Branson orders three ships for Virgin Cruises

Can the golden boy of British commerce find success at sea? Richard Branson has announced the first details of Virgin Cruises – which he expects to emulate earlier instances of the brand, like his records, planes, and trains. And hopefully prove easier to get off the ground than his Intergalactic space travel venture.

Branson arrived by helicopter at the Perez Art Museum in Miami for today’s press conference, dressed in trademark Virgin red shorts and with a red captain’s cap over his flowing blond locks.

He announced a deal had been struck with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for three ships to be […]

Galápagos cruise fleet is joined by an old friend

Back in 2010, I travelled on a memorable cruise around the tip of South America on board the delightful Via Australis (above) – a 136-passenger ship that took me as close as I have ever been to glaciers and penguins.

In January this year, visiting Chile on a cruise aboard Golden Princess, it was something of a disappointment to see sister ship Mare Australis (below) laid up in Punta Arenas. She looked rather forlorn, hauled out of the water and sitting on wooden blocks.

I was delighted to discover last night that Mare Australis has a new life, and a new […]

Fun and games – and history – as Fred Olsen cruise fleet unites in Norwegian port of Bergen

Four of a kind – Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ fleet will be together in one place for the first time when they meet in the Norwegian port of Bergen on July 28.

Marching bands and other entertainment will greet the ships’ 4,000 passengers, who will be given the chance to compete in an inter-ship treasure hunt around the city. The crews will take part in a tug of war competition.

The event coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of the first Fred Olsen, who founded a shipping company that operates ferries in the Canary islands and offshore […]

Join me at the Planet Cruise Holiday Show

I’m looking forward to a day out at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl on June 28 – not to watch the cricket, but to take part in the Planet Cruise Holiday Show.

I’ve had my arm twisted to join three “expert” panels advising on Cruising for Newcomers, Where to Cruise, and Premium and Luxury Cruising – I’d better start doing my homework.

The forums will be hosted by travel broadcaster Jonathan Beaumont, and the day’s events in the theatre also include presentations from Oceania Cruises, Hurtigruten, CelebrityCruises, an introduction to river cruising, and a question and answer session with Planet Cruise TV […]

RMS St Helena will make historic visit to London before retirement in 2016

The last sailings of RMS St Helena next year will include a rare visit to the UK. The two-week trip from the remote South Atlantic island, via Tenerife, used to be a feature of the ship’s regular service, but in recent years it has been confined to a shuttle between Cape Town and Ascension, with an occasional diversion to Tristan da Cunha.

The island’s first airport will open for business in May and the ship, which is the only regular link to the outside world for the 4,000 islanders, will be retired in July.

The 6,700-ton vessel was built in Aberdeen […]

Double world first for Carnival – four new cruise ships will be the greenest and biggest

Taking an unprecedented leap forward in technology and design, Carnival Corporation is to build four vessels powered by liquefied natural gas, which it claims will be have the biggest passenger capacity in the world

The ships, carrying up to 6,600 passengers each, will measure more than 180,000 tons. Two, to be built at the Meyer-Werft yard in Germany, have been designated for Carnival’s Aida brand. No announcement has yet been made about who will operate the other two, which will be built in Turku, Finland.

The multi-billion dollar deal is part of a contract already signed for the delivery of […]

Cruise passengers banned from bringing bottled water to prevent booze smuggling

In a move designed to prevent illicit alcohol being smuggled onto its ships, cruise giant Carnival is to ban passengers from bringing bottled water and fizzy drinks on board.

Only limited quantities of sealed cans or cartons will be permitted after July 9, and passengers will be given the chance to pre-order bottled water for their cabin at a reduced price.

Without referring to any specific event, Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said the new policy was designed to prevent security incidents “often with tragic consequences” which have been blamed on passengers getting drunk on alcohol not […]

Wedding bells ring for MSC and BBC – but Don’t Tell The Bride

Don’t Tell The Bride … but she’s going to get married on board a cruise ship, on prime time TV.

The hit television series is transferring from BBC3 to BBC1 later this month, and a wedding on board MSC Lirica will be the third of six hour-long episodes to be broadcast.

The production team joined Manchester-based entertainer Mark Kelly on the ship last September, as he prepared a theatrical wedding to sweetheart Kelly Roughley.

The couple are no strangers to radio or television. They work together as presenters, actors, singers, a magician/illusionist duo, and children’s entertainers. They used to host the drive […]

P&O loses Adonia to voluntourism venture

Farewell then, Adonia. The smallest ship in the P&O Cruises fleet will leave the UK next year and sail off to a new venture as the flagship for a social impact tourism project to be launched by the giant Carnival Corporation.

Instead of carrying 710 British passengers at a time on voyages to the Mediterranean, northern Europe, or further afield to South America, the vessel will be taking voluntourists on 7-day voyages from Miami to the Dominican Republic.

Travelling with the new fathom venture, they will be given the chance to work on activities such as providing clean water, […]

Dancing Queens drew 1.3 million to the Mersey

Latest estimates put the number of spectators crowding the banks of the Mersey to see Cunard’s spectacular Three Queens event on Monday at an astonishing 1.3 million.

The throng certainly looked impressive from my viewpoint on board flagship Queen Mary 2 as we headed to the mouth of the river to greet Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, and then followed them to the Pier Head.

Thousands swarmed across the beaches at Crosby and New Brighton, and they were scores deep in front of Liverpool’s Three Graces – the Liver Building, Cunard Building, and Port Authority HQ – and across the other […]