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Monday, April 30, 2012

Seven P&O Ships Plan Rendezvous in Southampton

PO Cruises Ventura
P&O Cruises Ventura Part of the 7 Ship Rendezvous
P&O Cruises can trace its roots back to 1837 and this year is celebrating 175 years of heritage. The Grand Event on Tuesday July 3 is part of these celebrations, with all seven ships in Southampton for the first time. Thousands of people are expected to line the shore to witness this historical occasion, joining the 14,000 passengers and 6000 crew on board the seven ships.

A map showing all the best vantage points and times to witness The Grand Event sailaway has been released. Starting with the sailaway from Southampton, the map charts the progress of the seven ships out into the Solent, meaning that onlookers and well-wishers can secure themselves a good spot to observe the historical event.

P&O Cruises managing director, Carol Marlow, said: “This day is one of the most significant days in our history, as all our seven ships gather in their home port on the same day for the first time ever. As we look forward to exciting plans for our next new ship in 2015, it is fitting to be celebrating our past as it has helped us become known as Britain’s trusted cruise experts.”

As each ship departs on its own Grand Event cruise, passengers on board will enjoy a special deck party to see them off in style. The ships will then form a procession as they leave Southampton and head down the Solent. Where the channel widens, the ships will move into a formation to be photographed from the air before they sail onwards to their various destinations.

Departing on July 3, 2012, all seven cruises will be heritage themed with special on board entertainment including a 175th Anniversary Gala dinner, heritage display, guest speakers and more.  There will also be a prize draw on each cruise for one couple on each ship to win a full world cruise of their choice in 2013.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

American Cruise Line Builds Second Riverboat

America Cruise Line's Queen of the Mississippi
America Cruise Line's Queen of the Mississippi
American Cruise Lines announced that it will be building another brand new riverboat due to the high demand for its U.S. river cruises. A contract has been signed and construction has already begun. The new riverboat will be slightly larger but similar in many respects to the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi, which is nearing completion at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD.
“We recognize a considerable strength in river cruising and have observed an increased interest in our U.S. river cruises over the last several years,” said Charles A. Robertson, CEO of American Cruise Lines. “We look forward to introducing yet another new authentic paddlewheel riverboat to meet this demand.”

Robertson attributes the success of the company’s river cruise business to its “newer, low-density vessels, each built to meet the highest industry standards in comfort, safety and technology.”
American Cruise Lines’ third new riverboat will feature a similar capacity to that of the Queen of the Mississippi and will also boast the most spacious staterooms in the industry, entirely private balconies – all with sliding glass doors, a center atrium with a grand staircase, various lounges and numerous amenities including:
  • Fully-functioning authentic paddlewheel
  • 300+ square foot staterooms
  • Private balconies with sliding glass doors
  • Various unique lounges, libraries, and cafés
  • Fine hotel-style bathrooms
  • Room Service
  • Wi-Fi in all staterooms
  • Satellite TV and DVD player in all staterooms
  • Single sitting, open seating dining
  • Complimentary cocktail hour
As of yet, no decision has been made as to where the new riverboat will operate other than on U.S. rivers. Additional details and information will be announced in the coming months.
American Cruise Lines offers more than 35 unique itineraries on inland waterways and rivers across the United States. Over the last several years, American Cruise Lines has continued to add new itineraries and ships to accommodate demand. Its newest river itineraries are offered on two authentic paddlewheelers – the 120-passenger Queen of the West operating on the Columbia and Snake Rivers of the Pacific Northwest, and Queen of the Mississippi, American Cruise Lines’ brand new authentic paddlewheeler. With a capacity of 150 guests and offering numerous never-before-available amenities, the authentic paddlewheeler is set to debut on the Mississippi River this coming August and is the first new riverboat built for the Mississippi River in nearly 20 years.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Why No Fuel Surcharges

None of the major cruise lines have implemented fuel surcharges even though the per-barrel prices have exceeded the baseline price they used to determine if an extra fee can be charged.

Carnival Cruise Lines -set its target price at $70 per barrel and NCL at $65 per barrel.  Carnival's website states that the surcharge can be up to $ 9 per person per day and NCL set theirs at up to $10 per day per person.

The major contributing factor has been the slow demand for cruises and adding a fuel surcharge would further weaken the demand. Many of the cruise lines have not cut their fares instead offering, on board credit, stateroom upgrades and even discounted shore excursions.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

MSC Divina Sucessfully Completes Sea Trials

MSC Divina successfully completed her initial sea trials on April 15th, returning to the Louis Joubert dock after 3 days on the open seas off the coast of Brittany, France.

The ship performed to the full satisfaction of the MSC Cruises team. The rigorous trials involved around 360 people and more than 60 separate tests, covering everything from speed and manageability to sound levels and vibration.

Further testing will be performed continuously up until the next big event in MSC Divina’s busy schedule: the flag changing ceremony on May 19 in Saint-Nazaire.

A maiden cruise to Marseille will then bring the new ship to her grand christening on May 26. The spectacular evening of entertainment and celebration will be dedicated to the Mediterranean and the passion of its people, and will again see Italian screen legend Sophia Loren cutting the ribbon as the godmother of the MSC Cruises fleet. -
Photo credit:
STX Europe - Bernard Biger

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TUI Ships Rendevous In Palma de Mallorca

TUI Cruises Mein Schiff
TUI Cruises Mein Schiff
This past weekend , TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff’s 1 and 2 met in port Palma de Mallorca for the first time.

Four thousand guests enjoyed a fireworks display celebrating the ships' in port together

The next time the TUI pair meet again is scheduled for October 13, 2013 in the port of Valletta, Malta.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Great American Steamboat Company's American Queen's Maiden Voyage.

On Friday, April 13, 2012, overnight passenger steamboat cruises returned to the Mississippi River. The American Queen left New Orleans on her amiden voyage to the port of Oak Alley, St. Francisville, Natchez, Vicksburg and Houmas House on a 6-Day voyage. This marks the return of Steamboat cruising after a 5 year hiatus.

The refurbished American Queen was built in 1995, is 418 feet long and has 6 passenger decks. She carries 436 passengers in 220 staterooms.

The Great American Steamboat Company has a full year round series of Mississippi River sailings planned on the refurbished ship. Some cruises will travel as far north as Pittsburgh Pa depending on the itinerary.

The American Queen will be christened on April 27 by Priscilla Presley.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Small Engine Room Fire.

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas
Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

On April 21, 2012, Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas suffered a small engine room fire. The Allure of the Seas was sailing from St. Maarten to Port Everglades when an engine fire broke out at 7:45 p.m. Friday. No passengers or crew members were injured and the ship is continuing under its own power. It is scheduled to return Sunday.

This follows a series of ships having engine room issues in the past 2 weeks.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ships Migrating Back to New York

The 2012 spring, summer and fall cruise season under-weigh with a number of ships returning to New York this week.

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Miracle
Carnival Cruises - Carnival Miracle
  • Last Friday the  Carnival Miracle of Carnival Cruises began her 2012 - 8-day Cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean.
  • Today (Sunday), the Veendam of Holland America resumes her season of 7-day cruises to Bermuda.

Holland America's Veendam
Holland America's Veendam
  • Yesterday (Saturday) the Explorer of the Seas of Royal Caribbean began her alternating Bermuda, Caribbean cruises. She did spend the winter cruising from New York but this was her first cruise to Bermuda in 2012.
  • On Thursday the Norwegian Star of Norwegian Cruise Line will arrive in New York for a 2 day cruise to nowhere before she begins her 7-day Bermuda Cruises. The Norwegian Star in new to New York in 2012.
  • On 5/6 the Celebrity Summit will begin her series of 7-day cruises from Cape Liberty to Bermuda.
  • Ships sailing the winter from New York included the Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Explorer or the Seas and  Celebrity Silhouette,
  • The Celebrity Silhouette will depart New York for a Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise today (Sunday) and the Norwegian Jewel will reposition to Alaska for the Summer on 4/28
Some one time visitors to New York so far this year includes, the Artania of Phoenix Reisen, Disney Fantasy of Disney Cruise Line, Azamara Journey of Azamara Cruises and the Balmoral of Fred Olsen Line.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Azamara Club Cruises' Azamara Quest Repairs In Progress

Azamara Club Cruises said it was on track to operate the April 24th cruise of the Azamara Quest. The Azamara Quest is undergoing repairs in Singapore after a March 3oth Engine fire. The fire cut short one cruise and caused the cancellation of the April 12th sailing. The April 24th cruise is from Mumbai India though the Suez and on to Egypt.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fred Olsen Balmoral Arrives in New York After Completing Titanic Memorial Cruise

Fred Olsen's Balmoral arrived in New York this morning after completing her Transatlantic Titanic Memorial Cruise. The ship was chartered to Miles Morgan Travel for two sailings. She originally left Southampton on August 8th stopping at Cobb, Ireland, the Titanic sinking site, Halifax and then on to New York.

She arrived at the Titanic sinking site on August 14 at around 7:00 PM and stayed in position until about 4:00 AM on August 15th. During the stay Memorial Services and tributes to those who perished were conducted.

This morning was a very gray morning in New York and the Balmoral sailed up the Hudson right on time, docking at the Manhattn Cruise Terminal precisely at 8:00 AM. The Balmoral blasted her horn 3 times as she passed the location of the pier the Titanic would have docked at, should she have completed her maiden voyage.

At the Manhattan Cruise Terminal the Balmoral joined the already docked Azamara Journey which overnighted at the passenger ship terminal. She too was chartered by Mile Morgan Travel for a similar cruise to the Titanic sinking site which departed from New York. The Azamara Journey will depart today.

The Balmoral will stay in New York overnight and depart on another charter cruise from Miles Morgan Travel. This cruise is not a Titanic Memorial Cruise and a repositioning cruise to place the ship back in Europe for Fred Olsen's Spring cruises.

On her 9-day return voyage, the Balmoral will stop at Martha's Vineyard and St. Pierre & Miquelon Canada before sailing on to Southampton.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Expedition Ship Plancius Encounters Engine Troubles.

The second mishap this week was the expedition vessel Plancius which developed engine issues which only allowed the ship to operate at significantly reduced speeds.

Report indicate that the expedition ship Ushuaia has been chartered to rendezvous with the Plancius and transfer her passenger. The Plancius is reported docked at the King Edward Point Research Station in South Georgia’s Grytviken, Cumberland East Bay.

Ushuaia is scheduled to arrive April 18 to collect the passengers, expedition and hotel staff from Plancius and transport them to Montevideo, Uruguay, arriving April 24. It is planned that all 73 passengers, 35 crew from nautical and hotel, six expedition staff and one doctor will transfer to the Ushuaia, which sailed from Argentina’s Mar del Plata on Friday.

Oceanwide Expeditions (operators of the Plancius), state, ‘Passengers, crew and expedition staff are safe. There is no threat to life or the environment."

There is also a tug en-route scheduled to arrive on April 17 to tow the Plancius to an unidentified port for repairs.

Plancius operated as the oceanographic vessel Hr. Ms. Tydeman for the Dutch Royal Navy from 1976-2004. The ship was eventually acquired by Oceanwide Expeditions and rebuilt in 2009 as a passenger vessel capable of carrying 114-passengers. The ship is classified for sailing in polar regions and is quite a handsome vessel.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saga Cruise's New Saga Sapphire Encounters Engine Issues.

This week has been marred by a number of ill fated events.

Reports out of Europe state the Saga Cruises New Saga Sapphire has encounter major engine issues during her maiden voyage on April 16th. The ship is reported to be tied up in Valencia, Spain. Her 444 passengers have been treated royally though the whole ordeal with report free flowing champagne and more. The decision has been made to abort the cruise and it reported that passengers have been flown home.

I hope this is a temporary situation, Saga has an excellent reputation. The Saga Sapphire also has a honorable career. Previously she has sailed as the exclusive Europa of 1981 for Hapag-lloyd, SuperStar Aries for Star Cruises, Holiday Dream for Pullmantur and the Bleu de France for CDF Croisieres.

I was looking forward to this great combination of Saga Cruises and the Saga Sapphire. I hope the Saga Sapphire is back in service quickly. The Saga Sapphire left Southampton on her maiden voyage April 2nd.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Silhouette A Great Ship!

Introduced to rave reviews, Celebrity Cruises' new Celebrity Silhouette is turning heads.

A product of a Germany's Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg. At 122,400 tons and 1,047 feet long. she is a large ship. She is decorated to the nines, with elegant furnishings and a feeling of sophistication. Her design and styling is exceptional.

She is just concluding her series of cruises from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ and will shortly depart on her repositioning cruise to the Mediterranean for the Spring, Summer and Fall. In the winter, she will return to Florida for a series of Caribbean Cruises.

Don't Miss this great review -> Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Silhouette Review.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

100th Anniversary of White Star Line's Titanic Disaster

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic striking an iceberg.

The sinking of the RMS Titanic occurred on the night of April 14/15 1912 in the north Atlantic at coordinates 41°43'57"N, 49°56'49"W.

Only four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, The Titanic was the largest passenger liner in service at the time. Measuring 46,328 tons, 882.5 feet long and 92 feet wide.

Titanic had 2,223 people on board when she struck an iceberg at 23:40 (ship's time) on Sunday 14 April 1912. She sank two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 AM (5:20 AM GMT) on Monday April 15th, causing the deaths of 1,514 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

The sinking of the Titanic fostered a number of maritime reforms and regulations which included having enough lifeboats and life vests for all passengers and new wireless operator rules providing 7 X 24 coverage.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Cunard Queen Mary 2 Comparisons and Interesting Facts

With the start of the 2012 Cunard Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic season scheduled to start in May 2012, Cunard is drumming up hype around the 2012 season.

Cunard Line released this interesting fact sheet on the Queen Mary 2 specifically focused on Transatlantic Voyages.

Click on the photo to see and enlarged (and readable) version.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Epirotiki Line's Atlas - A Flash Back in Time.

Today I am going back in time to a Mediterranean and Greek Island favorite - the Atlas of Epirotiki Lines.

Originally built as the Ryndam for Holland America in 1951, the Ryndam was sold to Epirotiki in 1972. She underwent a refit which modernized both her interior and exterior. The modest sized ship, weighing 15,000 ton and measuring 503 feet long, was idea for smaller Greek, Cypriot and Turkish ports. She operated with Epirotiki until 1986.

The Atlas was sold to buyers who repurposed her as a floating casino in Gulfport Mississippi. Originally named the Pride of Mississippi, Pride of Galveston and finally the Copa Casino, by 1993 she permanently moored dockside in Biloxi Mississippi, open to gamblers.

The Port Authority of Gulfport had considerable concerns with the ship serving as a stationary casino and what could potentially happen if a hurricane or large storm swept though the area.

As the years passed additional structures were built on the outer decks of the ship and a large marquis was placed on the side of the ship, damaging her modern lines.

Finally in late 2002, the Copa Casino was sold to scrappers in India. Under tow, the ship was first taken to the Dominican Republic but she never made it. Off the coast of the Dominican Republic the Copa Casino (ex Atlas) sank on March 16, 2003.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review of Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Glory

I have just completed my review of Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Glory on my main website - I was pleasantly surprised by the recent renovations. Carnival is making a conscious effort to de-Facus the Carnival Glory and the other ships of the Carnival Fleet. The refit to the Carnival Glory has succeeded and has resulted in a more elegant and sophisticated atmosphere.

To see photos and read the review Click Here -> Carnival Cruise Line - Carnival Glory - Review.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sad News - Louis Cruise Line's Sapphire Sold to Potential Scrappers

Just last week I was writing about ageless ships. One of the ships that made my list was Louis Cruise Line's Sapphire.

This week there was a press release published to the Louis Cruise Lines' website with stated the the Sapphire has been sold to Taymouth Ltd. in St Vincent for a reported $3.3 Million Dollars. Traditionally St. Vincent related ship buyers are normally associated with scrappers.

The Sapphire has already been renamed Aspire. Hopefully I will be wrong and the ship will find other employment - but this does not sound promising.

Here is the link to my prior post on the Sapphire.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sail Cruise Ships - Part 2 - Winstar Cruises'

Also classified as the sail yachts. the 3 ships of Windstar Cruises offer unique experiences of a cruise ship and sailing ship combined.

Windstar Cruises has been passed through a number of buyers. Originally built by the same group that operates Circle Line cruises in Manhattan. This was their entry into the luxury cruise market. Eventually the ships were sold to Holland America and then Ambassador International (which operated the Delta Queen and American Queen on the Mississippi) and just sold to Anschutz Holdings. Anschutz Holdings also owns Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

The New owners have made a significant investment in the Windstar fleet by modernizing them and bringing them to a new level of elegance. The total investment is expect to be $18 Million dollars across the fleet by the end of the year. Each ship will receive new soft furnishings, lighting wall covering, carpets, ceiling decor, tiles and window dressings. Public rooms receiving attention include the Restruants, Veranda Lounge, Pool Bar, Library and Spa.

The individual staterooms, will re-freshed with new carpeting, artwork, decorative headboards, comfortable arm chairs and more.

Current plans call for the Wind Star renovations to be complete in April and the Wind Spirit and Wind Surf to complete by the end of November.

Windstar operates 3 ships. The Wind Star and Wind Spirit, each carry 148 passengers, and the Wind Surf carries 312 passengers.

The Windstar Fleet is registered in the Bahamas.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sail Cruise Ships - Part 1 - Star Flyer of Star Clippers

For the next few posts I will be focusing on some of the more unusual cruise ships - Those with sails!

Today we are going to take a brief look at Star Clipper's Star Flyer.

The Star Flyer offers and Authentic sailing adventure but incorporates all of the modern amenities of a private Meag-Yacht. The ship has a very relaxed ambiance and the dress code is casual. Dining is also casual allowing you to dine with who you want. Because of the Star Flyer's modest size, 360 feet long, she can visit ports other ship cannot maneuver into.

The Star Flyer carries 170 guests and also has 2 swimming pools.

The decor on the Star Flyer is reminiscent of the golden age of sailing. The Star Flyer has an outdoor Tropical Bar, Piano Bar and an Edwardian style library where the ship's fireplace glows.

Using sail power assisted by engines, the Star Flyer is a semi-Green, environment friendly ship.

Star clippers offers transatlantic, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean and Costa Rican cruises on three sailing ships - the Star Flyer, Star Clipper and the largest the Royal Clipper.

The Star Clipper ships are registered in Malta.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Louis Cruise Line's Emerald Sold

Reports are circulating that Louis Cruise Line's Emerald - previously Grace Line's Santa Rosa has been sold.

Report link the Emerald to Alas International Holdings, which is said to be chartering the ship to South Korea's Yeosu Expo Cruise Corporation between May 8th and August 12th as a floating hotel. After the charter ends. the Emerald is expected to sail in the Caribbean from Columbia and Panama on 7-day cruises.

A brief history of the Emerald/Santa Rosa.

Constructed for Grace Line as the Santa Rosa for the New York to South America run. With the increase in operating costs and US subsidies dwindling the Santa Rosa was lay-up.

She was sold to South American interests who wanted to return the ship to service, but this never happened and she continued her lay-up.

The Santa Rosa was purchased by Regency Cruises which transformed the ship into the modern Regent Rainbow.

Unfortunately not included in her refit was her engines. Her fuel hungry steam engines remained in place.

When Regency went bankrupt, the Regent Rainbow, was purchased by Louis Cruise Line. The Regent Rainbow was renamed the Emerald and was chartered to the UK's Thomson Cruises. After her operating costs soared, Thomson ended their charter of the Emerald and she was returned to Louis Cruise Line.

Louis Cruise Line placed the Emerald in lay-up awaiting:
  • a further charter or
  • an uplift in the economy and demand for cruises or
  • a potential buyer.

Hopefully the Emerald will continue to operate for years to come.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

AidaMar Floated Out - AidaStella Floated In

Aida Cruises newest ship was floated out at Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg Germany on April 1st. The ships will remain at Papenburg until she is maneuvered down the Ems River to the Emden on April 13-14th.

The 71,000 ton ship has 1,097 staterooms and will be capable of 22 knots.

After vacating the enclosed drydock in Papenburg, her partially completed sister, Aidastella will be positioned into the drydock for the remained of her hull to be assembled.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Three Famous US / Canadian Cruise Ferries Scrapped Within Weeks of Each Other.

In a usual turn of events 3 famous ships, popular on the overnight ferry route between Atlantic Canada and the US were all scrapped within weeks of each other.

The Discovery Sun, which just recently sailed day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport in the Bahamas, was scrapped in Bangladesh in February. She operated the US / Canada overnight ferry route as the Caribe for Commodore Cruise Line.

Just recently the Scotia Prince was sold after her stint in India as a floating Duty Free shopping cruise ship operating between India and Sri Lanka. She served many years on the Atlantic Canada / US route between Yarmouth. Canada and Maine.

And finally the Bolero which arrived in Aliaga Turkey on March 20th.

All three ships operatesd on the US to Atlantic Canada route and went on to live extended, diverse, careers under various owners.

It is ironic that these 3 ships would meet their demise within weeks of each other.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cruise Pioneer Bolero to Scrappers.

Sad news last week when we learned of the scrapping of Fred Olsen's Bolero of 1973. The ship arrived at Aliaga Turkey on March 20th.

Most famously known as the Bolero for Commodore Cruises, she was one of the initial ships to sail from Miami on 7-day cruises. In the summer months, she operated as an overnight car ferry on the Bay of Fundy run between the US and Canada . During her career, she sailed for distinguished lines like Lion Ferry, Fred Olsen, Commodore, cruises from Florida to the Yucatan, Mirage I Gambling Cruises out of Cape Canaveral and Israeli Interests.

The Bolero operated as the Bolero, Scandinavica, Bolero, Jupiter, Cruciero Express, Seminole Express, Mirage I and Club Mirage.

It is a shame that this pocket 14,250 ton cruise pioneer/ferry met her end after 39 years of service.

The Bolero was constructed by Chantier Dubigeon Normandie Nantes Saint Nazaire, France.

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