Constructing the future of cruise shipping

Now that some degree of certainty is returning to the shipbuilding industry, a range of innovative new vessel designs are set to be constructed in the coming years, while existing ship series will continue to evolve. Alex Smith reports

Constructing the future of cruise shipping

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Prima will be the first ship in Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Prima-class

The upcoming cruise order book sees the continuation of several cruise line’s flagship series, with the latest iteration of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class ships, Wonder of the Seas, sailing her inaugural cruise in March following her delivery by French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique at the end of January.  

She overtakes her sister ship Symphony of the Seas to become the largest cruise vessel in the world, with capacity for a total of 6,988 guests and 2,300 crew. Wonder of the Seas features eight neighbourhoods, with the new Suite Class neighbourhood offering the private restaurant Coastal Kitchen, a suite lounge, the line’s biggest Ultimate Family Suite for 10 people, and an elevated Suite Sun Deck with a plunge pool, a bar and sun loungers.  

“Wonder of the Seas will energise cruising in a bolder and bigger way,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “Adding this ship to our already best-in-class fleet elevates the company in continuing to lead the industry with new features and innovation. This is one more way that we’re delivering world-class and memorable vacations, responsibly, to guests around the world.” 

Emerald Cruises introduced the first of its new luxury ships, Emerald Azzurra, this March. Measuring 110 metres in length, Emerald Azzurra has capacity for just 100 guests, who will have the choice of three restaurants and bars, including a poolside café. The ship also features an onboard wellness area with a spa, gym and sauna. A second ship, Emerald Sakara, is scheduled to be completed in 2023. 

New British cruise line Swan Hellenic will welcome its second cruise ship SH Vega in April 2022 following her completion by Helsinki Shipyard in Finland. The 152-guest ship, named after the first ship to cross the Arctic Northeast Passage, incorporates a Polar Class 5 ice-strengthened hull and will sail to destinations including the islands of Scotland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and the remote Svalbard Archipelago. 

Meanwhile, Viking Expeditions will introduce its second ship, Viking Polaris, in the summer. Currently under construction at the VARD shipyard in Søviknes, Norway, she will feature public spaces designed specifically for expedition cruising. These will include The Hanger, an in-ship marina that will allow guests to embark on rigid inflatable boats, and the Laboratory, a research area in which an onboard team of scientists will carry out studies. All staterooms onboard the ship will include a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows which can be converted into a viewing platform by lowering the top of the panoramic glass.  

In the river cruise sector, American Cruise Lines will take delivery of its newest ship and the fifth ship in its modern riverboat series, American Symphony, in summer 2022 from Chesapeake Shipbuilding. She will feature the updated interior design by Miami-based firm Studio DADO which first appeared on her predecessor American Melody, inspired by the geography of America and highlighting natural textual elements and relaxing colour palettes. American Symphony will also feature a four-storey glass atrium, along with an onboard fitness centre and several lounges. The ship will have capacity for 175 guests and is to begin sailing along the Mississippi River in the summer of 2022. American Cruise Lines has also begun work on a series of 12 new coastal cruise ships, with the first ships due for delivery in 2023. (Read more on page 64). 

Virgin Voyages’ third ship Resilient Lady will also be making her debut in the summer, following her scheduled delivery from Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard on 1 July 2022. The 110,000gt ship will offer two seven-night Mediterranean itineraries sailing from Piraeus, Greece. Like her sister ships, 93 per cent of Resilient Lady’s cabins will offer ocean views, with 86 per cent including a balcony. She will also not feature a traditional main dining room, instead offering venues such as Korean barbecue restaurant Gunbae, The Galley food hall and Mediterranean restaurant The Dock House, among many others. 

Norwegian Cruise Line will be launching its new Prima-class with the debut of Norwegian Prima. The ship, currently undergoing interior work at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera, Italy, will be 965 feet long, 142,500gt and have capacity for 3,215 guests at double occupancy. According to Norwegian, she will feature the most outdoor deck space of any newbuild, with the Ocean Boulevard wrapping around the entire deck over 44,000 square feet and offering several alfresco dining options. Meanwhile, The Haven, Norwegian’s exclusive ‘ship-within-a-ship’ suite complex, will be spread over eight decks and located at the aft of the vessel for the first time. 

“Our 18th ship, Norwegian Prima represents an exciting new chapter for our brand and the first vessel to be delivered in our groundbreaking new Prima-class,” said Harry Sommer, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We’ve worked closely with our partners at Fincantieri to deliver a truly remarkable vessel. Their passion, skill and craftsmanship has brought to life one of the most stylish and innovative ships to ever set sail.” 

Finally, Disney Wish will be the first new ship for Disney Cruise Line in a decade when she begins sailing in summer 2022 following her construction by Meyer Werft shipyard. The ship has been designed by Walt Disney Imagineering around the concept of ‘enchantment’ and will feature a central Grand Hall inspired by the film Cinderella, with three-storey columns, a hanging chandelier and a bronze statue of Cinderella set to decorate the space. Disney will also debut a new salon, a selection of new bars, and a ‘Disney Uncharted Adventure’ interactive experience onboard the ship. 

“Enchantment is about unlocking the wonder in everything we do and experience,” said Laura Cabo, portfolio creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. “For Disney Wish, we are creating a signature design language that exudes this emotional magic like only Disney can, by infusing every inch of this enchanted ship with more Disney stories and characters than ever before. Disney Wish will be a place where families really do get to wish upon a star.” 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
29 March 2022