The cruise industry is booming, according to industry publication Cruise Critic, with many lines seeing some of their highest sales dates in history. As part of the growth, cruise companies are adding promotions, launching renovations and unveiling new perks and onboard amenities to welcome returning passengers. Here’s the latest news from the cruise industry to keep you on top of the best that the high seas have to offer this fall and beyond.
The Club Med 2 sailing yacht is out of renovation
As part of the Club Med’s Exclusive Collection portfolio, the luxury sailing yacht Club Med 2 from the French hospitality company has completed a multi-million dollar renovation. It now has brand new interior furniture and décor, an upgraded fitness center, yoga on the sundeck, and Sothys’ new Club Med spa. Le Monte Carlo Restaurant now offers new live cooking shows and seasonal menus based on the ports on the itinerary. Like Club Med resorts, there are plenty of activities including two seawater swimming pools, nightly live entertainment, water sports like windsurfing and paddle boarding, and even suite surfing.
Norway’s Katy Perry Christenses Prima in Iceland
The first in the line of six Prima-class ships (and a new luxury trend for the Norwegian cruise line) is the Norwegian Prima. It was christened by pop star Katy Perry in Iceland late last month and became the first major cruise ship to be launched in the country. The vessel has the highest levels of staffing and space ratio of a contemporary or premium-class cruise ship that gives passengers more space and greater service. For those who want more, it has the largest variety of suite categories available at sea.
There’s also a free food court with nearly a dozen different venues serving everything from Indian to Japanese ramen, the fastest sea slides with wet and dry options, and Prima Speedway, the first three-level racetrack on a cruise ship. Norwegian Prima is the first ship in the brand’s fleet to use Coca-Cola as the official soft drink. By December, all ships of the line will display Coca-Cola products.
Virgin Voyage Adds Privilege Program
Virgin Voyages, dubbed The Sailing Club, is making it easier to reward frequent cruisers with its new perks programme, a precursor to the official loyalty program launching next year. For passengers who join between now and the end of the year, they can participate in ‘Deep Blue Extras’, a rewarding program with onboard experiences. This can include anything from a free “champagne shake” (users shake their Virgin Voyages-equipped phone to get a free glass of champagne) to private cocktail parties or free laundry. Also, from now until November 15, eligible reservations made during the “Red Hot Booking Bonus Months” period will earn in-flight spend benefits, $200 in in-flight credit and a chance to win prizes like a trip to Olsaba, a special Richard’s game Branson. Reserve in South Africa.
Elon Musk’s Starlink Wi-Fi for the Royal Caribbean Group
SpaceX Starlink is coming to a Royal Caribbean group ship near you soon. Elon Musk has been selected to operate the onboard internet for its ships Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises. It will eventually be on all new and existing ships with speeds strong enough for streaming and video calls. After a successful trial aboard Freedom of the Seas, it will begin its immediate rollout, which will be completed by the first quarter of next year.
Royal Caribbean is also pulling the curtain on the making of its newest ship, the Icon of the Seas. She premiered her first episode of her YouTube web series detailing behind-the-scenes details of the ship’s construction.
Mega Yacht Ecoventura for sailing in the Galapagos
A new mega yacht from Ecoventura will debut in January. Named the Evolve, this is the company’s third luxury expedition ship. The 20-passenger superyacht will be one of the most sustainable in the region with a bow (reduced friction) and a 30% reduction in fossil fuel use. Evolve will feature two naturalists on board, a dining room serving Ecuadorean cuisine, and an open bar. Ecoventura ships are the only ships in the region that will be part of the Relais & Chateaux group.
Azamara Episode 1 of the web series “Lens Like A Local”
As part of its announcement of European itineraries for the 2024 season, Azamara has released the first episode of its “Lens Like A Local” show on YouTube. It’s a destination-focused web series that delves into the local life of the many ports the cruise line visits. Of the 84 new itineraries, it is more than considered heavy country trips with the majority of port calls leaving either late at night or overnight. Also new for 2024 are over a dozen sails in partnership with PerryGolf, which leads international golf tours, to places such as the British Isles, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Celebrity Cruises has won 15 Wine Spectator Awards
In a span of ten years, Celebrity Cruises has won more than 100 Wine Spectator awards, including 15 at the 2022 Wine Spectator Awards. Celebrity offers several wine-indulging experiences on board its ships outside the dining room and bar. They include educational workshops with sommelier-led tastings and wine-blending lessons. Celebrity is the only cruise line to have won the “Best of” award for excellence. Several onboard restaurants have won awards, including two “Best Of” awards for the wine list at Le Voyage, Daniel Bouloud’s first at sea, onboard the Celebrity Beyond and at the steakhouse, Fine Cut. Its sister ships, the Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, were also among the “best” winners. Celebrity Cruises has one of the largest wine collections at sea with over 500 labels.
MSC Seascape Adds Fun Robotron
The next amusement park-style cruise on a cruise ship is here with the new Robotron attraction aboard MSC Seascape, the flagship of the US. Not only is it the first robotic arm ride out at sea, it’s also groundbreaking that riders can customize their experience along the way. The robotic arm has a connected gondola for three people that rolls them approximately 175 feet above sea level for an unobstructed 360.° Look as it hangs over the edge of the ship. Riders can flip upside down and move in all directions based on riders’ preferences and user input. It also has a video monitor paired with syncing lights, music, and movement throughout the experience. The ship will also feature two new virtual reality experiences such as a flight simulator and motorbikes among others.
MSC also brings its popular family party to the US Navy. Sailing for at least seven nights, MSC will host an event with carnival games, castle jumping, prizes, gladiator matches, and zorb-sumo.
Windstar adds Red Sea and Persian Gulf sailings for 2023
Adding to its already growing map of destinations, Windstar Cruises will add several new destinations aboard the entire 312-guest Star Legend starting in November 2023. New ports of call in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf will include a flight from Athens to Dubai’s passage through the Suez Canal and take guests to the Pyramids Giza; From Dubai to Muscat, Oman sailing with layovers in Doha, Qatar among other places; And sailing from Saudi Arabia to Aqaba, Jordan allowing guests to visit the wonders of the world such as the ancient city of Petra.
PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys to collaborate
Luxury cruise line PONANT is teaming up with Smithsonian Journeys on a series of 21 joint cruises next year. Each of these will be led by two Smithsonian Journey experts who have majors in areas such as art history and international relations. There’s even a solar astrophysicist out there, all of which can help travelers understand and appreciate a destination in a deeper way. They will join several cruises including one specifically timed to enjoy the solar eclipse on a trip around Indonesia, East Timor and Western Australia.
Paul Gauguin Cruises charges $500 per guest flight credit
For reservations made between now and October 8 on select sailing cruises, guests can receive $500 airline credit when purchasing airline tickets as part of the sailing. Offer eligible for 7-night Tahiti and Community Islands cruises around French Polynesia. To take advantage of this, be sure to mention “AIR500” when making your reservation on the 330-passenger Paul Gauguin plane.
18 F&B outlets in New Explora 1
Explora Journey’s will offer 18 premium food and beverage venues on board its new luxury vessel, Explora 1. There will be six restaurants, four outdoor bars, four indoor bars and a chef’s kitchen where guests can watch the chefs in action. The wine list on board will reflect the destinations the ship is sailing for. Guests can visit the onboard gelateria restaurant, creperie and the Sky Bar with outdoor patio. Explora Journeys is the luxury lifestyle brand of MSC Group, which will eventually have six ships in its fleet (two of which will be hydrogen powered).