Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Fewer new ships but many new features


Fewer new ships but many new features

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightIt is no secret that cruise lines aren’t taking delivery of as many new ships as they have in the recent past. Executives have explained their strategies as a more measured approach to capacity growth. So deliveries are spaced out, and some lines may get a new ship only once every three or four years.
One consequence is that more new features are being packed into newbuilds than ever before. The innovations come so fast and furious it becomes hard to remember them all.
At a briefing for the media at Cruise Shipping Miami, Princess Cruises highlighted 20 features to debut on its Royal Princess ship coming in June.*TomStieghorst 
Some, like a larger outdoor movie screen, are evolutions of features that are on many Princess ships already.
Others will be brand new, such as Princess Live, a 300-seat TV studio that will host entertainment ranging from cooking demonstrations to art-house movies from 8 a.m. to midnight. Many of the shows will be piped into cabins via an on-demand video system that will offer guests access to hundreds of movies at no additional charge.
Passengers with smartphones can take an art and architecture tour of Royal Princess. In keeping with its construction in Italy, the ship will have what Princess says is the largest selection of hand-crafted gelatos and Super Tuscan wines at sea.
The ship will also have Princess’ first concierge lounge for suite passengers and touch-screen digital kiosks with face recognition technology that promise to make buying onboard photos faster and easier.
Princess didn’t even touch on some of the standout features already unveiled, like the Skywalk, a glass-bottomed promenade that will extend 30 feet out over the edge of the ship.
The same pattern can be seen at work at Norwegian Cruise Line, which will have a cornucopia of firsts when its Norwegian Breakaway debuts in May. For anyone who wants to see the next new thing, these two ships should keep them well occupied in coming months.