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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

North Star? RipCord? Go now!

If you’re booked on Anthem of the Seas, the newest Royal Caribbean ship on the sea, make sure you take a ride on the North Star. That’s the pod at the end of an arm that North Startakes you on a ride over the water while the ship is cruising. And after you’ve done it, do it again. And again. And again.

If you are a cruise aficionado who can’t wait to see Harmony of the Seas, the next new Royal Caribbean ship that’s due in 2016, go on its North Star, too. Then go again. And again. And again.

If you think you might like simulated sky diving, RipCord by iFly is available (or will be) on RipCordboth those Quantum Class ships, so don’t miss a chance to give it a shot. Then do it again. And again.

Both those thrill features are free.

For now.

The flagship for this class is Quantum of the Seas. It is cruising in Asia, home-ported in Singapore. If you go on that North Star, it costs $20. If you go on that RipCord, it costs $26 for the one-minute ride.

Isn’t it just a matter of time?

In the news…

• Eight-year-old boy drowns in pool on Liberty of the Seas
• Crystal Cruises announces plans to add two jets and double air fleet
• Pier 66 cruise terminal improvements project approved in Seattle

Today at portsandbows.com: Hurtigruten expanding operations


Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam
7 nights
January 24, 2016
Fort Lauderdale (return): Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Key West
Inside: $539
Cost per day: $77
www.hollandamerica.com

When Is The Biggest Ship Biggest?

There is always debates when the subject of “biggest cruise ships in the world” is raised. Some people (like us) tend to think the biggest ship is the one that carries the most people, not the one that weighs the most or is the longest from tip to stern or has the most bow thrusters.

However, passenger counts are fluid, because they are fundamentally based on two people times the number of cabins. There are not always two people in a cabin — sometimes as many as four — and there are suites that accommodate more than two. Or can.

So that’s probably not the right measurement.

OasisIndustry experts use gross tonnage, we are told. That being the case, here are the 10 biggest cruise ships right now:

1. Allure of the Seas* (225,282 gross tonnes)

2. Oasis of the Seas (225,282)

3. Anthem of the Seas (168,666)

3. Quantum of the Seas (168,666)

5. Norwegian Escape (164,600)

6. Norwegian Epic (155,873)

7. Freedom of the Seas (160,000)

7. Liberty of the Seas (160,000)

7. Independence of the Seas (160,000)

10. Queen Mary 2 (148,528)

The list is soon going to change. In the spring and early summer, both Ovation of the Seas (168,666) and Harmony of the Seas (226,000) will move into the top 10. That will give Royal Caribbean nine of the 10 biggest ships.

Allure and Oasis are likely to remain firmly entrenched at the top for the foreseeable future. Part of making ships more energy efficient, just like making cars more energy efficient, is to make them lighter.

You may have noticed the asterisk next to Allure of the Seas. That’s because while it weighs the same as Oasis of the Seas, Allure is two inches longer.

So much for making gross tonnage the criteria!

In the news…

• Crystal Serenity heading to North America following world cruise in 2017
• First robot to read human emotions, Pepper, going on Costa ships next year
• First details about Harmony of the Seas thrill water slide, Ultimate Abyss

Today at portsandbows.com: AmaWaterways announces 2017 schedule


Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
January 18, 2016
Miami (return): CocoCay, Nassau
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $74
www.royalcaribbean.com

 

Cruise World Getting New Anthem

The newest cruise ship coming to America is, in reality, more than six months old. Among other things, that means Anthem of the Seas will have any little glitches eliminated by the time it heads off on its first Caribbean cruise a week from today.

Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum Class ship arrives in New York (actually, across the river in New Jersey) this week to be introduced to media, travel agents and assorted VIPs on this side of the Atlantic. Our colleague Phil Reimer is among the invited guests and will be delivering his impression of the ship at Ports and Bows.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 8.23.11 PMHow is Anthem of the Seas different from her sister, Quantum of the Seas, which turned a year old yesterday?

For starters, Anthem’s accessible. She will sail permanently from Bayonne’s Cape Liberty port, and Quantum is stationed — also permanently — in Singapore. And while Quantum’s Godmother is the gifted and effervescent Kristin Chenoweth, Anthem was christened by Emma Wilby, who is widely known on the other side of the Atlantic as an author and historian (and singer) but who could likely walk through Central Park without anybody knowing her.

Other than that, according to all reports, there’s not a lot to choose between the two ships except that Anthem of the Seas has the benefit of being tweaked, technologically and otherwise, following Quantum’s year of service.

Both have the North Star to take passengers out over the water in a pod. Both have RipCord and SeaPlex for passengers who want the sensation of sky diving and the grit of bumper cars, respectively. Both have virtual balconies, robots who pour drinks in a bar, a 270-degree view from the trendy multi-level entertainment room called Two70, and four dining rooms from which to choose. The dining difference is that Quantum’s rooms were all — to steal a word from Norwegian — freestyle with no set dining times, seating arrangements or formalities, while Anthem of the Seas’ dining rooms will also have the traditional options.

The new ship will carry almost 5,000 passengers, making it No. 3 in that department between big sisters Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. That and all its similarities to Quantum of the Seas will be more or less immaterial when it makes cruise headlines this week.

In the news…

• Crystal Cruises orders five yachts for 2016 launch into river cruise market
• Norwegian's Freestyle Choice offers back for November, December bookings
• Fathom to visit six U.S., two Canadian cities to market Dominican, Cuba cruises

Today at portsandbows.com: Holland America's new partners


Carnival Fascination
5 nights
November 16, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

Carnival Ships Join China Surge

MiracleThere was a time, not that long ago, that the only places you could take Carnival ships was from a port city in North America. The one caveat was when the world’s biggest cruise line built a new ship in Europe, and it had to get to North America by crossing the Atlantic.

Then Carnival started dabbling in the Mediterranean. Then in Australia, going so far as to establish a base there. Now, Carnival’s going to China.

There is no choice. Everybody else is, too.

In 2017, the Carnival Miracle (above) will be in China year-round. A year later, the Carnival Splendour (below) will be in China year-round. Cruise ships from Carnival Corporation have been visiting Asian ports for a decade, but not year-round. And the Splendormother line wasn’t there at all. Other cruise lines have gradually been gaining a presence, but nobody really started taking the Chinese market this seriously until Royal Caribbean sent its newest ship — Quantum of the Seas — to establish a home port in Shanghai. 

If that didn’t get the cruise executives’ attention, it surely woke up the media.

Maybe it wasn’t that big a deal to Royal Caribbean, which has since launched Anthem of the Seas and has another Quantum Class ship coming next year, Ovation of the Seas. But this was the flagship of the class and its first cruise season was from New York (Cape Liberty), not exactly a secondary market. As it turned out, that was its ONLY season of sailing from New York to the Caribbean. Almost exactly one year after it arrived, Quantum was gone.

For good.

Since then, the other mainstream cruise lines have been despatching ships to Asian waters. It will likely never rival the Caribbean as a cruise destination, but it’s definitely a player. And in 18 months, the team of ships stationed there will include Carnival.

In the news…

• The Salty Dog Gastropub makes its debut on Crown Princess
• Costa signs three-year partnership agreement with Italian airline Neo

Today at portsandbows.com: Cunard planning them cruises for 2016


Carnival Imagination
3 nights
January 14, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $56
www.carnival.com

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