A new wave of cruise ships

//A new wave of cruise ships

The relentless rise in the popularity of cruise holidays continues, and the number of UK passengers is expected to rise by another eight per cent in 2011 to a record 1.77 million.
The number of people flying to join their ships – in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Alaska, for example – will top the million mark next year, and almost three-quarters of a million will sail from UK ports – maybe even more after what has been a disastrous year for airports, with closures forced by the weather and the Icelandic ash cloud.
To meet the demand for cruise berths, seven new cruise ships will be launched in the next few months – and some will be considerably bigger than their sisters.
Disney Dream, at 128,000 tons, is a 50 per cent step up in size from the Magic and the Wonder; Oceania’s Marina will carry 1,258 passengers compared with the 684 each on Insignia, Nautica and Regatta.
Others, such as Carnival Magic and Celebrity Silhouette will match their predecessors – the Dream and the ships in the Solstice class.
Here’s a guide to the new ships coming this year:
Launching: January 22 in Barcelona.
Stats: 66,000 tons; 629 cabins; 1,258 passengers.

Marina will be bigger in every way than the line’s other ships, with more spacious cabins – the most expensive suites with decor and furniture from Ralph Lauren – and a Canyon Ranch spa. Restaurants include Red Ginger, the line’s first Asian fusion venue, and Jacques, an 80-cover gourmet bistro named after chef Jacques Pepin. There’s also a private dining room which can be hired by up to eight guests for $1,000 an evening; wine-tasting and gourmet venue La Reserve, and the Polo Grill steakhouse with its signature dish of a 32oz mountain of prime rib.
Matina’s maiden voyage is a 13-night Transatlantic crossing to Miami, and after cruises through the Panama Canal and on to San Francisco, and a tour of the Caribbean, the ship returns to spend summer in the Mediterranean and northern Europe, including a number of calls at Dover.
Sample Cruise: Northern Knights, round-Britain and to Norway, departing from Dover July 15 and including calls at Edinburgh, Invergordon, Lerwick, Geiranger, Belfast, Douglas, Dublin and Fowey. Fares from about £2,660
More information: www.oceaniacruises.com
Launching January 26 in Port Canaveral, Florida.
Stats: 128,000 tons; 1,250 cabins, up to 4,000 passengers.

If the number of passengers to cabins seems high, remember this is a ship largely intended for kids and there will be lots of them in the second and third beds. There’s something for all the family though – while young children and teens have their own clubs packed with interactive activities featuring any number of Disney characters, and the AquaDuck watercoaster circling the upper decks – there’s an adults-only entertainment district with a champagne bar and Evolution nightclub, and a vast Steiner spa. Remy, with its decor based on a character from Ratatouille, will be one of the most expensive restaurants at sea, with a cover charge of $75 each.
Maiden voyage is a two-night trip from Port Canaveral to Disney’s private resort at Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, which has been upgraded to cope with the extra passengers Dream will bring each week.
Sample cruise: A seven-night hotel stay in Orlando, packaged with a four-night cruise to the Bahamas in June, booked through Virgin Holidays Cruises, would cost from £1,559.
Launching April 26 in Marseille.
Stats: 10,900 tons; 132 cabins; 264 passengers.

Little-known among British cruise passengers, Compagnie du Ponant is a French line which provides a luxury experience with high-quality food in its Gastronomic Restaurant and separate Grill room. Almost all the cabins have balconies. Thanks to its small size, L’Austral will visit lots of smaller Adriatic ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships.
After a summer in the Adriatic, the Aegean and the Western Mediterranean, L’Austral heads south to Ushuaia in Argentina for a winter of expedition voyages to Antarctica.
Sample cruise: Seven-night Secrets of the Adriatic from Venice on May 31 from about £1,460 (cruise only).
Launching May 1 in Venice.
Stats: 130,000 tons; 1,845 cabins; 3,690 passengers.

Surprisingly for the cruise line which prides itself on providing more fun than its rivals, Carnival has yet to have a pub on any of its 22 ships. That omission will be remedied on the 23rd vessel, with the introduction of the RedFrog, which will have its own private-label draught beer on tap. The look of the place will be more British West Indies than British back street though, with bar snacks including conch salad and firecracker Jamaican chicken wings. There’s a giant water park on board for energetic kids (of all ages) and a vast Cloud 9 spa.
During the summer, Carnival Magic will sail three seven-day cruises; six nine-day cruises and eight 12-day cruises from Barcelona. In October, it will cross the Atlantic to begin a season of seven-day Caribbean voyages from Galveston, Texas.
Sample cruise: Seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, Rome, Livorno, Naples and Messina, departing July 3, from about £999.
Launching June 20 in Barcelona, but sailing three pre-inaugural cruises first because construction at a shipyard in Genoa is ahead of schedule.
Stats: 32,000 tons; 225 cabins; 450 passengers.

Quest’s sister ship, Seabourn Sojourn was named in Greenwich last year by Twiggy. The vessels provide ultra-luxury provide ultra-luxury travel without formality. There’s open dining, a relaxed dress code, and treats such as champagne and caviar served in the surf of a Caribbean beach.
The 14-night maiden voyage takes the ship to Athens, and all passengers will have their names engraved on a commemorative plaque on board. After a summer sailing the Greek islands, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and autumn in the Caribbean, Quest will set off on January 5 2012 for a 109-night world voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Venice.
Sample cruise: Seven-night Black Sea Discoveries from Istanbul on July 11, with fares from £2,599.
Launching: July 4 in Venice.
Stats: 114,500 tons; 1,508 cabins; 3,780 passengers.

As fabulous as its name, Favolosa has interiors designed like an enchanted castle, and a children’s water park with a pirate galleon. This is cruising with an Italian accent, a relaxing Samsara spa, a 4D cinema and a Formula One simulator. Sister ship Costa Serena featured in the Cruise Ship Diaries series on National Geographic TV
From its base in Venice, Favolosa will sail seven-night cruises to Croatia, the Greek islands, and Turkey.
Sample cruise: Visit Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik on a seven-night Ancient Treasures cruise from Venice departing on August 11, from £1,179.

Launching: July 23 in Hamburg and again a week later in Rome.
Stats: 122,000 tons; 1,426 cabins; 2,850 passengers.

Fourth (of five) ships in the striking Solstice Class, Silhouette will feature a few changes from sisters Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse, the last two of which were launched in Southampton. Out goes the glass-blowing display at the centre of the ship’s real grass lawn, to be replaced by a grill and barbecue restaurant and a casual Porch cafe.
After summer in the Mediterranean, including a number of cruises to the Holy Land, the ship will be based at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, for 12-night voyages to the Caribbean.
Sample cruise: A nine-night voyage from Rome on August 1, visiting Naples, Bari and Dubrovnik, with an overnight stay on board in Venice, from £1,699 with Virgin Cruises.


Finally, P&O revives a famous name on a ship which has had three names already . . .
Inaugural events: Southampton, in May
Stats: 30,277 tons; 355 cabins; 710 passengers.

Built as the R8 for the defunct Renaissance Cruises, this ship has been Minerva II and is currently sailing as Royal Princess – I was on board in June 2007 for the re-naming ceremony in Portofino, Italy. P&O boss Carol Marlow has defined the vessel as a “pathfinder” ship, by which she means it will visit lots of smaller, off-the-beaten-track ports inaccessible to giants like Ventura and Azura – from which Adonia will also differ by being child-free. Before joining P&O the funnel will have to be re-painted an appropriate buff colour, the Royal Lounge becomes the Crow’s Nest; Sabatini’s Italian restaurant becomes Sorerento, and the Sterling Steakhouse changes its name to Ocean Grill.
The maiden voyage is a 16-night cruise to the familiar ports of Lisbon, Gibraltar, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Portofino, Barcelona and Cadiz, together with visits to smaller ports like Alghero in Sardinia, Sete, in southern France, and Mahon in Menorca. From November, the ship will introduce fly-cruises from Savona and Athens, and in January 2012 sails from Southampton on an 87-night grand adventure to South America.
Sample cruise: 1 14-night voyage from Southampton to the Norwegian fjords, including smaller ports such as Skjolden, Bodo and Flekkefjord. Fares from £2,222.

By | 2011-01-03T10:22:00+00:00 3 January 2011|Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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