By David Barclay | September 20, 2023
Hello from Croatia! I’ve been traveling the Dalmatian Coast and I’ve seen an enormous number of boats and ships of all shapes and sizes, including a number of cruise ships. I narrowly missed seeing the Celebrity Beyond, one of the new Edge class ships, that Celebrity launched in 2022. She’s due into Dubrovnik tomorrow but we’ve moved on to Hvar. The Emerald Azzurra was here in Hvar yesterday, a beautiful new yacht launched in 2022 by Emerald Cruises.
Although I don’t sail on the mainstream megaships, I’m always fascinated to see them in person and marvel at their size and the engineering skill required to construct them. Each new ship tries to outdo the last in size and over the top common areas that put many land-based amusement parks to shame. The Celebrity Beyond I mentioned above, while not as big as the megaships, is still a pretty big ship. But I can appreciate all of the new features she brings to cruising and I like Celebrity’s “ship within a ship” concept with the Retreat, that offers a luxury cruising experience while still providing access to many of the amenities offered on a premium line ship. A ship like the Beyond is a great option for multi-generational family trips, as she has refinement to offer to the adults while still providing numerous onboard activities for the kids/grandkids.
While I’m intrigued by all of the new cruise ships starting to sail, what I’m really excited about is all of the new ships entering the luxury cruise segment and how they are continuing to evolve and improve the cruising experience for discerning travelers. With that in mind, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to an overview of the latest ships joining the luxury cruise line fleets and how they are “changing the game” for luxury cruisers.
Silver Nova (Silversea)
Maiden Voyage: August 14, 2023
The Silver Nova is the first of two Nova class ships that will join the Silversea fleet (the Silver Ray is scheduled to launch in 2024). The latest Silversea ship to date, the Nova can accommodate 728 guests and is 35% larger than the Muse-class ships, the previous flagships of the Silversea fleet.
The Silver Nova brings several revolutionary features to the Silversea fleet and to the luxury cruise segment. First, she has an asymmetrical design, which allowed the builders to incorporate unique deck layouts. This is very noticeable on the Nova’s pool deck, where the pool is shifted to the port side (pictured above at the beginning of this newsletter). Traditional ship design puts the pool in the center of the ship to balance the weight of all of that water, but that means deck chairs are positioned to face the pool and away from the sea, making the pool deck feel less attached to the world around the ship. With this new design, all of the chairs face the ocean and there are no walls on the ocean side of the pool, providing pool guests unobstructed ocean views. The asymmetrical design is also visible in the atrium, which is shifted to the starboard side and has floor to ceiling windows that stretch 2 full decks, letting in an incredible amount of natural light.
The Silver Nova is continuing the move towards sustainability and carbon neutrality in the cruise industry. She is the first luxury line ship to use Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) as the primary fuel and has a fuel cell/battery system to ensure zero emissions while docked in port. The Nova also incorporates some of the best aspects of the other ships in the fleet, including many of the popular restaurants and the Sea and Land Tastes (S.A.L.T.) program started with the Silver Moon. The Nova adds to this program, changing the S.A.L.T. Lab in the evening into the Chef’s Table, a small group interactive dining experience.
EXPLORA I (Explora Journeys)
Maiden Voyage: August 1, 2023
Explora Journeys is a new luxury cruise line launched by the MSC Cruise Group. With current plans for six sister ships, the EXPLORA I was the first to launch earlier this summer. The EXPLORA I is the largest ultra-luxury cruise ship, able to accommodate up to 900 guests. While still small compared to premium and mainstream line ships, the added size allows EXPLORA I to offer an incredible number of restaurants and venues. She has 4 separate pools, including one with a retractable roof allowing guests to lounge by the pool even in inclement weather. Another pool is adults only, and while she won’t host as many families and children as the ships of non-luxury lines, she does have 78 connecting suites designed for families and multi-generational groups. She also offers the most dining venues among the luxury ships (10) and bars/lounges (12). The creators behind the Explora Journeys brand didn’t want to create just another cruise line and don’t want guests to feel like they are on a cruise ship. Instead, they want guests to feel like they are staying at one of the worlds finest hotels. This carries through the design of the EXPLORA I, with the interior feeling more like a luxury hotel. The main lobby and bar could easily be mistaken for one of the better hotels in any major city. And the ship had a very sophisticated European design throughout.
Vista (Oceania Cruises)
Maiden Voyage: May 13, 2023
The first new ship added to the Oceania fleet in over 10 years, the Vista (and soon to launch sister-ship Allura) was designed to take the Oceania cruise experience to the next level of luxury. Oceania operates in the luxury cruise space, a half-step below the ultra-luxury cruise lines, and delivers an incredible cruise experience at a slightly lower price. The Vista can accommodate up to 1200 guests, cared for by a crew of 800, for a guest-to-crew ratio of 1.5. The Vista is the first all-veranda ship to join the Oceania fleet, offering elevated suite designs and a new category of Concierge Level Veranda Staterooms dedicated to solo travelers. Known as a cruise line for foodies, Oceania adds new dining options with the Vista. The new signature restaurant, Ember, features elevated American cuisine. The Aquamar Kitchen, following the theme of the Aquamar spa, focuses on indulgent wellness-inspired dishes. The Vista also brings an elevated mixology program and new evening entertainment options.
Maiden Voyage: August 12, 2023
The Seabourn Pursuit is the sister-ship to the Seabourn Venture (launched 2022) and adds to Seabourn’s ability to deliver incredible expedition cruises. Purpose built to explore more remote destinations and sail in icy waters, the Pursuit takes adventurous travelers to bucket list locations in exquisite luxury. She has a PC6 Polar Class hull, allowing her to travel in both Arctic and Antarctic regions where most other cruise ships cannot sail. She carries 24 zodiacs to bring guests ashore in remote areas and on expeditions to see the local wildlife up close. She also carries a variety of other expedition equipment including sea kayaks for those wanting to explore while not disturbing the native land and sea creatures. For guests seeking the ultimate excursion experience, she carries two 6-person submarines capable of diving up to 1000 feet. Those on board are treated to views through the two giant clear acrylic spheres, while enjoying custom-embroidered leather upholstery, air conditioning, and a champagne chiller to toast their extraordinary journey.
Grandeur (Regent Seven Seas
Maiden Voyage: November 18, 2023
The Grandeur is the third Explorer Class ship to join the Regent fleet (along with sister-ships Explorer and Splendor). Although similar in design to her sister-ships, the launch of the Grandeur brings some improvements. The culinary team has elevated the epicurean experience on board, creating over 130 new dishes and enhanced recipes of guest favorites across the seven dining venues. The spa has also been enhanced, with new treatments utilizing the restorative power of an amber and quartz crystal bed, and an advanced treatment table for a Zero Gravity Wellness Massage. Several restaurant spaces, including the famous Prime 7, have been reimagined. And like her sister-ships, she boasts the largest suite at sea, the 4,443 sq ft Regent Suite.
Owner, Barclay & Company Travel
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