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New Innovations on Cruise Ships
In the twelve years or so that we have been cruising in the Caribbean there have been enormous changes and innovations in cruise ships. When we sailed on ‘Enchantment of the Seas’ in her inaugural season she was regarded as one of the large ships, but now she would be dwarfed by the mega liners of today. Whilst she had numerous balconies the newer ships now have a larger proportion of staterooms with their own private balcony. There is nothing more wonderful than waking up in the early morning and being able to walk out onto the balcony, or to stand late at night and watch the stars. Some cruise lines have 90% of their staterooms with balconies.
For us, one of the best changes has been in more flexible dining. On our first cruise there was just the main dining rooms which offered two sittings. This was often a problem if late back from an excursion, and the rush to get changed and seated by 6. 00 pm was often impossible. Princess Cruises now offer at least two dining rooms with flexible dining, where you can choose your time, and your size of table, which makes it far more relaxing. NCL also have extremely flexible dining, called ‘Freestyle Dining, ’ offering a wide range of eating venues. Most ships now have much extended casual buffet restaurants, some of which are open 24 hours a day, and for those who wish to pay extra, there are numerous speciality restaurants on board many of the ships, where you can eat Italian, order a steak or maybe choose from an oriental menu.
Some cruise lines are upgrading their bedding, to ensure a relaxing night’s sleep. With custom made mattresses, fluffy down duvets and crisp cotton blend sheets, sweet dreams are guaranteed. Some cruise lines are also adding more ‘super suites’ so that families can cruise together. The ultimate in luxury must be NCL’s amazing 5. 750 sq ft ‘Garden Villa Suites’ – the ultimate in luxury and pampering, with a staff of 5 butlers with each suite.
Some ships are also offering areas which are adult exclusive, including adult only pools. Whilst it is lovely to have your family and young children around you on vacation, it is sometimes nice to be able to escape other people’s children. Thus it is that Princess Cruises introduced the Sanctuary Pool, where adults can relax in peace and quiet, take a nap or sip a drink in a private cabana. Celebrity Solstice has gone one step further with a solarium complete with lap pool, cascading waterfalls and thickly padded loungers. And not a child in sight!
Rock climbing walls were introduced on many RCI ships. This offers something challenging and more unusual than the normal gyms. Not only can you improve your skills but you get a fantastic view. However, our particular favourite is the Ice Skating that RCI have introduced. This really was an innovation as they had no idea how an ice rink (or its skaters! ) would perform at sea. But from our own experience the ice shows are truly spectacular, and well worth seeing. But NCL have introduced something even more spectacular – the first bowling alley at sea on Norwegian Pearl. It will certainly be interesting to see how you can bowl when the ship is moving, or rolling!
Some cruise lines are raising the bar when it comes to onboard activities. The new ‘Hot Glass’ shows on Celebrity cruises is a spectacular demonstration of how glass is blown. Holland America also offer state of the art kitchen demonstrations and cooking classes.
Another of our favourite attractions is Princess Cruises ‘Movies Under the Stars’ where you can lie on a lounger around the pool and watch a newly released movie on a huge outdoor screen. With rugs to keep you warm and popcorn brought to you by the stewards it is true pampering.
One wonders how much more the cruise lines can introduce to make cruising even more enjoyable and interesting but I am sure there will be more innovations in store.
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