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New ship No. 8 — Seabourn Encore

Eighth in a series of new ships for 2016

Seabourn is an ultra-luxury cruise line that has been around for 30 years but effectively became a player in 2009 when the revolutionary Seabourn Odyssey arrived. With selling older ships Pride, Spirit and Legend to Windstar, the Encore is now Seabourn’s fourth ship and will be followed by a fifth in 2018 — the Ovation. So how does “ultra luxury” move to something better, such as “infinite luxury?” It hires a master designer named Adam D. Tihany, who is known for his elegant design of high-class resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Launch date: December 4

Capacity: 604

Sister ships: None (yet)

Maiden voyage: Athens to Dubai

Home port: Several in Asia and Australia

Ships then in Seabourn fleet: 4

Interesting: The plan is what will be this small-ship line’s biggest ship at 40,000 gross tonnes is for it and the Ovation to be regarded as kings of the luxury business. Yet as Seabourn points out that architecturally it will not be significantly different than the other three ships, the Encore designed by Tihany will be “softer” and “curvaceous” with unexpected surprises and subtle transformations that “are not meant to be described but rather discovered.” In other words, seasoned Seabourn customers will expect the traditional exclusivity and privacy traits that has made the line ultra luxurious, but find a few new touches to what will be a larger private yacht than they’ve previously experienced.

In the news…

• High-diving comedy among shows planned for Harmony of the Seas
• Norwegian’s Harvest Caye opening delayed nine months until November
• Azamara’s first world cruise — 61 ports, 29 countries — set for 2018

Today at portsandbows.com: Another new ship coming for AmaWaterways


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 19, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97
www.royalcaribbean.com

New ship No. 6 — Mein Schiff 5

Sixth in a series of new ships for 2016

Most North Americans, it’s safe to assume, know little about TUI Cruises. It’s a smaller cruise line, or a cruise line of smaller ships, or both. It is, however, owned by Royal Caribbean and that gives it a cache of credibility for people interesting in cruising on any of its “Mein Schiffs” (or “my ships”), two of which were once the Celebrity Galaxy and Celebrity Mercury. This year, TUI will inherit Splendour of the Seas from the parent company.

Launch date: July 15

Capacity: 2,534

Sister ships: Mein Schiff 3, Mein Schiff 4

Maiden voyage: Kiel, Germany return (9 days)

Home port: Hamburg

Ships then in TUI fleet: 5

Interesting: The latest of three new-builds, Mein Schiff 5 is also significantly larger than the first two ex-Celebrity ships. She is a carbon copy of Mein Schiff 3 and 4, which means 1,276 staterooms, 80 per cent of them with balconies and an interior design that has been described as “modern yet cozy.” German is the principal language yet the ship sounds like one that would appeal to North Americans, too, with a reputable buffet, along with specialty restaurants for Japanese fare and surf and turf. Activities include acrobatics, musicals, magic and comedy shows; fitness and aerobics opportunities; and a full range of shore excursions. Best of all, beverages and gratuities are included.

Today at portsandbows.comThe new Wave Season


Norwegian Jade
7 nights
February 20, 2016
Houston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.ncl.com

New ship No. 5 — Harmony of the Seas

Fifth in a series of new ships for 2016

Ship-Harmony

This third Oasis Class ship is already being called the world’s biggest ship by Royal Caribbean, but who’s measuring. Harmony of the Seas is the identical length of its predecessor for the title, Allure of the Seas, and weighs 718 tons more but is 49 feet smaller in width. The determining factor seems to be capacity, which at two-per-room gives Harmony the edge by 88 passengers. It’s really a moot point because the three Oasis sibling ships are the three biggest cruise ships anywhere.

Launch date: May 22

Capacity: 5,488

Sister ships: Oasis of the Seas (2009), Allure of the Seas (2010)

Maiden voyage: Southampton return (4 days)

Home port: Barcelona and Fort Lauderdale

Ships then in Royal Caribbean fleet: 26

Interesting: While Harmony of the Seas has all the trappings that have made the Oasis Class so popular — Central Park, Boardwalk, Giovanni’s Table, Broadway shows, Flowrider — this $1.35-billion ship’s identity is likely to be the Ultimate Abyss. Thrill seekers will drop 10 stories when they venture into the tallest waterslide on any cruises ship, which continue to display slides that are bigger, wilder, scarier. Passengers will wear “WOWBands” to help them find their way and Royal Caribbean says VOOM is the fastest Internet at sea. Harmony’s Broadway show is Grease, certain to be a winner, and its other distinguishing gimmick is likely to be the robots who serve drinks in the Bionic Bar. Do they ask for tips?

Today at portsandbows.com: Geographically appealing ports for Canadians


Norwegian Sun
14 nights
February 27, 2016
Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Puerto Madryn, Port Stanley, Cape Horn, Ushuaia, Beagle Channel, Punta Arenas, Strait of Magellan, Chilean Fjords, Puerto Chacabuco, Puerto Montt, Santiago
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $71
www.ncl.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

Cruise Advertising From Customers

In an era when every-day baseball statistics now are WHIP, WAR and OBP, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that measuring success for the cruise industry now includes statistics from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For example:

Norwegian is publicizing the fact that in one 20-day period on the Escape, its customers logged 576,896 Facebook posts, 14,150 tweets and 11,367 Instagram posts, which somehow added up to 159 million impressions. This broke Norwegian’s in-house record for social media usage at sea.

Welcome to “new age advertising.”

If a cruise line can reach 159 million people in 20 days thanks to passengers who are surely posting 95 per cent (or more) positive messages, think of how much said cruise line Escape-Arno Redeniuscan save on advertising costs. The trickle-down effect on society is that fewer dollars spent on TV advertising morphs into higher cable or satellite costs for users, or poorer-quality television shows…or both. The same would be true for newspapers if that hadn’t already happened.

The good news is that because this becomes such an important vehicle for cruise lines, they will spare no cost when it comes to upgrading Internet access so that the passengers can do their thing as advertisers.

What’s next?

How about points for being a frequent tweeter?

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean locks up 10-year port agreement with U.S. Virgin Islands

- Photo by Arno Redenius

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news


Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas
7 nights
March 5, 2016
Tampa (return): Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Inside: $590
Cost per day: $84
www.royalcaribbean.com

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