TNU features words from Andy Harmer, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruising industry’s worldwide representative organisation, and an introduction to RCCL Icon of the Seas and P&O Arvia.
MSC World Europa debuts at Doha 13 November and will provide 2,500 rooms for the duration of the FIFA World Cup. She is then off on a series of short voyages in the Gulf area, before transiting the Suez Canal in early April to Naples and a full summer Mediterranean programme. A review will feature in December’s TNU. Maybe January will feature Arvia.
The premise of TNU is to bring you the news in advance and so we lead off this first edition with the announcement that the CLIA Conference 2023 will take place over the weekend starting Friday 13 May, the star likely to be Arvia, due in on the Sunday. It is a trade event. Also planned to be in port and available for viewing will be MSC Virtuosa, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral and Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas.
CLIA has released new consumer sentiment data showing the demand and perception of cruise holidays are now greater than in 2019. The survey, of 4,000 domestic and international travellers, has also revealed the economic benefits cruise brings to the areas that ships visit.
Andy Harmer says that 2023 is looking positive.
“This year has been enormously encouraging for cruise, and it’s heartening to see demand for a holiday at sea is set to continue. The sheer number of repeat passengers we’re anticipating, combined with interest from those yet to sail, means the appeal of going on a cruise remains as strong as ever.
“The economic advantages passengers bring to the destinations they visit is also clear, meaning local businesses – from taxis, to restaurants to hotels – benefit accordingly. And we’re delighted to see the raft of sustainability initiatives we have in place, including our 2050 net-zero carbon goal, were recognised.
All the indications that the number of annual cruise passengers in 2023 will surpass 2019 levels. The data was positive:
In 2023, over 20 new ocean ships are set to launch, which we're eagerly anticipating. From familiar lines to new ones, from luxury to expedition vessels, there will be an incredible range of choice to suit customers.
And in addition to building on this momentum, we place equal attention on sailing to a better future. The benefits are already being realised today, as the cruise sector takes a leading role in driving the development of sustainable marine fuels, with an ambition to pursue net-zero carbon cruising by 2050.
Recent data showed the percentage of travellers who say the cruise industry is a leader in responsible travel is at 51%, a 9% increase over the past year. While this is encouraging, we cannot rest on our laurels, and the industry’s advancements in sustainable cruising are critical to our ability to further enhance its reputation, retain loyal passengers and attract new to cruise holidaymakers".
RCCL Icon of the Seas
Now open for booking, and due to make her maiden seven-night voyage out of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean, on 27 January 2023 is Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) Icon of the Seas.At 250,600 tons, she is more than 6% bigger than the current size leader among cruise ships, RCCL’s seven-month-old Wonder of the Seas. Icon will be able to accommodate up to 7,600 passengers – a new record for a passenger ship.
Ben Bouldin, Vice President EMEA, Royal Caribbean International, based at Weybridge, South West London, explains the whole concept:
“By introducing Icon of the Seas, we start a new era of holidays. What makes the Icon Class ship unique is that it will be the travel industry’s first-of-its-kind combination of the best of every vacation – from the beach retreat, to the resort escape and the theme park adventure.
With each new ship, we raise the bar in the travel industry while enhancing what our guests know and love. From the moment they step on board, every experience is specifically designed to give them the best holiday anywhere on land and at sea. With Icon of the Seas, we’ve taken this to a new level and made it the ultimate family holiday.
Icon of the Seas is the culmination of more than 50 years of delivering memorable experiences and our next bold commitment to those who love to vacation. Now more than ever, families and friends are prioritising experiences where they can bond and enjoy their own adventures. We set out to create a holiday that makes all that possible in one place for the thrill-seekers, the chill enthusiasts and everyone in between, without compromise. It’s this first-of-its-kind combination that makes Icon the future of family holidays, and that future is here.
We also wanted to make sure that there is an accommodation style that suits everyone, therefore we are proud to present our eight neighbourhoods. We made sure that each one is a destination in and of itself, filled with an array of experiences, live entertainment, and ways to grab a bite and a drink – so that everyone can make memories their way, every day.
With Icon of the Seas, we raised the bar even further with each of our signature neighbourhoods: A grander Royal Promenade features its first floor-to-ceiling ocean views, plus more than 15 restaurants, cafés, bars and lounges; a more lush and livelier Central Park has more ways to dine and be entertained; and the largest Suite Neighbourhood is three decks of luxury, offering a multilevel suite sun deck – The Grove – that has a private pool, whirlpool and dining, and a two-storey Coastal Kitchen. Our guests will also find experiences like new takes on mini-golf at Lost Dunes, rock climbing at Adrenaline Peak, and Absolute Zero, Royal Caribbean’s largest ice arena, and dining venues such as Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar on the Royal Promenade and the Asian-inspired Izumi in Central Park.
To accommodate all types of guests RCCL offer 28 styles of accommodation on Icon of the Seas. There are new layouts made for families of three, four, five and more, like the Family Infinite Balcony and Surfside Family Suite – with kids alcoves tucked away from the adults – and the three-storey Ultimate Family Townhouse, complete with its own white picket fence and mailbox. When it comes to views, among the best are from the brand’s first Sunset Corner Suites and Panoramic Ocean Views in AquaDome.
Besides all the exciting features onboard, we are also proud to launch Icon of the Seas as our first ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is the cleanest-burning marine fuel. This makes this new ship our most sustainable to date.
Icon of the Seas has been highly anticipated, and we can’t wait to welcome our guests onboard from January 2023”.
Arvia not arriving
P&O’s brand-new flagship Arvia is delayed. The 9 December maiden voyage has been cancelled and a new date provisionally set for 23 December. No more details have been announced except a brief statement saying that the postponement was "For reasons beyond our control”.
The ship is supposed to be handed over by the German shipbuilder Meyer Werf of Papenburg on 1 December but clearly that date is not being met.
The usually reliable P&O press office did not return any enquiries.
Whatever the reasons the postponement has caused a certain amount of anguish with P&O fans keen to join the maiden voyage. Assuming space can be found the Christmas holiday cruise is longer and more expensive.
P&O has made it clear to the travel trade that clients will be compensated for the missing cruise.
Cruise lines in the past have used the delivery trip as a ‘shakedown’ with travel-trade and media trying out the many dining outlets (some holidaymakers will pay a small supplement), and the numerous innovations including Mission Control, the first ever escape room at sea, a unique immersive experience, combining an escape game with multimedia simulation and a live-action story. Arvia offers two, two-hour experiences – a family-friendly adventure suitable for all ages and an adventure designed for adults.
Arvia is P&O Cruises’ second LNG-powered Excellence Class ship, similar to Iona but with a host of new-to-the-line additions including a ropes course called Altitude Skywalk, a swim-up bar and a new plant-based and sushi restaurant, Green & Co. There will also be a first-in-line mini-golf course. She is very slightly larger than Iona, P&O’s first LNG-powered ship, at 184,700 gross tonnage and a maximum passenger capacity of 6,264 guests.
Once into her programme, Arvia will be based in Bridgetown, Barbados, until late March 2023 before sailing back to Southampton for the summer, operating Mediterranean cruises until October.
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