2012 was an exciting year for the cruise industry as several new luxury cruise ships were launched to wow passengers during their extravagant vacations at sea. Some companies added to small fleets while others were outdoing, or revamping, previous models. But, whether guests are looking for historically themed voyages, foodie excursions, or over-the-top spa services, there are more than enough options for all.
The Riviera by Oceania Cruises
Last year, Oceania Cruises added another luxury vessel to its small fleet. Built in Italy by Fincantieri, The Riviera is a 1,250-passenger ship operating destination-focused cruises with stops in exotic locales like France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Israel, Croatia, Cyprus, Montenegro, Morocco, and Monaco. In addition to its worldwide itineraries, for those seeking a floating culinary experience, it offers 10 dining venues, including one overseen by Master Chef Jacques Pepin. The ship’s chefs can also be found giving cooking lessons in the Bon Appetite Culinary Center.
Guests will be sure to notice the opulent Lalique Grand Staircase and custom designed Italian chandelier in the main lobby. The décor in the 625 brand new suites and staterooms is comfortable, yet modern, with the upscale Vista and Oceania suites featuring unique, hand-picked furniture by designer Dakota Jackson. Select items from the Ralph Lauren Home collection grace the three, 2,000-square-foot Owner’s Suites.
(Photo Courtesy of Oceania Cruises)
Celebrity Reflection by Celebrity Cruises
Boasting three new types of suites, the German built Celebrity Reflection is the latest addition to Celebrity Cruises' Solstice-class luxury liners. Distinguishing it from earlier models are an expanded deck, 72 more staterooms, and extra seating and sun loungers. One of the most talked about amenities is the futuristically chic Reflection Suite and its all-glass shower suspended over the sea. Special features like reflective glass and a transparent-to-translucent switch ensure guest privacy while granting panoramic views.
In addition to a real grass lawn and the Lawn Club Grill where guests can BBQ, an ample spa area with a Persian Garden houses 15 open heated tile beds. Guests can experience a variety of sensations in the infrared sauna, shimmery cold room, aromatherapy shower, or DIY Scrub and Salt bars in which salts, sugar, and herbs are available to personally mix up. (Photo Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Queen of the Mississippi by ACL
For those wanting a little more than just relaxation from their liners, American Cruise Lines launched a historical experience with the Queen of the Mississippi. To help evoke the golden age of cruising, onboard is an authentic (and working) 19th century calliope. Built especially for the Mississippi River, the paddlewheel river boat offers 8-day cruises that enlighten passengers of the American Steamboat era. Holding only 150 guests in the largest staterooms on the Mississippi, this is an intimate journey back through time. (Photo Courtesy of ACL)
The Mississippi saw another addition year, when luxury steamboat the American Queen came out of retirement and was re-launched with $6 million in improvements. The largest steamboat ever built, she displays six colonial, white trellis decks, an impressive red paddle, and American Victorian design. Espousing Southern gentility, guests can read or play cards in the parlor or Mark Twain Gallery while sweet tea is served in the afternoon.
Informative lectures are provided by the onboard river historian, the Riverlorian. Over 25 itineraries focus on themes such as the Civil War, BBQ and Blues, and Elvis, with appropriate menus, stops, and musical selections during 3- to 10-day luxury excursions. (Photo Courtesy of American Queen)
Knowing how popular European river cruises have become, Viking River Cruises released four new ships in 2012, with more to be added over the next three years. Identical and named after Norse Gods, the Longships were introduced as a new series of opulently sleek crafts and will navigate 8- to 15-day routes like the ‘Tulips and Windmills’ and ‘Grand European Tour.’
Chosen by Cruise Critic editors as the 'Best New River Ship in 2012,' the boats feature eco-friendly cruising and 95 cabins. Two 445-square-foot Explorer Suites offer 270-degree views from a private, wraparound veranda, and seven Veranda Suites feature full-size verandas in the living rooms and French balconies in the bedrooms. Another prized amenity is the retractable glass door of the Aquavit Terrace, good for Europe’s inclement weather and sightseeing. In 2014, travelers can explore the famous winemaking regions of France with the 8-day ‘Châteaux, Rivers & Wine' itinerary. (Photo Courtesy of Viking River Cruises)
Silver Cloud by Silversea
Refreshing one of their luxury liners with an Italian makeover, Silversea completely renovated all of the suites and most of the interior spaces and exterior of their 18-year-old Silver Cloud. Floor-to-ceiling improvements include new artwork, carpets, and a calming, earth-tone color scheme. The Panorama Lounge displays new furniture, curtains, and wood floors, while dining areas have been redone for a more updated look. Increased seating can be found in La Terrazza and The Grill (where diners cook with superhot volcanic rocks), and new flooring and fabrics can be seen in The Restaurant and Le Champagne.
Most importantly for voyagers, the suites have been outfitted with new textiles and furniture in cozy, neutral palettes. Marble accents were added, as well as either a shower and tub, or a glass-enclosed shower. New mattresses, as well as Pratesi sheets, pillowcases and duvets make for an even more peaceful night's sleep. (Photo Courtesy of Silversea)
Lastly is the over-the-top, glitzy cruiser whose ambiance and size is befitting of the legendary star it was named after: Sophia Loren. The new MSC Divina is sailing the Mediterranean as the largest of the MSC fleet. Accommodating nearly 4,000 passengers in 1,637 cabins, amenities include a casino, infinity pool, dancefloor, and the exclusive MSC Yacht Club with its 24-hour butler service, private lounge and pool. The Aurea Spa offers Balinese massage, saunas, and Turkish baths, and there is also a “4-D” cinema and a Formula 1 simulator.
Guests can experience ultra-luxe settings like a real stone piazza and Broadway-size theater. Those staying in suite number 160007 will find themselves in the Sophia Loren Royal Suite, which has a replica of her dressing table. The star aided in its design, choosing the colors, carpet, and lamps so that while you may not be a celebrity, at least you can cruise like one. (Photo Courtesy of MSC)