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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another Favorite - Holland America's Statendam - 1957

Another one of my favorites is Holland America's Statendam from 1957.

The Statendam IV was built in 1957 by Wilton Fijenoord N.V.. For Holland America she sailed on Transatlantic, Exotic, Caribbean, Bermuda and Nassau cruises.

The ship was average in size, measuring 624 feet in length, 81 feet wide, weighing 24,294 tons and carrying 881 passengers.

In 1982 She was bought by the Paquet group and renamed Rhapsody sailing to the Caribbean and Alaska.

She was sold to the Lelakis group in 1986 becoming part of the Regency Cruises fleet as the Regent Star. She sailed on Alaska, Caribbean, Panama Canal and New England Canada Cruises from New York. Once Regency Cruises went bankrupt, she remained in Piraeus laid up. Her engines were in poor operating condition and just prior to Regency's bankruptcy there was plans to bring her to Piraeus for re-engining. This was to never happen.

She remained in poor condition for many years.

At one point it was rumored that
EXA International/Cruiseshares planned to use the ship as part of their time share scheme as the Romance I but this never materialized. She was renamed Sea Harmony and remained laid up.

In bad shape the ship developed a noticeable list. On March 14, 2004 she left Piraeus under the name Harmony I on her way to scrappers in Alang, India.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Look Back At One of My Favorite Ships - Greek Line's Olympia.

Greek Line's 1953 built Olympia was one of my Favorite ships. Her maiden voyage was April 16, 1953. Built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, on the River Clyde.
Operating on transatlantic voyages between New York and Piraeus, Greece, the ship was very popular but the competition from air travel quickly eliminated these longer voyages. By the early 1970s she spent most of her time cruising. Due to the high price of fuel and her fuel hungry engines, the Olympia was laid up at Piraeus in 1974. After the collapse of Greek Line in 1975 the ship was up for sale.

In 1981, the Olympia was bought by Sally Shipping and refitted with diesel engines replacing the steam turbines. As part of her refit, her streamline funnel was replaced with a less appealing series of pipes hidden behind a 1/2 rainbow. The Olympia, now renamed Caribe I, she started sailing again in 1983 under the Commodore Cruise Line banner.

The Caribe I's funnel was later replaced with a more traditional smoke stack, returning her appealing lines. In 1993 she was sold to Regal Cruises and renamed Regal Empress sailing the Port Manatee, Florida in the winter and New York in the Spring, Summer and Fall. As a fall out of the events of September 11th, 2001, Regal Cruises went into Bankruptcy and the ship was immediately put up for sale.

She was later sold to Imperial Majesty Cruises for Overnight Cruises to Nassau from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She replaced the OceanBreeze which was in need of repairs and had lived a long and profitable career. The Regal Empress sailed for Imperial Majesty Cruises until March, 2009 at which time she was sold to Indian scrappers. The ship was sold for just over $3.073 Million dollars. She proceeded to the Bahamas, where she offloaded miscellaneous items and prepared for the final voyage to India. She left Freeport in the Bahamas on March 28th 2009 for the one way trip to Alang India.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Costa Updates Compensation for Customers Impacted By Costa Concordia Grounding

Costa Cruises today announced that they would provide full refunds to cruise passengers onboard the Costa Concordia. In addition, they would provide $15,000 in cash per customer, provided they sign a waiver that they would not participate in any further litigation against the cruise line.

The compensation package for Costa Concordia guests who have returned home includes:
  • A lump sum of $14,500 per person as indemnification, covering all damages, including loss of baggage and personal effects, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of the cruise vacation.
  • Reimbursement of the value of the cruise, including harbor taxes
  • Reimbursement of air and bus transfers included in the cruise package
  • Full reimbursement of travel expenses to reach the port of embarkation and return home
  • Reimbursement of any medical expenses resulting from the cruise
  • Reimbursement of expenses incurred onboard during the cruise

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NCL's First Small White Ships Popular Then Still Popular Now.

Today I want to feature a blast from the past. Left is an original postcard for Norwegian Caribbean's original White Fleet.

Shown are the Starward, Southward and Skyward as well as the newer Sunward II. Theses very popular ships created a stir when they first entered the cruising scene.

These ships are still around under different owners (Louis Cruise Line, Rio Cruises (now defunct) operating in the Eastern Mediterranean and Leisure World Gambling Cruises in Asia.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cruise Lines Draw Attention to Existing Ships By Performing Major Rennovations

Due to the slowing economy, the number of new cruise ship being delivered in 2012 will be lower than previous years. Cruise lines are opting to invest in older ships and introduce new amenities to bring attention to these reliable vessels. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Crystal and Princess are all heavily investing in rennovating ships, adding amenities and upgrading furnishings.

For example Carnival is adding new onboard entertainment including comedy clubs and new dining venues. Celebrity Cruises is upgrading the Century class of ships with some of the popular features found onboard their Solstice Class ships. Cunard Line has just completed a major rennovation of the Queen Mary 2 upgrading the existing dining room and public spaces.

This is all in hopes of creating a buzz around some middle aged ships and attracting the attention of the cruising public.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Disney Cruise Line's New Disney Fantasy to Be Christened in New York

Disney Cruise Line Announced that thier New Disney Fantasy will be christened in New York on March 1st. The Godmother for the ship has not yet been named. The event is expected to happen in the early evening so I think we can expect lots of fireworks!

More details? -> Disney Fantasy Christening.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Costa Cruise Line Offers Passengers for Costa Concordia Weak Compensation.

Costa Cruise today announced the compensation package for those on board the Costa Concordia. Reports say that the cruise line will refund the passenger's cruise fare 100% and offer them 30% off on a future cruise.

I am not sure how many passengers are going to take them up on the future cruise offer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Royal Caribbean's Song of Norway

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (which later became Royal Caribbean International) was the dream of three Norwegian shipping companies - I.M. Skaugen S/A, Anders Wilhelmsen and Gotaas Larsen. With the financial strength of the 3 companies, Royal Caribbean was formed and an order for 3 new ships was placed with Wartsila Shipyard in Helsinki Finland.

On December 2, 1969, the first ship was launched at the Wartsila Helsinki Shipyard - The Song of Norway. On November 7th, 1970, The Song of Norway left Miami on her maiden voyage.

The new sleek and modern cruise ship proved to be very popular. Passenger enjoyed the Viking Crown Lounge located high in the funnel, which provided passengers a panoramic view of the sea and ports. The lounge was accessible via a set of stairs located on the back side of the funnel.

The Song of Norway was quickly followed by 2-sister ships -the Nordic Prince and Sun Viking,

In 1978, RCCL was looking for an quick and economical way to expand their capacity and meet the immediate demand for their cruises. The Song of Norway headed back to Wartsila for an operation that would cut the ship in half, insert an 85 foot mid-section and then the bow section and stern section were reattached to the new midsection. This was the largest undertaking for this type procedure and the first time it was done on a cruise ship.

  • Dimension ------------As Originally Built --------After Lengthening
  • Weight: ------------------ 18,416 Tons --------------- 23,000 Tons
  • Length: ------------------------552 ft ------------------------- 638 ft
  • Beam: ------------------------ 78.61 ft ------------------------ 78.61 ft
  • Passenger Capacity: ------- 724 -------------------------- 1,196

The ship sailed regularly on 7 and 14 days cruises from Miami. After Royal Caribbean added larger and newer ships, the Song of Norway was deployed to other ports, including seasonal 7 day cruises from New York to Bermuda.

In 1996, after serving 26 years with Royal Caribbean, The Song of Norway was sold to Sun Cruises part of the Airtours/MyTravel Group. Her cruises were now primarily in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

The Song of Norway assumed many identities in the years following her time with Royal Caribbean. Subsequent names include the Song of Norway, Sundream, Dream Princess, Dream, Clipper Pearl, Clipper Pacific, Festival, Ocean Pearl.

Her last employment was in October of 2011 for Happy Cruises before Happy Cruises ceased operations. In October, the ship was placed in temporary layup. Currently at the age of 42, the Ocean Pearl (Song of Norway) is in Tilbury, UK available for immediate sale or charter.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Carnival Cruise Line's First Cruise Ship The Mardi Gras

The first cruise ship for Carnival Cruise Line was the Mardi Gras in 1971.

When introduced, Carnival was a infant of a
company, and did not have deep pockets. The Mardi Gras was renovated while she carried paying passengers. During her first year of operation, sections of the ship were actually closed off, while upgrades were made to the entire ship - a section at a time.

There were ever reports that during her first cruise, Carnival needed to empty the slot machines of cash to pay for fuel for the return trip. The fuel supplier was unwilling to provide Carnival with a line of credit and wanted a payment in cash.

During her maiden departure from Miami in March 1971, the Mardi Gras got stuck on the sandbar outside of the port of Miami. The incident drew media attention, with headlines reading "Mardi Gras on the Rocks".

The Mardi Gras quickly settled into the seven day market attracting the party crowd with the "Fun Ship" concept. Frequently sailing at capacity on her 7 days cruises, Carnival was well poised for expansion, adding a second ship, the Carnivale (ex Queen Anna Maria, Empress of Britain) in 1975.

The Mardi Gras was small by today's standards, weighing 27,284 tons with a length of 650 ft and a beam of 86.5 ft. Her capacity with every berth filled was 1,240 passengers but double capacity was about 800 passengers.

The Mardi Gras is dwarfed when compared to the larger ships of the Carnival fleet today which are about 4 times larger.

The modified picture to the right shows the Mardi Gras compared to the new Carnival Magic (weighing 130,000 ton, carrying 3,690 passengers and 1,386 crew.)

The Mardi Gras started her career as the Empress of Canada for Canadian Pacific Lines on April 24, 1961. As the Empress of Canada she was placed on the transatlantic route between Canada and the United Kingdom during the summer and cruising from New York City to the Caribbean in the winter. In total, the Empress of Canada made 121 Atlantic crossings before being sold to Carnival Cruise Lines in 1971.

The Mardi Gras was sold in 1993 and later sailed as the Olympic for Epirotiki Lines , Star of Texas and Lucky Star for gambling cruises; and finally Apollon for Epirotiki, Royal Olympic and Direct Cruises(charter). When Royal Olympic ran into financial issues, they quickly sold the Apollon, Stella Oceanus and Stella Solaris to Alang scrappers for $5.1 Million dollars in 2003 to raise cash.

The Empress of Canad
a had a long career lasting some 42 years and proved to be the cornerstone of Carnival Cruise Line success.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Line's First Ship - Sunward

For the next few days we will take a look back at the first cruise ships for various cruise lines.

Today we will be looking at the first cruise ship of Norwegian Caribbean Line (which later became Norwegian Cruise Line) the Sunward. Built in 1966 as a car ferry the ship was originally designed to operate as a cruise/ferry in Northern Europe between Southampton England and Gibraltar, but political unrest in Gibraltar cut her employment short.

Kloster, teaming up with Ted Arison, joined forces to create Norwegian Caribbean Lines. The Sunward proved very popular on the 7-day cruise circuit from Miami. She departed on her maiden Christmas Cruise on December 20, 1966.

Compared to the large cruise ships of today the Sunward only weighed 8,666 tons. Almost 16 times smaller than Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic. The Sunward measured 443 feet long, carried 558 passengers and 200 crew.

The Sunward was such a immediate success that Norwegian Caribbean expanded to a four ship fleet with the addition of the Starward in 1968, Skyward in 1969 and Southward in1971.

The Sunward remained in the NCL fleet until 1976. She lived a varied carreer sailing as the
Sunward, Ile de Beaute, Grand Flotel, Saudi Moon, Ocean Spirit, Scandinavian Song, Santiago de Cuba and The Empress. She was eventually scrapped in 2004 at Chittagong, Bangladesh.

The Sunward is frequently identified as the innovator in modern Caribbean cruises from Florida/Miami.

Cruise Industry Finds Creative Ways to Combat Increasing Fuel Charges

The Cruise Industry is going though a number of pressures with the increase in the price of fuel and the sluggish economy. I have to say I am very surprised that the cruise lines have not re-instituted a fuel surcharge - but we still may see them by the end of the year.

Some cruise lines have taken measures to combat the rise in fuel prices. Some have moved ships around, using more fuel efficient ships on itineraries that have more days at sea. Others have modified the itineraries to include ports that are closer together while others have tried to develop unique itineraries that demand higher fares. In general, the cruise lines have not been offering deep discounted fares in an effort to compensate for fuel increases.

Recent dry-docking of ships include more energy-conservation maintenance activities including the cleaning of the hull to create less drag while sailing and modifications to the engines to improve fuel efficiency. In addition, more green features are being incorporated including energy efficient lighting and automatic shutoff of the air-conditioning when balcony cabin veranda doors are opened.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Costa Concordia - Salvage Operations are Expected to Begin Today

After the tragic accident of the Costa Concordia of last Friday. There are still many unanswered questions. Did the Captain intentionally steer the ship close to the shoreline? Were there technical failures? Could everyone have been saved? Why is the Costa Concordia resting on the opposite side from where the hole is located?

Tonight they showed chilling infra-red pictures
of the Costa Concordia the night of the incident. The images clearly show the ship almost fully on its side and hundreds of passengers walking on the slanted side of the ship, while others are shimmying down the the side of the ship while
holding on to rope ladders. It appears that there were still a good number of passengers and/or crew onboard after the ship was resting on her side.

Although there are still missing passengers, the salvage operation of the Costa Concordia is expected to begin today.

Dutch Salavge Operator SMIT has been hired to remove the 2,400 tons of fuel from the ship to prevent additional environmental impacts. The fuel removal alone can take between 2-4 weeks.

The larger salvage operation, which will include the patching of the holes and cracks in the hull and the pumping out of thousands of gallons of water to eventually right the ship. This operation is expected to be one of the largest salvage operations to date.

It could be possible that the damage to the ship might be so severe that she may need to be dismantled in place. The longer the ship sits on her side, the more she will settle into the sandy bottom making her up-righting more difficult.

If the Costa Concordia can up-righted, the plan is to move the Costa Concordia to a drydock where the damage can be evaluated. In my opinion the ship is a total constructive loss - meaning the insurance payment will not cover the required repairs, therefore she will not be worth repairing. Some of her furnishings could be reused on other Costa ships - but I think it is unlikely that she will sail again - but you never know.

I suspect that her engines are all water damaged and any cabins, lounges, and the whole side of the ship along the sea bottom is damaged as well as the other side of the ship which has been holed.

Supposedly SMIT, Titan and other salvage operators are quoting on the work, which some estimate the cost to be about $500 Million Dollars for the salvage operation alone. Industry sources are estimating the insurance claims for the Costa Concordia to exceed $1 billion dollars. The ship is reportedly insured by multiple third party insurers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Costa Cruises Costa Concordia Hits Uncharted Rock and Sinks

Friday night we were all taken by surprise by the Costa Concordia disaster. The Costa Concordia was steaming between Civitavecchia on her way to Savona when she reported hit an uncharted rock. At approximately 9:45 PM local time, passengers reported that the ship hit something and heard a loud noise. Almost immediately the ship began to list. The crew initially told passengers there were electrical issues and no reason for alarm. After the collision, the captain reportedly tried to beach the ship to prevent her from sinking further and allow for the evacuation of the ship closer to shore. Costa Concordia ran aground off Isola del Giglio, Italy. At approximately 10:30 PM, passengers started boarding lifeboats and the evacuation of over 4,000 people on board began.

The ship eventually took on more and more water until she eventually capsized, resting on her side. By morning a 160 foot gash was visible in the hull of the ship.

There are 3 people who perished and 41 still unaccounted for.

The Costa Concordia was delivered to Costa on June 30, 2006 by Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente yard in Genoa at a cost of $570 Million dollars. Costa Concordia is 952 ft long, 116 ft 6 in wide and has a draught 26 ft 11 in. She is capable of a speed of 19.6 knots

The cruise started from Civitavecchia had scheduled calls at Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo.

Onboard there were about 1.000 Italian passengers, 500 Germans, about 160 French and about 1.000 crew members.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Glory to Sail From Boston - Smart Move,

Carnival Cruise Line has made a very wise move when they relocated the Carnival Glory from New York to Boston for the slack months for Canada cruises. Although I love New York and I am an sorry to see her spend a good chunk of the summer further north,- it is a wise move on Carnival's part.

Summer cruises to New England and Canada have traditionally been offered at a discount.
In 2012, Disney Cruise Line will begin sailing from New York to Canada (and a second itinerary to Florida and the Bahamas). The added capacity of Disney would have put added pressure on the demand from New York causing further discounting.

In addition, the relocation of the Carnival Glory to Boston helps eliminate about 750 nautical miles and eliminate the cost associated with the fuel. The Carnival Glory can also sail at slower speeds for her days at sea also improving her fuel consumption.

I would love to see the demand for New England Canada Cruise rise during the summer months, but until this happens cruise lines will be forced to find creative ways to maintain a presence and operate efficiently.

The Carnival Glory will sail from New York starting in August, 2012 for the higher demand fall foliage cruises.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Celebrate Cunard' Queen Elizabeth's Belated Birthday.

Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth completed her first year of sailing on October 11, 2011. During her first year, here are some notable statistics and events.
  • During her first year of service she visited 108 different destinations.
  • The Queen Elizabeth received tremendous welcomes in ports world-wide acknowledging her maiden call.
  • The Queen Elizabeth carried 56,049 passengers.
  • The Queen Elizabeth traveled 123,351 Nautical Miles.
  • The 3 Queens met in New York on January 13, 2011 for spectacular sail out celebration.
  • The Queen Elizabeth tied up in Dubai across from her predecessor Queen Elizabeth 2.
  • Number of rendezvous calls with her sister ships and tandem transatlantic crossings.

Below are some photos from the Queen Elizabeth's last year.

Queen Elizabeth - How She Measures Up.

Royal Rendezvous - New York 1/13/2011 - The meeting of the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria

Queen Elizabeth at Sea

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Once Elegent Sea Venture / Pacific Princess Is In Search of a Buyer.

The Sea Venture was built in 1971 by Nordseewerke, Emden, West Germany for Flagship Cruises. The Sea Venture was very popular on the New York to Bermuda run and the symbol of elegance when she was introduced. Together, the Sea Venture and her sister the Island Venture, were the new luxury standard for cruising.

Although the ships had a strong following, the high per diems and high operating costs stressed the company's financials. These 2 factors combined with a generous offer to purchase the ships from Princess Cruises caused the Sea Venture (and her sister) to be sold off to Princess Cruises.

The Sea Venture in 1974 became the Pacific Princess, well known in the popular television series "The Love Boat" which debuted in 1977

The Pacific Princess sailed for Princess until 2003, when she was sold to Pullmantur Cruises in Spain and sailed as the Pacific.

In turn she was chartered to Quail Cruises in 2008 and continued to sail as Pacific. She was eventually was sold to Quail Cruises which commenced a major renovation and upgrade of the vessel. The work proved more expensive than anticipated and after spending $10+ Million dollars in rennovations, Quail Cruises walked away from the ship.

The vessel remains laid up in Italy and multiple attempts have been made to auction the ship off on the behalf of creditors but they have yet to find a bidder to meet the minimum purchase price of 2.7 Million Euros.

She is currently laid up in Genoa, where she has been for 2 years. This one time wonderful ship remains laid up in Genoa with an uncertain future.

Artists Rendition of the Sea Venture before she was delivered.

Sea Venture - Flagship Cruises - In Hamilton Bermuda

Pacific Princess - Princess Cruises in Tahiti.

The Pacific - Pullmantur Cruises.

Pacific - Quail Cruises

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kungsholm Surfaces in Oman As Luxury Hotel - Veronica

Much to my surprise and pleasure the Mona Lisa (originally constructed as Swedish America Line' Kungsholm) has resurfaced in Oman. The ship has got a new lease on life as a luxury hotel. A significant amount of money has been spent on modernizing her interiors which are now sleek an modern to match her exterior lines. The renovations look superior and her furnishing look stylish and contemporary.

The Veronica was purchased by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in October 2010 and after a year of refurbishments is now ready for her first guests. The Veronica is to serve as hotel accommodations for business travelers coming to the Oman Drydock Company (ODC) and City of Duqm as well as regular travelers.

The Veronica Hotel is not only equipped with 208 well furnished rooms, it also has a sports bar, several restaurants, karaoke rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, cafes, lounges, a business center, a library, a theatre and a shopping arcade. The Veronica is equipped with significant office space, a spa and gym, a salon and a barbershop. A crew of 120 will care for guests.

The Veronica Hotel has a Facebook Page with great photos of the interior of the ship. It is well worth the trip.

Below are some photos of the Veronica Hotel in past livery. Please note the ship
was originally constructed with dual funnels, but when sold to P&O, the first funnel was chopped down and only a stub remains, somewhat impacting her beautiful profile.

Prior Names
1966—1979: Kungsholm
1979—1995: Sea Princess
1995—2002: Victoria
2002—2007: Mona Lisa
2007—2008: Oceanic II
2008 -2011: Mona Lisa
2011 - Current: Veronica

Ownership History
1966—1975: Swedish America Line
1975—1978: Flagship Cruises
1978—2002: P&O Cruises
2002—2010: Leonardo Shipping
2010—present: DMSE-Oman

Veronica Hotel at Duqm Oman (Courtesy of the Veronica Hotel)

Mona Lisa for Holiday Krezufarten

Oceanic II - Scholar Ship Cruises

Victoria - On charter to Union Castle Line

Victoria in P&O Livery

Sea Princess - Princess Cruises

Kungsholm - Swedish America Line.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Small Ship and Niche Ship Cruising in 2012.


Travel Dynamics International will conduct Great Lakes cruises utilizing the recently purchased Yorktown. Travel Dynamics International of New York, has acquired the 138-berth 2,354-ton m.v. Yorktown Great Lakes, Hudson River and Coastal Cruises.

Completed by First Coast Shipbuilding in Coral Springs,Florida, in 1988, as the Yorktown Clipper, she is the largest active US-flag coastal cruise ship. The Yorktown is the perfect vessel for relaxed and convivial exploration of America’s great coastal waterways. With a 257-foot length and 43-foot beam, on a draft of 8 feet, she has the same dimensions as the old St Lawrence canallers, the maximum size ship that could reach the Atlantic Ocean from the Great Lakes before the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The Yorktown is expected to start sailing in Mau.

Below are some shots of the Yorktown including her dining salon, outside cabin, lounge and the Yorktown herself.


In 2012, we will see the return of Mississippi River cruising on a grander scale. In 2012, the laid-up American Queen will once again be revitalized and reactivated for Mississippi River Cruising. The Great American Steamboat Co. has purchased the American Queen, the largest paddle-wheeler ever built and she is currently undergoing renovation in preparation for an April introduction. Below is a sneak preview of the American Queen. Photographs show the American Queen herself, Grand Salon and main dining room. All courtesy of Great American Steamboat Company.

American Cruise Lines is introducing a brand new sternwheeler, Queen of the Mississippi, currently under construction. The new paddlewheeler will recreate the grandeur of past riverboats while possessing the latest safety, environmental and construction technologies. The Queen of the Mississippi will have the look of a traditional riverboat along with more amenities, a faster speed, and an unmatched level of comfort. Features include six unique lounges, a library, an elegant dining salon, elevator service to all decks, and the exceptionally large staterooms found on all American Cruise Lines ships. The Queen of Mississippi will carry 150 passengers and is expected to start sailing in August.

Artists renderings below show American Cruise Line's Queen of the Mississippi, The ship's lounge and main dining salon.

This is the end of my review of new ships coming on line. If you missed yesterday's post we covered Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Reflection. If you missed any of our earlier posts you can always used the "previous" button to view them.