& Maritime Historian
Updated September 2011
Please Note: Cruise-Australia is a non-commercial and privately owned cruise site and it is NOT associated with any cruise company or travel agency! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960 and is currently semi-retired, but continues to write cruise and ship reviews and articles in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and provide information for those intending a cruise in the future. Please read my statement at the bottom of the page!
She was completely rebuilt in
is operated by Classic International Cruises in
that I will go again in April 2012, sailing via
This page is all about your questions about ships and cruising, thus you are welcome to write and ask me. Some of these questions, if they are of interest to the general cruising community will be shown on this page, but names will be withheld, unless you ask me specifically to include it!
Question … “Dear
Answer … “Thank you
Cruise industry executives and their use of the word - *“Superliners.” - See the Sea Princess Mews Update below.
For heaven’s sake why do people like
Has no one ever told you, and I am well aware that most of you have originally come out of the world of banking, hotel, marketing and accounting rather than the shipping industry, that there is not a single “liner” in your fleet? Let me give you some big news - All your ships may well be Grand and luxurious Cruise Ships but they are certainly not “Superliners.”
A “liner” is classified as
being a ship that sails on a “line voyage,” that means
sailing from point to point, such as return sailings from Southampton to the
USA, or Canada, South Africa, South America, and New Zealand and Australia as
it was in days gone by. Ships such as the original RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Queen
may, RMS Queen Elizabeth, SS Himalaya, Fairsky, Australis, Galileo, Southern
Cross, Flavia, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Waterman (HAL) being the ships of
Cunard, P&O, Orient, Sitmar, Chandris, Lloyd Triestino, Shaw Savill,
Cogedar, Royal Dutch Mails and Holland America Lines. These ships had prefixes
such as RMS, TSS, RHMS, SS or MS and they were the classic liners of yesteryear
but they have now long gone, except for Hotel Queen Mary in Long Beach Ca
However, shipping has had a massive revival in the guise of cruising and that is to be applauded therefore today our oceans are filled with some of the finest and grandest cruise ships imaginable!
I again state to the executives of all cruise companies that ALL your ships are “cruise ships,” and that includes cruise ships such as the so-called “liner” Queen Mary 2 that makes the seasonal Trans Atlantic crossings, but she remains a cruise ship and not a Liner. I fact even one of her captains totally agreed with me when I spoke with him late in 2009! Thus when will these land based executives and marketing team learn? Or is it too hard for them to come up with something new that sounds as big and grand?
I have been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and co-owned a cruise company, in addition I have been a maritime historian for the past 33 years, thus I should know what I am talking about. Some will tell me that words have taken on a new meaning, well I am sorry - “gay” used to mean “happy,” but “Liner” still means a “ship, or large vessel on a line voyage.”
Check your current 2009/2010 dictionary! Where it states that a “Liner is …”
“One of the two principal types of merchant ship as classified by
operating method; the other is the tramp
steamer. A liner operates on a REGULAR
SCHEDULE OF DESIGNATED PORTS, carrying whatever cargo and
passengers are available on the date of sailing. The first liners were operated
in the North Atlantic, notably by
“A vessel belonging to a REGULAR LINE (service).” (
“A large commercial ship or airplane, especially one carrying passengers
Get the picture? You have been told before but executives tend to … but they are very good at many things and obviously, thanks to a good marketing campaign, bookings prove that things are going well. But is it not time you learned and dump the word “Superliner”?
Although whenever shipping companies have their marketing and media agencies send me their news updates, I always remove their “superliner” statements as I find this to be the statement of an unlearned person, who does not know the industry, and frankly they don’t, they are all hoteliers and that’s about it! Thank God for the sailors on board, and I mean captains and officers, at least they know the difference and they have a good laugh at the expense of their bosses!
“When a Liner is NOT a Liner!”
NEW … September
12, 2011: I was sent the
following item, which was written by a well known ex merchant seaman Mr.
Alistair Macnab and well known personality living in the USA. He served
from being a Third Mate on the Bank Line passenger cargo liner
The following are
“I believe this topic has been discussed quite often but since it has come up again, I’ll give you my take on the topic.
The word ‘liner’ denotes a ship assigned to a regular, advertised sailing on a given route that is open as a common carrier to accept cargo and passengers for any of the ports being advertised. Note that a liner may be a cargo-only ship and the term does not only exist for passenger ships.
In the days before airlines were the only way to go, it was the regularly advertised schedules of the passenger ship companies that were the only way of getting to where you were going. In that sense, these ships were liners.
Cruise ships, on the other hand, are out and back with the same passengers on board and whilst they are well advertised, they are not liners in the strict definition of the word but merely voyages of opportunity much like the original definition of a ‘tramp’ ship.
Certainly, the term ‘luxury liner’ is the biggest misnomer of all but is the regularly employed description of a ship carrying passengers used by the Press.
By the way, a ‘tramp’ ship is somewhat of a pejorative word used for a cargo-only ship when the better description would be a ‘freighter’ or a ‘cargo ship.’ A cargo ship will be a liner when it is assigned to a regular, advertised sailing by its operator and a tramp ship will be open for hire or charter to a merchant who will take the entire ship (or sometimes part of it) for his own cargo, quite often a homogeneous bulk commodity but could just as easily be a full load of containers or general cargo.
When the “Queen Mary 2” operates on the UK/USA service, she could be on a “line voyage,” but when cruising, then she is just a “cruise ship,” not a “cruise liner or “luxury liner.” It’s not the luxury that's in question but the erroneous use of the word ‘liner’.”
As you can tell Alistair Macnab agrees with me completely with what I have stated online over the years, but those ignorant modern and so called cruise executives who prove themselves to be utter fools over and over again as they make sure that their media use the words “luxury liner” or Megaliner: Superliner,” etc. For there is not a liner to be found amongst any of these modern cruise ships, for that is just what they are “Cruise Ships.”
Question … “Dear
Answer … “Dear
Now I have met this man, by mere change whilst I was on a cruise, and the crew were all out to please him as was the captain and officers, for they are all afraid of what he might say, and I was told that he was the most difficult person you could possibly imagine! Now I can certainly not verify this, but that was the statement of the Hotel and Passenger Service Manager onboard. However, it is said that certain companies can do no wrong, no matter what and that alone does beg a question?
When it comes to the current edition of the
guide, I noted that it is full of errors and considering it has 201 on the
cover, you would expect that it is up to date, but believe me that it is far
from the truth. Douglas Ward allows details to go out that are far out of date
and even when companies have spent millions on changing their product and have
upgraded their catering to a much higher level, but no, the “Almighty
Douglas Ward condemns for example the food that P&O Cruises serve their
passengers, stating that the food on the Pacific Dawn is poor and that it
tastes bland, fish is poor and that it is disguised by crumbs or batter, and
although the meat is generous it is covered in heavy sauces, etc. Now, I have
dined on this ship, as has personal friends of mine, and I have reviews online,
and we all rave about the superb cuisine that is served in the
In addition, we need to understand that
Personally, I write for the passenger, and
that is the big difference for I write on our, the passengers level, for I will
only write a review if I have fully paid for my own cruise and not on a freebie
What about P&O Cruises Australia I hear
you ask? I fully support P&O, for they have done so much for these ships
and upgraded every department, their menus and wine lists are indeed second to
none, and now there is the optional and well worth it Luke Mangan’s
“Salt Grill” on Board three of their ships, the Pacific Dawn, Jewel
and soon the Pearl. Now a visit to this restaurant is a MUST, but please book
early for it does get booked out! P&O’s entertainment is outstanding,
but above all, the service is genuinely friendly and efficient and then there
is the superb youth and children’s facilities, which are divided into
three separate age groups, and these are the best you could possibly wish for.
Just read the reviews that I have online regarding this! And you will find none
of this in the
As you can well imagine I receive countless email with questions regarding cruise ships and companies, including this one, which only came up again last week;
Question … “Dear
Over the years I have received quite a few questions that are similar, but possibly not quite so direct. Personally I have sailed with many cruise lines over the years and I certainly do not rate each ship. Or company according to the Star ratings that are given by some of those pompous cruise reviewers who go on their free cruises and rate and review countless ships and write their little expensive books and make a name for them selves as well as a small fortune.
Personally, having been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, managed major passenger shipping companies and operated my own cruise company and sold the name to a major player, a company that continues to operate, I do this on a 100% non-commercial basis. In addition, the only reason I have this site is online is because I love this industry dearly and hope to see people who love travelling by ship go on a cruise and come home totally delighted. To date I have been some 124 times since 1958! Oops, am I showing my age now?
However, there are certainly some cruise lines that I would avoid! This is either because of direct experience and others due to the countless of complaints I have received in my inbox over the years, and they have become far too many too ignore. Having said this, I also wish to add that I do receive certain complaints that I simply delete mostly because these are from persons whom I call “professional complainers” and they are miserable people that complain regarding everything, no matter what! Thus, these I do not count these, for I have been around long enough to know the difference.
Now for the two companies that I consider at
this time to be at the top of the list, and I have added a third, however, this
company does have its good points, but it also has many problems, especially
those ships operating out of
1… NCL Cruises … The top of the list as being the world’s WORST cruise company!
This is the first cruise line to be avoided
… NCL Cruises. But let’s look back at its background. This cruise
company was once a superb cruise company owned by a wonderful man,
However, great changes took place to this
superbly run company in 2000 when the Asian, Malaysian based Casino giant -
Genting Corp” who were the owners of Star Cruises, who operated mostly
short cruises, but these were based on the on board massive casino, Star
Cruises took over NCL and immediately commenced changing the superb traditions
of cruising that this company had become so famous for into what the Asians
called “Freestyle Cruising,” which in reality means, getting as
much money as possible out of their passengers wallets by the end of the
voyage! Sadly the company went down hill ever since and I have received
thousands of emails not only from passengers, but also crew, from officers,
engineers and general staff and their stories are not fit to print. But
personally although the ships crew do work very hard indeed they do so under
great stress, and they try everything to get off their ship and the company to
another cruise company! Of course many know of the great disaster when one of
SS Norway’s boilers blew up and there were deaths and injuries of a good
number of crew, and NCL was charged with negligence. There is a long story
attached to the tragedy of the Norway and how she ended up on the beach in
India to be broken up, considering that NCL’s CEO had stated that she
would go to Germany to be repaired and return to service, but we all knew that
was NOT the truth, for the Sra Cruises management had already decided
otherwise. But that is another long story! NCL, purchased the SS United States
and the SS Independence, two great historic liners and advised the US Government,
that if the government would give permission for NCL to have an American
flagged company, they would restore the SS United States and the SS
Independence and return these two famous ships to service. They were given
permission and NCL America was born, however these two ships were left to rot
and rust away. They sacredly sold the
A passenger wrote several weeks ago:
“The cruise was not what I expected, we have been on many cruises, but this was very different. The staff seemed to be uptight all the time, but very courteous and helpful, I have no complaints re them, but felt sorry for them. My cabin steward told me some things and they have it very hard, but what I could not tolerate was that the crew onboard are not fed properly and from what I gathered there even seems to be some kind of harassment. The ship inside was really very nice, although was beginning to look tired. Also we got sick and tired of the constant heavy sell on the ship, and the shifty way of doing things when it come to the dinning arrangements, for they will do anything for you to eat anywhere but in the dining room that you have already paid for in your fare. We found that there are long lines to get into the main dining room, thus many just walk away and end up paying extra in one of the alternative dining facilities. We just got angry! Even the Buffet it was a mad house and the food was not good. We did the Hawaiian cruise and the ports of call were wonderful, but do it on any other company, never with NCL again, it was my first and last!”
One of the most recent emails received was from a band member and this person wrote:
“We live under such duress and at times we almost live in fear, we work long hours and yet we go unappreciated and have constant problems with the Cruise Director who is a tyrant and works on self edification and making (himself/herself) look good to the company. We just get the raw deal and are sick of it. Thankfully three of us are off in three weeks and will never return to NCL and this nightmare!” (Altered).
2… MSC Cruises … An Italian Company, also with a good history, but NOW?
MSC Cruises came originally out of the great
Flotta Lauro Lines, and many will remember ships such as the
Currently they operate a considerable fleet of ships, all quite new and modern, but the main problem on all of their ships is one of severe over crowding for the size of their ships. As I am told so often by Australian’s who purchase rather inexpensive fly/cruise packages on these ships:
“The noise level in the Restaurant is beyond belief, and we came to a decision not to eat there any more, for it is unbearable.”
A Canadian passenger wrote:
again, what a disaster, food was only just edible, service reasonable, but the
noise and the crowding that is impossible. The worst of all I found was the
announcements for they came in so many languages that it went on and on and
frankly it gave me a headache many times for you could not switch it off. It
came in Italian, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, English and several other
languages. Just madness! The ship itself was quite pleasant, however the cabins
were not half as good compared to other cruise lines we have been on in the
past. My suggestion is if you are going to cruise around Europe and the
3… Princess Cruises (
As many know, I am a Princess Cruises
“Elite Club Member” black card holder, that is the very top level
having cruised with Princess many times in the past and have always enjoyed the
experience, especially the smaller R-Ships, such as the Pacific Princess! Why
However, I have come to a point that I will
not sail with Princess again, for the last time I sailed with them was when I
undertook on the Dawn Princess’s 104 (106 nights back to Brisbane) around
the world voyage in 2009, and sadly it was one of the worst cruise experiences
I have ever had! The review is still online, although I have now edited
somewhat. But from the moment I arrived at my filthy cabin that had to be steam
cleaned before we could enter, no air-conditioning for weeks, leaking ceilings
with water dripping every where, unbelievable! And there were countless other
problems including major mechanical breakdowns. Sadly I find that Princess has
gone down hill rapidly and that even P&O Cruises Australia is better than
any Princess’ ship operating out of our waters, even though Princess
ships are certainly far grandeur and look good, but it is all show, but there
is no real substance, for on our voyage the food, and accommodations simply
would not compare to the P&O ships. In fact in 2008 I sailed on the oldest
P&O Australia ship the Pacific Sun, and although she may not be the glamour
ship, however, the food was some of the best I have had on any ship for year to
that date! The service was exemplary! Entertainment could not be faulted unlike
I do not recommend the Sun or
You may ask – “Did you enjoy writing the above?” No I certainly did not, but I did so in order to best inform my readers
Question … “Dear
Answer … “First of all we need to realise that the company you sailed with is operated by a company not owned by the Cruise operator and they are a concession who pay the carrier to be on board, like many of the shops, boutiques, photo shops and spa’s etc, for most are independently owned, although some shipping company’s are now entering these markets themselves.
The point is the minute you board the ship, you
become a target for clever, be it somewhat deceptive marketing. And the tragedy
is that these art auctions are the biggest rip-offs of them all, however the
sheer greed of human nature tends to feed this kind of marketing. It all starts
with the lure of an invitation of the so-called free champagne, which is never
champagne just a cheap sparkling white wine that comes only towards the end of
a long sales talk, and many by then will have gone anyway for only the suckers
What are the “art pieces” in the galleries and at these actions? Well not one of these will be heirlooms, for most are in reality litographs and seriographs, and thus without any real value! For those who cruise frequently will have come to realise that the very same pieces are on show an just about every ship they sail on, that must tell you something, thus BE WARNED! The appraisal prices are all done by the companies own art providers, thus do not be conned by the values the quote, they are totally meaningless! The marketers that are hired are highly trained to use clever language to make you feel you are obtaining something very special and, yes even a bargain. You wish? Beware of phrases such as “replacement value”, or a clever one, “signed in stone” now what does that really mean? That in reality means that the artist did not sign the work, or an item that is known as a “pochoire”, which is a stencil print which is of an even less value than an original etching or a lithograph. The auctioneer will even try to sell a “block print” or a “wood engraving” with an signature, whatever you do, do not buy it, for I have know people who discovered it was not genuine, including the signature! Sadly forged items are not uncommon!
You may ask, but what can I do about my purchase, frankly nothing, you bought iy because you liked it. Is the cruise company responsible? Technically no, they will not take any responsibility for sales in any of the shops, art gallery, etc, for they act only as the carrier, and remember the art house is only a concession!”
PS: *Thankfully there is one single company that is all inclusive of
gratitude’s, all food on board, no optional dinning venues, decks or
lounges, like on so many cruise companies and ships these days. This company
has become very popular in
Return to the - Cruise-Australia.com - INDEX
Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960
Contact the Author …
When sending an email please name the ship or company you are commenting on!
Please Note: Cruise-Australia is a non-commercial and privately owned cruise site. The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960 and is currently semi-retired, but continues to write cruise and ship reviews and articles in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and provide information for those intending a cruise in the future.
However, if you are interested in a cruise, I
am happy to refer you to a dedicated cruise agent in
Classic Liner enthusiasts visit
Where the ships of the past make history the 1914 built MV Doulos Story
Photographs on cruise-australia.net are: 1. By the author. 2. From the author’s private collection. 3. As provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are photographs provided to me without details provided regarding the photographer concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me, that due credit may be given. I know what it is like, I have seen a multitude of my own photographs on other sites, yet they either refuse to give me credit and even refuse to remove them, knowing full well that there is no legal comeback when it comes to the net. However, let us show the charlatans up and do the right thing at all times and give credit where credit is due! Note: I do not credit those who send me photos as they are not the owners of the photographs concerned, unless the image is part of their private collection.
This notice covers all pages, although, I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!
is owned and © Copyright by