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New ship No. 4 — Carnival Vista

Fourth in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Vista

Carnival hasn’t had a new ship in either three years or four, depending on whether you consider the re-building and name change of the Sunshine a new ship. When the Vista comes along this spring, it will launch a new class of the same name and it will give Carnival its biggest ship with almost 4,000 passengers…and obviously a more modern ship than the last totally new one, the Breeze in 2012.

Launch date: May 1

Capacity: 3,954

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: Dubrovnik to Barcelona (13 days)

Home port: Miami

Ships then in Carnival fleet: 24

Interesting: The world’s biggest cruise line is getting into the boardwalk-style of design by “bringing you closer to the sea” at the Havana Bar & Pool, SkyRide at SportSquare and Seafood Shack. It also claims to have the first IMAX theater at sea and staterooms designed for “Cuban culture lovers” sailing the Caribbean…hmm, could this become Carnival’s first cruise ship for Cuba one day? Like almost all new ships, its first sea days will be in Europe, crossing the Atlantic to settle at home in Miami by year’s end. The first Vista Class ship will also have a 450-foot waterslide, 20 places to eat and/or drink and a working micro-brewery at the RedFrog Pub.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Grand Princess
10 nights
February 23, 2016
San Francisco (return): Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

New ship No. 3 — Ovation of the Seas

Third in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Ovation

Royal Caribbean’s newest class of ship is the Quantum Class and when Ovation of the Seas joins it, two-thirds of the ships will be based in Asia. Unless you go off to search for it to take a cruise cruise, the only place you’ll find out about it is in places like this. A month after its Southampton launch, Ovation of the Seas is off to Dubai, en route to its Asian home: Tianjin, China. It will briefly visit Australia and New Zealand at the end of the year and no cruises are posted online after its return to Asia (Singapore) in February.

Launch date: April 17

Capacity: 4,180

Sister ships: Quantum of the Seas (2014), Anthem of the Seas (2015)

Maiden voyage: Southampton return (5 days)

Home port: Tianjin, China

Ships then in Royal Caribbean fleet: 25

Interesting: Other than the fact that it has robots serving drinks, a flying pod to give people a 360-degree view of the sea (or whatever else happens to be in sight) and simulators for surfing and skydiving, it’s just like any other cruise ship. Not really. This is a clone of Quantum and Anthem of the Seas, and the differences will likely be hard to find. Like them it also has the Two70-degree lounge/entertainment center and the SeaPlex, where bumper cars, roller skates and basketball are the featured activities. Unlike them, it has virtual balconies so everybody gets to see what’s happening outside whether they’re in the North Star or not. With 16 decks, 25 places to eat and a price tag close to a billion dollars, it’s still not even close to being the biggest ship in the world. That comes — here — on Friday.

In the news…

• Windstar’s damaged Star Pride now out of cruising until after April 9
• Royal Caribbean drops eat-healthy restaurant from Anthem of the Seas

Today at portsandbows.com: Emerald kicks off Wave Season with free are


Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
6 nights
April 10, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Labadee
Inside: $389
Cost per day: $64
www.royalcaribbean.com

New ship No. 2 — Holland America Koningsdam

Second in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Konigsdam

It’s been six years between new ships for Holland America, so imagine the anticipation leading up to the launch of the Koningsdam. It will be the first ship in the Pinnacle Class (presumably there are more to follow) and the biggest ship in the Holland America fleet, which will shrink by a ship when the Koningsdam arrives, having despatched the Ryndam and Statendam to another member of the Carnival Corporation family, P&O Australia.

Launch date: April 8

Capacity: 2,650

Sister ships: None yet

Maiden voyage: Rome return (7 days)

Home port: Fort Lauderdale

Ships then in Holland America fleet: 14

Interesting: Since the Nieuw Amsterdam was the last new ship in 2010, it’s safe to assume this will be unlike any of the 13 siblings, starting with the fact it carries 500 more passengers, is one deck (12) higher and weighs 13,000 tons more than Holland America’s last newbie. Besides a more contemporary look and feel, there’s also more of an attempt for passenger participation, with BLEND a wine-making program designed in conjunction with the well-known Chateau Ste. Michelle, and the Culinary Arts Center for hands-on creations at individual cooking stations during classes conducted by celebrity chefs. Holland America has also joined the club in dining with “As You Wish” choice of seating and time.

In the news…

• Norwegian’s new slogan to attract cruiser customers — “Feel Free!”
• Carnival to charge as much as $6 per plate fleet-wide for new room-service items
• Star Cruises positioning ship in near Hong Kong, in Guangzhou, China

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Carnival Inspiration
4 nights
February 15, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada
Inside: $179
Cost per day: $44
www.carnival.com

New Ship No. 1 — Viking Sea

First in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-SeaThe first new ship of 2016 will set sail the first week of April and the category it falls into is “A tough act to follow.” If the Viking Sea is, in fact, a clone of last year’s Viking Star then it will be a winner out of the gate. The Star was ship-of-the-year in the eyes of most experts and it will be interesting to see if they feel the same way about another Viking ocean ship now that they’ve seen one.

Launch date: April 4

Capacity: 930

Sister ships: Viking Star

Maiden voyage: Istanbul to Venice (9 days)

Home port: None

Ships then in Viking Ocean fleet: 2

Interesting: Like its predecessor, the Sea will be more about ports than sea days, visiting some places where bigger ships don’t fit. Despite that, Viking trumpets its “unique onboard experience” — generally larger rooms (270 square feet) that all have verandahs, two pools including an infinity pool looking out to sea, a Nordic-style spa and books and speakers to enrich your knowledge while sitting in “tasteful, understated elegance.” Like the Star, it’s expected to deliver a high level of all-inclusiveness from Wi-Fi to cappuccinos to shore excursions (one) in every port to wine and spirits with meals. This Sea is designed to be a Star.

In the news…

• Port Everglades breaks single-day record by 120 with 53,485 passengers
• Two new, big Costa ships heading for Asian market for 2019 and 2020
• Holland America, Carnival lead inspections — six ships perfect in 2015

Today at portsandbows.comCarnival Corporation’s big ship order


Holland America Eurodam
14 nights
March 27, 2016
Fort Lauderdale, Funchal, Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena, Barcelona
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $49
www.hollandamerica.com

Majestic Princess…majestic port stays

There was an announcement from Santa Clarita, California yesterday and when cruise announcements come from this pretty city north of Los Angeles, that almost certainly means Princess Cruises has something to say.

What Princess had to say yesterday was that people who want to cruise on its new ship, the Majestic Princess, can now start to make plans. That the cruise line’s first ship in three years, since the Regal Princess, will spend its first (2017) summer in Europe, which is always a nice place to spend your summer. That passengers will be able to choose from 64 itineraries, 153 departures, 27 countries and Mediterranean cruises from five to 28 days. And that bookings can be made next Thursday, December 3.

Good stuff.

But the most interesting part of the announcement, at least in our corner of the cruise Majestic Princessworld, was that Princess ships — or at least this one — will be staying longer in ports. Overnights, even.

This is one of the growing trends for ocean ships, picking up on what river ships have long been doing…and, yes, that is a different game for many reasons. Over the past couple of years, cruise lines have started to schedule more late-night departures and some overnight stays because…surprise, surprise…the passengers like them.

How many times have you been in an interesting city and felt that your visit was being cut short because last call for the ship was four o’clock in the afternoon, which meant you probably had to start heading there at three? How many times have you wished you could have dinner and not lunch at one of the local restaurants, perhaps recommended by a local? How many times have you thought it would be nice to stay for a theatrical performance or a sports event that started after you were back at sea?

Princess is getting more into the game.

The Majestic Princess (or its seaworthy siblings) will, in a program called More Ashore, offer passengers a chance to stay in 15 European countries until 9 p.m. or later…defeating the theory that the only people on cruise ships are old, tired and in bed by dark. It will also be staying overnight in places such as Dublin, Stockholm and St. Petersburg.

So this was not only news from Santa Clarita yesterday…it was good news.

In the news…

• Record year of cruising expected for New South Wales
• Cunard’s ‘The Ultimate Upgrade’ available until November 30
• Ponant’s evacuated Le Boreal being towed to shore after fire

Today at portsandbows.comCrystal Cruises more up in the air

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
Jan 9, 2016
San Juan (return): Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.celebritycruises.com

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