THE AGELESS LURE OF THE CRUISE LINER….

Even now, there is something about putting to sea on a ship that just feels so timeless and right compared to being  on any other form of transport.

Yes, that’s a pretty damned profound statement, and it’s one that not everyone is going to agree with. But in defence of such a statement, I’d offer the following as an explanation…..

No one would argue that a jet plane is infinitely quicker and more convenient as a form of mass transport. Which is why liners are largely extinct in the first place. And there are many jet airliners, both past and present, that have been extremely beautiful in terms of appearance.

But nothing for me has the instant drama and majesty of a cruise ship or an ocean liner, or it’s subtle, wondrous progression from a shimmering, implausible mass tethered briefly to a pier, to a fabulous floating wonderland, ablaze with light and music, progressing in state beneath a sky ablze with stars, or lunging gamely towards a flaring sunset, chasing a horizon that it can never, ever reach. No other form of transport presents itself with such dramatic flair, symmetry or sheer poise.

And, while take off on many flights is indeed an adrenaline surge, it is not one that compares with the subtle, beguiling thrill of putting to sea from Barcelona, Genoa or New York on a warm summer night. A beautiful evening, a cold drink to hand, music in the air and the gentle vibration of deck under foot as the gap between ship and shore widens almost imperceptibly- these things are powerful magic, a series of sensations passed down through the ages. They still have the power even today to move people on more than one level.

And it’s the sounds, too. Give me the subtle, seductive sound of deep ocean swishing alongside some sound, sturdy hull standing out on its course to who knows where, rather than the antiseptic interior of yet another transatlantic jet, with its forced smiles and food regulo five.

And yes, many of my friends are just as passionate about planes and, indeed, trains and cars as I am about ships. Which is fine because, if we were all the same, life and how we engage with it would be dull indeed.

And, while there are many charges that even the most ill informed of people can level against sea travel, the idea that it is ‘dull’ is certainly not one of them. The only way not to enjoy a sea voyage is to embark in a sealed, wooden box.

An endless voyage, across a succession of seas ranging from the sublime to the outright stormy, on a series of stunning, elegant vessels, each one as distinctive as a human fingerprint, each as elegant as a charm bracelet.

That’s why I love sea travel.

Timeless and never tiresome. The ocean rolls on in it's endless, fascinating panorama

Timeless and never tiresome. The ocean rolls on in it’s endless, fascinating panorama

THE ROYAL CLIPPER; SAILS AND STARLIGHT AT SEA

Night falls across the masts of the mighty Royal Clipper in the Caribbean

Night falls across the masts of the mighty Royal Clipper in the Caribbean

There is something so hopelessly compelling about sailing under the stars that legions of writers have attempted to describe it for years, some more successfully than others. But there is no denying the deep, intense splendor of a night at sea beneath a canopy of twinkling, benevolent stars, perhaps garnished with a side order of moonlight from time to time.

What makes it so utterly magical and spellbinding an experience? Largely the fact that, miles from land and shorn of land based light and other pollutants, the skies are clearer by a million miles. And the result is a night sky that can often seem so full of stars that the sky resembles nothing so much as a black velvet canvas, pierced by literally millions of pin pricks in what someone once called ‘the fabric of the universe’. And the resulting view is, almost literally, electric.

How delightful, then, to kick back on a starlit sea anywhere in the world, from Trondheim to Tahiti, and back again. But for sheer, platinum chip romantic effect, the waters and skies of the Caribbean remain perhaps the most compelling visual playground on the planet, and for very good reason.

Even the biggest and most seemingly impersonal ships will provide you with a series of secluded, special vistas from which to observe this spectacular nightly phenomena gifted by Mother Nature. But even a smaller ship, operating under diesel power, will generate a certain amount of exterior background buzz that acts as a kind of subliminal ‘white noise’ against your indolent, dreamy bit of stargazing. It’s a minor point, but a valid one for all that.

But… imagine taking all that noise out of the situation, and getting the whole, silent beauty of the night to just drink in like fine wine? Short of having some magical remote control that can act as a universal volume dimmer, it seems impossible. Right?

Not quite. Just change your thinking about the kind of ship you are sailing on.

Twice now, I have lain out under fabulous, star spangled skies on the sailing ships of Star Clippers. Last week, I did just that on the aft deck of the Royal Clipper, as she surged through a calm, serene sea en route from Antigua to St. Kitts. And what was lacking was truly anything but lackluster.

With almost all of the deck lights off at the stern, all that was to be heard was the sound of the breeze kissing a forest of slowly heaving canvas sails, way above my head. Even the five giant, towering masts seemed to point like guiding fingers at the sea of twinkling, shimmering starlight that carpeted the black, endless expanse of the heavens.

With no machinery pushing the ship along, I had to listen really hard just to pick up the sound of the gentle, rolling swell lapping at the hull. But, truth be told, my attention was totally engaged by the hypnotic brilliance of the constellations as they peeped out between the masts, and the sheer brilliance of starlight dancing on water.

Seldom in decades have I been so spellbound, so in touch with the elements around me. With the air as warm as toast and the wine crisp and chilled, the solitude and sense of space wrapped itself round me like warm cashmere. Time itself seemed to stand still. Perhaps it did.

There it is. Just a moment in time; a snapshot of something so brief in the scheme of things, and yet so compelling and incredible that it is indelibly imprinted in my mind forever. A moment, frozen in aspic, that could only have been truly savoured aboard a ship like the Royal Clipper. 

To quote the great Al Green; simply beautiful.

CRUISE SHIP CUISINE; SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT?

If you knew sushi....

If you knew sushi….

Among legions of voyagers since the dawn of time, perhaps nothing has raised the hackles of ocean travellers as much as the subject of food on board. Over the decades, dining at sea has gained a reputation as being somehow more enjoyable and inviting than anything offered on land. It is an assertion that no one has ever done much to demolish, pun wholly intentional.

Now, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes good food. Every single person’s palate is as individual as a human fingerprint. Even the idea of trying to produce enough tasty, appealing choices on one individual ship load of, say, 3,0000 passengers is a daunting thing to contemplate. Throw eight or nine different nationalities into the mix, and the equation multiplies massively.

So it follows that my opinions as expressed here are- indeed, can only be- based on my own observations and tastes. Yet I suspect that many people will find much in this article that, at the very least, resonates with them.

Firstly, the hacked to death phrase of ‘gourmet cuisine’, whatever the hell that means anyway. One man’s gourmet feast is another man’s gut wrenching ordeal. But on any mega ship- anything over 2000 passengers- it is simply impossible to create food that approaches any level of that nebulous notion of ‘gourmet’.

Why? Simply because a mega ship, by it’s very essence, is designed to operate on economies of scale. Bulk buying across the board, plus the embarkation of the smallest number of catering staff and stewards able to cater adequately to the numbers on board, is the maxim.

Crystal balcony snacking is sublime...

Crystal balcony snacking is sublime…

The raison d’etre for these amazing floating resorts is to make as much money as possible, and that does not equate to overly lavish mass provisioning of top quality ingredients. And, before anybody gets on my case about knocking big ships, please read on. Such is not my intention.

Within the parameters set by shore based accountants, these ships in general do a good to excellent job of providing a flood of tasty, often tremendously good food around the clock. It is fresh, plentiful and, thanks to advances in on board technology such as refrigeration and cooking facilities, heightened standards of storage, immensely better hygiene and stock rotation and-yes- some very imaginative sauces- it is probably more varied and enjoyable than in the heyday of the great ocean liners. Progress generally has improved product delivery.

And for those wallowing in the cozy glow of nostalgia for those older, more opulent ships, just remember that even the Titanic had rats. Though not on the menu in first class, naturally.

Of course, the French Line was a byword for the finest food and service. But part of the reason why the Ile De France, the Normandie and the France were so successful is that they were lavishly staffed, and provisioned on a scale that would cause most of today’s cost conscious shore side catering suppliers to spontaneously combust. For instance, the first class dinner menu on the Normandie listed no less than three hundred and twenty five different menu items each night. As with everything on that fabled operator, food on the French Line was gloriously over the top, sumptuous and special.

And yet, passengers being passengers, there were no doubt some strange souls that complained about it even back then. Such is human nature.

Ah food, glorious food...

Ah food, glorious food…

True, high quality cuisine can be produced consistently, as the likes of Crystal, Regent, Seadream and Silversea continue to prove, to the delight of their savvy, loyal regulars. But, with numbers to cater for limited to a few hundred at the most, a much higher staff to guest ratio and, crucially, a much higher per person spend- one reflected in the initial price- these ships have much more flexibility, scope for creativity and, generally, a much more obvious display of inventive flair than their more constrained cohorts on the mega ships.

Dining aboard these ships is truly delightful. And even something as simple as a bacon sandwich can be summoned up and delivered with as much flair, style and taste as the finest filet mignon if you are in the right frame of mind. It is, quite literally, a question of personal taste.

And I would also argue that the food itself is only one ingredient that goes into the mix for a great dining experience. A fine meal at sea is about so much more than that. Ambiance plays a huge part; perhaps the crucial one.

A perfect meal involves a beautifully set table, with fine flatware and glassware, an immaculate tablecloth and napkins, and plenty of elbow room. There is nothing worse than accidentally garnishing your shirt sleeve with the soup of the diner sitting next to you.

Deft, unobtrusive service is the key. Attentive without being overly familiar, and all under the watchful eye of a good maitre d’ who conducts the entire operation like an orchestra. And speaking of which…

Breakfast starter. Lamb chops to follow

Breakfast starter. Lamb chops to follow

A little bit of background music- for instance, a Baby Grand piano- can enhance the mood of a meal immensely. So, too, the lighting. Here, less is usually more, but please don’t turn the venue into a gloomy, Stygian crypt. Subtle is the key here.

And, while many people consider assigned, two seating dining to be the first level of Hell, all I can say is that some of my best, most fun overall dining experiences have been in such situations. Some maitre d’s are expert at putting together tables of compatible people, and that makes a huge difference.  But if it goes the other way, the wrong table companions can make the last meal in the condemned cell a more appealing option.

But for real flexibility, it is once again the small ships that deliver the real flavour of tasty, tasteful repasts at sea. With generally open seating dining, where a table for two can become a table for ten at short notice, far smaller numbers of diners and a much calmer, unhurried ambiance, evening meals especially can scale almost Olympian heights in terms of enjoyment.

Sometimes, nothing beats dining alfresco, with a side order of moonlight and an exquisitely paired wine. A real treat for both the palate and the senses, and one that is hugely recommended by yours truly. And, of course, the pre dinner martini, garnished with a gorgeous, flaming sunset, is the perfect appetiser to any meal.

So, there we go. Just my thoughts, for what they are worth. Food for discussion, though? Bon Appetit!

Simple elegance is often key

Simple elegance is often key

 

SEADREAM I HEADS FOR GERMAN REFIT

After a few days being showcased to travel media and press alongside HMS Belfast in London, the ultra deluxe Seadream I has left London for Bremerhaven to undergo a seventeen day refit.

What a day for a Seadream....

What a day for a Seadream….

The six star luxury yacht will undergo a complete hull cleaning and repainting process, while some of the public rooms will benefit from new fabrics and carpeting. All suites and cabins will be enhanced with the addition of flat screen television sets, On the technical side, there will be an overhaul of some air conditioning units, as well as some gallery upgrades. The total projected cost of this overhaul is said to be between $4-5 million.

The yacht, originally built as the Seabourn Goddess I in 1984, has been sailing for Seadream since 2003, as one of a pair that have been consistently lauded as the highest rated vessels in the world. With all outside accommodation for 112 guests, both sisters are among the most sought after travel experiences afloat, as well as being very lucrative on the charter circuit.

Post refit, Seadream I will embark on a series of voyages in Scandinavia and the Norwegian Fjords, including a headline, first ever round trip voyage, beginning and ending in Dover this August.  Speaking on board Seadream I during the London stay over, recently returned CEO, Atle Brynestad, stressed that the company was in no hurry to expand, despite being financially buoyant; a surprising show of ‘steady as she goes’ in view of recent expansion by most other lines in the deluxe category.

Despite their age, both yachts are said to be as sound as the day they were built, regular, lavish and sympathetic refurbishments have helped to keep them at the apex of the luxury sector at sea. With an almost one to one crew ration, all inclusive pricing and exquisite food and service- think lamb chops for breakfast- the twin Seadream sisters offer a stylish,highly personalised  smart casual ambiance that is light years removed from the conventional cruise experience.

The aft pool

The aft pool

Following her sojourn in northern waters, Seadream I heads south to the Mediterranean to rejoin her identical sister ship, Seadream II. Both yachts will then redeploy to the Caribbean for their winter seasons, which sees them offering primarily seven night voyages around the smaller, more off the beaten track idylls that still echo the vibe and lifestyle of the ‘old’ Caribbean.

With an emphasis on water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, and use of the jet skis carried on board, the Seadream experience is quite possibly the most up close and personally immersive on the entire Caribbean circuit. And with her refreshed new look and stance, Seadream I will be in pole position to showcase this market to the full over the coming winter.

GRAND CELEBRATION GOING TO COSTA CRUISES (Updated)

Costa ships now hold one of the most rigorous boat drills of any cruise line

Costa ships now hold one of the most rigorous boat drills of any cruise line

In a move that will surprise some and baffle a few, Iberocruises’ Grand Celebration will be transferring over to parent brand, Costa Cruises, later this year, The ship is currently in dry dock in Genoa, Italy, where she is undergoing a nineteen day, 4.5 million euro general overhaul involving hull cleaning, some mechanical work, and interior refurbishments.

The ship will be renamed Costa Celebration. The 47, 263 ton, 1,896 pax ship originally started life for Carnival Cruises as the Celebration in the mid 1980’s, and was for many years a staple of the seven day Caribbean circuit.

From November through to February 2015, the newly wrought Costa Celebration will operate a series of fifteen and sixteen day cruises that showcase the highlights of the eastern and western Mediterranean, sailing from Marseille. From April 21st onwards, Costa Celebration will offer a series of eight night itineraries between Venice and Istanbul.

This seems a strange fit for Costa, coming hard on the heels of that company taking over the similar sized,  former Grand Mistral, and then remaking her as the Costa NeoRiviera as one half of a more upscale, boutique cruise operation (The other ship is CostaNeoRomantica). However, no plans have been announced yet to incorporate Costa Celebration as a third vessel.

Until November, the ship is so far scheduled to remain with Iberocruises, for whom she is slated to sail on seven night, Venice to Istanbul itineraries.

With all eyes focused on the November christening of the new flagship, Costa Diadema in Genoa, Costa still seems to be trying to settle on a definitive, post Concordia direction. The period of retrenchment is obviously not anything like over yet for the venerable Italian flag carrier.

Costa has for many years been seen as almost exclusively a big ship operator, catering to the mass market in regions including the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Greek Islands, Caribbean, South America and, of late, Asia as well. There was a brief flirtation with small scale that ended abruptly with the cancellation of the Costa Voyager programme of scheduled winter cruises to Egypt and Sinai, and the subsequent sale of that ship to a Chinese company.

Similarly, the original ‘big’ Costa matriach, Costa Classica, is due for a major refurbishment. She was originally intended to be lengthened more than a decade ago; a project only cancelled at the last minute, when the mid section had already been built and the ship was actually in the Irish Sea, en route for Liverpool.

To find out what happens next, please stay tuned.

 

Update 11/5/2014

A report today on the highly reliable Cruise Industry News website states that the soon to be wrought Costa Celebration will, indeed, be getting a new, Costa style yellow funnel to replace the current, former Carnival model.

 

I’m very grateful to the always excellent and perceptive Phillippe Brebant for pointing me in the direction of this story. Merci, Phillippe.

SAILING DOWN THE NILE; A DAY ON THE RIVER

The Nile is eternal

The Nile is eternal

Sailing the Nile is like slipping back some five thousand years in time at certain moments. Though the boats you sail on have changed immeasurably since the days when Akhenaton and Ramses crossed these same waters, there are sights, sounds and moments that those venerable, long gone demi gods of ancient Egypt would have recognised and remembered at once.

You see it in the cattle and oxen that graze idly at the water’s edge as you ghost silently by. The crocodiles that might once have taken them are now hundreds of miles to the south, contained in Lake Nasser by the concrete sarcophagus of the high dam at Aswan.

A Felucca or two might stand out across your path, with gently billowing white sails, cantered at a crazy angle as it heels sharply on the silver sheen of the ancient highway.

Small children in canoes paddle gamely out from between a gap in the ranks of sharp, spindly reeds that shroud the edges of the river banks on both sides.

The air is alive with the screeching and chattering of a myriad of birds, many of them keeping a wary eye on the odd, predatory hawk as it slowly circles high overhead, looking for a kill.

Buildings peep out at intervals from the serried ranks of slowly waving date palms. A blue domed mosque here, with spindly minarets clawing at a petrol blue sky. A half finished house there, with mud brick walls daubed a tired, sun bleached shade of musky ochre, with lines of washing hanging from the windows, drying out in the mid day heat.

A small truck here, overladen with fruit in rainbow shades. A tractor there, spluttering asthmatically into life as it rumbles toward the fields.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sunsets are tender, mellow affairs. The slowly setting sun in the west turns this most ancient and legendary of rivers- the golden highway of the Pharaohs- into what resembles a sea of blazing straw. A moment that is at once both still and electrifying. An ageless, almost supernatural feeling floats in the ether like stardust. A magic as old as time. One that Cleopatra, Nefertiti or Tutankhamun would have known. One that would have made them smile.

Now those same rows of date palms stand, black and massive, against the slowly setting curtain of the Nile sunset. The only sound is that of thousands of chirping crickets, plus the gentle tinkling of the ice in your sunset gin and tonic.

At moments like this, you feel more alive than ever.

A day in the life. A day on the Nile. An experience that sears itself into your soul. It stays with you long, long, after you actually leave it behind. Wonderful stuff.

VIRGIN ON A FANTASY? RICHARD BRANSON DIPS A TOE INTO CRUISING (Updated)

Carnival Fantasy offers lots of fun in the sun

Carnival Fantasy offers lots of fun in the sun

Press reports are continuing to circulate that Virgin founder and CEO, Richard Branson, is looking to make an entry into the cruise market. If so, it would be the logical extension to a travel network that already encompasses an airline, a rail franchise and, in the not too distant future, a hotel chain, too.

Branson would, ideally, like to start with a fleet of purpose built, state of the art ships, based in both Miami and the Mediterranean. But, while the Virgin brand has tremendous clout and visibility, simple logistics- plus the length of time it would take to negotiate and complete a whole new design of ship- makes it much more likely that a fledgling Virgin Cruises will buy a second hand ship and refurbish her, at least to begin with.

It is much more likely than not that the line will be wanting a large, resort style mega ship, ideal for families; one with a large accommodation and entertainment handle. And, as a start up ship, one vessel in particular comes to mind.

That ship being the current Carnival Fantasy, the first of the eight ship class that was the backbone of the Carnival fleet for two decades. Carnival Fantasy was, in fact, the first mega ship ever built for Carnival Corp.

At sea on the Carnival Fantasy

At sea on the Carnival Fantasy

The ship, built in 1990 and since constantly updated, is around 70,000 tons, and some 855 feet long. At present, her listed passenger capacity is some 2,056. Currently, the Carnival Fantasy operates short cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean year round, from the port of Charleston, South Carolina.

So- why am I hanging my hat on Carnival Fantasy?

Carnival is on record as stating that any future new buildings for the company will be solely commissioned to replace existing tonnage. And, as 2016 will see the debut of the huge new Carnival Vista- the biggest ever new build for the line- it seems obvious that another ship will go, to make way for her.

It has been standard Carnival policy now to phase out the oldest ships in their fleet, and this alone would make Carnival Fantasy the next in line to depart the line. However, until now, most Carnival expatriates- such as the previous generation of Holiday, Jubilee and Celebration-  have all been farmed out to satellite companies of the Carnival brand.

However, this has never been set in stone and, for both Branson and Micky Arison alike, this could be a mutually beneficial deal.

Carnival's distinctive funnels remain their trade mark

Carnival’s distinctive funnels remain their trade mark

Armchair critics will opine that the ship is twenty years old. Maybe so, but a major refit in 2009 tacked on more than a hundred private balconies to cabins already of a comfortable size. As a result, Carnival Fantasy now offers some one hundred and fifty two balcony cabins and suites in all.

One of the big selling points of this class in their original guise was that even their smallest inside cabins measured some 185 square feet- half as large again as the average cabins on rival ships.

In addition, Carnival Fantasy boasts extensive recreation and leisure facilities for children and teens, and a vast array of nightlife options. She really would be the perfect start up ship for a family orientated, fun in the sun kind of cruise line such as Virgin.

And, of course, more to the point is that she will soon, almost certainly, be available for Branson to snap up.

As ever, stay tuned.

UPDATE 4/12/2014

Today, Virgin formally announced that it would, indeed, be entering the cruise industry, with a pair of new builds from an as yet undisclosed shipyard.

While no formal specifications have been announced, the two ships are expected to cruise from either Miami or Fort Lauderdale, where the cruise line will be based. As yet, the company will not state when it expects to start operations ‘for competitive reasons’.

What we do know is that the new, two ship project is being largely financed by Bain Capital. Heading up the line will be the veteran Tom McAlpin, formerly CEO of The World at Residensea, the world’s first true floating condominium.

As ever, stay tuned for updates.

 

IMAGES OF ICONIC PLACES

HMS Belfast on the River Thames, London

HMS Belfast on the River Thames, London

Walls of the old town, Ibiza
Walls of the old town, Ibiza

Cruising Northern Portugal's River Douro

Cruising Northern Portugal’s River Douro

Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles

Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles

German U-boat memorial, Kiel

German U-boat memorial, Kiel

Cafe life, Rhodes old town

Cafe life, Rhodes old town

Sailing towards Mount Vesuvius, bay of Naples

Sailing towards Mount Vesuvius, bay of Naples

Copenhagen blooms

Copenhagen blooms

Pacific Beach, San Diego

Pacific Beach, San Diego

Waterfront of Tangier, Morocco

Waterfront of Tangier, Morocco

Town Square, Cadiz

Town Square, Cadiz

Viaduct, Crimdon Dene, England
Viaduct, Crimdon Dene, England

Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC

Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC

Rocket garden, Cape Kennedy, Florida
Rocket garden, Cape Kennedy, Florida

Manhattan at dawn

Manhattan at dawn

 

FROM THE VAULTS: SOME SPLENDID SHIPBOARD SHOTS

Inside the Viking Crown, Majesty Of The Seas

Inside the Viking Crown, Majesty Of The Seas

Outdoor terrace on the Seven Seas Voyager
Outdoor terrace on the Seven Seas Voyager

Pool deck, Silver Whisper

Pool deck, Silver Whisper

The Manhattan Room on Norwegian Epic

The Manhattan Room on Norwegian Epic

Deck Pod on the Europa 2

Deck Pod on the Europa 2

Atrium bar on Europa 2

Atrium bar on Europa 2

Pool deck, Princess Daphne. Contrast with the earlier one shown on the Silver Whisper

Pool deck, Princess Daphne. Contrast with the earlier one shown on the Silver Whisper

Suite 902 on the Louis Rhea

Suite 902 on the Louis Rhea

Lobby on the Crystal Symphony

Lobby on the Crystal Symphony

At sea on the Carnival Elation, bound for Cabo San Lucas

At sea on the Carnival Elation, bound for Cabo San Lucas

Lobby on the Norwegian Spirit

Lobby on the Norwegian Spirit

Pool bar, Norwegian Spirit

Pool bar, Norwegian Spirit

Tiger Bar, MSC Magnifica

Tiger Bar, MSC Magnifica

Lido pool on the Louis Cristal

Lido pool on the Louis Cristal

Winter Garden on the old Ausonia

Winter Garden on the old Ausonia

Norwegian Epic interior

Norwegian Epic interior

Pool deck on the Norwegian Sun

Pool deck on the Norwegian Sun

Lobby, Costa Favolosa

Lobby, Costa Favolosa

Lido pool on the Costa Favolosa

Lido pool on the Costa Favolosa

Atrium, Carnival Paradise

Atrium, Carnival Paradise

Thomson Majesty interiors

Thomson Majesty interiors

Lounge on the Princess Daphne

Lounge on the Princess Daphne

Chart Room, QE2

Chart Room, QE2

The Queens Room, QE2
The Queens Room, QE2

 

 

LADIES OF THE SEA- SNAPSHOTS OF SOME FABULOUS SHIPS

The 1959 built Rotterdam, seen here as the Rembrandt. I cruised her in the Med in September 1998

The 1959 built Rotterdam, seen here as the Rembrandt. I cruised her in the Med in September 1998

The Southern Cross, still in the 'coke tin' livery gifted her by Premier Cruises. A spiky little ship
The Southern Cross, still in the ‘coke tin’ livery gifted her by Premier Cruises. A spiky little ship

The Majesty Of The Seas at anchor off Coco Cay, Bahamas. September 27th, 2008

The Majesty Of The Seas at anchor off Coco Cay, Bahamas. September 27th, 2008

The Disney Magic, sailing from Port Canaveral in April 2011

The Disney Magic, sailing from Port Canaveral in April 2011

The Silver Whisper in Helsinki, August 2013

The Silver Whisper in Helsinki, August 2013

The Grande Dame; the legendary, beloved SS. Norway

The Grande Dame; the legendary, beloved SS. Norway

Crystal Symphony off Bermuda

Crystal Symphony off Bermuda

Braemar off St. Barts, Caribbean

Braemar off St. Barts, Caribbean

Norwegian Spirit docked in Barcelona, April 2013

Norwegian Spirit docked in Barcelona, April 2013

Taking wining and dining to Olympian heights- the new Europa 2

Taking wining and dining to Olympian heights- the new Europa 2

Dreams and memories: the perky little Ausonia was the perfect 'mini liner'

Dreams and memories: the perky little Ausonia was the perfect ‘mini liner’

Carnival's Paradise at Catalina Island

Carnival’s Paradise at Catalina Island

Louis Cristal is the former Leeward

Louis Cristal is the former Leeward

The QE2 off Propriano, Corsica

The QE2 off Propriano, Corsica

Silver Spirit off Lokrum, Croatia

Silver Spirit off Lokrum, Croatia

The magnficent Crystal Serenity

The magnficent Crystal Serenity

Costa Favolosa at Katakolon, Greece

Costa Favolosa at Katakolon, Greece