Virgin Voyages: Adults Only – Other Cruise News: Coral Adventurer Itineraries – Queen Mary’s New Paint Job
by Kevin Griffin
Last Tuesday, Virgin Voyages unveiled initial details of its trio of 110,000-ton 2,860-berth new generation cruise ships. The most important announcement was that to the relief of many they will be adult ships. No waterslides, no bumper cars, no cartoon characters and noone else’s children. Still in the adult world, Coral Expeditions has announced its opening itineraries for its 120-berth Coral Adventurer, due out in 2019. And guest writer Shawn Dake from Long Beach tells us how the Queen Mary in Long Beach, which still accommodates regular guests, is getting a long overdue lick of paint after fifty years in Long Beach.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Virgin Voyages: Adults Only
New cruise line Virgin Voyages has announced that the trio of ships it has commissioned from Fincantieri in Italy will be adults only, a feature that ties in with the new company’s goal to target the Millenial audience.
Virgin Voyages’ president and ceo Tom McAlpin, along with Virgin founder Richard Branson, revealed the news at the ship’s keel-laying ceremony last week.
In addition to revealing that the 2,860-berth ships would be exclusive to guests 18 and over, McAlpin said 86% of the cabins will have balconies, which Virgin calls terraces, and 93% will have an ocean view.
McAlpin said the ships’ livery, which McAlpin was inspired by the company’s airline, Virgin Atlantic, and will boast a mermaid guide icon designed by artist Toby Tinsley.
The colour scheme will be primarily silver/gray, with touches of red. The various light greys and reds are in a way reminiscent of the lavender hulls and red funnels of the old Union-Castle Line that once sailed from Southampton to South Africa.
McAlpin added that on board the ships will boast a more intimate feel, which has been inspired by super yachts.
Scheduled to debut in 2020, the first ship will be followed by two more, expected in 2021 and 2022. To begin with, Virgin Voyages will offer Caribbean itineraries out of Miami, where the line is expected to have its own terminal.
Virgin’s nickname for the new trio is the “Lady Ships” – which might give a clue as to their eventual names. The last time this theme was used was by Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships, with its Lady Rodney and Lady Nelson and others named after the wives of Admirals Drake, Hawkins and Somers.
This first set of “Lady ships” sailed between North America and the West Indies from1928 until 1952.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Coral Adventurer Itineraries
Australian operator Coral Expeditions has announced that it will name its new expedition ship, due to debut in April 2019, Coral Adventurer.
Currently under construction at Vard’s Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam, the 120-guest Coral Adventurer has been developed by Vard Design to operate in remote areas in the Asia-Pacific region. The ship will have twin Xplorer tenders mounted on hydraulic platforms so passengers can embark on shore excursions without steps.
All sixty of her outside-facing cabins will be en-suite, and more than half private balconies. Other highlights will include a large dining room, the usual facilities for lectures and briefings, and multiple indoor and outdoor bars.
Coral Adventurer will embark on a 17-night cruise from Singapore to Darwin on April 14, 2019, which will include calls at Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Straits, Komodo Island and the coral gardens of Pulau Alor.
Following her maiden voyage, Coral Adventurer will offer two 11-night voyages from Darwin in May, which will take guests to the Gulf of Carpentaria, New Guinea and the Spice Islands, as well as Australia’s Kimberley coast.
These voyages will retrace the historic explorations of 17th century Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who was the first to map the coastlines of New Zealand, New Guinea and Northern Australia. The ship will then provide regular Kimberley cruises between Broome and Darwin. Coral Adventurer will join the line’s flagship Coral Discoverer and its two oceangoing catamarans, Coral Expeditions I and Coral Expeditions II.
Queen Mary’s New Makeup
Contribution by Shawn J Dake of Long Beach
It is now fully fifty years since the original Queen Mary sailed from Southampton app the way around South America to Long Beach (she was too big for the then Panama Canal) to take up residence as that city’s prime tourist attraction.
The Queen Mary is in the midst of a much needed makeover that will see her given a fresh coat of paint for the first time in decades. The project to repaint the hull and superstructure officially got underway in mid-July although work on some sections of the upper decks had started in April 2017. Painting the ship is expected to cover 240,000 sq ft and take eight months to complete.
This is just part of a three-year project to address issues deemed urgent and necessary. Both structurally and cosmetically the Queen Mary is now getting the treatment she badly needs, with the City Of Long Beach providing the initial $23 million needed for the first phase of repairs.
The work taking place this year is beginning to show spectacular results. Approaching the port bow from the shore side, the completed sections make the ship look practically brand new. At midship the contrast between the glossy black new paint and the fading-to-gray old flat finish is stark. The entire ship is being coated with a substance called Maxon CRS which bonds with corroded steel and protects it from further deterioration.
On close examination the finish seems to present a smoother surface than what was originally there. This is particularly evident in the white structure that has been completed on the Sun Deck aft. It is a vast improvement over the rusted holes and peeling paint that were previously so widely distributed throughout large sections of the ship. Once again, the Queen Mary is beginning to look fresh and revitalized.
A recent marine survey estimated the cost of repairs to the Queen Mary could reach between $235 million and $289 million. Representatives of Urban Commons, the real estate investment firm that holds the 66-year lease on the ship and surrounding property disagree, saying ”“we believe we can do it in the range of $50 million.”
There is more than an obvious discrepancy here.
While that is being sorted out, the location of Queen Mary next door and adjacent to the Long Beach cruise terminal makes her a worthy and interesting venue for a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay. Los Angeles’s alternative cruise terminal in San Pedro is also not far away by taxi.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)