Three New Cruise Ships to Debut -Three Different Worlds of Cruising
Written by: Kuki
First up, with a June 4 christening ceremony, will be luxury cruise line – Seabourn’s Sojourn. Sojourn, a sister ship to Seabourn Odyssey, which debuted last year, will be christened by chosen godmother, Britain’s original super-model, Twiggy on the River Thames in London England.
At 32,000 gross tons, she is the smallest of the three, with 225 guest suites (90% with private verandas). Sojourn will have four different dining options –
- the “main” dining room – The Restaurant
- Restaurant 2 – which will feature individually prepared dishes in “tasting portions allowing guests to enjoy innovative creations”.
- The Colonnade – will have both indoor and outdoor seating available, and will operate an open kitchen, where guests can view the kitchen in action preparing their breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
- The Patio Grill – will be offering casual poolside dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Seabourn delivers a luxury product, with top drawer service, interesting itineraries which will please the most ardent traveler. With Odyssey, and soon Sojourn they’ll have two of the most stunning and comfortable ships in the luxury cruise marketplace.
While Seabourn does have a heftier fare structure than other ships discussed in this blog, with special offers, often including free air, with some shopping, you can likely find some very acceptable and attractive pricing to sail this luxury vessel.
On July 2, Reba Macintyre will christen the Norwegian Epic in New York City. At 153,000 gross tons, with a 4100 passenger capacity, Epic will be “a world apart” from Seabourn’s Sojourn.
Yet, even with it’s vast differences, Epic will have some of the most luxurious suites available at sea for the more discriminating passenger. The suite enclave, the Courtyard, occupying two private decks on the top of the ship, will give it’s guests the choice of dining in the private ( for courtyard guests only) Epic Club Dining Room, or any of the other 19 restaurants onboard.
The Courtyard area also offers guests in those suites a private pool, gym, sundecks, saunas, as well a private bar/nightclub. All suite guests are serviced with a dedicated concierge service.
However, on the other side of the accommodation spectrum the Epic will offer “Studio” cabins; the first accommodations on a cruise ship designed, and priced, specifically for the solo traveler.
The Studio complex will require a key card for entry, making it private for guests booked in those cabins. But it also offers Studio Complex passengers access to the Studio Lounge, a two story lounge where solo guests can have cup of coffee in the day or a drink in the evening, and meet and socialize with other solo passengers.
Epic also introduces completely different cabin styles in the other cabin categories on the ship, with it’s “New Wave” design. I had viewed the prototypes for these cabins several years ago on a visit to the shipyard, and am personally anxious to see the end product. The free flowing design of the cabins no doubt fit in perfectly with NCL’s Freestyle concept.
Of the three christenings, Epic will no doubt create the biggest SPLASH, and deservedly so, because it is so completely different from any ship that’s come before it. The entire ship is built to suit the “Freestyle” moniker.
- 20 different restaurants onboard. 11 of which will require passengers pay an extra fee to dine in.
Manhattan Restaurant – the ships aft located main dining room
Taste – the ships atrium located main dining room
La Cucina – Italian. Tuscan dining
Cagney’s – Steakhouse & Churrascaria – Brazillian-style steak house
Teppanyaki- Japanese Hibachi restaurant
Wasabi- a Japanese Sushi restaurant and bar
Shanghai’s – a Chinese American restaurant
Le Bistro – a French Bistro
Sheehan’s – a neighbourhood style restaurant and pub
Garden Café – Lido Deck Indoor buffet using independent action stations
The Great Outdoors – outdoor buffet located on the aft of Lido Deck
Spice H2O – pool-side grill
- more options still to be revealed
Restricted to “Courtyard Guests” only:
- Courtyard Grill – pool-side in the Courtyard area
- Epic Club Dining – open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In addition, in my view perhaps the most exciting innovation on the ship, the purpose designed Spiegel Tent – a combination dining and entertainment venue, named Cirque Dreams & Dinner. Here guest will dine while watching and being involved in the interactive show designed specifically for the Epic by Florida based Cirque Productions. The show is designed to change as the actions and reactions of the participating guests change.
Having seen a preview of this production, I am predicting that this will be one of the most in-demand experiences on the ship.
Including the combination of dining and entertainment in Cirque Dreams & Dinner, the entertainment scheduled for the Epic will raise the bar for competition with all the other cruise lines.
Though I think the Cirque Dreams & Dinner show may surprise as the biggest hit of all the entertainment onboard, the big name recognition of the Blue Man Group performing nightly, in a purpose built venue, will turn out to be reason enough for many to book this ship.
The ship will also feature the well known, and long running Las Vegas show, Legends in Concert, and the comedy of a troupe from Second City based out of Chicago. Add to those “big name acts”, the duelling pianos of Howling at Moon, a company with 14 locations throughout the United States performing in Headliners Lounge, and Fat Cats Lounge, where passengers can watch or jam with Jazz and Blues musicians, and the entertainment seems like it never stops. Nightlife on other ships may be incomparable to the Epic.
Last out of the shipyard of this trio of new builds will be Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. She’ll be a distinct diversion from both Sojourn and Epic, as a Premium brand in the larger ship market. At 86,700 gross tons, carrying 2106 passengers, she is less intimate than Seabourn’s Sojourn, and just a bit more than half the size of NCL’s Epic.
When she is christened in Venice, Italy on July 4, by Princess Margaret of the Netherlands she will be the 81st Holland America ship christened by a member of the Dutch Royal Family.
The original Nieuw Amsterdam was built in 1906, and sailed until 1932. In 1938 the New Amsterdam II joined Holland America‘s fleet. In 1983 Nieuw Amsterdam III carried on, carrying the torch of tradition for Holland America Cruise Lines.
For those who may not know, Nieuw Amsterdam was the former name of New York City. And now Nieuw Amsterdam IV has been built to epitomize the tradition of Holland America line, as well as the history of New York City. The interior design, from the New York skyline hanging down from the top of the Atrium, to the artwork throughout the ship will connect passengers to “the life” of New York City.
She will be the newest “Signature Class” ship, and she will continue to expand the innovative new features of her sister ship Eurodam, which was launched last year.
Holland America has always been known for some of the most generously sized cabins in the industry, and this will continue on Nieuw Amsterdam, with a vast array of cabins, spa suites and suites.
One of my favorite amenities on Holland America ships is the service of complimentary pre-dinner appetizers in the ship’s lounges. On the newest ship you’ll be able to enjoy this feature in the traditional Ocean Bar and the Crow’s Nest Bar, along with newer additions like the Explorer’s Lounge, Mix, the Piano Bar, Pinnacle Bar, Queen’s Lounge, or Silk Den Lounge.
The Nieuw Amsterdam will still offer traditional assigned dining in it’s Manhattan Dining Room, as well as an option for “As You Wish Dining in the Manhattan.
Several alternative restaurants are available on Nieuw Amsterdam. Including the complimentary Italian/Tuscan restaurant, Canaletto, on Lido Deck (open only for dinner, and reservations required. Additionally the ship will offer the Tamarind Restaurant, with Pan Asian cuisine. Dinner in Tamarind carries a service charge of $15 per person, but one can enjoy complimentary lunch there if they choose.
The tradition of the HAL’s Pinnacle Grille continues on the Nieuw Amsterdam. For a fee of $20 per person for dinner, or $11 per person for lunch, one can choose from a fabulous menu, served on Bvulgari China; drink from the finest Riedel stemware, set on Frette Linens.
With the Signatures of Excellence HAL introduced the Culinary Arts Center program, designed by Food and Wine Magazine, where guests can partake of demonstrations and class free of charge.
One of the most popular Signatures of Excellent programs continues on the Nieuw Amsterdam. That is the Digital Workshop powered by Microsoft. These classes and seminars are led by Microsoft trained “techspirts”. At no charge guests can learn how to take better digital pictures, or learn to use computers, social media sites, web use and all things Microsoft. These classes are set up for either beginners or more experienced computer users both.
While these are three very different ships, and as I said earlier, from different worlds, there is no reason, other than perhaps budget restraints, which should stop you from trying to sail on each of these ships.
There is absolutely no rule saying you wouldn’t enjoy each of these ships. In fact you may want to make experiencing the “different worlds” your dream.
With all the innovations in the cruise industry recently it is a really good time to be a cruiser!! All it takes is time and money, so I am heading out to buy that winning lottery ticket.
I’m delighted that I’ll be traveling to the
Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy July 2, and be one of just a few onboard as the Nieuw Amsterdam first leaves the shipyard and sails into Venice for her Christening ceremony. I’ll be sharing all those special moments with you here at CruiseMates.
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