Few events are more exciting than the long-anticipated arrival of a new cruise ship, escorted by fire boats, as it enters its new homeport for the ceremonial breaking of a champagne bottle over the bow.
In 2010 alone, more than ten cruise ships will make their debut – from the world’s second 6,300-passenger behemoth to a stately British ocean liner and an ultra-luxurious vessel carrying just 450 privileged guests. Here’s our line-by-line look at several of the new stars scheduled to shine by year’s end.
The 122,000-ton Celebrity Eclipse, sister ship to both Celebrity Solstice (which debuted in 2008) and Celebrity Equinox (which debuted in 2009), is another stunning option for cruisers in search of a more sophisticated ambience. The ship boasts a glassblowing studio, a solarium with an indoor pool, several upscale “alternative” restaurants, and Celebrity’s innovative Lawn Club. Celebrity Eclipse will make her debut in Europe on April 26th before repositioning to the Caribbean. Beginning in November, the ship will offer alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries sailing roundtrip from Miami.
The 92,700-ton Costa Deliziosa is distinguished by her exotic homeport – following her maiden voyage on May 5th, this 2,260-passenger ship will take up residence in Dubai and set sail on a series of weeklong cruises to the equally-exotic ports of Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Fujairah, and Muscat. Guests will find some very exotic “toys” onboard, too. Highlights include PlayStation®3 consoles in every stateroom, a 4-D cinema, a racing car simulator, and a golf simulator that allows players to choose from 37 different 18-hole championship courses.
A brand-new British liner, the 90,400-ton Queen Elizabeth, will join Cunard’s historic fleet on October 12th in Europe. This 2,092-passenger vessel boasts an enormous ballroom (with orchestra), a grand theater (with box seats), and an extensive onboard enrichment program. Guests opting to stay in the ship’s Princess and Queen’s Grill suites will also enjoy al fresco dining nightly in a private courtyard, as well as access to separate restaurants serving some very sumptuous food. Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural voyages are scheduled for the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Once completed, she will then set sail on a 103-day “World Cruise” visiting 35 unique ports of call in 23 different countries.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
The 86,000-ton Nieuw Amsterdam, featuring private cabanas that may be rented for the day, debuts in Venice (Italy) on July 4th. The ship’s specialty restaurants are especially elegant – both the Tamarind and the Silk Den Lounge boast stunning sea views, while guests of the Pinnacle Grill enjoy fine steak and seafood served on Bvlgari china and Frette linens. Passengers can also indulge their passion for gourmet food and wine via the interactive lessons available in the Culinary Arts Center’s state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen. After a brief stay in the Mediterranean, Nieuw Amsterdam will reposition to Fort Lauderdale to begin a series of 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruises.
The 2,518-passenger MSC Magnifica enters service on March 7th and will spend a season cruising the Mediterranean before heading to North America. The fourth in a series of 93,000-ton MSC vessels, this Italian cruise ship is home to a 16,000-square-foot spa, five restaurants, and three pools (one of which features a retractable roof, so that cruisers may still lounge on deck whenever the weather doesn’t cooperate). On September 4th, MSC Magnifica will depart the Mediterranean and embark on an 18-night voyage to New York. From there, she will sail a series of Canada/New England cruises before moving on to the Caribbean.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Arguably the biggest star in 2010’s roster of new ships, NCL’s 153,000-passenger Norwegian Epic is sure to please cruisers of all ages. Guests enjoy a choice of 14 restaurants or 18 different bars/lounges, and cutting-edge features abound. Kids will love the ship’s Aqua Park and its three waterslides, the only inner-tube slide at sea, and special performances by their favorite NickelodeonTM characters. Active cruisers will appreciate the ship’s repelling wall, rock-climbing wall, and bowling alley. Nightlife options include an ice bar, the POSH Beach Club (featuring private cabanas and a huge cascading waterfall), and live performances by Blue Man Group© in the ship’s 685-seat theater. Staterooms for solo cruisers, who will also enjoy access to a private meeting lounge, are among the ship’s innovative accommodation options (as are NCL’s Courtyard Villas, lavish suites offering exclusive entrée to a pool area boasting a restaurant and grill). Norwegian Epic debuts in New York City on July 4th. The ship then moves to Miami, her year-round homeport, where she will embark on a series of weeklong Caribbean itineraries.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
Like her sister ship (the mold-breaking Oasis of the Seas), the 225,282-ton Allure of the Seas will offer travelers a selection of 7-night Caribbean cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale (Allure will alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries beginning on December 5th). Expect to find the same amazing onboard innovations, too, including zip lining, ice skating, and themed “neighborhoods” (BoardwalkSM is home to a huge wooden carousel and lavish AquaTheater performances, while Central Park’sSM trees and other foliage accent the area’s restaurants, lounges, and shops). Tailor-made for active families seeking non-stop excitement and lots of dining, entertainment, and nightlife options.
THE YACHTS OF SEABOURN
The 32,000-ton Seabourn Sojourn, which enters service on June 6th, is the ultimate in pampered luxury. Boasting some of the largest suites in the industry, this 450-passenger cruise ship offers guests a choice of four restaurants, an enormous spa with sybaritic treatments, and some of the world’s most exotic itineraries. As is customary with Seabourn, your fare includes practically everything – your stateroom, your airfare, gratuities, and all beverages (including wine and liquor). Following her inaugural season in the Mediterranean, Seabourn Sojourn will make her way to Fort Lauderdale to embark on a series of Caribbean sailings.
© Anne Campbell, 2010