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CUNARD: Historic delivery made by Queen Mary 2
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 00:00

Queen Mary 2 brings the final bag of Flanders soil to the United Kingdom. WILLIAM MAYESQueen Mary 2 brings the final bag of Flanders soil to the United Kingdom. WILLIAM MAYES

On 8 October Queen Mary 2 delivered a special package to Southampton. Inside was the last shipment of soil from the Flanders Fields World War I cemeteries, which will become part of a Flanders Fields memorial garden at the Guards Museum at Wellington Barracks in London.

This final bag of soil, from the Ypres Cemetery, was brought to Southampton Cruise Terminal having been placed on display for the ship’s 2,600 passengers to view during the crossing from Zeebrugge. The soil was then handed over in a ceremony in Southampton docks. The memorial garden was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 6 November.


VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY: Another Loveboat goes for scrap
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 00:00

Discovery sailing past Portishead from Avonmouth for the last time on 9ƒOctober 2014, heading for Falmouth and on to the breakers. HUW GIBBYDiscovery sailing past Portishead from Avonmouth for the last time on 9ƒOctober 2014, heading for Falmouth and on to the breakers. HUW GIBBY

As expected, when Discovery finished her service with Cruise and Maritime Voyages, she was fairly quickly sent for breaking. Her final voyage, reported to be to Aliaga, was undertaken under the name Amen in October. However, to be fair Discovery has survived for much longer that would have been anticipated when she was built in 1971.

The life expectancy of a (then) modern cruise ship would probably have been fewer than 25 years. It is, therefore, a testament to the quality of her construction at Rheinstahl Nordseewerke, where she was built as one of a pair of ships for Norwegian Cruiseships, a joint venture between Fearney & Eger and Lorentzen. As Island Venture she was chartered to Flagship Cruises, along with her sister, Sea Venture, for service between New York and Bermuda, but the service could not support two ships, and so Island Venture was offered for charter.

HOLLAND AMERICA: Breakdown prevents cruises
Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:00

Veendam, which broke down in Quebec. WILLIAM MAYESVeendam, which broke down in Quebec. WILLIAM MAYES

After a damaged propeller was discovered on Veendam on 28 September, her cruise from Quebec to Boston was cancelled, and the 1,300 passengers were disembarked. The ship, which underwent a refit in 2011, was subsequently moved to another berth while replacement parts were awaited.

With repairs taking longer than expected, a second cruise, from Boston to Quebec, was also cancelled. Later it was decided that repairs could not be completed in Quebec and that the ship would have to be dry-docked, so she sailed to Philadelphia and another cruise was cancelled.

The Fincantieri-built 57,092gt Veendam is one of four sisterships, and was ordered soon after the company was acquired by Carnival Holdings in 1988. This propelled Holland America Line into a different league and was the foundation for the growth which has positioned the company where it is today.


PRINCESS CRUISES: Ebola precautions
Thursday, 20 November 2014 15:46

Ocean Princess will avoid Ebola-affected areas of West Africa. RICK FRENDTOcean Princess will avoid Ebola-affected areas of West Africa. RICK FRENDT

Princess Cruises has cancelled a number of the West African calls on its 15 May Ocean Princess cruise from Cape Town to Dover. Visits to Benin, Togo, Ghana and Senegal have been replaced with calls at Luanda, Angola; Madeira, Malaga and Lisbon.

The call at the little equatorial nation of Sao Tome remains, as does the visit to Casablanca. Other lines to cancel calls in the areas most likely to present an Ebola health risk are Regent Seven Seas, Fred. Olsen, Holland America and Seabourn. Princess Cruises is the latest operator to cancel calls at ports in Ukraine for 2015. In total, 12 cruises have had their Odessa and Yalta calls replaced with alternatives.

On a more positive note, Princess Cruises’ Star Princess delivered relief supplies to the population of Cabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, on her call on 4 October, in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile. Ocean Princess has recently been reported as being likely to be sold in the near future, although there is no word on her sister Pacific Princess.

Celebrity Cruises: Change of Celebrity plan
Tuesday, 11 November 2014 00:00

Celebrity Century heads for China. Richard MayesCelebrity Century heads for China. Richard MayesFor some time it had been planned that Celebrity Century would leave the Celebrity fleet in March 2015 and move within the Royal Caribbean group to Europe, to operate for Croisières de France as a replacement for another former Celebrity ship, Zenith.

The new ship had already been incorporated into CDF’s 2015 summer programme when it was announced that Celebrity Century would instead head for China and be used on a new joint venture with Chinese CTrip. CTrip is a Shanghai-based travel agency founded in 1999 which is now branching out into cruising on its own account in a new joint venture with Royal Caribbean. CTrip have purchased the ship, but the operation of the vessel will be managed by Royal Caribbean.

Century, as she was when built, was delivered by Meyer at Papenburg in 1995 as the first in a series of three ships, although the other two were somewhat larger. In 2006 she had a major refit in Spain, during which a number of balconies were stuck onto the sides of the ship, not improving her appearance. Two years later she was renamed Celebrity Century.

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