The New Year has arrived, the mince pies have all been eaten and it's time to take a look into the horizon. 2011 has all the potential to be another exciting year in the world of cruising with new ships, innovations and destinations the main highlights.
New Ships For 2011
2010 may be seen as the 'year of the cruise ship', having bought us the impressive Allure of the Seas, the elegant Queen Elizabeth, the stunning Celebrity Eclipse, the Azura and the entertaining Norwegian Epic. 2011 may be in the shadows of a huge year for cruise ships but we still have a 4,000 passenger Disney ship, a new intimate P&O Cruises offering, a sister ship from Celebrity Cruises and Oceania Cruises' latest country club offering.
The Disney Dream is the ship everyone is talking about for 2011, it's the first ship Disney have built in a decade and at 130,000 tonnes, 4,000 passengers and nearly 1,500 crew and is by far their largest. With Royal Caribbean enjoying their partnership with DreamWorks, Disney are stepping up their game in an attempt to stamp their authority on the family-themed market. For example Disney have designed the most incredible water slide at sea, they have HD cameras screening images throughout the ship and of course there is Mickey Mouse.
Having brought us the Ventura and Azura in the last couple of years P&O Cruise have gone down a different route for 2011 with their latest ship the Adonia. She may be a completely refurbished Princess Cruises ship, but she offers a welcome retreat for those looking for a more intimate, almost boutique experience and small, less accessible ports. The ship may be smaller but P&O Cruises are promising their usual high standards in food, service and entertainment.
Oceania Cruises may be relatively new to the British market, having joined forces with Iglu Cruise earlier this year, but they are taking the club cruising market by storm. They prefer the tag line of 'country club casual' opposed to luxury, yet boast the finest food budget and Egyptian cotton at sea and their newest offering the Marina will surely be one of the classiest ships in it's class.
Sister ship of the Celebrity Eclipse the Celebrity Silhouette is the next offering in the Solstice class. Boasting some new venues along with the current favourites we are looking forward to more of the same superb standards, with some subtle differences and different itineraries.
The Costa Favolosa is another sister ship, set to follow on from the Costa Pacifica and Costa Serena. The latest offering in Carnival's Italian-style cruise line boasts a real Mediterranean feel and a fantastic selection of onboard innovations. With a 4D Theatre, Grand Prix Simulator and Playstation World to add to the superb entertainment already offered by Costa, the Favolosa looks like a winner. Throw in speciality dining with menus from Michelin-starred chef Ettore Boccia and you have one of the most exciting ships in European cruising.
Destinations for 2011
This year we are also looking forward to some pretty exciting new destinations, departure ports and new ships in old destinations. Here are a few of our favourites.
Monaco F1 Grand Prix
Azamara got the ball rolling with their four day F1 cruise to the French Riviera, taking in race day in Monaco, St. Tropez and the stunning port of Portofino. Okay so the cruise doesn't include tickets to the race but offers a superb way of enjoying the race weekend and includes an overnight in Monaco to enjoy the post-race party atmosphere.
Back in October last year MSC Cruises announced a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority that will see the world's fastest growing cruise line using Abu Dhabi as a home port in 2011. From October 2011 the MSC Lirica will be based out of the new cruise terminal for the winter season, offering 19 cruises over five destinations in the region.
Freedom of the Seas & Harry Potter
Okay, so the Freedom of the Seas cruise & stay holidays to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter may have started in 2010, but with Freedom of the Seas updates and Harry Potter's constant growth in popularity, these deals are an exciting prospect for summer 2011. Combining a cruise to the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas with a world class theme park.
Again Alaska is hardly a new destination but 2011 will see Disney Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises' first forays into the region. Add in more ships than ever and there are bound to be some superb offers to North America's most stunning coastline.
With the huge growth in ships over the last couple of years everyone from Thomson Cruises to Princess Cruises have seen the sizes of their ships growing. This has seen itineraries taking in larger more accessible ports. 2011 will be all about the smaller ships to more unique destinations. P&O Cruises have added their smallest ship in years with the Adonia and both Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania Cruises have seen the popularity of their country club cruising growing in the UK. With ports such as Portofino and Monte Carlo more accessible to these ships, those looking for something a little different and a little calmer will have a wealth of choice for 2011.
All in all 2010 was the year of the cruise ship but 2011 looks like the year of the new cruiser. There are more options then ever, from 650 to 7,000 capacity ships, new and revisited destinations available to suit all tastes. If you were thinking of trying your first cruise, booking another cruise or coming back to cruising after a break, 2011 is the year to do it.