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A rendering of the Edge Villa accommodations on board the Celebrity Edge, slated to debut late next year.
A rendering of the Edge Villa accommodations on board the Celebrity Edge, slated to debut late next year.

From new eye-popping ships to innovative enhancements, cruise lines are creating cruise vacations that deliver on your promise—crafting dream vacations for your clients. 

In 2017, there will be 25.3 million passengers boarding ships throughout the world, said Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA’s president and CEO, during last month’s opening statements at Seatrade’s State of the Global Cruise Industry address, which took place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. She also noted that in 10 years, demand for cruising has grown 62 percent. In fact, looking over CLIA’s 2017 Cruise Industry Outlook, you realize the numbers are staggering, with a total investment of more than $6.8 billion in new ocean vessels in 2017; and 26 new ocean, river, and specialty ships scheduled to debut in 2017 alone. And the plans that top cruise lines have regarding fleet expansion, innovative enhancements and immersive itineraries from this year to  2020 and beyond are truly mind-blowing.

Carnival Cruise Line
Like what you saw with the debut of Carnival Vista? Then get ready to take a double take, because next spring Carnival will have passengers setting sail on the new Carnival Horizon, featuring many of Vista’s top draws, including SkyRide, the WaterWorks aqua park, and spa cabins, plus, the cruise line says, a “number of innovations unique to the vessel.” The ship will set sail on April 2, 2018 in Europe, and following a series of four Med voyages from Barcelona, will offer Caribbean and Bermuda sailings from New York before repositioning to Miami for year-round Caribbean service beginning in September.

For now, though, your clients can enjoy the new Guy Fieri-designed BBQ eatery that’s debuted on Vista-class ships. Tell your clients to get their hands dirty at Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse as they dig into his famous championship pork butt and blue ribbon chicken, topped with his own special sauces. carnival.com

Celebrity Cruises
Premiering in late 2018 will be Celebrity Cruises’ first new ship class in 10 years and first new ship in six years—the 2,900-passenger Celebrity Edge. It will feature swanky suites, a ship-climbing Magic Carpet platform, and expanded staterooms.

“Our guests don’t want to just skim the world like a magazine—they want to feel a human connection with it,” said Celebrity’s president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo during an event announcing the new ship. “Every element of Celebrity Edge is meant to make that connection intense and unforgettable. Our new class of ship will allow guests to experience their journeys with the uniqueness and sophistication that marks the rest of their lives.”

When Celebrity Edge makes her first sailing Dec. 16, 2018 from her homeport at Port Everglades, she will do so sporting double the number of available suites and two additional stateroom categories, including the new Edge Staterooms with Infinite Veranda, which are 23 percent larger than line’s Solstice-class veranda staterooms and are also the largest staterooms in the industry, according to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain. The execs pointed out that these staterooms create a seamless living space from the door to the water’s edge and thus give guests what Fain says is “a closer connection to the sea.”

Celebrity will also debut the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform that moves up and down the ship’s 16 decks on the starboard side to deliver unique experiences. The tennis court-sized engineering feat repositions itself at four of the ship’s decks to offer a different experience at each level.

Celebrity Edge will sail on two 7-night itineraries in the Eastern and Western Caribbean. celebritycruises.com

Crystal Cruises
Looking ahead with our eyes focused squarely on 2019, Crystal Cruises will have the globe in the palm of its hands. They’ll have eight ships sailing the waters of the world—two ocean vessels, five river yachts and one boutique yacht. They will be sailing a total of 260 voyages to 91 countries, visiting 289 ports, including 13 maiden calls and at least one overnight stay in 71 destinations. First-time visits include Vlissingen, Netherlands; Porto Novo, Cape Verde; and Port Arthur, Tasmania, as well as trendy spots such as Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Jerusalem and Jordan. crystalcruises.com

Rendering of Penthouse Suite on board the Queen Victoria.
Rendering of Penthouse Suite on board the Queen Victoria.

Cunard
During Cunard’s press conference at Seatrade, detailed accounts on Queen Victoria’s 40-plus million dollar refit were revealed. The refit, which will take place from May to June, will introduce Britannia Club balcony staterooms and a dedicated restaurant, as well as the refreshing of all Britannia staterooms, and the redesign of the ship’s Grand Suites and Deck 8 aft Penthouse Suites.

Beyond impeccably designed ships, Cunard is known for its world voyages, but during the Seatrade press conference, Josh Leibowitz, chief strategy officer, Carnival Corporation, said that, “our guests are asking us to go to places we haven’t been before.” So, in 2018, the line will visit 93 unique ports in 46 countries, with 17 ship maiden calls and nine new ports for the current fleet.

What piqued our interest most, however, was the Journey of Genealogy cruise taking place on board Queen Mary 2 Nov. 4-11, 2018. For this sailing, the cruise line has partnered with Ancestry.com to offer guests the opportunity to trace their family trees. cunard.com

Holland America Line
“Alaska continues to be wildly successful and something that people enjoy,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s (HAL) president, during a pre-Seatrade event that took place on board the Koningsdam while she was docked at Port Everglades. “It’s [our] 70-year anniversary of taking folks to Alaska, so we are in the midst of that celebration, so [we will add] a lot of fun and exciting touches to our sailings this summer.” As part of HAL’s partnership with O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah Winfrey and other members from the publication’s team will sail to Alaska on July 15, 2017 for the inaugural O, The Oprah Magazine Share the Adventure Cruise. These cruises will offer exclusive programming developed with the magazine’s editors, including editor-in-chief Lucy Kaylin and creative director Adam Glassman, such as meditation, tai chi, healthy cooking demonstrations, an onboard book club and more. Four additional O, The Oprah Magazine Share the Adventure Cruise sailings will be available in the Southern Caribbean (Koningsdam), Eastern and Western Caribbean (Nieuw Amsterdam), and Alaska (Eurodam) through 2018. hollandamerica.com

MSC is launching the technology tool MSC for Me on board the MSC Meraviglia.
MSC is launching the technology tool MSC for Me on board the MSC Meraviglia.

MSC Cruises
The Italian cruise line is looking to the future, with 11 new ships joining the fleet in the next 10 years, said MSC executives during the Seatrade press conference, and doubling of the fleet by 2026. That means a passenger capacity tripling to reach over 5 million guests. With those numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC’s executive chairman, pointed out that, “Cruise has become an alternative to any type of vacation.” To enhance that cruise experience the line has launched MSC for Me, debuting on MSC Meraviglia, the line’s first next generation mega-ship that will welcome its first guests this June. MSC for Me is an interactive technology tool designed to help guests stay connected while navigating throughout the ship. It can be accessed from a tablet, bracelet, onboard interactive screens or the app, and acts as a concierge, an organizer and a navigation device. Guests will be able to know what’s on, what time and how to get there; they’ll be able to have 24-hour real-time access to a fully trained staff; create a personal agenda based on their preferences; and access a real-time cruise consultant to organize their day. The program will next be rolled out on MSC Seaside when the ship launches in November, and on board MSC Seaview when it sets sail in June 2018. msccruisesusa.com

Norwegian Cruise Line
During its Seatrade press conference, Norwegian Cruise Line announced the
next generation of the line’s fleet, including four ships on order for delivery in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, with the potential for two additional ships to be delivered in 2026
and 2027. Designated as Project Leonardo, these first four 140,000-gross-ton ships will each accommodate approximately 3,300 guests in a new class of ships that will build upon the brand’s most recent Breakaway-Plus Class ships.

“It’s going to have cutting-edge technology that customers can use as part of their experience, as part of their fun,” said Frank J. Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., during the press conference. ncl.com

Oceania Cruises
Earlier this year, Oceania Cruises announced an additional series of journeys to Cuba departing from Miami. Ranging in length from six to 13 days with departures in November and December, these voyages include the line’s first calls to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, in addition to Havana. On board, guests can dine on Cuban food, which is featured on all Cuba sailings. They can choose from ropa vieja, a slowly stewed dish of shredded beef, mild spices, white wine, and tomato; arroz con pollo, a Cuban staple of chicken and Arborio rice made with saffron; and crispy malanga fritters. oceaniacruises.com

Princess Cruises
“The Love Boat” line’s Caribbean Princess has undergone a multimillion dollar renovation, coming out of dry dock with family-friendly features, including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, and interconnecting staterooms. The ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season. The newly redone ship will spend the summer in the British Isles, and then in October will head to the Panama Canal, crossing the new locks, and spend the holiday season in the Caribbean. princess.com

Royal Caribbean
A fourth Oasis-class ship, Symphony of the Seas, will debut for the 2018-2019 cruise season and is set to be the largest ever deployment in Florida. The ship will arrive in PortMiami on Nov. 9, 2018 and will begin 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries on Nov. 17. The Symphony will be sailing from its new home at the port, Terminal A, which will, in fact, serve as homeport to several Royal Caribbean ships. Once completed in October 2018, the terminal will be LEED certified and accommodate 1,300-ft.-long ships. It is estimated that Royal Caribbean will generate at least 1.8 million travelers at PortMiami once the new terminal opens, representing no less than 30 percent of the port’s projected passenger traffic. royalcaribbean.com

Tauck
“We are doubling our capacity by sea in the next four years,” said Tauck’s president Jennifer Tombaugh during a Seatrade press conference. Tauck, which offers land, and small ship and river cruise vacations, has enhanced its partnership with Ponant, and thus will be able to offer more small ship voyages around the world. Ponant, a French-owned cruise line, will debut four new luxury expedition yachts in 2018 and 2019, and as part of its expanded partnership, Tauck will leverage all four newbuilds starting with Le Laperouse in summer 2018. The first departure will be in summer 2018 on the Iceland: Land of Fire & Ice itinerary. Tombaugh did point out that they are almost sold out for 2018, but there are 2019 departures. tauck.com 

— Melissa Bryant and Laurel Herman contributed to this report.