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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Competition in cruising

One wonders whether the market can stand it, but NINE ships from seven different cruise lines are scheduled to embark on their maiden voyages between October 2015 and February 2017.  And the ship yards have been busy -- eight are brand new, and the ninth is an expensive refurbishment.

And here they are, in order of appearance, as they say in movie credits ....

Norwegian Escape (4,200 passengers)

The 163,000-ton Norwegian Escape will be Norwegian's largest ship to date. It will boast the biggest ropes course at sea, with 99 different elements to challenge guests. There also will be a kid-size course for young guests who want to test their skills.

The Norwegian Escape debuts October 29, 2015. 

Viking Sea (930 passengers)
Viking Cruises

This 5.5-star ship will sport a modern Scandinavian design and be outfitted with two pools (including one cantilevered off the stern), a two-deck Explorer's Lounge at the bow and a Nordic-inspired spa (here, guests can go from the sauna to the "snow grotto," where snowflakes drift down from the ceiling through the chilled air).  All cabins will have verandas. Itineraries have been designed to maximize time in port, with the ship often staying until late evening or overnight.

The Viking Sea debuts April 3, 2016.

Ovation of the Seas (4,905 passengers)
Royal Caribbean

The Ovation of the Seas is the third vessel in Royal Caribbean's Quantum class, joining Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. Unique features on board include a simulated skydiving experience; the North Star, a glass-enclosed capsule at the end of a mechanical arm that lifts occupants more than 300 feet above the sea; and the Bionic Bar, where two robotic bartenders shake or stir your favorite cocktail.  (I wonder if they want a tip?)

And here is an utterly new angle -- interior staterooms provide virtual views of real-time scenery on floor-to-ceiling HD screens.  And (dear lord) there are roller skating and bumper cars for the kids

The Ovation of the Seas debuts April 17, 2016. 

Sirena (684 passengers)

Oceania will acquire the Ocean Princess from Princess Cruises and give it a $40 million refurbishment at a shipyard in Marseille, France. Next year, it will launch as the Sirena. Key features are destination-rich itineraries and casually elegant, country-club ambiance, with a staff of 400 to care for 684 guests.

The Sirena debuts April 27, 2016. 

Carnival Vista (4,980 passengers)

Carnival's largest ship will debut with some brand-new seagoing features, such as the first IMAX theater on a cruise ship, the line's first onboard brewery and the Kaleid-O-Slide, where you can jump into a one- or two-person inflatable raft for a twisting, turning trip down a waterslide. At the SkyRide, passengers can pedal hanging recumbent bikes along a track suspended 150 feet above the ocean.

Havana Cabanas (aka balcony rooms) will have patios -- complete with hammocks and lounge chairs -- that face the Deck 5 promenade. 

The Carnival Vista debuts May 1, 2016. 

Harmony of the Seas (5,200 passengers)
Royal Caribbean

The Harmony of the Seas will be the third of the Oasis-class ships. Like sister ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, it will boast seven unique neighborhoods, such as Central Park (planted with live trees and plants) and the Royal Promenade (an interior boulevard flanked by eateries, lounges and shops).

Passengers can take on the challenges of the FlowRider surf simulators, 43-foot-high rock-climbing walls and a zipline that's nine decks up in the air.

The Harmony of the Seas debuts May 29, 2016. 

Seven Seas Explorer (750 passengers)

Regent calls the "6-star" (!) Seven Seas Explorer the "world's most luxurious ship." Guests can expect king-size beds and high-quality linens, large bathrooms and spacious verandas -- the largest balconies in the industry. Accommodations range from 307-square-foot Veranda Suites to the stunning 3,875-square-foot, two-bedroom Regent Suite, which will boast an in-suite spa retreat with sauna, two ceramic heated loungers and treatment area.

The Seven Seas Explorer debuts July 20, 2016. 

Seabourn Encore (604 passengers)

The Seabourn Square will be the social hub of the "6-star" Seabourn Encore, encompassing a library, sitting area, computer center and European-style coffee bar. The spa will have a fully equipped gym, personal trainers, steam and sauna rooms and a full range of treatments. There is a marina at the stern with complimentary kayaks, pedal boats and windsurfers. All of the ship's staterooms will have verandas.

The Seabourn Encore debuts January 7, 2017. 

Viking Sky (930 passengers)
Viking Cruises

All staterooms on the Viking Sky will have private verandas. The unique enrichment program on board provides lectures from experts in history, music, art and cuisine, carefully selected to enhance each itinerary.

The Viking Sky debuts February 25, 2017.

Better start saving.  Some of these will be very expensive ... unless the competition skews the market.


Diane Owenga said...

Interesting reading Joan. What is a zip line?

Diane Owenga said...

Interesting reading Joan. What is a zip line?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for In the Wake of Madness, which I just read. One quick note since I live in Tiverton, RI (Andrew White's hometown), the crew chart on p. 231 lists "Tiverton, CT".
Eileen Browning

Joan Druett said...

Thanks for that! It's amazing what gets past the author, the editor, the copy-editor and the proof reading. Of course we all knew that Tiverton is in Rhode Island!

Joan Druett said...

We can only guess, Diane. And watch in wonder. Some of these ships sound like waterborne kids' fun fairs. I do wonder what kind of market they are aiming at. My personal theory is that cruising has really taken off because of all the recently retired baby boomers. Too young to carry grandchildren along, and too old for teenagers. And can anything think of teenagers or young married couples with children who can afford to trot off for two weeks of this kind of energetic fun?