC Seaside with the celebration of the traditional maritime coin ceremony held at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

MSC Seaside, set to come into service in December 2017, will sail year-round from Miami and is being designed with the North American market in mind.

More Details Revealed

Atrium

Atrium (Courtesy of MSC)

MSC Cruises has revealed further details of MSC Seaside including suspended glass floors, a wrap around outdoor promenade with bars and restaurants, ocean-view elevators  and the highest ratio of outdoor space of any ship at sea.

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Outdoor Sushi Bar (Courtesy MSC)

The concept behind MSC Seaside is to “bring the sea closer to passengers”, and is being designed with an exclusive warn weather aesthetic. The beach-condo-inspired concept will focus on the outdoor space of cabins and suites, many al fresco eating options including 20 bars; outdoor spa and fitness facilities, such as luxury cabanas for spa treatments, two wellness cabins, which feature advanced Kinesis Technoygm fitness equipment; and the private MSC Yacht Club, which features a lounge and restaurant and a solarium.

Full Cruise Critic Article: HERE

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.

 

(Courtsey NCL)

Accommodation

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.

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(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 ‘Ferrari’ themed racetrack– the first ever at sea. Ten 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.

 

unspecifiedbbnbnWhen 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.

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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.

(NCL)

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 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

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

Malcolm

The United States Line

March 19, 2016
ss-america-3

(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

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

 

 

Anthem of The Seas Review

March 12, 2016

DSC_0161

My review of RCI’s latest ship, ‘Anthem of the Seas’ is 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!

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 RCI retained their ‘wow’ factor?

How does Anthem compare to Oasis and the other RCI 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

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.

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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.

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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:

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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)

 

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(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.

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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.

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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.