Cruise Ship Debuts in 2012: A Showcase of Luxury, Longboats, and a River-Ship Revival
Each year the cruise lines introduce new ships to showcase the latest technology, and wow amenities that the industry has to offer. This year is no different, with grand crystal staircases, gourmet restaurants and a new river boat for the U.S. market.
So what do the most recent ships to hit the water have to offer? And whats in store for ships debuting in 2012?
American Cruise Lines will launch the Queen of the Mississippi in August. This 140-passenger ship, with the look of a traditional riverboat, is the first new build designed to cruise the Mississippi River in some 20 years. In keeping with tradition, she will boast an authentic paddlewheel, a steam whistle and calliope. Also, guests will find 75 spacious staterooms, six unique lounges, a library, an elegant dining area and elevator service onboard the ship.
Avalon Waterways will introduce two new river vessels in the spring the 164-passenger Avalon Vista and the 128-passenger Avalon Visionary. They will be sister ships to the Avalon Panorama and mirror its design with 200-square-foot staterooms that have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic windows which, when opened, transform the room into an open-air balcony. They will also include a bar and lounge, dining room, hair salon, fitness room, sky-deck hot tub and an open-air bistro. The Avalon Vista will cruise between Prague, Czech Republic and Budapest, and the Avalon Visionary will offer eight-day cruises between Basel (Switzerland) and Amsterdam, as well as Christmastime cruises.
Carnivals 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze launches in June as the third ship in Carnival's "Dream Class." In keeping with the fun theme that Carnival embraces, there is a friendly/competitive sports and fitness area called SportSquare, a WaterWorks aqua park with a 303-foot-long corkscrew waterslide and the Cloud 9 Spa. Also, the ship will feature a new Caribbean-inspired dcor, Carnival Comfort Collection linens, towels and bathrobes, and 24-hour stateroom service. Carnival Breeze will spend its inaugural season in Europe and then sail Mediterranean cruises out of Barcelona through October. Following a 15-night transatlantic voyage in November, the ship will port in Miami, where it will offer year-round, six- and eight-night Caribbean itineraries.
Celebrity Cruises will be premiering the 3,030 passenger Celebrity Reflection in October. The fifth Solstice-class ship from Celebrity, the Reflection will include the line's first AquaClass Suites, which will have interior space of 251 square feet and an additional 57-square-foot balcony. It will also feature the new two-bedroom Reflection Suite (a first for the line), with a bathroom that extends out over the edge of the ship for an up-close and personal view of the sea. This huge 1,636-square-foot suite, with 194-square-foot veranda, includes butler service and can accommodate up to six guests. The Lawn Club will see some new additions, as well, with the fleets only Lawn Club Grill, a dining venue with stainless steel grills, custom pizza-making tables and large ovens. During the day, the Lawn Club Grill will feature interactive cooking demonstrations and classes; by night, it will become an eatery where passengers can choose top-quality meats to either grill themselves or have grilled to order.
Costa Cruises launches the Costa Fascinosa, set to debut in May at Savona, Italy. This 3,800 passenger vessel showcase decorator touches such as the Amarcord Atriums theatrical grandeur, warm colors and diamond-shaped chandeliers. It will also feature five Jacuzzis, four pools (two with a retractable covers, a children's pool and a water slide) and the famed Samsara Spa. The ships Samsara Spa extends over 19,680 square feet and features Samsara cabins and suites with direct spa access, including six veranda suites with their own Jacuzzi and balcony and additional relaxation amenities. Guests will be able to sample cuisine from five restaurants, enjoy a show in the 4-D cinema or seat up in a Grand Prix simulator.
Disney Cruises will be launching the Disney Fantasy in March. The Fantasy is a sister ship to the Disney Dream, and the fourth ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. It will include 1,250 staterooms, house 4,000 passengers and is approximately 40% larger than the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder. A grand feature of the ship will be the three-deck atrium lobby, with a cascading chandelier of stained glass and crystal beads, evoking memories of grand ocean liners of the past. The crown jewel of this magnificent space will be the welcoming lobby statue: Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse, cast in bronze and dressed in vintage fashion with steamer luggage at her side.
The Great American Steamboat Company has renovated the American Queen, first lady of the Mississippi, which will begin domestic river cruises in April. This paddleboat will visit historic U.S. ports of call, like New Orleans, Mark Twains Hannibal and Chattanooga, and will include a deluxe, pre-cruise hotel stay and complimentary shore excursions on every voyage. The American Queen has elaborate filigree on the exterior, gleaming woodwork, fresh flower arrangements and antiques throughout the interior. These stylized touches, reminiscent of the historic river steamers, are a clever disguise for the modern comforts and conveniences within.
MSC Cruises MSC Divina, which launches in May, is modeled after its sister ships, the MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, but features some significant improvements. Guests will find a beach zone with Infinity Pool at the ships aft, and an expanded MSC Yacht Club, which takes the luxury ship-within-a-ship concept to new levels. The Yacht Club (also available on the Fantasia and Splendida) creates a private club feel through its own concierge reception, butler service and exclusive amenities. This 3,478 passenger ship will also feature three main restaurants with a variety of Mediterranean fare and high-tech 1,600-seat Pantheon Theater.
Oceania Cruises premiers its new ship, the Riviera, in April. The Riviera is a sister ship to the Marina, with a country-club-casual atmosphere and a guest capacity of 1,250. Designer touches abound, with an impressive Lalique Grand Staircase and dazzling 2,000-sqare-foot Owner's Suites furnished in Ralph Lauren Home. This ship, like the Marina, caters to those who love fine dining and travel experiences, with a total of 10 dining venues (six are open-seating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge). Additional facilities include a Bon Apptit Culinary Center, full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub, swimming pool and hot tubs.
Viking River Cruises will be launching an astounding six river cruise vessels in 2012 as part of a $250 million expansion program. They include the Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Odin and the Viking Njord and will launch in rapid succession in March (the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 28th, respectively). Later this summer, the Viking Embla will launch in July and the Viking Aegir will make its debut in August.
The 443-foot-long vessels will have 95 cabins each and, in addition to two of the 445-square-foot top suites, each of the new ships will have seven 275-square-foot, multi-room Veranda Suites that feature large balconies. These balconies are possible due to an offset corridor design.
In a deviation from the norm, these new long ships will not have in-ship spas; instead the line will offer passengers spa and health club packages at top facilities in key ports of call. They are also forgoing the customary theater in favor of a multimedia room, with four large screens and surround sound in the ships main lounge.
The six ships are scheduled to sail Vikings most popular European itineraries, including the 15-day Grand European Tour, 8-day Romantic Danube, 8-day Danube Waltz, 10-day Tulips & Windmills and 8-day Rhine Getaway.
Voyages of Discovery will be premiering a new addition to their fleet, the MV Voyager, in November. Carrying just 550 passengers, the MV Voyager features open-seating dining in two dining venues, plus an intimate pre-bookable restaurant. The ship will also include four bars, an Internet center, swimming pool, hot tubs and gym an outstanding number of amenities for a small ship. This design allows guests to luxuriate in many large-ship conveniences while still enjoying access to remote ports and inlets for an up-close and personal exploration of the lines itineraries. The ship will begin its cruising duties in November with a full Caribbean, Central and South American program, including a cruise of the Amazon.