The cruise industry is booming, according to industry publication, Cruise Critic, and many lines are experiencing some of their highest sales dates in history. As part of the growth, cruise lines are adding promotions, launching renovations and unveiling new onboard perks and amenities to welcome passengers back. Here’s the latest cruise industry news to keep you up to date with the best the high seas have to offer this fall and beyond.
The Club Med 2 sailboat comes out of renovation
As part of Club Med’s Exclusive Collection portfolio, the French hotel company’s luxury sailing yacht Club Med 2 has completed a multi-million dollar refurbishment. It now has completely new furnishings and interior decor, an upgraded fitness center, yoga on the terrace, and a new Club Med Spa by Sothys. The restaurant Le Monte Carlo now offers new live cooking demonstrations and seasonal menus according to the ports on the course. Like Club Med resorts, there are plenty of activities, including two saltwater pools, nightly shows, water sports like windsurfing and paddleboarding, and even wing surfing.
Katy Perry christens Norwegian Prima in Iceland
The first in a series of six Prima Class ships (and representing a new direction of luxury for Norwegian Cruise Line) is Norwegian Prima. It was christened by pop music star Katy Perry in Iceland late last month and became the first major cruise ship to launch in the country. The ship features the highest staff levels and space ratio for a contemporary or premium class cruise ship, providing passengers with more space and service. For those who want even more, it offers the widest variety of suite categories available at sea.
There’s also a free food hall with nearly a dozen different locations serving everything from Indian to Japanese ramen, the fastest slides at sea with wet and dry options, and the Prima Speedway, the world’s first racetrack. three levels on a cruise ship. The Norwegian Prima is the first ship in the brand’s fleet to have Coca-Cola as its official soft drink. By December, all ships in the line will carry Coca-Cola products.
Virgin Voyages adds benefits program
Dubbed The Sailing Club, Virgin Voyages is making it easier to reward regular cruisers with its new benefits program, a precursor to its official loyalty program which will launch next year. For travelers who join by the end of the year, they can participate in “Deep Blue Extras”, a bonus program with onboard experiences. This can include anything from a free “shake for Champagne” (where users shake their Virgin Voyages app-equipped phone for a free glass of champagne) to specialty cocktails or free laundry. Plus, between now and November 15, qualifying bookings made during this “Red Hot Booking Bonus Months” period will earn onboard spending benefits, $200 in onboard credit, and a chance to win prizes like a trip to Ulusaba, Richard Branson’s private game reserves in South Africa.
Elon Musk’s Starlink Wi-Fi for Royal Caribbean Group
SpaceX Starlink is coming soon to a Royal Caribbean Group ship near you. Elon Musk’s company has been chosen to power the company’s onboard internet for its Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises ships. It will eventually be installed on all new and existing ships with speeds powerful enough for streaming and video calling. After a successful trial aboard Freedom of the Seas, it will begin an immediate deployment, which will be completed by the first quarter of next year.
Royal Caribbean is also pulling back the curtain on the construction of its new ship, Icon of the Seas. He premiered his first episode of his web series on YouTube which shows behind-the-scenes details of the ship’s construction.
The Ecoventura mega yacht to sail the Galapagos
A new mega yacht from Ecoventura will debut in January. Named Evolve, it is the company’s third luxury expedition ship. The 20-passenger luxury yacht will be one of the most sustainable in the region with its curved bow (reducing friction) and a 30% reduction in fossil fuel use. Evolve will have two naturalists on board, a dining room serving Ecuadorian cuisine and an open bar. Ecoventura ships are the only ones in the region to be part of the Relais & Châteaux Collection.
Azamara’s 1st episode of the “Lens Like A Local” web series
As part of its announcement of European routes for the 2024 season, Azamara aired the first episode of its “Lens Like A Local” program on YouTube. This is a destination-focused web series that delves into local life at many ports visited by cruise passengers. Of the 84 new routes, more than one are considered country-intensive travel, with the majority of stopovers being either a late evening or overnight departure. Also new for 2024 are more than a dozen crossings in partnership with PerryGolf, which runs international golf tours, to places like the British Isles, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Celebrity Cruises Wins 15 Wine Spectator Awards
In ten years, Celebrity Cruises has won more than 100 Wine Spectator awards, including 15 at the 2022 Wine Spectator Awards. Celebrity offers several wine immersion experiences on board its ships beyond the dining room and bar. They include educational workshops with sommelier-led tastings and wine blending lessons. Celebrity is the only cruise line to have won the “Best of” award for excellence. Several onboard restaurants won accolades including two “Best Of” awards for the wine list at Le Voyage, Daniel Boulud’s first restaurant at sea, aboard Celebrity Beyond and at his steakhouse, Fine Cut. Sister ships Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex were also among the ‘Best Of’ recipients. Celebrity Cruises has one of the largest wine collections at sea with over 500 labels.
MSC Seascape adds the Robotron ride
The next amusement park-style ride aboard a cruise ship has arrived with the new Robotron attraction aboard MSC Seascape, the line’s US flagship. Not only is this the first robotic arm ride at sea, but it’s also revolutionary in that pilots can customize their experience along the way. The robotic arm has an attached three-person gondola that flips them nearly 175 feet above the sea for an unobstructed 360° see how they hang over the edge of the ship. It can knock down runners and move in any direction based on runners preferences and user input. It also has a twin video screen that syncs lights, music, and motion throughout the experience. The ship will also feature two new virtual reality experiences like a flight simulator and motorcycles, among others.
MSC is also bringing its popular Family Deck Party to its fleet of American ships. On cruises of at least seven nights, MSC will organize an event with carnival games, a bouncy castle, prizes and gladiator and Zorb-Sumo matches.
Windstar adds Red Sea and Persian Gulf crossings for 2023
In addition to its already growing map of destinations, Windstar Cruises will add several new ones aboard the 312-guest Star Legend from November 2023. New ports of call in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf will include a voyage from Athens to Dubai via the Suez Canal and taking guests to the Pyramids of Giza; sailing from Dubai to Muscat, Oman with a stopover in Doha, Qatar, among others; and a sailing from Saudi Arabia to Aqaba, Jordan, allowing guests to visit wonders of the world like the ancient city of Petra.
PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys will collaborate
Luxury cruise line PONANT is teaming up with Smithsonian Journeys for a series of 21 co-branded cruises next year. Each will be led by two Smithsonian Journey experts who specialize in areas such as art history and international relations. There’s even a solar astrophysicist, all of whom can help travelers understand and appreciate the destination more thoroughly. They will join various cruises, including one specifically timed to enjoy the solar eclipse on a voyage around Indonesia, East Timor and Western Australia.
Paul Gauguin Cruises $500 air credit per guest
For bookings made between now and October 8 on select sailings, customers can receive a $500 Airline Credit when purchasing an airfare ticket as part of the sailing. Offer is eligible for 7-night trips to Tahiti and the Society Islands around French Polynesia. To take advantage of this, don’t forget to mention “AIR500” when booking on board the 330-passenger Paul Gauguin.
18 restore points on the new Explora 1
Explora Journey’s will offer 18 distinct dining venues aboard its new luxury vessel Explora 1. There will be six restaurants, four outdoor bars, four indoor bars and a chef’s kitchen where guests can watch the chefs in action. The onboard wine list will reflect the destinations the ship sails to. You can visit the gelateria on board, a creperie and a sky bar with outdoor terrace. Explora Journeys is a luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group, which will eventually have six ships in its fleet (two of which will be hydrogen-powered).
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