NEWCASTLE’S PORT OF TYNE TO HOST THIRTY-NINE CRUISE VISITS IN 2016

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Always a welcome sight at Port of Tyne, the Marco Polo will be back to the port in 2016

2016 will see Newcastle’s Port of Tyne hosting some thirty nine cruise ship calls between April and September, including some of the most illustrious names in the cruising firmament.

Cruise and Maritime’s flagship, Magellan inaugurates the 2016 cruise season on April 2nd, with the first of five round trip sailings to Norway and the Baltic capitals, before she returns to Tilbury on an overnight sailing on May 20th.

Later in the year, her fleet mate- the veteran Marco Polo- returns to operate two cruises- a Baltic itinerary, and a round trip to Iceland and Greenland.

Long established in northern waters, Fred. Olsen introduces it’s flagship, the gorgeous Balmoral, to the Tyne for the first time in 2016. The ship will operate the largest single round trip deployment from Port of Tyne in 2016. Beginning in May, she will offer some eleven sailings to Norway, round Britain, and even down to the Mediterranean, ranging from five to fifteen nights in length.

2016 will also see the return of some platinum chip prestige vessels on cruise visits, with the sublime Crystal Symphony returning to Port of Tyne on July 7th in the course of a North Sea voyage.

Also back is Regent Seven Seas’ ultra luxury Seven Seas Voyager on both June 8th and August 16th, while Oceania’s highly styled Nautica and Marina also make guest appearances.

Most likely to draw multi generation attention will be the first ever visits by Disney Cruise Line. The Disney Magic will visit the port twice in June; once during the course of a round Britain circuit, and again during a follow on Baltic cruise.

Meanwhile, the arrival of the Kongingsdam on August 16th is a real coup for the port. The new Holland America Line flagship will be in ‘town’ on the same day as Seven Seas Voyager. And her slightly smaller sister ship- the Zuiderdam- will also be on the Tyne on July 2nd.

All in all, a busy and prestigious roster of cruise ship tonnage will be showcased at Newcastle/Port of Tyne in 2016. Stay tuned for any updates, or see the complete list (with arrival times and departures) at; http://www.portoftyne.co.uk

 

Thanks to Lisa Donohoe at Port of Tyne for supplying the arrivals list for the Tyneside 2016 season

 

NINE IN A ROW AS EURODAM ACES USPH INSPECTION

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Holland America blends traditional ocean going luxe with modern standards of cleanliness and hygiene

Holland America Line’s MS Eurodam scored an unparalleled, ninth consecutive 100  per cent cleanliness score in an unscheduled United States Public Inspection (USPH) at Fort Lauderdale on October 25th.

The 86,000 ton, 2,100 guest Eurodam was in the course of a turn around for a seven day Western Caribbean cruise. As it happens, this blogger was one of the 2,100 passengers embarking that day.

Holland America Line ships have always been historically spick and span. Back in the 1920’s, the well travelled wit and raconteur, Basil Woon, wrote in his book, The Frantic Atlantic, that ‘a speck of dirt on a Dutch ship might be enough to make the Chief Steward commit suicide.’

Despite this magnificent achievement- and I can personally attest that this snap inspection resulted in none of the  embarkation delays sometimes associated with USPH inspections at Fort Lauderdale on October 25th- Eurodam is far from unique in the Holland America fleet for attaining a perfect score.

In recent years, fleet mates Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Ryndam, Statendam, and Veendam have also hit 100 per cent score rates. This year alone, some six vessels across the fleet have been given some nine perfect scores. Statendam and Ryndam have since left the Holland America fleet to begin new careers as part of the P&O Australia cruise fleet.

Well done to all concerned, This represents a truly epic achievement by all departments on board what I can personally testify is, indeed, an immaculately well kept and staffed vessel.

EURODAM PART TWO; A HALF MOON RISING

Sometimes, it really is better in the Bahamas......

Sometimes, it really is better in the Bahamas……

What a day for a daydream; what a day for a daydreaming boy..”

Daydream; The Loving Spoonful, 1966. Lyrics by John Sebastian.

There were many things I was looking forward to about my cruise on the Eurodam. And returning to Holland America Line’s ‘private island’ of Half Moon Cay was right at the top of the list.

The Bahamian outpost is actually a part of Little San Salvador, one of a series of some seven hundred islands sprinkled like stepping stones amid the sparkling azure hue of the ocean. Carnival Corporation- the parent company of Holland America-bought the island for something like six million dollars in December, 1996, and promptly proceeded to develop an area of roughly fifty acres into a kind of ‘catch all’ day break destination for passengers cruising the Caribbean.

Geographically, Half Moon Cay lies some one hundred miles to the south east of Nassau, the capital of the Bahama Islands. But, in terms of crowds, temperament and tempo, it is practically on another planet entirely.

So successful has Half Moon Cay become that it is now also a prime destination of choice for vessels of the parent Carnival Corporation. And, when you see this sizzling, sultry little gemstone, the reasons for that success are instantly apparent.

Half Moon Cay is strictly low rise in appearance, but sky high in terms of stunning visual impact. The entree is a perfectly hewn, semi circular arc of tissue soft, powder white sand lapped by almost supine, electric blue waters- a literal Half Moon, as it happens. Beyond this, clearly marked winding trails lined with hibiscus, frangipani and rows of deep, vibrant shrubbery, form a backdrop inhabited by local wildfowl, making the whole area ideal for nature lovers and ramblers.

We came bumbling ashore from the Eurodam on tenders, in itself a thrilling enough entree to what lay ahead. While many passengers do not enjoy the tendering experience, I am one of those people that have always savoured it as a kind of spray tinged appetizer to the fun and frolics awaiting ashore. It certainly hones the anticipation to knife point sharpness for me.

Meanwhile, para gliders flit across the sky like so many skittish butterflies. Jet skis roar and splutter across the sparkling briny like scampering water beetles. From the nearby barbecue- literally unloaded from the ship and cooked ashore- the smell of jerk chicken, burgers, and a whole other conga line of goodies floods the fresh, mid morning air.

Half Moon Cay is essentially a surreal, sweetly scented netherworld; a kind of idealised dream destination. Shorn of the need to do anything more demanding than grab another Margarita from any of the numerous bars that sprinkle the landscape, you sag with pathetic gratitude into a kind of submissive, smiley stupor once ashore. In an ideal world, every day would truly be like this.

After a while, wading through the tame, milk warm surf while holding a drink and talking to friends just became so- normal. Further along the expanse of that flawless beach, other passengers lolled in seafront cabanas, while others rode horses through the same surf that we strolled with such indolent indifference.

And yes, we could have gone deep sea fishing, or possibly have taken a glass boat ride to take in the stunning smorgasbord of underwater coral. We could have gone kayaking, sail boating, or we could even have hauled ourselves aboard a Hobie catamaran. And, for those so inclined, there was certainly no shortage of water toys to frolic with on that sparkling, sun kissed ocean.

But that would have involved making a conscious effort. One involving actual motivation on a day when, well, the sun was in the sky, the beer was cold, and the sand was just so damned warm between my toes. And yes, I folded. First world problems, eh?

Even the palm trees seemed to be saying ‘chill out’ as they danced an idle, soporific skit against a backdrop of clouds that drifted by like so many giant, ghostly galleons of old. And, through a filter of reggae and old sixties tunes, the words of that old John Sebastian classic, quoted at the start of this article, came flooding back to remind me of the day’s really urgent, to do business.

So, another Margarita it is. Reality? A damned interesting concept.

But not today, thank you. No sir, not today.

EURODAM: GOING DUTCH THE FUN WAY

Holland America blends traditional ocean going luxe with modern maritime excellence

Holland America blends traditional ocean going luxe with modern maritime excellence

There are some ships that you just fall in love with at first sight.

For me, that was the case with Holland America Line’s gorgeous Eurodam. The great HAL flagship was docked behind us in mid summer in Germany’s port of Warnemunde, at the start of a really memorable circuit of the Baltic on the venerable Marco Polo- no mean looker herself, as it happens.

In the high summer sun, the Eurodam was a towering, triumphant revelation. Sunlight danced across her dazzling, royal blue hull and her serried tiers of balconies. The prow- far more tapered and graceful than I expected- was a thing of supine beauty.

Smitten at once, I knew right there and then that I wanted to go on that ship.

A little over four months later, I stared up at that same, stately prow in the warm, welcoming sun of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. But this time, my view would be much more up close and personal.

Hours later, and I’m standing on board the Eurodam as she surges majestically out into the open sea, past rows of spindly, soporific palm tress waving idly in the fall Florida breeze. The siren booms out a sonorous, beautifully pitched farewell to the Sunshine State as a handful of well wishers wave from the shore. And off we go, standing out into the balmy, welcoming waters of the western Caribbean.

Inside, the vast, beautiful ship is spacious, and yet surprisingly intimate. Winding corridors on the public decks, each one carpeted in shades of rich, oriental red, lead the way past a stunning succession of paintings, ancient exhibits, and fresh cut flowers. Everywhere, the priceless heritage of Holland America- one of the most illustrious names in maritime history- suffuses this beautiful ship like a series of benign shades.

There is the head wear, sword and musket of a Spanish conquistador here, and a brace of imperious dragon heads there, glowering at head height with their sightless eyes. Off to starboard, the strains of a plaintive violin floods the lobby with some half forgotten aria. It fills the air with a kind of deft, delicate sound that produces a mild tremor in the soul.

Above the stunning, beautifully scaled lobby bar, the sultry, mellow sounds of a jazz combo mixes with the gentle clinking of pre dinner martinis to produce a rhythm as old as time. Stewards in their smart white jackets deliver trays of canapes and drinks to groups of first night passengers huddled around tables.

Outside, on the long expanse of the bone white promenade deck, a line of proper wooden steamer chairs stands at attention, as perfectly turned out as a parade of the Grenadier Guards. The setting sun falls from the sky like a blazing theatre curtain, turning the entire ocean into what looks like so much smouldering straw. The waves roll lethargically by; they resemble a kind of magical roller coaster, taking the Eurodam off on another, epic ride.

Inside, the sunset vanishes behind rows of deftly drawn drapes. Pools of warm, languid lighting dance across the acres of sparkling glass and brass finery inside. From somewhere, the strains of a sultry bossa nova floats through the ether like stardust.

The first Sunshine Martini from the Pinnacle Grill Lounge hits us like so much healing balm. In the restaurant itself, the delicate, barely audible chink of tables being laid with exquisite china and fine cutlery creates its own subtle, delightful symphony. The food, which we are already eagerly anticipating, will of course be centre stage.

And there we leave her for now. The proud, mighty Eurodam, ablaze with light and chasing a sunset she can never, ever reach. Poised and beautifully polished, the great lady is not one to be hurried by such trivia as time, temperament, or even actual reality.

It is my fervent hope that you will be kind enough to rejoin us for the rest of this wondrous voyage as it unfurls over the next few blogs in this series. Though we are not on the bridge in any sense, it is already plain to most of us on board which way our course is set. We are on an ageless, elegant path in the finest of styles.

It is my great fortune and privilege to be able to share such wonders with you.

THOMSON CRUISES TO OFFER FIRST DUBAI SEASON IN 2016-17

In a move that takes them further from their ‘traditional’ winter cruising grounds than ever, Thomson Cruises will make it’s first ever, winter season sailings from Dubai over the winter of 2016-17.

A series of two alternating, weekly seven night itineraries will be offered aboard the 33,900 ton, 1,250 passenger Thomson Celebration- originally built as the Noordam in 1984 for the Holland America Line.

Each of the two itineraries- ‘Cities of Gold’ and ‘Arabian Nights’- features an overnight, on board stay in Dubai. Between them, these two cruises will offer up ports of call in places such as Bahrain, Muscat, Abu Dhabi.

Direct flights will be offered form no less than six region UK airports- Cardiff, Newcastle, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. The line has yet to say whether these will be on their own airline or, more likely, as a tie in with Emirates.

What each trip will definitely offer is the opportunity to combine each seven night fly cruise with a week’s pre-or post cruise hotel stay at Atlantis- the Palms hotel in Dubai.

All things considered, these new cruise and stay offer a good combination of a busy, port intensive cruise, garnished with a healthy dollop of winter sun, and the possibility of a week chilling out in a hotel synonymous with excess and bling.

I expect it to sell well in the UK market. Bookings open for all sailings effective November, 2015.

As ever, stay tuned for updates.

Thomson will be serving up new horizons next winter

Thomson will be serving up new horizons next winter

WILL FRED. OLSEN BUY ANOTHER SHIP SOON?

Riding high on the obvious success of its big fleet ‘get together’ in Bergen yesterday, the good people at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will enjoy basking in the glow of public acclaim that they have enjoyed from right across the cruising fraternity.

And quite right, too. Because Fred. Olsen- like it’s rival, Cruise and Maritime Voyages- does offer something totally unique; a hugely welcome alternative to the serried ranks of megaships that now form the bulk of fleets such as Cunard and P&O. And, with excellent levels of food and service allied to a warm, intimate scale, I suspect that the allure of both the smaller British operators will grow markedly over the next decade or so.

And, in the case of Fred. Olsen, we are talking about what is, in essence, still very much a family owned firm. Sea minded since day one, the Olsen family takes a keen interest in the handling, development, and even the day to day operation of the fleet. It’s a symbiosis that is rare indeed in an age where balance sheets rule the waves.

Many people were saddened when the pioneering Black Prince, the original, inimitable Fred. Olsen cruise ship, was retired from service in 2009. At the same time, some expressed unease at the acquisition of the 43,000 ton Balmoral- a ship then quite a lot larger than anything that the company had ever owned before. Would the age old Olsen attributes of intimacy and ease of access be lost with this larger vessel, the first in the fleet’s history to boast a passenger capacity in excess of a thousand?

The naysayers were proved wrong. Balmoral has become a very popular and successful ship since entering service, and an ideal foil to the already established, classic trio of Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch. Her bigger capacity allows for enhanced dining options and a bigger entertainment handle that have made her ideal for longer, round the world voyages, while giving away nothing in terms of warmth and spaciousness. I have sailed on her twice- both before and after her purchase by FOCL- and still consider her to be one of the finest and most stylish cruise ships afloat anywhere today.

So, with things looking quite good at the moment, is it the right time for Fred. Olsen to consider a modest fleet expansion and, if so, what kind of ship might they be looking at?

It’s pretty much a given that the line does not ‘do’ new builds. It has made the purchase and prudent conversion of second hand ships into gracefully enhanced, eminently serviceable vessels, into something of an art form over the years.

The great advantage of such a strategy is that the line is not kept waiting three or four years for a purpose built new ship. A vessel bought ‘off the market’ can be upgraded and improved in less than a quarter of that time, and at infinitely less cost. And, having been so successful on the second hand market, I’m guessing that this is the road that FOCL will take again. The only real question is; what ship would they buy, given the chance?

It is no secret that the line has long been interested in the Prinsendam of Holland America Line for quite a few years. Originally built as the Royal Viking Sun for the legendary Royal Viking Line back in 1989, she was- and still is- one of the most exclusive and opulent de luxe ships at sea; one so totally individual in style and character that Holland America advertises her as their ‘Elegant Explorer’.

In the past, Holland America have always declined to part with her. But, in the last few years, the company has been slowly divesting itself of smaller ships in favour of larger, more diverse vessels such as Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, and the forthcoming new flagship, the Koningsdam, which is due to debut next year. What seemed unlikely three or four years ago may well be more of a possibility now.

Certainly, the Prinsendam would be a perfect fit for Fred. Olsen. At just under 39,000 tons and with a current capacity for some 740 passengers, the ship is roughly in line, size wise, with Balmoral, though I expect FOCL would probably increase her passenger capacity by around 100-150. Probably, the line would like to add more balcony cabins- a popular facility that the line no longer swims against the tide on.

And it would also make for a happy reunion with two of her former Royal Viking Line fleetmates- Boudicca (the former Royal Viking Sky) and Black Watch (once the Royal Viking Star). And, no doubt, the Olsen family would enjoy the chance to preserve and enhance this classic piece of traditional Norwegian cruising excellence.

This would certainly be a transition that would make sense for both lines, if the price was right. Obviously, the Prinsendam would need a certain amount of cosmetic surgery to bring her in line with her quartet of prospective sisters, but nothing too radical. The Prinsendam is a very finely styled lady as she is.

A fascinating prospect, and a possible future Fred. Olsen project? Stay tuned…..

is it time for Fred to become five?

is it time for Fred to become five?

VEENDAM SET FOR BERMUDA RETURN IN 2016

Holland America Line’s luxurious Veendam will return to Boston next year for a short season of seven night Bermuda cruises. There will be four sailings in total, down from the six offered earlier this year.

Uniquely, the 57, 092 ton Veendam will offer a full, three night stay docked alongside in Bermuda’s capital of Hamilton. During these stays, the on board shops and the casino will be allowed to open while the ship is in port- a concession from the Bermuda government, no doubt influenced by the dramatic decline in the number of smaller ships visiting both Hamilton and the former capital of St. Georges.

With a capacity of 1,350 passengers and a crew of 580, the 1996 built Veendam will thus offer the best and most comprehensive season of Bermuda cruises available on any ship in 2016. With a matchless city centre berth- the Veendam literally docks right across from the main front street in Hamilton- and the advantage of a full twenty four hours longer in port than any other ship on the summer Bermuda run, the ship offers great scope for in depth exploration of this beautiful Atlantic island.

The four sailing dates are; May 14, May 21, June 11 and June 18.

Cruise only prices from the United Kingdom start at £648, based on two people sharing an inside cabin.

Veendam will berth right here, on Hamilton's front street. The ease of access is obvious

Veendam will berth right here, on Hamilton’s front street. The ease of access is obvious

THREE OF THE BEST; UPCOMING NEWBUILDS FOR 2016

As 2015 goes full steam ahead into it’s second half, I thought now might be a good time to look forward to some of the new builds coming on line in 2016.

All three represent a pioneering new class of vessel for their respective owners. And, while two of these could well simply prove to be the lead ships of a new platform over time, one of them is almost certainly a total one off, a ship as individual as each of her three current fleet mates.

Firstly, Holland America Line has the superb new Koningsdam.  Coming on line in February, she is the first of a so-called new ‘Pinnacle class’ of vessels. Due to be delivered in March 2016, the 99,500 ton, 2,650 passenger Koningsdam will be the largest vessel ever delivered to Holland America.

Also being built in same Fincantieri yard as the Koningsdam is a larger, first of class vessel for parent company, Carnival Corporation. The brand new Carnival Vista is scheduled for an April delivery. Her maiden, thirteen night Mediterranean sailing on May 1st will mark not only the formal start of her career, but the first series of Carnival cruises anywhere in Europe for several years.

Carnival Vista is essentially an expanded and updated version of the very popular Dream class trio; she will have a gross tonnage of 133,500, and a passenger capacity of 3,936. After an inaugural season of Mediterranean cruises, the Carnival Vista will cross from Barcelona to New York in late October, prior to starting a season of winter cruises from the American east coast.

Definitely set to make a big splash- in every sense of the word- is the new, ultra deluxe Seven Seas Explorer, also fitting out at the ubiquitous, seemingly all conquering Fincantieri yard in Italy.

The first new build for Regent Seven Seas Cruises since 2003, this ultra luxury ship is setting its sights firmly on being, quite simply, the most luxurious ship in the world. Coming in at around 54,000 tons, the 700 guest ship will feature all balcony suites, making her one of the few ships in the world that can make such a claim.

These three ships offer a trio of very diverse products that largely cross the spectrum of the modern cruise industry. Each will be a trailblazer in it’s own way. And it is for certain that the progress and performance of each vessel will be very closely monitored by the competition.

Interesting times. As ever, stay tuned.

Regent's new masterpiece, Seven Seas Explorer, is set to be unveiled in 2016

Regent’s new masterpiece, Seven Seas Explorer, is set to be unveiled in 2016

HAL’S NEW BUILD- INTRODUCING KONINGSDAM

Holland America's current Westerdam

Holland America’s current Westerdam

Holland America Line has just announced that it’s new, 99,500 ton ‘Pinnacle’ class new build will bear the name of Koningsdam.

The name has kingly connotations, and is being touted as honouring the nation’s current king, Willem Alexander.

Due to emerge from the Italian Fincantieri shipyard in February of 2016, the 2,650 passenger Koningsdam will be the largest passenger vessel ever built for Holland America Line since its transatlantic debut back in 1873.

As yet, this beautiful ship- the first in class and also the first to bear this name- is a stand alone order and design. And, despite being unprecedented in size as an HAL ship, the total tonnage is still considerably less than the most recent addition to parent company, Carnival. Their most recent trio of vessels topped in at 130,000 tons each. The newest build, Carnival Vista, is also due out of Fincantieri in 2016. She will come in at something like 135,000 tons.

The first publicity release depicts a ship with obvious similarities to the previous Eurodam, with the same graceful, raked bow. However, the Koningsdam is depicted with just a single, stand alone funnel, one more in line with the smaller Statendam class vessels than with their larger, Vista class siblings.

With a staff of 1,025, the new Koningsdam brings a fresh, state of the art design to one of the most venerable names in liner and cruise history, while still maintaining the sense of space, grace, and elegant, attentive service that has made HAL an obvious choice for seasoned travellers over many decades.

Combining an exciting new design and a series of old, familiar favourites, the Koningsdam has already taken front running as ‘the’ most eagerly awaited new build of 2016.

As yet, no itineraries have been announced. Stay tuned.

THE SURVIVORS; NORWEGIAN NOMADS STILL AT SEA

Balmoral, once the beloved Crown Odyssey

Balmoral, once the beloved Crown Odyssey

In the mid eighties, in what ultimately proved to be a case of ‘too much, too soon’, NCL went on what amounted to a buying spree straight out of the Carnival play book. Over fourteen years- from 1984 to 1998- the Caribbean cruise line originally founded by Knut Kloster absorbed a trio of famous cruise brands.

After suffering the maritime equivalent of acute indigestion, the restructured company aborted these same brands, and either sold their ships to other lines, or ultimately watched them go for scrap.

But many of those same names are still sailing, often easily recognised as their former selves. For lovers of cruise ships and ocean liners, there are few things more poignant than the sudden sighting of an instantly familiar ship, years later and half a world away. Familiar and wistful at the same time. It’s like seeing an old flame with a new hairstyle, often as not knowing that she’s now with another love. Bittersweet, indeed.

So let’s look at what is still out there these days, and just where they ended up….

ROYAL VIKING LINE

That company originally flaunted a trio of sleek, bridal white show stoppers- the Royal Viking Sea, Star and Sky. They emerged in 1972-73 and, despite each ship being lengthened in 1981, all remained tremendously popular and upmarket; in fact, they were the benchmark for the likes of later, sybaritic show stoppers from Crystal to Silversea.

Marco Polo is Tilbury's 'year round' cruise ship

Marco Polo is Tilbury’s ‘year round’ cruise ship

Happily, all three of these classic ladies are still sailing. The Royal Viking Sea today sails for the German company, Phoenix Seereisen, as the Albatross. The other two sisters were to enjoy a reunion, and are now both running in tandem for the Norwegian owned Fred. Olsen Cruise Line.

For Fred. Olsen, the Royal Viking Star now sails as the Black Watch, while the Royal Viking Sky is now the Boudicca.

In 1989, in an attempt to regain past glories,  Royal Viking Line built a new flagship, the Royal Viking Sun. After a shaky period with Cunard/Seabourn, she also happily still sails on as the Prinsendam of the venerable Holland America Line, the company’s self-styled ‘Elegant Explorer’.

In 1990, the line took delivery of a small, 10,000 ton ultra deluxe cruise ship, the Royal Viking Queen. After a brief spell with Royal Cruise Line in 1996, she was sold to Seabourn Cruise Line, where she rejoined her two original sister ships under her current name of Seabourn Legend. She is currently slated to join the fleet of Windstar Cruises next spring.

ROYAL CRUISE LINE

The first major eighties pre- Kloster new build for this company was the glorious, 1988 built Crown Odyssey, a ship that soon gained a reputation for elegance and on board excellence rivalled by few.  After Royal Cruise Line was wound up, this lovely ship spent four years being employed like a ping pong ball between NCL and its last acquisition, Orient Lines.

Sold to Fred. Olsen in 2008, the ship was taken to Germany, and enhanced with the addition of a new mid section. Now sailing as Balmoral, she is the flagship of the Fred. Olsen fleet, as well as the largest ship. Cruising mainly out of Southampton, she remains a tremendously popular ship to this day.

Some of you will also remember the funky little Golden Odyssey, the diminutive little start up ship for this line. The 1974 built little beauty is still sailing today, though only as a casino ship out of Hong Kong. A far cry from her one time glory days.

ORIENT LINES

Gerry Herrod’s legendary, as -was one ship line was bought by NCL in 1998, but the Orient Lines brand was struck from the company portfolio of offerings in 2008. Happily, the 1965 built Marco Polo continues to sail on for UK company, Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Still popular and beautifully styled, the veteran former transatlantic liner celebrates her fiftieth anniversary in 2015.

Long may all of these great, highly regarded and affectionately remembered ‘ladies of the sea’ continue to grace the oceans they still sail with such proud, singular style. Each and every one of them is an important, intrinsic link to our maritime past. And for the current, massively resurgent Norwegian, these are still the self same ships that proudly ‘flew the flag’ and enabled the brilliant, world class fleet of today to come to fruition.