Cruisers – brace yourselves – the future of cruising is here. This past week, Celebrity and Norwegian pulled back the curtain on their future fleet plans, perhaps heralding in a new era of cruise ship design. Not only are these ships vastly different in design from their predecessors, they represent a new chapter of cruising that we’re just entering. And Celebrity and Norwegian aren’t the only ones bringing new concepts to the ocean, there are plenty of new ships breaking the mold. Cruising as we know it is changing, and with the next wave of cruise ships on their way, it looks like the future of cruising is here.
Bye Bye Old Bows
A few years back, AIDA debuted a “straight” bow design, one that was traditionally a hallmark of ocean liners from the early days of cruising and sailing. It was a bold choice, a stark departure from the “clipper” bows found aboard almost every single cruise ship currently sailing, however, AIDA was just ahead of the trend. Both Celebrity Edge and Norwegian’s Project Leonardo will sport the straight edge design, providing enhanced stability and maneuvering, while dramatically changing the look of cruising. While this new bow design is far from new, it’s a design from yesteryear that may just be the default going forward. It’s certainly going to take me awhile to adjust to this aesthetic change, but it sounds like the operational benefits far outweigh my purely design based objections.
A Renewed Focus On Outdoors
For years, new ships were designed to focus inward, offering entertainment and activities that could have very well made you think you were in a resort back on land. However, newer ships have renewed their focus on moving guests outside, bringing them back to the heart of cruising – the sea. Aboard Norwegian Breakaway, we were introduced to The Waterfront, offering waterside dining and bars, bringing the life of the ship to the outdoor promenade. We saw Carnival expand the Lanai to include an aft pool, restaurants, and bars that brought guests to the water’s edge. MSC’s upcoming MSC Seaside offers perhaps the most outdoor space, featuring an extra wide promenade around the ship – wide enough to literally ride bikes on. And even this past week, we learned of Celebrity’s new rooftop gardens debuting aboard Celebrity Edge. As someone who loves the ocean and loves being outside, I am thrilled to see a return to bringing guests outside. There’s truly nothing more “cruise” than sitting in a beautiful space on deck and breathing in the fresh, salty ocean air.
So Much Room For Activities
Yes, I did just borrow a quote from Step Brothers, but it seems appropriate (maybe). Cruise ships, while far from claustrophobic as many sadly believe, are tight on real estate. It’s tough to fit in a few thousand staterooms, numerous dining spots, bars, lounges, and other cool things (like Norwegian’s new Escape Rooms), however, cruise lines haven’t taken this challenge lying down. Whether it’s curving the walls or repositioning storage space, many cruise lines have found creative ways to offer better configured staterooms, offering as much space as possible to their guests. However, Celebrity Edge takes the cake for me so far. Debuted just this past week, Celebrity Edge will offer the first of its kind Edge Staterooms – literally allowing guests to convert their entire stateroom into an open air balcony with the simple opening of French doors. And on the flip side, guests can create more “inside” space by closing the balcony off with a sliding glass window. This unbelievably cool feature offers guests total flexibility when it comes to stateroom space, offering the choice of a huge balcony, a huge windowed stateroom, or a mix of both. That is the future of cruise ship stateroom design – customization.
And All The Crazy Stuff (In A Good Way)
There’s a lot of crazy stuff sailing over the horizon, things we may have never dreamed of seeing aboard a cruise ship. Norwegian Joy is bringing go-karting to sea (an activity I can’t believe took this long to make it onboard a cruise ship), Crystal Esprit brought us a submarine, and Viking brought a snow grotto to the ocean. And beyond the tangible offerings, cruise lines are constantly upping their service with everything from Royal Genies to included wifi. Not only are we living in the golden age of cruising, we’re sailing into the future of cruising. From futuristic ship designs, to unbelievable onboard offerings, and constantly improving service and experiences – cruising is entering its next chapter and we’re the characters that get to be a part of its evolving story.