The five most innovative rooms at sea
Adam Coulter, Cruise Critic UK managing editor, ignores the glitz and selects his top five most imaginative standard cabins available on cruise lines today
Cruise lines are always pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation, but it’s often the high-profile innovations – the first go-kart track at sea! The first dodgems at sea! – that grab the headlines.
However, behind the scenes there are a whole lot of other ways the lines are working to make your clients’ cruise even better – and one of those ways is cabin innovation.
Putting aside the headline-grabbing suites with baby grand pianos and chandeliers for a moment, let’s take
a peek at what the lines are doing at the standard cabin level – and how that might benefit your client.
1. Celebrity Edge’s infinite balconies (pictured main)
Celebrity edge is the new class of ship from Celebrity Cruises, debuting next year. The feature that has grabbed the imagination is the large orange platform stuck to the side of the ship which goes from deck to deck, but forget that. The big wow is what Celebrity has done to the inside of the ship, effectively reversing its structure from outside to in. What does that mean? Simply put, it means seamless cabins or as Celebrity puts it “infinite balconies”. If you’re describing it, think of a traditional ship balcony – welded to the side with an ugly ridge and a heavy door which slams shut. Edge’s balconies are actually part of the ship’s superstructure, so are part
of the cabin itself. Together with doors that fold back and a balcony window that slides up at the touch
of a button, you’ve effectively got an extra room – adding 25 per cent more space to your cabin.
2. River lines
Where did Celebrity get the idea for its infinite balconies? The river lines, which have been quietly reshaping the traditional balcony cabin shape, partly through necessity. Unlike ocean ships, river ships cruising on Europe’s waterways are tightly bound by size restrictions – no ship can be bigger or taller than the widest lock or bridge. But cruisers demand balconies, and not just French-style ones. So, the lines have been coming up with different ways to increase limited space, and one of those ways is through balconies cut into the side of the ship, as on AmaWaterways. Balconies on Uniworld’s newest ships have “open air balconies”, with windows that lower at the touch of a button (exactly the same as on Celebrity’s Edge class).
3. Norwegian Cruise Line’s family-interconnected
Norwegian launched Norwegian Joy in late April and, although the ship is headed straight to China, it’s likely that some of the cabin types debuted on the ship will appear on the line’s next ship, Norwegian Bliss. The new cabin type is ‘Concierge’, which is one down from the villas in The Hven. Concierge class features a number of cabin types, but the one that stands out is the family-interconnected. Primarily introduced for the Chinese market, who travel in large family groups, there is no reason why this wouldn’t be a hit on a Western ship. The cabins comprise three separate rooms, with a master bedroom plus bathroom (with a tub); a living room with a sofa and dining table and a separate second bedroom off this, with a pull-down bed and shower room. There is no balcony, but there is a virtual balcony which shows real-time views of the ocean.
4. Royal Caribbean’s Sky Loft Suites
Not the biggest, nor the most pricey, but the ones which we think are the most innovative. Why? Because they offer a split-level cabin. The cabins debuted several years ago on Oasis of the Seas, but reappeared, refreshed and tweaked, on Harmony of the Seas last year. They are right at the top of the ship (hence the double height), in the Royal Class area, so have access to the suites-only lounge and restaurant, Coastal Kitchen. Having a split-level cabin is like having your own apartment at sea. Although it’s more of a mezzanine, in that the bedroom area is half the space of the living area, you still get a wonderful sense of privacy. The ground area has a separate shower, a writing desk, a large sofa, chairs and access to a deep, wide balcony. The top floor has a large bed and a bathroom with tub, as well as lot of wardrobe space, a retractable TV – and heavy drape curtain for privacy.
5. MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia family cluster cabins
These cabins debuted this year on the world’s largest ship (by capacity), and are in many ways a variation on Norwegian Joy’s family-interconnected cabins. However, these cabins cater for even bigger families or groups, with a maximum capacity of ten. They also differ in that they don’t have a dedicated space for a living room, giving over the third space to an extra cabin. Each has its own bathroom (one with a shower) and they also have two separate balconies, which is a huge bonus for extended family groups. They also have a recessed space for bunk beds, which are effectively built into the wall and allow for extra privacy.
The cabins will also be available on the line’s Seaside class of ship, which debuts in November.