It has been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began and while the virus affected the whole world, it is arguable that no industry has been as negatively impacted as travel and tourism. Borders were closed to international visitors, hotels turned away guests, and airlines cut capacity across the board.
So, one year out from COVID-19 becoming the major issue in North America, some travel is back on track, with a few destinations even experiencing a renaissance. However, there is one segment of travel that has not been given the chance to restart in North America, and that’s the cruise industry.
Cruising, which has had successful restarts in the Mediterranean and Singapore, and has been approved in the U.K., is still awaiting final CDC approval to restart North America sailing. And while the timetable remains unclear, when it does resume, cruise execs expect pent-up demand to make 2021 a “boom time” for the industry. And that includes new capacity coming online.
Here are just five of the new builds, some of which would have already been sailing if not for COVID-19, set to hit the water once cruising returns:
Photo: Carnival Cruise Line.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Mardi Gras
Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras was set to be the highlight new build of 2021 for Carnival. The ship was originally it was set to debut in April, a date that has since been moved to at least June, according to Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy.
The ship pays homage to the brand’s original and beloved “Fun Ship” from 1972, with a bright red-white-and-blue color scheme on its hull, but with features that are much more present than past, including the first roller coaster at sea, a cruise-ship version of Family Feud, the Ultimate Playground, and a brand-new restaurant from Emeril Lagasse.
Aside from those highlights, Carnival is debuting some new concepts on Mardi Gras that it expects to make waves in the industry.
One is the Loft 19 area for Carnival Excel suite guests. The “resort-style enclave on the very top of the ship includes a full bar, pool, and cabanas,” Carnival’s Duffy said when the line announced the plans in 2019. The area will be in addition to Serenity, which is Carnival's ship-within-a-ship concert on its Vista-class ships.
While Loft 19 will offer a private retreat for suite guests, it will also be open for reservations to all guests onboard.
Photo: Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Regent’s Seven Seas Splendor
Shifting from mass market to ultra-luxury, Seven Seas Splendor, the second ship in Regent’s Explorer Class, is the next one on the list.
Seven Sea Splendor scheduled to make its debut in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit. While Regent was able to welcome some onboard the vessel, which is a sister ship to Seven Seas Explorer, a ship that is often referred to as the most luxurious ship ever built, the plan now is to relaunch the ship once the line is able.
Splendor is outfitted with eye-popping luxury touches, such as its 15 different suite categories and more than 46,000 square feet of Italian marble onboard, including the marble-detailed bathrooms in each of its 375 guest suites and 500 crystal chandeliers illuminating the ship's interior. Each balcony space per suite will average 138 square feet.
Elsewhere, the ship’s Observation Lounge, inspired by an English garden, will incorporate a light and airy color palette. A chandelier comprised of hand-painted porcelain flowers, peonies, and roses are the centerpiece. Specially commissioned art by Gorman Studios incorporates hand-painted English roses and flowers on glass screens to reflect the look of porcelain chandeliers.