The Next Cruise Generation|
Next month will bring us the debut of the brand new Ruby Princess, the newest ship from Princess Cruises and the last one they are scheduled to build for quite awhile. In 2008 we have already seen the arrival of the Holland America Eurodam, Cunard Queen Victoria and Carnival Splendor. All three of these ships were beautiful and each represented the pinnacle of this current generation in cruise ship design. But, we are on the precipice of a new generation in ship design - and it all begins with the arrival of Celebrity Solstice next month! November 23, 2008.
Although the ships already introduced in 2008 are spectacular in interior decor and design, they are still based on existing superstructure designs. This coming new generation of ships, dozens of them slated to come onboard in the next four years, will be all new from the keels up. The cruise industry has not seen a total design makeover like this since the late 1990s.
The next generation is based on entirely new floorplans. They are larger to carry more passengers, but they will also feel more spacious rather than crowded. The decor is focused on light, balance and serenity over intricacy and razzle-dazzle. These new ships will feature far more variety in cuisine, spa facilities, entertainment venues and sports activities, and they will give us the most commodious and sybaritic staterooms ever.
As mentioned, leading the "new wave" in ship design is Celebrity Solstice pictured above. She was just floated out from her shipyard in Papenburg, Germany last week. Among the "firsts" on this ship is its sheer size for a Celebrity ship. It is the first one ever built over 100,000 gross tons (displacement). At 122,000-tons, she and her three sisters scheduled for completion by 2012, will carry 2850 passenger berths in comfort and splendor.
The interior design of Solstice is spacious and liberating featuring natural elements like plenty of light through clear glass, fresh waterfalls and real lawns of green grass. The decor includes silver railings holding clear glass panels allowing the room vistas to go on forever, punctuated by white, cream and beige furniture. The Solarium winter-garden area is breathtaking with its two-deck tall open glass greenhouse area filled with live plants on teak decks with Balinese beds, fountains and therapeutic pools.
The main pool deck is equally palatial, with flowing swaths of white canvas billowing down from several decks above to form the curtains on the pool's private cabanas. A dynamic waterfall is the centerpiece of this area as well. Close by is the first grass lawn ever at sea, furthering the concept of serenity. Nearby will be the Corning Glass Museum and glass-blowing demonstration area.
Solstice will feature several restaurants, some of them already familiar to Celebrity cruisers, such as Murano's, and some of them new creations as in "Blu" offered exclusily to the guests staying in AquaClass suites. Silk Harvest serves Asian fusion fare and the Tuscan Grille will fire up Italian repast.
Meanwhile, the superbly elegant Grand Epernay Dining Room, the main serving room for all guests, breaks the mold for ocean vessel sophistication in design and decor. The silver bannisters and glass steps are the perfect counterpoint to the fine crystal and sterling flatware to be found on the crisp white tablecloths.
Cruisemates is hosting a group of 100 guests on the second sailing of Celebrity Solstice, and I am proud to say we were smart enough to secure our group space at the best prices we could possibly get. Our space has been sold out for months, and those who did not book with us are likely paying as much as 30% more. Just for the record, CruiseMates is not a travel agency and we do not make money on our group cruises. We organize them just for our readers to enjoy great prices and the comradery that comes with it at no extra charge. Click here for more CruiseMates Cruises.
Celebrity Solstice will be followed by new ships from Oceania, MSC Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Costa, Carnival and probably NCL. All of these ships I just named will be brand new designs for these cruise lines. Many of the amenities they offer are still being kept secret, but I assure you, the ocean-going cruise experience will never be the same.
Oh, and did I mention Oasis of the Seas? If you haven't heard much about it yet, believe me, you soon will.
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