Posted on 04-Mar-2020 by Deesha Jhaveri - Avid Traveler and Cruise - Lover
Like every year, cruising has scaled or rather sailed to newer heights in 2019. Keeping up with the soaring interest and expectations of passengers globally, 2019 introduced us to some of the most ambitious and grand ships seen thus far, each outshining the cruise liner’s legacy and widening the doors of what it means to cruise on the high seas. This blog takes you through a quick flashback of some of these gems and what they’ve had to offer!
Celebrity Edge: The fact that this ship got an article devoted solely to its many, many wonders should be enough to elucidate the fact that the Celebrity Edge is a special vessel. After its maiden voyage in December 2018, this 2,900 passenger ship began its foray into the Caribbean. Touted as the ship designed to leave the future behind, the Celebrity Edge has set itself into a new league altogether. With the Magic Carpet casting its spell on all and sundry with the spectacular view of the ocean it offers over the span of thirteen stories, the ship furthers its appeal by its exquisite Rooftop Gardens and the chic Pool Deck. As for the diners, the ship offers twenty-nine distinct venues (including four complementary restaurants) to celebrate and relish in great, locally sourced, organic food made with the passion by some of the world’s best chefs. Another factor that makes the Celebrity Edge stand out are its state-of-the-art cabin accommodations, particularly the Infinite Verandah, a marvelous contraption that removes all barriers between you and the infinite sea at the press of a button.
MSC Grandiosa: Although it’s only been roughly three months since MSC Grandiosa’s debut, this ship is already the talk of the town with greater public space, an array of innovations and extraordinary design. With a capacity of over 4,800 passengers on board, she brings forward the best of MSC Cruises, only with a much-increased dose of grandeur. Key attractions of the ship include the breathtaking indoor shopping promenade dominated by the giant LED Dome (which is also home to most of the nighttime impromptu partying), the Atmosphere Pool, the MSC Yacht Club – a ship within the ship for those seeking quality recreation and reclusion, and the live performance of the eminently famed Cirque du Soleil at Sea. This ship also has the highest ratio of sea-view balconies out of any ship on sea with over 60 out of its roughly 2,500 cabins designed specifically for passengers with reduced mobility, and with its carefully curated entertainment options, it is an absolute favourite for those travelling with families. MSC Grandiosa has its sights set currently on the Mediterranean, with a cruise line-up in and around Mediterranean countries scheduled all the way till October 2020.
MSC Bellissima: MSC Bellissima is another splendid example of MSC Cruises’ opulence when it comes to luxury cruising. ‘Bellissima’ meaning the most beautiful in Italian transcends seamlessly when describing this ship, owing to its intricately designed interiors, decks and staterooms. Its most standout feature though, is Zoe, the world’s first ever multi-lingual voice controlled digital cruise assistant. From figuring out your way around this gigantic ship, to making dinner reservations, just holler out to Zoe, and have your own personal cruise genius at your beck and call 24x7. Despite a capacity of nearly 4,500 passengers, the staterooms and cabins on the ship have been designed exclusively to give passengers the best experience, with inter-linked cluster cabins for those travelling with their families, as well as duplex suites with private whirlpool baths. For entertainment and rejuvenation, the options range from over 20 dining bars and lounges, world class shows of the Cirque de Soleil, an unbelievable virtual driving F1 simulation experience, and the Galleria Bellissima shopping promenade. The MSC Bellissima is sailing the Western Mediterranean for the rest of the summer before turning eastwards with a line-up of cruises in the Middle East later in 2020.
Sky Princess: While one can go on and on about the virtues of the latest princess on the horizon , the Sky Princess – with innumerable excursions spread out over its nineteen decks – has rightly earned all the praise lavished upon it. It has a capacity of 3,600 passengers, and since its maiden voyage in October 2019 into the Mediterranean, the Sky Princess has now turned its course to the Caribbean where it will continue to explore the Caribbean ports till spring, before touring the Northern European countries including Scandinavia and Russia through the summer. As far as accommodations on ship go, the Sky Suites are the ship’s proud offering with 1,000 square feet of interior space at the very top of the ship and an all-time 270-degree panorama view of the ocean. Other major attractions on board include a Vegas Style Casino, the shopping heart of the ship – the Piazza, an interactive Café experience, and a line-up of Broadway style shows in the Princess Theatre. Dining options here range from dress code affixed fine dining restaurants such as Ultimate Dining Balcony and Chef’s table Lumiere, to casual dining avenues like World Fresh Marketplace and exclusive dessert heavens like Chocolate Journeys. For those travelling with young families, or those looking for a party-filled time or even those looking for solitude, this ship has enough to make each one feel entirely at home.
Norwegian Encore: The Norwegian Encore is Norwegian Cruise Line’s biggest and grandest ship till date, grand enough to accommodate a huge go-kart track (the largest at sea) and a laser tag arena on just its top deck, with room aplenty for several pools, bars and lounges. With a capacity of 3,998 passengers, it has been a total hit with cruise lovers ever since its launch in November 2019. Other than the race track, the ship also has a massive gaming and virtual reality zone (including a much recommended virtual reality Jurassic Park experience) and a 45 minute escape room experience, the Aqua Park for adding a splash to your Norwegian experience, the Encore Teen Club, the Encore Casino and my favourite – Guppies – an all equipped creche of sorts for Encore’s youngest and cutest guests. The Norwegian Encore also stages the multi Tony award winning Broadway hit Kinky Boots, in addition to performances of The Choir of Man and Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical. Apart from the signature Norwegian ship dining avenues like Cagney’s steakhouse, French eatery Le Bistro and Teppanyaki, the Encore introduces Onda by Scarpetta a high end, fine dining Italian restaurant worth visiting. In all there are over 30 eateries, lounges and bars on the ship for you to explore and indulge to your heart’s content.
Carnival Panorama: When a ship has been voted as the most anticipated ship of the year months before its launch, it is safe to say that the world’s eyes are waiting to see what Carnival Cruises’ latest offering is all about. And the ship’s promise of maximizing fun stands true with the wide range of activities, entertainment and dining options it has to offer. Carnival Panorama adds a trampoline park to the list of eye popping rides available at the Sky Zone – a mini amusement park of sorts with rides, games and activities diverse enough to keep the youngest cruisers as well as the tweens and the teenagers thoroughly occupied. The top decks are packed with family-oriented excursions (the WaterWorks water park, SportSquare, multiple pool areas, day beds and lounges), while the interior is dedicated to a multitude of eateries, fine dining avenues and places dedicated to the shopaholics. The ship has a capacity of over 4,000 passengers and when compared to some of the other ships on this list, it might come off as a slightly cramped one (the space ratio per passenger is 33). However, it is undoubtedly the best option for those looking for a budget cruise to the Mexican Riviera that does not compromise on the fun.
Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen: It’s been called the World’s First Hybrid Cruise Ship designed specifically for Norwegian coastal and Polar expedition cruises, and the MS Roald Amundsen sets itself in a league of its own as far as sustainable cruising for large ships go, with innovative sustainable technology that will reduce its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20%. Out of all the ships featured on this list, this is perhaps the most unique one, as over and above the luxury of cruising, it offers its passengers an experience close to nature above everything else. With a capacity of only 530 guests, all cabins on board are sea-facing, with 50% with private balconies and rich, comfortable furnishings sourced from natural Scandinavian materials. The two-level indoor/outdoor Observation Deck, Amundsen Science Center (dedicated to giving a deeper understanding of the areas visited in addition to relaxation and recreation) and the Explorer Lounge and wellness centre are the key attractions on the ship. On the gastro front, the ship features three restaurants inspired by Nordic and Norwegian heritage – Aune Main Dining, Fredheim and Lindstrøm. Fun fact, this ship is actually christened after Roald Engelbregt Granving Amundsen, the first Norwegian explorer to reach the south pole back in 1911, and its primary itinerary includes exactly that – cruises to the Chilean fjords, and Antarctica stretching over 18 days from March 2020 with cruises to Alaska and British Columbia from May.
As is apparent from this list, 2019 was a very eventful year for the cruising industry, with many, many promising and altogether enthralling new entrants that have taken the world by quite a storm. These cruises and their respective cruise liners by extension cater to every need a traveler might have – adventure, solitude, recreation or thorough fun while taking you to possibly every corner of the world. So scour your calendars and block those coveted vacation days to sail away on these magic vessels!
And, if you’re already overwhelmed by what the last year has brought, be prepared to be swooned by what is yet to come in 2020. As they say, watch this space!