It’s been a bumper year for luxury cruising in 2019, with a half-dozen or so new vessels launching into service, including two Ponant expedition ships (Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville), a further two Hapag-Lloyd Cruises in the ultra-luxury expedition space (HANSEATIC nature and HANSEATIC inspiration); Celebrity Cruises introduced a new Galapagos vessel (Celebrity Flora) and after several years in the river cruise segment, Scenic dived headfirst into ocean for the first time with Scenic Eclipse.
2020 heralds the arrival of a further fleet of new luxury ocean ships, including two newcomers to cruising, Virgin Voyages and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
Joel Katz, Managing Director Australasia, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said the luxury sector has grown rapidly to become one of the most significant areas of cruising right now.
“Around a third of the new cruise ships scheduled for launch in 2020 are luxury vessels, which reflects the worldwide appetite for high-end cruising and the industry’s confidence in future demand,” Katz told LATTE.
“It’s among luxury vessels that a lot of the innovation in cruising is happening right now, in areas like interior design, fine dining and customised experiences. It’s also an area with a lot of cross-over into expedition cruising, where new features like helicopters and submersible exploration vessels are emerging.
Katz said that the Australian market appears to be particularly receptive to luxury cruising and many travel agents report that upmarket lines and higher-grade cabins are among the first to sell.
“For travel agents, the luxury sector is an especially lucrative area, not just for the higher value and commissions but also for the significant repeat booking factor among luxury guests.
“Catering to luxury clients means having very strong product knowledge and an eye for detail, so we always encourage travel agents to take up as many education opportunities as they can if they plan to specialise in this area.”
What’s new in Luxury Cruising in 2020?
LATTE asked senior executive of each cruise line what their new ship means to the market, and what it means to cruise passengers. Here is their feedback, in alphabetical order by cruise company name.
Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Apex
Susan Bonner, Vice President – Strategic Projects, Celebrity Cruises:
“We are so proud to launch another incredible Edge Class ship to make Celebrity’s 2020 Europe season our most revolutionary yet. Apex will offer a selection of inspiring itineraries across the Mediterranean, joining five award-winning ships to take our guests to more new places in Europe than ever before aboard the most spectacular spaces at sea.”
“Celebrity Apex and her sister ship, Celebrity Edge which was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places, both feature an innovative outward-facing design with the iconic Magic Carpet and Rooftop Garden, as well as transformational accommodations featuring Celebrity’s pioneering infinite balconies to invite guests to take in the breathtaking world around them.”
Crystal Expedition Cruises – Crystal Endeavor
Karen Christensen, Crystal Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Australasia:
“The experiences that await travellers aboard Crystal Endeavor are simply spectacular. We are seeing such tremendous anticipation and enthusiasm surrounding her first season of voyages and are thrilled that these voyages are predominantly sailing in local Asia-Pacific waters. Debuting in August, her 2020 season will offer expedition voyages through Japan and the Russian Far East; New Zealand and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Tasmania; Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines; and Antarctica via the Ross Sea.”
Ponant – Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier
Monique Ponfoort, Vice President PONANT Asia Pacific:
“Joining the four new ‘Explorer’ class ships already built and delivered to PONANT, in 2020 we have two more identical ships are coming online: Le Bellot (March) and then Le Jacques Cartier (June). These additions, to what is already the youngest fleet of ships in the world, offer the very latest in technology and eco-responsibility, ensuring PONANT’s commitment to world-leading sustainable practices onboard and ashore is in maintained.”
“Initial itineraries include Scandinavia, the Baltic and North seas, the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Persian Gulf, India, Asia and the Pacific, including our own (and NZ’s) Sub antarctic Islands – and it is exciting to note that Le Bellot will be spending significant time in Australian and New Zealand waters in 2021.”
Regent Seven Seas Cruises – Seven Seas Splendor
Lisa Pile, Vice President and General Manager, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Australia and New Zealand
“Splendor is the future of luxury cruise travel. From the most lavish suite at sea fit with a US$200,000 Hastens bed, to being adorned with over an acre of Italian marble, she is truly a masterpiece. A new benchmark has been set again for luxury ocean cruising by Regent Seven Seas Cruises with the delivery of Splendor.
“We pride ourselves on leading the way in luxury ocean cruising. We can’t wait for our guests to be able to experience what makes a voyage with Regent Seven Seas Cruises an unrivalled experience.”
Silversea Cruises – Silver Moon
Silversea Cruises – Silver Origin
Adam Armstrong, Managing Director – Australia and New Zealand, Silversea Cruises:
“The ultra-luxury cruising segment is experiencing significant growth, and in order to meet this demand we have a number of ships on order, scheduled for arrival in 2020 and 2021. With our guests in mind, we are pushing the boundaries of ultra-luxury cruising, as well as expedition cruising in the Galápagos Islands and beyond, redefining the concept of immersive travel. The new builds will significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury segment with a wealth of enhancements to the onboard experience, including the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world’s most discerning travellers.
“In 2020 alone, we will welcome two new additions to our ultra-luxury fleet of ships, and will complete one classic-to-expedition ship conversion. The all-suite, 100-guest Silver Origin has been designed entirely with the Galapagos Islands in mind and will embark on her maiden voyage in July 2020, unlocking the authentic beauty of the Galapagos through immersive experiences.”
“Then, on 6 August 2020 the elegant, 596-guest Silver Moon will set sail on her inaugural voyage, echoing the whispered elegance of our current flagship, Silver Muse, and including a number of enhancements and elements of innovation. Finally, throughout September and October we will see the conversion of Silver Wind from classic to expedition vessel.”
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection – Evrima
Doug Prothero, CEO of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection:
“The onboard guest experience of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will pave the way for an entirely new era of cruising. Among the highest in the industry, the staff to guest ratio will create a personalised journey and allow travellers to make the most of their yachting experience.
“Evrima’s smaller size will establish a residential feel, and the thoughtful design of its 149 guest suites blends warmth and contemporary style. Unlike larger cruise ships, the intimate size of Evrima will allow the yacht to sail directly into city harbours.
“The launch of The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will also introduce a new culinary standard for cruising with Evrima’s signature dining concept, S.E.A., designed by Sven Elverfeld of the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg, among nine other unique and exceptional offerings.
“We are excited to introduce our guests to journeys that they can tailor to their preferences to create memories they will cherish for a lifetime.”
Virgin Voyages – Scarlet Lady
LATTE approached Virgin Voyages for comment, but they declined to reply as they are busy preparing for Scarlet Lady‘s maiden cruise in April and its series of pre-inaugural sailings in mid-March.
Lead image: An artist impression of the Atrium of Seven Seas Splendor.