Among the cruise news this year, there is significant buzz about some of the more unique experiences in store for travellers in the coming years. From the world’s largest sailing passenger ship to the entry of one of the world’s largest brands into the world of cruising, there are plenty of things to look forward to.
Here’s a quick rundown of three developments in the cruise industry that we’re excited about – and what we know so far.
Virgin’s Foray into Cruising
First, there was the news that Virgin would launch its own cruise platform, Virgin Voyages. Little is known about Virgin Voyages, however. Here’s what we do know.
The company is set to begin operations in 2020. A total of three ships are on order for Virgin Voyages, each measuring in at 110,000 gross tons and carrying 2,700 passengers apiece. Virgin began construction on its first ship earlier this year at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard.
At the head of Virgin is Tom McAlpin, who was with Disney Cruise Line at the time of the launch of Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Aside from some early renderings that sparked much discussion due to the ship’s fanciful design, little is known about these three as-yet-unnamed ships, though a launch event (a “ship tease,” in Virgin parlance) is expected in late October.
In a previous statement, McAlpin said that Virgin’s new ships would stand on their own merits. “The design collective includes some of the world’s most stylish firms who are creators of design trends, not followers,” McAlpin said. “Together they are imagining a vessel unlike anything sailors have experienced before that will be a complete departure from the ordinary. With this group, we have a depth in creativity that brings a different perspective to space design at sea that will change cruising for good. Irresistible style will finally find its sea legs.”
Star Clippers To Set Sail
Closer at hand, we have the launch of Star Clippers’ first newbuild in 18 years. Flying Clipper was originally due to set sail this December, but her delivery date has been pushed back to March of 2018. And even though the wait will be slightly longer, Flying Clipper looks like it will be a worthy successor to the line’s current flagship, Royal Clipper.
When she does debut, Flying Clipper will be the largest sailing ship in the world, with five masts and a rigging made up of square sails. Capable of carrying 300 guests, she will feature some 150 cabins, 34 of which will have private balconies. Alongside these will be four owner’s suites; the last word in lavish accommodations aboard Star Clippers’ nautically-themed fleet.
Operating in the Mediterranean when she debuts, Flying Clipper will reposition to the Caribbean in the winter months. She’ll sail under the power of the wind whenever possible, but will also have a more traditional propulsion unit for the times when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
Rounding out the ship’s amenities: a two-story dining room; an 18-foot deep plunge pool; two swimming pools; and a retractable watersports platform that can be used whenever the ship is at anchor and conditions allow.
An interesting tidbit: Flying Clipper’s design is based on that of the classic France II, a five-masted barque that sailed as part of the French merchant navy in 1911.
Azamara Adds to Its Fleet
After existing as a two-ship line since its inception in 2007, Azamara Club Cruises will be getting a third ship.
The ship, which was built in 2001 as R Eight for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, is a direct sister to both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, which were also constructed for Renaissance as R Six and R Seven, respectively.
In a press release, Azamara president and CEO Larry Pimentel said that Adonia, which will be renamed Azamara Pursuit, will enter service with the line in March of 2018. Her décor will be updated to better reflect Azamara’s leading position as an upmarket cruise line, while the 704-guest ship will also expand the line’s capacity by 50 percent. This will allow Azamara to expand its deployment to regions that the line hasn’t previously served.
At the time of this writing, exact itineraries for Azamara Pursuit hadn’t been announced.
While the sale of Adonia to Azamara Club Cruises is a big win for that line, P&O Cruises UK passengers are losing one of the line’s much-beloved ships. They will have until February of 2018, when Adonia sails her last voyage for P&O, to experience the ship under her current incarnation.
Three unique experiences are coming soon and while more details have yet to be revealed about all three, cruisers can look forward to more diversity than ever before on the oceans of the world.