There is a term in the travel industry for that time of year when more cruises are booked than any other…WAVE SEASON. And it is NOW!
Families and friends have lots of time together over the holidays, and they often speak about and begin to plan vacations for some quality time away from the many demands of today’s world. There is no better place to gather your people than on a cruise ship. There is truly something for everyone, even if you always thought “I will never want to cruise”.
But wait! I am not here to give you the reasons why you should take a cruise. You may contact me sometime soon to have that conversation. I am a CLIA-Certified Master Cruise Counselor and, trust me, I have heard all the objections. This is to give you a heads up about all the amazing ocean class ships, big and small, sailing their maiden voyage in 2017, or very recently sailed. (Watch for a subsequent blog on the river cruise class.)
***Credit for this article to “Vacation Agent Magazine December 2016 Issue, The Magazine for Professional Sellers of Leisure Travel.”
Having entered service November 30. 2016, this 600 passenger ultra-luxury ship features incredible interiors by renowned designer Adam D. Tihany. Every suite has a private veranda, and practically everything is included: famed French chef Thomas Keller cuisine, open bars, and top-rated service await you. A sister ship, Ovation, will join the fleet in 2018. A sample itinerary is shown left. Nice!
You may be familiar with Viking for river cruising, but these are ocean vessels debuting in February and November. Highlights for these 928 passenger ships include two pools, one an infinity pool aft (my favorite place to be on a ship!) Scandinavian design, no-fee specialty restaurants, and a Nordic Spa complete with sauna and snow grotto. I think it’s also cool that they include a shore excursion in each port, Wi-Fi, self-serve laundry and wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner.
Silversea Silver Muse
With a capacity for 596 pampered guests, this flagship of ultra-luxury Silversea comes with butlers for every suite, an amazing service ratio of nearly one-one, a hour of free Wi-Fi per day (unlimited for select suite categories), open bar and gratuities. There are eight restaurants, including the elegant French La Dame, inspired by Relais & Chateaux.
This U.S.-flagged ship, its maiden voyage May 6, 2017, will carry 170 passengers in New England and the East Coast. Note that the cabins will be expansive by industry standards, and includes solo cabins of 226 square feet, 350 sq ft balcony staterooms and 450 sq ft Owner’s Suites.
MSC Merviglia (means “wonder” in English)
She’s sailing her maiden voyage in June with a 4,500 passenger capacity. Like many of the mega ships, she will feature both a luxury section (they call this MSC Yacht Club) and what we call “mass market”-priced staterooms. The Yacht club will be larger than on their other ships, with “lavishly appointed” suites, 24-hour butler service, private restaurant and unlimited drinks in the club bars.
Highlights include a giant LED screen on the ceiling of the promenade, Two Cirque du Soleil shows and 12 restaurants.
She’s the largest debut (in December,2017) at 5,179 passengers, and features a 360-degree ocean level promenade with eateries and shops. The first MSC ship to be christened in the U.S., it will sail year-round from Miami. Lots of fun for families here: a full-sized bowling alley, a kids-only restaurant, and a multi-story water park with five slides and an adventure trail.
This 100 guest ship will serve Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic and was built with a shallow draft, allowing the exploration of coastal waters, shallow coves, and channels in the remote areas of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize. It enters service in June and will fly the U.S. flag, carrying sea kayaks, paddle boards and landing craft. Wow.
The vessel is made for the adventurous. Spacious cabins, open decks for wildlife viewing, and it will have some cool specialty items for exploration: a remotely operated vehicle, video microscope, and even a hydrophone and bow-cam so you can hear (and film) humpback whale vocalizations and bow-riding dolphins.
Flying Clipper (Star Clippers)
Serving 300 passengers, this true sailing vessel is set to enter the market in late 2017. She will be a five-masted barque and powered by 35 sails, although she will also have ecologically sound, hig0tech engines as well. Highlights will include a water sports platform, open seating during dining, three pools, a bowsprit net and a lively Tropical Bar. ( I was unable to find a computer image of her.)
This is Star Clippers first new-build in 15 years, and it sounds fabulous! She will sail the Mediterranean in the summer and Caribbean in the winter.
In addition to these, the Asian market will get two new ships (although American will be in the minority on board as the cruise companies cater to the Chinese traveler). Norwegian Joy, carrying 3,900 friends, debuts in the summer in Shanghai and Beijing and the 3,560 guest Majestic Princess (Princess Cruises) sails April 4 from Shanghai.
If you would like more information about any of these ships, feel free to reach out. I would love to hear from you! In the meantime, if you live in the snow belt, stay warm as you plan your own fun in the sun!