Cruise companies are launching vessels that astound, aimed at providing ultimate comfort. Luxury cruise lines are going into overdrive, launching lavish new vessels and spending hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading their existing fleets. Here’s a quick look at what’s on the horizon.
Not only does Crystal River Cruises currently have a fleet of five river ships for Europe’s waterways, the ever-expanding company’s first luxury expedition yacht, Crystal Esprit, set sail in December 2015. Esprit will be joined by Crystal Endeavor in 2020; the 200-guest luxury expedition yacht will be equipped with submarines, helicopters and underwater scooters along with all the luxuries Crystal clients expect in the way of facilities and service. Crystal Cruises will also introduce a new class of ocean ship: the first Diamond Class ship is set to launch in 2022. Watch this space...
The French line launched Le Lyrial, the fourth of its stylish, nearly identical 224-passenger luxury expedition ships in 2015. Such has been the demand for Ponant’s soft-adventure and Polar expedition cruises that the first of four new 184-passenger luxury yachts – featuring the cruise world’s first underwater viewing lounge – will debut in 2018.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seven Seas Explorer, the most expensive cruise ship ever built (per berth), was christened in a ceremony in Monaco in July 2016. Its Regent Suite has attracted the most attention; the 131.6sqm balcony spans the width of the ship, and the suite has its own spa and a US$250,000 (almost AU$330,000) custom-built Steinway grand piano. A similar-sized ship to Explorer will join RSSC’s fleet of four vessels in 2020.
Renowned for its modern Space-Ships on Europe’s waterways, the super-successful Australian company is now building its first ocean-going ship. The 228-guest ‘discovery yacht’ Scenic Eclipse will be launched in August 2018 and will carry two helicopters and a mini submarine. The much-talked about Eclipse will sail to most ports of the globe and is ice-rated for Polar regions.
Seabourn Encore will be gracing Australian waters soon after its January 2017 christening in Singapore, becoming the youngest, most luxurious ship to sail Down Under. The elegant 604-guest Seabourn Encore is slightly larger than its three Odyssey-class sisters, and Seabourn Ovation will follow in 2018. Both Encore and Ovation will offer The Retreat, a glamorous sanctuary on the top deck that will feature a bar, a spa cabana, private cabanas, a central whirlpool and concierge service.
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Launched in April 2017, the ‘simply divine’ 596-guest Silver Muse is the largest in the line’s fleet of 10 ships, four of which are expedition-class vessels. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, it replaced the main dining room with three intimate restaurants – Atlantide, Indochine and Kabuki. Silversea’s partnership with the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group continues with Silver Muse’s MaDame restaurant.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Another highly successful river-cruise line that has taken to the high seas, Viking has launched two ocean-going ships – the 930-guest Viking Star and Viking Sea – since May 2015. The contemporary adults only vessels are already winning awards, and three more are set to debut by 2018. In January 2018, Viking Sun visited Australia and New Zealand on its world cruise – a first for the Nordic cruise line.
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Owning six ships that carry no more than 310 guests each, Windstar Cruises lives by the ‘small is beautiful’ maxim. Three of its fleet are sailing ships and three are boutique motor-yachts. The company has spent more than US$21.5 million upgrading the 212-guest Star Pride, Star Breeze and Star Legend since 2014 and the experience is now akin to sailing on your own private yacht. Between them, the six ships sail to more than 150 destinations worldwide.