From river cruise lines launching ocean-going yachts to more ship orders for everyone from Viking to Ponant, cruise product growth seems limitless (ka-ching!).
During Seatrade’s State of the Global Cruise Industry session, I heard someone in the audience whisper “this is the Oscars of the cruise industry.” Indeed, Seatrade is where every entity that has a stake in the cruise industry—no, it isn’t just cruise lines (think destinations, too, plus everything from shipbuilders to technology and service providers)—congregates to propel the cruise industry forward, growing it beyond what any of its founding fathers could’ve imagined.
There are some 27 million passengers expected to cruise this year, with the majority of cruisers coming from the U.S., and in 2016, the industry’s global economic impact was $126 billion. I’ll let those sky-high numbers simmer in your head as we dive head-first into the new itineraries, ships, experiences, etc., you need to keep top of mind for your wide range of clients, including those soon-to-be first-time cruisers (even they won’t be able to fight off these tempting offers). Consider this your one-stop “what’s new in cruising” feature (and head over to recommend.com for even more updates and details).
“Crystal Serenity will go through a transformation this fall,” said Crystal’s president & CEO Tom Wolber during a press conference at Seatrade. When it comes out of dry dock this October this ocean-going ship will feature new Penthouse Suites in place of verandah staterooms, with butler service, walk-in closets, and spa-like bathrooms. This change in accommodation configuration will reduce the ship’s capacity to 980 guests (number of crew will remain the same). There’ll be open seating dining, as well as new dining venues such as Waterside (taking the place of the Crystal Dining Room); The Marketplace and Churrascaria; and Silk Kitchen & Bar, replacing Tastes and featuring Chinese comfort food (including those “can’t-keep-my-hands-off” Nobu dishes). crystalcruises.com
American Cruise Lines
Debuting on Oct. 6 on the Mississippi, American Song will feature 900-sq.-ft. Grand Suites with the “highest glass-to-space” ratio in the industry, separate living and sleeping area, and wraparound balconies featuring private outdoor dining areas. Coming on board in 2019 is Song’s sister ship, American Harmony, which will take over on the Mississippi when Song repositions to the Columbia & Snake Rivers. americancruiselines.com
“Our ships are not the destination, Greece is the destination,” Gordon Dirker, v.p., business development, North America for Celestyal Cruises, told Recommend, with Leslie Peden, the line’s president, adding that “we want ‘travelers’ on our ships. Our product is a great way to introduce ‘new to cruise.’ Guests are off the ships more than they are on it.” With that in mind, Celestyal has extended its 2019 season into December and introduced new 2020 itineraries, including seven new ports of call. For next year, the line is returning to Istanbul on the 7-day Eclectic Aegean itinerary, with six departures from October to November. Or, clients can visit different continents on the 7-day 3 Continents itinerary calling at Alexandria and Port Said, Egypt, Ashdod, Israel, Kusadasi, Turkey, Limassol, Cyprus and Rhodes. “We are a premium experience at great value,” notes Peden, adding that retail agents are excited about the new product because the main driver for them “is the destination.” americas.celestyalcruises.com/en
In 2022, the iconic cruise line will welcome a fourth ship to the fleet. This is the first time since 1998 that the brand will have four ships in simultaneous service. But Cunard loyalists won’t have to wait that long to visit Alaska with the line, as there are plans to sail to “the last frontier” in 2019. The Queen Elizabeth will offer four 10-night roundtrip Vancouver sailings, departing May 21, 31, June 10 and 20, 2019. cunard.com
Viking will build six more ocean ships, leading to a total of 16 vessels built in cooperation between Viking and Fincantieri. Viking currently has four ocean vessels, with six more coming online between this year and 2023, followed by the aforementioned six between 2024 and 2027. vikingcruises.com
More new ships coming into the fleet for Princess with Sky Princess in 2019, followed by a sister ship in 2020. The two 3,560-passenger ships will be the brand’s fourth and fifth Royal-class vessels. Additionally, the line has partnered with Bon Appetit to create a new culinary shore excursion program that will offer guests the opportunity to indulge in culinary experiences inspired by their surroundings. Beginning this year, guests will be able to choose from 30 excursions, classified as Exclusive and Recommended tours. Think from From Mate to Malbec in Buenos Aires, Argentina and The Perfect Paella in Valencia, Spain. princess.com
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
This brand-new product, said CEO Douglas Prothero during a press conference at Seatrade, is “skewing slightly younger with luxury cruisers.” He said the style is comparable to a Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort, with “its residence feel.” The line will offer five categories of shore excursions—Iconic Sights, Stirring the Senses, Cultural Connections, Active Explorations and Epicurean Experiences—as it sails to such ports as Barbados, Cartagena, Copenhagen, Mykonos, Carriacou, the Balearic Islands, and Portofino. “There are less ports, and more overnights,” said Prothero. The first of three yachts will debut in November 2019, and accommodate 298 passengers. (A sample rate for a 7-day itinerary is $5,600, and bookings open in June 2018.) ritzcarlton.com/en/yachts
The river cruise line is heading to Croatia on board a brand-new, 36-passenger, 18-cabin yacht, the MV Adriatic Princess II, that will sail the line’s first-ever ocean cruises from April to October 2019. Lisa Norton, v.p., brand management, N.A. for Emerald Waterways, told us, “You can swim right off the back-end of the ship; it’s a casual yacht experience; and it’s adventurous.” The 8-day Islands of Dalmatia cruise will sail between Trogir and Dubrovnik along the Adriatic coast, with 22 departures. Norton also noted that it “can be combined with a river cruise,” including Enchantment of Eastern Europe or Danube Delights, or your clients can add a 3-night extension in Zagreb. emeraldwaterways.com
This expedition cruise line, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary and whose goal, they said during a press conference at Seatrade, “is to give guests a meaningful experience, and ensure that it’s meaningful for the community [we are visiting] as well,” will expand its fleet to 12 ships with 2,000 crew members and 460 departures by 2021. PONANT’s expansion includes construction of the fifth and sixth vessels in the EXPLORERS series: the yacht-like, 92-cabin Le Bellot and Le Surville, launching in 2020. They will join the other sister ships launching in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, the line will launch the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with luxury amenities in 2021. en.ponant.com
Victory Cruise Lines
Victory Cruise Lines, which formed in summer 2016 and sails the Great Lakes, is set to sail to Cuba this month, and will return to the island in November 2018, but what we are really excited about after speaking with Bruce Nierenberg, the line’s chairman, is the Grand Mayan Experience, a 9-night itinerary sailing from Miami to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. During the inaugural season—January to May 2019—the package has an all-inclusive 3-day pre- or post-cruise stay at Campeche, Mexico, creating an 11-night all-inclusive cruise and land experience for the cost of the cruise alone. Nierenberg told us that this itinerary, taking place on board the 202-passenger Victory II, is for the mature cruiser, who is more interested in learning about Mexico’s culture than getting a tan on the beach. “This cruise is a carefully designed experience,” he said, “with a significant land component, including an overnight land stay during the cruise to give our guests access to UNESCO-listed Mayan archeological sites.” Guests who book a winter 2019 cruise by May 31, 2018 receive a $1,000 pp discount for a total savings of $2,000 per cabin. victorycruiselines.com
For 2019, primatologist Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas—known for her work with the orangutans of Indonesian Borneo—will join two Silver Discoverer voyages as a guest lecturer. A duo of expedition cruises with departures on June 24 (Darwin to Bali) and July 9 (Bali to Singapore) will explore Indonesia, with an overnight stay in the port of Kumai, gateway to Tanjung Puting National Park and Camp Leakey, operated by Dr. Galdikas’ non-profit Orangutan Foundation International. Guests will get a private tour of the camp and get up-close encounters with these primates. silversea.com
Morsels of delight await your ocean-bound clients.
• Seabourn’s new milk- and fruit-based gelato will be featured on Ovation, and will be made fresh daily and served across the vessel. seabourn.com
• Holland America is introducing Food & Beverage Aficionado Cruises this year, during which guests will have the opportunity to attend cooking, cocktail and wine demos; get to know the experts at presentations; meet them for photo-ops and join a reservation-only dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. hollandamerica.com
• Oceania Cruises has expanded its Bistro lunch service fleet-wide, offered daily at the Grand Dining Room; and introduced an entirely new slate of menus with more than 600 dishes. Lunchtime at The Bistro features 14 new Taste of the World selections—everywhere from Cuba and Scandinavia, to Greece, Morocco and Lebanon. oceaniacruises.com
• Windstar Cruises will continue its partnership with the James Beard Foundation through early 2021. On six culinary-themed sailings yearly across a variety of the line’s sailing regions, a James Beard Foundation-selected chef and beverage expert will host tastings and demos wine-paired meals, culinary shore excursions and market tours. windstarcruises.com