Grand staircase of the Oceania Marina, set to sail in January 2011
Last year was a strong year for new ship introductions, but 2010 is no slouch. A slew of ships will launch this year.
“I’m always excited about new ships, but particularly those which expand the industry to new markets,” says Amber Blecker, cruise specialist, Cruises Inc., Denver. Blecker believes new ships bring new travelers to cruising; help cruisers evolve as they try unique experiences and itineraries; and improve the cruise lines’ value proposition.
What new ships are set to launch in 2010? Here’s a lineup of the North American cruise industry’s “calendar girls” based on maiden voyage dates.
February: Slated for a February 5 maiden voyage and a February 23 christening in Dubai, the 92,600-ton Costa Deliziosa will feature an avant-garde design and an elegant interior with touches of marble, granite, mother-of-pearl and Murano glass. Approximately 68 percent of accommodations have balconies, the most on any Costa Cruises ship. Onboard diversions include a 4D cinema; a roller-skating track; golf simulator with outdoor putting green; a Grand Prix race car driving simulator; the Samsara Spa and PlayStation World. Costa Deliziosa will sail weeklong cruises roundtrip from Dubai.
March: Building a robust fleet in rapid fashion, MSC Cruises eagerly awaits the arrival of the 93,330-ton, 2,518-passenger MSC Magnifica. After her maiden voyage in March, she will sail on Mediterranean, Canada/New England and Caribbean itineraries. This newest Musica-class ship boasts an atrium with a three-deck waterfall as well as five restaurants, numerous bars, a cigar lounge, 1,200-seat theater, casino, disco, spa and a retractable magrodome above one of three pools.
April: The third Solstice-class Celebrity Cruises ship, the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Eclipse, will set sail on her maiden voyage on April 26. The vessel features 90 percent outside staterooms and 85 percent with verandas, along with AquaClass staterooms with added in-cabin amenities. Celebrity Eclipse will be based in Southampton, UK, for the summer season before heading to Miami for winter Caribbean sailings.
May: Mega-yacht fans will appreciate delivery of Le Boreal, sailing her maiden voyage on May 6. Operated by Ponant Cruises of France, the sleek new 264-passenger Le Boreal will have 120 large staterooms and suites, 95 percent with private balconies. The ship’s maiden voyage is from Marseille to Nice, France. English-speaking guests may opt for a Tauck World Discovery charter sailing.
June: On June 6, the 32,000-ton, 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn, second in a series of three new ships for luxury Seabourn Cruise Line, will sail her 14-night maiden voyage to the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway. Other itineraries will feature northern and western Europe, the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Agents say highlights include luxurious spa villa accommodations and a two-level, 11,400-square-foot spa.
The most anticipated ship delivery of the year, say many agents, is the 153,000-ton, 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic, the largest and newest Freestyle Cruising ship. Norwegian Cruise Lines plans multiple inaugurals. Onboard, guests will enjoy Blue Man Group performances, a three-waterslide AquaPark and 20 dining options. Interestingly, Epic boasts new 100-square-foot Studio accommodations; those cabins offer a corridor-facing window and shared access to The Living Room with seating, a bar, TVs and a concierge. Norwegian Epic will operate alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries—with calls at Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, and Roatan, Honduras, or at Nassau, the Bahamas, St. Maarten and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The maiden voyage of the new 104-passenger Independence is slated for June 12. Built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD, American Cruise Lines will operate this small ship along the U.S. East Coast. Five feet wider at the beam than any other ACL ship, the spacious Independence will cruise the Chesapeake Bay, New England, the Hudson River and the South. Eighty-five percent of cabins will have private balconies.
July: The 86,700-ton, 2,106-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam, the latest in an illustrious group of Holland America vessels to carry that name and the line’s newest flagship, will set sail on her maiden voyage on July 4. The ship’s decor and art will reflect the glamour and history of New York City. Nieuw Amsterdam will sail on European and Caribbean voyages. Ship construction certainly has come a long way. When the first Nieuw Amsterdam launched in 1906, that vessel operated with both sails and steam engines. It also weighed only 17,149 tons and carried 2,886 passengers, 2,200 of them in third class!
October: Agents can’t wait to see Cunard Line’s 90,400-ton, 2,092-passenger Queen Elizabeth. The classic liner’s maiden season will consist of six voyages, calling on 32 ports in 18 countries. Not surprisingly, the October 12 maiden voyage, departing from Southampton, UK, to Atlantic isles, sold out in 29 minutes.
November: Sporting 28 sails, Sea Cloud Hussar will sail her maiden voyage from Piraeus, Greece, to Larnaca, Cyprus, on November 3. Operating winter itineraries from the Middle East for Sea Cloud Cruises, this 136-passenger vessel has all-oceanview cabins, many with balconies. Her interiors will combine maritime appointments with modern amenities. Sea Cloud Hussar is the largest fully rigged, three-masted sailing ship ever constructed.
December: Royal Caribbean International’s second 225,282-ton, 5,400-passenger vessel, Allure of the Seas, will sail alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades, FL. Allure of the Seas’ weeklong cruises will feature three days at sea and port calls at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau, the Bahamas or Cozumel, Mexico; Labadee, Haiti, the line’s private beach experience; and Falmouth, Jamaica’s new cruise port.
Looking ahead to early 2011, the 66,000-ton, 1,258- passenger Oceania Cruises’ Marina will sail her maiden voyage in January. It will feature the first restaurant at sea for Chef Jacques Pepin as well as Ralph Lauren suite decor.
NCL’s Norwegian Epic sets sail in June with the first of multiple inaugurals