Here They Come - Sailing Your Way Soon!
Why I believe 2016 will be the most exciting era in cruising

by Vanessa Lee

HAL`s ms Koningsdam Queen`s Lounge

Ms Koningsdam`s World Stage 

Regent Explorer suite

Regent Seven Seas Explorer passengers will dine at the Michelin starred restaurant La Vague d’Or in St. Tropez

2016 is going to be an exciting and inspiring year in the cruise industry mainly due to so many new ships being launched – especially in the premium and luxury category. The arrivals will commence in the spring – a great time of year to herald a few “Berth Announcements”. Holland America’s new Pinnacle Class ship ms Koningsdam one of the 1st, and will continue through to December when Seabourn Encore is christened.

And if you’ve been keeping some kind of track of all the announcements this past year you may recall that a number of major cruise lines have placed orders for ships that are not due to arrive until the end of this decade and indeed, into 2020. Of course that is now only 4 years away and time will continue to fly. But what captures my imagination is that these are not just the same ships these cruise companies have been sending to sea in the last few years. These vessels are going to be game-changers in many ways. They will up the ante, impress and excite and they will surely garner a huge amount of attention from current and prospective cruisers. Something we all want to see.

One of the most impressive announcements came in mid-2015 when Carnival Corporation announced a total of 9 new ships for their various brands with 4 of those being fueled by LNG – liquid natural gas – a 1 st for the industry and a timely move.

Here’s a look at what 2016 will unveil and why I believe this is one of the most impressive and exciting eras in cruise ship building and design. Not the least of which will be new onboard experiences which are trending, along with a remarkable and unprecedented emphasis on cuisine and dining experiences. Prepare to be wowed and amazed – and delighted!

Touted as the most luxurious ship in the world, the Regent Seven Seas Explorer will make her debut in July – the 1st new ship for this line in many a year. She will carry 750 guests and be the largest in the fleet - 12.5% bigger than her nearest sibling - but will carry only 7% more guests. There is much buzz about this sophisticated and gorgeous new ship with all her stunning accoutrements. There is a clear focus on cuisine and a definite leaning to those who are epicureans. So if you have foodie clients – make sure they are aware. Just announced, to go along with Explorer`s Culinary Arts Kitchen is a series of shore excursions designed to make even the most picky culinary-oriented client, very happy. These Gourmet Explorer Tours will afford guests the opportunity, according to Regent, “to dine at a highly coveted and world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurant, visit iconic markets and palatial vineyard estate homes, and learn from some of Europe’s premier chefs with personalized, hands-on instruction”. Sign me up please!

Holland’s Koningsdam which is the 1st in a new class for the line will be a testament to how HAL intends to launch themselves into a new and more modern era. This ship will apparently be somewhat different from previous “Dam” ships and offer a more contemporary feel and approach. There is much being made about the onboard entertainment changes and the self-described “energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Billboard Onboard,  B.B. King’s Blues Club and the Lincoln Center Stage”. There’s a 270° LED projection at World Stage and new concepts for show-time performances which plan to immerse the audience in panoramic and visual effects. More dining options have also been announced for K’dam (my nickname) with a French brasserie restaurant to be named Sel de Mer and a farm to table concept in the Culinary Arts Center. Check out the series of “Countdown to Koningsdam” video series for more specific updates and a preview of what is expected to be a beautiful new ship for the HAL fleet - and with a sister coming in 2018 too.

I will write more about these beautiful new arrivals in my next column and will include Viking Sea, Carnival Vista, Harmony of the Seas from Royal Caribbean and more on the Seabourn Encore. And I will also highlight many of the other new builds coming in the next 5 years from brands such as Princess, Norwegian, MSC and Celebrity. Never mind of course all the new river ships – that’s a column on its own. I plan to sail on a number of these ships during the course of the year so will also be giving you my personal thoughts and opinions from a first-hand perspective - just as you would expect!  

Stay tuned for part 2 coming 22JAN.

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