The New Crop of Cruise Ships – Other Cruise News: 100th Anniversary of Florida’s First Cruises – Tere Moana Is Christened in St Martin

by Kevin Griffin

This year and next see the introduction of four major new classes of cruise ship. First to arrive, in 2013, will be Norwegian Breakaway, first of a pair from Meyer Werft, and Royal Princess, first of another pair from Fincantieri, both of which will debut in Southampton. In 2014, these will be followed by Mein Schiff 3, first of a pair from STX Finland for the German market, and an as yet unnamed ship from Meyer Werft for Royal Caribbean International, known only as “Project Sunshine.” Most will not realize it, but today marks the 100th anniversary of the first cruises offered from Florida, when the original Evangeline sailed from Key West on her maiden cruise, the first of eight to Panama, Jamaica and Cuba. Finally, Paul Gauguin Cruises christened its latest addition, the 90-guest Tere Moana, in St Martin at the end of 2012.

THIS WEEK’S STORY

The New Crop of Cruise Ships

This year and next will see the introduction of four new classes of cruise ship, the first of a new crop. Two of these designs, the new TUI Cruises ships from STX Finland and Project Sunshine for Royal Caribbean International from Meyer Werft, are for the Royal Caribbean group. Of the others, the Norwegian Breakaway, also from Meyer Werft, will be for Norwegian Cruise Line, and the Royal Princess, from Fincantieri, for Carnival Corp & PLC. Here is a basic comparison of the new ship classes, at least two of which have so far been ordered of each design:

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: a basic comparison of the new ship classes

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: a basic comparison of the new ship classes

The first to be delivered, Norwegian Breakaway, will undertake her maiden voyage, a Transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York, on April 30. At New York, she will become the largest ship to be based there year-round, cruising to Bermuda by summer, the Bahamas and Florida in the autumn and to the Caribbean by winter The most remarkable feature of this ship and her sister ship Norwegian Getaway, to be introduced in 2014 from Miami, will be their Waterfront area, which will include a number of restaurants and bars with open air access to the outside promenade decks on either side of the ship.

Second up will be the Royal Princess, the latest design for Princess Cruises, which will come to Southampton in June. Unlike the Norwegian Breakaway with its Waterfront, the Royal Princess will have new attractions on its very top deck, including a Sea Walk, which will extend 28 feet out over the edge of the ship. Some 60 feet long and 128 feet above the ocean, this glass-bottomed walkway will offer views unavailable on any other ship. On the other side of the ship, the SeaView Bar will extend out over the waves for cocktails with a view.

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: Norwegian Breakaway, Royal Princess, Mein Schiff 3

The New Crop of Cruise Ships: Norwegian Breakaway, Royal Princess, Mein Schiff 3

The top deck will also feature Princess’s trademark Movies under the Stars, and Water & Light Shows, with a computerized fountain of 85 water jets shooting streams of water 33 feet into the night sky. Two freshwater pools and a variety of deck furniture will be available to those who enjoy the outdoors life.

The Royal Princess sails on her maiden voyage from Southampton on June 16, when she departs on her 7-night cruise to Iberia. This will be preceded by two 3-night preview cruises for the UK market, leaving Southampton on June 10 and June 13. This ship and her sister ship Regal Princess, to follow in 2014, will be of great interest to British cruisers, as they are the design on which P&O Cruises’ next new ship will be based. The 154,407-ton P&O vessel, to be introduced in March 2015, will differ in profile from the earlier ships in that she will feature a more traditional look, with two funnels arranged fore and aft.

The third of the new designs will be for TUI Cruises, and their third ship. She was ordered after the successful introduction of Mein Schiff 1 and 3, the former Celebrity Galaxy and Mercury, to the German market. The new ship will be completed to a sophisticated and highly innovative design and is scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2014. A fourth ship was also ordered in November for delivery in 2015. Both will have many environmentally friendly features, with particular emphasis on energy efficiency. TUI Cruises primarily targets couples and families who appreciate plenty of space, good quality and personal service and operates ships that are a step above the “Club Ship” buffet concept espoused by its competitor n the German market, Carnival-owned AIDA Cruises.

These orders are important for STX Finland, as they have lost the order for the third Oasis class ship for Royal Caribbean to STX France. In fact, Mein Schiff 3 was the first cruise ship order for STX Finland since the yard delivered the Allure of the Seas to Royal Caribbean in 2010. Ironically, TUI Cruises had to go to STX Finland, as did Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to STX France for their Europa 2 (also to be delivered this year). Both German owners would have been expected to order from German yards but Meyer Werft was not able to deliver on time, having a full order book from Norwegian Cruise Line, which had switched from STX France, and Royal Caribbean. Mein Schiff 1 and 2 were both products of Meyer Werft.

The last new design is still a bit of a mystery. Royal Caribbean has come up with a new design, smaller than the Allure and Oasis of the Seas, but larger than their other ships, under the name Project Sunshine. These ships’ features have until now been kept secret and the only design in circulation is a photograph that appeared on an Italian blog, and may or not be the new ships. On this we wait to see, but that there can be no question that these ships will adopt many of the concepts used on the successful Oasis class ships, except that on a slightly smaller platform they will be able to trade worldwide.

All these new designs meet the latest International Maritime Organization Safety of Life at Sea rules, embracing the concept of “the ship as ‘its own best lifeboat,” that came into place on July 1, 2010.

OTHER CRUISE NEWS

100th Anniversary of Florida’s First Cruises

Here is some cruising history that most of you will be reading for the first time. It was one hundred years ago today, on January 7, 1913, not long after the completion of Henry Flagler’s Oversea Railway from Miami across the Florida keys to Key West, that the 3,786-ton Evangeline sailed from Key West on her maiden cruise. That winter, the Evangeline would operate a series of eight 11-night cruises, the first such program ever offered from a Florida port. Priced from $110 per person, they were sold as “Winter Outings on Summer Seas,” and called at Colon, Panama; Kingston, Jamaica and Havana, Cuba, spending two days in each of Colon and Kingston.

The eight cruises were offered between January and April 1913 by the Jacksonville-based Peninsular & Occidental Steamship Company, and would be followed by seven similar 14-night cruises in the winter of 1914, but this time from Jacksonville, which was much closer to the main population centres, with fares from $125.  All these cruises included a visit to the Panama Canal, then still under construction, but with the onset of the First World War, no further cruises were offered.

The Evangeline had been completed in October 1912 by the London & Glasgow Shipbuilding Company of Govan for the Canada Atlantic & Plant Steamship Co Ltd of Halifax, and was operating on charter to the Peninsula & Occidental Steamship Company. She was named for Longfellow’s epic poem of the same name, and like her predecessors sailed both in the north and in the south. Unfortunately, the First World War would see her transferred to French ownership in 1917, only to become a wreck on the French Coast in 1921.

Of her predecessors, 1,738-ton Halifax, had operated a series of experimental sailings between Tampa and Nassau and Jamaica in 1893, but it would take the arrival of Evangeline to introduce the concept of cruising from Florida. On November 19, 1895, another of the Evangeline’s predecessors, the 1,611-ton Olivette, had carried a 20-year-old Winston Churchill to Havana, where he developed his taste for Cuban cigars. These ships operated according to the season, running on the Tampa-Key West-Havana route by winter and Boston-Halifax-Charlottetown in the summer.

Miami also had a local passenger ship to its name, in Peninsula & Occidental’s 1,741-ton Miami, introduced in 1898, but she was essentially a night boat, crossing to Nassau two or three times a week, depending on demand. Similarly, the 1,414-ton Prince Edward ran between Miami and Havana in 1901-03, as did the 1,619-ton City of Miami in 1921-23.

Although new passenger services were started between Miami and Philadelphia in 1923 and  New York and Baltimore in 1924, it would be January 1927 before another Canadian ship, the 3,445-ton New Northland, began offering the first weekly cruises from Miami. Miami’s first foreign cruise ship visitor, Blue Star Line’s 15,501-ton Arandora Star, would arrive in February 1932, and in January 1935, the New Northland would offer the first all-inclusive cruises on the Miami-Nassau route. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tere Moana Is Christened in St Martin

Just before the New Year, Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the Paul Gauguin in the South Pacific, christened its newes luxury ship, the Tere Moana, at an official ceremony held on December 29 in Marigot, on the French side of the island of St Martin. Mireille Bailey, wife of chairman Richard Bailey, was chosen to be the ship’s new godmother.  Her master is Captain Rajko Zupan, formerly of the Marco Polo, Crown Odyssey and Paul Gauguin. Those in attendance were serenaded by a Caribbean steel drum band.

The ship then set off on its inaugural 7-night Caribbean cruise to the French West Indies, British Virgin Islands and St Kitts & Nevis. In January and February, Tere Moana will perform a number of 13- and 14-night Panama Canal cruises. From April through November, she will operate a variety of 7-night European cruises. In spring and autumn, she will perform 14-night Transatlantic crossings between Europe and the Caribbean.

Le Levant now Paul Gauguin Cruises' Tere Moana

At 330 feet long and 46 feet wide, the all-inclusive Tere Moana has a draft of 11.5 feet and accommodates 90 guests with a staff of 60. Her 45 ocean-view staterooms, eight of which have private balconies, feature a king-size flat-screen television; music players; iPod docking station and a refrigerator replenished daily with soft drinks, beer and bottled water, as well as bathrobes and slippers, spacious closets and a bathroom with sumptuous bath products.

Tere Moana offers two dining venues and features the regional cuisines of the destinations visited, including fresh ingredients from local markets. Evenings feature a live piano in Le Salon. Her outdoor decks feature a swimming pool, hot tub, lounge chairs and Balinese beds. In select ports, kayaking and paddle boarding will be available from the ship’s water-sports marina. The Tere Moana previously operated as Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Levant.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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