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2010 is poised to be an excellent year for the cruise industry. After the uncertainty that has tainted the past few years, starting with the enormous increases in fuel costs in 2007 and 2008 and then moving on into the recession of 2009, things are starting to look up both for the economy and the industry as a whole. 2010 is poised to see a whole host of new ships enter the market this year, and many lines are heavily refurbishing and retrofitting older vessels to the point where they are almost contemporary themselves.
It’s in that spirit that we present Four Ships to Keep an Eye On in 2010.
Celebrity Mercury departing Victoria, BC.
Photo © Aaron Saunders
Some of you are probably wondering what a 1997-built ship is doing on this list. In truth, its here for a simple reason: if you’ve always wanted to sail on Celebrity Mercury, 2010 is the time to do so: the ship is curiously missing from Celebrity’s 2011-2012 deployment, fueling rumors she will meet a similar fate as the 1996-built Galaxy.
Galaxy soldiered on, mainly sailing the Mediterranean and Caribbean routes before being transferred to German TUI Cruises, becoming their Mein Schiff – literally translated as “My Ship” in English. TUI gave her a whole host of Celebrity Century-like upgrades, including enhancements to the spa, cabins, and public areas.
Now, Celebrity Mercury seems to be following in Galaxy‘s footsteps. With no refurbishments planned, and no itineraries existing past Spring 2011 – despite the fact itineraries for the rest of the fleet have been announced through 2012 – it seems the writing is on the wall.
Which is what makes this a ship to watch. Celebrity Mercury was the last of the Century-class ships, and the vessel most responsible for the eventual design of the tremendously popular Millennium-class. If you’ve wanted to experience the smaller Celebrity ships, now is the time to do so.
Norwegian Epic, shown here on her sea trials.
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
What can we say about Norwegian Epic that hasn’t already been said? While her delivery next month hasn’t been greeted with the same in-your-face brashness that was afforded to Oasis of the Seas, this is arguably the ship to watch. NCL is prepared to unleash a whole host of innovations on this vessel – but like all innovations, they come with some risk. The ship will feature a whopping 21 dining venues, eleven of which are complimentary.
Also a point of interest is the unique cabin design. Cabins featuring curved walls and soft mood lighting come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the take-a-deep-breath Studio Staterooms at a cozy 100sq. feet, to the absolutely enormous penthouses, complete with private balconies, hot tubs, marble bathrooms – you name it. These suites give the ultra-luxury vessels a run for their money in terms of amenities.
Couple that with the largest Spa at sea – 31,000 square feet of it. The spa will feature 24 treatment rooms, two exotic steam Rasul rooms, a Hydrotherapy pool and Thermal suite, a full service salon, fitness center, and barber shop.
The ship may have the oddest appearance at sea on the outside, but there’s plenty to be optimistic about inside.
Norwegian Epic will be christened on July 2, 2010, in New York City by country music star Reba McEntire.
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth at the Fincantieri Yard in Italy.
Photo courtesy of We Are Cunard Blog
Cunard returns to a historic moniker as well with their new Queen Elizabeth. Although largely identical to her sister ship, Queen Victoria, the big cachet here is her name itself. It evokes memories of the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which sailed the Atlantic between 1940 and 1968 for Cunard.
The Queen Victoria has done well for the line – surprising even staunch passengers who swear by the Queen Mary 2 or her equally-famous predecessor, Queen Elizabeth 2.
Externally, Queen Elizabeth will sport a slightly more squared-off stern, as well as a glass canopy on Deck 11 covering the games deck. Inside the ship, her design will pay tribute to both RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. It will also mark Cunard’s return to a three-ship fleet, allowing them to expand the itineraries available to their passengers.
Queen Elizabeth sets sail in October, 2010.
Photo courtesy of Oceania Cruises
The ship that keeps the executives at Regent up at night. Oceania Cruises, probably more than any other line, has clawed their way to the top. Staring out as Renaissance Cruises, they embarked on an ambitious newbuild campaign in the late 1990′s and were widely recognized for their smaller, intimate ships, gracious service, and outstanding food. They were also loathed in the travel industry for selling directly to the consumer and bypassing traditional travel agents altogether. After 9/11, demand dropped steeply, and the company folded.
Not to be knocked down, a few executives almost immediately started up Oceania Cruises – even managing to buy back a few of their former ships. Once again, the focus was on a superb, country club experience – this time marketed to travel agents and providers.
What’s fascinating about Oceania is that they are arguably just as popular, if not moreso, than their original incarnation was. Which is why they have embarked on an ambitious newbuild campaign that aims to turn heads – and is succeeding.
What’s so special about Oceania Marina? We’ll let you look at their website and find out for yourself why this is one of the most exciting ships to launch in 2010.
We’re not the only ones who think so – Marina’s first few voyages sold out in record time.
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