Undeniably, the big cruise ship story of 2010 was Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, sister to last year’s Oasis. Coming in a close second and third were two other ships by two other lines that deserve a nod before we get too far into 2011.
The other whopper from 2010 was Norwegian Epic. Small by comparison at 150,000 tons and 4,200 guests but no small story at all. Pre-sailing Norwegian Cruise Line boasted then delivered top-shelf entertainment options that clearly set the bar high for others to grab.
The Cirque Dreams and Dinner show was simply the best entertainment option I have see at sea and worth enduring the somewhat minor to “what were they thinking?” design flaws of the new ship. Throw in a dazzling Blue Man Group performance and fair pricing and this one should do well. Norwegian announced more new ships coming up but nothing specific and no duplicate of Epic is on the horizon. Probably one of those “Oh lookey, we’re doing good so we ordered more ships” things the cruise lines do sometimes to make Wall Street happy.
Next up in order of coolness, was Celebrity Eclipse, the third of Celebrity Cruises Solstice-class ships and clearly the future of the line. This is totally a mature adults ship and I don’t mean old people. Geared towards a relaxing, adult experience, this one defines the serene pleasure-cruise experience that others are working into existing ships and featuring on new builds. If that sounds like boring-ship city it’s not.
Celebrity has fully embraced the latest technology on several fronts that put these ships light-years ahead of others in shipbuilding savvy. Building the ships from the bottom up, as opposed to considering passenger areas first, made for a more energy efficient design. From a Teflon coated hull that reduces drag and increases fuel efficiency to happy-environment solar panels to supplement the ships power, this one stretches known technology to make a real dent in the nasty footprint cruise ships have become known for.
But its not like the passengers were secondary by any means.
New dining options, a Celebrity Life onboard program that promotes well-being and health along with superior dining options make this one a stand-out leader for the line. The only problem I see with these marvels is why would anyone even want to sail on their older, boring ships at all? Look for those to be shipped off to needy ports doing shorter sailings on their way out the door in 2011 and 2012.
Photo courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line