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Hold onto your hats because 2019 is going to be one big year for the cruise industry. A whopping twenty-four new ships will debut this year (the biggest ever), bringing some very exciting additions to our waters.
1. THE EAGERLY AWAITED
Royal Caribbean’s 4246 passenger Spectrum of the Seas will sail from Shanghai in June. With its Sichuan Red Chinese restaurant and Star Moment karaoke, it’s designed to impress. And if karaoke doesn’t arouse your interest, the new Sky Pad, complete with virtual reality bungee trampoline, just might. Be one of the first to cruise on her with House of Travel's special rates for delivery cruises from Dubai and Singapore in May.
Elsewhere, the 3954 passenger Carnival Panorama from Carnival Cruise Line will home port at Long Beach California from December 2019. Sailing every Saturday to the Mexican Riviera, on-board you’ll find SkyRide (a bike-ride-in-the-sky), WaterWorks aqua park, SportSquare outdoor fitness centre and Cloud 9 Spa.
If December is too long to wait, try Viking Jupiter. The latest vessel from Viking Ocean Cruises makes its inaugural voyage this February. With just 930 passengers, bespoke itineraries feature themes such as Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access.
2. LUXURY DISCOVERED
The highly anticipated launch of Scenic Eclipse which has been dubbed ‘the world's first discovery yacht’ may have been postponed since late 2018, but she's all set to sail in April 2019.
Arguably the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, each of the 114 suites will boast an impressive private veranda and lounge. There's also the on-board discovery fleet, which includes zodiacs, kayaks, e-bikes, two helicopters and a six-seater submarine called Scenic Neptune. Perfect for anything from underwater polar discoveries to seeing the vibrant coral life of the Caribbean or the submerged ancient ruins of Greece.
3. THE GRAND LADIES
The biggest vessel to debut this year will be the Costa Smeralda. Not only does it have the capacity for 5224 passengers, it’s the first ever cruise ship to be powered by clean-burning, liquefied natural gas (LNG). Smeralda will take guests for a round trip of the Mediterranean, with a stunning array of activities and entertainment on-board.
MSC's Grandiosa, is also one large lady (in the most complimentary way). Debuting in November for just under 5000 guests, she’ll also debut two new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, as well as charmingly off-centre surprises like flash mobs and themed parties. Sister ship, MSC Bellissima will begin her sailings in March, with both vessels boasting “Zoe”, a clever digital assistant much like a cyber concierge.
4. EXPEDITION CRUISE EXPANSION
This year a sizeable 12 new expedition ships will launch into service, which indicates an equally sizeable expansion of the expedition sector.
French luxury line Ponant have ordered a pair of 180-guest Explorer-class ships: Le Bougainville and Le Dumont-d'Urville. Both ships will feature a Blue Eye Lounge, where guests can observe the deep blue ocean via two whale-eye portholes. There are underwater cameras, projectors and hydrophones to make the experience totally other-worldly. Antarctica21 will receive their 100-guest Magellan Explorer (also the smallest ship to debut in 2019) and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will say hello to their new double act: the Hanseatic Nature (for the German speaking market) and Hanseatic, with an array of inspiring itineraries for the international market. In China, where the cruise industry is really heating up, SunStone will welcome the first of up to TEN expedition ships, including the Greg Mortimer which will be chartered to local favourite, Aurora Expeditions.
5. CELEBRITY CRUISES GET INTIMATE
Fans of Celebrity Cruises will no doubt be regulars guests on-board their large scale ships, but for 2019 Celebrity are releasing the demure 100-passenger Celebrity Flora. It's small because the ship will navigate the Galápagos Islands, and things are strictly controlled in these waters. Four guests per night will be invited to book the 'Top Deck Experience' for an alfresco dinner, stargazing and a night spent sleeping beneath the Milky Way.
6. NEW AND EXCITING PLACES
Recently, both P&O and Princess Cruises have developed attractive itineraries to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and in 2019, Australian small-ship line Coral Expeditions, will unveil its 120-passenger expedition ship, Coral Adventurer. With itineraries to north-western Australia and Papua New Guinea, as well as six zodiacs to take passengers on "sea safaris", there are plenty of opportunities for Kiwis to discover enticing new places close to home.
Asian favourite, Dream Cruises will bring their latest sister Explorer Dream to New Zealand for summer 2019/2020, with a fantastic choice of seven night round trip NZ cruises from Auckland. OK, she isn’t "new", but we sneaked her in here as she will go through a multi million dollar refit in April, before joining the other two Dream Sisters.
7. NEW NAMES ON THE OCEAN
Not surprisingly, everyone wants a slice of the thriving cruise industry, and 2019 will see the introduction of several new players.
Jalesh Cruises will offer short-cruise itineraries from Mumbai and start service in April, while in China, CTS (China Travel Service) will introduce their ships in late 2019.
If you can wait just one extra year, both The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Virgin Voyages will be smashing the Champagne over their bows come 2020. Virgin Voyages, the adults-only cruise brand from Sir Richard Branson, will welcome their rather beautiful Scarlet Lady. A slick, curvaceous little madam, she’s focused on health and wellbeing, so you can expect to find group fitness classes, sunrise yoga, an outdoor training zone, well-being pool and (don't fret) a Gym and Tonic bar - amongst other watering holes.
But let’s not wish away 2019 just yet, with so many new ships set to be delivered in 2019, there are plenty of excuses (twenty-four in fact) to book yourself onto a brand-new cruise. Come in-store and discuss which 2019 dreamboat your destined for.
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