Cruise holidays have evolved to appeal to all sorts of holiday makers, from those wanting a big resort style ship to those looking for an enriching experience among like-minded individuals travelling and exploring. The new cruise ships making their maiden voyages in 2016 each offer something new and different. And it’s certainly the year for the very biggest and the very best, with Harmony of the Seas to host a record 6,410 passengers, and Seven Seas Explorer claiming to be the world’s most luxurious cruise ship ever built.
1. New cruise ships: Konigsdam
First of the new ships to hit the waves is Konigsdam, the latest addition to Holland America Line’s fleet. Its elegant ships are still large enough to offer enormous variety in terms of activities and restaurants on-board, but all-in-all it’s a more refined experience with its Culinary Arts Center, digital workshops and Explorations Café, where guests are invited to relax with a coffee and crossword puzzle.
Despite the demure exterior of Holland America Line cruise ships, kids are welcome and Konigsdam will embrace its younger guests more than ever, with new family cabins accommodating five people and Kids Club facilities to keep children and teenagers occupied and entertained on days at sea between destinations. Family cruise holidays don’t have to mean choosing from the large and lively super ships and Konigsdam’s inaugural itineraries exploring the Norwegian Fjords are appealing to families looking to introduce their children to a variety of culture and spectacular scenery.
Konigsdam will host over 3,000 guests on each voyage and will be based in the Italian port of Rome for her first set of cruise holidays from April 2016. She then moves to Amsterdam for a series of cruises exploring the Norwegian Fjords before sailing over to the blue waters of the Caribbean for her winter season. The length of her itineraries vary from a week or two, sometimes up to three weeks or more.
2. New cruise ships: Harmony of the Seas
Carrying a record-breaking and mindboggling 6,410 passengers in 2,747 staterooms – as well as 2,300 crew – Royal Caribbean’s new ship, Harmony of the Seas facilities possibly exceed any hotel on land. Harmony of the Seas features a staggering array of activities, aiming to provide epic family holidays where everyone is sure to find something they love. Most of the favourite features on her sister ships are also found on Harmony, including a bionic bar where robots serve the drinks, surfing simulator Flowrider and a beautiful old-fashioned and full-size carousel. But now there’s even more: a trio of waterslides that promise thrill-seekers an exhilarating ride and another flume, Ultimate Abyss, that plunges guests down ten storeys from the top of the ship. A water play park, a much gentler affair than the adrenaline-pumping flumes, will provide hours of fun for littler ones.
Debuting in May 2016, Harmony of the Seas will make an inaugural cruise from Southampton, England, but then spend the summer exploring larger ports around Spain, France and Italy for around a week each time. In October, she’ll cruise over to Florida where she’ll start a calendar of itineraries around the Caribbean for the winter months.
3. New cruise ships: Carnival Vista
Carnival ships always prioritise the fun factor, which is what makes them so great for families looking for enthusiastic crew, a variety of enjoyable and easy-going places to eat and loads of activities to keep everyone fully entertained from start to finish. Carnival Vista will carry almost 4,000 passengers when she sets sail around Italy, France and Spain in May 2016 for a week or two at a time.
Boasting the first IMAX cinema at sea, showing the latest movie releases, as well as a suspended bike track on the top deck for the highest and most enviable views afloat, Carnival Vista is unashamedly loud and proud. WaterWorks, the on-board splashpark is a brightly coloured fun-factory, perfect for a cool-off in the hot Mediterranean summer sun. It features a first-at-sea kaleidoscope water flume that is lit from within with multi-coloured lights for sensory overload. And the colour doesn’t stop there. Inside Dr Seuss’ Bookville, Carnival wackiness continues, even in this chill-out children’s library space.
4. New cruise ships: Seven Seas Explorer
Regent Seven Seas has made no secret that they believe their new ship, Seven Seas Explorer, to be the most luxurious cruise ship ever built. Her mere 750 guests will be treated as ultimate VIPs and Regent Seven Seas boast an all-inclusivity to their cruises, from shore excursions to fine dining and wines.
One of the jewels in Explorer’s crown is the spa, a prestigious Canyon Ranch SpaClub with a focus on total relaxation offering high-end spa experiences. No detail is overlooked and the spa is luxuriously appointed with Swarovski light fittings. Treatment rooms, relaxation areas and thermal suites mean hours can be whiled away in an immersive and indulgent setting. Connected to the spa is an inviting terrace with plush lounge chairs surrounding an infinity plunge pool, hugging the stern of the ship for the ultimate wow-factor.
Seven Seas Explorer sets sail in July 2016, based in the Mediterranean and sailing around glittering ports like Monte Carlo, St Tropez and Ibiza, usually for around ten nights each cruise, before heading over to the Caribbean for winter.
5. New cruise ships: Seabourn Encore
Seabourn ships are an unmistakably luxury option and ideal for leisurely, romantic breaks where indulgence comes top of the ‘must have’ list. Forget the traditional notion of a stateroom, it’s all suites on-board the new Seabourn Encore. And only 300 of them at that, each with a veranda for enjoying the ever-changing sea views. Guests experience unsurpassed attention to detail from the crew and every personal preference is discreetly noted, so guests can expect touches like their complimentary mini-bar to always be stocked with firm favourites and coffee always served to exacting personal taste.
Seabourn Encore debuts in December 2016, heading down the Suez Canal from Greece and exploring ports around the Arabian Sea, undertaking fairly lengthy voyages of up to 61 days each time she sails. Encore’s modest size means the opportunity to visit ports smaller ports that the mega liners simply can’t squeeze into.
To speak to a cruise expert about holidays on brand new cruise ships, call 971 4 389 8918 or visit www.imaginecruising.ae for more inspiration.