New Expedition Cruise Ships Built For Luxury – Robb Report
Forget the floating cities that freak out between overcrowded and disappointing harbors. As the cruise industry thaws from its one-year hiatus imposed by Covid, it is radically refocusing by launching a series of new nimble ships that combine trips to faraway destinations with plenty of high-end amenities.
“These ships are the best of both worlds,” says Expedition trips Founder and Chairman Ashton Palmer, whose agency focuses on this niche. “We are in an unprecedented boom period for small ship cruising – each line is trying to outperform the others, whether on gear or routes. He adds that even charter veterans should consider booking one of these adventurous trips: the bigger ships are of course more stable and better equipped with essentials like helicopters to reach even the most remote places and the wildest.
To take Ponant123-cabin Commander Charcot, which will launch next month with a polar itinerary that takes guests via the ship’s remote island of the same name to see the emperor penguins, a journey that was largely inaccessible to anyone except research vessels until now. “No one in the history of small ship cruising has been able to do what they do,” says Mary Curry of Adventure life, another cruise specialist, who says the ship’s icebreaker PC2 rating is just a notch below most science ships. There are even onboard lab areas where passengers can participate as citizen scientists, as well as, for downtime, an indoor pool, heated blue lagoon baths, and two restaurants. Curry also recommends Aurora’s Sylvie Earle, with an X-shaped bow design that allows for smooth navigation even in churn-prone Drake Passage and virtual anchor technology that helps protect the seabed. The namesake naturalist will be on board for his maiden voyage next spring, around Baja California and the Sea of Cortez.
Think of Seabourn’s brand new ship, the Business, which will launch next April, as a cruise ship that thinks it’s a superyacht, with an onboard garage full of cutting-edge toys: alongside the zodiacs and e-bikes you’ll also find two custom built submarines.
New to National Geographic Resolution retains the line’s focus on education – it’s uncompromisingly nerdy – but elevates the onboard luxury experience beyond the rest of its fleet with two restaurants and an infinite-style hot tub.
In the Galapagos, Silversea has just launched its Origin of money, with butler service in all suites and a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly 1: 1 for up to 100 passengers. Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen, a cruise company, notes the ship’s spectacular 1,700 square foot owner’s suite. “The view from the balcony, which is 646 square feet, is amazing as you walk through the Galapagos,” he says. “People who charter a yacht would be very comfortable with that.” Yacht veterans might also consider the new 16-passenger catamaran Cormorant II, with its large cabins equipped with a balcony or the 20-passenger mega-yacht To evolve, from Ecoventura.
Both of these ships, of course, are ideal for private charter – most cruise lines also offer full charters, with a personalized seven-day trip with Seabourn, for example, starting at $ 2.5 million – but Turen recommends considering a partial charter, where an intimate group can customize excursions, dinners, and other activities on board, much like a ship within a ship, even on the smallest vessels.
The best destinations for novice cruise passengers? Think of Antarctica as a Broadway show and the Arctic as a museum of modern art, according to Palmer. “Antarctica is a breathtaking experience, but you have to work harder to appreciate the Arctic, which is contemplative and subtle,” he says. The Antarctic boating season corresponds to the northern hemisphere winter, but Arctic travel takes place in the summer, providing a welcome respite from the increasingly sweltering temperatures at home. “A luxury traveler doesn’t want to compromise on anything – an experience beyond what the average person does, yes, but without giving up creature comforts like a [large] cabin, ”he said. “They want it all, and now they can have it.”