New ships will swell the world’s oceans and rivers next year. Jane Archer previews the new vessels
Artist's impression of Carnival Breeze, due to launch in June 2012
Next year is set to be the year of the river cruise, with a whopping 12 vessels due to launch, including six new-style Longboats from Viking River Cruises, complete with large suites and balconies. In comparison, there will be just seven new ocean-going ships, six of which will be on sale in the UK.
Some 134,000 Britons took a river cruise in 2010, up 8% on the previous year, according to the Passenger Shipping Association, and it doesn’t take much crystal ball-gazing to predict strong growth in 2012. “River cruising is where ocean was a few years ago,” says Viking UK managing director Wendy Atkin-Smith. “We need the new tonnage to meet demand.”
Growth in ocean cruising is also expected. PSA director Bill Gibbons reckons the combination of sun and culture will keep cruisers flocking to the Mediterranean – the Brits’ favourite place to cruise – while the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea will continue to do well in winter, with more people taking no-fly cruises in summer.
He says: “With great itineraries from British ports, I expect more people to opt to sail from the UK, with the convenience that brings.”
Cruise Baltic director Bo Larsen predicts a good year for the Baltic. “This year has been a record-breaking season with close to 3.5 million cruise visitors and I think we’ll see the same in 2012,” he says.
Meanwhile, Cunard and P&O Cruises report strong demand for long and world voyages.
Conversely, the top luxury lines are introducing shorter cruises to cater for affluent cruisers looking to continue travelling for less.
Launching: March 31, 2012
Key selling points: Europe-themed adult-only area, Europa, with bars and a nightclub; Mickey magic in the Animator’s Palate dining room, where pictures will come to life; a top-of-the-ship water-coaster and huge play areas for kids and teens.
Itineraries: Seven-night alternating Eastern (St Maarten and St Thomas) and Western Caribbean (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel) cruises from Port Canaveral. All visit Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.
Sample package: From £1,266 for two people cruise-only for a seven-night Western Caribbean sailing on September 15. disneycruiseline.co.uk
Launching: April 24.
Key selling points: Top ship for foodies for its included speciality restaurants: Asian cuisine in Red Ginger, country-style French cooking in Jacques, steaks in the Polo Grill, Mediterranean dining in Toscana. There’s food and wine pairing in La Reserve and cookery classes in Bon Appetit.
Itineraries: Mainly 10-day cruises in the Mediterranean in summer 2012. The ship moves to Miami at the end of November for a winter in the Caribbean.
Sample package: From £1,273 per person cruise-only for a 10-night Greek Glory cruise from Istanbul to Venice on August 3. oceaniacruises.co.uk
Launching: May 2.
Key selling points: The ship will have a large Samsara Spa, a 4D cinema, a Grand Prix driving simulator and PlayStation World. There’s a pirate galleon for the kiddies and an aft pool with sea-view Jacuzzis and a waterfall.
Itineraries: Seven-night cruises from Venice that visit Bari in Italy, Katakolon, Santorini and Rhodes in Greece, and Dubrovnik in Croatia.
Sample package: From £819 per person cruise-only for a seven-night voyage on June 11. costacruises.co.uk
Launching: May 26.
Key selling points: An expanded Yacht Club offering butler service, private dining inclusive of drinks, an aft infinity pool, a large Balinese-style Aurea Spa, a Formula 1 Grand Prix simulator and 4D cinema, a Tex-Mex restaurant and Golden Jazz Bar.
Itineraries: Seven-night cruises from Venice between June and October 2012 that visit Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik.
Sample package: From £929 per person cruise-only for a seven-night cruise on July 14. msccruises.co.uk
Launching: June 3.
Key selling points: An outdoor SportsSquare with a ropes course, mini-golf and fitness area, aqua park with water slides, RedFrog pub selling its own-brand beer, and family cabins that sleep up to five people.
Itineraries: Twelve-night cruises from Barcelona (and two from Venice) visiting Civitavecchia, Dubrovnik, Monte Carlo, Livorno, Marseilles, Messina in Sicily and Palma, Majorca. The ship moves to Miami in October for six and eight-day Caribbean cruises.
Sample package: From £1,029 per person for a 12-night Mediterranean cruise on June 15 including flights and transfers. carnivalcruise.co.uk
Launching: October 12.
Key selling points: The last of five sister ships, but this one will have an extra deck to make room for new AquaClass suites. It’ll also have more Concierge Class and inside cabins. There’ll be a Lawn Club Grill, the Porch for breakfast and lunch, and cabanas on the grass, plus Michael’s Club bar.
Itineraries: Three Mediterreanean cruises – nine-night sailings from Amsterdam to Barcelona, and 14-night cruises from Barcelona to Venice and Venice to Barcelona. The ship will then relocate to the US for seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises from Miami.
Sample package: From £1,544 for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean Escape from Miami on March 23 including flights and transfers. celebritycruises.com