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What's Coming Onboard In 2008 and 2009February 8, 2008 By: David Eisen Home-Based Travel Agent
New ships and newly constructed or renovated ports mean more selling opportunities for travel agents
Most ship deliveries scheduled through 2012 have already been announced. Since agents won't be able to book those future ships for some time, we've limited this rundown to vessels entering service in 2008 and 2009. We've also detailed some ports under construction or receiving renovations and upgrades.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
New Ships: Independence of the Seas (May 2008), Project Genesis (fall 2009)
Early Word: Independence rounds out RCCL's Freedom class. Unlike its predecessors, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, Independence will homeport in Europe. Expect features similar to those of prior Freedom-class ships, such as a rock-climbing wall, full-length basketball court and the guest-favorite FlowRider wave simulator. Genesis ships will surpass Freedom-class ships by 60,000 tons.
Carnival Cruise Lines
New Ships: Carnival Splendor (July 2008), Carnival Dream (fall 2009)
Early Word: Splendor will begin its lifespan sailing out of Dover, England, operating a northern Europe itinerary. The ship will be larger than previous Carnival ships and feature a new amenity: spa staterooms, which will exist in tandem with the ship's Cloud 9 Spa.
New Ships: MSC Poesia (April 2008), MSC Fantasia (fall 2008), MSC Splendida (spring 2009)
Early Word: Poesia is the final ship in MSC's Musica class and will have similar attributes as its sister ships, Musica and Orchestra. Fantasia represents a new class for MSC and therefore will be markedly bigger than the line's previous ships—more than 40,000 tons larger, with a capacity of 3,900 passengers.
Holland America Line
New Ship: Eurodam (July 2008)
Early Word: The 2,044-passenger, $450 million Signature-class ship Eurodam marks Holland America's next class of vessels, which will be the largest ever constructed for the line. It will have 11 passenger decks and such innovations as a Pan-Asian restaurant and a lounge overlooking the ocean and Lido pool.
New Ships: Celebrity Solstice (December 2008), Celebrity Equinox (summer 2009)
Early Word: Celebrity received input from women from all walks of life on how Solstice should look and feel. The results? Staterooms will be 15 percent larger than Celebrity's prior Millennium-class ships and will contain higher beds for storage underneath, bigger bathrooms with glass-paneled shower doors and more muted coloring. Another innovation: spa staterooms called AquaClass, which incorporate spa elements and give guests special access to the ship's spa. There will also be a restaurant called Blu specifically designed for spa guests.
New Ship: Ruby Princess (November 2008)
Early Word: Ruby Princess is the sister to the well-received Emerald Princess, which debuted in the Mediterranean last May. Ruby's maiden season will be in the western Caribbean, and the 3,080-passenger ship will boast similar facilities as its sister, including a piazza-style atrium and the Sanctuary, an outdoor adults-only lounge area adjacent to the spa.
Seabourn Cruise Line
New Ship: Seabourn Odyssey (June 2009)
Early Word: Many are anxious for the Seabourn Odyssey's 2009 debut in Venice. Agents can already reserve space on the ship, which will have a capacity of 450 passengers—almost double the size of Seabourn's other three ships. There will be 225 suites, and 90 percent of them will feature spacious balconies. Customer demand has prompted the luxury line to build another ship, which will debut in spring 2010.
New Ship: Unnamed (fall 2009)
Early Word: Announced at last year's Seatrade convention in Miami by Amerigo Perasso, line president, the 540-guest ship is the first new order for Silversea since 1998, when contracts for Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper were signed. It will increase overall fleet capacity by 40 percent.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
The Rundown: The Grand Turk Cruise Center has undergone some renovations and upgrades. Ten poolside cabanas have been added, which are available to cruise passengers. The 112-square-foot cabanas are next to the pool area and surround the facility's Margaritaville restaurant. They come with furnishings, deck and outdoor shower. The cabanas also offer easy access to the terminal's beach.
The Rundown: In 2007 Carnival Corp. finalized an agreement with the government of St. Maarten and the Port of St. Maarten to provide funding to support the construction of a two-berth cruise pier. The addition, combined with the island's existing four-berth pier, will make St. Maarten one of the largest cruise ports in the Caribbean.
The Rundown: Ground was broken in late 2007 on the island's cruise terminal, which is to be called Mahogany Bay-Roatan upon its estimated October 2009 completion. The entire project will cost $50 million. The terminal will be on 20 acres and consist of a two-berth configuration capable of accommodating up to 7,000 passengers daily. The facility will contain a 35,000-square-foot area with stores, restaurants and bars along a lagoon with a cascading waterfall and nature trail.
Costa Maya, Mexico
The Rundown: Sadly, Hurricane Dean leveled Costa Maya's port on the Riviera Maya last summer. The port was a great facility, with pools, shopping, entertainment and dining. It's now in the process of being rebuilt, but probably won't reopen until late this year.
The Rundown: The San Diego Unified Port District has approved plans for a new cruise ship terminal, projected to cost more than $23 million. A sleek and modern design for the Broadway Pier terminal was chosen over a more utilitarian facility, which was less expensive. An average of 200 cruise vessels arrive in San Diego each year.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Rundown: In response to the growth in cruise passenger visits—a number predicted to reach 165,000 for the 2007-08 season—Dubai will start work on a second cruise terminal within a year. The passenger handling capacity of the new terminal would be similar to that of the existing facility in Port Rashid. It is located in the same area and is capable of berthing two ships at once.