Growth in the cruise industry knows no bounds. New ocean ships for 2023 come with a host of innovations such as thrill rides and water parks, speciality dining options and inspiration for those with inquiring minds.
Explora Journeys is the first venture into the luxury cruise market by MSC Group, and the company’s vision is to transform ocean travel through all-inclusive ships and immersive itineraries. The company says the first of its six 922-guest ships, Explora I, “will exude the ambiance of a luxurious grand European hotel with oceanfront suites, penthouses and residences”. Guests can dine in six restaurants and relax in three outdoor pools or a large indoor pool.
The third in a series of new-builds for Regent – Seven Seas Grandeur – will aim to take the crown of “world’s most luxurious cruise ship”. In addition to its speciality restaurant options, the main dining room – Compass Rose – will feature cascading glass sculptures and tree-like pillars.
Proving luxury and sustainability can go hand in hand, Silversea’s Silver Nova is set to become the world’s first “multi-hybrid” ship, confirming the company’s commitment to a cleaner maritime eco-system. The 728-guest vessel will have a new design with an outward-facing, asymmetrical layout and novel outdoor venues. An easy route to big commissions is to emphasise the great-value proposition of an all-inclusive luxury cruise.
Explora I will make its debut with a series of Northern Europe cruises (July 2023); Seven Seas Grandeur is set to grab the limelight at her launch (November 2023); while Silver Nova will grace the port of Southampton for her maiden voyage to the Mediterranean (July 2023).
P&O Cruises’ Arvia is set for her maiden season in the Mediterranean with keenly priced offers to make family cruising affordable. Children will flock to see Shaun the Sheep and Wallace & Gromit in All Hands On Deck in the SkyDome and around the ship. There are four Reef clubs with free activities for two- to 17-year-olds, plus family dining options.
Kids can expect a world of seafaring adventure on Norwegian Viva, which has three complimentary, age-appropriate youth programmes for toddlers to teens. They can also enjoy bumper cars, the virtual world of the Galaxy Pavilion, and Aqua Park with its thrilling tidal-wave water slide.
Reservations are open for Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas and the next-generation Sun Princess, so now is a great time to start promoting these two new blockbusters. Mega-ship Icon will have eight neighbourhoods – including Surfside – where adults and children six and under can have fun on water slides and play areas in Splash Away Bay and Baby Bay. On Sun Princess, Camp Discovery has themed centres with creative activities for six-month-olds to 17-year-olds.
Arvia heads to the Med (April 2023); while Norwegian Viva makes its debut in the Med (August 2023). Sailing year-round in the Caribbean, Icon of the Seas will enter service in January 2024; one month later, Sun Princess will commence sailings in the Mediterranean.
Oceania Cruises is on the radar for those seeking culinary excellence. The company’s first new-build in 11 years – Vista – is a hot ticket. The first of two 1,200-guest Allura-class ships, it will feature culinary options from informal to extravagant. Unprecedented for a ship of its size, there will be 12 dining venues; four of which are new to this ship. Guests can expect contemporary American dishes at Ember and wellness-focused Vitality Cuisine at Aquamar Kitchen alongside favourites such as Polo Grill, Toscana and Red Ginger.
The fourth ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge-class series is also set to raise the culinary bar. Celebrity Ascent has four dining rooms and eight speciality restaurants – all with menus by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher, the company’s vice-president, food and beverage operations.
The second 228-guest vessel in Scenic Ocean Cruises’ Discovery fleet will continue the company’s culinary quest across its 10 restaurants. Guests aboard Scenic Eclipse II will savour fine French gastronomy in Lumiere; private dining in Chef’s Table @ Elements; as well as culinary masterclasses from resident chefs in Epicure.
Oceania Cruises Vista’s gala naming ceremony comes prior to a summer season in the Med (May 2023); Celebrity Ascent will be based in the Caribbean after her christening (December 2023); and Scenic Eclipse II heads to the Arctic and northern Europe after her inauguration (April 2023).
It’s often said that “travel broadens the mind”, and many cruise companies are hiring specialist guest lecturers for a range of enrichment programmes. Cunard hosts the Literature Festival at Sea onboard Queen Mary 2 on a transatlantic voyage from Southampton departing 19 November 2023. Celebrated authors include Val McDermid, Kate Mosse, Lynda La Plante and Artemis Cooper.
Meanwhile, a highlight of Cunard’s renowned Insights Programme will be Bear Grylls onboard Queen Elizabeth in Alaska for a voyage departing on 8 June 2023.
Swan Hellenic’s third new ship, the 192-guest Diana, sees the company return to its roots with in-depth Mediterranean sailings as well as the Red Sea and East Africa. Archaeological, cultural and religious sites are explored alongside experts.
The world’s most luxurious expedition vessel, the 200-guest Silver Endeavour, will host marine biologists, anthropologists, naturalists and filmmakers on its maiden season in Antarctica. Guest experiences are enriched with lectures, workshops and excursions as they journey into the White Continent. Be sure to make use of Silversea’s Academy, an online hub created by the line especially for travel partners.
Cunard’s highly anticipated Queen Anne will be christened in Southampton before embarking on cruises to the Mediterranean and Scandinavia (May 2024); Swan Hellenic expands its portfolio of cultural expedition cruises with the arrival of Diana (spring 2023); while Silver Endeavour has just commenced its inaugural season of polar voyages.