There have been so many incredible new ocean and river ships that have launched this year. Here is the Cruise International round-up
The sister ship to Royal Princess and Regal Princess arrived in Europe in April for a six-week Mediterranean season before heading to its homeport in Shanghai, China. It might have two sister vessels, however 3,560-guest Majestic Princess looks very different with the new Princess livery at the bow with waves that flow towards the stern. Majestic Princess also features Chinese-inspired touches, expanded shopping with nearly 12,000sq ft dedicated to retail and plenty of food from China and Southeast Asia alongside international fare. Popular attractions such as poolside cinema Movies Under the Stars and SeaWalk, the glass walkway 128ft above the sea, are still there alongside new feature Sing on the Sea karaoke suites – private rooms that have been fitted with sofas, large TV screens and its own mini-bar (0843 374 2261; princess.com).
Luxury small ship operator Silversea’s new flagship Silver Muse will be spending its first summer in the Mediterranean. It is suite-only, all-inclusive and carries 596 guests who get the run of eight restaurants including Atlantide (seafood), Kabuki (Japanese) and La Dame, a Relais & Châteaux French experience. While being a cruise ship, it still retains the intimate feel of a private yacht with all the extras such as an outdoor pool, L’Opera theatre with full-scale productions, Connoisseur’s Corner bar with the feel of a gentlemen’s club and a spa with sweeping views thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows (0207 340 0700; silversea.com).
Launched December 2016
Seabourn Encore could be one of the hippest ships on the planet. Its interior was overseen by celebrated designer Adam D Tihany, responsible for everything from At.mosphere restaurant 122 floors up Dubai’s Burj Khalifa to hotels from Singapore to St Petersburg. It carries 600 passengers in 300 suites, yet still retains an inviting, intimate ambience. The atrium has a six-floor art installation, there’s an enticing pool with the feel of a country club, a speciality restaurant by Thomas Keller (acclaimed chef of California’s The French Laundry) and The Retreat spa, comprising 15 private cabanas designed as luxury living room spas with a TV, fridge and whirlpool. Entertainment includes An Evening with Sir Tim Rice, a theatre and music show featuring songs from productions such as Evita (0843 373 2000; seabourn.com).
Viking Sun features pale and ultra-stylish décor with oodles of Scandinavian chic, from the elegant bars to the spa with its snow-filled room. The ships are identical and both follow in the wake of Viking’s first two ocean vessels, Viking Star and Viking Sea. Viking Sun debuts with a new itinerary, Central American Shores & Cuba, a cruise from Miami (0208 780 8700, vikingcruises.co.uk).
TUI Discovery 2
This is the latest ship from Thomson Cruises, but named after parent company TUI. The ship might well have an identity crisis, given that it was formerly Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas and yet it fits with Thomson’s holiday resort ethos. It’s the company’s biggest ship (1,800 people), has a host of attractions (outdoor cinema, climbing wall, mini golf, indoor pool and, of course, a glossy atrium) and is all-inclusive (0871 230 2800; thomson.co.uk).
MSC Meraviglia’s indoor promenade, linking shops entertainment, has the whole ceiling covered by a giant LED screen that can transmit vistas. The ship has more outside areas than the norm, including a water park, while entertainment will include shows from Cirque du Soleil. The luxurious ship-within-a-ship Yacht Club has been expanded while regular staterooms can be linked to unite three rooms for a 10-person group. MSC Seaside (and sister ship MSC Seaview, which arrived 18 June) claims the highest ratio of outdoor space per guest at sea, with a beach condo concept. Both are awash with outdoor restaurants, bars and boutiques, while the all-round promenade opens up the deck to endless vistas through glass balustrades (0203 426 3010; msccruises.co.uk).
These are a pair of smaller ships that are geared to experiencing and exploring their home, the Galapagos Islands. Xperience, a conventional yet contemporary ship, carries 48 guests in Celebrity’s trademark understated luxury. There’s a bar, al fresco drinks and dining, an indoor dining room and library. The sun deck has a hot tub and exercise bikes. Staterooms all have views. Meanwhile Xploration, a sleek catamaran, carries only 16 guests. There’s a dining room, on-deck bar/restaurant, a smart wood-floor lounge and stylish suites (0844 493 2043; celebritycruises.co.uk).
Emerald Destiny, Emerald Liberté and Emerald Radiance
The company that only debuted in 2014 has launched three new Star-Ships in 2017. Emerald Destiny, which debuted in April, is the fifth vessel to sail through the heart of Europe on the Danube, Rhine and Main. The new additions to the fleet are all identical, down to the indoor heated pool with a retractable roof that transforms into a cinema at night. Emerald Liberté will sail on the Rhône and Saône in France and Emerald Radiance on Portugal’s Douro, bringing new itineraries to each. Both will be smaller versions of the original design, purpose-built for their respective rivers, carrying 112 passengers (0808 102 1205; emeraldwaterways.co.uk).
S.S. Joie de Vivre
The latest extravagantly luxurious arrival in Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s Super Ship fleet is a world of antiques, intricately patterned fabrics and gilded accents. The ship, aiming to reflect the joy of living, will cruise the Seine, where its Louis XIV touches will be right at home among the châteaux. The Salon de Toulouse bar features art from leading auction houses and private collections. Dining venues include Le Restaurant Pigalle, Bistro Saint-Germain and Café Flore. There are two Royal Suites, eight Junior Suites, and 54 staterooms, all with marble bathrooms. The ship is intimately sized (128 passengers) and so can dock in the heart of Paris (0808 168 9231; uniworld.com).
AmaWaterways’ 18th ship in Europe will sail the Rhine. The sister ship to AmaViola offers upmarket itineraries (which offers a fleet of free bicycles) for 158 passengers. Rooms are more varied than before – 12 staterooms for families of three, six sets of connecting cabins for families of up to five, and four suites with sofa beds for families of up to four. Wine is included with dinner (0800 320 2336; amawaterways.co.uk).
Viking Herja and Viking Hild
The two new Longships join Viking’s fast-growing fleet of luxury ships with a contemporary Scandinavian flair. The design is fresh yet classic – the Aquavit Terrace at the bow of the
vessel features a rolling glass wall that opens up a bar/dining area – and most rooms come with either balcony or French balcony (suites with both). There’s even a stylish sundeck with an organic herb garden. Viking Hild will sail on the Rhine and Main while Viking Herja’s routes are still to be decided (0208 780 8700; vikingcruises.co.uk).
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