The “99,000-Tonners”: Mein Schiff 3 and Koningsdam – Chinese Finance For Silversea Three – Carnival Develops Its China Hand

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 27th October 2014... ..

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Mein Schiff 3 © Frank Behling

ms Mein Schiff 3 – the first 99,000-tonner

This week we examine a new class of ship that is presenting itself – the “99,000-tonner” – embodied in Mein Schiff 3 and Koningsdam Not a mega ship, but still larger than we are used to, these new ships seem to offer the prospect of trying to fill a gap in the quality end of the premium cruise market. Elsewhere, while Silversea has not said anything, news has leaked from China about a potential €800 million financing deal for three new ships to be built by Fincantieri. And in a continuation of this “Marco Polo” theme, Carnival Corp & plc has announced an agreement with China State Shipbuilding Corporation to design the optimum cruise ship for China, an agreement to which Fincantieri might also become a party.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

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Columbia River Cruise Review: Sailing Aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Intimate s.s. Legacy by Jeffrey Ward, The Savvy Navigator

s.s. Legacy 0

Un-Cruise Adventure’ s.s. Legacy has shifted from Alaska to Portland for full time work on America’s Columbia River system

by Jeffrey Ward, from Luxury Cruise News

With the growth of European river cruising, and its appeal to North American travellers, I’ve often wondered why there are not more river cruising vessels and destinations in the USA. I recently had the opportunity to spend a week onboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ s.s. Legacy sailing round trip out of Portland, Oregon, eastbound along the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the Idaho border. This five-star trip is an unparalleled experience here in the States, and I highly recommend the 7-day sailing for all cruise lovers.

The 88-passenger s.s. Legacy was built approximately 30 years ago as the Pilgrim Belle, operating as a coastal steamer in New England. She later traded on the St Lawrence River as the Victorian Empress and on the West Coast and Alaska as the Spirit of ’98. The design of the ship is based on naval architecture from the turn of the last century, but is equipped with today’s modern conveniences. The vessel was brought into the Un-Cruise Adventures fleet in 2013, after a complete refurbishment.

Un-Cruise originally deployed the ship in Alaska, but has decided to base her permanently in Portland for the April – November 2015 season, offering the “Legacy of Discovery” and “Ameritage – Four Rivers of Wine and History” themed cruises.

s.s. Legacy open bridge

s.s. Legacy‘s open bridge policy allows passengers to visit the wheelhouse.

One great appeal of a river cruise on the s.s. Legacy is that everything is included in the fare – meals, accommodation, drinks, activities, a free massage, and airport or hotel transfers. The 44 cabins onboard are set up in either a twin bed or queen configuration. The accommodations are extremely comfortable, with en-suite baths and televisions (used for watching DVDs from the ship’s library) and twice-daily maid service. Another aspect of the ship that very much appealed to me was the open bridge policy. I spent quite a bit of time in the wheelhouse with Captain Dano Quinn and his team, which was mesmerizing – especially during sunrise and sunset.

For The Savvy Navigator, however, the highlight of the cruise was the impressive quality of the food and wine. Three meals are served per day, along with cocktail hour (daily at 5:30 p.m.), and early riser breakfast from 6 to 8 a.m. (where the coffee cake was the best I’ve ever consumed). The variety and quality of the food was excellent, and paired nicely with local beers and wines from the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the open-seating dining room, there’s a large, comfortable lounge on an upper deck above the bow, which is always stocked with snacks, libations, and coffee. (A special shout-out goes to the nocturnal pastry chef, whose bread, rolls, pastries, desserts, and other baked goods turned this non-dessert eater into a ravenous sugar glutton.)

The historical interpretation team offers authentic and entertaining insights into the region’s history.
Another highlight of the onboard experience is the historical interpretation team, who function as the guides for the cruise. Led by historian Ryan Downs, the team did an excellent job of bringing history to life, in an authentic and surprisingly entertaining way.

Older passengers are welcome onboard this cruise (and made up the majority of travellers on my sailing), as the excursions are not particularly active or physically challenging. And the sailing’s appeal isn’t limited to any type of cruiser – I’ve always preferred cruising aboard large ships, and now I’m a small ship convert.

The bottom line is that I loved this cruise. It was comfortable and interesting, led me to gain a few pounds, and exposed me to a completely new part of the world.

For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca

The Avid Cruiser Ralph Grizzle Reviews Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Top-Rated Europa 2, The Top-Rated Cruise Ship In The World

Enjoy a few minutes watching Ralph Grizzle’s most recent review (July 2014) of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2, the top-rated cruise ship in the world (Five-Stars-Plus with Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2015:


For more information on how to book a cruise on Europa 2 please call Europa 2 expert Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Ask about the half off second passenger and no single supplement offers that are now available.

Carnival Plan Evokes Return To The 1930s In Hispaniola – Major Changes At Pullmantur – Book Review: Great French Passenger Ships

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 20th October 2014... ..

.Great French Passenger Ships

This week we look at how Carnival Corp & plc’s investigation into developing a new two-berth cruise port at Haiti’s Tortuga Island, together with its Amber Cove development in the Dominican Republic, take us back to the 1930s. Both are on the island of Hispaniola and relatively close to Miami, especially in these days of high fuel costs. We also look at how Pullmantur is extending its reach far beyond Spain, while at the same time watering down its much-vaunted “All-Inclusive” plan. Finally, for a change, we review Bill Miller’s most recent book, Great French Passenger Ships, just published by The History Press.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

Miami Cruise Industry Mourns Lewis A Fraser, Son Of Miami Cruise Pioneer And Himself A Cruise Catering Pioneer

https://i1.wp.com/ak-cache.legacy.net/legacy/images/Cobrands/Herald/Photos/photo_023002_C0A8015418a3231F6CNMG4120BDE_2_aec2e4a5991234688264481ea2514563_20141023.jpgThe cruise industry in Miami is mourning the passing of Lewis ‘Lew’ A Fraser, whose catering concessions once provided the food, beverages, chefs, cooks and waiters for Royal Caribbean, Costa, Regency and Premier Cruise Lines. Fraser died on Wednesday, October 8. He was 75. For the full Seatrade obituary please go here.

Lew was one of six children of Frank Leslie Fraser, who was heavily involved in the banana shipping business from Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In 1950, when Lew was 10, his father founded the Eastern Shipping Corporation. Eastern in turn chartered the 3,445-ton Nuevo Dominicano, a ship that could carry 177 cruise passengers, from the Flota Mercante Dominicana. This ship had first cruised from Miami as the Clarke Steamship Company’s New Northland in the winter of 1926-27. With her, Fraser introduced the first year-round cruises from Miami. The number of cruise passengers handled at Miami in 1950 rose to 61,000, helped by the new year-round cruise service..

css Nuevo Dominicano stbd side

Lew’s father, Jamaican-born F Leslie Fraser, started cruising from Miami with the Eastern Shipping Corporation in 1950. Chartering the 177-passenger Nuevo Dominicano, she was the first to offer year-round cruises from Miami, then a winter port.

During the 1950s, Fraser added new ships to his fleet, starting with the 5,002-ton Yarmouth and Evangeline in 1954, followed by the 7,114-ton Bahama Star in 1959 and the 6,644-ton Ariadne in 1960. During this period, Fraser brought in as a partner William R Lovett of Jacksonville, who owned the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain, and to whom Fraser had been shipping bananas for many years. Lovett had shipping interests of his own and in May 1961, Fraser sold out to Lovett, who renamed the company Eastern Steamship Corporation. Fraser finally turned over full control just a few months before he died in June 1962. Six years later, in 1968, Lovett added the largest Miami ship yet, the 9,914-ton New Bahama Star.

In 1970, Lovett sold out to the Norwegian Gotaas-Larsen Corporation, one of the intial shareholders in Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, which was building three new ships, the Nordic Prince, Song of Norway and Sun Viking. Any conflict of interest was avoided by Eastern sticking to the 3- and 4-night Bahamas trade while Royal Caribbean concentrated on 7- and 14-night Caribbean cruises. By then, the numbers of Miami cruise passengers had risen ten times in twenty years, to 610,000. In 1972, Gotaas-Larsen added the 24,351-ton Emerald Seas to the Eastern fleet, again the largest ship to cruise from Miami.

The company, by now trading as Eastern Cruise Lines, merged with its own affiliate Western Cruise Lines and Stan McDonald’s Stardance Cruises, forming Admiral Cruises in 1986. By this time the Port of Miami was handling 3,000,000 passengers a year. Admiral Cruises became Royal Admiral Cruises and was absorbed into Royal Caribbean in 1992. The last project undertaken by Admiral was a ship called the “Future Seas,” which entered service in 1990 as the 48,563-ton Nordic Empress. Trading today as the Empress for Pullmantur Cruises, this ship was the last and the largest to be purpose-built for the 3- and 4-night Bahamas cruise trade from Miami.

css Farnorth

F Leslie Fraser acquired the Farnorth in Canada in 1937, renaming her Southern Lady. Selling her in 1942, he bought her back again in 1952 and renamed her Lewis Fraser after his son.

In 1952, when he was 12, Lew had a ship named after him (right). When his father purchased the 1,712-ton Ciudad Trujillo from the Flota Mercante Dominicana, from whom he had been chartering the Nuevo Dominicano, he renamed her Lewis Fraser. This was actually the second time the Frasers had owned this ship, as they had first purchased her in Canada in 1937, when she was trading between Boston and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada as the Farnorth. Renamed Southern Lady, she traded for Fraser in the Caribbean until he sold her in 1942 to Cayman Islands owners. As the Lewis Fraser, she was used in the Cuba trade until the eve of the Cuban Revolution under Fidel Castro. Almost fifty years old by then, she was finally sold for scrapping at Baltimore in 1957.

In an interview with Seatrade Cruise Review in March 1996, Lew recounted to Anne Kalosh an interesting story about his own beginnings in the cruise industry – and the name Royal Caribbean:

F Leslie Fraser had run Eastern Shipping Corp, selling the company before his death in 1962. Lewis and a brother created a firm called Royal Caribbean to handle the estate. Their office at the old Port of Miami was one floor above the Yarmouth Steamship Co, managed by Edwin Stephan…

But it wasn’t long before this fourth generation shipping man was drawn back to the sea. He looked up Ed Stephan, now general manager of Commodore, who was introducing Boheme in 1968.

As Fraser tells it, “Ed was looking for a caterer and I was looking to get back into the cruise business. I asked Ed if he’d consider me. He said, “Lew, what do you know about catering?” I said “Nothing, but I do know how to put together an organisation and I like the cruise business.” He got the job.

It was a rough start. But gradually Fraser had things running so smoothly that when Stephan went on to launch his own cruise line, Fraser not only nabbed the catering contract, he also lent the name: Royal Caribbean.

It is forgotten by most now that Lew and his brother Frank L Fraser Jr formed Pan American Cruise Lines, of which Lew was president, in 1965, and chartered an Israeli ship, the Nili, to cruise from Miami. On hearing of the owner’s financial condition, however, Pan American ended the charter and a company called Arison Shipping stepped in and took over, but ended up with no ship. This led to the charter of another ship called the Sunward, but that’s another story. The passing of Lew Fraser closes an interesting chapter in the cruising history of Miami.

For those interested in knowing more about the Fraser days in the 1950s and 60s, there is further information here:

Excerpt from St Lawrence Saga: The Clarke Steamship Story

One Ocean Expeditions Opens Punta Arenas To Antarctica Fly/Cruise Departures From the Falklands and King George Island

One Ocean Expeditions’ Akademik Sergey Vavilov will source most of her 2015-16 Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia passengers from Punta Arenas, Chile, with one direct sailing and half a dozen fly/cruises from Punta Arenas airport.

One Ocean Expeditions’ Akademik Sergey Vavilov will source most of her 2015-16 Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia passengers from Punta Arenas, Chile, with one direct sailing and half a dozen fly/cruises from Punta Arenas airport.

Many years ago, Punta Arenas was used as an important setting off point for cruises to Antarctica. In more recent years, however, it has become more of a wayport for cruise ships running between Brazil and Argentina and Chile’s west coast port of Valparaiso. Ushuaia, meanwhile, in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, has picked up the lion’s share of Antarctic departures.

Last month, however, One Ocean Expeditions announced its itineraries and fares for its 2015-16 Antarctica season for voyages on board the Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov.

In addition to its regular departures from Ushuaia, One Ocean will introduce a new program of expedition fly/cruises starting in Punta Arenas. The Punta Arenas fly/cruise program will be undertaken by the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, while the Akademik Ioffe carries on with its usual direct departures from Ushuaia.

Only the first voyage, on December 8, 2015, will involve boarding at Punta Arenas, as none of the subsequent Vavilov voyages will sail from the Chilean port. Instead, One Ocean will use scheduled flights between Punta Arenas and Stanley in the Falkland Islands, and flights that operate between Punta Arenas and the Chilean Antarctic base on King George Island, to get their passengers to and from the ship, which will sail between Stanley and King George Island. There are of course no flights between Argentina and the Falklands.

In addition to the direct departure from Punta Arenas, three Vavilov departures will be made from Stanley and three more from King Edward Island, where passengers will board or disembark by Zodiac. The resulting 10- and 11-night itineraries have been designed to allow passengers more time in Antarctica – with the added bonus of seeing the king penguins of the Falkland Islands on most departures.

Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands

Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands

After the Vavilov’s December 8 sailing from Punta Arenas, subsequent fly/cruise departures through to February 2016, will leave from Punta Arenas airport for either Stanley or King George Island and return to Punta Arenas airport at the end of the voyage.

All flights between Punta Arenas and the ship will be included in the fare. The Akademik Sergey Vavilov will then complete her season in March with two 10-night voyages from Ushuaia.

One Ocean customers have also frequently asked the company to offer a South Georgia-only voyage. In response to these requests, the Vavilov will now offer a 14-night South Georgia-only departure, sailing from Stanley on October 17, 2015, and ending in Ushuaia.  This will be followed by two chartered departures, after which the ship will position round to Punta Arenas to start the new program out of Chile.

In order to provide additional space, One Ocean will also bring the passenger capacity on both ships down from 96 to around 70 per voyage, and this on ships that used to carry 110.

One Ocean also has in place an Early Booking Offer of $750 per person off the cruise fare for all departures, subject to availability and withdrawal at any time.

The 210-berth Stella Australis

As well as the Vavilov’s single season-opening sailing, One Ocean will be bringing some new hotel, tour and flights business to Punta Arenas.

But it will not be the only operator there. For twenty-three years now Cruceros Australis, South America’s only local cruise line, has been operating 3-, 4- and 7-night voyages through the Chilean fjords between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia.
Its present fleet consists of the 210-berth Stella Australis, built in 2010, and the 136-berth Via Australis, built in 2005.

For details of the 2015-16 Punta Arenas departures and other polar cruise adventures please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Growth Of Major World Cruise Markets – A Revival Of Sorts At Punta Arenas – North Pole Icebreaker Cruises To Continue Into 2018

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 6th October 2014... …

The Mariner of the Seas, right, one of the Voyager-class vessels

Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened in 2013 on the site of its old international airport. Seen here is Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, one of two sister ships that now sail in Chinese waters.

Today we look at comparative growth in different cruise markets and the expected impact of the addition of the Asian market, particularly China, to these figures. While China, Australia, Brazil, Germany and Scandinavia are growing much faster than other markets, Canada seems to be frozen in time, with no growth in five years. Elsewhere, Punta Arenas in Chile is seeing a bit of a revival as a setting off point for fly/cruises to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. One Ocean Expeditions’ Akademik Sergey Vavilov will source most of her 2015-16 Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia passengers from Punta Arenas’s port and airport. And icebreaker cruises from Murmansk to the North Pole have been granted a reprieve until 2018.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)