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#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

#DiamondOnStrangford - 'Diamonds' the title to a track that would be familiar to worldwide fans of singer Rihanna, though less known was yesterday's visit of Ocean Diamond to Strangford Lough,Co. Down, writes Jehan Ashmore.

This was understood to be Ocean Diamond's maiden visit to the north under the operation of Quark Expeditions, whose fleet of small ships specialise in Arctic and Antarctic adventure style cruising.

She made a transit through the scenic 'Narrows' as the name suggest is located between the stretch of water between the open sea and lough. Also along these shores is where the villages of Strangford and Portaferry face each other and are connected by car-ferry.

The expedition-polar cruiseship equipped with Zodiacs stowed at the stern then proceeded into Strangford Lough to anchor off the southern side of the scenic shoreline. The lough represents the largest inlet of either these Atlantic Isles, covering 150 km².

The blue hulled livery of Ocean Diamond had previously been an all-white affair commonplace with cruiseships when she was the La Diamant. Arguably she was better known in Irish waters when she held the name Song of Flower.

On Tuesday the 8,482 tonnes Ocean Diamond also made her maiden call to Waterford City where she berthed at the crystal city albeit on the north quays of the Suir. It is understood this was the second out of 18 callers due this season.

The Irish connection with the ship continues in the form of Quark Expeditions new loyalty program marketed as The Shackleton Club. The choice of the club's name is in honour of one of Antarctica's greatest explorers, and created to inspire guests to keep on cruising.

Ocean Diamond in exterior design terms is more that of robust looking super-yacht, and one of the largest of Quark's small expedition ships. She has a maximum of 189 passengers, and with two stabilizers and an ice-strengthened hull, the 1974 built vessel is suited for polar expeditions.

According to Quark, she is one of the newest, fastest, and most eco-friendly ships in Antarctica. There are 101 designed cabins and suites, all with exterior views, and expansive common spaces, a club lounge, and a spacious restaurant.

The ship offers numerous adventure options, plus on-board features such as interactions with photography instructors. After a full day of exploration, passengers can relax, browse books or DVDs in the polar library, or enjoy stunning polar scenery from the sun-lit, panoramic observation lounge.

The marketing publicity for the Ocean Diamond says her passengers travel to one of the world's most remote destinations will also do so in a "greener" fashion. That is to say that Ocean Diamond is the first ship in Antarctica, and in polar travel history, to offer certified CarbonNeutral® voyages.

Published in Cruise Liners

#RoyalConnections - Amadea anchored off Galway Harbour today is a fleetmate of the former Royal Princess named by the late Princess Diana of Wales and where yesterday Prince Charles visited the Marine Institute in Oranmore, Co. Galway, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Amadea (1991/29,000grt) with 624 passengers is the second of seven callers due off Galway Harbour this season. The Japanese built cruiseship is operated Pheonix Reisen for the German market which is served also by Albatros and Artania (with an interim name of Artemis) having been launched as Royal Princess in 1984.

Last August during a call on Galway Bay, the Finnish built Artania required additional capacity to tender passengers ashore using Aran Island Ferries, Glór na Farraige (Voice of the Sea).

Only last week, Glor na Farraige, the 244-passenger ferry was chartered by the ships agent of the current Royal Princess which anchored offshore of Dun Laoghaire on her maiden port of call to the Dublin Bay harbour.

When the first Royal Princess entered service she was 44,000 tonnes and the difference compared to her namesake successor is stark considering the cruiseship is some 100,000 tonnes larger. This second Royal Princess has 3,600 passengers and built in Italy. She entered service in 2013 and was christened by the Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

A second scheduled visit off Dun Laoghaire for this Sunday is understood to be cancelled, however the Royal Princess will continue to call to Dublin Bay albeit by docking instead in Dublin Port.

It is not known why Princess Cruises is understood to be changing port to that of neighbouring Dublin, though conditions at sea involving anchorage can present a variety of factors not necessary due to weather when determining decisions.

Last year the weather had in this case proved too much which led to cancellation of the 51,044 tonnes Crystal Symphony, as the bad weather prevented tendering ashore. As previously reported on Afloat.ie instead she headed for Cobh.

The Galway Harbour Company have plans to redevelop the city's port with a new outer deepwater harbour in which An Bord Pleanála had a hearing into the €126 million scheme.

In the meantime, Galway Harbour can look forward to a further five cruiseships during the season. 

Published in Cruise Liners

#TheQueenReturns – Queen Mary 2 of 151,000 tonnes, the world's only cruise-'liner' anchored offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour today, however despite the prestigious Cunard Line visitor another massive cruiseship has cancelled a call for tomorrow, writes Jehan Ashmore.

MSC Splendida of 137,000 tonnes was scheduled tomorrow to anchor off Dun Laoghaire, instead her owners MSC Cruises have decided to abandon the harbour as prevously reported on Afloat.ie and instead dock in Dublin Port on the same day. This is the second time this has happened as MSC Splendida was to open the season on 11 May but instead called to Dublin Port.

In response to this latest cancellation, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company have expressed dismay over the change of plans having carried out preparations for the anticipated visit with a passenger capacity of 3,200 passengers.

This season's record cruise season had started with 22 callers, however this is set to further reduce as yet another even larger cruiseship in the form of Royal Princess, 142,000 tonnes is also understood to have cancelled calling off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this Sunday. According to the Dublin Port cruise-schedule, Royal Princess of 3,600 capacity is to berth in Alexandra Basin on that same day over the weekend.

Afloat.ie await a response from DLHC as to the reasons why the Princess Cruises 2013 built Royal Princess is to be the second cancellation within this week. (This cruiseship had only last week made her maiden call off the harbour.)

When MSC Splendida calls to Dublin Port tomorrow in the early hours, this will be her second time following last week's port record that made maritime history as the largest cruise ship ever to dock in Dublin Port. She was also the longest cruiseship to the port at 333m and is one of 83 cruiseships scheduled to call to the capital. 

On that maiden occasion MSC Cruises staff were "blown away" by the amount of people lining the Liffey to wave it off as the 2009 built MSC Splendida is ranked the 11th longest cruiseship in the world. Due to such dimensions the cruiseship had to enter the port in 'reverse' as the turning circle leading to her berth in Alexandra Basin West is too confined.

Queen Mary 2 had arrived from Cobh overnight and her second call (see report) off Dun Loaghaire today will see potentially up to 3,000 passengers arrive by tender to the harbour. 

Another five star welcome is in store for the cruise-tourists who will be greeted by a piper and Irish dancers, tour guides, free wireless and business offers after docking at the Coal Harbour.

The 'Cunarder' measures 345m long and so beats off MSC Splendida, however her deeper draft prevents calls to both Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Port.

Both ports on Dublin Bay are proposing separate cruise-berth facilities to cater for such giant ships and even larger 'next generation' cruiseships.

#SplendidaSwitchPorts - MSC Cruises operators of the massive MSC Splendida have confirmed that the ship will be back for a second visit to Dublin Port at 4.30am this Thursday, May 21.

Following MSC Splendida's debut call last week (Monday, May 11)  as previously reported on Afloat.ie, the cruiseship had been scheduled to anchor offshore at Dun Laoghaire, but has now changed its plans to re-enter Dublin Port.

"Getting MSC Splendida into Dublin Port is no mean feat," said Giles Hawke, MSC Cruises executive director for the UK and Ireland.

"But judging by the amazing feedback we have received, it is certainly an effort worth making. Our cruise guests love the convenience of being able to disembark quickly and make the most of their time in such a beautiful and friendly city."

MSC Splendida made maritime history as the largest cruise ship ever to dock in Dublin Port during her recent visit, and staff were "blown away" by the amount of people lining the Liffey to wave it off, Hawke added.

Having carried out preparations for the anticipated visit, however, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company expressed dismay over the change of plans.

"We are disappointed and surprised that the MSC Splendida has transferred its call to Dublin Port, considering that this was a scheduled anchorage call to Dun Laoghaire Harbour," said Captain Simon Coates, Habour Master, Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Dun Laoghaire had expected to welcome 21 cruise ships this season; while Dublin Port is set to welcome 83.

For much more The Independent has a report here.

Afloat.ie adds that Royal Princess (see previous report) which is even larger than the MSC Splendida was due to make a return call to Dun Laoghaire this Sunday, however according to the Dublin Port cruise schedule she is also instead to call to the capital on Sunday.

The Royal Princess had been due to make a repeat anchorage call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour that same day next weekend though this will be her first call to Dublin Port.

Royal Princess at 142,000 tonnes is in fact larger than MSC Splendida and will so outpace last week's record for the largest ever ship of any type to visit Dublin Port. As for length, MSC Spendida still holds that title as the longest cruiseship ever at 333m to enter the port. 

Afloat.ie will have more to add to this latest developmment. 

In the meantime, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company can look forward tomorrow (May 20) to the visit of Cunard Line's flagship Queen Mary 2, the cruise-liner having made her debut off the south Dublin Bay port in 2013. 

Published in Cruise Liners

#CruiseFerry – Royal Princess, one of the largest cruiseships ever to visit Irish waters this week anchored offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour yet required the charter of a ferryboat to assist in tendering passengers ashore, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Having watched the ferryboat, Glor na Farraige make her first departure last Tuesday morning out to the anchored massive 142,714 tonnes owned by Princess Cruises, the 3,600 passenger capacity ship's agents had chartered the 244 passenger ferry to transport those between the 8.5m draft ship and the harbour.

On the evening of Royal Princess's departure, the Fireball dinghy racing in Dublin Bay, under the burgee of DBSC was cancelled as previously reported on Afloat.ie. This was due to a combination of 'mother' nature and increased traffic from the ferryboat movements and flotilla of tenders that prevented dinghy racing from within the harbour.

It is not known exactly as to why the cruiseship which is larger than 137,936 tonnes MSC Splendida (see historic Dubin Port docking) had called in for the use of the Aran Island Ferries vessel. Normally cruise ships during anchorage calls rely on their own flotilla of tenders to transfer those ashore.

According to a Dun Laoghaire Harbour spokesperson, future arrangements of a ferryboat tender will be at the discretion of visiting ships during this record-breaking season of 21 callers bringing almost 100,000 passengers and crew.

Next week sees the return off Dun Laoghaire Harbour of Cunard Line's cruise-'liner' Queen Mary 2 which made her maiden call of the south Dublin Bay port this month two years ago.

The French built giant at 151,400 tonnes is to call on 20 May (Wednesday), where the 3,000 passenger / 1,300 crew cruise caller will transport those on board the liner's tenders to disembark at the purpose-built pontoon (as pictured) in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The cruise-tender facility was completed in advance of the 2013 call of the famous 'Cunarder' at the harbour's inner Coal Harbour, which is accessed through the marina from where the proposed €18m cruise-berth is to be extended from.

It is from the marina's eastern breakwater near the former Stena HSS fast-ferry berth, that a 435m jetty would run almost into the centre of the harbour.

This is to accommodate the 'next generation' of cruiseships (up to 340m long that is to say Dun Laoghaire only) that would be even longer and larger than the 'Royal' and forthcoming 'Queen'.

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