Out to Sea for May 23/15
(c) By Jim and Barb Fox
Smallest, bigger, biggest.
When it comes to cruise ships, one size certainly doesn’t fit all.
From the smallest on the seas to midsize and then the megaships for more than 5,000 passengers, each size has its advantages.
|The 10-passenger Swell is a classic restored tugboat plying Canada’s west coast waters. (Photo by Jason Bradley, Maple Leaf Adventures)|
Swell, a restored tugboat carrying just 10 passengers, is about the smallest while Holland America’s fleet of 15 mid-size ships carries from 835 to 2,100 cruisers.
Then, there’s Royal Caribbean set to debut the world’s largest, Harmony of the Seas next April, able to carry almost 5,500 passengers.
For a swell time . . .
A classic restored tugboat called Swell has just had her maiden voyage on Canada’s west coast, said Maureen Gordon of Maple Leaf Adventures.
It launched with two inaugural voyages and is designed to offer “expedition cruises” along the Inside Passage.
“She is the first boutique-size expedition ship on the west coast and has all-private ensuite
staterooms,” Gordon said.
The maiden voyage was in the Gulf Islands National Park when passengers were part of the ship’s blessing ceremony.
|The historic tugboat looks of Swell’s salon. (Photo by Jason Bradley, Maple Leaf Adventures)|
They received commemorative gifts including a special bottle of wine from the Saanich region.
The first Inside Passage cruise was an eight-day journey along Vancouver Island – the historic waterway that the Swell plied for more than a century as a working tugboat before her conversion to a passenger vessel.
Swell’s current itinerary includes the Haida Gwaii archipelago, southeast Alaska, and Canada's Great Bear Rainforest and Vancouver Island.
With capacity of only 10 passengers, the trips “provide an experience of surprising exploration, accessing beautiful islands and islets that are not accessible by ferry, as well as coastal villages,” Gordon said.
“This boutique-sized industry is blossoming on Canada’s west coast and Alaska, where huge tracts of intact natural areas invite safari-style trips by water,” she added.
The trips specialize in wildlife – from whales and seabirds to bears and other marine life – and include exclusive access to special areas.
Swell is a classic wooden tugboat built in 1912 and was “lovingly restored with exquisite craftsmanship.”
In addition to her five private staterooms, she has a salon, aft and open-air lounges, open wheelhouse, hot tub, Zodiac inflatable boats and kayaks.
The crew includes a naturalist, gourmet chef and wilderness guides.
Fares range from $2,150 a person plus tax for a five-day trip to $7,000 for the 12-day Alaska trip.
Maple Leaf Adventures has offered conservation-focused, big adventures aboard small ships since 1986. MapleLeafAdventures.com; (250) 386-7245
Holland America’s stretching
While staying true to its classy mid-size ships offering sailings for mainly adult premium passengers, Holland America is gradually growing larger.
Prinsendam, its smallest ship, carries 835 passengers while it has eight ships for 1,260 to 1,400 and six of its latest ships handle 1,900 to 2,100 cruisers.
|Passenger capacity on the classy Holland America Line will jump up in size with the launch of the Koningsdam next year.|
As the line introduces the first in its Pinnacle Class, the Koningsdam will launch next February and welcome up to 2,650 passengers.
It promises to maintain all of HAL’s classic touches with its teak promenade and new designs and entertainment features.
“She’ll carry forward all of the tradition, nautical heritage and signature service and style for which Holland America Line is known – while raising the bar for 21st-century elegance,” the company said.
Koningsdam will debut in the Mediterranean with summer in the Baltic, British Isles and Northern Europe.
Repositioning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in November next year, she will sail the Caribbean and Bahamas through the winter. hollandamerica.com; 1-877-932-4259
Big, bigger, biggest
Carnival Vista, to launch next May, will be the largest in the cruise line’s fleet of 24 vessels. To be the first in Carnival’s new Vista class, the ship will carry 4,000 passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Line ships are growing, with the launch in October of the Escape for 4,248 passengers. This follows the Norwegian Getaway and the Breakaway with a 4,000-passenger capacity.
|Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas is set to become the world’s largest cruise ship.|
Designed to be the largest cruise ship ever, megaship lovers can salute Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas to carry 5,479 passengers.
To sail next April, Harmony will slightly eclipse sister ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas with 5,400 passengers each.
Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca