There are posts flying around this morning from all the usual cruise TAs announcing that P&O and Cunard will be revealing their winter 2018/19 schedules shortly. The timetable seems to be as follows:

  • 13 March: Schedules revealed and ‘pre-registration’ available, for both lines;
  • 23 March: Bookings open for P&O loyalty club Caribbean, Baltic and Ligurian tier members;
  • 27 March: General P&O bookings open for Winter 2018/19 cruises (not 2019 World cruises);
  • 28 March: Bookings open for Cunard World Club members, for both winter cruises and 2019 World cruises;
  • 29 March: General Cunard bookings for all cruises;
  • 30 March: Bookimgs open for P&O 2019 World cruises.

If I learn anything more before those dates I’ll post it here (although I will be away from 6 to 17 March).

We finished all our remaining episodes of The Cruise yesterday evening and we’ve just watched the first of the Jane McDonald programmes so here’s a quick report on what we thought of them.

We watched three episodes of The Cruise last night, and I think we enjoyed them more than we did the first three. It’s always interesting trying to work out why the producers have picked the people to highlight that they did, and also to wonder about the people they didn’t pick. I can see why they picked Timothy, and also Scott the the hotel engineer. Not only personable individually, they worked well as a contrast – Timothy was generally rather over the top but Scott came over as an enthusiastic ‘ordinary bloke’. I’m not sure about Nico the kitchen worker who wanted to work on reception – I never thought that was going to work, and to be honest I found myself cringing a bit during the segments with him. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy the first few programmes so much, and why the final set seemed better.

That said, I thought the content was more interesting in the second half of the series. Without Nico to shepherd, Timothy came more into his own; I liked the scenes with the rest of the guest services team (the sequence with the bags that had been dropped in the water); and while the ‘poo tank’ section was perhaps more information than I really needed it was visually good and revealed some more of the hidden side of the ship. I also enjoyed the glimpses we saw of the bridge  during the sequences with Lauren, the newly-arrived second officer. So for me the series improved as it went along, and I could enjoy another one next year.

We didn’t know what to make of the Jane McDonald programme, however. It’s the first time I’ve really encountered her and she definitely comes across as a larger-than-life person. I enjoyed that aspect of the programme, but I wasn’t sure about the things we saw; the way she spent her time during the cruise. (Although the shark sequence was good.) Of course, it’s very possible that what we saw was a fair reflection of a 7-night Caribbean cruise out of Miami on a big MSC ship…. in which case, I don’t think it’s for me! But the programmes to come will feature cruises of different types – we’re promised a Hebridean islands cruise (possibly on Hebridean Princess?); a river cruise; and an Alaska cruise, on what looked like a Holland America ship – and those will probably generate rather different programmes. Roll on the next programme!

I’m a sucker for them – even though they often don’t satisfy.

Recently we (Val & I) have been watching the second series of “The Cruise” on ITV which of course features guests and crew on Regal Princess. We enjoyed the first season (in 2016) but so far haven’t been grabbed so much by this season. Possibly some of the featured characters haven’t been quite so gripping – or maybe they’ve just been a bit more annoying. But the final episode is being broadcast tonight (10 February) so I’ve no doubt we’ll watch it to the bitter end (on catch-up, generally). I think I’ve enjoyed the bits with the engineer most – there have been some interesting insights into how the thing works. I especially liked the view of the sanitation control room; and the bit about the leaking fountain in the atrium was also good.

Just to confuse things, at 9 o’clock tonight there’s another cruising programme (Channel). This is the first of 4 programmes featuring Jane McDonald, who (I gather) rose to fame in an earlier Cruise show in the late 90s when she was a headline singer on Galaxy. She was able to leverage the exposure she gained on that show not only into a musical/performance career but also a general media career.

Jane vowed she had left cruise ships behind but now she’s back where it all began

I don’t think this will be a documentary-soap in the same way as the ITV series have been, as I’ve read a comment that she will “present a new four-part travel show” and that she will be “…filming reviews of cruise holidays”. So we shall give it a watch.

I’ve learned some more about the return of Swan Hellenic.

As Malcolm Oliver said, the brand has been bought by G Adventures, who had already bought two other All Leisure brands – Travelsphere and Just You. However they have not chartered Minerva, the ship that Swan Hellenic was using to deliver its cruises and it’s not yet known what ship they will use. Cruises will start in 2018, and they’ll publish details this summer.

My thoughts? Well, I can’t help thinking things are stacked against them. Running a single-ship operation is a big challenge; there are all sorts of economies of scale that they won’t be able to achieve. Hopefully, they’ll integrate the booking side of things into their existing businesses. I have a feeling that this new version of Swan Hellenic might turn out to be different from what has gone before. After all, you’ve got to ask what the management team at G Adventures can bring to the table that the ALG management couldn’t. It wouldn’t surprise me if Swan Hellenic’s cruises became more integrated with the existing businesses – perhaps some sort of 50/50 land/cruise holiday? We shall see.

Swan Hellenic to return

I understand that Swan Hellenic will be relaunched some time during the year. I missed this completely, but Malcolm Oliver didn’t – here’s a link to his post about it.

I gather that Celebrity Cruises are to reveal the design of their new ‘Edge’ class ships very shortly. An event is to be held at Royal Caribbean’s Innovation Lab, at Port Miami, on 13 March. I understand that some sort of presentation will be made showing the design features in 3D, life size.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the design of the Celebrity Edge class has been kept very secret ever since the class was announced. On March 13 we’re promised that we’ll learn more.

So here’s the last post on this topic, this time covering ships under construction or on order for Royal Caribbean, MSC and TUI.

I ought to say that these lists have not been built using information directly from the relevant lines. Although I asked Royal Caribbean (twice) I’ve not received a reply from them. (I did from Celebrity, separately, however.) And to be honest I only thought of MSC and TUI at a late moment in this process and decided to go straight to other sources for them.

First up must be Royal Caribbean:

royal-caribbean-newbuilds

I think the information regarding tonnage and berths is about right for the Oasis and Quantum ships on order, but I’m not sure how good it is for the later “Icon” class ships – they’re a long way into the future, and even if the information is right now, it could change by the time construction starts.

Next is TUI cruises. My understanding is that this line is still a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and TUI, the German-owned travel company. Certainly, the line began with two Celebrity ships (Galaxy and Mercury) being transferred to TUI, significantly refurbished/upgraded, and renamed “Mein Schiff 1” and “Mein Schiff 2”. Since then three new builds, Mein Schiffs 3, 4 and 5, have already gone into service. It’s also been announced that Mein Schiff 1 & 2 will transfer to Thomson Cruises – a part of the TUI empire – and apparently they will be replaced in a few years by bigger new builds.

tui-newbuilds

Finally there’s MSC. This is in many ways the most remarkable cruise line of all. They currently have a fleet of twelve ships, beginning with the Lirica class which entered service with MSC in 2003; and as the table below shows, they have a further 11 ships either under construction or on order. Most are huge, too.

msc-newbuilds

 

So that’s it: a total of 46 ships either under construction or on order. By line the figures look like this: 19 for the whole of the Carnival Corp; 10 for Royal Caribbean & Celebrity; 9 for MSC; and 3 each for the NCL group and TUI. I hope this exercise has been useful and at least moderately interesting. I’ve been surprised at how many ships are on order; but perhaps not so surprised at how big most of them will be. Ah well, that’s cruising in the twenty-teens!

I hope to combine all the data I’ve collected into a single sheet, publish on the site as a ‘Page’ rather than a post, and keep it up-to-date.