Titanic 2’s Maiden Voyage: China to Dubai

September 27, 2015


September 2015: This month Australian billionaire Clive Palmer said that ‘Titanic II’, a fully functioning, faithful remake of the world’s most famous ship, would sail the world’s oceans in 2018.

Titanic II’s maiden voyage will not be from Southampton to New York, but rather Jiangsu, China, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Blue Star Line has been forging business partnerships.

“We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project,” said James McDonald, the global marketing director of Palmer’s company Blue Star Line.

Image courtesy of Blue Star Line

Image courtesy of Blue Star Line

(Source: Claire McNeilly, Belfast Telegraph)

Malcolm says: Mr. Palmer said that he is committed to authenticity of the ships design, wherever possible. However a maiden voyage from China to Dubai could not be much less authentic. To have any meaning, the maiden voyage HAS to be from Southampton to New York, as the original ill-fated Titanic embarked on.

Maybe Palmer is scared of meeting icebergs on the Atlantic?  I guess Dubai’s waters will be safe.

However given the on/off status of the Titanic II project so far, I guess any maiden voyage will be quite an achievement.


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)



(Image courtesy of Griffon Hoverworks)


Azores (Astoria) Review Now Available

September 21, 2015

Azores, Liverpool, Aug 2015.

I have recently returned from a mini-cruise on-board ‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ MV Azores.

Azores (now re-named ‘Astoria’) is one of the smallest cruise ships operating regularly from UK ports. She’s certainly the smallest cruise ship that I have ever cruised on.

Azores, is around 16,000 gross tonnes. For comparison this makes ‘Oasis of the Seas’ (@ 220,000 gt) fourteen times bigger than Azores.

Oasis carries 6,000+ passengers, whereas Azores carries just 555.

(Courtesy cruise-ships.com)

Azores top, Oasis below (Courtesy cruise-ships.com)

Azores also has a very long history, being one of the oldest cruise ships in operation. she is currently 67 years old.

See Full Azores (Astoria) Review Here

Other CMV ship Reviews:

Marco Polo Review: HERE

Magellan Review: HERE

Fred Olsen Ship Reviews

More small ships:  I have had the pleasure of cruising on-board all of the current Olsen fleet.

Black Watch (1972) review: HERE

Boudicca (1972) review: HERE

Balmoral (1988) review: HERE

 Braemar (1993) review: HERE

Thomson to Base ship in Dubai

September 19, 2015

Thomson Cruises has announced Thomson Celebration will be homeported in Dubai for the first time next winter offering two new itineraries from December 2016.

On sale from November 2015, the two seven night itineraries – ‘Arabian Nights’ and ‘Cities of Gold’ – will stop overnight in Dubai and visit six destinations including Khasab and Muscat in Oman, Manama in Bahrain, Doha in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Khor Fakkan in UAE.

Excursion highlights include the sites of the Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the Grand Mosque in Muscat, the Musafi Mountains in Khor Fakkan, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Emirates Palace and desert safaris.

Thomson customers can also combine the seven day cruise with a hotel stay in Atlantis the Palm. Passengers can fly direct to Dubai from six regional UK airports: Manchester, Birmingham, London Gatwick, Cardiff, Newcastle and Glasgow.


Thomson Celebration Review: HERE

Malcolm says: I really like Celebration and she has been upgraded since I last cruised on her. It’s nice to see an adventurous itinerary being offered. I’ve not been to Dubai or that area of the world.  Hopefully I will be able to put that right sooner or later.

Norwegian Escape’s Hull Art

September 14, 2015
(Image courtesy of NCL)

(Image courtesy of NCL)

Famed marine wildlife artist has created his largest canvas to date – the hull artwork on the new Norwegian Escape. The new ship will debut at Southampton in October, before crossing the pond to Miami, her home-port.

Norwegian Escape is Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the largest in the company’s history. Norwegian Escape represents an evolution of the line’s innovative history of providing guests with the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their ideal cruise holiday. Harvey’s artwork brings to life his perspective of the spectacular Caribbean marine life on the expansive canvas of Norwegian Escape’s hull.

(Image courtesy of NCL)

(Image courtesy of NCL)

Spanning more than 1,000 feet in length from bow to stern, the custom-designed artwork features a scene of marine wildlife which blends two underwater seas seamlessly together. Featuring Harvey’s signature sailfish, the design also showcases key Caribbean sea life including sting rays, sea turtles, whale sharks and a variety of tropical fish.

I’m so proud to showcase the incredible marine life of the Caribbean on the largest canvas a human could possibly paint,” said Dr. Guy Harvey. “After weeks of work, the artisans at Meyer Werft, shipyard, Germany have done an incredible job of recreating my art on such a vast format. I’m overjoyed at the level of detail that has been achieved.”


The process of creating the artwork is a lengthy one, beginning with a laser that projects the design onto the hull. A team then outlines the art onto the curved hull, pencilling in the lines and then taping the edges in preparation for applying the paint by hand.

Guy Harvey, widely recognized as one of the world’s finest marine wildlife artists and champion of ocean conservation, combines his unique artistic talents with his background as a marine biologist, diver, photographer and angler to create visually appealing and truly authentic art.


Norwegian Escape Review: HERE

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.


Black Watch Review: HERE

Ventura (sister of Azura) Review: HERE

Liverpool Hotel Bargain

September 12, 2015


I enjoy searching for the best cruise and hotel bargains. I am pleased to say that I recently secured  what was probably the biggest hotel bargain of my life.

Liverpool, UK is one of my favourite U.K. cities. Why? Because of its maritime history, its musical history (the Beatles) and the many cultural offerings such as museums and art galleries etc.

I required two nights’ accommodation. I did try 30 James Street (the ex-White Star Line office) earlier in the year and was NOT impressed at all, so looked for an alternative. I finally chose the historic Adelphi hotel, mainly because of it’s central location next to Lime Street Station. (Liverpool cruise terminal is a 20 minute walk away or £5 black-cab fare.)

There have been three Adelphi hotels on the same site. The current building opened in 1914 and was the finest hotel in Liverpool and arguably one of the finest in the UK.  She was very grand with much lavish marble and a very impressive banqueting hall (below).


The Adelphi Banqueting Hall, today.

Sadly, today the Adelphi is a shadow of her former self. She is well-worn and is sold as budget hotel.  He room rates are often very low.  However you can still sense the grandeur, even if it is somewhat faded.

I paid a total of £125 including tax (August 2015).

For this price, I got two nights’ accommodation in a standard room with a double bed. The room was quite spacious, although the carpet, furniture and décor was old and well worn. The bathroom was quite good with a large bath/shower combo. The main failing was the beds mattress, which was quite thin and quite bouncy (worn). If you jumped onto the bed the mattress would compress and  you could feel the slats through it. Fortunately it was a little more comfortable during normal sleep.

However I did not just get a room for £125, breakfast was included for the two of us, both mornings.

Breakfast was taken in ‘Jenny’s Restaurant’, which was ‘unlimited’ buffet style. It was not exactly fine-dining, but there was a reasonable selection cereals, meats, cheeses, breads, jams and pastries. However the speciality was their ‘full English’ with a mountain of sausages and bacon etc.

If that was not enough value, two evening meals for both of us were also included. Once again this was taken in Jenny’s, buffet style. Although the choices were not very extensive, soup, salad, a roast dinner, a choice of veg., fish and a vegetarian option were offered daily. The choice of sweets was limited, but they were very good.  Unusually the food was always piping hot. It was also very tasty and filling.

If that was not enough, one final treat was provided – a bottle of Champagne. OK it was not the finest brand, but it was quite palatable and not just a sparkling wine.

In conclusion, I’m not sure that I could recommend the Adelphia because of her urgent need of a thorough renovation. However in terms of her history and value, she was quite amazing.


Footnote: I am delighted that Liverpool has won the Seatrade Europe ‘Destination of the Year’, beating competition from ports in the Baltic and Guadeloupe.

Royal Princess, Dublin

September 6, 2015

I was recently at the port of Dublin, Ireland. I saw the enormous ‘Royal Princess’ backing into her berth with ease, assisted by two green tugs.

Above is my slide-show.


Sapphire Princess Review: HERE

Titanic II Back On Track For 2018

September 4, 2015
Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer

Earlier this week Australian billionaire Clive Palmer said that ‘Titanic II’, a fully functioning, faithful remake of the world’s most famous ship, would sail the world’s oceans in 2018.

Palmer’s ambitious plan was to have his Titanic in the water by next summer but his company, Blue Star Line, said the project had been delayed by two years.

Titanic II will look virtually identical to the original Belfast-built luxury liner which perished in April 1912 after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage.

It will, however, be four metres wider in order to meet modern maritime safety regulations, and the hull will be welded, not riveted.

“The new Titanic will of course have modern evacuation procedures, satellite controls, digital navigation and radar systems and all those things you’d expect on a 21st century ship,” said James McDonald, the global marketing director of Palmer’s company Blue Star Line.


When finished, the new vessel will be 270 metres long, 53 metres high and weigh 40,000 tonnes.

It will have nine floors and 840 cabins capable of accommodating 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members, along with Turkish baths, a swimming pool and gymnasiums.

It will also remain faithful to the classifications of the original ship with first, second and third-class tickets on offer.

Titanic II’s maiden voyage will not be from Southampton to New York, but rather Jiangsu, China, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where Blue Star Line has been forging business partnerships.

“We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising opportunities that arises with the project,” Mr McDonald said.

State-owned Chinese shipyard CSC Jinling has been contracted to build Titanic II.

(Source: Claire McNeilly, Belfast Telegraph 03/09/2015)

Malcolm says: I wonder what caused the delay?

Palmer has  set himself a tight deadline: he has 3.5 years to finish designing and build a ships which will be far from a ‘standard’ construction. I bet most of the fixtures and fitting will not be available of the shelf.

Mr. Palmer has  come up with some big ideas in the past without following them through.  Personally I will not get too excited until I see images from the shipyard, of Titanic II ACTUALLY being built!

Somebody else also plans for a replica Titanic attraction (not a real ship) for a Chinese theme park.

Titanic II Tank Test Footage: HERE

Deltamarin, Titanic II Designers: HERE

Greenwich, London to Get New Cruise Terminal

September 4, 2015

London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson gave final approval this week to build a new cruise terminal on the River Thames at Greenwich.


It would be the first new cruise terminal in the capital for more than 35 years, since the closure of the Royal Docks in 1981.

It will enable mid-sized ships — measuring up to 230 metres (754 feet) in length and with a maximum capacity of up to 1,600 passengers — to dock just a few miles from the centre of London.

Southampton, Dover and Harwich ports currently accommodate most of the UKs cruise calls, but they are all a considerable distance from London.

Planning permission for the terminal was first approved in 2012. It would have been used solely as a stopping point for cruise ships, but the latest plans suggest it could be used as a “turnaround” destination, where voyages start and finish.

The terminal will open open in 2017, with construction work beginning this year.

While the world’s largest cruise ships would not be able to use the facility, smaller ships including Fred. Olsen’s, Regent Seven Seas , Hapag Lloyd, Saga Holidays, CMV and Viking Ocean Cruise ships would be able to.


Greenwich residents and others voiced protests over the new cruise terminal on environmental grounds.

As a result of these concern, the Mayor’s Office secured £400,000 toward “ongoing environmental monitoring or improving air quality” through Greenwich council’s existing Air Quality Action Plan.

(Greenwich Council News)

Malcolm says: Southampton, Dover and Harwich, all are on the UK coast, but 2-3 hours drive from London. A Thames cruise terminal would a very attractive proposition for smaller vessels.

Seabourn Pride (9,975 gt, 133m in length) used to be a regular visitor to London and would moore along side the historic battleship, HMS Belfast.

The Hebridean Princess, must be one of the smaller cruise ships to visit London: See:


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