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Okay, cruise aficionados, we’re going to put you to the test this week. We know the majority of you are well-travelled cruisers with multiple voyages under your collective belts. We also know you’re extremely discerning when it comes to holidays at sea, and you value the better things in the cruise world, with an instinctive understanding of what is desirable and what isn’t.
But, if you could choose anywhere in the world to visit, where would you go? Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson set the bar in their classic 2007 movie The Bucket List, visiting the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Mount Everest and the Pyramids.
Now, if you had to refine your selection just to cruises, what would be on YOUR Bucket List?
It’s a great question, and it’s one that has sparked all kinds of debate here at Veness Towers this week. Admittedly, we’ve been cruising for more than 40 years and have enjoyed the best part of 100 voyages, but there are still places we want to try for the first time or revisit.
So, with no further ado, here are our Notable Nine Cruise Bucket List aspirations for ocean-going adventure, along with deluxe choices for cruising there:
This is very possibly the most exotic and evocative cruise destination of them all, with impossibly blue seas, spectacular coral atolls, emerald green tropical foliage and wonderfully hospitable people. The likes of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea sound like they have sprung from the pages of a dramatic novel (in many ways they have, thanks to the works of James A Michener), and they are all perfectly accessible on a typical seven-day cruise, with the kind of weather we can only dream about in the winter.
The fabled sea route to Asia has been part of maritime lore almost ever since people first started dedicating themselves to things that float. For centuries, this perilous journey across the ‘roof’ of Canada was the stuff of European adventurers’ dreams, but now it is increasingly an option with expedition-style cruise companies. It features Arctic waters from Greenland to Alaska, with glorious new vistas and stunning wildlife on a daily basis.
When it comes to laid-back holiday-making, no-one beats the Greeks for that relaxed, convivial and foodie-flavoured vacation among the islands of the Cyclades, where white-washed towns and villages, blissful beaches and welcoming tavernas make up a tantalising array of temptation. Many companies feature the Greek isles as a destination in their own right, and any voyage here is guaranteed to transport you into a timeless realm of relaxed tranquillity.
Here are more of those dreamy, far-off destinations that sound utterly appealing and are, in fact, as good as they sound. The Seychelles are the paradise islands you’ve seen in countless TV commercials, while Madagascar is one of the most powerfully wildlife-rich places on the planet. Combine the two and you have a natural landscape of tropical idylls and animal adventure, all wrapped up in a series of Indian Ocean islands that are best explored by sea.
Cruise Bucket List option: The new 15-night expedition cruise from Hapag-Lloyd, sailing round-trip from Mauritius and featuring multiple days on the islands.
Vietnam & Cambodia
When it comes to river-cruising, the Mekong River that rises in Cambodia and completes its journey to the sea in southern Vietnam is a relative newcomer to the major cruise lines, but it is now a mainstream choice that highlights a wealth of cultural experiences in south-east Asia. With the journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (or vice versa), it is one of the most immersive voyages in the great cruise compendium today.
We never tire of cruising in this majestic part of the world, and the good news is there are increasingly varied options to experience it, from some of the smallest ships to some of the largest. The typical seven-day Inside Passage voyage is still the stock in trade, but longer sailings are now possible, along with true expedition-style cruising that takes visitors into the heart of the region’s astounding flora and fauna.
Cruise Bucket List option: Seabourn’sUltimate Alaska 12-night voyage that takes in all the major ports of the region, plus several that are well off the beaten track, like the Inian Islands and Rudyerd Bay.
Line Voyage to Australia
Sailing from Britain to Australia is practically a part of cruising’s DNA, as it was the classic Clipper Route from the 17th to the 19th centuries, before the advent of steam engines. In the 20th century, it became the preserve of long-distance travellers who wanted the pure maritime experience, sailing from Southampton to Sydney. Today, it is the rare preserve of a handful of lines who value this time-consuming but intensely experiential voyage.
Cruise Bucket List option: Cunard’s 41-night Queen Elizabeth cruise from Southampton to Melbourne, taking in Lisbon, Tenerife, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius, Fremantle and Adelaide.
Snake & Columbia Rivers
River-cruising continues to push the envelope of destinations around the world, and this north-west US route is one of the freshest and most enticing. Go back to the 19th century and it was the preserve of adventurers and pioneers, but now it is open to all-comers, with a spread of unique culture, history, sight-seeing and tastes, notably from the burgeoning wine industry in the region, which provides great opportunities for wine-tasting cruises.
Cruise Bucket List option: Any voyage on the classic SS Legacy of UnCruise Adventures from September to November.
Perhaps the ultimate Cruise Bucket List destination, though, remains the eternal fascination with the South Pole and the vast continent of Antarctica. This is a realm of magnificent, unparalleled scenery, intense wildlife, and a sense of being on the very fringes of what we like to call civilisation. Each voyage is an adventure of the most extreme kind, hence only a handful of companies operate here. It remains No.1 for us, though and we will get there, eventually!
Cruise Bucket List option: The new Crystal Endeavor of Crystal Cruises will offer a grand 22-Night Antarctica Expedition on her inaugural season in early 2021.
So, tell us – what’s on YOUR cruise Bucket List? Tell us all about your most desired future voyages in the Comments section below.
When Sidney De Haan was casting around for ideas to keep his Folkestone hotel in business in the 1950s, he wasn’t thinking about global brands, disruption marketing, direct sales or any other fancy terminology used in the travel business today.
The WWII war hero was simply trying to find ways to keep the Rhodesia Hotel open outside the peak summer period when he hit on the concept of appealing to the 60-plus market – especially retirees – who were more likely to travel in the shoulder seasons.
Before you could say Short-Term Breaks For The Over-60s, his modest hotel had been transformed into Saga Holidays and was a rip-roaring success, blossoming beyond Kent’s Channel port town to reach the Algarve (in the 1960s – then unheard of), Spain, Romania and Yugoslavia (in the 1970s), long-haul destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok by the 1980s, and, of course, cruising.
This week, that investment in the cruise business paid off in the most striking way possible with the advent of a brand new ship – the Spirit of Discovery – that essential breaks the mould for Saga.
Back in 1997, the company had seen a future for the aging but venerable 1965-built Sagafjord and, after a major refit, the former Norwegian American Line and Cunard vessel was reintroduced as Saga Rose. A bona fide cruise line was born, blossoming further with the addition over the years of Saga Pearl, Spirit of Adventure, Saga Ruby, Saga Pearl II and Saga Sapphire.
All were re-treads, but all were lovingly brought up to date, without ever looking like a garish floating resort. Saga kept things traditional but comfortable; classic but laid back, with a residual touch of formality that appealed to the slightly older generation but didn’t put off those still looking to discover cruising for the first time. In short, they struck a delicate but perfectly-judged balance between yesteryear and today.
And now comes Spirit of Adventure. At 58,250 tons, she is more than twice the size of the revered Saga Rose, or any other vessel to sail for the company. She was named by the Duchess of Cornwall at a lavish christening ceremony in Dover last week, and she represents a bold new frontier both for Saga and for British cruising.
Despite the resurgence of ultra-luxe cruising, not many companies are building ships of this size and marque – neither boutique little bateaux nor the leviathans of the sea – so they deserve to be lauded for going out on something of a maritime limb and flying the flag for a more traditional idiom that insists cruising doesn’t have to be all-singing and all-dancing.
Just to start with, Spirit of Discovery is a fully flagged British concern, something that neither P&O nor Cunard can claim these days. She will proudly fly the Red Ensign and her current maiden voyage, fittingly, is a 13-day round-Britain voyage taking in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast and Liverpool on a journey of introduction.
Dover will be her home base (the same port that is currently spending some £250million on a redevelopment programme of updates and improvements) and the all-British connection was enhanced at the naming ceremony by a Spitfire flyover that evoked the true spirit of the White Cliffs.
More importantly, though, she embodies a new and exciting spirit within Saga, one of style without pretension and quality minus any overt formality, an all-out commitment to cruising but within the parameters the company has championed for more than 60 years. Saga Travel CEO Robin Shaw hailed her as “Britain’s first boutique hotel at sea,” and it is hard to disagree.
Externally, the newcomer is not dissimilar to the identikit vessels of Viking Ocean Cruises, or a plus-sized version of the Regatta-class ships of Oceania Cruises. They are all elegant, well-proportioned and still ship-like, even if the serried ranks of balcony staterooms are totally contemporary and unlike any profile the Saga Rose ever displayed.
Traditional cruisers will love the fact she sports a proper, wraparound promenade deck, but it is the internal set-up that should be the big hit with her future customers. Saga has deliberately gone for a classic look, eschewing glitz for a sea-going style that remains in touch with cruising’s roots will still being totally modern in things like the signature cabaret lounge of The Club by Jools (Holland), created in collaboration with the musician himself.
A full-scale theatre – The Playhouse – is a first for Saga, a superb 400-seat auditorium with raked seating that will be graced by its very own theatre company, as well as guest entertainers, cinema shows, lectures and other events.
Dining will be offered in four contrasting options, most notably the truly epic Grand Dining Room, with its two-storey configuration and Ritz-style elegance, and the more modish look of the Asian-flavoured East to West, with dishes such as sizzling beef fillet in a Balinese sauce.
All dining will be open seating or by reservation, ensuring that more traditional bugbear of assigned seating is cast firmly into the history books. Equally, there will be NO supplement for any mealtime experience, while Saga will maintain its highly popular policy of providing a choice of house wines with all meals, while also including all gratuities and service charges.
Fully 20 per cent of staterooms are configured for solo travellers, while the 999 passengers will also be cosseted by interior design inspired by some of London’s finest hotels, a superb Spa, and one of the largest libraries at sea – a genuine nod to the past of sea travel when a good book was often the best kind of diversion.
Saga plc CEO Lance Batchelor insisted Spirit of Discovery “represents our country at a momentous time. Saga has a proud heritage, and this ship represents the rebirth of our company.”
It is a wonderful package of sea-going stylishness, and you have to think Sidney De Haan would approve of this “re-birth” of the company he created with a revolutionary spirit back in the 1950s – a Spirit of Discovery.
Have you sailed with Saga, and are you ready to consider a voyage on the new ship? Give us your experiences in the Comments section below.
This week, we’re taking a look at what makes Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen a contender for the title of The World’s Greenest Cruise Ship…
Here’s a question for you – what if you could cruise with minimum addition to your carbon footprint, sailing the seas without adding to the pollution plaguing the world’s oceans and air? And what if Roald Amundsen paved the pathway for this new, conscientious cruising? Amundsen the ship, not the explorer, of course.
Just to begin with, Amundsen the man was an early 20th-century pioneer, innovator and polar explorer par excellence. He put Norway on the map as a ground-breaking country, and he staged a daring ‘race to the South Pole’ with Robert Falcon Scott, becoming the first man to reach the world’s southernmost point in 1911.
As well as his South Pole exploits, the redoubtable Norwegian led the first expedition to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage (in 1906) and the first proven group to reach the North Pole (1926). His name continues to resonate today as one of unique attributes, courage and originality.
It is therefore supremely fitting that the world’s newest cruise ship, the Roald Amundsenof Norwegian line Hurtigruten, is also an adventuring innovator of the most remarkable kind.
“A New Chapter In Maritime History”
The new vessel is very possibly the world’s greenest cruise ship built to date, and those involved in her construction are this week lauding her as a maritime pioneer in her own right. Setting out on her maiden voyage from Trømso on July 2, it marked the first time a cruise ship has sailed purely on battery power, highlighting a new frontier in hybrid engines.
Just to start with, the Amundsen is a purpose-built expedition-style ship from the Kleven shipyard in Ulsteinvik, created to sail in the more sensitive waters of the world and, hence, to do so in a more eco-friendly manner.
As well as an ice-hardened hull and wave-piercing bow, she will have her own Science Centre, extensive observation decks and a sleek Scandinavian design that sets her apart from most of the ocean-going monoliths that are more like Las Vegas-At-Sea.
There are no single-use plastics of any kind on board, and Hurtigruten insists she is built “with sustainability at the core.”
But the most important attribute of the newcomer is her radical Rolls Royce-designed propulsion unit, a rare combination of tradition diesel and electric motors (the big brother of the Toyota Prius, if you like!) that allow her to cruise using the huge, specialised battery packs virtually silently and with ultra-low emissions in the polar areas.
When the ship is in these more ecologically sensitive regions, it can switch to 100 per cent battery power and sail without putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while, overall, she will emit more than 20 per cent less CO2 than traditional ships.
Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam insisted: “This opens a new chapter in maritime history. MS Roald Amundsen is the first cruise ship equipped with batteries, something deemed impossible just a few years back. With her introduction, Hurtigruten sets a new standard not only for cruising but for the entire shipping industry to follow.”
The Kleven yard is already building a sister ship, MS Fridtjof Nansen, due to debut next year, and a third for 2021. Project manager Asbjørn Vattøy insists: “In the world of ship-building, some projects stand out. This is one of them.
“MS Roald Amundsen is not only one of the most advanced expedition cruise ships in the world, but she is also a premium cruise ship with a number of ground-breaking solutions. We are extremely proud of the ship, which is the result of a tremendous team effort of the Kleven employees and our sub-contractors.”
Highly experienced Hurtigruten captain Kai Albrigtsen was at the helm as the new vessel set sail from Trømso on her maiden voyage along the Norwegian coast. And he said: “To captain a new ship and bring her from the shipyard is always an honour. With MS Roald Amundsen being a green pioneer, this makes the moment truly special to me and the rest of the crew.
“I am extremely impressed by the ship, the technology and how she handles. Now, we are all really looking forward to welcoming guests on board and creating life-long memories together.”
Perhaps just as impressive from the passenger point of view is the level of quality and facility on board. In the course of the past 10 years, Hurtigruten has steadily been increasing its product delivery from a very standard three-star level to four-star-plus, transforming from its original style as a pure coastal service to a genuine cruise company.
In addition to the high-tech Science Centre, their latest vessel boasts an infinity pool, a panoramic sauna, a spa and wellness centre, three restaurants and bars, a lavish Explorer Lounge and a range of extremely stylish accommodations, including aft-facing suites with private outdoor hot tubs.
Skjeldam added: “MS Roald Amundsen is designed and built with sustainability at the core of every little detail. In addition to the green technology, this makes her the first cruise ship in the world designed to be single-use plastic free. Sustainability will be an integral part of the guest experience. From the hand-picked Hurtigruten Expedition Team to the industry-first Science Centre, we will give guests a deeper understanding of the areas we explore.”
MS Roald Amundsen – Maiden Season
The 530-passenger ship’s maiden season will include cruises along the Norwegian coast to the Arctic (featuring itineraries in Svalbard and Greenland), and then across to the west coast of North America, including a highly fitting traverse of the Northwest Passage, before travelling down the west coast of South America and on to Antarctica.
For those looking to get in on the Amundsen’s maiden season, she is booking up quickly for the American sections of her first season, while the full Antarctic programme is also proving extremely popular. But don’t worry if you miss out this year – the Fridtjof Nansen will be along in summer 2020, so there will be even more choice to visit these rare and rewarding parts of the world in true ‘green’ style!
Are you interested in sailing on the Roald Amundsen, and is ‘green’ cruising important to you? Add your thoughts in the Comments section below.
We have a bit of a conundrum for you this week, darlings: When is First Class travel not, actually, First Class travel?
You would think the cruise world would be ideally placed to answer this particular puzzle, seeing as how it was based on a multi-class experience for more than 100 years. Travelling First Class was simply THE way to travel, and it always meant by ship. Those new-fangled aeroplanes came along decades later and just spoiled the whole idea.
Yes, you would think so, and you would be completely and utterly wrong, because cruising is, increasingly, a hodge-podge of different ideas, styles and experiences once you’re on board. Nowadays, First Class is more likely to be called The Haven, The Retreat, The Yacht Club or some such equally obscure-but-pompously-significant label.
Sadly, it is a growing trend, initiated by Norwegian Cruise Line with the debut of their Norwegian Epic in 2009, which brought The Haven into being – a ship-within-a-ship concept of enhanced facilities and amenities – and it has been copied to various degrees by many of the mainstream cruise lines ever since, much to the detriment of all concerned.
For heaven’s sake, even the airlines have the decency to call their top-level service First Class, so why can’t cruising get back in line with common parlance. Is it too much to ask? But we digress…
This whole ship-within-a-ship thing isn’t a new notion in itself, and we’ve remarked on it several times in our weekly scribblings, but it has come back to the fore this week with the latest news from Virgin Voyages (yes, that IS what they’re calling their cruise line, in case you hadn’t been paying attention for the past couple of years!), who have announced some intriguing new ‘extras’ for their first ship in 2020.
The Scarlet Lady will begin sailing next April, offering seven-day itineraries to the Caribbean, and, as regular readers will surely know, we baulk at many of the ‘innovations’ being touted by Virgin in their bid to be different and, we’re told, ‘edgy.’
Just to start with, we will never get used to the idea of passengers being called ‘sailors,’ while the whole of idea of the entertainment including ‘interactive dance parties’ just sounds so terribly tacky and 1970s, not to mention ridiculously cheesy.
But, whisper it quietly, we have to admit there ARE some elements that Virgin are proposing that are actually enormously appealing.
Just to start with, ALL Virgin voyages will be adults-only. No under 18s are allowed on board, at any time. That’s a big attraction for us, ahem, 50-somethings who prefer the patter of tiny feet to be our dog and not someone else’s children. There are plenty of cruise lines that are completely family-orientated, and that is fine. Just don’t expect us to be on most of them.
Another major plus, especially for the germaphobes among us, is the total lack of buffets. That’s right – no buffets. At all. Not for breakfast, lunch nor any kind of in-between-meal occasion. Zero. Nought. None. Hurrah for Virgin Voyages!
And now there are Mega RockStar Suites. As their latest attempt to lure those who still think cruising is for the newly-wed and nearly-dead (and, apparently, there are still those kind of beliefs out there in non-sailor land), Virgin has gone all out with a new package of special perks and amenities purely for those in the 15 top-level suites. And, while we may not be fully ‘on board’ with the idea of Rock Star anything at sea, we DO recognise another version of First Class when we see it.
This could also be quite fun. Here’s what’s on offer by way of the ‘extras’ for those in the Massive, Fab, Posh and Gorgeous Suites:
• A dedicated hair and make-up crew upon request
• Unlimited complimentary beverages – including the alcoholic variety – in all bars and restaurants on board, plus a free, personalised in-room bar
• Complimentary access to the Spa’s thermal suite, which includes a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge pools and quartz beds
• Complimentary laundry service (quite an imaginative extra, in our view; we love to be able to take home clean underwear)
• A series of bespoke shore excursions, from foodie experiences to private tours of local landmarks, in each port of call
• Upgraded premium Wi-Fi with streaming
All this is on top of the other previously announced perks, including express boarding (hello First Class once again!), backstage entertainment access (which definitely has that ‘Rock Star’ cache), access to Richard’s Rooftop (the VIP lounge for all suite guests) and even a ‘wardrobe team’ to help with the in-suite chore of packing and unpacking.
And it is all being highlighted by a specially-created video featuring Sir Richard (naturally) and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, which is just insouciant enough to be quite amusing – in a Rock Star kind of way, you understand.
In fact, we highly recommend you check it out on this video:
When you add in some of the other Virgin features, such as the unique call in the Bahamian island of Bimini, where The Beach Club has been set up in Branson’s inimitable style to give all his ‘Sailors’ (ugh, we just can’t get past that term) the chance for a totally chilled private island experience.
In fact, when you also learn that every suite comes with a dedicated Rock Star ‘Agent’ to attend to every need, well, that clinches it. That’s just a concierge by another name, and this is, most assuredly, another way to market First Class without calling it anything that old-fashioned.
It’s still being billed as a “luxury” experience, which is hard to imagine on a ship of 110,000 tons, with 14 passenger decks and 2,770 passengers, but we can forgive them the exaggeration just this once. It should certainly be a cut above the other mass-market lines, if not at the same level as the ultra-luxe variety.
Oh, and if you’d like one final clincher for this all-new experience, how about a woman captain for starters? Captain Wendy Williams will be the first Canadian woman to captain a ship of this size, and we are shouting a big “Huzzah!” of approval.
So, Rock Star cruising might just be ‘a thing,’ after all. In fact, get Mick Jagger on board, and we’ll be convinced. He’s even older than we are!
Treadwell & Tenny
Does Rock Star cruising appeal to you? What do you make of all the Virgin innovations? Tell us what you think in the Comments section below.
It used to be the case, not so long ago, that a ship would have to go quite a few years before it saw anything other than basic maintenance and updates – the occasional dry-dock, a few minor modifications and some soft furnishings, maybe, but generally nothing terribly major for 20 years or so.
Not anymore. Whereas the dear old QE2 underwent just two significant refurbishments in her 40 years’ service, vessels today hardly go a decade without some kind of substantial makeover. Just like Celebrity Cruises.
We were hugely impressed with Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships when we sailed on the Celebrity Eclipseout of Miami in 2011. For all her size – she weighed in at a fairly hefty 121,878 tons, and carrying 2,850 passengers – the third vessel of her class was a well-balanced cruise offering, loaded with options but still boasting the quality and, especially, the cuisine, which the brand had become known for since the 1990s.
So you can colour us distinctly surprised that the Solstice-class has been included in the $500million Celebrity Revolution renovation programme that is currently adding even more lustre to the line and its ships.
It seemed fairly solid thinking that the four sisters of the Millennium-class would be tabbed for a major overhaul last year. After all, the initial Celebrity Millennium dated back to 2000, so her revamp was probably right on cue.
Yet this month saw the Celebrity Equinox – just a year older than the Eclipse, having been launched in 2009 – emerge from dry-dock as the latest recipient of Celebrity Cruises’ Revolution renewal programme. And we have to say this looks a mighty impressive refurb.
Not only has Celebrity added its signature The Retreat area for all suite guests (a luxury touch that was pioneered on last year’s all-new Celebrity Edge), it has enhanced its already impressive array of culinary offerings AND introduced an extremely thoughtful new science and technology programme to its Camp at Sea kids club.
The general revitalisation – carried out over 29 days at the shipyard in Cadiz, Spain – has also given the ship a distinct all-new feel throughout, ensuring future guests a thoroughly refreshing time at sea.
In full, the $500million modifications and updates:
• The addition of the complete The Retreat experience for all suite guests, including the chic enclave of The Retreat Sundeck, an exclusive sun-soaked hideaway, and the sophisticated style of The Retreat Lounge (which was formerly the lightly-used Michael’s Club), with interior decor by world famous designer Kelly Hoppen.
• The introduction of Le Petit Chef and Le Petit Chef and Friends, two imaginative and interactive dining experiences offered in Qsine (previously the Silk Harvest restaurant), which have been developed in partnership with TableMation and Skullmapping that bring the tabletop to life using innovative 4k technology (we especially like the sound of this!).
• A completely reimagined Passport Bar, enhancing a prime spot for pre and post-dinner drinks and mingling.
• Craft Social (the former Gastrobar), a new casual spot featuring more than 40 craft beers, plus wine selections and cocktails on tap, along with comfort food favourites, flat-screen TVs and inviting leather seating.
• Fully refreshed staterooms and suites ship-wide, featuring Celebrity’s exclusive eXhale bedding collection with luxurious king-sized Cashmere mattresses.
• The launch of an exciting partnership with the renowned Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, featuring S.T.E.M.-focused activations and unique programming for the popular Camp at Sea for young cruisers. The interactive programming focuses on science topics such as microplastics and the diversity and importance of plankton to the Earth’s oceans and environment.
• Digital enhancements across the ship, including the addition of RFID lock technology and pervasive Xcelerate Wi-Fi, as well as the brand’s industry-first facial recognition technology with the implementation of the Celebrity Cruises app, allowing smooth port arrival and expedited boarding, plus additional features including guest-to-guest chat and digital room keys.
• New treatments and products offered at The Spa by Canyon Ranch, including three new Signature Couples’ treatments, Dyson Supersonic blow-outs, Mink and Rapid Lash services, and new facials by Reveal Machine.
• New retail offerings, including John Hardy Boutique, Kate Spade and a new watch boutique featuring Shinola, Hublot and other premium Swiss brands.
In many ways, it is The Retreat area that should hold the most appeal for Celebrity guests, adding as it does an ‘upper-class’ style and feel to the overall experience. This feature – pioneered by Norwegian in 2009 and subsequently adopted by a number of cruise lines – effectively creates a separate onboard echelon, much as First Class did in years gone by, and ups the ante in terms of exclusivity on these larger vessels.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, insisted the latest addition to the Revolution updates marked a major step forward in the programme. She said: “Celebrity Equinox holds a very special place in the hearts of everyone at Celebrity Cruises, and also for our guests. This one-of-a-kind ship continues to be the most awarded in our entire fleet.
“Now, emerging from her dramatic modernisation, our guests are going to love the new, ‘Revolutionised’ Equinox even more. There is no better way to experience the Caribbean year-round than on board this stunning ship.”
The Equinox is now back sailing her regular Caribbean series of voyages, based at Fort Lauderdale, and alternating between the western and eastern parts of the region over five, six and seven nights. There are also a handful of tempting 10 and 11-night sailings this autumn, which travel as far afield as Barbados and Curacao, thus ensuring plenty of time to enjoy the new-look ship.
Next ship to get the Celebrity Cruises’ Revolution treatment will be the 2011-built Celebrity Silhouette in January 2020, while the full $500m renovation programme – which started last year – will be completed by 2023.
Have you sailed on a ‘Revolutionised’ ship of the Celebrity fleet yet? What did you think, and what was your favourite part of the new look? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.
So you want to cruise from Barcelona? Good choice. This iconic Catalan city on Spain’s north-east coast has more ship options than anywhere in the Mediterranean and is one of the most vibrant and accommodating metropolises in Europe.
It boasts dozens of compelling attractions, as well as a unique culture, and great food (especially the food!). But it hasn’t always been a leading light, and its recent tourism history is one of rebirth rather than long-standing fame, hence it has positively rocketed to the forefront of Med cruising, ahead of the likes of Civitavecchia (for Rome), Venice, Marseille, Athens and Istanbul.
In some ways, Barcelona has long had these ambitions. Way back in 1888, the World Exposition in the city presented it as one of the great global centres of the day, and its ideal position on the Med ensured it maintained that prominence for much of the first half of the 20th century, even despite the depredations of the Spanish Civil War and an economic recession.
But, by the 1980s, decades of civil strife (notably from the Franco dictatorship) and high unemployment had taken their toll, and the city was a pale shadow of the beacon that had held the great World Fair in 1929. Cue the Olympics. In 1986, Spain won the rights to hold the 1992 Games, and a city went into overdrive.
That process of regeneration and revitalisation is still at work today thanks to a hugely successful public works effort that effectively rebuilt Barcelona’s infrastructure and put it in the world’s shop window as a dazzling place to visit, and not just for Olympians.
The ’92 Olympics were arguably the most successful – in all-round terms – of the modern era, and the city is now a tourist magnet of epic proportions, drawing nine million hotel guests in 2018 (an increase of more than seven million since 1990), plus, wait for it, 2.7 million cruise visitors.
That’s right, fully a quarter of Barcelona’s visitation is due to the cruise industry, and, while a good deal of that is because of the excellent, modern port infrastructure and location in the western Med, much of it is also a reflection of just how much there is to see and do here.
So, with no further ado, here are our Top 10 things you should consider on your next visit to the Catalonian capital:
10. Camp Nou
Soccer fans will already have this on their radar, but even those who don’t think football is worth their time should be fascinated by this 1950s temple to sporting excellence. It hosted the final of the 1992 Olympic football event, as well as other major competitions and, with a renovated capacity of 99,354, it is an awesome sight to behold, even on non-game days.
9. The Magic Fountain
Built in 1929 for the Great Universal Exhibition but part of the extensive Olympic refurbishment, this eye-catching cascade of water, sound and light in the Montjuic neighbourhood, close to the Olympic Stadium, is compelling by both day and night. Choreographed show times run from 8-9pm or 9-10pm daily.
8. Palau Musica de la Catalana
Another early 20th-century gem, this elaborate concert hall is an iconic centre for live music but is equally absorbing even if there are no concerts taking place. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, it features breathtaking architecture and a series of daily guided tours that showcase its full magnificence.
7. Mercat de la Boqueria
If you’ve already seen the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul or the Farmers Market in Venice, you will have some idea what to expect when you step inside this vast fresh produce paradise, where some 200 vendors set up stalls every day to provide one of the most colourful scenes in the whole of Spain.
6. Costa Daurada
When you have a few days to spare either pre or post-cruise, you should definitely head for this splendid strip of Catalonian coastline just to the south and west of the city. With 152km of gorgeous seaside – including some impressive beaches – it also boasts the Roman town of Tarragona as well as a series of picturesque villages.
5. Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar
For pure Gothic splendour, this iconic 14th-century church takes some beating anywhere in Europe. Modern-day architects marvel at its Medieval purity, and the sense of awe and wonder at the huge internal spaces are part of its unique feel, while there are guided tours of the main church and roof spaces from May to October.
4. Las Ramblas
Talking of iconic, this largely pedestrian 1.2km boulevard through the centre of Barcelona is a must-see territory for just about every visitor. Here you’ll find a wonderful cross-section of the city, from the “living statue” performers to some of the best shopping and dining on offer, notably in the Placa Reial, where the tapas cuisine is simply superb.
3. Gothic Quarter
To the east of Las Ramblas is the historic heart of Barcelona, the Barri Gotic. Dating back to Roman times and chock-full of Medieval streets, it boasts the Museum of History, Jewish Quarter, Cathedral, stellar shopping along Portal d’Angel and weekend art market, which harks back to the works of Picasso and Miro.
2. Park Guell
Dive into the world of the extraordinary Antoni Gaudi in this homage to the father of Catalonian Modernism, the nature-based architectural style that is featured throughout the city. The Park features some astounding stone structures, ceramic tiles, and the house where Gaudi lived, as well as the separate Monumental Area, with its panoramic views.
1. Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
If there is one thing that captures everyone’s attention, it is this eye-popping structure that is part-church, part organic creature – and part-alien spaceship. Begun in 1882, it became Gaudi’s most renowned project a year later and is still developing (to his plans) today. While his works can be seen throughout the city, nothing states the bold, innovative style that he championed like this truly stunning colossus of architectural ingenuity. Miss it at your peril!
PS: If you want to read a truly excellent tourism history of Barcelona (as we did), take the time to peruse a 2012 Senior Thesis by Claremont Colleges student Lillian Reid, which lays out the full, fascinating story. You can find it on thislink.
Have you visited Barcelona? What was your favourite experience, and are you keen to go back? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.
For an aspect of the travel industry with more than 150 years of history and tradition behind it, cruising sometimes gives the impression it remains pretty traditional and hidebound. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The amazing development of the modern cruise ship, with its overflowing array of features and amenities – many of them now linked to the latest technologies – is one of the most obvious examples of how things have changed even in recent years. The ships of the 1980s looked extremely different from those of 2019, both in size and onboard facilities.
When it comes to the way vessels nowadays are designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience, it is also clear to see that cruising has been quick to innovate and add services and styles that the public demands. This is especially true for solo travellers.
In the past – and we’re talking mainly pre-2000 here – anyone cruising on their own usually had to pay a distinct premium, often as much as 195 per cent extra on a per person basis, to travel on their own as opposed to a couple occupying one cabin. The dreaded ‘Single supplements’ were the bane of brochures for anyone not sailing with a partner.
It was one of the great iniquities of cruising, as opposed to simply staying in a hotel room. Cruise lines basically hated sailing with empty berths, and virtually every ship was built with double occupancy in mind. The old P&O stalwart Canberra was a rarity in having cabins purely for single occupancy and, as the whole modern idea of cruising began to catch on during the 1970s and 80s, no new vessels acknowledged the poor, lone cruiser.
Happily, things began to change in the 1990s. Harking back to the days of the Canberra, P&O’s new Oriana in 1995 sported several staterooms for one, while Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines began to make it a priority as they expanded their fleet from 1996 to 2007, ensuring that each newcomer they acquired and renovated was given cabins of the single variety. They even went a step further than P&O by providing balcony cabins that still slept only one.
Others took notice. Norwegian Cruise Line, always one of the industry’s great innovators, stepped things up with their Norwegian Epic in 2010, adding a new stateroom category of ‘Studios’ that were purpose designed for numbers less than two. True, at just 100sq ft, they lacked a fair amount of elbow room, but the addition of a Studio Lounge purely for solo cruisers gave them an added amenity that has proved extremely popular.
Taking a leaf out of NCL’s design notebook, each of Costa, Royal Caribbean and Holland America followed suit, while Cunard added a series of extremely elegant single staterooms to their fleet from 2014-16.
So, if that is the big picture as far as cruising alone is concerned, what are some of the individual highlights to look out for when planning a voyage for just yourself? Here are seven of the best cruises for solo travellers.
Crystal’s recently announced series of 14 sailings on Crystal Symphony have been branded as especially single-friendly, with supplements as low as 110 per cent. The voyages feature destinations from Los Angeles to Miami and most points in between, from five to 27 nights of the line’s distinctive, ultra-luxe comfort.
Norwegian Cruise Line
As one of the pioneers of modern solo sailing satisfaction, NCL has no fewer than six ships that all offer their unique Studio staterooms, with fully 128 on Norwegian Epic and 82 each on the newest duo of Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss. Even their round-Hawaii adventurer Pride of America has been retro-fitted with four Studios.
Holland America Line
Another of the more enlightened lines, Holland America Line has equipped their two latest 90,000-ton megaships Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam with single-occupancy staterooms as large as 172sq ft and with the full range of amenities that their larger brethren have. And, like Crystal, Silversea, Regent and Cunard, HAL features gentlemen hosts to dance with single ladies on every cruise.
With some of the smaller ships in the luxury end of the market, Silversea can’t offer single suites or staterooms, but their supplements can be as low as 125 per cent to occupy regular accommodations, and the line goes out of its way to cultivate solo travellers with their onboard programmes and activities, making them extremely popular in single cruiser-dom.
As one of the bastions of traditional cruising, Cunard’s relatively late arrival as a choice for those on their own in terms of specific accommodations was slightly surprising, especially as the venerable QE2 had a handful of (rather small) single staterooms from her 1960s vintage. However, the retro-fitting of both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, followed by QM2 in 2016 added some of the loveliest staterooms for solos anywhere on the high seas.
Fred. Olsen Cruises
All four Fred. ships have at least 40 staterooms that are configured for solo use. Even better, they run the gamut from (small) inside cabins to genuine balcony rooms. And, if they are overbooked for single cruisers, they also feature some generous single supplements for double cabins, making for one of the most solo-friendly cruise lines of them all.
River-cruises aren’t renowned for cutting single travellers a break on pricing, but there are, increasingly, some deals to be found, mainly because the number of river-cruise vessels is growing every year and there are periods when they need to attract singles as well as couples. At the forefront of offering good deals and being solo-friendly is AmaWaterways, who actually have six ships with a couple of single cabins while their regular single-supplement rates are some of the most generous in the industry.
All this single-cabin jubilation comes with one small caveat – always check the single-supplement occupancy rate for a double stateroom beforehand. Sometimes the solo stateroom rates can actually be higher than paying the supplement, so book wisely!
Have you travelled as a solo cruiser? What was your experience, and would you recommend it? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.
We quite enjoy technology. After all, it gets us going in the morning (the fancy iHome gadget that doubles as an alarm clock and iPhone charger at the same time); it provides the entertainment on our Smart TV (certainly smarter than the shop assistant who tried to explain how it works); and it powers our new Blendtec Professional Grade Power Blender that mixes perfect cocktails.
We are happy to take advantage of it while we are in the coffee shop to check emails and look for any last-minute cruise deals online. And we don’t object to people rabbiting away about their meaningless existences on their mobile phones on the train. We consider it a worthwhile trade-off to avoid having to talk to them.
But there is a time to draw the line, and that is when technology starts to take over that most precious of commodities, our cruising time.
Consider this – Princess Cruises wants all its passengers to have the new MedallionClass technology that “connects” people to its all-encompassing social networking hub that promises to deliver “a personalised, effortless, innovative” experience on board.
Now, irrespective of the fact there is nothing new about this technology, it absolutely, positively reeks of the very essence of how to RUIN one’s holiday. In fact, we can’t think of anything worse than having an e-gadget that knows our whereabouts at all times and wants to tell us things to “enhance our vacation experience” at every minute of the day.
Not only does it smack of Big Brother (and even a benevolent Big Brother is a creepy idea), it goes right to the heart of what a holiday should be – an escape from the everyday that threatens to over-burden us with information and technology with every passing week. Not only do we NOT want ‘MedallionClass’ at sea, it’s one of the very things we take a cruise to AVOID.
To put it another way – as renowned mathematical technophobe Dr Ian Malcolm so succinctly stated when faced with the prospect of a dinosaur revival, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Can we not have some part of life that ISN’T controlled by technology, or by some people’s idea of what we want technology to do?
No, we DON’T want a device that will order a drink from wherever we are on the ship. If there isn’t a waiter within hailing distance, the ship is too big. Pure and simple.
No, we DON’T want another gadget that will open the door to our cabin. We already have a key-card for that, which doubles as our ship ID. That’s quite enough, thanks.
No, we DON’T want a ‘portal’ that allows us to gamble on things like ‘bingo on deck’ or ‘Queen’s Sea Poker’ What’s next? Roulette while you’re sitting in the loo or virtual Baked Alaska on Parade??
And we certainly DON’T want anything to do with a system that plugs us in to some kind of all-connecting bloody mainframe that tracks our every movement and wants to offer us “features” all the time we’re on board.
Ideally, Princess wants you to sign up and start using it BEFORE you even set foot on the ship. It’s technology – and, more importantly, a desire to control guests’ reliance on technology – gone absolutely, stark-staring mad. Bonkers.
Who wants their leisure time to be ruled by any kind of “revolutionary wearable device” that “opens the door to an entirely new level of service and personalised attention”? Isn’t that what the staff are for? Have we totally forgotten that a “human experience” needs to be conducted by, you know, actual humans?
And here’s the statement that really rankles our rigging and boils our blood pressure:
“We’re taking the world’s largest cruise ships, with thousands of guests and crew members, and making sure the experience feels unique to you. Innovation is taking the entire experience back to the roots of what makes cruising special. This ship carries the most-connected internet of things implementation for humans on the planet.”
No, you’re not doing anything of the bloody kind. You’re trying to make technology take the place of actual, honest-to-goodness personal service.
Moreover, if you have “thousands of guests and crew members,” how can it be unique when everyone’s getting the same experience? Just a moment…
Unique; (adjective), being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
One of a kind; unlike anything else.
That doesn’t mean “exactly like the thousands of people also using this device.” Ye gods. Do they really expect us to swallow this marketing bullshine, this disingenuous psycho-babble?
Then they go and put the tin lid on this particular pile of maritime poo by insisting, “Innovation is taking the entire experience back to the roots of what makes cruising special.”
No, you’re not, because that doesn’t even make SENSE. What makes cruising special is the genuine feel of relaxed luxury, the sense of pure, personal indulgence. And that has NOTHING to do with technology, unless it means serving your Martini at exactly the right temperature.
So you can keep your meaningless corporate advertising twaddle that suggests you can somehow create an individual touch on a vast scale (go on, try explaining THAT complete non-sequitur in your malodorous misconception of facetious fallacy), and we’ll happily cruise with someone who actually understands what cruising is all about.
MedallionClass, indeed. Stuff and nonsense.
Treadwell & Tenny
So, are we wrong? Do you welcome all this high-tech wizardry on your cruises? Tell us what you think in the Comments section below.
From Norway to Russia, and Finland to Germany, there is a region of the world that is so steeped in maritime history it has become renowned for culture, landmarks and natural beauty in abundance.
So much so, in fact, that the Baltic is now the third largest cruise region in global terms – after the Caribbeanand Mediterranean– with almost 10 per cent of the annual ship deployment worldwide.
With evocative cities like St Petersburg, Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn, plus vast areas of natural wilderness, it offers a wealth of variety from 10 contrasting countries, and makes for the ideal two-week summer voyage, when the days are long, the weather is benign and there are around 80 ships to choose from in 2019.
This year’s Baltic cruise ‘season’ is now underway (until September), so what are the top Baltic shore excursions you should look out for if you’re heading to that part of the world? Here’s a few of our favourites:
St Petersburg, Hermitage
Yes, it’s going to be crowded, and yes, you can only do it under a ship-organised excursion, unless you want to apply for an individual tourist visa to visit Russia, but this is the one you want to do on any visit to the fabled capital of Peter the Great. Like the Louvre in Paris and the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the State Hermitage is one of the grandest repositories of world art, from the Stone Age to the 20th century, including works by Cezanne, Picasso, Da Vinci and Van Gogh.
Finland is one of the most laid-back of all the Baltic states, and the port of Helsinki offers a lot of touring possibilities, from historic Sibelius Park (paying homage to the great composer) to Market Square, with its dazzling array of local produce. But take the short ferry ride to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Suomenlinna Sea Fortress and you can tap into an 18th-century treasure trove of beautifully maintained historical references, including the Russo-Swedish War of the 1700s.
Oslo, Viking Ship Museum
Very often the first port of call on the Baltic route, Oslo is a wonderful city of open, inviting architecture and eye-catching gardens – “the largest village in the world,” we were once told – but you can’t visit here without going full Viking. And that means taking the bus ride to Bygdøy, where the Vikingskiphuset takes you back to the 9th century and the story of the world’s most redoubtable sea-going folk. The three ships, salvaged from peat bogs, are fascinating to see up close, along with numerous artefacts from the period.
Stockholm, Vasa Museum
Want more Viking heritage? Then the Vasa Museum is definitely the place for you, bringing the story of the great Baltic mariners up to the 17th century with this look at the mighty Swedish warship that sank in 1628. The astounding preservation of this near 400-year-old vessel is remarkable enough on its own, but the Museum does a great job of showcasing the period and putting it all in vivid context, marking it out as one of Scandinavia’s foremost historical centres.
Most people will tell you that the world-famous Tivoli Gardens (dating back to 1843) are the must-see highlight of Denmark’s capital, but history fans – and Shakespeare lovers – should really make a beeline for another UNESCO World Heritage site a 40-minute train ride from Copenhagen. The fabled ‘Elsinore Castle’ of Hamlet, Kronborg is one of Europe’s most striking Renaissance castles and an eye-catching triumph of soaring towers and grand reception rooms.
Germany’s big Baltic port is most often associated with excursions to Berlin, but those can take up to three hours just to get there and you’ll be hard-pushed to see much of the city in the time available. Instead, head for the beautiful seaside suburb of Warnemunde, where the pretty fishing port is a major sailing destination and there may be hundreds of yachts out on the water at any one time, making for a beautiful panorama accentuated by the town’s rows of timber-framed houses.
Gdansk, Malbork Castle
Poland’s principal port city boasts plenty of Hanseatic League history of its own, but take the 45-minute journey south-east to Malbork by car or train and you will discover one of the wonders of the Middle Ages. Malbork Castle is a spectacular brick-built fortress dating back to the 13th century and set on the River Nogat for extra eye appeal. A major Prussian site, it was heavily damaged in World War II but lovingly restored to its full glories in 2016.
Riga, Old Town
The largest city of the three Baltic Republics and capital of Latvia – the ‘Little Paris of the Baltic’ – Riga richly rewards the casual wanderer, and you can comfortably get a firm grasp of the impressive Old Town on foot, although a good guide will put everything in context. Another World Heritage site (yes, the Baltic region has a few!), this early 13th-century gem is packed with medieval culture and Art Nouveau architecture, most notably in Riga Castle and the Dome Cathedral.
Klaipeda, Curonian Spit
Lithuania may be hard to find on many cruise itineraries, but it is worth it for this German-influenced port, and, very possibly, the best beach in the Baltic. The nature preserve of the Curonian Spit is only a short ferry ride from the main town – which boasts rich Medieval Teutonic architecture – and whisks visitors into a beguiling dual-aspect vista of white-sand beaches, on both the Baltic coast and the inland Curonian Lagoon, which are separated by 98km of beautiful sand dunes and forest.
Tallinn, Kadriorg Palace
Arguably THE great surprise destination of the region for anyone who has yet to visit, Tallinn is a visual feast in its own right, with the magnificent Medieval Old Town that is eminently walkable. But venture just outside to Kadriorg Palace, the great Baroque home built for Catherine I by Peter the Great, and you will discover this crown jewel of royal residences, with its ornate architecture and manicured gardens. Verily, the best of the Baltic.
Have you cruised to the Baltic? What was your favourite port, and why? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Michael Jackson tried to blame it on the Boogie. Michael Caine wanted to blame it on Rio. And Nick Mancuso certainly blamed it on the Night.
In reality – and all music and film reference aside – blame might not be the right word here, as far as Silversea Cruises are concerned, but there is certainly probable cause, if not outright culpability. And it is all their own fault.
When Silversea introduced their new Silver Muse flagship in 2017, it marked a distinct raising of the bar in terms not just of their own fleet, but of the ultra-luxe cruise world as a whole. From the outside, it was a graceful, eye-catching paragon; from the inside, it was true cruising gold.
Silver Muse Live! | Day 1: Fort Lauderdale - YouTube
But the unexpected upshot of this maritime munificence was that Muse’s fleet mates suddenly seemed a little less, well, lustrous. Vessels like the Silver Shadow which looked the ship’s cat’s whiskers on her debut in 2000 – and which was rightly dubbed “the new Rolls Royce of cruising” at the time – was distinctly over-Shadowed by the newcomer, giving the company something of a conundrum in maintaining the profile of the rest of the fleet.
Where the other five ships glistened, Muse positively dazzled with her array of fine dining options, superbly spacious suites, elegant public rooms and refined entertainments. It wasn’t that her earlier sisters were any less gracious, it was just that the new flagship set new standards.
Enhancements such as the Silver Note jazz-themed supper club, Arts Café, Relais et Chateaux dining of La Dame, and sumptuous Spa combined to ensure sea-going cosseting of the finest kind. How could the others keep up?
The answer was Project Invictus. Immediately after the company’s takeover by Royal Caribbean last year, Silversea announced a major initiative of upgrades and embellishments fleet-wide, to ensure their older vessels would not be so outshone by their more recent sibling. Planned renovations of 2001’s Silver Whisper and 1995 veteran Silver Wind last December were given extra oomph by the improvement project, while a more ambitious renovation was promised for the Silver Shadow.
This week, we learned the details of this latest makeover, and to say it is impressive would be a singular understatement. It is not so much a refurbishment as a complete reinvention of the ship. No price-tag has been attached to this latest Invictus invigoration, which will begin in November, but you can be sure it is a multi-multi-million dollar installation. Let us go through the enhancements together:
Inspired by the chic colour palette of Silver Muse, every single suite, and the corridors that serve them, will experience a floor-to-ceiling overhaul. Both Vista and Veranda Suites will undergo a total renovation of all fixed and loose furniture, to include new lighting, carpets and headboards. Bathrooms will be transformed with new sinks and quartz Silestone surfaces.
The upper-level Medallion, Silver, Grand and Royal suites will also be upgraded with new colour schemes and soft furnishings, while bathrooms will undergo similar transformations. By the same token, the capacious Owner’s Suite will be modernised from top to bottom. We can practically taste that cosseting luxury already!
New Atrium & Arts Café
Leaning heavily on two of the real high points of the Muse design, Silver Shadow’s Deck 5 areas that are currently taken up by the Lobby, Boutique and Casino will be completely redesigned as an all-new Atrium. The ship’s social hub will be elevated into a modern, interactive reception area, boasting two new boutiques and, at the centre, the much-admired Arts Café, serving stylish coffees, pastries and sandwiches throughout the day and cocktails for the evening hour.
La Dame Dining
Relais et Chateaux collaborative restaurant La Dame, which serves some of the finest French cuisine at sea, will also see a major refurbishment. This will include enlarging the space to seat 40 diners at any one time, thus providing more opportunity for all guests to experience this epicurean adventure.
Connoisseur’s Corner & Casino
The current haven of Connoisseur’s Corner – a hideaway of rich and luxurious proportions offering fine cognacs and premium cigars – will be moved from Deck Seven to Eight, in the space currently occupied by the Library and Internet Café. Additionally, it will be completely restyled to include an imaginative outdoor smoking area with comfortable seating.
The Casino will also be elevated, from Deck Five to a new position adjacent to the relocated Connoisseur’s Corner, while its dozen or so slot machines and two gaming tables will be refreshed with new décor.
Observation Library & Spa
Taking another existing space and giving it a transformative touch, the existing Deck 10 Observation Lounge will be given a new lease of life in its quiet eyrie as the Observation Library, with all-new carpeting, furniture and an updated selection of books.
At the same time, the neighbouring Zagara Spa, Beauty Salon and modern Fitness Centre will be overhauled to provide the latest in steam and sauna rooms, fully refurbished treatment rooms, new furniture, flooring and updated fitness equipment.
And even more…
Not to be overlooked, there will be additional upgrades and enhancements for each of The Restaurant (Deck Four), The Bar (Deck Five), Show Lounge (Deck Six), the Card/Conference Rooms and alternative dining of La Terrazza (Deck Seven) and the evening centrepiece of the Panorama Lounge (Deck Eight). Each will receive enhanced décor and furniture, including upholstery, carpets and all soft furnishings.
And, to conclude the extensive makeover, the Pool Deck amidships on Deck Eight will be rebuilt with teak flooring, a new canvas awning, modern outdoor furniture, lighting and heaters. At the same time, the jogging track aft on Deck Nine will be resurfaced to provide a more ergonomic underfoot experience.
It all adds up to a comprehensive and mouthwatering array of refinements for the 28,258-ton vessel that will ensure it is properly Muse-ified and able to keep the finest company once more. It will be ready to resume service on December 3 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when it will sail a seven-night voyage to San Juan, Puerto Rico. And this Silver exemplar will truly be able to offer a golden finish.
Have you cruised on Silver Shadow before? What aspect of her makeover most appeals to you? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.