The 6 Most Exciting Announcements for Cruisers From Seatrade Convention
If you’re a hardcore cruise fan, you probably already know this was the week of the industry’s annual monster meet-up in South Florida, known as Seatrade Cruise Global.
Held this year at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the event drew more than 10,000 representatives from cruise lines, suppliers and destinations hoping to do deals involving new ships, shipboard amenities, itineraries and more. It also was — as always — a platform for cruise companies to make announcements big and small.
From plans for swanky debut ships to new itineraries, here are some of the reveals we're most excited about.
A New Luxe Ship Will Head to the Galápagos
It wouldn’t be Seatrade Cruise Global without at least one line touting a super swanky new ship. This year, it was Silversea that wowed the crowd with the first renderings of the new vessel it has in the works for the Galápagos: the 100-passenger Silver Origin.
It’ll be, “The most elegant ship in the Galápagos,” Silversea chief marketing officer Barbara Muckermann promised attendees on Wednesday while showing off images of luxurious lounges, dining areas and cabins.
Scheduled to debut in the summer of 2020, Silver Origin will have the highest crew-to-passenger ratio (1 to 1.16) of any vessel in the famously wildlife-filled destination, as well as the highest ratio of expedition guides (1 to 10), said Silversea CEO Roberto Martinoli. Every cabin on the ship will be a suite with its own balcony and butler service.
Silver Origin is being custom-designed for the destination with plenty of glass walls to maximize wildlife viewing and restaurants serving local Ecuadorian cuisine prepared by local chefs. The ship will also carry eight motorized Zodiac boats for landings — the most per passenger of any vessel in the region, according to the line.
“Ever since the early planning phases, every decision on Silver Origin has been made to strengthen the connection between our guests and this spectacular, unique destination,” Martinoli said.
The vessel will replace the 29-year-old Silver Galapagos, which has been sailing for Silversea in the archipelago since 2013.
Seabourn’s Getting Its First Expedition Vessel
Also offering a sneak peek at a forthcoming vessel was luxury line Seabourn, which unveiled initial renderings of the public spaces planned for its first expedition ship, the 264-passenger Seabourn Venture, and an as-yet-unnamed sister. The vessels are due in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Among the spaces revealed by top Seabourn executives at a Tuesday press event was an elegant Expedition Lounge that will serve as a central gathering place. Created by noted hospitality designer Adam Tihany, it’ll offer custom furniture crafted in warm, natural materials and an etched glass partition adorned with a vintage map of Antarctica.
Tihany also created an adjacent Discovery Center that will be host lectures, briefings and enrichment programs from a team of 26 on-board wilderness experts, scientists, historians and naturalists. Other interior areas shown for the first time include dual Landing Zones on the port and starboard sides of the vessel where passengers will prepare for Zodiac landings.
The line said it would reveal more details about the vessels, as well as itinerary information, by the middle of this year.
Carnival Is Going Big With Massive Suites…
Carnival Cruise Line unveiled plans to go big with the suites on Mardi Gras, the giant new ship it has on order for delivery in 2020.
The 5,200-passenger vessel will feature two sprawling Presidential Suites that measure 1,120 square feet — bigger than any other accommodations in the line’s fleet — Carnival president Christine Duffy announced on Tuesday.
Located at the top of the ship on Deck 17, the complexes will have separate living and sleeping areas as well as the most expansive balconies in the Carnival fleet (each will have its very own hot tub, a lounge area and even an outdoor shower).
Duffy said the Presidential Suites will be among 180 suites on Mardi Gras, the most ever for a Carnival ship. Carnival’s most recent series of vessels, the Vista Class, each offer fewer than 75 suites.
The Presidential Suites will be among four new premium “Excel” category of suites that come with extra amenities and access to a new-for-the-line, resort-style enclave at the top of the ship called Loft 19.
Pricing for the Presidential Suites will start around $3,675 per person for a week-long Caribbean sailing. That's about five times the cost of a basic cabin.
… And Bringing ‘Family Feud’ on Board
Yes, you’ll soon be able to play "Family Feud" on a cruise ship. At the same time she announced the new suites for Mardi Gras, Duffy revealed plans to debut a seagoing version of the iconic television game show on the vessel as part of its entertainment line-up.
In an exclusive partnership with Fremantle (the company behind "Family Feud"), the on-board version of the game — to be called "Family Feud Live!" — will be played in one of the ship’s showrooms. Just like on the TV version of the show, five-person teams of passengers will compete in rounds of Face Off and Fast Money on a set created to mimic what you see on television.
Just don’t expect Steve Harvey to make an appearance. Duffy said the game would be hosted by the ship’s cruise director. There’s a twist, though. Duffy said both family-friendly and adult-oriented versions of the game will be offered at different times.
Tauck Is Planning Its First Family-Themed River Cruise in Portugal
Looking for a family-friendly tour of the scenic Douro River region of Portugal? Upscale tour operator Tauck is eager to sell you one.
On Wednesday, the Connecticut-based company talked up plans for what it’s billing as the first family-focused river cruises on the Douro, which has been booming with ships in recent years but typically caters to an older crowd.
Scheduled to debut in 2020, the company’s "Douro Discovery: A Family River Cruise in Portugal" tours will pair a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon with a five-night sailing on the Douro.
As is typical with Tauck trips, the tours will be loaded with daily activities that are included in the fare. Activities in Lisbon will include a tour, reception and welcome dinner inside the 18th-century National Palace of Queluz; a tram ride through Lisbon’s bohemian Bairro Alto enclave; and a guided walking tour of the city's Alfama neighborhood. A guided visit to Portugal's National Maritime Museum and a walking tour of the medieval city of Coimbra are also on the schedule.
Once on the Douro, the cruise will include sightseeing in Porto, a visit to the Museo do Douro in Peso da Régua and a walking tour in the village of Pinhao. Passengers also will have a choice of a hike through hilltop vineyards in Pinhao or a kayaking excursion on the Douro. Fares for the trip will start at $4,290 per person.
TripAdvisor Is Taking on Cruises
You now can plan, shop and review cruise vacations at TripAdvisor just like you do for hotels stays.
The giant travel site on Tuesday announced the launch of TripAdvisor Cruises, a new cruise experience that will let its visitors read and write cruise ship reviews, share photos and shop for sailings.
The new cruise area includes “ship-tinerary” pages with ship profiles, and lets customers make price comparisons between partner cruise sellers. Customers can also sort cruises by cabin type, itineraries, price and other factors.
The company cited the rapid growth of cruising as a reason behind the move (according to Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s main trade organization, the tally of cruisers worldwide is up 34% in the past five years). But TripAdvisor isn’t a newcomer to cruising, either. The company has owned Cruise Critic, the world’s largest cruise site, for almost 15 years. TripAdvisor said Cruise Critic would continue to operate independently.