Cruise lines continue to harness the power of a well-known name to beef up their onboard and shoreside options in hopes of drawing new guests and exciting loyal passengers.
During several announcements Wednesday at the cruise industry’s largest annual gathering, Seatrade Cruise Global, cruise lines revealed upcoming enhancements to their culinary and destination offerings:
▪ Geneva-based MSC Cruises, which has a U.S. office in Fort Lauderdale, is partnering with celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi to create a pan-Asian restaurant — and travelers sailing from Miami will get to try it first. The restaurant will be available on the line’s new MSC Seaside, which starts sailing in December 2017 out of PortMiami to itineraries in the Caribbean.
It’ll be a first for Miamian travelers — Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian fusion restaurant, Roy’s Restaurant, has 30 locations, six in Florida, but none in South Florida. The ship’s restaurant will include a space with a teppanyaki grill and a sushi, sashimi and raw bar. Meals at the onboard restaurant will be available at an extra cost.
MSC has three other culinary partnerships with two-star Michelin chef Carlo Cracco, French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury and Chinese chef Jereme Leung. The line’s focus in offering multiple culinary options is reflected in the configuration of the Seaside.
“We are developing exciting new dining options on board MSC Seaside, with nine eateries featuring cuisines from all around the world including [Yamaguchi’s restaurant], a luxury fish restaurant with a chef’s table and a world class international steak house where the beef will dry age on board,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC.
▪ Seabourn, Carnival Corporation’s luxury line, is drumming up both its culinary and beverage options with two high-profile names: three Michelin-star chef Thomas Keller and mixologist Brian van Flandern.
The cruise line, which already has Keller-created menus in dining venues aboard its three ships, is strengthening its partnership with the renowned chef.
Keller’s new restaurant, 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. Guests get one complimentary dinner at The Grill included in their cruise fare.
Van Flandern, Keller’s former mixologist and a guest star on Spike’s Bar Rescue, will add his exclusive drinks menu, designed for the cruise line, to Seabourn’s guest offerings.
▪ Norwegian Cruise Line aims to improve guests’ shoreside experiences as well. NCL is partnering with the tourism board of Belize to develop a unique Central American port.
The cruise line has curated an island destination on the southern coast of Belize, called Harvest Caye, with a wide range of excursions, from 11 high-end beachside villas to a high-energy zip line from the top of a lighthouse over a saltwater lagoon.
“We believe we are developing a private destination that will be a really premier way of visiting the destination of Belize,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Harvest Caye will bring tourism back to an area of Belize that needs the business, said Manuel Heredia Jr., minister of tourism and civil aviation in the Central American nation.
“We believe this will have great impact on the south of Belize which has been considered [one of] the poorest [areas] and, some believe, the forgotten ones,” Heredia said.
The features at the new stop, available on all of the line’s western Caribbean itineraries as of November, were built around an eco-friendly focus, Stuart said.
We believe we are developing a private destination that will be a really premier way of visiting the destination of Belize.
Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line
Jet Skis won’t be allowed on the island’s waterways, but manatee observation tours and visits to the island’s aviary to see endangered scarlet macaws and toucans will be options for environmentally minded cruisers.
▪ The Japan-based nonprofit organization Peace Boat plans to build the “world’s most sustainable ship,” a 2,000-passenger “Ecoship” with a hull form inspired by the body of a whale, it was announced at Wednesday’s conference. The move comes as cruise lines attempt to incorporate eco features in each part of the cruising experience: Peace Boat is building an entire vessel around the concept.
The vessel would feature 10 retractable solar panel sails and wind generators that pop up over the top of the ship, resembling the fins of a lionfish.
“The time is right for this ship: Post-Paris [climate change conference], there is an incredible momentum for sustainable change,” said Yoshioka Tatsuya, founder and director of Peace Boat. “We know that our passengers want to do more to make a positive impact on the planet.”
If the ship concept comes to fruition, it will be swimming across the high seas in 2020.