Cruise notes: New ships, old ships, new features

Rendering of the popular Britannia Clun balcony staterooms being added to the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
Rendering of the popular Britannia Clun balcony staterooms being added to the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Cunard

With the cruise industry holding its annual convention this week in Fort Lauderdale, cruise lines got in line to announce new shipboard restaurants, features on new ships and changes on existing ships. Here’s a rundown:

▪ Cunard: Two of Cunard’s queens are getting additional staterooms and one will convert some existing cabins into new categories of staterooms. The architectural changes are more extensive work than ships get in a typical dry dock overhaul.

The Queen Mary 2 will go into dry dock May 27, when it will get 30 additional Britannia Club Staterooms and 15 new single staterooms, bringing the ship up to 1,355 staterooms. To provide space, the casino will be shrunk, the photo gallery will be moved, and some outdoor deck space will be rearranged. In addition, the kennel for cats and dogs will be expanded, and some suites will get a makeover.

On the Queen Victoria, which goes into dry dock in June 2017, 39 balcony staterooms will be converted to Britannia Club Staterooms. In addition, the back of the ship will be extended to create a similar look to Queen Elizabeth, and in the newly created space, 30 Britannia staterooms will be added, bringing the total staterooms to 1,034.

“The changes being made are a direct response to our discerning passengers increasing desire for space and style, and to meet their rising expectations of luxury,” stated David Noyes, Cunard CEO.

▪ Norwegian Cruise Line: Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s private island port in Belize, will have beach villas, a large pool area with cabanas, a variety of aerial activities including zip lining, water sports in the lagoon and a shopping village. The port call will have an eco flavor, with manatee observation tours, an aviary with a breed and release program for Scarlet Macaws, butterfly garden and educational center.

The cruise line is building the new port a mile off the coast near Placencia. It will have a cruise ship pier so that passengers can walk directly off the ship onto land and won’t have to be tendered, and a large marina. It also will have a variety of places to eat, although all will cost extra, unlike most cruise lines’ private islands and beaches. Harvest Caye, originally scheduled to open in mid-February, is now scheduled to open in November.

▪ Crystal Cruises, which branched out into luxury yachting in December, has ordered the world’s first purpose-built polar-class yacht to cruise polar regions. Steel-cutting on Crystal’s first-ever expedition yacht, the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, will begin in May in Bremerhaven, Germany, and it will debut in August 2018.

The Crystal Endeavor, named after Capt. James Cook’s research ship, HMS Endeavor, will cruise in the Arctic, the Americas and Europe, then Antarctica in winter. It will offer extreme adventures and be equipped with helicopters, small submarines, Zodiacs, kayaks, fishing equipment, dive equipment and a recompression chamber, underwater scooters and more.

▪ Regent Seven Seas Explorer, debuting in July in Europe, then moving to Miami at the end of the year, will have a portfolio of four new shows for its Constellation Theater. They are an homage to the American jazz and popular music crooner, Peggy Lee; the Burn the Floor dance revue that takes the audience back to Beatlemania and the British Invasion; Paradis, a bawdy burlesque; and A Day in Hollywood, a Tony Award-winning show featuring classic movie tunes. Regent says the new ship will be the first to show off the line’s investment in upgraded entertainment on all its ships.

Several lines announced new shipboard restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs:

▪ Guy Fieri, who already has a burger joint on about half of Carnival’s fleet, will open a BBQ joint on four ships. First to get Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse was Carnival Magic during a recent dry dock. Carnival Vista, a new ship scheduled to do Caribbean cruises out of PortMiami starting in November, will also have Smokehouse, and it will be added to Carnival Dream and Carnival Breeze in 2017.

▪ Roy Yamaguchi — restaurateur, cookbook author and former TV chef — will introduce a pan-Asian restaurant on the under-construction MSC Seaside, which will home port in Miami year-round starting in December 2017. In addition to a menu developed by Yamaguchi, the restaurant will include a sushi, sashimi, and raw bar, as well as a space with teppanyaki grills

▪  Thomas Keller, a three Michelin star chef who already develops menus for Seabourn, will have his own restaurant on the line’s ships. Keller’s American chophouse-inspired The Grill will debut on the Seabourn Quest after the ship’s refurbishment in May and on each ship thereafter, including the line’s new Seabourn Encore, launching in December.