With her summer deployment to the port of Hamburg, Norwegian Jade has returned this year to Northern Europe offering seven to twelve days cruises to Norway, Iceland and the British Isles. After an extensive dry dock in early 2017, the ship aims to bring the contemporary Norwegian Cruise Line style to the 2006 built vessel. Reason enough to take a look at what has changed since I had last cruised on her a few years ago and a great place to reunite with my great friends Steve and David during a short hop from Southampton to Hamburg. Continue reading
It has been on my cruise bucket list for a long time: Norway. Also referred to as the Alaska of Europe, Norway bursts with breathtaking Nature, astonishing Wildlife and a rich history full of Myths, Legends and Fables. The name “Norway” springs from the Old Norse term norðrvegr (“Northern Way” or “Way to the North”) which was used by the Geats and the Danes at early time of history. It is proofed that the first settlements date back to 10,000 BC, yet Norway is particularly popular for the reign of the Vikings.
In June 2015, I decided spontaneously to cross Norway from my cruise bucket list and set sail for a week of my personal Norwegian adventure on the, at that time, freshly refurbished Norwegian Star out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Continue reading
Just imagine the following:
You have been on a road or caravan trip for a few days or for weeks and have explored the beautiful landscapes of the territory that you have visited. Mountains, lakes, woods, wildlife, sunsets and sunrises. You´ve witnessed it all. And openly, there is almost no better way to experience the exceptional variety and beauty that the Northwestern states of the Americas have to offer, than by caravan or camping. Continue reading
Cruising is conquering the world! No other form of vacation has gone through such changes in perception like going on holiday on a boat.
People´s associations have evolved from stiffly, boring and elitist to jaw-dropping, amazing and adventurous. In just a few decades, the boats grew bigger, the offerings became more and more diversified and the industry´s success literally exploded.
Unlike yesterday, today you will find toddlers and dodderers share the same railing, the same whirlpool and the same sun deck. Not on every ship in the same manner, but especially the larger resort ships cater to a younger, more family oriented crowd.
If you enjoy cruising in a more calm and serene environment, cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line (also read about Norwegian here) or MSC offer a ship-in-ship concept: Luxurious accommodations with dedicated facilities in a reserved and separated location. Surcharges apply, of course.
Other high-quality lines like Celebrity Cruises, for instance, begin to offer extra amenities for their premium passengers in form of service enhancements and a dedicated restaurant.
But, of course, there is always room for more. And that is where the luxury cruise lines step in. Butler service, Champagne all day, Michelin stars, limousine service… You name it, they got it!
Brands like Crystal Cruises, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream, Seabourn or Silversea have always offered unrivaled luxury to the affluent cruising community. And with the expansion to new markets and the growth of a younger wealthy crowd, luxury has never been sexier before.
So it comes at no surprise, that along with the increase of demand, there will be some exciting additions of ultra-luxury cruise liners to the oceans in the upcoming years. And the first one is to debut in just a few months time:
Le Lyrial (April 2015)
The 264 passengers yacht is the fifth ship to join the Ponant fleet, and the fourth of the same kind. With a length of only 142 metres, there is not too much room for architectural gadgets, but french elegance and culinary highlights are well-appointed to the newest addition of french-style yacht cruising. The size of the ship and the method of construction makes this type of ship predestined for expedition cruises and routes off the track, for intensive experiences far away from mass tourism.
For more information, visit Ponant Yacht Cruises
Viking Star (May 2015)
Between 1997 and 2013, Viking grew to the largest luxury river cruise operator worldwide. In 2015, the newly launched Viking Ocean Cruises will begin operation with the first newbuilt of three, the Viking Star. The ships will accommodate a maximum of 930 passengers in all veranda staterooms and suites. Highlights of the vessels will be the two-storey Explorers Lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking panoramic views, one of the very few, real glass-backed Infinity Pools at sea, a snow grotto inside the ship´s spa (snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling!!!) or the elegant and light infused Winter garden for tea ceremonies and calming afternoons.
For more information, visit Viking Ocean Cruises
Seven Seas Explorer (July 2016)
It is going to “exceed the loftiest expectations for luxury” and will be the “most luxurious ship to sail the seven seas”, Regent Seven Seas Cruises claims. And absolutely, what has been revealed so far leaves only one wish to be desired: Having the extra pocket-money to experience it for oneself. The ship is layouted for 750 passengers and will offer 1.38 crew members per guest, which will guarantee a highly exclusive level of intimate service. It will offer 16 different levels of suites, ranging from 28 to 360 square metres, eight exclusive restaurants to choose from, a culinary arts kitchen, where guests learn to prepare exquisite dishes from France´s top cooking schools, and, of course, the famous and worldwide only available all-inclusive service, that Regent stands for. And these are just a very few mouth-watering details to name. So, if you would like to be one of the firsts to experience the Seven Seas Explorer for yourself, better hurry, itineraries are open for reservations. But like everything in life, the good is always gone first!
For more information, visit Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seabourn Encore (December 2016)
Together with her future sister ship Seabourn Ovation, Encore will be the largest of the Seabourn yachts built so far. She will provide contemporary luxury for 604 passengers in an elegant and chic environment created by hospitality designer Adam Tihany. Encore is set to climax Seabourn´s dedication for personalized and dedicated service at the highest level, while the ship goals to remain that oasis of rejuvenation and socializing, that guests of Seabourn are expecting from the luxury line.
There will be plenty of public spaces available, a generous resort deck, excellent fitness and spa facilities, masterful delivered gastronomical offerings, as well as the well-known watersports activity park, that Seabourn offers from the extendable Marina.
For more information, visit Seabourn
Project EDGE (2018)
One cruise line, that does not really fit classically into the ultra-luxury market, but whose “Modern Luxury” has set new standards in the big-ship cruising industry, has also “silently” signed a letter of intent for a new class of ships with French shipyard STX France (where all four ships of the so-called Millennium class were built). One Project EDGE is expected to be delivered in 2018, one in 2020. Even though Celebrity Cruises has made official announcements in December 2014, not many details of this new class have been revealed. Project EDGE is designed for roughly 2.900 passengers. With 300 metres length, the ships will be slightly shorter than the highly popular Solstice class, but with 38 metres beam, slightly wider. The ships are expected to combine iconic architecture with new environmentally friendly features in order to deliver new standards in premium world travel, as well as the next generation of modern luxury experiences with small-ship itineraries and large-ship amenities.
For more information, visit Celebrity Cruises
So you see, the upcoming years will hold lots of excitement and news for us! I don´t know, what you will be doing next, but I have started to save up…
Save travels, folks:)…
When Norwegian Epic sets sail from Miami to Barcelona on April 19th, 2015, she is not only going to ring in her traditional summer season in the Mediterranean, this time she is going to stay. At least first off all year-long until April 2017.
And this is why these news are so extraordinary:
Norwegian will be the only American cruise line to station a ship all year-long in Europe. This is not only a sign of trust and commitment to the European cruise market, it is also a financial risk for the company, as it will be quite a “challenge to fill those 4,100 beds on a year-round base”, stated by Jürgen Stille, Norwegian´s Director Business Development Continental Europe, on the cruise line´s press conference at the Berlin International Travel Fair (ITB) last week.
To fine-tune Epic for her maiden winter season, “Europe´s Leading Cruise Line 2008 – 2014” announced some changes to the onboard offerings and at the same time presented new itineraries to the Canary Island, Madeira, Morocco and in the Western Mediterranean.
Just after this upcoming summer season, Epic will dry dock in France from September to October 2015 (check out these two cool one-way cruises to/from Southampton). Besides enhancement works on the interiors, the ship will start with new onboard offerings into its inaugural winter season:
Like the Broadway musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” or the highly popular “Burn the Floor” dance show. The vessel´s “Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club” will make room to the newly invented “The Cavern Club“. Designed after the homonymous legendary club in Liverpool, this venue will offer Rock´n Roll atmosphere, live music and, of course, a Beatles Cover Band to dance the nights away with.
But Epic is not the only highlight planned for Europe, as Francis Riley, Senior Vice President International, explained.
The company´s newest vessel, Norwegian Escape, will debut in October 2015 with her premiere in Hamburg, Germany (I am very excited to be on board for this fabulous event). This is an absolute first for Norwegian Cruise Line and substantiates the company´s dedication to the German cruise market and the fantastic cooperation with the Meyer Werft shipyard, that Norwegian has worked together with for centuries. Meyer Werft is building three more “Freestyle Cruising Resorts” until 2019, increasing the general capacity of the Norwegian fleet by almost 50 percent.
“If there were more ships to come after 2019 for the Norwegian brand”, a journalist questioned Riley at the press conference. “Norwegian Bliss and two more Breakaway-Plus vessels will be delivered until 2019. This means, including Escape, four new ships within the next five years. We are very content about the partnership with Meyer Werft”, Riley smiled mysteriously.
And in fact, since the takeover of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc in 2014, the signs at Norwegian Cruise Line stand even more on growth.
Ultra-luxury brand Regent Seven Seas Cruises is implementing in 2016 the Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious cruise ship in the world, as the cruise line calls the newbuilt. Prestige´s second luxury brand, Oceania Cruises, has announced the acquisition of the ex-Princess Cruises´ Ocean Princess and her transformation into Oceania Sirena, also debuting in summer 2016. Even Norwegians parent company Genting Hong Kong has announced two new ships for its subsidiary Star Cruises in Asia, to be delivered in 2016 and 2017.
But coming back to Europe, Epic and Escape remain not the only ships to reinforce Norwegian´s mission to upgrade European cruise offerings for 2015/2016, as the itinerary previews for next year demonstrate.
Norwegian Jade will offer two 7-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries out of Venice with stops inter alia in Santorini, Mykonos, Split, Dubrovnik and Kusadasi, just to mention a few highlights. Those routes can be combined to a 14-nights adventure without visiting one port twice!
Freshly refurbished Norwegian Spirit will sail from May until November 2016 between Barcelona and Venice (vice versa), offering 12-nights voyages with stops in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey. With so many highlights during one cruise, there is really no reason to hesitate!
Last but not least, Norwegian Star (scheduled for refurbishment in 2015) , which will again be returning to its summer base Copenhagen next year, is going to sail on my personal favourites for 2016:
While other major cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean for instance, openly focus on the cruise market´s rising star Asia in the upcoming years, Norwegian shows its appreciation for the loyalty of its fans to the brand by answering their demands with a Yes.
A “Yes!” to Europe, a “Yes!” to Freestyle Cruising and a “Yes!” to choice and quality.
Because, if you choose to #cruiselikeanorwegian, it is only real on a Norwegian cruise vessel.