Posted by: cruise2 | 8 January, 2013

The New Crop of Cruise Ships

by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com

This year and next will see the introduction of four new classes of cruise ship, the first of a new crop. Two of these designs, the new TUI Cruises ships from STX Finland and Project Sunshine for Royal Caribbean International from Meyer Werft, are for the Royal Caribbean group. Of the others, Norwegian Breakaway, also from Meyer Werft, will be for Norwegian Cruise Line, and  Royal Princess, from Fincantieri, for Carnival Corp & PLC. Here is a basic comparison of the new ship classes, at least two of which have so far been ordered of each design:

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: a basic comparison of the new ship classes

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: a basic comparison of the new ship classes

The first to be delivered, Norwegian Breakaway, will undertake her maiden voyage, an Atlantic crossing from Southampton to New York, on April 30. At New York, she will become the largest ship to be based there year-round, cruising to Bermuda by summer, the Bahamas and Florida in the autumn and to the Caribbean by winter The most remarkable feature of this ship and her sister ship Norwegian Getaway, to be introduced in 2014 from Miami, will be their Waterfront area, which will include a number of restaurants and bars with open air access to the outside promenade decks on either side of the ship.

Second up will be Royal Princess, the latest design for Princess Cruises, which will come to Southampton in June. Unlike Norwegian Breakaway with her Waterfront, Royal Princess will have new attractions on her very top deck, including a Sea Walk, which will extend 28 feet out over the edge of the ship. Some 60 feet long and 128 feet above the ocean, this glass-bottomed walkway will offer views unavailable on any other ship. On the other side of the ship, the SeaView Bar will extend out over the waves for cocktails with a view.

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: Norwegian Breakaway, Royal Princess, Mein Schiff 3

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: Norwegian Breakaway, Royal Princess, Mein Schiff 3

The top deck will also feature Princess’s trademark Movies under the Stars, and Water & Light Shows, with a computerized fountain of 85 water jets shooting streams of water 33 feet into the night sky. Two freshwater pools and a variety of deck furniture will be available to those who enjoy the outdoors life.

Royal Princess sails on her maiden voyage from Southampton on June 16, when she departs on her 7-night cruise to Iberia. This will be preceded by two 3-night preview cruises for the UK market, leaving Southampton on June 10 and June 13. This ship and her sister ship Regal Princess, to follow in 2014, will be of great interest to British cruisers, as they are the design on which P&O Cruises’ next new ship will be based. The 154,407-ton P&O vessel, to be introduced in March 2015, will differ in profile from the earlier ships in that she will feature a more traditional look, with two funnels arranged fore and aft.

The third of the new designs will be for TUI Cruises, and its third ship. She was ordered after the successful introduction of Mein Schiff 1 and 3, the former Celebrity Galaxy and Mercury, to the German market. The new ship will be completed to a sophisticated and highly innovative design and is scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2014. A fourth ship was also ordered in November for delivery in 2015. Both will have many environmentally friendly features, with particular emphasis on energy efficiency. TUI Cruises primarily targets couples and families who appreciate plenty of space, good quality and personal service and operates ships that are a step above the “Club Ship” buffet concept espoused by its competitor in the German market, Carnival-owned AIDA Cruises.

These orders are important for STX Finland, as it has lost the order for the third Oasis class ship for Royal Caribbean to STX France. In fact, Mein Schiff 3 was the first cruise ship order for STX Finland since the yard delivered  Allure of the Seas to Royal Caribbean in 2010. Ironically, TUI Cruises had to go to STX Finland, as did Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to STX France for its Europa 2 (also to be delivered this year). Both German owners would have been expected to order from German yards but Meyer Werft was not able to deliver on time, having a full order book from Norwegian Cruise Line, which had switched from STX France, and Royal Caribbean. Mein Schiff 1 and 2 were both products of Meyer Werft.

The last new design is still a bit of a mystery. Royal Caribbean has come up with a new design, smaller than the Allure and Oasis of the Seas, but larger than its other ships, under the name Project Sunshine. These ships’ features have until now been kept secret and the only design in circulation is a photograph that appeared on an Italian blog, and may or not be the new ships. On this we wait to see, but that there can be no question that these ships will adopt many of the concepts used on the successful Oasis class ships, except that on a slightly smaller platform they will be able to trade worldwide.

All these new designs meet the latest International Maritime Organization Safety of Life at Sea rules, embracing the concept of “the ship as ‘its own best lifeboat,” that came into place on July 1, 2010.

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