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New ships: Le Lyrial, Mein Schiff 4, AIDAprima

Fourth in a series about new ships


Ponant’s Le Lyrial

If you’d like to know how the wealthy French cruise, this could be as close as it gets. The Ponant ships are like large yachts, with a crew-to-passenger ratio better than 2-to-1, with a promise that every guest will be pampered, entertained and enlightened, and an idea of cruising synonymous with French elegance…beyond cuisine and fine wines, of course.

Launch date: April 18
Capacity: 264
Sister ships: Le Soleal, L’Austral, Le Boreal
Maiden voyage: Istanbul to Venice — 21 days
Home port: Venice
Ships now in Ponant fleet: 5

Interesting: Le Lyrial’s contemporary decor was inspired by the blue light of the Vega star in the Lyra constellation. All guests will have spectacular ocean views and access to a fitness center, library, swimming pool, beauty salon and all the usual amenities, only French style. After summering in the Mediterranean, it’s apparently heading to Antarctica, an unusual destination for French elegance.


Mein Schiff 4

TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 4

The second new-build from German-based TUI Cruises, a joint venture with Royal Caribbean. The other ships in the TUI fleet were purchased from Celebrity and re-named, the first the former Galaxy (2009) and the second the Mercury (2011), becoming Mein Schiff 1 and 2, respectively. The first new-build was Mein Schiff 3, which arrived last year.

Launch date: June 6
Capacity: 2,506
Sister ships: Mein Schiff 3
Maiden voyage: Eight days, from Kiel (return) to the Baltics
Home port: Kiel
Ships then in TUI Cruises fleet: 4

Interesting: By the time TUI is finished, there will be five sisters, once Mein Schiff 8 arrives in 2019, all of them new-builds and probably all like the first one, Mein Schiff 3. That means, like Mein Schiff 4, they’ll be environmentally friendly, carry 2,506 passengers, and have 15 decks, 11 restaurants and 82 per cent of its cabins with balconies.


AIDA Prima


The artwork on the hull is probably the tip-off that this 18-year-old German-based line is designed for young, fun-loving, German-speaking and physically active cruisers. Like Norwegian, it’s ultra-casual in both its dress code and dining options, and the AIDAprima will be its largest ship, the first of two, the second due to arrive next year. As yet, No. 2 is unnamed but it will be AIDAsomething.

Launch date: October 1
Capacity: 3,250
Sister ships: (Coming in 2016)
Maiden voyage: In two stages, the first from Tokyo to Dubai (49 days), the second from Dubai to Hamburg (38 days)
Home port: Hamburg
Ships then in AIDA fleet: 11

Interesting: Built for Germany’s largest cruise line at Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, AIDAprima will have 18 decks and 75 per cent of the rooms will come with balconies and one of its many activities is ice skating. With an opening voyage almost three months long, you can be sure the German cruise masters will have everything just right.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's 12th FunShip 2.0

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
January 31, 2015
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Cruise Critic Editors' Best Of…Cruising


Anybody who has been on more than a few cruises is inevitably going to be asked: “What’s your favorite…ship…destination…cruise…port…activity…restaurant…?”

There are no correct answers, given that everybody’s cruising taste is different in every area. Sometimes, it’s incredible how much stock all of us put in recommendations of others, qualified or not.

Cruise passengers pay attention to “awards” and that’s why we write about them. Among the most credible awards are Cruise Critic’s — some of them determined by cruisers, some by editors. The latter is the latest, announced this week.

The editorial staff at Cruise Critic is nameless, identified only as an ”international team of editors.” The awards they just announced — 18 of them —  cover everything from new ships to itineraries to romance, and we thought a sampling of them would be appropriate today. 


If you’re looking for the best new ship from 2014, head for Bayonne, N.J. and board Quantum of the Seas.

If you’re into luxury, you have to go a little further…to France, because that’s where Ponant is based (Marseille) and where you can cruise on one of three small ships and enjoy authentic French cuisine, among other things.

If you’re after the best bang for your buck, it’s Carnival.

Best dining? Oceania, which features Jacques Pepin and Kathryn Kelly.

Best entertainment? Norwegian…think Blue Man, Legends in Concert, Rock of Ages.

If a few more inches and a few more amenities in a standard stateroom is important, check out Holland America.

And if you wonder which cruise line has the best itineraries, Cruise Critic’s editors like Princess — for the second year running.

What it all adds up to is an educated guess at what you’re going to like best (or better), as long as your taste is similar to the critical eyes of Cruise Critic.

Today at portsandbows.com: Special news from Silversea

Crown Princess
3 nights
January 6, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $129
Cost per day: $43

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