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Those looking to get one of the most comprehensive annual snapshots of the cruise industry know that Seatrade Cruise Global is the convention to attend. And the 2019 event, held in early April in Miami, was filled to the brim with all the latest news. We’ve summarized the ocean cruising scoop below, gleaned from press conferences, panels, one-on-one meetings and more.
State of the IndustryThe highlight of the convention’s keynote was the State of the Industry panel, which reminded attendees that cruising is not one-size-fits-all, as small and large vessels serve different clientele. And with new brands entering the industry, the general consensus seems to be that incoming players are welcome because they help the industry overall — especially as cruising caters to more diverse generations looking for big experiences, but not necessarily bigger ships.
The panel also noted how crucial it is that there are enough places for growing fleets to head; they discussed solutions such as enhanced port infrastructure and opening up new destinations. Africa and India are being more heavily considered for visitation, and the Eastern Mediterranean is making a comeback, as well.
Abercrombie & KentI sat down with luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) to get a greater sense of how its product fully charters Ponant (listed below). While Ponant’s expedition ships are inherently French, A&K makes them predominantly English-speaking, with reduced capacities and more butlers for even greater service and a better passenger-space ratio. Since 2010, the two brands have partnered and grown in sync, and they now utilize the Ponant Explorers vessels together. In fact, the latest Le Bougainville will be employed by A&K in Italy this August and September, and then will sail into Greece. A&K is also considering the Le Commandant Charcot icebreaker in the North Pole in 2021 and in the Ross Sea in 2022.
Carnival Cruise Line“Family Feud Live” is coming to Carnival Cruise Line’s new Mardi Gras ship. During Seatrade, the company showcased the exciting entertainment offering in 2020 by hosting a challenge between attending journalists and the line’s executives.
Included in one of the game’s signature surveys was a hint to additional Mardi Gras accommodations and venues. There will be 32 premium suites onboard in four new categories: Carnival Excel Presidential Suite (the largest in the fleet); Carnival Excel Aft Suite (overlooking Summer Landing); Carnival Excel Corner Suite (with wraparound balconies); and Carnival Excel Suite (with sleeping, dining and relaxation areas).
Carnival Excel Suite guests will receive unlimited access to Loft 19, a collection of private cabanas available for rent. The exclusive space will feature bar and concierge service, lunch delivery and a private pool.
Celestyal CruisesDuring a one-on-one meeting with Celestyal Cruises, I learned about its plans to add fresh destinations in Italy, Montenegro, Croatia and Greece in 2020. The new Adriatic itineraries onboard Celestyal Olympia will stop at combinations of Corfu, Katakolon and Patras in Greece; Kotor, Montenegro; and Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, sailing from Venice, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Dubrovnik.
CunardNot ready to reveal a name for its upcoming fourth vessel, Cunard briefly teased the new ship slated to launch in 2022 and updated the crowd on the line’s programming. The historic company is looking to promote “Only on Cunard” events, such as onboard Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic Fashion Week 2020, where designer Badgley Mischka will unveil a Cunard-exclusive capsule collection as well as its 2021 resort collection during a shipboard runway show.
PonantPonant just took delivery of Le Bougainville — the third in the line’s Ponant Explorers series of ships — and revealed a World Affairs Cruise for 2020. Joining the sailing, which is part of the Quintessential Collection, will be James Stavridis, former U.S. Navy admiral and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO; William Burns, former ambassador to Russia and current president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and journalist and author Robin Wright.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht CollectionMost Seatrade attendees expressed interest about how The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will integrate with Marriott Bonvoy, but details were not given at the convention. The line instead touted the luxuries coming onboard in 2020 following an extensive five-week shakedown. Beyond beautiful suites and public spaces, the company even detailed a marble-clad security portal and its Ritz Kids club. The first ship will be christened on Feb. 5, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Seabourn Cruise LineSeabourn Cruise Line expanded upon what will be arriving onboard its Seabourn Venture expedition ship and second sister to follow, in June 2021 and May 2022, respectively. Designer Adam D. Tihany was on hand to unveil renderings of the vessel’s Expedition Lounge, Discovery Center, Landing Zone and atrium. Taking inspiration from classic nautical motifs, each promises to be a stunning space.
The Expedition Lounge will be a social gathering place serving complimentary cocktails in between outings and will be situated adjacent to the Discovery Center presentation hall for lectures, briefings and Seabourn Conversations. The Landing Zone will serve mainly as the ship’s mud room — and a handsome one at that, with stylish storage and space to prepare for and clean up after expeditions. The atrium will showcase a central staircase that wraps around a dramatic art installation and is crowned by a skylight.
Silversea CruisesSilversea Cruises is upping its existing expedition game with the upcoming Silver Origin, which is set to explore the Galapagos in 2020. Newly released renderings at the convention displayed a ship that has clearly leveraged Royal Caribbean’s corporate design center. The modern exterior sets Origin apart from others in the fleet by replacing a black hull with a sleek white one. Inside, Basecamp (for pre- and post-excursions), the Explorer Lounge (for daily briefings and lectures), the Observation Lounge (a scenic venue), The Restaurant (a dining room) and suites will be equally bright.
What’s more, the new Silver Moon will also launch in 2020 with its S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) culinary program. Individual components will consist of the S.A.L.T. Kitchen serving regional food; S.A.L.T. Bar for local beverages; and S.A.L.T. Lab, home to interactive demonstrations.
Star ClippersStar Clippers shared with me its excitement for the line’s Mamma Mia Highlights cruise, which begins this May and visits the Grecian filming locations of the first “Mamma Mia!” movie. And the company is already looking further ahead through 2021.
There will be new itineraries in Asia heading to Cambodia for the first time, as well as the launch of the new Flying Clipper. The sailing ship has completed its first sea trials and is awaiting rigging and masts before more trials. The vessel is expected by the end of this summer and will likely sail in the Mediterranean before crossing to the Caribbean.
Victory Cruise LinesIn anticipation of Victory Cruise Lines’ relaunch under the ownership of American Queen Steamboat Company this May, the brand detailed what’s to come beyond the U.S. Great Lakes. Additional itineraries will feature the eastern seaboard as well as Maya cultural immersion in Mexico. An overnight experience in the Yucatan will allow guests to access Chichen Itza at sunrise before it opens to the public. The line will also charter one of SunStone Ships’ new X-Bow vessels as Ocean Victory in Alaska in 2021.
Windstar CruisesWindstar Cruises took to the stage to further preview its Star Plus Initiative, which will lengthen its trio of motor yachts. A detailed model was rolled out to illustrate the sizable scale of the project, which will involve a simultaneous stretching and re-engining effort. It was additionally revealed that the line would be adopting a year-round approach to refurbishments so that its ships will sparkle with continuous maintenance improvements.
The DetailsSeatrade Cruise Globalwww.seatradecruiseglobal.com