Cruise lines are pulling out all the stops to entice potential customers in the emerging Asian market. Paige Lee Pei Qi highlights what the major cruise lines are offering in their latest and upcoming pipeline
Latest: Genting Dream is the first ship under Genting Hong Kong’s new premium cruise line Dream Cruises. Launched in November 2016, the 150,000-tonne ship was designed specifically for the Asian and Chinese markets and can cater 3,400 guests (see review on page 14).
A key highlight is the exclusive Dream Palace suites and garden penthouses, which include European-style butler service, private pool and lounge, and spacious rooms with luxurious amenities. As well, more than 70 per cent of the ship’s cabins have balconies facing the ocean.
Other highlights include the world’s first Johnnie Walker House at sea, Penfolds Wine Vault, Zouk beach and night club, and more than 35 restaurants and bars, as well as family-oriented facilities like water slides, a rope climbing course, rock climbing, mini-golf, arcade, cinemas and the Little Pandas Club.
What’s coming: Dream Cruises will launch World Dream in Asia in November 2017. The sister ship of Genting Dream, the newer ship will target the growing demand for luxury holiday travel in the region and offer exciting new destinations and programmes.
The 21-deck World Dream will be able to accommodate over 3,300 guests in 1,700 staterooms, of which 70 per cent have private balconies and over 100 offer connecting rooms.
Facilities onboard will include a spa, over 1,000m2 of luxury shops, six water slides, a Zouk nightclub, as well as numerous F&B options. Special attention will also be given to the meetings and incentive market, with numerous spaces and services designed to accommodate group needs.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Latest: Norwegian Joy is Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built cruise ship customised for the Chinese market. Just launched in June, the 3,850-guest ship will sail from her homeports in Shanghai and Beijing (Tianjin) beginning in summer 2017. It will feature The Haven by Norwegian, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship suite luxury complex, which includes an observation deck that features 180 degree views.
Other innovative features include a first-at-sea, two-level Ferrari-branded racetrack on the ship’s top deck, an open-air laser tag course, simulator rides as well as hover craft bumper cars and two multistorey waterslides. In addition, Norwegian Joy offers the line’s largest upscale shopping district, complete with duty-free shops to world-renowned global luxury brands.
Ferrari racetrack on Norwegian Joy
What’s coming: At approximately 167,800 gross tonnes, the 4,000-guest Norwegian Bliss is scheduled for delivery in spring 2018 to become the brand’s 16th ship.
The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss’ hull artwork was designed by marine life artist Wyland and will feature images of humpback whales to showcase the importance of conservation and ocean preservation.
After her inaugural summer season in Alaska, Norwegian Bliss will seasonally homeport in Miami from November 2018 to offer seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises, featuring calls in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas.
Royal Caribbean International
Latest: Ovation of the Seas, which is Asia’s largest and one of the world’s most technologically advanced ships, was launched in April 2016. This was the first time Royal Caribbean International deployed a brand-new ship to Asia, underscoring the region’s vast cruising potential.
The 18-deck, 4,905-guest Quantum Class ship homeports in Tianjin, Hong Kong and Sydney, and features several new Singapore sailings next April.
It offers a wide array of next-generation features exclusive to Royal Caribbean, such as the iFly skydiving simulator and the North Star observation glass capsule that rises 90m over the sea.
There’s also SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea – housing bumper cars, roller-skating, circus school, basketball court, among others.
The 10-storey Ultimate Abyss slide on Ovation of the Seas
What’s coming: The world’s largest ship at 230,000 gross tonnes, Symphony of the Seas will be delivered in April 2018. This 18-deck 6,780-guest Oasis Class cruise ship will feature 28 more staterooms than sister ship Harmony of the Seas.
Guests will enjoy the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea touting a 10-storey plunge, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, interactive aqua park Splashwater Bay, the Bionic Bar, as well as the ZipLine, AquaTheater, Boardwalk with the carousel and Central Park, the first living park at sea. Also, there are 20 dining outlets onboard, to give guests diverse dining options.
Symphony of the Seas will begin her inaugural season in the Mediterranean to offer three- and seven-night cruises from Barcelona calling at Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples. Following which it will offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale for winter 2018-19.
Latest: From April this year, Costa Cruises has based Costa neoRomantica in Asia to offer new itineraries covering destinations in Japan, South Korea and Russia. The fifth Costa ship to be based in Asia, the 1,800-pax Costa neoRomantica recently underwent a 90 million euros (US$101 million) makeover.
As part of Costa’s neoCollection cruises, the newly restyled Costa neoRomantica boasts contemporary interiors designed by Tillberg Design, a Swedish architectural firm, and Syntax, the London-based company specialising in prestigious hotels and spas. It also brings the concept of “Italy at Sea” to Asian passengers, with the new Go Costa, Let’s Festa! campaign introduced across Costa Asia’s fleets in 2017.
A Veranda Deluxe room on board Costa neoRomantica
What’s coming: Two new Costa ships will be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The ships, each with 135,500 gross tons and carrying 4,200 guests, will be delivered in 2019 and 2020. They will be operated by Costa Asia, whose new ships are worth a total investment value of more than six billion euros.
Latest: Majestic Princess, launched on March 31, 2017, is the largest and most luxurious ship in the Princess Cruises fleet. It has a guest capacity of 3,560, with 1,780 staterooms spread over 19 decks.
A highlight on Majestic Princess is the two speciality restaurants created in collaboration with renowned chefs: La Mer, A French Bistro by three-Michelin-star chef Emmanuel Renaut and Harmony by Michelin-awarded chef Richard Chen.
Majestic Princess’ other star features include the largest duty free shopping at sea with 1,100m2 of luxury boutiques, and the Princess Luxury Bed available in all staterooms. Other facilities include karaoke rooms, an indoor swimming pool and a newly-rebranded Youth Centre in partnership with Discovery Communications for young cruisers aged three to 17.
La Mer on Majestic Princess
What’s coming: Regal Princess will be the first ship in the Princess Cruises fleet to boast the revolutionary Ocean Medallion Technology which will go live in November 2017, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in early 2018.
Replacing the electronic key card, the wearable coin-size device can be worn on a wristband, as a pendant, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket. The Ocean Medallion experience is designed for an effortless, personalised vacation, starting with swift embarkation, and require no log-ins, passwords and tapping of the device against anything.
Small and intimate journeys
Latest: Avalon introduced its suite ships to South-east Asia with the debut of the Avalon Siem Reap in March 2015, sailing between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, followed by the launch of the Avalon Myanmar cruising the Upper Irrawaddy.
With a capacity for 36 guests, both ships were built smaller than their European counterparts to allow them to traverse narrower sections of the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers.
Cabins measure 23m2 and feature open air balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows measuring 4.3m acoss.
What’s coming: The Avalon Saigon, scheduled for launch in 2018, will share identical features with its sister ships, and is likewise built small to make manoeuvres through narrower waterways possible.
“With a maximum capacity of only 36 guests, our smaller Mekong and Irrawaddy suite ships invite travellers to see the world differently by sailing into surprising places other ships cannot,” explained Terri Burke, managing director of Avalon Waterways.
All three ships in Avalon’s South-east Asia fleet will sail the new 18-day Heart of Cambodia & Vietnam itinerary in 2018, cruising the Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam.
Latest: Champa Pandaw was launched in September 2016 with 14 staterooms measuring 14m2. The two-deck vessel is fitted with an extra powerful engine to take on the strong rapids of the Upper Mekong, allowing Pandaw to pioneer sailings from Laos to China’s Yunnan Province, including Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Buddha Caves, Chiang Khong and Jinghong.
However, these reconnaissance journeys are subjected to changes and the possibility of having to transfer to speedboats in the low water season (December to March).
What’s coming: While Pandaw does not yet have plans for new ships it will debut a seven-night Irrawaddy Delta itinerary in March 2018, according to Sven Zika, a company spokesperson.
Katha Pandaw’s journey will begin from Yangon to Pyapon via the Twante Canal. It stops at Bogale, a historic trading port, before sailing across the delta to Myaungmya and heading up to Bassein. The ship then sails for Wakema, before winding down at Maubin and cruising back at Yangon.
Latest: Heritage Line birthed the 46-pax Anawrahta in March 2016, unveiling one of the largest cabins and suites sailing the Irrawaddy river.
Deluxe cabins span 32m2 while suites range from Junior (48m2) to Executive (59m2) and Palatial Royal (86m2). Suites in the highest category were also given an added touch of luxury in the form of private Jacuzzis.
The Anawrahta also boasts a 1:1 crew to passenger ratio, and offers amenities such as a spa and pool deck.
What’s coming: Heritage Line may have retired its 10-year-old Ginger in February this year, but its namesake – a brand-new 12-suite ship – is expected to hit the waters of Halong Bay in mid-2018.
Heritage Lines’ director of sales and marketing, Andreas Schroetter, told TTG Asia that the new Ginger will give Halong Bay its only ship with a pool on the sundeck. Further details were not available at press time.