This article is from TMR's second Ocean Cruise Report Card for Travel Agents. The report, which was released this week, is the third in a series of supplier policy report cards designed as a useful resource for travel professionals. It gives agents the most up-to-date trade policies of ocean lines and is available here.
Azamara Club Cruises
The line’s newest ship, Amamara Pursuit, will go into a wet dock in Belfast, Northern Ireland, this spring. Following renovations, the ship will be fitted to accommodate 690 guests. The official christening will take place on a short sailing from Aug. 28-30, 2018.
Azamara also expanded its Cuban itineraries, adding four new sailings and two additional maiden ports of call in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
Carnival Cruise Line
The 3,954-passenger Carnival Horizon, sister ship to the Carnival Vista, will take its maiden voyage on Apr. 2. The ship boasts a Dr. Seuss-themed water park, 800-foot-long sky ride around its top deck, and IMAX Theater. New on Horizon will be a Guy Fieri-themed barbeque eatery and Japanese-style Teppanyaki restaurant. It will sail four- and eight-day itineraries out of New York to Bermuda or the Caribbean, until it moves to its final scheduled homeport of Miami at the end of September.
In November, the Celebrity Edge will sail seven-night itineraries in the Caribbean. The ship boasts the new Edge Stateroom with an infinite veranda and first-ever Magic Carpet, a platform cantilevered off the side of the ship. The Celebrity Eclipse will begin five sailings in Dublin; and the Celebrity Constellation's seven-night Mediterranean itineraries are back. In addition, Celebrity Solstice in Alaska has a longer season and more time spent in port.
Set for redesign, the Crystal Serenity will go into dry dock from Oct. 14 to Nov. 10. The ship will get 36 additional Penthouses and two additional Penthouse Suites, plus new restaurants and other improvements. Crystal’s other ocean vessel, Symphony, completed its renovation late last year. Onboard both ships, Lido Café is getting replaced with a marketplace during the day and a Brazilian-style restaurant at night. Crystal will also provide unlimited complimentary WiFi to all of its passengers.
Sister-ship to the brand new MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview will sail seven-night itineraries in the Western Mediterranean. Extra-wide promenades will provide ample outdoor space, in the form of eating and lounge areas. Designed for warm-weather destinations, the top deck will offer an Aqua Park with four waterslides, ropes course, and ziplines. The 4,132-passenger ship will feature 11 eateries, including an upscale seafood restaurant and a steakhouse.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss will begin sailing this summer in Alaska, becoming the largest vessel ever to cruise to the state, before moving to Miami in November. Offerings range from a 1,000-foot-long go-kart race track – the largest at sea – to a laser tag area on the top deck, to water slides that go out into the ocean. Several new dining concepts will be introduced, including an upscale version of authentic Texas barbeque, an a la carte chocolate-themed dessert eatery, and Norwegian’s first full Starbucks. Like sister-ships Joy and Escape, Bliss will have Tony Award-winning production shows including Jersey Boys and a restaurant-line boardwalk.
Oceania Cruises will offer a complete circumnavigation of Australia on the 684-passenger Regatta on Dec. 13, 2018. The 34-day voyage will begin in Sydney with port stops including Brisbane, Alotau, Komodo, Perth, Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island), Adelaide, and Melbourne, as well as visits to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It will be Oceania’s third circumnavigation cruise of Australia.
Paul Gauguin Cruises
The 332-guest m/s Paul Gauguin will be the first cruise line to visit the port city of Vairao in Tahiti Iti, the smaller, eastern peninsula of the archipelago. Tahiti Iti is scheduled on the seven-night Society Islands & Tahiti Iti voyages and a special 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus.
Paul Gauguin Cruises will also begin offering wedding ceremony and vow renewal packages at Motu Mahana, the cruise line’s private islet off the coast of Taha’a, or in the glass-bottom overwater chapel at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
The Seven Seas Wellness program will be expanded from the Mediterranean to other global regions, though those are yet to be determined. It launched aboard the Seven Seas Voyager with 11 excursions, ranging from Vinyasa yoga on Monte Carlo to hydrothermal therapy in the Thermal Baths of Popes.
The all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner will go into dry dock in April for a bow-to-stern ship-wide refurbishment. When it reemerges in May, it will debut completely refreshed suites and new modern French specialty restaurant, as well as reupholstered soft furnishings of all public spaces.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
The world’s largest ship, Symphony of the Seas, will make its debut. Onboard, passengers will find the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; Hooked, Royal Caribbean's first dedicated seafood restaurant; and new Broadway-caliber entertainment, including Hairspray and an original production. For families, the two-level Ultimate Family Suite has everything from a slide to a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall to a theater-style TV room, complete with a popcorn machine and a library of video games.
Royal Caribbean will also roll out new itineraries. Cruises sailing to Cuba will include overnights and new ports in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, with Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas. It will return to New Orleans for the first time since 2014, with Vision of the Seas' seven-night cruises from Galveston, Texas.
The 600-guest Seabourn Ovation will make her debut, sailing in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe in the summer and fall before moving to Asia for the winter. Like sister-ship Seabourn Encore, Ovation’s contemporary interiors were created by regarded designer Adam D. Tihany, who drew from the feeling of a private yacht. Each of the 300 cabins will be suites with private balconies. Ovation boasts a Wellness Spa with Dr. Andrew Weil, restaurant helmed by Chef Thomas Keller, and casino. On the ship’s top deck, there is an Observation Bar and a cabana area with a hot tub, spa cabana, and lounge chairs. Restaurant options will range from Seabourn Square, a cafe area; a sushi restaurant; and the Colonnade for casual dining.
Culinary- and wine-themed Enriched Voyages kick off this year, offering passengers guided market-to-plate excursions, cooking demonstrations, special tastings, and private tours to vineyards and wineries. Over a dozen itineraries feature the culinary enrichment program, including on the Silver Muse, Silver Wind, and Silver Cloud. Four sailings offer wine voyages.
Silversea Cruises also introduced the inaugural 2018 Couture Collection, a portfolio of nine pre- and post-cruise land programs of five- to 11-day journeys, as an extension to select Silversea cruises. It includes activities ranging from private helicopter service in Mongolia to vintage rail in India, and Gulfstream jets in and out of Antarctica. Each program is fully escorted and includes most meals and luxury accommodations.
In July of this year, Viking’s fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion, will debut. She will spend her maiden year sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean, before making her way to Asia, Australia, and then Alaska. Additionally, Viking recently announced the name of its sixth ocean ship, Viking Jupiter, which will sail new itineraries in South America in 2019.
Six new Signature Expeditions will give intrepid passengers an up-close experience of Alaska, including a hiking tour through Wrangell, Zodiac tour of the Inian Islands or Kenai Fjords National Park, and kayaking expedition through Misty Fjords. Starting in May, six expert guides will be onboard each of Windstar’s cruises in Alaska for the entirety of the voyage, where in addition to leading the excursions, they will provide commentary and insight.