This year promises to be a vintage one for the cruise industry.
There are UK ship launches from Celebrity Cruises, P&O, Saga and Princess Cruises, while Virgin Voyages will be making its much anticipated debut. There will also be new ships from Carnival, MSC and Royal Caribbean, and Crystal Cruises will be launching its first expedition ship, Endeavor. Clearly, there’s plenty to keep us all busy over the next 12 months. Sam Ballard gives a rundown of all the major ocean-going ships setting sail this year…
Regent claims to be the most all inclusive line at sea, with everything from alcohol to shore excursions included in the fare. Splendor is the ship that will go the extra mile. The ship’s top suite, the aptly named Regent Suite, is almost 4,500 square feet and includes a private spa with steam room and sauna (with complimentary treatments). When occupants head o ashore they will have their own personal driver. It doesn’t get more luxurious than this
Although Hurtigruten’s first hybridship, the Roald Amundsen, may have been delayed, progress on the second ship in the series, the Fridtjof Nansen, has carried on unabated. Even better news is that UK agents and customers will get the chance to see the ship as it takes three five-night inaugurals from London Tilbury (March 7), Liverpool (March 12) and Portsmouth (March 17).
Arguably one of the most hyped cruise ship launches of the past few years. Virgin Voyages has promised that Scarlet Lady will rewrite the rule book. There will be no buffets, no main dining rooms – and no kids. There will be tattoo parlours, record shops and the perfect spot for outdoor yoga. Look out for the ship visiting the UK this February.
The UK is to get its own Celebrity Edge-class launch this summer when the bottle smashes on Apex in Southampton. Apex will have all of the cutting-edge facilities that made Edge such a hit – Eden, Magic Carpet and one of the nicest gym/spa areas on any ship.
Ship launches in the UK don’t get much bigger than P&O. And, considering that Iona is the biggest P&O ship ever to launch, we’re expecting this to be massive. Iona, which will be based out of Southampton, will include the new SkyDome – a space under a huge glass dome that will act as an entertainment space from day to night – and a multiscreen cinema.
The fifth ship in Princess Cruises’ Royal-class will launch in Southampton this summer, so expect to see plenty more about Enchanted Princess as the year goes on. The ship will be fully fitted with Ocean Medallion – the company’s revolutionary tech that allows keyless entry to cabins and the ability to order drinks to your lounger (as well as much, much more). Expect some familiar touches (SeaWalk, Sabatini’s and Movies Under the Stars) as well as some new venues, such as a standalone Salty Dog Gastropub.
Saga’s Spirit of Adventure launches in the UK with a big agent event for the trade to try out the new hardware. Carnival will launch its biggest ever ship, Mardi Gras, which will be split into six zones, from the French Quarter to the Ultimate Playground. Crystal Cruises will launch its first expedition style ship, Endeavor, fully equipped for well-heeled travellers wanting to see parts of the world that were previously the domain of intrepid explorers. Silversea will introduce two ships in August: Silver Origin and Silver Moon, the latter is the sister-ship to the hugely popular Silver Muse – look out for SALT (Sea and Land Taste) which will play a big part on board. Silver Origin will the line’s custom-built ship for the Galapagos and offers the most luxurious way to see the paradise islands. Both ships will be the first that the line has launched since it became part of the Royal Caribbean family.
MSC – Virtuosa
Virtuosa, the second ship in MSC’s Meraviglia Plus-class, will launch this September. The ship is big – like its sister, Grandiosa – and can carry almost 6,300 guests when at full capacity. It has all of the great partnerships that MSC has become synonymous with, such as Cirque du Soleil, the vast LED promenade and even a contemporary fine art museum. The ship will be all about fun and entertainment.
The second ship in Royal’s Quantum Ultra-class, following the launch of Spectrum of the Seas last year, will launch this November. These ships have all the bells and whistles – a greatest hits of Royal’s most recent innovations, including an upgraded SeaPlex and FlowRider, Ripcord by iFly, North Star and Skypads. Odyssey of the Seas will be in the Mediterranean for summer 2021.