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(2-11-2009)

Not the Oasis of the Seas


With 884 articles on the Oasis of the Seas now listed in Google News, we have decided that we should not write the 885th.
With plenty of coverage for the new 225,282-ton Royal Caribbean behemoth, including a brief stop in the UK to disembark workers as she heads for Florida, we have decided to cover some other stories today.
This week we look at Southampton threatening Liverpool in the UK, Princess considering new ships, the Dutch introducing a new Antarctic ship and Disney introducing some really clever and novel ideas, that perhaps only they could get away with, while finally, Italy beats out Mexico as the world's number one cruise destination.


Southampton protests Liverpool use of EU Funds

In the UK, Associated British Ports, owners of the Port of Southampton, are calling for an enquiry into the Port of Liverpool's intention to open its new Pier Head cruise terminal as an embarkation port for cruises leaving the UK. At the moment, the Pier Head facility is used only as a port of call.
Southampton point out that £9 million out of the £20 million total cost of the new Liverpool cruise terminal came from EU assistance funds, whereas the Port of Southampton, with three cruise terminals, has been totally privately funded. They would therefore regard any move to install baggage, customs and immigration facilities needed to handle cruise ship departures to be unfair competition.

Almost 300 cruise ships called at Southampton last year compared to 16 at Liverpool, but if Liverpool were to attract just one line this could mean anything in the area of say 40 new calls to the northern port. Liverpool's Pier Head terminal last made news on October 20 when Queen Mary 2 berthed there for the first time on a visit to the city which had once been Cunard Line headquarters and had seen the line's first departures in 1840.
The Liverpool facility is run by Peel Ports, which owns the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company.


Newbuildings for Princess?

Recent reports indicating that a number of executives from Princess Cruises have met with Meyer Werft in Papenburg have followed by several months reports that Carnival Corp & PLC were considering ordering two Princess newbuildings from Mitsubishi.
The latest reports have of course caused new speculation as to when cruise ship orders might be placed again. Significantly, although plenty of new ships are now being delivered, no new cruise ship orders have been placed during the first ten months of 2009.

Princess president Alan Buckelew, however, has announced that the line has a new prototype design, which is based on a slightly longer version of the Ruby Princess, a Fincantieri product. But Meyer Werft is not known as a Carnival yard, having been tied into first Celebrity, then Royal Caribbean and then Star, NCL and P&O for the Oriana and Aurora.
The Carnival connection lies mainly with Fincantieri and even if P&O had two ships built by Meyer Werft their newer P&O ships have come from Princess designs. As they say, stay tuned.


Antarctic Cruiser Plancius to be Named in Netherlands

On November 14, Oceanwide Expeditions will name its latest polar expedition ship Plancius. Following the recent entry into service of Lindblad's 148-berth National Geographic Explorer (a former Norwegian coastal vessel), and Gap Adventures' 120-berth Expedition (an ex-Baltic ferry), the Plancius is the third new conversion to have been added to the Antarctic expedition trade in the last year.

Built in 1976 as the Netherlands oceanographic research ship Tydemann, the Plancius as rebuilt can now accommodate 110 passengers in fifty-three cabins plus 36 crew. The vessel will be named a week from Saturday by Carla Peijs, the Queen's Commissioner for the province of Zeeland. She then departs for the Antarctic and leaves Ushuaia on her maiden voyage on January 8, 2010.

The ship is being named for the Dutch astronomer, mapmaker and geologist Petrus Plancius (1552 1622), who postulated the existence of a northern passage to Asia. His theory provoked several northern discovery voyages at the end of the 16th Century and a Dutch expedition under Willem Brantsz discovered Spitsbergen, but got stuck in the pack ice of Nova Zembla. Today, that route is known as the Northeast Passage.


Interesting Features in New Disney Ships

Among the newbuilding projects now under way, last week Disney revealed some of the unique features the new 128,000ton Disney Dream will boast. These icnlude a 765-foot long water coaster ride, to be called the AquaDuck, and "virtual portholes" in inside cabins, which fed by video cameras on the outside of the ship, interspersed occasionally with Disney characters.

While the latest Disney ship will join the Carnival Dream and Norwegian Epic in the waterslide department, the Disney ship's will be the longest afloat (Carnival's is only 300 feet) and will be based on a two-person raft, propelled in some areas by waterjets. At one point near the stern the ride will go 13 feet beyond the edge of the ship at about 150 above the water, giving a bit of a thrill factor as welt to the 90-second ridel.

Bookings for the Disney Dream open next week and her maiden voyage is scheduled to leave Port Canaveral on January 26, 2011. While on the subject of Disney, the company will return to Europe in 2010 with the Disney Magic, which will operate a series of summer Baltic cruises from Dover as well as Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona between May and September. The Disney Magic was last in Europe in 2007.


Italy beats Mexico for Cruise Passengers

After many years of Mexico boasting to welcome the largest number of cruise ship passengers, with its combination of Pacific and Atlantic cruise ports and its proximity to the United States, Italy has now come to the fore. This news comes from John Tercek, vice president of commercial development at Royal Caribbean Cruises, speaking at the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association's latest meeting in St Lucia.

His view is that Italy's five home ports of Venice, Civitavecchia, Naples, Genoa and Savona, not to mention the number of calls cruise ships now make at Italian ports not only on the mainland but also in Sicily and Sardinia, now give Italy the advantage. As well, recent years have seen the development of year-round Mediterranean cruising by not only locals such as Costa, MSC and Louis but also by outsiders such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Meanwhile, the largest passenger ship ever built, the Oasis of the Seas, will head out into the Atlantic after her brief stop at the Isle of Wight to offload her workers.

(Source: By Mark Tré - Cybercruises.com)


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