Posted by: cruise2 | 13 January, 2017

Seabourn Encore Named In Singapore

by Kevin Griffin writing for

Last Saturday saw the naming in Singapore of ultra-luxury line Seabourn’s latest addition, the 604-berth Seabourn Encore. With an extra deck, the new ship will be able to accommodate one-third more passengers than the Seabourn Quest class of ships that preceded her.

The Seabourn Encore (Courtesy of Fincantieri)

Seabourn Encore (Courtesy of Fincantieri)

A sister ship Seabourn Ovation, is also being built by Italy’s Fincantieri for delivery in the spring of 2018.

Seabourn was founded in Norway in 1986, with the 212-berth all-suite Seabourn Pride being introduced in 1988 as the line’s first ship. Proof of the viability of her basic design is that this ship is still sailing almost thirty years later, now as Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride.

Through an acquisition by Cunard and in turn Carnival’s acquisition of Cunard, Seabourn became part of Carnival Corp & plc, for whom she has now been introduced as its newest ship.

Carnival itself was founded in 1972 when Mardi Gras entered service from Carnival Cruise Lines from Miami.

A comparison of the group’s first and last ships follows

The new ship is almost half again as large as Mardi Gras in tonnage, although only 6% longer, and carries only two-thirds the number of passengers.

Seabourn Encore was named by the English singer Sarah Brightman at the Singapore Cruise Terminal. Among the 2,000 present were Sir Tim Rice, writer of many of her hit songs, and Thomas Keller, the three-star Michelin chef who created the ship’s signature restaurant.

The 212-berth all-suite Seabourn Pride introduced in 1988

The 212-berth all-suite Seabourn Pride introduced in 1988

The new ship is intended to feel more like a luxury yacht according to interior designer Adam Tihany. One of her features is The Retreat, a top-deck facility with fifteen private cabanas with bar, cuisine, designer furniture and personalised spa treatments.

But, unlike on board a yacht, it costs extra. Running contrary to the Seabourn’s all-inclusive ethos, the cabanas were adopted from sister line Holland America and are rented out at $349 on sea days and $249 on port days. On sea days these will generate an additional $5,235 per day of on board revenue.

Restaurants include Keller’s The Grill, the American chef’s gourmet take on the classic American chophouse, and an intimate, high-end Sushi destination.

Seabourn Encore has now left Singapore on her inaugural voyage, a 10-day cruise to Bali. Next ports of call will be in Australia and New Zealand. A 16-day cruise from Sydney to Auckland starts February 2, followed by a return 16-day cruise from Auckland to Sydney on February 18. She will also return Down Under from December 2017 to February 2018.

For more information call John Lang of The Cruise People at CruiseShipCenters 647-299-7447 or

Posted by: cruise2 | 4 January, 2017

All Leisure Cancels Voyager And Minerva Cruises

by Kevin Griffin writing for

The mood at All Leisure group’s cruising ventures is one of uncertainty, along rumours that at least one of their ships, if not two, could be going to other operators.

Swan Hellenic's Minerva (Photo courtesy Damien Mc Carthy)

Swan Hellenic’s Minerva (Photo courtesy Damien Mc Carthy)

A one-line message on the website of Swan Hellenic announced this week that the 352-berth Minerva’s “Gateway to the Atlantic Isles” cruise due to leave Marseille tomorrow, January 3, has been cancelled, with apologies to all its passengers.

A similar message on the website of affiliated Voyages of Discovery announced the cancellation of the 556-berth Voyager’s “Riches of the Orient” cruise due to start in Malaysia this Wednesday, January 4.

Unconfirmed reports say that potential buyers inspected Voyager during a recent dry-docking at Keppel shipyard in Singapore. Meanwhile, representatives of Sea Chefs, who operate the vessel’s hotel services, are said to have flown in from Germany to address crew members.

Voyages of Discovery's Voyager (Ex Alexander von Humboldt)

Voyages of Discovery’s Voyager (Ex Alexander von Humboldt)

These announcements follow a long period of uncertainty at All Leisure Group.

In late November 2015, All Leisure sold the 50-berth Hebridean Princess and certain related assets for £2.9 million in cash to a new company, HP Shipping, from which it is chartering the five-star ship back on an eight-year lease. HP Shipping is owned by a syndicate of private investors led by Roger Allard, chairman of and shareholder in All Leisure Group.

In late August 2016, All Leisure Group sold its Egypt specialist operator Discover Egypt, which offers Nile cruises, to its own management team. Discover Egypt is now part of Platinum Holidays, established in May 2016, and includes Roger Allard and All Leisure Holidays’ commercial director Philip Breckner and director David Wiles.

The Hebridean Princess

Hebridean Princess

At the time, All Leisure said that All Leisure Holidays would “continue to meet the demands of the growing tour and cruise markets with its brands Travelsphere, Just You, Swan Hellenic, Hebridean Island Cruises and Voyages of Discovery.”
Preceding these changes, Market Harborough-based All Leisure Group had also announced forty staff redundancies.

In its end of year results for October 2015, the group said demand for tours to Turkey and the Middle East was “sharply down” but that Discover Egypt “continued to maintain its historic position as a leading holiday and cruise operator.”

All Leisure left the the stock market last year after months of tough trading conditions. Its turnover for the year to October 2015 was °Í127.3 million, down from £138.9 million a year earlier, but the group did make a £500,000 profit compared with a £7.5 million loss the previous year and a £13.2 million loss the year before that.

Posted by: cruise2 | 10 December, 2016

Oceanwide Expeditions’ 180-berth Hondius


Oceanwide Expeditions, the Netherlands-based polar cruise company, announced that it had ordered a new 180-berth expedition ship.

The new 180-berth polar class expedition vessel (Artist impression)

The new 180-berth polar class expedition vessel (Artist impression)

To be called tHondius, Oceanwide claim that, although she will be the fifth such ship to be built to the class, she will be the strongest ice-strengthened expedition vessel operating in polar regions.
She will be built by Brodosplit in Croatia and is due to enter service in 2019.

Said Oceanwide Expeditions ceo Michel van Gessel, “we currently sail with our ice-strengthened 116-passenger vessels Plancius and Ortelius, and Hondius will give us the opportunity to accommodate more travellers, to grow as a company, and to offer new, innovative products in the polar regions. The name Hondius follows our custom to name our ships for celebrated Dutch-Flemish cartographers who continue to inspire us as we carry on their passion for exploration and discovery.”

The Plancius


Hondius was specially designed to serve Oceanwide’s exploration programmes and to support its activity-based shore excursions in the Arctic and Antarctica. She will be rated Polar Class 6, and will be the fifth ship to be built to this specification, after Scenic Eclipse, Crystal Endeavour and two new ships for Hapag-Lloyd.

As it happens, Scenic Eclipse is also being built in Croatia, but at the Uljanik Group’s yard in Pula.

Hondius will be 350 feet long with a beam of 58 feet, and will have a service speed of 15 knots.

Posted by: cruise2 | 25 October, 2016

Virgin Voyages

by Kevin Griffin writing for

The Virgin Group has announced that Virgin Voyages will be the new name for the cruise line that was to have been called Virgin Cruises. The company has also confirmed its contract for three 110,000-ton newbuildings from Italy’s Fincantieri. Steel-cutting for the first ship is scheduled in early 2017, followed by a keel-laying in Genoa during the fourth quarter.

Virgin Voyages owner, Sir Richard Branson, and president and ceo, Tom McAlpin, said that thousands of people had shared their wishes for an ‘irresistible vacation at sea,’ and the new name derived from that.

The aim is to produce not just another conventional cruise line, but a transformational experience delivering a very “Virgin style”of adventure. No more details were made public except that its clients will be called “sailors.”

The new cruise line’s first ship is due at Miami in 2020, and will accommodate more than 2,700 “sailors” with a crew of 1,150. She will offer a range of Caribbean itineraries to ports that have not yet been named but will be chosen for their experiences.

Virgin Voyages is backed by Bain Capital Private Equity and Virgin Group for the multibillion-dollar newbuildings. The lead finance partners are Italian and the loan will be backed by Italian export credit agency SACE.

Posted by: cruise2 | 18 October, 2016

Damen Reveals New Expedition Design

by Kevin Griffen of The Cruise People writing for

Damen Shipyards Group has revealed its design for an expedition cruise ship. The design also draws on the skills and expertise of Expedition Voyage Consultants Ltd and the Danish Naval Architect firm Knud E Hansen.

The Damen Shipyards' Expedition Cruise Vessel (Artist impression courtesy Damen Shipyards)

The Damen Shipyards’ Expedition Cruise Vessel (Artist impression courtesy Damen Shipyards)

The ship has been designed for expedition operations in both remote polar and tropical regions. The vessel’s Polar Class 6 compliance and 30 days autonomous cruising capability ensure she is globally capable and able to tackle challenging, far-reaching itineraries. And vessel’s design complies with SOLAS Safe Return to Port requirements.

Passengers will have views from multiple viewing platforms extending over the side of the ship or past the bow, providing the most spectacular vantage points of any expedition ship.
A specially developed crow’s nest will also aide visibility during ice navigation as well as giving passengers a panoramic view over the surrounding landscape.

The design can accommodate 115 passengers, although it can be scaled up to 200 passengers or more. Damen has selected a diesel-mechanical hybrid configuration for propulsion with medium speed engines. The service speed is 16 knots.

Posted by: cruise2 | 17 October, 2016

Royal Caribbean’s New LNG Orders

by Kevin Griffin of The Cruise People writing for

Royal Caribbean Cruises has ordered two new 5,000-berth ships that will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). These ships are expected to run primarily on LNG but will also be able to run on distillate fuel, to accommodate occasional itineraries that call on ports without LNG infrastructure.

The ships will be operated by Royal Caribbean International. The company said it  signed a memorandum of understanding with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon”, to be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024.

The company will also be introducing fuel cell technology on board, which it will be testing on an existing “Oasis” class ship in 2017, and will run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new “Quantum” class vessels being built in the next several years.

Jan Meyer, ceo of Meyer Werft and the Turku yard, was quoted as saying “Our partnership with RCL has created a number of groundbreaking ship classes, such as Oasis, Celebrity Solstice, Quantum, and Mein Schiff, and we are grateful that Royal Caribbean is again giving us the opportunity to partner with them on a new class of ships.”

According to a press release by Meyer Turku the ships will measure around 200,000 gross tons, producing a passenger a space ratio of about 40 tons per passenger. By comparison, Harmony of the Seas has 5,479 lower berths and measures 226,963 gross tons, producing a space ratio of 41.

This latest order means a substantial order book for Royal Caribbean. Two more “Harmony” class sisters, two “Quantum”Class sisters, two “Icon” class ships and four “Edge” ships for Celebrity Cruises, a total investment of $9 billion.

Posted by: cruise2 | 11 October, 2016

Crystal Cruises Slows Its Tempo

by Kevin Griffin writing for

The Daily Mirror’s Captain Greybeard, otherwise known as John Honeywell, seems to have been the first to have noticed that Crystal Cruises’ ambitious expansion plans are being slowed down.

Captain Greybeard blog for the Mirror

Captain Greybeard blog for the Mirror

Crystal River Cruises was the first to delay its launch in France with Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, which were originally due to travel the Seine, Rhone and Dordogne beginning in June and August 2017. Instead, there will now be four newly-built river yachts on the Danube, Main and Rhine.

The Crystal river yacht vessels Debussy and Ravel (Artist concepts courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

The Crystal river yacht vessels Debussy and Ravel (Artist concepts courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

The change means a redesign for the yachts that were intended for France. The increased length will allow for the addition of a swimming pool with a sliding glass roof and more of the ship’s larger suites, which range in size up to 759 sq ft.

Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, in the line’s 106-guest Rhine-class series, are due to enter service June 18 and August 29 2017 respectively. Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will now follow in April 2018 and May 2018.

While work progresses on what will be six new river ships, he arrival of the line’s first new expedition ship and the first 1,000-passenger Exclusive-class ship have been also deferred.

The Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises)

Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises)

Polar expedition ship Crystal Endeavour was scheduled for August 2018 but will not now appear until 2019. Meanwhile, there are hints that Endeavour will be joined by another expedition vessel.

The Exclusive class ship has already been postponed by a year from late 2018 and has now been put back two more years, to 2021, and there is no word on when her promised two sister ships will be completed.

The announcement was made by Colin Au, founding president of Genting HK, which bought Crystal in 2014, during a visit to the German shipyards bought by the company to carry out the Crystal expansion and to build vessels for China-based Dream Cruises.

The Crystal Exclusive (Artist concepts courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

Crystal Exclusive (Artist concepts courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

Plans for Crystal Luxury Air have also been pared back, and the order for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to carry 100 guests in first-class luxury has been cancelled.
But designs for the surviving Boeing 777, expected to take to the skies in 12 months’ time, show a restaurant area complete with dining tables separate from the accommodation. The 777 will carry 84 guests on round-the-world air cruises of 14, 21, or 28 days.

Elsewhere in the Genting empire, its casinos in Asia are not minting as much money due to an economic slowdown in the region and increased measures by the Chinese government to prevent money laundering. Its main casinos in Malaysia and the Philippines have also suffered from large falls in the local currencies.

Genting Hong Kong meanwhile also has to pay for two large and expensive Dream class cruise ships and two more Star ships. These will enter an increasingly uncertain Chinese cruise market, where, a flood of new ships being built for the market is pushing the pricing levels downwards.

Genting is wise to be cautious however. Although the terrorist attacks of 2001 are usually blamed for its demise, American Classic Voyages failed in part because of an overly ambitious expansion plan that involved two new cruise ships for Hawaii, a new coastal cruise line and a second cruise line for Hawaii.

The R6 (Currently Azamara Journey)

R6 (Currently Azamara Journey)

Others who grew too quickly were Fearnley & Eger (Renaissance 1) and Renaissance Cruises (Renaissance 2), which each introduced eight new ships into the market in rapid succession.

And closer to home there was Genting’s own massive expansion of Norwegian Cruise Line post-acquisition that saw the company load up with debt levels that resulted in them selling the controlling interest of the company at a 50% discount to Apollo and the new owners having to re-capitalise to the tune of $1 billion.

According to one observer, the price tag for Crystal’s expansion plus the cost of acquisition has now passed the $4 billion mark.


For Crystal information and reservations contact The Cruise People at CruiseShipCenters 647-2229-7447 or email

Posted by: cruise2 | 19 September, 2016

Three New Mississippi Riverboats

by kevin Griffin writing for

The year 2012 saw a revival of cruising on the Mississippi River and its tributaries when, what is now the American Queen Steamboat Company, managed to place the 436-berth 3,707-ton American Queen back into service for the first time in four years.

The American QueenAmerican Queen

American Queen had been built by McDermott Shipyard in Morgan City, Louisiana, in 1995 and been laid up since 2008.

That same summer, American Cruise Lines introduced its own newbuilding, the 150-berth 2,700-ton American Eagle, completed that year in the line’s own shipyard, the Chesapeake Shipbuilding Company, in Salisbury, Maryland.

American Cruise Lines' paddlewheeler, American Pride (Courtesy American Cruise Lines)

American Cruise Lines’ paddlewheeler, American Pride (Courtesy American Cruise Lines)

After four seasons of no Mississippi cruises whatsoever, the river was back to two ships and 586 berths. Then, in 2015, a third vessel was added when ACL built the 150-berth 2,700-ton Queen of the Mississippi. This brought the number of berths available to 736.

Now, come three more vessels with another 501 berths that will bring the Mississippi fleet up to half a dozen ships and 1,237 berths, more than doubling the capacity of the first two ships.

First of the new trio is ACL’s 185-berth America, an enlarged version of American Eagle and Queen of the Mississippi, also from Chesapeake Shipbuilding. She was delivered in May and is now working together with a second Queen of the Mississippi, the first having been sent to the Columbia River as American Pride.

American Cruise Lines' paddlewheeler, America (Courtesy American Cruise Lines)

American Cruise Lines’ paddlewheeler, America (Courtesy American Cruise Lines)

Like all the other ACL riverboats, America is propelled by diesel engines and propulsion is through a stern paddle.

Second of the newcomers is French America Line’s 150-berth 4,332-ton Louisiane. Completed in 2000 as the last river cruiser to be build by the old Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Louisiane was built by Leevac Shipyards of Jenning, Louisiana, and completed by Cascade General Shipyards in Portland, Oregon, for work on the Columbia River.

The 150-passenger Louisiane (Courtesy French America Line)

The 150-passenger Louisiane (Courtesy French America Line)

Unlike most other riverboats in the United States, Louisiane is screw-propelled, with propulsion obtained from four diesel engines.

This summer, French America Line brought Louisiane around from Portland to New Orleans as deck cargo on a heavy lift sem-submersible barge and she is now at the Bollinger Shipyards in New Orleans (See video), where she is being prepared for her inaugural voyage from New Orleans on October 22.

Louisiane will sail from her own dedicated cruise terminal at Gretna, Louisiana, directly across the river from New Orleans.

The 150-passenger Louisiane: the Veranda and the Panorama stateroom (Courtesy French America Line)

The 150-passenger Louisiane: the Veranda and the Panorama stateroom (Courtesy French America Line)

The third “new” Mississippi cruise vessel, announced last week, will be a 166-berth 3,560-ton conversion to be renamed American Duchess.

This vessel has been selected from among the American floating casino fleet to become the American Queen Steamboat Company’s third ship, joining American Queen and the 223-berth American Empress, which operates on the Columbia River.

The floating Isle of Capri casino at Bettendorf, Iowa, has just been replaced by a new shore-based one, making the vessel available for purchase.

Presently called Bettendorf Capri, the vessel has two 10’9″ tall decks, while a third lower height deck will be added atop the ship.

The Bettendorf Capri to be renamed American Duchess after a conversion

Bettendorf Capri to be renamed American Duchess after a conversion

A paddle wheel will also be added to give the impression that the vessel is powered by her own paddlewheel, although this will not actually be the case and she will be screw-propelled.

The latest American Queen vessel was built in 1995 by the Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Company of Mobile, Alabama.

Bender, which is no longer in existence, produced a fleet of eight casino ships between 1993 and 1995 and then never built any more.
To date, American Queen has not announced what shipyard will get the conversion contract nor its cost, but it has set a deadline for delivery by June 2017.

In Europe contact The Cruise People Tel +44 (0)20-7723 2450  and in North America contact The Cruise Prople +1.647.299.7447

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