August, 2023 may go down in the cruise travel history books, with the launch of an exceptional number of new, ground-breaking ships that inspire us to take to the seas – and give us a glimpse into the direction cruise travel, design, and experiences are heading.
Five new ships sailed to sea in the first couple of weeks of the month, ranging in size from 100 guests to 4000! And here’s how they rolled out:
Not just a new ship, but a whole new cruise line. Explora Journeys is the luxury, small-ship sister cruise line to MSC Cruises, and Explora I is her very first ship, so everyone has been waiting to see exactly what the inaugural ship of the new cruise line would be like.
Cruise lovers haven’t been disappointed! The Explora I (image by Ivan Sarfatti) debuted on August 1, sailing from Copenhagen.
The stylish ship offers fewer than a thousand guests oceanfront suites designed to be ‘Homes at Sea,’ all with ocean views and a private terrace. Guests have a choice of eleven culinary experiences across six dining venues plus in-suite dining, twelve bars and lounges, including four outdoors, a Chef's Kitchen, four swimming pools, expansive outdoor decks with dozens of private cabanas, as well as wellness facilities, and upscale entertainment.
They’re calling their approach to luxury, small-ship cruising an ‘Ocean state of mind,’ with a goal of connecting guests with the sea, with themselves, and like-minded other cruise travelers on itineraries blending renowned destinations with lesser-travelled ports. In addition, Explora I incorporates the latest environmental and marine protection technologies.
Explora I is spending the summer in Northern Europe before crossing the Atlantic to spend fall and winter on the East Coast and the Caribbean before returning to Europe for a Mediterranean summer in 2024.
Emerald Cruises’ second luxury yacht, Emerald Sakara, embarked August 5 from Athens on her inaugural sailing on an itinerary that included the Corinth Canal, for a picture-perfect photo op that emphasized the elegant lines and inviting intimacy of the 100-guest ship.
Her launch has doubled the ocean-going fleet of Emerald Cruises in just one year, to the delight of fans of the line that has expanded from river cruising to the oceans of the world.
More yacht than cruise ship, Emerald Sakara can sail into off-the-beaten path ports where guests can wander off and on the ship to explore, and anchor in secluded bays for a day of water sports off the ship’s marina and basking in the sea.
The yacht will spend the summer in the eastern Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic with the Emerald Azzurra for a joint winter in the Caribbean and Central America beginning in November.
Right in between the debuts of highly-anticipated small ships this month, a blockbuster new mega ship has taken to the seas. Norwegian Cruise Lines has launched the 4000-guest Norwegian Viva, which sailed August 10 on its inaugural voyage from Venice.
Norwegian Viva mirrors the design of its sister ship Norwegian Prima in the cruise line’s new class of ships, and comes with the tagline “Live it up.”
There are plenty of ways to do that on Viva: from a one-of-a-kind, three-level racetrack; an upscale food market with 11 unique eateries; the fastest waterslides at sea, artwork across the ship including a multi-million-dollar outdoor sculpture garden, a dynamic, interactive 52-foot-wide contemporary art piece, a digital art piece is on display at the Metropolitan Bar that dynamically responds throughout the day to passing movement, as well as an entertainment lineup that includes 'Beetlejuice The Musical' and the iconic game show 'Press Your Luck LIVE,' an immersive experience where the audience participates to win grand prizes.
Norwegian Viva will sail a selection of bucket-list worthy Greek Isles and Mediterranean voyages through November, before homeporting in San Juan, Puerto Rico in December for a season in the Caribbean and returning to the Med in summer of 2024.
Seabourn Pursuit is the second expedition ship for ultra-luxury Seabourn, a twin to the Seabourn Venture which launched last year. Seabourn Pursuit welcomed its first guests on August 12 when it embarked on its maiden voyage: a cruise from Malta to Rome.
While the new ship mirror’s the expedition Venture’s stylish, deep green hull with a dashing vermilion stripe that distinguishes the two new expedition ships from the rest of the glistening white Seabourn fleet, what you can’t see is the ice-class hull that allows the Pursuit to safely voyage to polar regions – both North and South.
Seabourn Pursuit offers the same luxurious “yacht like” small ship experience that travelers have come to expect from Seabourn, including an all-suite environment spaciousness and 8 dining venues. Life on board is enhanced by expedition ‘toys’ like a submersible, kayaks and zodiacs that allow guest to explore natural wonders and wildlife and hard-to-reach communities beyond the ship during expedition activities led by an expert 24-person team of scientists, scholars, naturalists, and more. A 4K, cinematic camera can broadcast images from miles beyond the ship into guest suites and screens in public spaces throughout the ship.
Through October, 2023, Seabourn Pursuit will sail in the Mediterranean, then cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean, South American coast and the Amazon before spending the winter in Antarctica.
Then Seabourn Pursuit heads trans-Pacific to Australia, to begin the line’s first exploration of the Kimberley region, with its red sandstone gorges, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, and Aboriginal life and history that make it ideal for natural and cultural expedition cruising.
Silversea Cruises has debuted the first of a new class of ships for the ultra-luxury line, the Nova class. The Silver Nova embarked on August 14 from Venice on her maiden voyage with all eyes on her.
Silver Nova is breaking the mold in luxury, smaller-ship cruising design. In a dramatic break from tradition, the ship is not symmetrical, which is most obvious on the pool deck, which overlooks the water on her starboard side. It’s all part of what Silversea is calling ‘horizontal design’ that focuses guests’ experiences outward – to the sea.
Her innovative design emphasizes openness rather than symmetry, with something like 4000 square yards of glass extending sight lines to the horizon from virtually all public spaces and suites. Two all-new outdoor venues — the Dusk Bar and the Marquee — were designed specifically to take advantage of this new perspective on the connection to the ship’s surroundings.
Just over 700 guests can sail aboard Silver Nova, with Silversea pointing out the math that shows the new ship has one of the highest space-to-guest ratios of any cruise ship afloat. And it maintains the all-suite, all-veranda, all-butler-serviced Silversea standards the cruise line’s fans love.
Silver Nova will spend the summer in the Mediterranean before heading to the Caribbean and South America in November and embarking on Silversea’s Grand Voyage South America in the New Year.
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By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/ travel journalist and expert
Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.
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