Portsmouth International Port: A Busy 2017

November 4, 2016
(Courtesy of Portsmouth International)

Click to Enlarge (Courtesy of Portsmouth International)

The schedule for cruise ships calling at UK’s Portsmouth International Port next year is looking healthy, with a 24% rise in bookings already in the diary.

Full Seatrade article: HERE

The World’s Biggest Sailing Ship

November 2, 2016

Sailing Ship ‘A’ is a  £330 million superyacht owned by a Russian billionaire, Andrey Melnichenko, is thought to be the largest sailing vessel to ever take to the seas.

It’s cruising speed is 18mph and it has a top speed of 24mph. The hull is made of steel, with a teak-finish deck.

He also owned ‘Motor Yacht ‘A’ below which looks more like a submarine to me!

Inside ‘Motor Yacht A’ – SEE HERE


Crystal – New Expedition, Ocean, River & Air Developments

November 1, 2016

October 31, 2016 – Crystal, The World’s Most Luxurious Hospitality and Lifestyle Brand Portfolio™, announced today its current outlook for the continued expansion of its fleet and holdings.

Over the past 18 months Crystal has undertaken unprecedented steps in what has been the most significant brand expansion in the luxury travel industry, beginning with the launch of the ultra-luxury yacht Crystal Esprit, and Crystal Mozart, the first of a series of sleek river yachts to comprise of Crystal River Cruises, the only true luxury river cruise brand in Europe. In addition to water-faring travel ventures, the 26-year-old company launched Crystal Luxury Air in April, a private jet charter service with a Global Express Jet that accommodates just 12 guests, and announced last Thursday (Oct. 27) the inaugural journey for Crystal AirCruises in partnership with The Peninsula Hotels, which will take guests on lavish global adventures in the extreme comfort of Crystal’s privately owned Boeing 777-200LR.

“The breadth of development we’ve achieved since our expansion announcement in July 2015 has been astonishing and thrilling, and we’ve only just begun,” says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez.

Crystal’s recently launched experiences have already broadened the company’s reach to wider audiences. With Crystal Esprit’s voyages and extreme water toys – including the first ever submarine in the cruise industry – appealing to intrepid and adventurous travelers, the 62-guest capacity yacht has attracted nearly 50 percent “new to Crystal” guests in its first year of deployment.

With the successful completion of Crystal Serenity’s Northwest Passage voyage this summer, the volume of guests seeking luxury adventure travel, and the extensive survey research over the past three years – revealing that close to 70 percent of current Crystal guests have a strong interest in expedition cruising – has prompted Crystal to rebrand its current Crystal Yacht Cruises as Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises.

The new banner will encompass three new build expedition mega-yachts, including the previously announced Crystal Endeavor. The purpose-built polar class mega-yachts will navigate “first year ice” and be outfitted with submarines, helicopters, and remote operated vehicles, feature spacious Penthouses and Villas, and other luxurious amenities. Crystal’s expedition ships will cruise in the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during winter. Crystal is scheduled to take delivery of Crystal Endeavor in mid-2019, with the additional two expedition vessels debuting in succession the following years.

In the ocean-going experience category, Crystal’s award-winning Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity continue to captivate travelers. Crystal will heavily invest in massive enhancements for both ships in 2017 and 2018, similar to past refurbishments, such as the $52-million “extreme makeover” to Crystal Serenity in 2013 and the $20-million redesign to Crystal Symphony in 2014. The most significant outcome of these investments will feature full open seating dining for guests on both ships and more suites.

In the first quarter of 2022, Crystal will introduce the first Crystal Exclusive Class™ ocean ship that will set a new standard of luxury travel with signature features and guest amenities, and boast luxurious Crystal Residences, allowing travelers to literally call a Crystal ship “home”. The privately owned apartments will range from 600 to 10,000+ square feet and have access to private amenities, dining and other services.

In the first months since the newly reimagined Crystal Mozart launched, Crystal River Cruises, The World’s Only Luxury River Cruise Line™, has garnered a near 100 percent favorability rating from its guests. The vessel also was named “Best New River Ship” by the editors of Cruise Critic and Cruise Critic U.K. In summer 2017 Crystal will introduce Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, while Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will follow in 2018, with two additional new builds to follow. The first four vessels will sail stunning itineraries along the Danube, Rhine and Main Rivers calling in charming locales such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Amsterdam. To support the day-to-day operations of its expanding river yacht fleet, Crystal will officially open a Crystal River Cruises office in Amsterdam on November 21.

As Crystal’s global offerings project skyward (literally and figuratively), the company is also planning to add a second Global Express Jet to its Crystal Luxury Air fleet due to the popularity of the existing charter options, and travel partners and guests’ wishes to customize their vacation experiences with all things Crystal. On the heels of announcing the maiden journey of Crystal AirCruises Boeing 777 with The Peninsula Hotels, which opens for booking on November 1, Crystal will also release on that day a selection of its 15- to 29-day all-inclusive journeys for 2017 and 2018.

In addition to new experiences, Crystal launched a new “All Exclusive” branding campaign, which alludes to the comprehensively growing portfolio of all-inclusive options for travelers. Its global presence also expanded with the opening of a branch office in Miami (opened in early 2016), a sales and marketing office to further support the Australia region (August 2016), and due to the overwhelming demand in the Australia market, a branch office will open in Sydney in 2017. Crystal also announced in March its plans to make the historic Shrine Building in downtown Miami its central display showcase location for its luxury portfolio scheduled to open in spring 2017.

In all, Crystal will introduce at least one new brand experience per year through 2022, with a newly developed timeline as follows:

2017: Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler launch; Crystal AirCruises takes flight; Crystal Symphony enhancements and Crystal Luxury Air debuts second Global Express Jet.

2018: Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel launch; Crystal Serenity enhancements.

2019: Crystal Endeavor expedition mega-yacht launch.

2020: Second Crystal expedition mega-yacht to launch.

2021: Third Crystal expedition mega-yacht to launch.

2022: Crystal Exclusive Class™ with Crystal Residences debuts.

(Crystal Cruises)

NCL Cuts Steel for Bliss

November 1, 2016
(Image courtsey of NCL)

(Image courtesy of NCL)

The Norwegian Cruise Line today cut the first piece of steel for Norwegian Bliss, on October 31, 2016. Bliss is the line’s 16th vessel which will homeport in Seattle and sail to Alaska in summer 2018.

The steel was cut at Meyer Werft in Papenbergen on October 28 to mark the ceremonial start of construction.

Frank Del Rio (center), NCLH Executive Vice President Robin Lindsay (right), MEYER WERFT Partner Bernard Meyer (left)

Frank Del Rio (centre), Vice President Robin Lindsay (right), MEYER WERFT Partner Bernard Meyer (left).

The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience and the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in Seattle.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-night Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, offering guests the premier way to see America’s last frontier, while also providing all of the innovative features, entertainment, signature dining and on-board experiences that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for around the globe.


See Norwegian Bliss Hull Art: HERE

When will NCL move up to 200,000 gt? HERE


MSC Meraviglia & Bellissima

October 31, 2016
Project Vista (Courtsey MSC)

Project Vista (Courtsey MSC)

The latest marvel of the MSC fleet, MSC MERAVIGLIA, just floated off the coast of Saint-Nazaire as this mega ship reaches the final stages of construction before she sets sail for exotic locations.

The float out ceremony was the perfect occasion to reveal the name of the next MSC Cruises sensation, MSC BELLISSIMA. (The second Project Vista Class ship, after Meraviglia)

Announcing MSC BELLISSIMA, the latest jewel in the MSC fleet, was not only cause for celebrations, it demonstrated MSC’s commitment towards its business expansion plan, which includes the building of 11 more luxury liners as well as a constant and extensive modernization of its current fleet.

On September 3rd, STX France and MSC Cruises focused their energies on the floating out of the newest ship, the MSC Meraviglia. This fantastic event was further enhanced when MSC Cruises’ CEO, Mr Onorato announced the name and launch date of the next ship, MSC Bellissima, coming into service in 2019.

The name, Bellissima, which means “beautiful” in Italian, says it all. But Gianni Onorato, , commented that the ship’s new features and amenities have all been specially designed to meet the needs of guests of all ages from toddlers through to adventurous grownups.

As well as Bellissima it is also “grandissima” (very large indeed)! An impressive 315 meters long and 43 meters wide, with a gross tonnage of about 167,600 tons. It boasts 2,250 cabins for guests, and nearly 820 crew cabins, accommodating 5,700 passengers and 1,536 crew members.


Meraviglia Promenade (Courtesy MSC)

MSC Bellissima will be the fourth cruise ship to be built in the STX France shipyards since the 2014 expansion plan began with a total planned commitment of €9 billion.

For the remaining ships, delivery is planned between 2019 and 2026. This expansion, which began two years ago, will not only triple MSC Cruises’ fleet but will introduce a whole new category of next-generation ships into the world of cruising.

MSC Cruises’ dedication to providing their guests with the best possible cruising experience is reaffirmed both by the grandeur and elegance of the ships themselves as well as the attention to every last detail.

All MSC Cruises ships offer infinite possibilities of entertainment. Infinite dining options, both in terms of location and choice of cuisine, panoramic spaces, amusement parks, colossal theaters, aqua parks, arcades, enclosed promenades and all around sun decks are just come of the amazing features that make these ships a destination in their own right.

Not forgetting special family cabins and the “extended” MSC Yacht Club, the entirely self-contained ship within a ship on the prestigious foredecks that will now offer its guests a vast solarium, a private lounge and restaurant as well as duplex suites.

MSC is also breaking new ground in technological implementation to enable guests to make the most of their cruise by being constantly informed of events and special offers, all in real time.

Thanks to a strategic partnership with Samsung, all ships will be equipped with new generation technology, from interactive displays to mobile solutions to augmented reality. Furthermore, near Field Communication (NFC) and iBeacon technology will allow one to one communications using cruise cards, bracelets or smartphones.

With such exciting new, modern ships, cruising will never be the same again.


Malcolm says: MSC will be building some of the most exciting and biggest mega-ships during the next decade. Their maritime roots are in cargo transportation, but they have now become a major player in the cruise industry. In terms of total berths they will exceed the Norwegian Cruise Line to become number three cruise line, behind Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Meraviglia Interiors:  See HERE

XXL – Is The New Standard

October 30, 2016
(Genting's Global Class)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Have you ever noticed how cruise lines tend to build similar sized ships?

O.K, there are exceptions where a luxury line will build a smaller ship. There are also exceptions when a cruise line will be building a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember some 20 years ago (mid to late nineties), when many mega-ships were being built at around the 75,000 gross tons, in size. For example, RCI’s five ‘Vision’ class ships and NCL’s ‘Sun’ and ‘Spirt’ classes. Although Carnival (Destiny, 1995) and Princess (Grand Princess, 1998) pushed the boundaries with vessels over 100,000 gt.

In about 2005, many megaships built for NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard etc. we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

Royal Caribbean’s 225,000 gt ‘Oasis of the Seas’, which entered service in 2008, was the world’s largest cruise ship. She was considerably larger than anything else. The ‘Oasis’ class (Oasis, Allure and Harmony) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We now see a new wave of ships in the order book for 2019 onwards, which are 180-200,000 gt in size. These new mega-ships, or maybe they should be called ultra-ships, will each carry up to 6,600 passengers.

  • Carnival has announced that they have ordered seven 180,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting Hong Kong announced they have ordered two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises announced that they would be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These would be around 200,000 gt and would be delivered between 2022 and 2026.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class.

However this constant race for size, is not without its issues.

Older/smaller tonnage will be retired. Cruise ships rarely have a life longer than 30 years. This means that most of the cruise lines fleets, have ships growing in size. What was once a megaship (say 70,000gt) look like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaship are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms and multiple entertainment venues, even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Bumper cars. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks lack intimacy and a ‘connection’ with the sea. Arguably the world’s best cruise experiences, in terms of fine-dining and attentive service, are not to be found on-board mega-ships.

Megaships are also limited to what ports they can visit as they need long berths, deep water and extensive shore-side terminal facilities to deal with the thousands of passengers that they carry.

There is also much debate about the impact thousands of passenger arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) has on the local environment.

Irrespective of  any negative aspects, the big ships are still coming and the masses love them. They almost generate their own publicity. A new “Giant Ship” makes a great headline.  A new “Small Ship” does not.

As a result the existing smaller/older ships will be facing extinction. However there will always be some intimate ships on offer, but these are likely to get rarer and will become an increasingly expensive option to cruise on.


(There are reviews of some of the world’s biggest ships, menu right)

British Airways: Nonstop London To New Orleans

October 29, 2016
Boeing 787 Dreamliner(Courtsey BA)

Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Courtsey BA)

The Port of New Orleans welcomed British Airways’ plans to begin nonstop service from London Heathrow in March. A port spokesman hailed this as ‘great news’ that’s beneficial for international cruise passengers.

This is the only direct service from a UK airport.

The flights will operate four times per week, serving Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Passengers will fly aboard a Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner, one of the newest aircraft in the British Airways fleet. Flights will depart London Heathrow at 3:40 p.m. and arrive in New Orleans at 7:40 p.m. Departures from New Orleans will be at 9:10 p.m., arriving to London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at noon the next day.

This is the first direct flights between New Orleans and London since the early 1980s, when British Airways operated service from London Gatwick.


See the world’s biggest aircraft: HERE

Gatwick To Fort Lauderdale

British Airways is launching a new service to Fort Lauderdale from July 6, 2017. It will be the airline’s third route from Gatwick Airport, London, to Florida.

The route will be served by a 777-200 aircraft operating three-days a week year round (four-a-week during peak summer) with each way fares from £189.


Norwegian Bliss “Cruising with the Whales”

October 28, 2016
Wyland & Andy Stuart (Courtsey NCL)

Wyland & Andy Stuart (Courtsey NCL)

Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ship’s hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line today revealed the signature art designed by one of the world’s premier marine life artists, Wyland, for its upcoming new ship Norwegian Bliss, which will cruise to Alaska beginning in June 2018. Entitled “Cruising with the Whales,” the engaging and beautiful art prominently features a stunning image of a mother humpback whale and her calf as the centrepiece of the design, signifying the beauty of Alaska and the importance of conservation. Known for his iconic whale murals, marine life paintings and sculptures, Wyland has inspired generations to be passionate about preserving the oceans and the incredible wildlife that calls it home. Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer, joined Wyland to reveal the design today at the Wyland Galleries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Humpback whales are an iconic part of the Alaska landscape and one of the most compelling sights visitors can see while cruising the Last Frontier,” said Stuart. “It was only fitting that an artist of Wyland’s calibre should create the artwork for our first ship designed for Alaska, which includes humpback whales and other signature marine life found in the world’s oceans. We hope that our guests are just as inspired as we are by this beautiful artwork.”

The enormous extent of Wyland’s public artworks, his award-winning art galleries and his non-profit foundation’s community service projects have made him one of the world’s most recognised and beloved artists. An artist inspired by different canvases, Wyland has been diving the world’s oceans for the past 30 years and these wildlife encounters have inspired him to paint the animals life size, on more than 100 ocean murals throughout the US and 18 countries around the world.

“As a marine artist who has painted the largest murals in the world, it is an honour to have the opportunity to collaborate with Norwegian and present my art on such a grand scale,” said Wyland.

The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship custom-built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience and the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to make its debut in Seattle. The ship will also come outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, which significantly decrease air emissions including the reduction up to 99 percent of sulphur into the atmosphere, furthering Norwegian’s commitment to protecting the unique ecosystems found throughout Alaska and across the world.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss will be constructed at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany and scheduled for delivery in spring 2018. She will sail weekly seven-night Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle. The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising.

(Source: NCL)

Malcolm says: Very nice and a little more subtle than some other NCL hull art. Maybe Wyland run out of paint?

I wonder how they maintain the hull art once the ship is in service? I’ve seen crew with rollers re-painting the ships hull, with white paint, while in port. How do they do hull art? I guess it just has to wait for the dry-dock refits.

P&O Cruises Reveals Details Of ‘Most Ambitious’ Ship

October 27, 2016


P&O Newbuild 180,000 gt

P&O Model (Courtesy P&O)

Construction of the latest addition to the fleet will get underway next year at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany. The ship will enter service in the UK in 2020. At 180,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of the ship, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

The ship will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

Our new star of the show, The Dome

P&O newbuild 180,000 gt

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of our new ship. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Our new ship has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

STOP PRESS: P&O cruises has decided that it will throw open the naming process for its new cruise ship to the public. Another ‘Boaty McBoatface’ maybe?

(Source: P&O)

Below slide show:

Malcolm says: Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with these ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

I’m still not convinced that such a large ship is a good ‘fit’ for P&O. But then I’m forgetting that P&O are no longer just catering for the ‘socks & sandals’ brigade, they are now a mass-market line hoping to attract the same passengers as Carnival, RCI and NCL.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that this cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton will surely need more investment, in order to handle a ship carrying up to 6,600 passengers.

P&O/Costa Megaships Analysed: HERE

Are these the worlds most crowded ships? See HERE

What is an LNG ship? See HERE

Titanic Locker Key Sold For £85,000

October 25, 2016
(Courtesy Henry Aldridge and Son/PA)

(Courtesy Henry Aldridge and Son/PA)

A small, corroded key for a locker on the Titanic has sold for £85,000 at auction.

The key was used by Sidney Sedunary, 23, from Shirley, Southampton – a third-class steward and one of the 1,500 passengers and crew who died when the passenger liner hit an iceberg in April 1912.

Full ‘Belfast Live’ article HERE

Clive Palmer’s Titanic 2 update HERE