Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Video: Carnival Cruise Ship’s Prop Wash Destroys Italian Marina

Video: Carnival Cruise Ship’s Prop Wash Destroys Italian Marina

carnival vista destroys small port
carnival vista destroys small port

Check out this video showing the moment a Carnival cruise ship destroyed a small marina in Italy with its propeller wash as the ship was leaving port. 
The incident occurred this past Sunday as the Carnival Vista was departing Messina, Sicily. A security video shows the wash from the cruise ship’s stern thrusters swamp boats and overturn piers at the marina. A the end of the video you can see the cruise ship continue on its journey as if nothing had happened. 
It’s unclear what exactly caused the cruise ship to get so close to the marina in the first place, as from photos and video posted online it appears to be a calm, clear day. The local port authority has reportedly launched an investigation into the incident, with local newspapers reporting as much as $250,000 in damages.

Cruise Ship Passengers FAIL To Smuggle 210lb Of Cocaine Into Sydney

Cruise Ship Passengers FAIL To Smuggle 210lb Of Cocaine Into Sydney

Sea Princess Cruise Ship Sydney Harbor Australia

Report by

Yesterday Australian Border Force (ABF) officers seized 95 kilograms (210 lb) of cocaine from three Canadian cruise ship passengers.
On Sunday 28 August, ABF officers boarded the Princess Cruises ship Sea Princess when it berthed in Sydney Harbour, and with the assistance of detector dogs, searched a number of passenger cabins on the ship. During this search, approximately 95 kilograms of cocaine was located, packed in suitcases.
AFP officers then arrested three Canadian nationals, a 63-year-old man, a 28-year-old woman and a 23-year old woman.
All three will face Sydney Central Local court today, charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine.
The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.
ABF Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Border Command, Clive Murray said the arrests were the result of international cooperation between a number of organizations including US Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), The New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) .
“Drug syndicates should be on notice that the Australian Border Force is aware of all the different ways they attempt to smuggle drugs into our country and we are working with a range of international agencies to stop them,” Assistant Commissioner Murray said.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Operations Shane Connelly said that the AFP’s first priority will always be the safety of the community, and police will continue to target criminals looking to cause harm in Australia.
“Today’s successful operation has resulted in three arrests and we will not rule out further activity as we continue our investigations.” Assistant Commissioner Connelly said.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

MSC Cruises Anticipates American and Chinese Expansions

MSC Cruises Anticipates American and Chinese Expansions

MSC Cruises Anticipates American and Chinese Expansions
MSC Seaside, soon to home port in Miami; Florida

For a company like MSC Cruises with eleven new ships set to come online between 2017 and 2026 – contributing to a total $10.2 billion growth investment – it’s important to establish the firmest foundation possible in which to deploy in new markets, and both North America and China are still relatively new to the European line.
MSC Cruises has dedicated the MSC Divina to sailings roundtrip from Miami, Florida, but the line has vacillated on its year-round commitment – establishing it in 2013, leaving it temporarily and then returning again in 2015.
As it is, the Divina was an existing ship that was retrofitted for the U.S. market, and its success was questionable at the start. Initially, service and dining were particularly not up to standards, but the ship has much improved since then, making the Divina a wonderful Mediterranean experience in the Caribbean.
Now, the line is anticipating the launch of its MSC Seaside (rendered above) which, come December 2017, will be the line’s first ship to be exclusively based in the States from the very start, and with the ship’s launch will also coincide the opening of the line’s new Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas.
With the island destination alone costing $200 million, there is a lot at stake for MSC Cruises in the Caribbean next year.
So, the line is making a fresh start with its North American leadership team. It is bolstering it up by effectively putting two in the driver’s seat: 12-year-veteran Rick Sasso becomes Chairman of MSC North America, and executive Roberto Fusaro takes the role of President of MSC North America after his success in South America on behalf of the cruise line.
“With the ultra-modern and beautiful MSC Divina home-porting in Miami, the revolutionary MSC Seaside to be christened in Miami in December 2017 and to also home-port there, as well as the development of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – the most exciting new private destination ever built by a cruise line – it is clear that MSC Cruises is committed to the North American market,” said Fusaro.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to take on this new challenge and excited to work with Rick and the rest of the North American team as we look to further grow our business in the region and deliver a unique vacation experience to guests on board one of the most modern and elegant fleets at sea.”
 Similarly in China, MSC Cruises has meanwhile opened up an office for the line in Shanghai, where its MSC Lirica has been recently deployed, and appointed Helen Huang as President of MSC Greater China. She comes to MSC after regional endeavors with Costa Asia and Costa China. As more and more cruise lines enter Asian markets, competition rapidly grows, and MSC Cruises’ new developments in China show that the company means business.
“I look forward to a new journey to contribute to making MSC Cruises – in the footsteps of what the company has already accomplished in China – the most attractive brand to Chinese vacationers,” added Huang.

New Zealand chalks up ‘phenomenal’ 2015-16 cruise season

New Zealand chalks up ‘phenomenal’ 2015-16 cruise season

Image result for new zealand cruise ship
Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

A record number of more than 254,000 passengers and almost 92,000 crew visited New Zealand between August 2015 and June 2016.
‘This represents a phenomenal growth of 26% which translates to an injection of NZ$484m into the economy,’ the outgoing chairman of Cruise New Zealand, Kevin O’Sullivan, told delegates at this year’s annual conference in Wellington.
O’Sullivan, who has been appointed CNZ’s executive officer, said the country welcomed nine new ships during the 2015-16 season and that the annual Cruise New Zealand Economic Impact Report forecasts even stronger growth for the future.
‘The 2016-17 cruise season starts again at the end of this month and we expect to welcome 11 ships new to New Zealand and another three new ships are scheduled for the following season,’ he said.
‘Although we are expecting to experience a slight dip in passenger numbers despite this new capacity in 2016-17, it will rise by 11% to a new record in the 2017-18 season.’
He said the dip in the coming season is almost entirely due to the exit of P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Pearl which had previously operated during the winter months.
‘What is exciting about the 2016-17 cruise season is that the ships will make 791 port visits, an increase of 13% on 2015-16,’ he said.
He said the cruise sector will not only inject a projected NZ$490m into New Zealand’s GDP and support 8,878 jobs in the coming season, it will also spread the tourism dollar to regions less frequented by international travellers.
It is predicted that the total number of passengers will be 282,538 in 2017-18, injecting NZ$536m into the economy.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Can Cruise Lines and Casinos Attract Millennials?

Can Cruise Lines and Casinos Attract Millennials?

BlackJack Table on the Norwegian Escape

In Dominican Today, David Jessop has penned an op-ed about millennials and their views on casinos and cruises – two industries that are key to the Caribbean tourism economy, but that don’t hold much appeal for the younger generation. 
Jessop notes in the piece that: “For the Caribbean, millennials are a crucial must-reach tourist segment if the industry is to have a sustainable economic future. As a consequence, many tourist boards and properties have been adapting their marketing to reflect more closely the life style and aspirations of this valuable group.”
But evidence shows that, regardless of marketing, the younger generation just isn’t interested. 
“According to the gambling and casino industry trade press, millennials do not gamble much, do not visit casinos, despite what the glossy industry adverts purport to show, and more generally are looking for a different kind of experience,” he writes.
Like casinos, cruise lines generally attract an older clientele. Many cruise operators are trying to attract millennials through marketing directed specifically toward them and with products that appeal to that generation. 

Carnival Cruise Line Announces New 14-Day Alaskan Cruise

Carnival Cruise Line Announces New 14-Day Alaskan Cruise

Carnival Cruise Line Announces New 14-Day Alaskan Cruise
Carnival  Miracle
Carnival Cruise Line announced Wednesday that the company would be offering its first-ever 14-day Alaskan adventure cruise in September 2017.
Launching from Long Beach, California, the Alaskan cruise will take place on the Carnival Miracle ship, and will make a stop at UNESCO World Heritage Site Glacier Bay, as well as Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever visit to Icy Strait Point.
The ship will depart for the journey on Sept. 2 and return Sept. 16.
In addition to stops at Glacier Bay and Icy Strait Point, the Carnival Miracle will also visit Alaskan ports in Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Sitka, as well as a stop in Vancouver, British Columbia.
There will be a plethora of activities for passengers to enjoy at each port, including helicopter sightseeing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and even alpine lake snorkeling. On the ship, guests will be able to sample Alaskan cuisine and enjoy local entertainment.
“A Carnival Alaska cruise is like no other and with this exciting new 14-day Carnival Journeys adventure, combined with the wide variety of seven- and eight-day voyages, we're offering guests an incredible array of opportunities to get an up close and personal look at this beautiful sailing region,” Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy said in a statement.
Carnival Cruise Line will also be offering 38 seven- and eight-day Alaska voyages in 2017 and 2018 which will operate either round-trip from Seattle or from Vancouver to Seattle. The journeys will stops in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia, as well as a full-day cruising Tracy Arm Fjord or Glacier Bay.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Jamaica Port Authority plans $40 million Montego Bay Upgrade

Jamaica Port Authority plans $40 million Montego Bay Upgrade

Image result for montego bay jamaica cruise port
Montego Bay Cruise pier

The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) will spend $40 million to upgrade the country’s cruise ship port in Montego Bay according to local media reports. The upgrade is being designed to create a “regional, multi-purpose port” operators hope will host more cruise ships.  
Jamaica officials anticipates “homeporting” cruise ships for scheduled departures from the revamped Montego Bay facility, said Dr. Horace Chang, a ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation official, in a Jamaica Observer report.
“The current cruise ship pier has to be improved significantly to support the traffic we are going to have with home porting,” he said.
William Tatham, PAJ’s vice president of cruise shipping, said  Montego Bay “will have seven [ships] home porting, up from five” in the 2016-1017 season. Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream and Carnival Freedom will sail regularly from Montego Bay this fall and winter along with ships from MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises and several European cruise lines.
In an earlier interview on the government-run Jamaica Information Service (JIS) website, Chang said PAJ is placing “serious focus” on expanding and improving the resort city’s cruise shipping facilities. “We expect cruise shipping to grow in Montego Bay and not just cruises coming through, but home-porting in particular,” he said.
Montego Bay is the smallest of Jamaica’s three major cruise ship ports, hosting 210,000 cruise passengers in the 2014-2015 season, trailing Ocho Rios (400,000 passengers) and Falmouth (800,000) passengers according to PJA data.
Jamaica’s 1.5 million cruise passenger arrivals during the 2014-2015 season represents the country’s best-ever annual total and is a 20 percent increase over 2014. Overall cruise ship calls increased 19 percent to 433 compared with 363 in 2014, according to PAJ data.
The ports of Falmouth and Ocho Rios accounted for 44 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of ship calls and 52 percent and 30 percent of passenger arrivals

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Great Stirrup Cay to close for two months

Great Stirrup Cay to close for two months

Great Stirrup Cay will have villas in its exclusive Lagoon Retreat area.

Norwegian Cruise Line is closing Great Stirrup Cay to guests for about two months so it can work on improvements scheduled to debut next year.

The line's private island in the Bahamas will be unavailable from Aug. 25 to Oct. 20, spokeswoman Vanessa Picariello said. 

Closing Great Stirrup Cay mainly impacts short cruise itineraries on the Norwegian Sky, which will visit Nassau and Grand Bahama during that time.

Norwegian plans a major overhaul at Great Stirrup Cay that includes $1 million on new landscaping; the creation of 100,000 square feet of new pathways, including a new boardwalk along the beach; a 50% increase in dining capacity; the addition of zip lines; and a Lagoon Retreat area with villas for rent for its high-end guests staying in Haven and Suite accommodations.

The changes, included in the $400 million Norwegian Edge initiative, are mostly expected to be complete by spring 2017.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Regent cancels Northwest Passage cruise

Regent cancels Northwest Passage cruise

Map of The Northwest Passage

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has canceled a Northwest Passage cruise scheduled to depart Alaska next summer.
Based on this year’s weather pattern, Northwest Passage navigational experts said too much sea ice was likely on the route during July.
The cruise was scheduled to depart July 19, 2017, from Seward, Alaska, and terminate in Montreal, with calls in Alaska, Canada and Greenland.
Regent spokesman Jason Lasecki said that the July departure date became problematic when the climate variance this summer caused large Arctic ice packs to flow south in July, producing transit delays. Postponing the cruise until August, as experts recommended, would have had a cascading effect on subsequent itineraries, Regent said.
Instead, the Seven Seas Navigator will do three cruises, from Vancouver to San Francisco, San Francisco to Miami and then Miami to Montreal.
Guests booked on the Northwest Passage voyage will get a refund and a $1,000 credit that may apply to any other 2016 or 2017 Regent cruises. Travel partners who had guests booked on the trip will get $250 per booking.

For ships entering their golden years, a variety of fates

For ships entering their golden years, a variety of fates

Former Carnival Jubilee and the HNA Cruise Henna before scrap

It's sometimes hard to believe that the average useful life of a cruise ship is 30 years, as estimated in the financial statements of most of the major cruise companies. Many ships built in the 1980s and later seem to have disappeared from the scene.

The for example, was only 20 years old when it was sent to China to be part ofs Ltd.'s joint venture with Ctrip, called. But the Century is still sailing, just not in a market that North American cruisers frequent.

Another old stalwart sailing in China, the former Carnival Cruise Line ship Jubilee, did make it to 30 years. The 1,486-passenger ship, built in 1986 by the Swedish shipyard Kockums, most recently had been sailing as the Henna for a Chinese cruise venture, HNA Tourism Cruises. But after operating for three years, HNA shut down in November, a victim of newer ships flocking to China. Now there's word that the Henna has been sold for scrap to shipbreakers.

The Jubilee was last seen carrying North American passengers a dozen years ago. Since then it has made what could be considered a typical journey for an aging cruise ship trying to survive to its 30-year target date.

P&O Pacific Sum the former Carnival Jubilee
In 2004, Carnival Corp. transferred the Jubilee to P&O Cruises Australia, changing its name to the Pacific Sun. It sailed in a secondary but developing market for eight years before being sold to HNA in 2012, showing that it still had some residual value at age 26.

There wasn't much of that value left by age 30, however. HNA had listed the ship for sale at $35 million, but there were apparently no takers.

So the Jubilee will join other beloved ships such as Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway and the former Love Boat, Princess Cruises' Pacific Princess, which were reduced to scrap.

Two sister ships built as part of Carnival's Holiday class are still operating: the Celebration is now sailing as the Grand Celebration for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, and the Holiday, now 31 years old, sails for Cruise & Maritime Voyages as the Magellan on Baltic Sea itineraries.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Celebrity Summit to sail short cruises from Fort Lauderdale

Celebrity Summit to sail short cruises from Fort Lauderdale

Celebrity Summit in the Port of Luka Gruz

Celebrity Cruises will sail four- and five-night cruises from Fort Lauderdale on the Celebrity Summit during the first four months of 2018.
The ship will then return to San Juan for the summer.
The Summit’s four-night cruises will visit Nassau and Key West, while the five-night itinerary includes Cozumel, Key West and two days at sea.
Celebrity president Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the short cruises are being revived because they were popular in the past. There will also be two seven-night repositioning cruises between Fort Lauderdale and San Juan with stops in Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Disney to expand and tweak its river cruise program

Disney to expand and tweak its river cruise program

Adventures by Disney (ABD) dove into the family river cruise market this year, offering departures on the Danube in partnership with AmaWaterways. How did their early sailings go? Well enough that ABD already announced that it will expand its river trips next year to the Rhine. 

However, there will be one notable change in 2017 when the AmaViola and AmaKristina sail the Danube and Rhine respectively: No 4- or 5-year-olds. 

In its first year of family river cruising, ABD set the minimum passenger age at 4 with a recommended age of 8, but that minimum has been boosted to 6 for year two.

"We continually review our policies and make adjustments from time-to-time as needed," said Amanda Adler, public relations manager for Disney Destinations. "The level of activity on these itineraries is more suitable to children who are eight and older."

Those itineraries include excursions like bike rides, walking tours and sledding into a mine. On a recent ABD Danube sailing, Travel Weekly writer Paul Heney found the company making some adjustments on the fly, like raising the minimum age from 12 to 14 on particularly challenging bike excursions and procuring appropriately-sized cycles for younger guests when the onboard options weren't a great fit. 

Accommodating a virtually all-ages clientele adds extra layers of difficulty to many aspects of a cruise, from designing excursions to crafting dinner menus. But Disney isn't alone in trying to cater to a wide range of clients aboard family sailings. Tauck's family river cruises also set the recommended age at 8, though passengers 4 and up are permitted, and Uniworld's Family Adventures also have a minimum age of 4, with some activities specifically geared toward tweens or teens. 

Uniworld began its multi-generational departures in 2010, and this year it more than doubled its family sailings from five departures to 13 cruises. 

"Uniworld is in touch with its customers and listened to the need for more multigenerational family itineraries," said Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld's CEO. "These departures are designed for families of all ages to participate in programming like hiking, biking, cooking demonstrations, language lessons and more."

As ABD gains more experience on Europe's rivers, we can expect that it will fine-tune its itineraries and excursions to better entertain and accommodate all of its young passengers just as it does on its ocean cruises and in its parks. Ages 6-plus, of course.

Cunard calls Queen Mary 2 renovation a ‘remastering’

Cunard calls Queen Mary 2 renovation a ‘remastering’

The Queen Mary 2 in New York after a $132 million refurbishment. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

ONBOARD THE QUEEN MARY 2 — Even royalty needs a facelift from time to time.
The venerable QM2 (if an ocean liner can be considered venerable at the age of 12) went under the surgeon’s knife earlier this year for a $132 million refurbishment that Cunard Line calls the ship’s “remastering.” It even has its own hashtag, #qm2remastered.
Cabins were added, a lounge was completely redone, the buffet restaurant was retooled and the ship was updated throughout.
The biggest change on the QM2 is undoubtedly the Carinthia Lounge, which takes the place of the Winter Garden just forward of the Kings Court buffet restaurant. Hotel director David Shepard called it “one of the most successful venues” of the remastering. “It’s become an extremely popular venue, day and night.”
The new Carinthia Lounge is busy with passengers throughout the day. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
The new Carinthia Lounge is busy with passengers throughout the day. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
I was a guest on the ship during its Aug. 9 eastbound transatlantic crossing, and I found that Shepard wasn’t exaggerating. At any time of the day, the Carinthia was busy.
People carried their lunch plates from the Kings Court or from a food station in the lounge itself; listened to live piano or jazz music; read or napped; knitted as part of a knitting circle overseen by one of the social staff; or admired the display of vintage ports going back more than 170 years. A bottle of 1840 Ferreira can be purchased for $4,445.
Shepard pointed out that unlike the Winter Garden, which had walkways straight through the room, the path through the Carinthia meanders just enough to cut down on the speed of walking passengers. And the color scheme of the room is a pleasing cream and blue, just right for slowing down and relaxing.
The Kings Court buffet also looks brand new. A new flow for passengers around the buffet makes things less crowded. Certainly it was bustling during peak breakfast and lunch periods, but I didn’t notice long lines at food stations or waits for tables.
Cunard created a bank of 15 cabins for single passengers on its second and third decks by reducing the footprint of the casino and photo gallery, respectively. I was a little surprised that Cunard shrunk the casino, but a smaller photo gallery makes sense, as almost every photo of every passenger could easily be found in an easy-to-navigate menu on about a dozen large touch-screen computers.
The iconic Britannia restaurant looks very much the same despite an extensive refurbishment. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
The iconic Britannia restaurant looks very much the same despite an extensive refurbishment. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
The Queen also has a new Deck 13 with the addition of 30 Britannia Club cabins.
In other instances, the remastering was subtle. For example, a pair of elevators was removed from the QM2’s Grand Lobby. My guide pointed out their absence; I’d totally forgotten about them. The room seemed just the same, if not more spacious and elegant, without the elevators.  
For passengers dining in the exclusive Queens Grill, the restaurant was updated with comfortable new chairs and window treatments. Grillwork partitions edge out from the exterior wall at intervals, breaking up the room just so slightly. In the Queens Grill and Princess Grill, waiter stations were moved from the center of the room to adjacent to the galley entrances.
The cabins are in the process of being updated to slightly more modern lines. A fountain was removed at the entrance to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.
The remastering video in our cabin showed a time lapse of the hull being scrubbed and repainted. My balcony on deck 4, which was cut from the hull, was clean and showed no signs of paint buildup. Technical and structural changes were also made.
The Kings Court buffet was completely redone. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
The Kings Court buffet was completely redone. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
But past passengers expecting a serious overhaul of the Queen won’t be in for a shock. Cunard Red will always be Cunard Red. The color schemes and formal touches remain the same, especially on decks 2 and 3, where the Britannia restaurant, Royal Court Theater and Queens Room are still the focal points of the evening. Guests still walk past the giant art deco panels on the wall on their way to the restaurant or Chart Room. 
The formality and tradition of the transatlantic crossing remain intact. “It’s the sense of occasion for me,” Shepard said. “It’s all about a formal, memorable impression.”
During the cocktail party on formal night for Britannia-level passengers, the ship’s captain, Christopher Wells, quipped: “Cunard has spent 100 million ... changing the carpets, ladies and gentlemen.”
That wisecrack got a lot of laughs, but there was plenty of new carpeting around the ship, including sunbursts on the elevator landings that were inspired by designs from the original Queen Mary.
The Queens Grill was updated with new furnishings. Partitions along the outside wall edge into the room to break it up slightly. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
The Queens Grill was updated with new furnishings. Partitions along the outside wall edge into the room to break it up slightly. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
A short documentary and time-lapse video of the remastering showed how much of the inspiration for the QM2 was taken from the Cunard archives.
For example, the Todd English specialty restaurant was replaced by the Verandah, a French restaurant that takes its name from the original Queen Mary. The concept has been updated, however. The original Verandah was available only to First Class passengers, while on the QM2 anybody can book a table.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Head to Head: Royal Caribbean and Carnival

Head to Head: Royal Caribbean and Carnival

head to head
Harmony or Vista?

Royal Caribbean and Carnival are going large – but whose ship will win the battle of the giants? John Honeywell puts them to the test.

When it comes to 2016’s two newest ships in the mainstream market, size really matters. Carnival Vista is the biggest vessel ever to sail under the Carnival Cruise Lines’ flag, while Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas is simply the biggest cruise ship the world has ever seen.
Launched within a few days of each other in May, both ships are packed with a dazzling array of entertainment facilities, bars and speciality restaurants, not forgetting state-of-the-art theatres, sprawling (and smoke-filled) casinos, and an ever-growing menu of other headline-grabbing attractions. Only Royal Caribbean has ships big enough to accommodate a plant-filled Central Park and a Boardwalk complete with authentic fairground carousel, but Vista prides itself on the sea-facing open deck space that adds outdoor seating to a number of eating and drinking venues. What’s more, she has an IMAX cinema that no other ship can match, and only Germany’s AIDA line can compete with her on-board brewery. Together the two ships will be taking up to 11,750 people on holiday every week throughout the year, with a combined total of 3,550 crew to look after them. Neither will be officially christened until she reaches the United States in the autumn, yet each already has a near identical twin under construction, due for delivery in 2018.
Harmony of the Seas
These new superships represent the future of mass-market cruising, and Harri Kulovaara, Royal Caribbean’s executive vice president in charge of new builds, refers to Harmony as the first in her class. She’s more than just a sister for Oasis and Allure of the Seas, partly because of her size – obviously – but also because she was built in a different country from a fresh set of blueprints. Royal has yet to announce the name of Harmony's successor, but over at Carnival, company president Christine Duffy has gone for Carnival Horizon.Harmony and Vista are both equally amazing, even to cruising regulars (cruise virgins will definitely need to sit down). But each offers something different – so which would suit you and your family best, on a Mediterranean cruise this summer, or in the Caribbean sunshine from the winter onwards? I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of both – so here’s my rundown on these rival giants...
Carnival Vista

 “Launched within a few days of each other in May, both ships are packed with a dazzling array of facilities”


Not since the days of steerage class and shared dormitories have there been cabins big enough for up to 14 people. But that’s what Harmony’s “Presidential Family Suite” provides. It’s the largest  in the ship’s impressive collection of Harmony - Royal loft suitesuites, which also include two-storey  Loft Suites and – my favourite – the aft-facing AquaTheater Suites with their 270-degree balconies providing views of the Boardwalk, the AquaTheater (naturally) and the sea.
Vista has nothing to match those in size but it has created a new concept with its Havana Cabana suites. Instead of balconies, these have patios on the ship’s broad promenade deck. It’s effectively a gated community, so occupants needn’t be concerned about nosy neighbours walking past – although they can be observed from above.
Down on Deck 2, Vista also has a community of Family Harbor suites, with bunk beds for the kids, more vibrant décor – and cardkey access to a lounge for relaxing and snacking.
Harmony’s suite guests have their own reserved sun deck with bar and concierge service on Deck 17. On Vista, the Havana Terrace aft of the Havana Bar is reserved for suite guests during the day.
Standard balcony cabins are roughly the same size internally across both ships, but the actual balconies are more spacious on Harmony. Vista’s inside cabins are consistently larger but they don’t have the virtual balconies – full-length LED screens showing a real-time view of what’s happening outside the ship – that are a feature on Harmony.
Royal Caribbean offers a little more wardrobe and drawer storage than its rival, and Carnival has not managed to advance from a flimsy shower curtain – although it offers larger bath towels that will comfortably accommodate expanding waistlines.

Discover Harmony of the Seas with Laura-Jane Parker Click to play

 Harmony of the Seas review

Credit: Russell Honeywell, Video Producer


No one will ever go hungry on a cruise ship, and these two have even more choices than most.     Each of the three decks forming Harmony’s cavernous main restaurant has a different name but they all serve the same menu.
American Icon on Deck 3 serves dinner at set times, 6pm or 8.30pm, while The Grande and Silk on 4 and 5 cater for “My Time” dining between 5.30pm and 9pm. There’s waiter-served breakfast in American Icon, and also lunch – with buffet and waiter service – on sea days.
Vista has two main dining rooms, separated by a shared galley. Both serve the same American Feast menu on elegant nights and American Table menus during the rest of the week – and they have abandoned the use of tablecloths, which some find disconcerting. The two decks Horizons, aft, accommodates Your Time Dining guests, while the smaller Reflections, amidships, has fixed seating at 6pm and 8.15pm.
One unique Carnival feature is the singing maître d’, Ken Byrne – who does a passable impression of Frank Sinatra – and the waiters who dress up for a nightly singalong.
Suite guests on Harmony are lucky enough to have the Coastal Kitchen restaurant, high on Deck 17, for their exclusive use. The 14ft floor-to-ceiling windows give panoramic views over the pool deck and the ocean, making this just the spot for a sunset dinner à deux.
When it comes to buffet service, by making Harmony about a yard wider than her predecessors Royal Caribbean has created extra room for tables in the busy Windjammer café, and they have further expanded the space by moving the Izumi speciality restaurant elsewhere. Even at the busiest times there are rarely queues for the island serveries or for tables. At breakfast, I was disappointed to find that omelettes were pre-cooked rather than made-to-order, although my wife was successful in persuading a waiter to bring one fresh from the kitchen.
Vista’s Lido Marketplace is also well provided with tables, but queues can form at the serving lines, while passengers wanting hot food from the Comfort Kitchen might have to wait for guests in front to serve themselves with salad.Reflection restaurant
There’s an all-day Deli counter making toasted sandwiches and serving hot dogs, plus self-service stations for ice cream (free) and beer ($3.95 for a glass of Budweiser). It’s burgers galore at Harmony’s Johnny Rockets on The Boardwalk. There’s usually a crowd here, with passengers prepared to pay the $6.95 cover charge, but the waiters seem too busy to provide the jive singing entertainment I’ve seen elsewhere in the fleet.
Carnival has a partnership with American celebrity chef Guy Fieri, whose burger bar is on the pool deck. His special recipe meat patties are too greasy for my taste and his chips might be hand-cut but they come dripping with oil.
Italian cuisine is a cruising staple, and for me – like many British passengers, it would appear – Carnival’s Cucina del Capitano has the authentic edge over Royal Caribbean’s partnership with Jamie Oliver. Perhaps we Brits are less excited about dining in a restaurant that might be on any high street back home. And Vista offers better value – the cover charge for dinner at Cucina is $15, against $25 for Jamie’s Italian. At lunchtimes, Cucina serves pasta dishes for no extra charge; lunch at Jamie’s is $20.
For keen carnivores, Chops Grille serves prime steaks in prime position in Harmony’s Central Park. Cover charge is $39 and the lobster and some dry-aged steaks cost more on top. Fahrenheit 555 ($35), amidships on Vista’s Deck 5, has outdoor seating which can be brought into play on mild evenings.
Asian options abound on both vessels. Harmony serves sushi (à la carte pricing) and cooks teppanyaki style ($35 or $40) at the Izumi Hibachi and Sushi restaurant buried on Deck 4. Vista’s Bonsai Sushi restaurant (à la carte pricing) is the busiest specialty dining venue on the ship, while JiJi’s Asian Kitchen ($15) is one of my favourite restaurants anywhere at sea. At lunchtime, JiJi’s transforms into a Mongolian Wok stir-fry venue (no extra charge).


BreweryVista scores highly when it comes to drinks, with its own micro-brewery producing three varieties of (highly acceptable) craft beer.
The ThirstyFrog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar by the pool have their fans, and the Havana Bar is a popular party venue in the evenings. The Atrium Bar is dominated by the three-deck high Dreamscape, an extraordinary funnelshaped LED bar displaying an everchanging variety of images.
The Alchemy Bar serves a variety of cocktails but is on a busy walkway so it's hardly a relaxing venue. Smokers congregate in the Casino Bar, and you might expect sports fans to gather in the SkyBox Bar, but I hardly saw any during  my time on board.
Harmony has adopted the Bionic Bar robot cocktail mixers who debuted on Quantum, and they remain popular among those who don’t mind waiting for a drink. But I have yet to see the point of the Rising Tide, which makes half-hourly journeys between the Royal Promenade and Central Park – I would rather sit down for a glass of wine in Vintages, or a beer in the Boot & Bonnet pub.


West End and Broadway producers are envious of the facilities offered by Harmony’s 1,400-seat Royal Theatre. Grease is the showcase production, and there’s also a musical comedy about the adventures of Christopher Columbus’s little-known cousin, Marvin.
Ice's showLast-minute technical difficulties prevented me seeing The Fine Line in the ship’s AquaTheater, but I was hugely impressed by 1887, the ice dance spectacular in Studio B. Reservations for the shows can be made at screens throughout the ship, or by using the Royal IQ smartphone app.
The Royal Promenade is the venue for street parties and interactions with DreamWorks characters, and Dazzles is the place for dancing.
Vista’s Liquid Lounge sadly fails as a theatre – the lower level is a flat-floored auditorium because it has to double as a dancefloor, while the upper tier has poor sight lines – and the jukebox musicals which form the backbone of the entertainment are far less ambitious than those on Harmony.There’s much more fun to be had at late-night singalongs in the lively Piano Bar, or with the visiting comedians in the Limelight Lounge, who perform family shows early in the evening and turn the air blue late at night.
Star attraction on Vista is the IMAX cinema – the first of its kind at sea – showing new-release Hollywood blockbusters and wildlife documentaries. The 4D thrill theatre also shows a selection of late-night scary shorts.


Kaleid-O-Slide The Ultimate Abyss on Harmony is the tallest, scariest slide at sea – remember, it’s not a waterslide but a pair of dry slides that you ride on mats. It was created by the same team that added a giant slide to the Orbit sculpture at London’s Olympic park.
Both ships have water parks and water slides – on Harmony there’s The Perfect Storm trio of Typhoon, Cyclone and Supercell, as well as Splashaway Bay for smaller kids. Vista has its Waterworks park and Kaleid-O-Slide, plus a SplashZone for the youngsters.
SkyRide is a rather sedate suspended bike ride on Vista, and its twin tracks can’t cope with demand at peak times. The ship also has an outdoor ropes course and an indoor Clubhouse with mini 10-pin bowling.
Both ships have miniature golf, but only Harmony can cater for adrenaline junkies who want to surf on the two FlowRiders or tackle the two climbing walls.


The Solarium, at the front of Harmony, spreads over three levels and is a partcovered peaceful haven for over-16s. There are hot tubs and lounging beds, and a healthy-eating bistro.
Serenity Deck on Vista is restricted to adults only, and also has hot tubs, cabanas and a salad bar. Vista’s Spa and fitness centre are on Decks 12 and 13, with great sea views for those whose idea of fun is pounding a treadmill. Harmony has buried its gym and spa on Deck 6, which might be convenient for the Deck 5 jogging track (2.4 laps to a mile) but cannot compete in terms of views.


Harmony has adopted Wonderland ($49), the imaginative venue creating crazy but delicious dishes, from the Quantum Class ships, and inserted it into the doubledeck space – with views over the Boardwalk – that was occupied by the Chef’s Table on Oasis and Allure. There’s an open kitchen, so guests can watch the chefs prepare the kind of “molecular gastronomy” that can be found nowhere else. The high-end 150 Central Park serves a $45 three-course dinner, and an $89 four-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The signature cucumber-scented Martini is highly recommended (by me) and some of the dishes, such as the tuna tartare, are prepared tableside. Another highlight is the extensive cheeseboard. Vista has a $75-a-head 16-seat Chef’s Table set inside the main galley. Guests get a tour of the kitchen before their eight-course meal, and this is so popular that on most sailings it’s necessary to book
Guests get a tour of the kitchen before their eight-course meal, and this is so popular that on most sailings it’s necessary to book online before boarding. The Seafood Shack, aft of the Marketplace, is a Vista innovation, o ffering fresh oysters, buckets of shrimps and lobster BLTs alongside deep-fried fish and chips. Unique to Vista in the Carnival fleet is freshcaught, local-bought fish, displayed on ice in the Seafood Shack and cooked to order in any restaurant on board.