As the end of 2014 approaches and we frantically panic prepare for next week, let's take a moment to reminisce on all of the things that made this year one of the most memorable for cruise.

With the cruise industry rapidly growing, it is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry. 21.3 million people cruised in 2013 and this number is expected to significantly increase for the end of 2014.

It wasn’t only the growth that made this year so phenomenal, 2014 saw us enjoy new ships, new destinations, incredible refurbishments and a host of breaking cruise news.

So, was 2014 the year for cruise? Let’s take a look…

January

'Kicking off the year in style'

As everyone packed away their decorations and set their New Year’s resolutions, the cruise industry wasted no time in starting the new year.

In time for the New Year festivities, P&O’s Arcadia revealed her multi-million pound refurbishment. Showcasing a host of new amenities, newly designed staterooms and the addition of a new 'East' restaurant, the adult-only ship was ready to excite guests once again.

In other news MSC Cruises announced they will sail to Asia and Australia for the first time in 2015, P&O Cruises revealed they will be adding a large union jack to the hull of all their ships and Carnival Cruise Lines released details on their new 'Concerts At Sea' programme.

My January highlight: Oceania’s first world cruise sold out in eight hours.

February

'Britannia starts to unveil'

The resolutions were already broken and everyone started to think about their 2014 summer holiday. As cruises were booking out fast and it was looking to be another busy year for the industry, the cruise lines kept whetting our appetites with more news.

It was announced the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas will be coming to Europe in 2015, P&O Cruises opened their upcoming Strictly Come Dancing cruises and Fred Olsen released details that Julian Lloyd Webber will perform onboard Braemar.

The most exciting announcements were those made by P&O Cruises as they finally revealed details about new ship, Britannia. Unveiling the 'Food Heroes' concept and the five celebrity chefs would be working together onboard.

My February highlight: The first plate of steel was cut for Carnival Vista.

March

'A race to be the best'

As temperatures started to rise and Spring was in sight, it appeared the cruise lines wanted to heat things up early and a host of cruise news came flooding in.

Although we were still in the first quarter of 2014, many of the lines started to release their big plans for 2015. It was announced 2015 will see Norwegian Cruise Lines largest ship, Norwegian Epic based year-round in Europe, Cunard will celebrate their 175th anniversary with their entire fleet docking in Liverpool together, Fred Olsen will explore the Arctic and Disney Cruise Line will sail from the UK.

It was also the month for Royal Caribbean to start revealing plans about their new Quantum-class ships, announcing they will have no main dining room and Jamie Oliver will have his first restaurant at sea.

An exciting milestone for Norwegian Cruise Line was met as the first piece of steel for Norwegian Escape was cut.

My March highlight: Sir Richard Branson confirmed he will enter the cruise industry with the launch of 'Virgin Cruises'.

April

'Five years since Oasis'

Spring arrived and it was the busiest month for booking as families, couples and singles put their deposits down on their yearly cruise. The Mediterranean was again a popular choice for families, however Asia and Australia bookings were also proving more popular.

Royal Caribbean announced new ship Quantum of the Seas will be based in China, as well as the news CATS will replace Hairspray on Oasis of the Seas.

My April highlight: Carnival Cruise Lines launched their new children’s programme.

May

'Confirmed rumours of new ships'

As the flowers were starting to bloom and we were in touching distance of summer, the cruise lines made some announcements to remind us once again why this industry is a constant excitement.

Royal Caribbean announced they will build a fourth Oasis-Class ship and MSC Cruises confirmed plans to build two revolutionary new ships.

After celebrating the Royal Rendezvous, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth began her multi-million pound refit. After her 16 day refurbishment in Hamburg, she returned with new single cabins, new restaurants, a newly designed casino and new sun awnings on the top deck.

My May highlight: Princess Cruises announced they will feature in a new documentary on ITV called 'The Cruise Ship' portraying what life is like onboard.

June

'Quantum details revealed'

Summer was in full swing and as thousands of us departed on our summer cruises, Royal Caribbean ensured the only think we were talking about was Quantum of the Seas. Throughout the month they released details of what can be expected onboard.

It was announced that there would be a revolutionary new entertainment venue called 'Two70' that will feature floor to ceiling windows that change from day to night. The Broadway show will be Mama Mia and a twenties Gatsby’s themed venue will also feature.

My June highlight: P&O Cruises revealed more about the dining features onboard Britannia, including cheese expert Charlie Turnball will join the five other celebrity chefs onboard.

July

'..and more new ships'

Soaring temperatures hit England, however this did not stop people setting sail for their ultimate summer getaway. Southampton saw thousands of cruisers boarding their ships for Mediterranean adventures and airports were busy with people flying to the likes of Florida and New York to join their ship.

Royal Caribbean continued to create intrigue around Quantum and Anthem of the Seas as they revealed more news about phenomenal technology onboard. Releasing videos about the new WOWbands, interactive screens and virtual balconies, they branded everything "this changes everything".

Cruise & Maritime announced they will introduce new ship Azores to the fleet in 2015. Norwegian Cruise Lines also revealed plans for two new ships and Princess Cruises revealed their plans for a third Royal-class ship.

My July highlight: Fred Olsen launched a Poison, Murder & Mystery cruise where guests can fully immerse themselves in a murder mystery at sea.

August

'The return of The Love Boat'

The month that sees the most sunlight, August had everyone is good spirits. While thousands of us were sipping cocktails on the pooldeck, the rest of us were enjoying days in beer gardens and family BBQ’s.

Princess Cruises revealed new ship Regal Princess will be named by the original cast of hit US television show, The Love Boat. After completing her summer season in the Mediterranean she will return to Fort Lauderdale for her naming celebrations.

P&O Cruises and Cunard launched world cruises. For the first time three Cunard ships and three P&O ships will set off on world voyages in 2016.

My August highlight: P&O Cruises announced Aurora will undergo a £26 million refit.

September

'Hello to the Northern Lights promise'

As we slowly started to wave goodbye to summer, we were not the only ones with chilly temperatures on our minds. Hurtigruten announced their 'Northern Lights Promise'. Never before offered, they launched a promise no other tour operator has ever offered. If guests do not see the Northern Lights, they will be given a free cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line agreed a multi-million deal to acquire Prestige Cruises, parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

My September highlight: Cunard revealed their latest line-up of guest speakers to include Ann Widdecombe and Michael Howard.

October

'LEGO, Hollywood Rocks and Elvis'

The heating was on and summer appeared a distant memory, luckily the cruise lines had a whole host of announcements to stop us feeling anxious about the winter.

Fred Olsen launched an Elvis Presley 80th birthday cruise, MSC Cruises partnered with LEGO and Cunard were commended for their incredible feedback on Queen Victoria’s performance of Hollywood Rocks.

Princess Cruises launched their new honeymoon registry system as well as announcing details for their 50th anniversary celebrations in November.

My October highlight: Princess revealed plans to bring their 50th anniversary celebrations to the whole fleet and will host celebratory parties on all ships.

November

'This changes everything'

As the mild winter continued and everywhere started to set up for Christmas, the cruise industry prepared for one of the most memorable moments of the year – the arrival of Quantum of the Seas.

After months of speculation and anticipation she arrived into Southampton ready for us to finally put pictures to life. She did not disappoint and living up up to her motto "this changes everything". With robotic bartenders, an indoor skydive, bumper cars and revolutionary dining – she received a thumbs up from all.

Shortly after Regal Princess was named in Miami following her successful season in Europe, Cruise and Maritime announced the addition of new ship Magellan and Fred Olsen revealed plans to refurbish three of their ships.

My November highlight: Norwegian Cruise Lines announced Norwegian Epic will debut new entertainment aimed at the European market as well as a Beatles Cavern Club.

December

'It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas'

As we put up the tree, search for gifts and indulge on the first mince pie, at the blink of an eye Christmas has arrived once again.

The month started with more new ship announcements. Luxury line Seabourn confirmed the order of another new ship set for delivery in 2018 and Celebrity Cruises revealed plans to build two new ships under the project name 'Edge' set to debut in 2018 and 2020.

Sir Richard Branson launched 'Virgin Cruises' and said he will "shake up the cruise industry" with two new purpose built ships.

My December highlight: P&O Cruises released 'The Great British Beer & Ale Menu' to feature on Britannia. It will be the largest selection of British beers at sea.


By Sally Grimes