The class of 2010

Date Posted: 15/03/2010

With multiple cruise ship launches and multi-million-dollar refurbishments lined up for 2010, there’s plenty to tempt group organisers to sea this year and next, says Jane Archer.

An incredible 11 new cruise ships will be coming onto the UK market this year - and that’s just the ocean-going ones. There will also be more river cruise vessels and multimillion dollar refurbishments are under way to make older ships look as good as new.

This year’s crop of newbies is an eclectic mix, with everything from the yacht-like vessels being launched by Yachts of Seabourn and Compagnie du Ponant that hold a few hundred passengers, to resort-style ships with space for several thousand.

There’s even a sailing ship, Sea Cloud Hussar, which launches in the autumn and holds just 136 passengers. If you organise romantic groups over St Valentine’s Day, this could be just the ticket.

The new ships (see list) offer holidays for groups of all ages and all pockets, in all parts of the world, including three offering handy no-fly cruises from Southampton, so there’s bound to be something for every group organiser. Families and young couples who like to be active will have a great time on the feature-filled ships being launched by Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.

Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam and Celebrity’s Celebrity Eclipse offer classier service and more sophistication, but if money is no object consider Seabourn’s ultra-luxury Seabourn Sojourn, with drinks and gratuities included in the price.

There are very traditional British cruises on P&O Cruises’s and Cunard’s new ships and a more lively European culture if you go with MSC or Costa.

All change

Celebrity Cruises is to retro-fit features from its Solsticeclass ships onto its four Millennium-series vessels under a ‘Designed for you’ upgrade programme starting with Celebrity Constellation in April. Features to be added include the Tuscan Grille Italian-style steakhouse, a crêperie, an ice-topped Martini bar and Enomatic wine bar, where you can select wines by the glass.

Thomson Cruises has signed a ten-year charter for Costa Cruises’s 1,500-passenger ship Costa Europa. The ship joins the Thomson fleet in April as Thomson Dream.

Holland America Line has created new features for its older ships. There are Lanai cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the promenade deck, a lounge called Mix with three different bars and the Retreat, a shallow pool area on the Lido deck. The 1,316-passenger Rotterdam is already sporting the new features. Maasdam, Ryndam and Statendam will be next.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’s Seven Seas Navigator has a new restaurant, Prime 7, which serves steaks and seafood, and a new pool grill. There is also a new spa, now operated by Canyon Ranch SpaClub, and the furnishings in the dining room, the buffet and lounges have been updated.

Azamara Club Cruises will become almost inclusive from April, offering wine with dinner, gratuities and port shuttle buses included in the price. Suite passengers will have butlers and unlimited access to the two speciality restaurants. The line added the ‘Club’ moniker in December.

There are two new cruise lines on offer this year. Cruise & Maritime Voyages has cruises year-round from Tilbury on Marco Polo and is adding regional no-fly cruises on Ocean Countess from April. Voyages to Antiquity launches in May with one ship, Aegean Odyssey.

New itineraries

Thomson Cruises is offering three 14-night Caribbean cruise itineraries, all visiting Cuba, on Thomson Dream from December. Voyages of Discovery will be circumnavigating South America during a debut winter 2010/11 season in the Caribbean and Latin America. Holland America Line will be offering its first full-length cruises from the UK this year, on the 2,100-passenger Eurodam. There are two Baltic cruises, departing 29th May and 9th June, and an eight-night Norwegian Fjords voyage on 21st June. Disney Cruise Line’s 1,750-passenger Disney Magic will be sailing four 12-night no-fly cruises from Dover to the Baltic in June and July this year. In May, August and September it will be cruising the Mediterranean from Barcelona.

New ships... at a glance

Costa Cruises: Costa Deliziosa

Launched: February

Size: 92,700 tons, 2,260 passengers.

Key features: Five places to eat, 11 bars and lounges, three swimming pools, 4D cinema, Grand Prix simulator, roller-skating track.

Sailing: Arabian Gulf from Dubai until May. Norwegian fjords in summer.

www.costacruises.co.uk

MSC Cruises: MSC Magnifica

Launches: March.

Size: 93,330 tons, 2,518 passengers.

Key features: Five places to eat, two pools, mini bowls in the disco, a 4D cinema, spa and casino.

Sailing: Eastern Mediterranean cruises from Venice.

www.msccruises.co.uk

P&O Cruises: Azura

Launches: April.

Size: 116,000 tons, 3,096 passengers.

Key features: 11 places to eat including the first Indian restaurant at sea, 18 single cabins, 12 bars and lounges, five pools, kids and teen clubs, a spa.

Sailing: Mediterranean, Baltic, Norwegian fjords and Canary Islands cruises from Southampton in summer. Caribbean cruises from Barbados in winter.

www.pocruises.com

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Eclipse

Launches: April.

Size: 122,000 tons, 2,850 passengers.

Key features: Ten places to eat, three pools, half-acre real grass lawn, AquaClass spa cabins, kids’ and teens’ clubs, spa and gym, casino.

Sailing: Mediterranean, Baltic, Norwegian fjords and Canary Islands cruises from Southampton in summer 2010, Caribbean cruises from Miami in winter.

www.celebritycruises.co.uk

Compagnie du Ponant: Le Boréal

Launches: May.

Size: 10,700 tons, 264 passengers.

Key features: Three places to eat, three bars and lounges, a spa, theatre and marina from which passengers can go swimming.

Sailing: Mediterranean and northern Europe in summer, Antarctica in winter.

www.ponant.com

Yachts of Seabourn: Seabourn Sojourn

Launches: June.

Size: 32,000 tons, 450 passengers.

Key features: Four places to eat, six bars and lounges, spa and gym, two pools, casino, water-sports marina.

Sailing: Northern Europe and the Med in summer, Caribbean in winter.

www.seabourn.com

Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Epic

Launches: June.

Size: 153,000 tons, 4,200 passengers.

Key features: Some 20 places to eat, first ice bar at sea, two swimming pools, Aqua Park, spa and gym, six bowling alleys, rock-climbing and abseiling walls.

Sailing: Seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Miami.

www.ncl.co.uk

Holland America Line: Nieuw Amsterdam

Launches: July.

Size: 86,273 tons, 2,104 passengers.

Key features: Five places to eat, ten bars and lounges, Culinary Arts Centre for cookery demonstrations, poolside cabanas, spa and gym.

Sailing: Mediterranean from Venice and Barcelona in summer. Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale in winter.

www.hollandamerica.co.uk

Cunard: Queen Elizabeth

Launches: October.

Size: 90,400 tons, 2,092 passengers.

Key features: Nine places to eat, a theatre with private boxes, two-deck- high ballroom.

Sailing: Mediterranean and Canary Islands cruises from Southampton.

www.cunard.com

Royal Caribbean International: Allure Of The Seas

Launches: December.

Size: 225,282 tons, 5,400 passengers.

Key features: More than 20 places to eat, Central Park with real shrubs, zip-wire, AquaTheatre, two FlowRiders, two rockclimbing walls, a carousel, spa and gym, kids and teen clubs.

Sailing: Seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.,

www.royalcaribbean.co.uk

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