Waves of the Future: Cruises of '99
By Carolyn Spencer Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 4, 1998
In 1999, the cruise industry is launching at least a dozen new ships with a combined capacity of nearly 30,000 passengers--part of a growth spurt that began in 1997 and is projected to last at least through 2001.
What's interesting about the industry's growth today--as opposed to the last big spurt in the late '80s and early '90s, when companies all built ships of similar size and with similar amenities--is that cruise lines are building more distinctive vessels than before. Disney's new Magic, Carnival's Destiny, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, Princess's Grand Princess and Holland America's Rotterdam are all prototype ships, with unique design.
Recycling continues as well, as smaller companies continue to buy outdated ships from the mass market lines and retool them slightly, then price them for the budget passenger. The luxury market is growing, too, building comparatively small ships. But even they are getting bigger; Windstar's Wind Surf, a reincarnation of the former Club Med I, is almost three times the size of its other three ships.
Here's a list of the major cruise lines, their itineraries and what to expect in the coming year (all Web sites begin with http://):
American Hawaii Cruises
Ship: S.S. Independence
Itinerary: Hawaii year-round
Details: The S.S. Independence, built in 1950 and refurbished last year, offers a traditional cruise--there's no casino, no disco and no in-stateroom TVs. Voyages are three, four and seven days. There's a marked emphasis on integrating Hawaiian culture into the cruise experience. The line has long-term plans for expansion--the first of two new cruise ships will debut in five years.
Contact: 1-800-543-7637, www.cruisehawaii.com
Ships: Harald Jarl, Kong Harald, Lofoten, Midnatsol, Narvik, Nordkapp, Nordlys, Nordnorge, Polarlys, Richard With and Vesteralen
Itinerary: Norway year-round
Details: Bergen Line Inc. is the North American marketing arm of Norwegian Coastal Voyages. Ships are small (12,000 tons, 479 passengers maximum) and carry cargo as well as passengers. The line's ships represent three vintages: Two were built in the 1960s, three in the '80s, six in the '90s. All target smaller coastal villages and ports; itineraries are six- or seven-day 1,250-mile north-south voyages.
Contact: 1-800-323-7436, www.bergenline.com
Carnival Cruise Lines
Ships: Carnival Destiny, Celebration, Ecstasy, Elation, Fantasy, Fascination, Holiday, Imagination, Inspiration, Jubilee, Paradise, Sensation, Tropicale
Itineraries: Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal
Details: That Carnival is introducing new concepts like "Children's World" facilities, conference centers and an entirely smoke-free ship (Paradise, due in November) is evidence of its evolution from the cruise line mostly likely to be named "wild and wacky Club Med of the Seas" to one that's gone firmly mainstream.
New in 1999: The Carnival Triumph, sister ship to the 101,000-ton Destiny, launches in July. Inaugural itineraries include New England/Canada (from NYC) before repositioning in the Caribbean for winter sailings.
Contact: 1-800-438-6744, www.carnival.com
Ships: Century, Galaxy, Horizon, Mercury, Zenith
Itineraries: Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda, Panama Canal, Europe
Details: Celebrity is now owned by Royal Caribbean and is marketed as one step up from a "mass market" cruise line. Celebrity has earned distinction for its cuisine.
Contact: 1-800-437-3111, www.celebrity-cruises.com
Clipper Cruise Line
Ships: Clipper Adventurer, Nantucket Clipper, Yorktown Clipper
Itineraries: Great Lakes, Canadian Maritimes, Chesapeake Bay, Sacramento River, Sea of Cortez, Alaska, Caribbean, Greenland, Antarctica
Details: A small-ship line whose vessels carry just over 100 passengers, Clipper Cruise Line focuses less on glamorous entertainment and dining and more on unusual waterways and destinations. The Clipper Adventurer, a Russian vessel built in 1975, is the latest acquisition and is heading to offbeat destinations such as Greenland.
Contact: 1-800-325-0010, www.clippercruise.com
Commodore Cruise Line
Ships: Enchanted Isle, Enchanted Capri
Itineraries: Caribbean, Mexico, Key West
Details: Traditional cruising for budget-minded passengers, the folks at Commodore classify the line's cruise experience as "traditional." What that means is it carries fewer passengers (600 to 700) than the industry's newer ships and lacks their frills.
Contact: 1-800-237-5361, www.commodorecruise.com
Costa Cruise Lines
Ships: CostaAllegra, CostaClassica, CostaMarina, Costa Riviera, CostaRomantica, CostaVictoria
Itineraries: Caribbean, Mediterranean, Greece, Holy Land, Black Sea, Scandinavia, Russia, South America, transatlantic
Details: Costa is based in Europe. Just two Costa ships call in at U.S. ports--its newest, the CostaRomantica and the CostaVictoria, sail Caribbean itineraries; these vessels aim at the relatively hip, cost-conscious American cruiser. Costa, now majority-owned by Carnival, is one of Europe's best-known mass market cruise lines.
Contact: 1-800-445-8020, www.costacruises.com
Ships: Crystal Harmony, Crystal Symphony
Itineraries: Mediterranean, Baltic, South America, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, Panama Canal, New England, Canada, Bermuda, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, northern Europe, South Pacific, Asia, Middle East
Details: Crystal's twin 940-passenger ships cater to the elegant-yet-big cruise ship market. In 1999, Crystal is introducing theme cruises, ranging from big band to jazz to alternative health and fitness.
Ships: Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit, Seabourn Legend, Queen Elizabeth 2, Royal Viking Sun, Sea Goddess I, Sea Goddess II, Vistafjord
Itineraries: Mediterranean, New England, Bermuda, Scandinavia, Ireland/Scotland, transatlantic, south Pacific, Panama Canal, Caribbean, Far East, South Pacific, South America, Russia
Details: In May, Carnival Corporation, half-owner of Seabourn, acquired Cunard and bought the rest of Seabourn, then merged the two companies together. The new Cunard Line Ltd. consists of the three Seabourn ships and the five Cunard vessels.
Contact: Cunard (1-800-528-6273, www.cunardline.com) and Seabourn (415-391-7444, www.seabourn.com)
Delta Queen Steamboat Co.
Ships: American Queen, Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen
Itineraries: Mississippi River, Ohio, Tennessee, the Cumberland River, the Red River, the Illinois River--all of heartland America, as far east as Pittsburgh, north as St. Paul, west as Galveston, Tex., south as New Orleans.
Details: The only major U.S. flag cruise line (the company also owns American Hawaii), its three ships are steam-powered paddle wheelers that hold 174 to 436 passengers. Itineraries range from three to 14 nights. The company's known for an affinity for theme cruises ranging from the Civil War to Elvis. Delta Queen is expanding its range by adding a series of diesel-powered, 225-passenger ships designed for coastal itineraries. The first of five planned vessels launches in 2000.
Contact: 1-800-543-7637, www.deltaqueen.com
Disney Cruise Line
Ship: Disney Magic
Details: Disney Magic, the cornerstone of the company's new cruise line, offers three- and four-day Bahamas voyages in characteristic otherworldly Disney-esque fashion. The ship, obviously, is geared to families and cruise packages tie in a visit to Disney World. Disney's trying also to market Magic as an adult cruise line to fill it up when during non-holiday, non-school vacation periods. The ship docks at Port Canaveral, about an hour's journey from Walt Disney World.
New in 1999: Disney Wonder, sister ship to the Magic, is expected to begin cruising next fall--though, if the thrice-postponed launching of Magic is any sign, its debut may well be delayed. Disney Wonder will also sail three and four day itineraries to the Bahamas.
Contact: 1-800-939-2784, www.disneycruise.com
First European Cruises
Ships: The Azur, Bolero, Flamenco
Itineraries: Europe, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Canary Islands, Holy Land
Details: Founded in 1994, this line operates exclusively in Europe. First European offers mid-size cruise liners--maximum 802 passengers, at 17,042 tons. Cruises primarily are seven-day voyages departing from Italian and German ports.
New in 1999: The Mistral, due in July, will be the line's biggest yet, weighing 48,000 tons and carrying 1,200 passengers. It will sail the Greek Isles from its port in Venice.
Contact: 1-888-983-8767, www.first-european.com.
Holland America Line
Ships: Maasdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Rotterdam, Ryndam, Statendam, Veendam, Westerdam
Itineraries: Mexico, Hawaii, transatlantic, Panama Canal, Caribbean, New England, Canada, Alaska, Europe, Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Russia, Far East, world, southeast Asia, South America, British Isles
Details: The industry's oldest cruise line, Holland America is resolute in sticking with its mid-size ocean liners with a passenger capacity of 1,200 to 1,440. Its ships are traditional with an impressive array of 1990s-style amenities, such as alternative dining and private verandas. Its art collections are also noteworthy.
New in 1999: Volendam, due in late summer, will sail Canada/New England through the fall, then reposition to the Caribbean for the winter.
Contact: 1-800-426-0327, www.hollandamerica.com
Mediterranean Shipping Cruises
Ships: Melody, Monterey, Rhapsody, Symphony
Itineraries: Mediterranean, Caribbean, South America, South Africa
Details: Mediterranean Shipping Cruises, which specializes in port-intensive cruises (an 11-night West Indies itinerary stops in seven ports), was founded in 1990. Its ships are mid-size; at 35,000 tons, the 1,000-passenger Melody is its largest.
Contact: 1-800-666-9333, www.msccruisesusa.com
Norwegian Cruise Line
Ships: Leeward, Norway, Norwegian Crown, Norwegian Dream, Norwegian Dynasty, Norwegian Majesty, Norwegian Sea, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Wind
Itineraries: Canada/New England, Caribbean, South America, Mediterranean, Alaska, Europe, Bermuda, Hawaii, Bahamas, Mexico, Panama Canal, transatlantic
Details: A mass market cruise line, Norwegian competes with Carnival and Royal Caribbean but lacks their flair.
New in 1999: Norwegian Sky is expected to debut in late summer. A big ship for this line of mid-size vessels, Sky will carry 1,800 passengers. In summer and fall it will sail to Canada/New England from its port in Boston, then reposition to Miami for a winter schedule in the Caribbean.
Contact: 1-800-327-7030, http://www.ncl.com
Ship: Marco Polo
Itineraries: India, Egypt, South Pacific, Antarctica, Mediterranean
Details: The Marco Polo, built in 1965 as a Russian icebreaker, then gutted and renovated in 1991, features exotic itineraries and destination-intensive voyages ranging from 12 to 26 days. Generally, cruises come with a vacation package, which includes pre- or post-voyage hotel stays. Orient was recently acquired by Norwegian Cruise Lines, which has pledged to operate it autonomously.
New in 1999: Norwegian is planning to shift one of its existing liners over to the Orient line.
Contact: 954-527-6660, www.orientlines.com
Ships: IslandBreeze, OceanBreeze, Oceanic (Big Red Boat), Rembrandt, SeaBreeze, Seawind Crown
Itineraries: Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, Canada/New England, Mediterranean.
Details: A local travel agent describes Premier's fleet as "the used-car lot of the cruise industry" because the line buys older, mid-size ships that the major cruise lines are casting off--for instance, Holland America's Rotterdam is now Premier's Rembrandt. Premier offers cruises for the budget-minded traveler.
Contact: 1-800-992-4299, www.premiercruises.com
Ships: Crown Princess, Dawn Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Sea Princess (due December), Sky Princess, Sun Princess
Itineraries: Africa, Alaska, South Pacific, Canada, New England, Panama Canal, Caribbean, Far East, Hawaii, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Europe, Mediterranean, South America, Scandinavia, Holy Land, Africa, India, Costa Rica, South America, Australia/New Zealand, world
Details: Princess has never met a passenger--or itinerary--it didn't like, which gives it "broadest possible range" status. Its ships range in size from the 600-passenger Pacific Princess to the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess. It's an all-around line geared at pleasing middle America, and it tries hard to accommodate both the older cruiser, who wants traditional fare like afternoon tea and on-board lecture programs, along with glitzier stuff, like 24-hour pizzerias and elaborate discos, desired by the nontraditional passengers.
New in 1999: Ocean Princess, sister ship to the Sun, Dawn and Sea Princesses, is scheduled for a late 1999 launch.
Contact: 1-800-774-6237, www.princesscruises.com
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
Ships: Radisson Diamond, Song of Flower, Paul Gauguin, Hanseatic, Bremen
Itineraries: South and Central America, Panama Canal, Antarctica, Bering Sea, Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Scandinavia, Northwest Passage, Australia/New Zealand, Tahiti, Russian Far East, Middle East, Orient, transatlantic, world
Details: This line consists of three small, elegant destination-oriented vessels--Radisson Diamond, Song of Flower and Paul Gauguin--and two adventure-expedition ships, the Hanseatic and Bremen.
New in 1999: In July, the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator will debut.
Contact: 1-800-333-3333, www.rssc.com
Ship: Regal Empress
Itineraries: Caribbean, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Grand Cayman, Key West, Bermuda, Bahamas, Canada/New England, South America, Newfoundland
Details: Regal Cruises was created in 1993. The 22,000 ton Regal Empress was built in 1953 and most recently refurbished last year. It carries 1,180 passengers. The line emphasizes unusual itineraries, such as a 58-night Cruise of the Americas with 25 ports of call.
Contact: 1-800-270-7245, www.regalcruises.com
Ships: Renaissance VI, Renaissance VII, Renaissance VIII, R-1
Itineraries: Mediterranean, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa
Details: Until this summer, Renaissance vessels focused on yacht-style cruising (its Renaissance VI, VII and VIII hold just 118 passengers each). But with the introduction of the R-1, a 696-passenger cruise ship designed to compete with premium lines, it's moved into the mainstream cruise marketplace. Eventually, three more R series ships will be added. Cruise prices include air fare and pre- and post-voyage hotel stays.
New in 1999: The R-3 and R-4 will be launched in April and October, respectively. Both will be based in French Polynesia.
Contact: 1-800-525-5350, www.rencruises.com.
Royal Caribbean International
Ships: Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas, Nordic Empress, Rhapsody of the Seas, Sovereign of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Viking Serenade, Vision of the Seas
Itineraries: Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, Far East, Bermuda, Europe, Scandinavia, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal
Details: If a cruise line could be a rock star, it would be Royal Caribbean. RCCL has the industry's newest fleet and its hippest options--for instance, when Voyager of the Seas debuts next year, it will feature such things as a rock climbing wall, ice rink and atrium-view cabins.
New in 1999: The aforementioned 142,000-ton Voyager of the Seas (which easily surpasses the Grand Princess, currently the industry's biggest ship) is due out in November.
Contacts: 1-800-327-6700, www.royalcaribbean.com
Royal Olympic Cruises
Ships: Odysseus, Olympic Countess, Orpheus, Stella Oceanis, Stella Solaris, Triton, World Renaissance
Itineraries: Mediterranean, Holy Land, Black Sea, South America, Panama Canal.
Details: Royal Olympic Cruises was formed in 1995 by merging Sun Line and Epirotiki.
Contacts: 1-800-872-6400, www.royalolympiccruises.com
Ships: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind
Itineraries: New England/Canada, Caribbean, South America, Africa, Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Baltic Sea, Southeast Asia, Australia/New Zealand, India, transatlantic
Details: Silversea promises the ultra-elegant experience on its two small ships--each one is 16,800 tons and carries just 296 passengers. What makes this line different from other high-end small-ship cruise lines is its all-inclusive price structure. In this plan, the air fares, wine and pre- and post-voyage stays are all included in the tab. A new ship--which will be the line's largest at 25,000 tons and a 396-passenger capacity--is scheduled for debut in July 2000.
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
Ships: Fantome, Flying Cloud, Legacy, Mandalay, Polynesia, Yankee Clipper, Amazing Grace
Details: Windjammer's ships, which carry 66 to 128 passengers, are true sailing vessels. Its cruises appeal to a young, more active passenger who is invited--but not required--to help sail the ship.
Contact: 1-800-327-2601, www.windjammer.com.
Ships: Wind Song, Wind Spirit, Wind Star, Wind Surf
Itineraries: French Polynesia, Central America, Caribbean, transatlantic, Panama Canal
Details: Windstar's fleet are sailing ships (though sails are operated electronically). Windstar's ships are intimate (ranging from 148 to 312 passengers) and "casually elegant."
Contacts: 1-800-258-7245, www.windstarcruises.com.