I posted recently about the new river cruise ships, and perhaps you’d thought I’d forgotten about this year’s ocean-faring vessels. Not so! The cruise lines, as usual, have so much to offer on this front that I must really put some work into the research… and 2011 has certainly delivered a robust crop of new vessels. These bold new ships showcase innovations, itineraries and amenities that take the traditional cruise vacation to a whole new level.
So what do the most recent ships to hit the water have to offer? And what’s in store for ships debuting in 2011?
Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth had her maiden voyage October 12, 2010. This 2,092-passenger ship recalls the luxury and glamour of elegant steamships with gleaming marble surfaces, polished woods, and plush fabrics. Traditions abound: There are rounds of croquet on the Games Deck, afternoon tea is served by white-gloved waiters and guests enjoy elegant dancing in the splendid double-level Queen’s Room ballroom. Cunard’s staterooms, too, are fabulously luxurious, with 71 percent having balconies. Guests staying in the highest category of suites will enjoy the services of a butler, plus priority embarkation and disembarkation.
Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas launched December 5, 2010, and offers something for everyone. This 5,400-passenger ship provides outstanding amenities for youth, including the Adventure Ocean Theater and Science Lab, teen areas and a nursery service for the tiniest cruisers. In addition, there’s the H2O Zone aqua park and full-size carousel on board!
Royal Caribbeans’s Allure of the Seas is also home to adult pursuits, offering a full service spa, an adults-only solarium, casinos and nightclubs. Guests will enjoy the state-of-the-art fitness center, which includes cardio and resistance machines and Pilates, kickboxing, yoga and spinning classes. The ship’s distinctive two-story Loft Suites are equipped with televisions, up-and downstairs bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Oceania Cruises Marina had its maiden voyage January 22 and will accommodate 1,260 passengers. The Marina offers guests Oceania’s signature “finest cuisine at sea” in six restaurants, including two new gourmet venues — Jacques and Red Ginger. The new Bon Appétit Culinary Center provides cooking instruction from master chefs, and artists-in-residence teach fine arts in the Artist Loft. Most cabins (90 percent) have private balconies, marble-and-granite bathrooms and LCD flat-screen televisions. There is also the full-service Canyon Ranch® SpaClub.
Disney Cruises’ Disney Dream set sail January 26 and accommodates 2,500 passengers. This new ship is roughly 40 percent larger and two decks taller than Disney’s other ships, the Magic and the Wonder, so expect big things from this larger package! Disney, always known for its family-friendly amenities, has stepped it up on this ship. Look for a combination waterslide/rollercoaster (the “Aquaduck”), as well live musical shows, youth clubs and Goofy’s Sport Deck, which boasts a miniature golf course, virtual sports simulators and a basketball/volleyball court. Adults can enjoy 11 cafes, nightclubs and bars, the Quiet Cove (adults only) pool, and the full service spa and fitness center. And here’s a neat new industry trick; on the Dream, inside cabins will have outside views, via a porthole-shaped monitor that receives footage from cameras mounted outside the ship!
On the horizon:
AIDA is Germany’s preferred cruise line, so there is much excitement about the debut of the 2,184-passenger AIDAsol on April 9. It is the fifth ship in the popular AIDA Sphinx class, known for a casual atmosphere that incorporates enormous wellness areas and glitzy ship interiors. Catering to younger Cruisers, AIDAsol has an on-board microbrewery that features beer brewed from purified sea water, a high tech 4D theater, complete with moving chairs, water- and air-jets and “artificially generated” odors. This ship will cruise both the Baltic and the Canary Islands.
Compagnie Du Ponant is putting into servicethe second of two super-yachts, the 264-passenger L’Austral , on April 27. True to Compagnie Du Ponant’s promise, this ship provides relaxation and pampering, with amenities designed to meet the needs of every guest. Among its offerings are a 250-person theatre, a “fitness and beauty corner” and a leisure area with Wii and slot machines. The Gastronomic Restaurant, situated on Le Liberté Deck, serves French and international cuisine complemented by fine wine. The L’Austral will cruise to the Mediterranean, Morocco, the Cape Verde Islands, Western Africa, and will join sister ship L’Boreal as the most deluxe cruise ships visiting Antarctica.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Magic sails May 1, with a capacity of 3,652 passengers, and will be the largest vessel in Carnival’s fleet at 130,000 tons. The ship will feature deluxe oceanview staterooms with two bathrooms, and spa staterooms and suites with elite amenities and spa privileges. The ship will also showcase the WaterWorks aqua park and the enormous Cloud 9 spa, as well as hot tubs that extend beyond the ship’s beam.
The Yachts of Seabourn’s Seabourn Quest , launching June 20, will be three times the size of its original ships, but will carry only twice as many passengers (just 450!), ensuring a roomy experience for its guests. The majority of the ship’s cabins (90 percent) will have balconies and all feature granite bathrooms. The indulgent spa will feature whirlpools, Finnish saunas, aromatic steam rooms, a gym and an aerobics area. The ship will have four restaurants as well as in-suite dining.
Costa Cruises Costa Favolosa , launching July 7 and carrying 3,502 passengers, will feature the state-of-the-art Samsara Spa. The widely reputed spa will incorporate personalized Ayurvedic treatments, massages with special oils, and the purifying heat of a sauna. Costa Cruises Costa Favolosa also promises six new suites featuring hot tubs on the verandas. The ship will also showcase a playground area and guests will be captivated by state-of-the-art 4D Cinema. Costa Favolosa also features luxury decorator touches such as granite, travertine, onyx and alabaster as well as many fine woods.
Celebrity’s Celebrity Silhouette, with a capacity of 2,850 passengers, will feature wireless internet access, and flat-screen televisions in the staterooms – 85 percent of which will have private balconies. The ship, launching July 23, will also showcase Celebrity Solstice-class amenities such as The Lawn Club, The Hot Glass Show, art gallery and theatre with large production and musical shows.
As always, the cruise lines have provided a wide array of new cruising options for the consumer in 2011. The ships on this list comprise new ocean-faring vessels. (There are a number of river cruise vessels joining the ranks this year as well! I blogged about them here…)
*Ships passenger capacity information provided with the assistance of Cruise Lines International Association(CLIA).