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Allure of the Seas…More Alluring?

When we heard that Allure of the Seas was going in to be refurbished, our initial reaction was: What could be better?

It is a rite of passage that cruise ships are refurbished every five years or so, even when they’re the biggest and arguably best of all mainstream ships. Until Harmony of the Seas arrives next spring, Allure will retain its big-ship status by about 100 passengers and by about 1,700 tons. It’s a title that has been Allure’s (on a technicality over Oasis of the Seas) since it arrived late in 2010.

The new and refreshed Allure is in Marseille today, early in its first Mediterranean season of weekly round-trips from both Barcelona and Rome, which means passengers can embark in either place. What are Europeans enjoying that North Americans haven’t yet seen, and won’t until Allure returns in November?

Izumi, a wonderful Japanese restaurant that cooked your dinner on a “hot rock” at the table, is now called Izumi Hibachi & Sushi and is fully Japanese cuisine. No mention has Izumi-hot rockbeen made if the hot rock (left) made the cut, but it was cool…proving something hot can be cool.

Sabor Taquieria & Tequila Bar is new. Hopefully, Europeans crave Mexican food as much as North Americans do.

In additiuon to new and upscale shops like kate spade new york and Michael Kors, there are 10 new suites (two Royal, six Grande, two Royal Family) and the Coastal Kitchen with its California-inspired cuisine is exclusively theirs. Does that mean mostly Californians book suites? The suite people also have a new lounge and new sun deck, so a part of the ship has clearly become more exclusive.

Funny…we thought it was already exclusive, just by being Allure of the Seas.

In the news…

• Major cruise lines assessing need to hire lifeguards on ships
• Australia cracks 'magic million' cruise passengers for first time
• Norwegian changes policy on passengers' taking food to rooms

Today at portsandbows.com: Cunard's three Queens 'dance' on the Mersey

Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas
7 nights
November 14, 2015
Venice (return): Kotor, Corfu, Athens, Crete, Argostoli
Inside: $588
Cost per day: $84
www.royalcaribbean.com

MSC Revving Up The Battle Of Big Boats

In the cruise-ship world of big-bigger-biggest, MSC is getting into the game. The Italian-based cruise line — its acronym stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company — is adding two ships to the fleet over the next five years.

One of them will be the biggest ship…drum roll, please…ever built by a European shipowner.

Nobody's challenging Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the world's biggest cruise ships for going on four years, and it appears nobody has any plans to do so in the foreseeable future. But if reports about the size of the MSC ships are accurate, they'll be No. 3 and No. 4.

The Royal Caribbean twins carry about 6,000 passengers when full. The MSC ships, as-yet unnamed, are looking at capacities of 5,700 each. Given that most cruisers Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 10.06.34 PMstill come from North America, is MSC planning to place at least one of them in Caribbean waters in the winter? This year, the MSC Divina (a new ship) became the line's first vessel to spend the whole year in the Caribbean.

It should be added that reality is still some time away.

Starting at the end game, 2017 and 2019 are planned delivery dates. Before that can be verified, the hull must be started, and that won't happen until sometime next year. Before that can begin, financing must be secured for each of the $1-billion ships.

Oh yes, if all goes according to plan, MSC has an option on two more giants after that.

Quickly now…how many of you know that MSC Cruises already has 12 ships in its fleet?

Today at portsandbows.com: Oceania's upgrading 60 per cent of its fleet 

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
May 30, 2014
Boston (return): Bermuda
Inside: $729
Cost per day: $104
www.ncl.com

 

A Chinese Ship to be Super?

In China, there are plans to build a "super cruise liner." It will likely be accompanied by a new cruise terminal and shipping business center, all of which will cost several billion yuan — or about $3 billion.

What's interesting about this item is the perception.

The 100,000-ton luxury cruise ship, which will take about four years to build, will carry a little over 2,000 passengers.

Is that a super cruise liner?

The company that will operate the ship has a development partnership with Royal Caribbean. That's the same company that built Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Each of those ships weighs about 225,000 gross tons. Each carries somewhere between 5,400 and 6,300 passengers.

Isn't that what a super cruise liner is?


Holland America Prinsendam
15 nights
October 31, 2012
Rome, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon, Horta, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $53
www.hollandamerica.com

For Cruisers of the Biggest Ships

Is biggest best when it comes to cruise ships? The answer will always be subjective, of course, but if you’re among the cruisers who like big ships and the frills and anonymity that comes with them, and if you’re interested in trying to catch a last-minute deal, read on.

The seven biggest ships in the world (passengers totals are based on double occupancy) are all in the Caribbean right now, because at this time of year that’s where most massive cruise ships go.

In order of passenger load, here they are, where they home-port and their sizes:

Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean (Fort Lauderdale) — 5,412
Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean (Fort Lauderdale) — 5,412
Norwegian Epic (Miami) — 4,100
Carnival Dream (Port Canaveral) — 3,646
Carnival Magic (Galveston) — 3,646
Freedom of the Seas, Royal Caribbean (Port Canaveral) — 3,634
Liberty of the Seas, Royal Caribbean (Fort Lauderdale) — 3,634

One note…Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas is the same size as Freedom and Liberty, and sails out of Southampton, England on a regular basis.

Prices?

All over the map, as always. In February and March, which week you pick is a factor. You can ride the Liberty for as little as $429 for a week, and the Allure for as much as $1,019.

DAILY DEAL:
Norwegian Gem
7 nights
April 22, 2012
New York (return): Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, Nassau
Inside $559
www.ncl.com

One Big Ship, One Big Celebration

FORT LAUDERDALE — Probably only somebody who’s into cruising would appreciate what we witnessed here on Thursday. There was a parade. A parade of one. It was a ship, a special ship, Allure of the Seas. People came and they watched, like it was an historic event, and in a sense it was.

The Allure was escorted into the Fort Lauderdale harbor by four helicopters carrying news cameras, and a flotilla of boats, and a plane above it with one of those advertising messages tied to its tail, only this message simply said: “Fort Lauderdale (loves) Allure of the Seas.” There was  a tourist boat among those in the harbor carrying people who paid to witness the arrival.

Small boats showered her with sprays of water, like she was a bride and the water was confetti. People snapped pictures and shot video. This was 9 a.m., and some passengers on moored cruise ships had been up since 6:30 waiting for her to appear on the horizon. As she entered the harbor, captains of the ships blasted their horns to herald the event.

All that was missing were marching bands.

On the top deck of the Navigator of the Seas, a little sister of the Allure, one woman watching turned to her husband and said: “We couldn’t have PAID for this.” Another woman’s mouth dropped and she said: “There’s people on it!”

All of this over a cruise ship’s arrival from Europe. Why?

The Allure is the biggest cruise ship in the world, allegedly inches longer than the sibling she succeeds, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. They’re allegedly identical, or close to it, but it’s not that hard to tell them apart…really. On either side of the bow, one says Oasis and the other says Allure.

This was the end of the Allure’s voyage across the Atlantic and the people on board were laying carpets, painting, installing whatever needed installing and generally doing a dry run for its first departure with passengers.

Yes, lady, there were people on the Allure. As great as this ship is, it can’t sail on its own.

As the crew nosed her into the docking bay the Oasis had vacated last Saturday, one of the tugboats did a 180-degree wheelie off the Allure’s stern. If you like boats, you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a tug do a wheelie!

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