A Tale Of Two Cruise Ships Under Construction

cruise ships

Coming up this spring, Princess Cruises and Norwegian cruise lines – two of the most popular cruise lines with mainstream cruise travelers – have new cruise ships coming out. Considering that both are under construction right now and both offer sister ships being built for later delivery, choosing one might be difficult for cruise travelers. Before we get too far down the road, let’s take a look at the two new ships, what they have to offer and how construction is coming along.

cruise shipsNorwegian Cruise Line has a whole lot of New Yorkers talking about new Norwegian Breakaway, and for good reason. To be based in New York City year-round, the 4,000-passenger ship has been customized for the New York market with everything from shops, restaurants and bars to Sabrett New York hot dog carts positioned around the ship.

Partnering with the New York City Rockettes (Godmothers of the ship), pop artist Peter Max (custom city skyline hull design) and others, Norwegian is making every attempt to pierce the New York market; it even set up “warming stations” around the city this winter.

That’s all in addition to some over-the-top features on the ship set to blow away other new builds that has everyone talking about this new Norwegian ship that will be sailing to Florida, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

%Gallery-179356%An oceanfront boardwalk called the Waterfront on Norwegian Breakaway will combine dining and drinking venues with entertainment and gaming. 678 Ocean Place will be a hub of activity spanning three decks that features seven more dining venues, 12 bars and lounges coupled with shops and other entertainment options.

Continuing what looks to be a pre-sold success story with Norwegian Breakaway, sister ship Norwegian Getaway will debut in 2014, claiming Miami, Florida, as its hometown. Embedding a South Florida theme in the new ship, Norwegian tapped David Le Batard (AKA the artist known as “LEBO”) to create art for the new ship’s hull. Set to debut in February 2014, we’ll have more on that one later.

First, here’s a gallery of photos featuring first-up Norwegian Breakaway, under construction:

%Gallery-179330%

Royal Princess marks the first new build for the cruise line since 2008’s Ruby Princess, the last of Princess Cruises popular grand class ships. They built nine of those and already have a sister ship to Royal Princess in the works too.

Royal Princess
will be a careful evolution of the Princess product with a ship laid out in typical Princess patterns. Focusing on their mantra to let passengers “escape completely” Princess Cruises has designed a ship totally around that concept. It’s a success formula that has made Princess popular over the years and keeps travelers coming back for more.

But Princess goes a bit over the top themselves too, adding an over-the-water “SeaWalk” that will extend 28 feet over the side of the ship, offering views of the ocean 128 feet below off the ship’s starboard side. On the port side, a SeaView bar will be positioned to offer cocktails and some great views. Here is what that venue and others should look like when complete:

%Gallery-176342%

Top-deck features are a focus of cruise ships industry-wide lately and Royal Princess is no exception. This Princess ship starts with a new adults-only pool surrounded by plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two more pools will flank a “tropical island” that will have pool seating by day then become a dance club with a dancing water and light show by night.

Next year’s Regal Princess will be a twin sister to 141,000 ton Royal Princess, complete with a central atrium Piazza area that is 50% larger area than previous versions and casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.

Under construction right now in Venice, Princess Cruises sent along these photos from the shipyard:

%Gallery-179331%

We will be heading to Venice, Italy, at the end of March for a first-hand look at construction of Royal Princess in-progress. Stay tuned for updates.

So which ship to choose? Here are some points to consider:

  • The value is there for either ship. Both will stack up nicely compared to land vacations to the same places these ships sail, allowing passengers to unpack once but visit multiple destinations.
  • Norwegian Breakaway adds an additional choice, year-round for cruise travelers departing from the upper East coast, eliminating the need for airfare and sailing to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Florida.
  • Royal Princess will sail seven-night itineraries from Florida’s Port Everglades to the Eastern Caribbean from November 2013 through April 2014 after a Mediterranean season that begins June 9, 2013.
  • Traditional cruisers will find their dreams fulfilled on Royal Princess with standard features the line has become famous for – amped up for today’s traveler. Think: turbo Love Boat.
  • Norwegian Breakaway promises an entertainment experience as good if not better than the bar-raising elements added on their last new build, Norwegian Epic. Think: epic flavor, easy to swallow.

[Photo Credits- Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises]

Preview: Princess Cruises New Royal Princess

Princess Cruises Royal Princess

Princess Cruises will debut their latest cruise ship, Royal Princess in July of 2013. The new ship promises to be everything fans of “The Love Boat” line have become accustomed to. At the same time, new Royal Princess has a renewed look for Princess Cruises with updated classic and new features that may very well prove appealing to fans of other lines as well.

“Royal Princess will not only be Princess Cruises newest and largest cruise ship, it will be its most distinguished,” cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO CruiseGuy.com told Gadling,

Over the past decade, the cruise industry has pumped out new ships like there was no tomorrow. Luxury cruise liners of all shapes and sizes capitalized on the latest technology to bring over-the-top onboard programming and features. We saw Royal Caribbean roll out gigantic Oasis and Allure of the Seas blowing away every ship in the ocean with enough attractions and diversity to occupy 6000 travelers without seeming crowded. Celebrity Cruises focused on and perfected their modern Solstice class series of ships, raising the bar on mainstream luxury. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic heralded a new era in at-sea entertainment and Carnival Cruise Lines paced calculated, steady growth resulting in Carnival Breeze, a flagship like no other.

Princess Cruises
too grew during that time, adding several more cruise ships but slowed down growth over the last half of the decade, carefully perusing what they might do next.

Princess Cruises new Royal Princess, due out in June of 2013, looks to be a careful evolution of all of their former work. Rabidly loyal Princess fans will feel quite at home with a ship laid out in typical Princess patterns, with all of the Princess Cruises signature onboard programming, features and staff. The big differences look to be a focused concentration on what made the line of “The Love Boat” popular over the years and keeps travelers coming back for more.

Princess cruises royal princessThe central atrium Piazza area of Royal Princess looks to be the classic liner hub of activity it always has been with new features and capitalizing on the popularity of tried and true venues. Added to the 50% larger area are new casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.

Also in the atrium of Royal Princess, Celebrations, a new gift shop has flowers, gifts, chocolates and other items for sale to help celebrate a special occasion. Vines
Wine Bar will feature tapas, sushi and wine by the glass. New to Royal Princess, an adjacent extension takes passengers to the shore excursion and passenger services desks. Next door is signature Italian eatery Sabatinis, featuring a new gourmet a la carte menu.

On upper decks but still in the Piazza area via either of the dual spiral staircases, showcased by a water and light feature, is an Italian-inspired cocktail venue Belinis Bar, Alfredos Pizzeria, the Photo and Video gallery and more.

princess cruises royal princessLike other new cruise ships, a great deal of attention is given to top deck features on Royal Princess.

At one time, a pool or two, a few hot tubs and plenty of lounge chairs made for a good top deck layout. Princess changed all that with their Movies Under The Stars concept years ago and other lines quickly followed.

Royal Princess continues that innovative tradition with new top deck features not before seen at sea.

New features include the first SeaWalk, a glass-floor walkway hovering 128 feet above the ocean, a nighttime interactive sound and light show featuring fountains shooting water 33 feet into the air and a 30% larger screen.

“Princess debuted the outdoor video screen and is the most copied feature on all ships following Caribbean Princess debut in 2004. Royal Princess’ Sea Walk, a previously introduced design on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, will take passengers farther out over the ocean in the most unique fashion, providing outstanding views,” added Chiron.

princess cruises royal princessPrincess bent over backwards on the Royal Princess design to respect its Love Boat heritage that has served the line so well over the years.

The original Pacific Princess that sailed as TV’s Love Boat was a tiny 19,903 tons. At 141,000 tons, new Royal Princess is obviously a huge ship by comparison and a huge ship by today’s standards as well. But the way Princess has put this one together, it promises to have every bit as big a heart as the original that brought the line so far.

Princess Cruises has a series of videos about the construction and features of new Royal Princess. Here is one released this week about the new top-deck features:


[Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises]

Cruise line to offer immersive Hawaiian experience

immersive hawaiian experienceA Hawaiian cruise takes time no matter how it is done. Its either a long flight to Honolulu or a long sailing from the U.S. west coast with many days at sea. Princess Cruises, the line of the Love Boat, is taking advantage of that time at sea before arriving in Hawaii by offering new on-board programming aimed to prepare passengers for what lies ahead with an immersive Hawaiian experience.

“Our Hawaii sailings offer a wonderful way to enjoy both the spirit of the islands and opportunity to unwind with a leisurely ocean voyage,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “And our onboard programs will give them a true taste of Hawaii even as they sail.”

While at sea, passengers will experience a special “Aloha Spirit” program with Hawaii-themed activities, parties, menu items and learning opportunities. Included in the program are a number of hands-on ways for passengers to immerse themselves in all things Hawaii, such as language lessons, Lei making, playing the Ukulele, Hula dance lessons, Hawaii-themed culinary demonstrations and Kona coffee tastings.
While in port, local artisans will demonstrate traditional Hawaiian arts, including a special Ni’ihau shell lei making presentations by artists providing a unique look at the culture of the “forbidden island.” In Honolulu, passengers will also enjoy an entertaining hula show by children from one of the most-respected local hula halaus (schools). The onboard naturalist will also help cruisers identify local whales and dolphins with top-deck animal-spotting sessions.

Passengers will also dine on dishes inspired by Hawaii’s bountiful fare including fresh fruits such as pineapples and mangos, unique fish and seafood, luau staples such as roast pig, and treats like coconut and macadamia nuts.

Hawaiian Islands sailings begin a new season on September 28.

Can’t wait to get into all things Hawaii? Hawaii is a featured destination on the Princess Cruises blog, “50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List” in a post titled appropriately Homeward Bound- Aloha Style.


Flickr photo by Smart Destinations

Related Stories



Go Cycling in Kauai, Hawaii

Princess Cruises 2012-13 salings to open with a bang

Normally, cruise line ship deployment for upcoming seasons is a mysterious event that unfolds over time. Experienced travelers want to book as far in advance as possible but are often kept waiting this time of the year for next year’s deployment schedule to come out. This year, Princess Cruises, for the first time ever, is releasing all sailings for Summer 2012 through Spring 2013 at one time.

All sailings will be available to book starting March 17, 2011 at 3PM Eastern time. That is of particular interest to undecided travelers, trying to weigh options on where and when they might sail. Before, small pieces of the deployment puzzle would be doled out a little at a time over a period of months. Waiting for all options to consider might have meant losing out on the best stateroom selection or pricing.
Princess has good reason for this mass deployment schedule too. In the 2012-13 season, the line will have it’s biggest deployment ever in Europe with more than 125 voyages to the most popular places.

In addition, Princess will sail seven ships to Alaska with 21 cruisetour options. Normally we have to wait until the current season is almost over before knowing what will be offered for the next season. That’s huge and only Princess is doing it. That is a real testament to their commitment to the Alaska market that buyers should not forget when making a buying decision. No “wait and see what happens” attitude here, they’re ready to go right now. This is consistent with many reasons why Princess is the line to see Alaska with.

Earlier we reported that Crown Princess would be returning to Galveston….yes, Galveston, the home port with the fog problems but a hungry cruise audience. They have not sailed from there in years but join sister-line Carnival Cruise Lines who will debut shiny new Carnival Magic in the U.S. from the Texas port.

“We’ve received a great deal of feedback from cruisers interested in sailing from Galveston again,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “So we’re excited to be returning in 2012 to bring our Western Caribbean sailings back to Texas.”

There must be some good things happening in Galveston for these two cruise titans to put such fabulous hardware in a location that has been considered secondary to traditional Florida homeports, let alone debut ports.

Continuing their “we sail more ships to more places than anyone else” thing, Princess has more voyages than ever to South America, the exotic Amazon, Asia, Canada & New England, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, the South Pacific and even epic cruises around the whole world.

If that’s not enough, Princess also has special Launch Savings of up to $200 per couple for members of their Captains Circle past guest club and the line has sweetened the deal for groups too, offering some of the most generous benefits of all cruise lines.

There is a lot going on at Princess Cruises these days for sure. Your travel agent can sort through all the options and help you find the best values for you. Be it your first cruise or your 100th, Princess has set themselves up for a record year of great values like no other line.

Love Boat captain cruises to 80th birthday, at sea of course

Love Boat Captain birthday

On one of television’s longest running shows he was Captain Merrill Stubing of The Love Boat, cruising through 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986. Gavin MacLeod celebrated his 80th birthday this week along with friends, family and crew members aboard Princess Cruises Golden Princess in Los Angeles.

While the show stopped production in 1986, MacLeod has been “at sea” as Princess Cruises spokesperson. This year marks his 25th anniversary with the line and fans still gather wherever he may be appearing. Still in syndication in 92 countries worldwide, The Love Boat has generated what one expert estimates at over $3 billion in sales for the cruise industry.But my how far things have come since kindly Captain Stubing and the gang rode the high seas on national television. The 20,636 ton Pacific Princess that sailed for Princess Cruises between 1975 and 2002 carried 646 passengers and was seen as seen as one of the latest and greatest of ships, setting the table for a feast of unprecedented growth in the cruise industry.

Today’s latest and greatest ships are easily ten times larger carrying close to ten times more passengers. You can bet that if Captain Merril Stubing was in command, he would know every one of their names too. Happy Birthday Gavin.