Is the cruise industry trying to resuscitate its image? The old adage that cruise goers are either, newlywed, nearly dead or over fed is no longer accurate with the creation of the mega liner. In the next eighteen months, over 28 new ships will see their maiden voyage, each with new and improved features and several new-to-cruise-ship amenities. Even the older ships are being refitted with waterslides, adults-only serenity spaces, and nightclubs that push the limits; all pointing to a reinvention of the cruise ship image.
Six of the leading cruise ship lines are vying for the top dog position in mega liners:
The Oasis of the Seas hosts its inaugural sailing December 2009. What more can I say, but spectacular? Royal Caribbean has outdone itself with this innovative addition to its line. The ship features seven unique neighborhoods each with amenities that wow their guests. The Sports deck has two flow riders for travelers to try out surfing, a zip line across the Boardwalk, a basketball / volleyball court, mini-golf, an aqua park for families, sports pool for laps, the beach pool with a sloped entry, the main pool, 10 whirlpools, plus the tranquil Solarium for adults to relax.
The staterooms are to die for as well, anything from a standard stateroom to two-story loft sky suites are available. Balconies opening to the sea as well as over the Boardwalk expand their balcony staterooms options.
The Rising Tide Bar is another exemplary feature as the bar slowly transitions from the Royal Promenade inside, to the Central Park deck, which is outside. The Oasis itinerary alternates from a Western to an Eastern Caribbean trip leaving out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The second ship in this class, the Allure of the Seas will launch in 2010.
Celebrity’s Equinox will sail the summer of 2009. The Equinox is a sister ship to the Solstice which set sail in late 2008. Their featured lawn club offers a chance to sail the open seas with grass under foot. In an attempt to recreate the country club atmosphere, Celebrity is growing its own lawn and playing yard games on it top deck, patio included. Also check out the glass blowing show! This is a first ever for a cruise line, Corning Museum of Glass hosts enrichment opportunities as a team of glass blowers amaze audiences with their mesmerizing show, creating works of art for all to see.
If a spa setting is more your speed, you can venture out in one of the Aquaspa Veranda staterooms. Special wellness programming, access to the Aquaspa relaxation room and Persian garden, VIP invitations to events are just a few of the amenities offered in these luxurious staterooms. The Equinox will home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after cruising around Europe starting July 2009. The third ship in this class, the Celebrity Eclipse will launch in 2010.
Carnival is launching the Dream October of 2009. The Cove Balconies will be the newest and coolest feature onboard. These balconies will be the closest to the water line providing exceptional views, so close that in case of rough seas, a crew member will close the weather doors on the balcony to prevent water from coming in! If families are interested in traveling in the same suite, staterooms accommodating up to five guests are now available.
On the Promenade deck, travelers can walk a full half-mile in the open air and check out the four whirlpools overhanging the ocean. The Ocean Plaza is an impressive indoor/ outdoor area with live music, a coffee and chocolate bar and dare I say, an ice cream parlor. The Dream will call Port Canaveral, Florida home. The Dream’s sister ship, Magic will launch in 2011.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The NCL Epic will set sail in May 2010. Did someone say ice please? The Epic has the one and only ice bar afloat. Just like the Scandinavian hotels and super posh ice bars NCL has created a chilly (nothing higher than 17 degrees Fahrenheit) and way cool bar where the guests will don fur coats, gloves, and hats to enjoy the bar’s northern lights show and sip their favorite beverage.
The outside staterooms, all 1,415 of them are balcony rooms. Their new design is very sleek and very modern in a wave shape. The walls curve and flow… totally bizarre, but very chic! Most of their public spaces are multipurpose; during the day a pool, and at night it becomes a dance floor. Their exclusive POSH Beach club starts the morning with yoga as you watch the sunrise, midmorning the POSH Rehab starts with Salty Dogs, Bloody Mary’s, and Mimosas to recover from the evening before. Afternoon brings on the funky beach music and spiked sno-cones, evening brings a true Riviera style party; dancing under the stars, lounging on POSH beds all while enjoying drinks on silver tray service. The Epic will start her service from Miami, Florida.
Costa Cruises will actually launch two ships this season in June of 2009, the Pacifica, which fits into the mega liner class, and the Luminosa, which is an extreme luxury class vessel.
The Pacifica, being launched as Costa’s newest flagship, has a music theme; to emphasize this theme, it has its own recording studio where you can create your own trip CD. Moreover, Costa has made arrangements with Sony to put a Playstation (PS3) in each cabin and offer up Playstation nights on the mega screen by the pool… Singstar or Buzz (quiz game) anyone? If you aren’t into singing or quiz games, you can also take advantage of its full-size Grand Prix racecar driving simulator.
Like its sister ships the Concordia and the Serena, the Pacifica will include the Asian inspired Samsara spa complex. Pacifica will sail from Civitavecchia / Rome, Italy throughout the summer 2009 season.
Out of the 1,130 cabins aboard the Luminosa, 772 are Veranda cabins, boasting the largest number of private balconies in her fleet. The Luminosa has all of the standard features found on the Costa line, the Samsara spa, mega screen and PS3 consoles in staterooms. In addition, you will find a top of the line golf simulator as well as putting greens and a jogging / rollerblading path on the outdoor spaces. Her homeport will be Amsterdam starting summer of 2009 with itineraries to the Baltic States and the Norwegian Fjords lasting 11 to 14 nights.
The MSC’s Fantasia, the largest ship ever built by a European ship owner set sail December 2008. She embodies pure elegance with luxury amenities at every turn. She is being touted as the most beautiful ship in the world.
The Fantasia’s Yacht Club is the most lavish VIP treatment offered by a cruise line. The outstanding service you receive as a “Yacht Club” member starts at check-in, which takes place in a reserved area directly on the ship. One of their highly trained butlers explains all of the exclusive amenities available in addition to conducting a private tour of the area. Not only do you have access to the spa, private pool, the Top Sail Lounge, and a complimentary mini-bar, the newspaper of your choice can be delivered to your suite every morning. How is that for exceptional service?
The Fantasia also caters to families with an acquapark with 150 fountains in sync with lights and music, a 4-D interactive theater, Formula 1 racing simulator and a teen disco.
Concerned about the environment? MSC proudly boasts the title of ECO ship on its three newest vessels. Everything from water treatment processes to savings in energy and protecting the environment have played a part in the design of the MSC ships. The Fantasia sails from Barcelona, Italy.
The Splendida will launch in the summer of 2009 and the Magnifica will set sail in 2010.