Carnival MG keel laying-2367.JPG
Image: Carnival Cruise Line

In keeping with maritime tradition, a keel-laying ceremony was held yesterday at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland, for Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, which is set to debut in August 2020.

The ceremony, which dates back hundreds of years, was highlighted by the placement of coins placed on top of a 750-ton keel block called 3C signifying good luck for the ship and the official start of construction.  

Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Newbuilds Ben Clement and Mardi Gras Captain Giuseppe Giusa, Chief Engineer Ferdinando Ruocco and Hotel Director Pierre Camilleri joined Meyer Turku CEO Jan Meyer at the festivities. 

Mardi Gras will be a stunning expression of the Carnival holiday experience offering a variety of ground-breaking innovations, including BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea; the first seagoing restaurant by legendary chef Emeril Lagasse; and six themed zones with a wide range of culinary, beverage and activity choices.   Mardi Gras will also be the first cruise ship in North America to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), part of Carnival Corporation’s “green cruising” platform.

“This is a historic day for Carnival – the official start of construction of the spectacular Mardi Gras which will usher in an exciting new chapter for our company and introduce so many guest-pleasing innovations,” said Clement.

 “We have been very excited to design and now finally to start assembling Carnival Mardi Gras. All these different features onboard require a lot of engineering and design expertise which we have been happy to provide to our customer,” CEO of Meyer Turku Jan Meyer states.

 Mardi Gras is set to debut in Europe on 31st August 2020, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages before shifting to Port Canaveral for year-round Caribbean departures.

Carnival MG keel laying-2463.JPG
Image: Carnival Cruise Line

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit For reservations, call 0808 234 0680. Carnival can also be found on: FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube

 About Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line, part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), is “The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line®” with 26 ships operating three- to 24-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Cuba, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia.  The line currently has three new ships scheduled for delivery – Carnival Panorama™ in 2019, Mardi Gras in 2020 and an as-yet-unnamed ship in 2022.

P&O Cruises celebrates coin ceremony milestone for Iona

Hull block containing the bow thrusters Image: P&O Cruises

A key stage in the construction of the P&O Cruise Iona was held at Meyer Werft shipyard earlier today.

P&O new build and yard team celebrated the milestone with the traditional coin-laying ceremony for the 180,000-ton LNG-fueled vessel. 

A bronze coin from the historic Iona Abbey and a slice of precious green Iona marble from the island were placed under the block housing the bow thrusters before the block was then lowered onto these items.

Watch the keel laying ceremony here:

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “This was an auspicious occasion in Iona’s build. The coin-laying is a long-held ship-building tradition which is to bring good luck to the ship and its crew through from construction to the future at sea.

“It is very special to think that a small part of the island of Iona will live within our own Iona. We hope that the qualities of beauty, heritage, pride, camaraderie, mutual support and loyalty from the island which attracted us to the name will be inherent in our ship, its crew and guests.

“The build of any ship is an incredible achievement but to see one of this size and scope is an extraordinary feat of skilled design and engineering. To view Iona’s SkyDome take shape was literally breath-taking – no other ship in the world has a glass dome of this quality of construction and scale. The extent of the space on Iona has allowed us to create not only spectacular spaces for shows, entertainment, dining and wellness but also many more intimate spaces for tranquility and relaxation as well as exclusive performances. Iona will be game-changer for holidays.”

As part of the ceremony the ship’s central steel block, the mega block, which has already been constructed was floated out on to the water, according to a press release.

The 21.5 metre long block weighs 461 tons, is 19.4 metres wide and 9.8 metres high and had to be lifted by a 600 ton crane.

Take a look at the build so far:

Iona which will be P&O Cruises first LNG powered ship is due to be launched in May 2020 and will spend its inaugural season sailing with 7 night itineraries from Southampton to the Norwegian Fjords, followed by a winter in the Canaries, Spain and Portugal.

Iona Factfile

IMO: 9826548

Shipyard: Meyer Werft, Papenburg

Hull No.: S710

Ship Class: Excellence Class

Sister Ships: AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda, Costa 2021, Carnival Mardi Gras

Cost: USD950 million

Registered: TBC

Steel cutting: April 2018

Launch: May 2020

Length: 337m

Beam: 42m

Service Speed: 23 Knots

Max Capacity: 6,600

Crew; 1,800

Decks: 20

Cabin Decks: 11


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HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to name Saga’s new cruise ship Spirit of Discovery

Saga is delighted to announce HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as the Godmother of its newly built boutique cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery. The naming ceremony will take place in Dover, Kent, on 5 July 2019. She will be the first cruise ship to be named at the Port of Dover for over a decade, and the first to be docked at Dover Western Docks following the £250m redevelopment of the area.

 Before the naming ceremony, HRH will be given a tour of the ship. In building Spirit of Discovery, classic and contemporary materials and furnishings have been combined to create a luxurious environment. The 1,000 plus pieces of art on board will include 400 original pieces commissioned from British based artists and artisans. Hush Heath, an independent wine producer from Kent, will provide a jeroboam of their sparkling wine for the naming ceremony that has been specially blended for Spirit of Discovery.

The Duchess of Cornwall and Saga share a common link in their support for The Silver Line, a charity founded by TV presenter Dame Esther Rantzen after she experienced intense loneliness following the death of her husband. HRH is the patron of the charity and The Silver Line is Saga’s first national charity partner.

Spirit of Discovery seen during her Ems conveyance image: Saga Cruises

Lance Batchelor, Group CEO of Saga, said: “I am delighted that The Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to be Godmother of the Spirit of Discovery. The launch of our new ship is a key moment in both the history and future of Saga. Carrying fewer than 1,000 passengers, she is a boutique ship that offers our customers and members the highest standards of accommodation, furnishings, cuisine and entertainment. I am immensely proud of what we have created with shipyard Meyer Werft.”

Sophie Andrews, CEO, The Silver Line, said: “Our team is absolutely delighted to see this coming together of our Patron and our charity partner, Saga. The Silver Line helpline receives more than 10,500 calls every week from vulnerable and isolated older people, many of whom have nowhere else to turn which demonstrates the depth of loneliness felt by huge numbers of the UK’s older population.

Saga has shown its firm commitment to Britain as Spirit of Discovery has been registered in the UK and will proudly display London as her port of registry on her stern. Her sister ship, Spirit of Adventure, will also fly the Red Ensign when she launches in 2020.

Saga employed London based design company, SMC Design, to design some of the interiors onboard both new ships. The company has extensive experience with cruise vessel design. SMC Design’s also designed a number of interior’s for other cruise lines including P&O Cruises, (Sindhu / Indian restaurants), Viking ocean cruises (Explorers Lounge), Norwegian cruise Line (Mandara Spa).

One thing I have already fallen in love with is a sneak peak of the series paintings by the UK based artist Kate Jackson. Saga along with SMart Consultancy commissioned UK artist Kate who specializes in urban landscapes. Kate conceived a series of paintings designed to capture the essence of the Spirit of Discovery.

I really like the look of these paintings which although are obviously modern also remind me of the classic liner adverts from the 1930’s and am sure they wil look stunning on board.


Ship Factfile

IMO No: 9802683

Construction start: March 2019

Shipyard: Meyer Weft, Papenburg, Germany

Building Cost: USD 350 million

Overall Length: 236m

Width: 31.2m

Gross Tonnage: 58,250 tonnes

Max Speed; 23 knots

Decks: 10

Decks with Cabins: 6

Passengers: 1000

Crew: 505

Have you booked a cruise of Spirit of Discovery or are you planning to?

To find out more about Saga cruises take a look here

To find out more about the artist Kate Jackson check out her website here

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Spectrum of the Seas completes her conveyance – from shipyard to sea

Yesterday Royal Caribbean’s first Quantum Ultra class ship Spectrum of the Seas left Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg (Germany) to begin her conveyance up the River Ems to Eemshaven (Netherlands). The manoeuvre originally scheduled to start on Tuesday, was delayed due to bad weather.

Spectrum of the Seas leaving basin (Meyer Werft)

The conveyance saw Spectrum of the Seas proceed in reverse up the river Ems to the North Sea. According to Meyer Werft, this has proven successful in the past as it makes it easier to manoeuvre the ship with the assistance of two tugs, while ensuring her propellers are kept in the middle of the river as she navigates the rivers tight twists and turns.

As I write Spectrum of the Seas is safely arriving in the port of Eemshaven where she will stay while preperations for her sea trials will continue. Following successful trials these she will head to Bremerhaven where final work will take place to prepare for her handover.

Designed and built specifically for the Chinese market once delivered she will head to Asia where she will offer a series of 3-4 night itineraries and home port in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

What is a conveyance?

The term conveyance is mostly associated with the property market and the process of transferring property from one owner to another, but for anyone that follows or is associated with the cruise industry it has another completely different meaning.

One of the world’s most successful cruise ship builders is Germany’s Meyer Werft, which with the delivery of Spectrum of the Seas will have built 48 cruise ships for a number of the world’s major cruise lines including AIDA, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean. Currently the German shipbuilder has another twelve cruise ships on order seeing it through to 2023.

Spectrum of the Seas begins her conveyance (Meyer Werft)

Location, Location, Location

Unlike most of the world’s shipyards Meyer Werft is situated 32 miles inland, in the German city of Papenburg, in the district of Emsland in Lower Saxony. The inland location offers it some protection from the worst conditions of the North Sea has to offer but creates the unique problem of just how do you get a cruise ship from shipyard to ocean?

Meyer Weft Shipyard (Papenburg)

Construction of ships at Meyer Werft takes place is huge covered sheds known as “Dockhalles” the largest of which measures 504 meters long, 125 meters wide, has a height of 75 meters, and is the largest covered ship building dock in the world. This allows the yard to build up to three cruise ships a year and compete with larger Asian shipyards. Once the outer hull is completed, the ship is floated out of the hall into a basin, where work continues fitting out. The ships are floated out due to space constraints, which is less dramatic than old-fashioned way of launching a ship down the slipway into the water!

Spectrum of the Seas under construction (Meyer Werft)

Prior to the conveyance, the river is prepared which involves dredging up to 24 feet where necessary. Although Meyer Werft can manipulate water levels, using tidal barriers along the river to ensure there is enough water underneath the ship but it does this sparingly for ecological reasons. It does however, close the barriers to keep the water level at high tide, the Ems is roughly 30 feet deep, which is  just enough for Spectrum’s draft of 28 feet. With her dimensions of 348m x 49m, Spectrum is near the maximum size of ship that can be conveyed up the river and at its narrowest points, there is just a few centimetres clearance either side.

It is not just below the water that causes issues for the conveyance but above as well. Four bridges, three of which can be swung open to allow ships to pass, and the forth being a railroad bridge has to have a portion removed. Along the length of the Ems electricity cables are shut down in three locations that cross the river, this causes them to contract and rise thus allowing the ship to pass with clearance being a little as 1.8 metres.

Once ready for sea trials the conveyance up the river Ems can begin. With a distance of 32kms, the whole journey takes between ten to twelve hours and is dependent on weather conditions. A team of six river pilots from Emden are responsible for manoeuvring the ship to Eemshaven each with extensive knowledge of the river and having spent two weeks training in the conveyance using a computerized simulator in Wageningen (Netherlands). Working in teams of two for up to ninety minutes one pilot will guide the stern with the other guiding the guiding the bow. Rather than looking over the side of the ship, the pilots use a GPS navigation system accurate to within five centimetres and which provides forecasts the ships position in 30, 60 or 90 seconds if the steering course wasn’t changed. Assisting the pilots are navigation officers, the yard captain and the local German waterway authorities.


The incredible feat of engineering will happen again later this year when Norwegian Encore is delivered. So next time you are enjoying a cocktail onboard a cruise ship built in Papenburg take a moment to consider her journey from shipyard to sea.

Spectrum of the Seas Ship Fact file:

IMO: 9778856

Hull No: S700

Class: Quantum Ultra

Building Cost: EUR 750 million (USD 940 million)

Ordered: May 2015

Keel laid 8th November 2017

Float out 25th February 2019

Flag: Bahamas

Gross Tonnage: 168,800

Length: 348m

Width: 49m (max)

No of decks: 18 (16 passenger accessible)

Capacity: 4,905 (max occupancy)