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#NewCMVflagship- Magellan which was named by TV and radio personality Gloria Hunniford earlier this year, made her maiden call to Dublin Port this morning for UK based Cruise & Maritime Voyages, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 46,052 tonnes Magellan is on charter from Carnival Corporation to CMV as their new flagship for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Carnival, the US cruise giant operator commissioned the Danish yard of Aalborg Vaerft to launch her as Holiday in 1985 as part of new generation of cruiseships that began with Tropicale. In 2010 the 9 passenger decked Magellan had a rebuild but still she retains her distinctive winged funnel design.

Magellan is marketed for adults-only (16 years plus) cruises. She has a capacity for approximately 1,250 passengers accommodated in 726 cabins. Among these cabins are 14 featuring balcony suites.

When it comes to dining options, there is the Waldorf and Kensington Restaurants offering two sitting dining or the more informal Raffles Bistro. Throughout the intimacy found on Magellen are comfortable lounges and for entertainment is the two-tier theatre style Magellan Show Lounge.

As Afloat reported back in November, Magellan offers expansive timber deck areas not to be found on 'mega' cruiseships. Also on these outside decks are two swimming pools and a choice of three whirlpools.

For the two seasons CMV are to have Magellan based out of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Tilbury. The port on the Thames estuary is where as previously mentioned Gloria Hunniford had the honour as the ships Godmother by naming the new CMV flagship in March.

Today her fleetmates Marco Polo, Azores and Astor in that order are visiting the following locations Leith, Scotland, Lerwick in the Sheltand Islands and Kristiansand in Norway.

The crew of Magellan are British officers and deck ratings are international personnel. The 222m cruiseship docked in Alexandra Basin and is scheduled for a departure later this afternoon.

Published in Cruise Liners

#CruiseHarbour – Island Sky, the first cruiseship to dock inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season had requested tug assistance in preparation to berthing within the port this morning, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Overnight, the Italian built vessel with a 116 passenger capacity had sailed from Waterford city quays and upon arrival in Dublin Bay had picked up a pilot from a cutter launch around 07.30.

For around the next two hours Island Sky circled the centre of the bay before Beaufort, a Dublin Port Company tug came on the scene to escort the 4,200 tonnes vessel into Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The requirement of the tug was understood to be precautionary due to strong winds expected inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour during the berthing of the 90m Island Sky.

It transpired the Island Sky managed to moor alongside the harbour's Carlisle Pier opposite the East Pier using her own power alone that included a bow-thruster. This avoided the services of Beaufort which saw the tug remain in attendence at close proximity.

As Island Sky came astern at Carlisle Pier a fleet of awaiting coaches were there to transport passengers to Malahide Castle. Also heard on the PA system on board the Noble Caledonia operated cruiseship was the option to take a trip into Dublin using the DART railway whilst others simply strolled to the nearby attractions of Dun Laoghaire.

Following today's shore excursion, passengers will be returning to the Island Sky which has accommodation in the form of 57 suites all with outside views and located over five decks. On the Erikson and Explorer decks these suites feature private balconies.

Asides Island Sky's call, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company have a further three similar 'harbour' calls scheduled but by another pair of cruiseships. Star Legend is to call twice with an interim visit by Wind Surf. The sail-assisted cruiseship has been the most frequent in port caller of recent years.

In total 18 cruiseships are due this year with the majority of the larger and deep draft cruiseships having to anchor offshore with passengers tendered ashore by launches.

Published in Cruise Liners

#KillybegsP&O - Killybegs first visitor from P&O Cruises, the 30,000 tonnes Adonia set sail last night as a lone piper played on the pier to mark her departure.

Adonia had arrived in the port yesterday morning with about 700 passengers on board.

The master of the cruiseship, Captain David Box, called in at the Killybegs Information Centre and presented a commemorative plaque to Manager, Anne Dorrian, and the team.

For more on the debut call of the prestigious cruise operator, see yesterday's DonegalNow.com

Another P&O caller and the largest ever cruiseship due to Killybegs as Afloat previously reported is the 69,000 tonnes Oriana on 26 June.

The 1,800 passenger ship is one of a record breaking season of eight cruise callers this year to visit the north-west port. 

Published in Cruise Liners

#CruiseConcerns – One of the country's main ports is due to lodge a multi-million development bid with An Bord Pleanala in the next ten days, writes the Herald.ie

The controversial Dun Laoghaire planning application, which has been met with opposition from residents and several local political representatives, is being submitted by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

The harbour company is seeking permission for an €18m cruise berth facility to cater for jumbo cruise ships, which would mean passengers will be able to walk on to the port.

The company hopes the cruise berth will be a boost for the local economy, as predicted in studies carried out so far.

For more on the story, click here.

Published in Cruise Liners

#CelebrityCaller- Celebrity Cruises, the brand with the iconic 'X' on their funnels are the next operator to visit Dun Laoghaire Harbour when Celebrity Silhouette makes her maiden call offshore of the port next Sunday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The call of the 122,400 tonnes 'Solstice' class cruiseship with an occupancy capacity of 2,886 passengers has been greeted by the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group which will be putting into place a welcome programme for the arrival of the operator whose origins are from the Greek Chandris Group. They had ships with a chi, a letter of the Greek alphabet on their funnels, in which the tradition continues as in the case of the 'Silhouette' which has a pair of funnels like those liners of the past.

As the cruise-class name suggests, the 'Solstice' was the first in the industry to utilize solar technology and where some of the solar panels provide shade within the ship's Solarium. The power is also used on the 318m long Celebrity Silhouette for energy production.

Also this month, the intimate 310-guest Wind Surf makes a return visit this year on 29 June. The distinctive five-masted Windstar Cruises vessel that has computer-assisted sails will also be the attention of the DCSG as specially devised events are organised (to season ending September) to ensure passengers take the maximum advantage of what the town has to offer.

Wind Surf which is only 162m long has been the most frequent 'in-harbour' caller since the cruise business was revived in the south Dublin Bay port in 2011.

It was in 2002 that Celebrity Cruise made a previous call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour with the 294m 'Millennium' class Constellation. She made for then an impressive debut as the 90,000 tonnes cruiseship (renamed in 2007) anchored offshore during an inaugural cruise of north-west Europe.

This year's record season of 22 cruise calls for Dun Laoghaire Harbour has fallen to 18 as previously reported on Afloat.ie. Cancellations were made twice by MSC Splendida and likewise of Royal Princess which together have favoured Dublin Port instead as this avoided tendering passengers ashore and allowing more time for guests to spend time in the capital.

It transpires that the 137,000 tonnes MSC Splendida however will finally make a debut at anchor off Dun Laoghaire on 29 August. This will bring a boost to the harbour having firstly cancelled the opening cruise season call last month which led Royal Princess by default to launch the season on 12 May.

Royal Princess which is even larger than MSC Splendida in passenger terms with 3,600 as well as tonnage of 142,000 tonnes made her second docking in Dublin Port on Friday. The Princess Cruises giant berthed within Alexandra Basin. 

The 19-deck cruiseship towered above the industrial skyline of the port estate where the new incinerator complex is currently under construction. 

Published in Cruise Liners

#qe2 – Reports this week say that the cruise liner QE2, which was built on the Clyde and fitted out in Greenock, is languishing in a dock in Dubai and could be up for sale.

Inverclyde Council's Leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe is calling for UK support to explore bringing the QE2 home to the Clyde and Greenock.

Inverclyde Council Leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe, said: "The QE2 is an important piece of maritime history for the Clyde and Greenock. She was known as the most famous and grandest liner in the world. To see this once magnificent flagship of the Cunard line languishing in a dock in Dubai is simply heart-breaking.

"Given the reception just a few short weeks ago to the Queen Mary 2 on the 175th anniversary of Cunard on the Clyde, it is clear that the QE2 could be a major draw for visitors to Inverclyde and Scotland. That could be a major boost to the growing reputation we have for cruise ships and for tourism. It could also boost the promotion of the Clyde and Inverclyde's proud maritime history to a national and, potentially, international audience.

"Bringing the QE2 home is a herculean task, but it is one that requires national support in Scotland and perhaps across the UK, if it has any chance of happening. Officers will make contact with the Dubai Government to find out the exact position, to find out if the reports on her condition are accurate and if she is actually for sale.

"I will be writing to the First Minister, The Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism at the Scottish Government, and our MP and MSPs serving the Inverclyde area to call on them to use their influence through parliamentary motions in both parliaments to secure support and sources of national funding to bring the QE2 home."

Published in Cruise Liners
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#3Queens - More than one million spectators were estimated to throng Liverpool's UNESCO listed Three Graces waterfront to witness Cunard Line 's Three Queens celebrate a 175th anniversary with a spectacular maritime display yesterday on the Mersey, writes Jehan Ashmore.

For the first time in the prestigious history of the famous liner company founded by Samuel Cunard, that the Mersey was treated to the presence of the three Queen's, the flagship Queen Mary 2 and her 'baby' sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. Less than a week ago Queen Mary 2 had made an anchorage call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

It is more impressive to watch in anticipation the build up as seen in the aerial footage (full length 90 minutes coverage HERE) overlooking the broad expanse of the Mersey. The footage taken from up to 1,500ft shows the 'Cunarders' display skillful seamanship led by the giant 148,000 tonnes Queen Mary 2 under command of Captain Christopher Wells.

Captain Wells was master of Queen Elizabeth during her first visit off Dun Laoghaire in 2013 and last month her elder sister Queen Victoria made a 'Remembering Lusitania' cruise to the wreck site of the liner off Co.Cork.

Captain Wells counterparts and Liverpool pilots on the other 90,000 tonnes 'Vista' class sisters took part in a maritime sail-past, a 180 degree turn on the river which formed a 'ballet' like scene.

The maritime spectacle during the UK Bank Holiday Monday is understood to have taken 18 months in the planning for the momentous occasion for Cunard, as the birthplace of the prestigious company is in Liverpool. In fact the Port of Liverpool had to dredge the Mersey in order to facilite the the deep-drafted Queen Mary 2 so that she could perform her display beyond the Liverpool Cruise Terminal where she has berthed on previous calls.

It was in 1840 that Cunard's first trans-Atlantic voyage took place with the Britannia that departed the Mersey for Halifax, Canada and Boston in the United States.

On board the Queen Mary 2 is the Britannia Restaurant named in honour of the pioneering ship in which its size would be able to fit within the current 'flagship' which was very much centre-stage to yesterday's wonderful display.

There were many highlights for spectactors ashore and guests on board the trio of Queens, notably the majestic line-up headed by the liner with her fleetmates forming the Arrow-Head formation as they approached Liverpool's famous pierhead waterfront.

At that stage all three Queen's were only 130m apart as they formed abreast a line-up opposite the Cunard Line building (noting footage at I hour 14 minutes) in the heart of the English north-west port city waterfront.

It is here at the Three Graces is where the Cunard Line building stands proudly in the centre between the Port of Liverpool Building and the Royal Liver Building that faces onto one of the World's most famous merchant shipping waterway's. Opposite is Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula that is connected by the famous Mersey ferry as well by road and rail tunnels.

The finale of the Cunard celebrations culminated with an aerial display of 9 Red Arrow jets that made a spectacular fly-past directly over the Queens while off the Three Graces.

Published in Cruise Liners

#PortRecordBroken- Dublin Port has again broken its own record this month as the largest ever ship to dock Royal Princess called this morning which saw the massive 142,000 tonnes cruiseship surpass previous title holder MSC Splendida, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Royal Princess towering all 19 decks is the largest cruiseship (in terms of gross tonnage) to visit Dublin Port. She had cancelled a second call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour as previously reported for today and where the Princess Cruises ship instead is on her maiden call to the capital's port.

It is only a fortnight ago since the 137,000 tonnes MSC Splendida (18 decks) made maritime history in Dublin Port as the largest vessel of any type to berth albeit in reverse! She subsequently made a repeat call on Thursday just gone. 

The French built MSC Splendida with 3,200 passenger (600 more on the Royal) capacity cruiseship still holds the port's record for longest cruiseship at 333m but by only 3m more than Royal Princess which too required 'reversing' astern. This was due to the confines of the turning circle that prevented conventional berthing leading into Alexandra Basin West.

Such skilful berthing procedures by going astern required pilots in advance to undergo simulator exercises in the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) Ringaskiddy, Cork.

This involved a rendez-vous in central Dublin Bay as the 'Royal' approched the shipping channel and was turned by port sister tugs, one stationed off the bow, the other within feet of the transom. Also astern the cutter Camac having earlier dispatched a pilot on board the first Princess Cruises ship to exceed 1,000ft long.

To give an indication of the sheer size of Royal Princess she is 330m long, 44m (155ft) in width and draws a draught of 8.5m (28ft) same as 'Splendida'.

Having seen both massive cruiseships in Alexandra Basin West (at same berth), overall MSC Splendida seems more impressive due to her more angular stern and given she is 6m wider on the beam than Royal Princess. She has a much shorter fo'c'slle, i.e. the distance between the bridge and the bow whereas Splendida has a more graceful pronounced prow.

The Royal Princess is some 100,000 tonnes larger to her namesake predecessor which called to Dublin Port during the early 1990's. That 1984 built Royal Princess was 44,000 tonnes and one of the largest cruiseships to have docked in Dublin Port in which I was able to make a port visit and was highly impressed of the ship completed in a Finnish shipyard.

She was pioneering in that she had many cabins fitted with balconies which was trend-setting then yet now is expected on so many cruiseships. 

It was not until 2004 that the port's milestone of 100,000 tonnes was broken as previously reported by the same operator's Grand Princess which really launched the benchmark and has ever since as the leadship 'Grand' class became the most frequent and largest cruiseships to call. Royal Princess design origins are a continued evolution of the 'Grand' class.  

The first 'Royal' (not a 'Grand' class) was christened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, noting Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge likewise named the current 2013 built cruiseship.

On board Features of Royal Princess 

So what's onboard Royal Princess, the largest ever passenger ship built in Italy which was launched from the Cantieri Navalli Italiani yard in Malfalcone. To start off with she has a two-deck high Princess Theatre located forward with seating for 925 and all with unobstructed sight lines.

Keeping to the theme of entertainment, there's also an on board passenger participation T.V. Studio broadcasting programmes almost all-day. The broadcast can also be watched live in all 1,780 cabins of which 81% feature private balconies.

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The massive cruiseship's 19 decks tower above Alexandra Basin's lighthouse: Photo: Jehan Ashmore

At that percentage, that figure is very high proportion given this mass-market ship is where Princess Cruises are offering to promote as many cabins with balconies as possible.

The social focus of Royal Princess is centred on the Piazza, a three-deck high atrium located appropriately amidships which is 50% larger than other fleetmates and boasts panoramic lifts, sweeping staircases that start from a marble floor. Also located at the ships main meeting point is the no doubt popular gelateria serving ice-creams and a seafood outlet.

Decks 5-7 is where all the main public facilities are and where three 600-seater main dining rooms are located. In addition to the operators customary Sabatini Italian Restaurent seating 120, Alfredo's Restaurant and Wheeler's Bar.

Above the passenger decks are 7 cabin decks and the top three alone cater for sporting activities where there is an adult-only pool, while teenagers have their own space. What is open to all is the SeaWalk, a cantilevered walkway on Deck 16 which juts 28ft out from the amidships superstructure.

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'Route 66' on board the biggest at sea film HD screen 34ft x 20ft. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

This vertigo-inducing feature forms part of the same deck's main outdoor pool where in the evening there is a water and light show. Also located here is the largest at sea HD screen, which runs films from the giant 34ft X 20ft screen.

Royal Princess notably has a far more graceful stern than Spledida. The decks are terraced and are also in complete contrast to the 'Grand'-class as previously reported which came complete with a seemingly precarious aft-mounted Skywalker's Nightclub overlooking the stern.

The cruiseship is scheduled to depart at 7pm.

Published in Cruise Liners

#CruiseLiners - Galway welcomed its second cruise liner of the 2015 season this week, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

The Amadea as previously reported brought more than 600 passengers and 300 crew to the City of the Tribes on Wednesday 20 May for the fleeting visit, with the liner on her way to her next port of call in Cork Harbour by 5pm.

Four more cruises are expected in the city this summer, with the next being the Prinsendam on 12 June

The biggest will come on 4 August with the 1,000-plus-passenger Crystal Serenity, sister of the Crystal Symphony which cancelled her anchorage call due to bad weather last August.

The Connacht Tribune has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners
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#RepeatReverseRole – MSC Splendida repeated a reverse docking call to Dublin Port today following the same unorthodox berthing procedure of only the previous week, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Operators of the largest ship ever to dock in the capital, MSC Cruises cited their decision to call to Dublin Port having cancelled a scheduled anchorage call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour for today was due to positive passenger feedback been so close to the city, allowing more time to spend ashore.

In fact the visit of the 3,200 capacity MSC Splendida is much longer than the average port of call at almost a total of 31 hours berthed alongside Alexandra Basin West. The longest quay for such massive cruiseships was reserved for the port's longest ever cruiseship at 333m. As such this prevented her to swing in the confines of the turning circle hence an arrival astern to berth in the basin.

She departs from the basin's Ocean Pier at 23.00 tonight.

The decision to change Dublin Bay destination is a double blow to Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company which expressed dismay as this was the second time MSC Cruises have cancelled. The massive cruiseship was to launch the season on 11 May. This would of involved the transfer of passengers ashore by tenders to and from the harbour.

Instead the first caller of a now reduced record-breaking season of 22 callers to Dun Laoghaire was left to Princess Cruises 3,600 passenger Royal Princess which made her maiden call off the harbour last week.

It will be a case of deja-vu not just because of today's MSC Splendida's repeat reverse call but that Royal Princess is to cancel her next call this Sunday off Dun Laoghaire. She is to steer a course across the bay for a first call to Dublin Port with an arrival time from 05.30. 

In the meantime, tonight the 3,900 passenger capacity MSC Splendida is to depart at 23.00 and head northwards to Greenock Cruise Terminal on the Clyde.

The Scottish terminal is where Queen Mary 2 docked today having made her second call in as many years yesterday off Dun Laoghaire Harbour bringing up to 3,000 passengers to visit the borough and beyond.

Published in Cruise Liners
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