MSC GRANDIOSA COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL SEA TRIALS

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MSC Grandiosa leaves Saint Nazaire for sea trials Image: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises’ first Meraviglia-Plus class ship MSC Grandiosa has successfully completed her first intensive systems tests at sea during a three-day trial in the Atlantic Ocean between 28-31 August.

MSC Cruises’ latest flagship will next receive her finishing touches at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France before being officially delivered to MSC Cruises on 31 October.

With a gross tonnage of 177,000, the ship has a total guest capacity of 6,334 and will feature some of the latest innovative marine technology and systems to become MSC Cruises’ most efficient and environmentally clean ship in its fleet.

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The Meraviglia-Plus class are 16m longer than Meraviglia class
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© Andrew McAlpine

MSC Grandiosa is equipped with two new and important technological innovations including a selective catalytic reduction system to decrease nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 per cent and transform it into pure water and nitrogen.  The flagship is also fitted with a state-of-the-art advanced wastewater treatment system that will lead to nearly zero impact on discharges and allow her to operate in delicate environments such as the Baltic Sea and Alaska.

MSC Grandiosa will feature extended 111-meter-long indoor promenade featuring an extended screen of 95 meters by 6 meters supplied by Samsung. The extended promenade area which will house two extra restaurants, giving passengers a wider dining choice.

The new environmental features add to other effective technologies deployed on MSC Grandiosa to further reduce her environmental impact including a cutting-edge exhaust gas cleaning system, systems for the prevention of oil discharge from machinery spaces, a ballast water treatment system and various energy-saving improvements such as heat recovery systems and LED lighting.

The christening ceremony for MSC Grandiosa is due to take place on 9th November in Hamburg and will be hosted by German TV star Michelle Hunziker. The ship will then head to Southampton arriving 12th November for two days of celebrations after which she will then head for an inaugural season in the Western Mediterranean with maiden calls from her Genoa homeport to Civitavecchia, Palermo, Valletta, Barcelona and Marseilles.

"Credit - Bernard Biger & Chantiers de l'Atlantique (3).jpg"
Image: MSC Cruises

MSC Grandiosa Factfile

IMO No.: 9803613

Shipyard:  Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Saint Nazaire

Length: 331 m

Width: 51 m

Draft: 8,75 m

Gross tonnage: 177,000

Passengers: 6,334

Staterooms & suits: 2,444

Decks: 18

Crew: 1,700

Cruising speed: 21.8 knots

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest post.

To find out more about MSC Grandiosa visit here http://www.msccruises.co.uk

Piano Land sets sail from Southampton

Yesterday 16th August saw one of the UK’s favorite cruise ships depart from Southampton to start a new life in China. The former P&O Cruises favorite Oriana sailed under her new name Piano Land, which is the English translation of Gulangyu Island, situated in Xiamen, China and her new home port.

Sold in June 2018 to the new Chinese (state-owned) cruise company Well Star Travel Cruise, a joint venture between China Travel Services International (CTS) and COSCO Shipping Group. The new cruise line plans short-break roundtrips from Xiamen in China to ports in Japan and Southeast Asia including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia with operations starting in mid-October 2019.

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Piano Land sails from Southampton © Andrew McAlpine

On 9th August she arrived in Southampton at the end of her final cruise for P&O Cruises,  and once the last passengers disembarked work started to change her identity and prepare for her voyage to China. Together with work to de-store her exterior work included removing Oriana’s name plate’s from below the funnel, painting over the union flag on the bow and the P&O Cruises logo on the stern. Her former name was painted over and replaced with Piano Land just a day before sailing.

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Note the new name welded on the stern © Andrew McAlpine
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The former Oriana minus the P&O hull livery © Andrew McAlpine
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Aurora seen berthed behind Piano Land © Andrew McAlpine

On the day of her departure the former fleet mate Ventura and near sister Aurora were both in port and as she sailed gave farewell blasts from their horns.

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© Andrew McAlpine

On the same day as her departure two former fleet mates, Ventura and near sister Aurora were both in port. As she sailed both exchanged farewell blasts from their horns.

Enjoy these images of Piano Land sailing from what was her home port for 25 years.

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© Andrew McAlpine
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© Andrew McAlpine
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© Andrew McAlpine
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© Andrew McAlpine
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© Andrew McAlpine

Some images of the icon that was Oriana 

 

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Photographed from the tender in Guernsey 20th July 2019 © Andrew McAlpine

It wasn’t often Oriana was in port overnight but ahead of my three day cruise to Guernsey on hear she was in port overnight so I took the opportunity to get some night photos.

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© Andrew McAlpine
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© Andrew McAlpine
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© Andrew McAlpine

Farewell Oriana 

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© Andrew McAlpine

Following her departure it was confirmed that Astro Ocean had officially taken over operations. She is now heading to Piraeus where she will make a technical stop and will receive a new livery on the bow and new logo. She is due to arrive in Hong Kong at the end of September and begin a series of short cruises from nearby Shenzhen from October and November before moving to her winter home port of Xiamen.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Royal Caribbean redeploys Independence of the Seas in 2020 away from UK

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Sailing from Southampton May 2018 © Andrew McAlpine

Royal Caribbean have announced that the UK’s favorite ship Independence of the Seas will not be sailing from Southampton in 2020 and a deployment change will instead see her stay in Port Everglades, Florida.

With new itineraries to the Caribbean, Independence of the Seas will be making calls to the newly relaunched private island, Perfect Day at Coco Bay.

On Royal Caribbean’s UK website, the cruise line explained the change:

“Your sailing is being cancelled because we’re making changes to our 2020 season that require the Independence of the Seas to remain in the Caribbean, instead of sailing to Southampton. 

Our goal is to provide our guests with the best itineraries that take you to exclusive parts of the world and have decided to make these changes for the 2020 season to maximise our capacity in the Caribbean. We are terribly sorry. We know this news is disappointing. We do hope you find an alternate vacation option with us.”

The company also issued a statement on its twitter channel:

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Royal Caribbean UK also apologized for canceling sailings some guests have booked, “Our goal is provide our guests with the best itineraries that take you to exclusive parts of the world and have decided to make these changes for the 2020 season to maximize our capacity in the Caribbean. We are terribly sorry. We know this news is disappointing.”

Booked guests will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit, which is valued at 25% of their Independence of the Seas cruise fare, as a result of their cruises being cancelled and will be notified as soon as possible by the cruise line or their travel agents.

In 2020 both Explorer of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas will still be operating from Southampton.

Anthem of the Seas Maiden Call
Anthem of the Seas seen on her maiden call to Southampton April 2015 © Andrew McAlpine

For further information or help on the changes click on the following link

https://help.royalcaribbean.co.uk/hc/en-gb/sections/360004499552-Independence-of-the-Seas-2020-changes-to-sailings

As always thank you for taking the time to read my blog

 

 

 

 

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON: 182 DAYS LEFT UNTIL THE CHRISTENING OF MSC GRANDIOSA IN HAMBURG

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First of the enriched Meraviglia-Plus ships to come into service

Inaugural season to be spent in the stunning Western Mediterranean

New flagship to feature two brand new Cirque du Soleil at Sea Shows

With exactly six months before the christening of MSC Grandiosa on 9th November in the Port of Hamburg, MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America, South Africa and the Gulf, today revealed they would be welcoming back international TV star Michelle Hunziker to host the glamorous official naming ceremony of the Company’s newest and largest ship to date. Hunziker, internationally known as a TV presenter, actress and singer, also hosted the christening of MSC Seaview in Genoa in 2018. Growing up in Italy and of Swiss descent, Hunziker speaks five languages and embodies the international spirit and Mediterranean soul of MSC Cruises.

MSC Grandiosa will become the largest ship in the MSC Cruises fleet and the first of the Meraviglia-Plus class of ships. Enriched with more cabins, more public space and innovative new features, the highlights include:

·         The iconic Mediterranean Promenade will be the heart of the ship. Under the 98.5-metre-long LED sky, guests can enjoy a varied entertainment programme as well as being able to indulge in shopping and world class food and drink. 

·         MSC Grandiosa takes the onboard shopping experience to a new level with the indoor promenade offering mall-style boutiques, where guests will find their favourite brands of clothing, jewellery, technology and more, all at unbeatable prices. 

·         The speciality restaurants located in the promenade include the new restaurant concept L’Atelier Bistrot, a French-inspired bar with lounge area, which also offers a stage and dance floor as well as a seated terrace.

·         The entertainment highlight will be two brand new shows from Cirque du Soleil at Sea. The shows are created by world-leader in live entertainment, Cirque du Soleil as part of a unique long-term partnership with MSC Cruises. 

·         MSC Grandiosa will feature the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, ZOE. This artificial intelligence guest service will answer guest questions in the comfort of their cabin alongside a ground-breaking feature of connected cruise experience, MSC for Me.

·         Designed as a ship for all seasonsMSC Grandiosa will spend winter in the MediteranneanWith less visitors and the perfect winter sun weather, this is the ideal time of year to discover some of the top destinations throughout Italy, France and Spain without the crowds.

Michelle Hunziker commented, “I am delighted to be part of the christening ceremony of MSC Grandiosa in Hamburg. Since the christening of MSC Seaview last year, I feel a part of the MSC family. I am particularly pleased that the christening is taking place in Germany. I have met great people here and celebrated many professional successes. For me, Germany means a piece of home and Hamburg has such a wonderful maritime heritage, it will be an honour to become a part of it. I am also looking forward to discovering everything that this new and stunning ship has to offer.”

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A section of MSC Grandiosa’s hull seen at the shipyard © Andrew McAlpine

MSC Grandiosa is the third ship of the innovative Meraviglia generation and the first of the Meraviglia-Plus class. She will become the fifth new next-generation ship MSC Cruises has launched in just two and a half years as part of MSC Cruises’ investment plan of €13.6 billion spanning more than 10 years.  MSC Grandiosa will be followed by a further 12 ships through to 2027 with her sister ship, MSC Virtuosa launching next October 2020.

Meraviglia generation ships have been designed to meet every need of today’s cruise guest. The extraordinary design, wide array of facilities and entertainment make these ships ideal for the whole family. Designed for all seasons, they are able to call at most of the world’s international cruise ports.

Last year I was fortunate to get a glimpse of MSC Grandiosa under construction at in Saint Nazaire when I visited the shipyard to see MSC Bellissima float out.

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MSC Grandiosa seen under construction at Chantiers de l’atlantique in St.Nazaire

 

MSC Cruises have also announced that following her christening in Hamburg MSC Grandiosa will visit Southampton on 13th November, afterwhich she will sail on her maiden cruise to the Mediterranean with calls at Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseille and finally Genoa.

As always thank you for taking the time to read my blog

To find out more booking information www.msccruises.co.uk

Princess Cruises announces the arrival of UK-based ship

Crown Princess at Sea

Crown Princess has arrived in Southampton to begin its spring and summer season in the UK and will be sailing around the British Isles on a series of 12-night voyages.

The 3,080-guest vessel has over 1,500 cabins, including nearly 900 balconies, and four swimming pools. It has 19 decks; 18 restaurants, cafes and bars; and at a length of over 950 feet is around the size of three football pitches.

Crown Princess will feature the multi award-winning Ocean Medallion technology from July 24, the first UK-based ship to do so.

The Medallion is intended to make every guest feel like a VIP and helps them relax and enjoy their cruise from the moment they are ready to step onboard. The device is the same size as a 10p piece and replaces more traditional cruise cards.

The Medallion’s instant technology makes it quicker and easier to get on and off the ship. Once onboard it opens guests’ doors when they approach, which is ideal for anyone who already has their hands full or is with small children.

The Medallion’s ‘compass’ feature means guests can find and stay connected with friends and family onboard, as well as navigate their way around the ship. It also allows guests to order drinks and snacks, plus holiday essentials such as suntan lotion and swimming goggles, to most parts of the ship.

Three ships to date have been Medallion-activated: Caribbean Princess, Regal Princess and Royal Princess.

In September, Crown Princess will make her way to Fort Lauderdale for roundtrip Caribbean sailings. The ship will return to the UK from May-November 2020, where she will sail from Southampton on a series of voyages to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and northern Europe.

Princess Cruises is offering a 12-night British Isles cruise, departing August 17, 2019 on Crown Princess. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, ports of call include Guernsey (St. Peter Port), Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Invergordon, Edinburgh (South Queensferry) and Paris/Normandy (Le Havre). Prices from £1,099 per person.

Princess Cruises is offering a 17-night Mediterranean and Greek Isles Cruise, departing November 6, 2020 on Crown Princess. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, ports of call include Seville (Cadiz), Valletta, Mykonos, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Santorini and Cartagena. Prices from £1,799 per person.

Princess Cruises launches new ‘Sapphire Princess’ cocktail

Princess Cruises has announced that its new gin-based ‘Sapphire Princess’ cocktail is now being served on its main UK ship.

 

Created in partnership with the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, the bespoke cocktail is named after the returning Sapphire Princess cruise ship. The drink will be served exclusively on the vessel, which will spend April – October 2019 sailing to a variety of destinations from Southampton including the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords and Canada & New England.

Inspired by the 2,670-guest ship and its Mediterranean ports of call, the bright blue-hued drink is the newest addition to the ship’s cocktail menu and will complement the wide range of beverage options already available onboard.

The drink includes a generous measure of Bombay Sapphire gin, which is itself made with botanical ingredients sourced from several of the countries and destinations Sapphire Princess sails to, whilst the cocktail’s mixers include Blue Curacao to evoke the sea, and a splash of Prosecco to signify the fizz and bubbles created by waves in the water. 

The line has also introduced a brand new excursion for 2019, to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery located in Laverstoke, Hampshire. Available on the day of disembarkation in Southampton, this in-depth tour offers guests the chance to learn the process of gin production, taste the signature botanicals for which the distillery is renowned and toast their holiday. 

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice president UK and Europe, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Sapphire Princess back for another summer of sailings from Southampton and I really cannot think of a better way to greet her arrival than with a glass of this perfect summer cocktail.

“Guests can enjoy a glass or two of this delicious drink in one of the many bars onboard throughout their cruise and by offering a brand new tour to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, they have the opportunity to continue their holiday even after they have left the ship.”

Sam Carter, Senior Brand Ambassador for the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, said: “The Sapphire Princess cocktail is a silky smooth, well-balanced libation that takes its inspiration partially from the deep bright blue colour of the Mediterranean Sea and also the countries that the Sapphire Princess sails around.”

Fancy making it for yourself then here’s Sapphire Princess Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

45ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
15ml Blue Curacao
15ml MARTINI Bianco Vermouth
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
Splash of Prosecco
 
Glassware: chilled martini cocktail glass

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Bombay Sapphire is distilled in Laverstoke Hampshire

Method: Squeeze the lemon juice into a cocktail shaker and add all other ingredients (except the sparkling wine)  including lots of cubed ice and shake well for 10 seconds. Using a fine tea strainer, strain the cocktail into a martini cocktail glass and add a splash of Prosecco. Garnish by squeezing an orange peel disc over the drink, allowing the oils from the orange skin to rest on the top of the drink. Then using a knife, make a cut 1/3rd of the way through the orange peel disc and place on the rim edge of the glass.

Sam Carter, Senior Brand Ambassador, Bombay Sapphire Distillery
Sam Carter, Senior Brand Ambassador for the Bombay Sapphire onboard Sapphire Princess

 

The new cocktail is available on sailings including: 

·   An 11-day Canary Islands cruise, departing October 8, 2019 on Sapphire Princess. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, ports of call include Vigo, Spain, Madeira (Portugal), Santa Cruz De Tenerife (Spain), Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), Lanzarote (Canary Islands). Prices from £1,099 per person.

·   A 14-day Mediterranean Adventurer cruise, departing August 17, 2019 on Sapphire Princess. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, ports of call include Seville (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (Provence – France), Livorno (Florence/Pisa – Italy) Civitavecchia (Rome – Italy), Alghero (Sardinia), Ceuta (Spanish Morocco – Spain). Prices from £1,249 per person. 

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Sapphire Princess seen sailing from Southampton in 2018 © Andrew McAlpine

Are you sailing on Sapphire Princess this year? and will you be trying this signature drink? As a fan of gin I would certainly be having a taste if i was on board this year!

Thankyou for reading and would love to hear your comments. 

 

 

UK’s first dedicated LNG cruise terminal opens in Southampton

 

The first phase of a multi-million-pound upgrade to the Ocean Cruise Terminal in the Port of Southampton has now been completed. The XL-ready programme will see the terminal transformed to become the UK’s first dedicated LNG cruise terminal.

Cruise Terminal upgrade at Ocean Terminal

The terminal re-opened on 22nd March with the arrival of P&O Cruises Azura. Her arrival marked the start of Southampton’s busy cruise season.

The newly refurbished terminal now boasts a specious lobby area, a new escalator and stairs to allow for the increased guest flow to the upper level. The mezzanine floor has been extended to provide additional seating ready to accommodate an increase in passenger capacity.

This first phase has also included quayside infrastructure upgrades with 18 new 150 tonne bollards replacing the old 50 tonne bollards together with a new stores receiving area.

Phase 2 will see the installation of two new air bridges together with a further 2,000 roof-mounted solar panels. The project is due for completion early in 2020, in readiness for the arrival of P&O Cruise’s new 5,200-Guest flagship Iona due in May.

This £12 million project is in partnership with P&O Cruises and began in October last year.

Alastair Welch, Director at the Port of Southampton, said: “Cruise is a growing industry and we continue to make these significant investments which are crucial to ensuring we are in a good position to welcome the larger ships and the increase in passenger numbers.”

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: Azura is be the first ship to berth at the newly renovated Ocean Cruise Terminal, which, when all the work is complete, will give our guests a much smoother, faster and more efficient boarding experience and will also prepare us for the arrival of our two LNG-powered ships.”

The Port of Southampton is Europe’s leading cruise turnaround port and currently welcomes over 2 million passengers each year. Each ship visit to the port generates around £2 million for the local economy.

Iona, which will homeport in Southampton, is the first of two new ships of the XL-class for P&O Cruises, with the next ship on order to be delivered in 2022. She is the first British cruise ship to be powered by LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

LNG is steadily becoming the fuel of choice for the cruise industry with a number of cruise lines including AIDA, Carnival, Costa, P&O, MSC, all choosing LNG power for future ships.

Carnival Corps current LNG order book:

Costa Cruises (Costa Smeralda); delivery October 2019.

Carnival Cruise Line (Mardi Gras); delivery 2020.

P&O Cruises UK (IONA); delivery 2020.

AIDA Cruises; delivery 2021.

Costa Cruises; delivery 2021.

Carnival Cruise Line; delivery 2022.