Ports & Ships Cruise News

Nov 14, 2008
Author: Terry Hutson

  • CARNIVAL DREAM floats out

  • QE2 now on her final voyage

  • CELEBRITY in New Zealand

  • Gentle facelift for CRYSTAL SERENITY

  • Rats! No more BYO for RHAPSODY and MELODY

  • Good news as NCL drops fuel surcharges



    CARNIVAL DREAM floats out

    Carnival Cruises latest ‘SuperLiner’ - their term, not ours – was floated out from its outfitting quay at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone this past week.

    The 130,000-gt ship won’t be finally complete for another 10 months – she is set to debut in September 2009 when Carnival promises the new ship will usher in a whole new era in cruising by way of innovative facilities and features.

    These will include a new concept in entertainment called the Ocean Plaza; the most elaborate children’s facilities at sea which include expansive play areas and a huge Carnival WaterWorks aqua park (uShaka at sea!); scenic whirlpools that extend out over the ship’s beam; and a variety of new stateroom categories that should hold particular appeal to families.

    The latter point is important because if you haven’t got the message yet, this ship caters for family cruising and is not exclusive for adults only with children being barely tolerated.

    With space for 3,646 passengers it’s probably a key factor to encourage the entire family along and to be made welcome.

    The ship will also have an expansive 23,750 square foot (that’s about 2,200m˛) Cloud 9 Spa, which is Carnival’s largest and most elaborate health and wellness centre so far, along with extensive open deck areas that will house a tropical, reposrt-like main pool with a Seaside Theatre LED screen, a Serenity adults-only retreat and numerous other features.

    CARNIVAL DREAM is set to enter service on 21 September next year (which happens to be the editor’s birthday, so guess where I’d like to be), with a first of three 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Rome (Civitavecchia) followed by a 16-day trans-atlantic crossing from Civitavecchia to New York between 27 October and 12 November 2009.

    The ship will then operate two eight-day voyages from New York before repositioning to Port Canaveral in Florida to launch a year-round seven-day Caribbean service commencing on 5 December 2009

    Carnival has a second SuperLiner under construction – CARNIVAL MAGIC which is due to enter service in 2011. They will become the two largest ships in Carnival’s fleet.

    One of the smaller 70,367-gt, 2,000-passenger Fantasy class Carnival ships, CARNIVAL IMAGINATION

    QE2 now on her final voyage

    For around 40 years she’s been the most famous and popular cruise liner ever built, having complete 25 circumnavigations of the world and sailed nearly six million nautical miles during her long career, first as a transatlantic ocean liner and later as a cruise liner.

    Now QE2 is on her last voyage, from Southampton to Dubai in the Persian Gulf where she will tie up alongside a special quay on the man-made Palm Island situated just off the emirate to become a floating luxury hotel and entertainment centre. Here she will be surrounded by 1,500 exclusive villas and eventually something like 30 hotels.

    Picture shiplovers.com

    The party that is planned to coincide with QE2’s arrival on Palm Island is being billed as the most expensive party ever.

    This will contrast with the grand old lady’s departure from her homeport of Southampton this week. First the ship went aground off the Island of Wight while approaching Southampton. This was fortunately only temporary and no lasting damage or injuries resulted and with the assistance of five tugs and a rising tide the ship was soon back in deep water and on her way into port.

    Her farewell later in the day was nostalgic and emotional not only for the passengers who had paid large amounts for the privilege of being on her last voyage, but also the thousands of onlookers who flocked to the riverbanks and other vantage points to shout their farewells and wave their Union Jacks.

    Being Armistice Day an elderly Tiger Moth aircraft flew over the ship at 11am to drop one million poppies in respect for all those who died during two world wars. Later HRH Prince Phillip went on board the ship and spoke with veterans who took part in the Falklands War, men and women who travelled to the South Atlantic on board the QE2 which had been converted hurriedly into a troop carrier.

    QE2 was named by Queen Elizabeth II in September 1967 after the previous Cunard ocean liner, QUEEN ELIZABETH, which in turn was named for Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, King George VI’s consort and Queen and later the Queen Mother. For this reason the ship has always used the Arabic numeral 2 instead of the Roman II, which is used by the reigning monarch.

    Cunard plans another ship which will be called Queen Elizabeth.

    CELEBRITY in New Zealand

    Picture by Alan Calvert

    Celebrity Cruises 90,288-gt MILLENNIUM, the first of her class of ships bearing the Millennium name, sails from Lyttelton in New Zealand on 6 November 2008. Able to carry up to 2,447 passengers the ship was built at the Chantiers de l’ Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France in 2000.

    For the technically minded, Millennium was the first cruise ship to employ a combined gas turbine and steam turbine electric-drive (engine) system (COGES) configuration. This was designed to reduce exhaust emissions and create less engine noise and vibration. It would be interesting to know, eight years down the line, how successful this has been.

    The principle behind the COGES system is to capture energy from the gas turbines which would otherwise be lost in the exhaust and this is made to produce steam from boilers for use with the steam turbines.

    The gas turbine-based system powers electric motors which propel the ship through the water while also providing power for onboard requirements such as lighting cabins, ventilation and air-conditioning etc.

    Gentle facelift for CRYSTAL SERENITY

    A suite on the Crystal Serenity

    The 68,000-gt CRYSTAL SERENITY of Crystal Cruises, one of the world’s favourite cruise ships, is to undergo some extensive face-lifting to provide even better facilities and service.

    During her scheduled 10-day dry docking for maintenance and inspection in Setubal, Portugal this week the main changes to the 2003-built ship will involve 12 deluxe staterooms being converted into 8 penthouse staterooms.

    Elsewhere the popular Cove lounge and bar is being redesigned to a more open layout with a circular bar and will in future remain open for longer periods during the day. Other public areas and suites are undergoing a revamp and when complete the ship will have 72 Penthouses, 32 Penthouse suites and four Crystal Penthouses.

    Crystal Serenity is due to recommence her cruise schedule on 21 November when she sails from Lisbon to Miami ahead of a season of cruises to the Panama Canal and Caribbean.

    Rats! No more BYO for RHAPSODY and MELODY

    Oh dear, gone are the days of smuggling your own on board with regards the two ships based in South African waters for the summer season, RHAPSODY and MELODY.

    A notice on Starlight Cruises website advises the following:

    “In order to ensure our health and security standards, we kindly inform that, from November 1st 2008, it will be strictly forbidden to bring food and beverage onboard the vessels of our fleet.

    In compliance with this regulation and in order to guarantee the above standards, during embarkation a careful check control will be carried out through all passengers luggage.

    In order to facilitate the embarkation process, we ask that you please avoid bringing any food and beverage or transporting any food and beverage as part of your luggage.

    Please note below a list of the items that are allowed:

    1. Personal hygiene products: toothpaste, cleansing products, lotions.
    2. Fluid medications for therapeutic use.
    3. Baby gear and baby food items.
    4. Dietary items: prescribed by a physician.

    Any local or “typical” food item purchased during the cruise in any port of call will be collected and returned at the end of the cruise.”

    On the basis that coke (the liquid form that comes in a red can) was first sold in the United States as a health drink with medicinal properties, I wonder if this qualifies under item 4 above? Otherwise one will have to get used to paying exorbitant cruise ship bar prices. I wonder what a pot of tea will set you back?

    Good news as NCL drops fuel surcharges

    Good news for those who are planning far ahead to take a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). The company, a division of Carnival Cruises has announced that the current fuel supplement (aka surcharge) is no longer to apply to its cruises departing on or after 1 January 2010.

    The reduction is a result in the recent decrease in global fuel prices and is effective for all bookings made from 10 November 2008.

    However there is some relief in store for those who have booked to go cruising in 2009. NCL says it has established “special guidelines which may allow the refund of fuel supplements paid in the form of an on-board credit. The criteria for refund will be determined on a quarterly basis.”

    The company adds that should the closing price (of oil) on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) of West Texas Intermediate fuel be below 65 US dollars per barrel two weeks prior to the beginning of the calendar quarter, the NCL will reimburse fuel supplements in the form of an on-board credit.

    For guests travelling with NCL in 2009, the company has established special guidelines which may allow the refund of fuel supplements paid in the form of an on-board credit.

    These quarterly dates are set as follows: 18 December 2008, 18 March 2009, 17 June 2009, and 17 September 2009.

    The entire cruise will be considered to be part of the quarter in which the sailing date originates. NCL says it will continue to monitor global fuel prices to assess whether a reinstatement of the fuel supplement will be necessary.


    Two ships in the news this week were in Durban together one day in 2004. CRYSTAL SERENITY was at O berth while QE2 had the pride of place alongside the N berth passenger terminal. Nearby and out of this picture (apart from her bows) was a third cruise ship, the classic SAGA ROSE. Picture Terry Hutson

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