Stronger and longer: the QM2 difference

There were a few more reminders yesterday that Queen Mary 2 is not just a cruise ship but an ocean liner. Captain Christopher Wells made the point forcefully throughout his address to passengers at the Gala 175 Welcome Cocktail Party.

Apologising for the fact we had felt some movement as the ship encountered near gale-force winds between Land’s End and the Irish coast, he blamed the fact that we were “pootling along” at a mere 13 knots. The ship is designed to make twice that speed on Transatlantic crossings in far worse weather.

Capt Wells made several semi-apologetic references to the […]

On board QM2 for Cunard’s Salute to Liverpool

“Welcome to the world’s only true ocean liner” – came the announcement over Queen Mary 2’s public address. Not, surprisingly, from Captain Christopher Wells but from Entertainment Director Joanna Haley.

I boarded the ship in Southampton yesterday (Sunday) for a 10-day voyage whose highlight comes next Bank Holiday weekend when all three Cunard Queens will be together in the Mersey to pay tribute to the city that was originally the company’s home.

On the way there, QM2 will be visiting Cobh – the last port of call for Titanic – Dublin, and Greenock on the Clyde – where many of Cunard’s […]

Why those extra cruise charges are creeping up

Intense competition between mainstream operators continues to keep fares down and ensure that cruises offer some of the best holiday value available.

It also encourages operators to find new ways to increase revenue. In the case of Norwegian Cruise Line , whose Norwegian Epic is now based year-round in the Mediterranean, that has resulted in a charge being made for room service.

The fee of up to $7.95 per order was introduced at the beginning of April on Breakaway and Getaway and to the rest of the fleet from the beginning of May.

So far, so good – nobody is forced to […]

New ships, and a name-change, on the way for Thomson Cruises

The Thomson name may disappear from Britain’s travel agencies to be replaced by the name (and smile logo) of German parent company TUI – and the change is going to have a significant effect on Thomson Cruises.

Two ships which carry almost 2,000 passengers each are likely to be transferred to the UK fleet where they will join the similar-sized Thomson Discovery. They will probably replace older, smaller ships such as the Thomson Spirit and Thomson Celebration.

Mein Schiff 1, built in 1996 as Galaxy, and Mein Schiff 2, the 1997-built former Mercury, were both originally with Celebrity Cruises. Discovery is […]

Tor Hagen “in a hurry” to build a fleet of 10 Viking Oceans cruise ships

Viking Star, the first ocean-going ship to sail under the Viking Cruises flag, will not be officially christened until next weekend, but already the company’s president, Tor Hagen, is looking forward to operating a fleet of 10 identical vessels.

That’s despite a setback that means he will be launching only one new ship next year instead of the two originally planned.

Speaking during a tour of Viking Star in the Mediterranean, he blamed construction delays affecting Holland America’s Koningsdam at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy for the postponement of Viking Sky.

“We will have to accept that because Koningsdam has been hugely […]

Funnel vision for Cunard 175 captains

The Masters of Cunard’s three ships gathered together by the funnel of flagship Queen Mary 2 this morning ahead of the spectacular sailaway to mark the start of the celebrations for Cunard’s 175th anniversary year.

The Three Queens – Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 – returned from their World Cruises today, arriving in Southampton in the early morning. After a rare opportunity for the three Captains to meet up together on the same vessel, the masters will take command of their respective ships and for the first time the fleet will sail […]

Southampton cruise terminals upgraded

Southampton’s Mayflower Cruise Terminal has been reopened following a £6 million pound refurbishment that will enable it to cater for some of the largest cruise vessels afloat, long into the future.

The terminal, one of four in the port, now features a remodelled open plan interior, with expanded security, check-in and passenger reception areas.

The increased number of cruise ships visiting Southampton, and the fact that most new ships are larger and carry more passengers, means P&O Cruises, Cunard and other brands of the Carnival Group,are expecting passenger volumes through Southampton to increase by 25 per cent over the next two years.

Steven […]

Cunard passengers in moving Anzac Day tribute

Almost 500 Australians and New Zealanders took part in a memorial service on the decks of Cunard Lines’ Queen Elizabeth this morning as the ship sailed the waters off the Gallipoli Peninsula.

They were joined by hundreds of other passengers marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the eight-month First World War campaign that cost more than 140,000 lives.

Crew and guests laid wreaths in the water in remembrance of the soldiers who died. A six-foot high poppy wall floral tribute, shaped as ‘100’ to mark the Anzac centenary, formed the centrepiece for the ceremony. The wall was filled with […]

MSC Cruises move ships away from conflict regions of Egypt and Ukraine

Continuing political unrest has led MSC Cruises to cancel cruise ship calls to Egypt and Ukraine which had been scheduled for later this year and spring 2016. Alternative ports of call have been arranged in the Mediterranean.

The company says the move is “in response to market demand”; translated that probably means there is currently a distinct LACK of demand for cruises to the affected regions.

The affected cruises are:

MSC Opera: 12-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings – Rhodes, Greece and Heraklion, Crete replace Alexandria, Egypt. Three departures affected [28 September, 10 October and 22 October, 2015].

MSC Sinfonia: 12-night Eastern Mediterranean and Black […]

Oriana under way again after fire

A British cruise ship was forced to make an unscheduled return to port last night after a fire on board. P&O Cruises’ Oriana was en route to a day in Key West, Florida, but turned round and returned to Miami, which it had left only a few hours earlier.

A P&O spokeswoman said the fire was minor and “localised” and that the safety of passengers and crew had not been affected.

She said that in order to allow for a mandatary US Coastguard inspection, the ship would remain in Miami until 8.00 am local time (1.00 pm BST) and the call […]