Out to Sea for June 4/16
(c) By Jim and Barb Fox
There’s nothing quite like that “new ship” smell and feel.
For cruise vacation lovers, this is a big year as the 2016 fleet of the major lines recently increased by three huge shining gems.
These include the world’s largest vessel and another upcoming that’s billed as the most luxurious that ever sailed.
Ranging from fun times to savouring the opulent, here’s a look at this year’s hottest vessels setting sail.
|Carnival Vista has fun on top with an aqua park and multi-sensory water tube slide called Kaleid-O-Slide.|
Holland America’s ms Koningsdam
The premium cruise line’s largest ship and first in a new Pinnacle class of vessels has begun its summer season of European cruises.
Accommodating 2,650 guests, it features innovative concepts and public spaces and venues while retaining popular amenities associated with the line.
Koningsdam has Holland America’s first purpose-built staterooms for families and solo travellers.
It was welcomed into the fleet with a dedication ceremony on May 20 in Rotterdam and christened by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
New dining options include Sel de Mer, a French seafood brasserie, and an immersive farm-to-table concept dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Centre.
The Grand Dutch Cafe debuts with traditional treats and European beer, while a redesigned Lido Market with themed serving stations is said to “revolutionize” the buffet experience.
|Koningsdam is Holland America’s largest ship for 2,650 guests.|
The two-level Main Dining Room features anytime options and traditional fixed seatings, and there’s the upscale Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian restaurant and pan-Asian Tamarind.
Onboard entertainment is cranked up with an “energetic” Music Walk area featuring venues including Lincoln Centre Stage, Billboard Onboard and the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club bringing the best of the Memphis sound to sea.
|Holland America’s Koningsdam is big on music with the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club for the best of the Memphis sound. (Barbara Fox photo)|
The 270-degree LED projection at World Stage affords new concepts for show-time performances to immerse the audience in panoramic visual and sound effects.
The ship returns to the Mediterranean in September and in November sails to its homeport of Port Everglades, Fla. for a winter season exploring the Caribbean. hollandamerica.com; 1-877-724-5425
Go wet and wild on the Carnival Vista with SkyRide, an open-air cycling experience suspended high above the ship’s top deck and the multi-sensory water tube slide called Kaleid-O-Slide.
The 3,954-passenger ship is on a summer schedule of Mediterranean cruises through October and repositions in November to New York for two sailings and then Miami for year-round Caribbean cruises.
Along with the “unparalleled array of entertainment and adrenaline-inducing thrill experiences,” the ship has the cruise industry’s first IMAX Theatre at sea.
It also has a long suspended ropes course, aqua spray park and other outdoor and indoor entertainment options.
New activities include the South Beach-inspired Serenity Nights, a Rock-n-Glow 80’s and Island deck parties along with a murder mystery experience.
|A juicy cheeseburger and fries from Guy’s Burger Joint on the Carnival Vista. (Jim Fox photo)|
There are about 30 dining and bar venues showcasing diverse flavours from around the world including the casual guest favourite Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint. carnival.com; 1-800-CARNIVAL
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
It’s truly a city at sea: Harmony has the distinction of being the world’s largest ship at 362 metres (1,187 feet) and carrying 5,479 passengers.
There are seven distinct neighbourhoods on board, 20 dining options and almost 2,400 crew to serve you.
For action and adventure, there’s the “Ultimate Abyss,” the tallest slide at sea, two FlowRider surf simulators and three multi-storey waterslides.
There are also classic carnival games at the new Boardwalk Arcade, two rock-climbing walls, a Zip line soaring nine decks in the air and across the ship, full-sized basketball court and ice-skating rink.
The full-service VitalitySM Spa has a thermal suite with extensive treatment menu and there’s a state-of-the-art fitness centre.
Central Park has an outdoor garden with galleries, restaurants and shopping and there are four pools, 10 whirlpools – two of them cantilevered overlooking the ocean – and the Solarium, an adults-only retreat.
The third of the line’s Oasis class of ships, it’s homeported in Barcelona for the summer and redeploying to Port Everglades in the fall. royalcaribbean.com; 1-800-762-0585
Regent's Seven Seas Explorer, with its all-inclusive luxury, launches in July from Monte Carlo as an all-suite, all-balcony ship for 750 passengers.
Along with opulent suites, six “world-class” restaurants, Broadway-style productions and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub, it repositions to Miami in December. rssc.com; 1-844-473-4368
Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca