Britannia and world’s biggest cruise ship – first look at what’s planned

The dust has settled on the week’s two big announcements. It’s time to reflect on Britannia and Oasis 3, the two new cruise ships that will respectively become the biggest designed and built built for British passengers, and the biggest in the world.
First, P&O’s Britannia: we knew it would be arriving in 2015, and we knew it was being built on the same basic hull design as this year’s star newcomer, Royal Princess.
The big reveal was the name. Apart from a few generalisations, and the clues to be gained from examining the computer-drawn impressions, we are not much wiser.
It […]

Royal Princess naming in pictures

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, with Princess Cruises CEO Alan Buckelew, Mrs Buckelew, and the Bishop of Winchester
Natasha Bedingfield performing “Unwritten”
Kate with Princess Cruises CEO Alan Buckelew and Mrs Buckelew. Behind them are Lord and Lady Sterling
Mass Ensemble, performing “Into The Flow”
Capt Tony Draper invites the Duchess to “name my ship”
The Duchess talks to Isobel and Charles Rowbotham, who presented her with the scissors to cut the rope
I name this ship Royal Princess. May God bless her and all who sail in her

Norwegian Breakaway in pictures

Some of the highlights of Norwegian Breakaway. The ship is big, bright and fun and will carry 4,000 passengers a week out of New York to Bermuda, the Bahamas, or the Caribbean, depending on the time of year. Norwegian Getaway, due to launch next year, will be very similar, and becomes the biggest ship to be based in Miami.
Ellie Simmonds, our Paralympic swimming gold medallist, inaugurated the ship’s AquaPark which contains five watersides including the terrifying 40 mph FreeFall.
More intrepid passengers will also enjoy the extensive ropes course which includes a zipline track and this walk-the-plank experience for real […]

Vision from the desert survives as Preziosa’s reminder of Gaddafi

It was Hannibal Gaddafi’s plan to establish Libya’s own cruise line that led to the construction of the ship which yesterday became MSC Preziosa.
Little remains of the designs which would have ended up as Phoenicia if his father’s regime had not been overthrown in 2010. Certainly not the aquarium which was planned to hold 120 tons of seawater and six live sharks.
When MSC paid €550 million to pick up the part-completed vessel – being built to the same hull design as their ships Fantasia, Splendida and Divina – they did so in time for builders STX Europe […]

The new MSC Preziosa in pictures

A small selection from the naming ceremony of MSC Preziosa and my two nights on board in Genoa.
Sophia Loren, flanked by Ennio Morricone and Capt Giuliano Bossi
On the big screen, the Champagne bottle smashes against the ship’s hull
Firework finale: a shower of dazzling crystals over Genoa
Great view: the ship’s Garden Pool, with the city of Genoa behind
It’s a mug’s game: But we couldn’t buy these because the ship was in port
Time for tea . . . in the exclusive Yacht Club lounge
No takers . . . too cloudy for the sunloungers to attract any passengers

QM2 in magnificent Fjordland

Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 made history today as the largest vessel to enter New Zealand’s spectacular Milford Sound in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fjordland National Park.
In the south-west corner of South Island, the sound – named after Milford Haven in Wales – is a 10-mile-lomg inlet hemmed in by granite cliffs rising to 4,000 ft. Mitre Peak, immediately astern of QM2 in the picture, reaches to 5,560 ft
The ship continued to nearby Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound during its maiden 12-day circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Breakaway is the perfect picture

Picture of the year . . . so far. Norwegian Breakaway on her 27-mile journey from the shipyard in Papenburg, along the flooded River Ems to the North Sea. Click on the picture for a bigger version. The skies were threatening as the ship, travelling backwards, squeezed through locks with inches to spare, past road bridges which lifted to give just enough clearance, and through the tidal barrier at Gandersum. Spectacular!

My cruise year in pictures

Time for a round-up of my year in pictures. This time with a difference. A few – like the one above of Disney Cruise Line’s resort island of Castaway Cay – are traditional picture postcard stuff (or as near as I can get with my limited photographic skills). Others are quirky, weird, or just plain bonkers. Enjoy.
This vintage Porsche, parked directly outside the Gucci shop in St Tropez, seemed to sum up the over-the-top luxury of the French Riviera, appropriately enough during a short cruise on SeaDream II. Such a shame that when the driver returned with his two […]

A floating gallery of modern art I could only dream about

It was a true OMG moment. We had just boarded Silver Shadow when one of my travelling companions rested her handbag on a side table in the central lobby.
It took only a moment before her eyes opened wide. “Look at that!” she exclaimed, indicating a foot-high statue on the table, and the printed card beneath it, which described it as an elephant.
It was indeeed recognisably a pachyderm, albeit raised on the stilt-like legs of a double-jointed giraffe. The name on the card provided an explanation for that – the artist was Salvador Dali.
The attribution also justified the price tag […]

Whale meet again – and win!

A blue whale has been making thousands of friends this summer – and he could win someone a digital camera.
Pip, as he is known, has been adopted as the mascot for Portsmouth International Port this summer, and 100,000 are being given away to passengers passing through the terminal to set off on their holidays, by cruise ship or car ferry.
The inflatable creature (not the big furry one in the picture above) has already been seen with Norman knights in Cherbourg, cheering Bradley Wiggins to Tour de France victory on the Champs Elysées, at Mont St Michel, and relaxing on […]