The New Year frequently ushers in multiple stories about new ships for the months ahead and, more recently, a raft of ship orders for the future. It’s a great time to be a shipyard, as well as a cruise passenger looking for the next option or having a maiden voyage to look forward to.
2019 has certainly started with a welter of announcements about new arrivals and orders, and we are scratching our heads to try to recall another year that has provided such a rich and varied start, with SO much to think about – and plan ahead for.
Typically, this time of year is when the cruise agents (like our hosts, The Cruise Line) put out some of their most tempting deals and special offers to get us all excited about the possibilities for a voyage (or two), so our sea-going senses are already on full alert for anything novel.
Just last week, Oceania Cruises popped up with a fabulous announcement about a whole new class of vessel in the works for their distinctive brand, which typically features a strong destination focus as well as outstanding dining. The current six-ship fleet – the four 30,000-ton originals of the Regatta-class and the Marina-class duo at 66,000 tons – will be boosted in 2022 and 2025 by the all-new Allura-class, weighing in at 67,000 tons and accommodating 1,200 passengers.
It’s an exciting line-up, too, taking the popular design elements and signature amenities of their award-winning larger pair while adding an additional level of comfort, convenience and luxury features. Company president Bob Binder explained: “This class will represent an evolution of the Oceania experience with all the elements our guests treasure – a warm, intimate, residential-style; the most spacious standard staterooms afloat; amazing suites; and of course, the finest cuisine at sea.”
Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, added: “We are excited to expand the Oceania fleet with our new Allura-class ships to meet the strong demand for upscale culinary and destination-focused cruise vacations around the globe. This new class will further elevate our already best-in-class guest experience and meaningfully strengthen demand from both new and loyal returning guests.”
That was last week. This week opened with this piece of news:
“Southampton (Jan. 15, 2019) — Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the leading luxury ocean cruise line, today announced an order with Italy’s Fincantieri S.p.A. to build another stunning cruise ship that will continue to set the standard for defining elegance at sea. With delivery scheduled in late 2023, the new vessel will be a sister ship to the award-winning Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious ship ever built, and Seven Seas Splendor, the ship that perfects luxury.”
And, while that is probably a tad over-zealous in its typically flowery language, it is another major signpost on the road to maritime Nirvana for those of us who enjoy the truly ultra-luxe style when it comes to a cruise holiday. Simply put, the upper-end cruise lines can’t build their ships fast enough to cater to the demand.
Accommodating up to 750 guests in its 55,000 tons, the spacious newcomer will be Regent’s sixth all-suite vessel and the third to be built by Fincantieri. The company has yet to reveal any details about itineraries, suites, restaurants, amenities and onboard experiences, but the inaugural season will go on sale in 2021, so we can expect all that essential info to be unveiled in the next 18 months or so.
Jason Montague, Regent’s president and chief executive officer, insisted: “Over the past 12 months, Regent has completed a $125million remodelling of our fleet, started construction on Seven Seas Splendor, unveiled our 2020-21 Voyage Collection with 167 itineraries and new ports, introduced new relaxed outdoor evening dining venues on our ships, debuted the most immersive luxury Cuban itineraries, revealed Go Local Tours and Regent Choice small group shore excursions, and now we announce one more category-defining luxury cruise ship. These are exciting times for everyone associated with Regent and we can’t wait to show you what’s next.”
Again, even overlooking all that flowery prose, we can’t, either.
No sooner had we cleared that little boatload from our Inbox than in came the next cruise missive, with yet another tempting call to action in its Subject field. Crystal Cruises? A World cruise? Colour us immensely interested. Again, it is a forward-looking press release and, again, it is the kind of thing that has us looking intently at our calendars.
It is certainly a global journey of great significance in 2021, a 139-day circumnavigation aboard Crystal Serenity, sailing eastwards from the Caribbean and taking in Hawaii, the South Pacific, Australia, south-east Asia, the Middle East, Suez and the Mediterranean, including a full transit of the Panama Canal, a call at Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and an exploration of the Winelands of western Europe.
Crystal is calling it their Ancient Dynasties and World Wonders cruise, and it comes with its own sumptuous 40-page brochure highlighting all the lavish delights in store. It is the kind of thing that makes you wonder about taking early retirement to spend almost five months at sea in such splendid and evocative surroundings.
If like us, you can’t afford to devote quite that much time to such peripatetic grandeur, it’s good to know it can still be experienced in much more manageable – if less grandiose – bites. There will be nine different segments from 12 to 21 days, as well as shorter long-distance options. The complete itinerary sails from Miami to London (Jan 5 to May 24, 2021), but then there are sections from Los Angeles to London (Jan 21 to May 24, 123 days); Miami to Rome (Jan 5 to May 12, 127 days); or Los Angeles to Rome (Jan 21 to May 12, 111 days).
As ever it whets our cruise curiosity like nothing else in the wide world of travel and you can be sure there will be much perusing of calendars (and bank balances) at Veness Towers in the coming months!
What do you think of all this new ship extravagance? Are you ready to book a cruise with Oceania or Regent, or a world voyage with Crystal? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.