By Simon & Susan Veness
Here at Veness Towers, we like to look ahead as much as possible, partly because looking back gives us a crick in the neck but also because we hate to see how much of the year has already passed (especially as the Christmas adverts are already on TV).
It’s a truism to say that time flies and each year goes by faster, but time genuinely does fly these days, and the fact it is almost half-past October when we keep thinking it’s August is truly indicative of how much we struggle to keep up with the calendar.
But enough of our diary woes; this week’s blog does have a time connection, but it is all about next year, and anticipating a genuinely exciting crop of new ships that promise to take our maritime meanderings all the way to 11 in terms of enjoyment.
Just a quick glance at the order books of the world’s shipyards was enough to convince us that 2020 should be one for the record books, with no fewer than 24 new vessels lined up to roll out of the manufacturers and into the various ports of the globe.
(Mind you, it won’t stay a record for long – there are 26 ships lined up for 2021, but that’s a whole different story for another day!)
As if 24 isn’t a significant enough number, fully 16 of the group will be under 60,000 tons, with 13 in the size class we like to call ‘dainty’ at 25,000 tons or less. That’s a remarkable figure for the small-ship cruise lines of the world. Go back just 10 years and it was hard to find any vessel being built under 100,000 tons.
This, of course, means those of us who prefer the more small-scale, distinctive and individual experience will be spoiled for choice next year, so we thought it would be a good idea to highlight our top 10 new cruise ships for 2020, going in roughly chronological order.
Regent Seven Seas – Seven Seas Splendor
We’ve already flagged up the mouth-watering new Spa programme coming to all Regent ships in last week’s blog, but this dramatic development is the direct result of all the focus on the Seven Seas Splendor, which will debut in January. Not only will this new, 54,000-ton paragon raise the bar for the line’s already superb onboard quality, but Regent’s first newbuild for four years will also build on the success of sister ship Seven Seas Explorer in refining this all-balcony, all-suite style to the nth degree.
Virgin Voyages – Scarlet Lady
Okay, we have to make a slight exception here, as the debut Virgin vessel brand is anything but small at 110,000 tons, but we are intrigued by the adults-only nature of Sir Richard Branson’s maritime venture. There will certainly be a series of fresh experiences onboard, including innovative technology, original entertainment, a unique thermal Spa and ‘RockStar’ Suites. Virgin promises a “sanctuary at sea for the over-18 traveller,” and this will definitely be something different in the cruise world.
Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic Endurance
Lindblad has long been a watchword for distinguished, thoughtful expedition travel, but they have never truly dabbled in the luxury end of the market – until next year. Their first all-new ship will feature the distinctive X-bow design that marks a new frontier in smooth, energy-efficient sailing, as well as a terrific array of amenities for exploring in the more extreme parts of the world.
Sea Cloud Cruises – Sea Cloud Spirit
Here’s another long-lived cruise line that will take charge of its first completely new vessel in 2020, this time in the fabulous form of the 6,000-ton, 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit, a genuine, state-of-the-art yacht. It will be comfortably the biggest ship in the fleet (almost twice the size of running mates Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II), and introduce balcony cabins, a generous Spa and enhanced dining to an existing high-quality mix.
Saga Cruises – Spirit of Adventure
We probably didn’t pay enough attention to the arrival of Saga’s first complete new-build earlier this year, so let’s put that right with a look ahead to sister ship Spirit of Adventure, which will set sail in June next year. Being touted as “the second wave of boutique luxury,” the follow-up of the 58,000-ton Discovery-class will tweak the impressive formula with the world’s first Nepalese restaurant at sea, a high-quality Italian-themed dining room, Supper Club, steakhouse and live entertainment venue. In short, it’s a great premium offering in an ideal size.
Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection – Unnamed
We hate the fact the famous hotel chain has yet to give a name to the first ship of its new cruise fleet, which is due to launch next June, but we love all the details we’ve heard about to date. The sumptuous design caters for 149 suites and will include some of the most high-end dining at sea, most notably a restaurant from Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg.
Hurtigruten – Fridtjof Nansen
This will be the latest addition to the Norwegian line’s rapidly-expanding stable of expedition ships, featuring Hurtigruten’s revolutionary battery hybrid-powered propulsion system that we have already seen with the impressive Roald Amundsen this year. It combines the latest eco-friendly technology with premium onboard experiences, all allied to the company’s 125 years of experience.
Silversea Cruises – Silver Moon
Last year, we waxed lyrical about the relatively new Silver Muse, the 40,000-ton flagship of Silverseas Cruises, and her delicious array of elegant, onboard dining. Her new sibling, Silver Moon, will take the Muse framework and enhance it with some additional touches such as their inventive S.A.L.T. regional dining programme, new main lounge and enriched Spa. We will have no hesitation at all in signing up for this one!
Crystal Cruises – Crystal Endeavor
We’ve written a lot about the breathtaking new addition to the Crystal stable (including this blog in August), and we expect the 20,000-ton, six-star expedition ship to be the latest gold standard in adventure-style cruising, with a dazzling array of onboard facilities for a vessel that will explore the most remote sea-going areas of the planet. Crystal’s exquisite onboard ambience is already well-established, and taking it into this new realm is totally enticing.
Quark Expeditions – Ultramarine
We’re positively blown away by the number of new expedition vessels hitting the high seas in 2020, and Quark will have the latest contender in this category next November. Equipped with two helicopters, Ultramarine will offer cutting-edge adventure activities, the most spacious suites in its category, breathtaking public spaces, and expansive outdoor viewing spaces. It also offers an eye-opening 70-day operational range and enticing mix of sustainability features. Expedition cruisers, you’ve never had it so good!
So, which of the forthcoming new cruise ships for 2020 is likely to be your favourite? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.