Menu
Menu
Quark Expeditions' Ultramarine new ship for 2020

New Ships of 2020

By Anne Kalosh.

For small-ship lovers, a bevy of oceangoing new builds are set to enter service this year. Of the 23 vessels joining the global ocean cruise fleet, a hefty 11 are small enough to be QuirkyCruise size (carrying up to 300 passengers).

In addition to these 11 will be many new river vessels and a few new coastal ships — so plenty of choices for travelers seeking the latest and greatest but not the biggest!

New Ships of 2020: Ritz-Carlton

One of the year’s most-anticipated ships is the first to be associated with a luxury hotel brand. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection was due to introduce the luxurious, 298-passenger Evrima early this year. However, it has been delayed to mid-June because of issues at the shipyard, Spain’s Hijos de J. Barreras.

Designed as a yacht inside and out, Evrima promises to be a beauty when completed, with its cascade of open decks aft, a marina and spacious suites and lounges. Dining experiences will include Southeast Asian small plates, an alfresco seafood bar/steak grill, a marina spot and a restaurant by three-star Michelin chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg.

Evrima is one of 2020's new builds

Evrima has a cascade of open decks aft, ending in a marina. * Rendering: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Evirmas' indoor-outdoor Marina Lounge

Evirma’s indoor-outdoor Marina Lounge. * Rendering: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Pool deck on Evirma, one of the new ships for 2020

Evrima’s main pool deck, aft. * Rendering: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

For more great QuirkyCruise features delivered to your inbox, SIGN UP for our monthly newsletter.

New Ships of 2020: Expedition Ships

The expedition cruising boom continues, with nine new ships that are Quirky-sized coming in 2020. Among them are the first blue-water expedition newbuilds for several owners: Lindblad ExpeditionsNational Geographic Endurance, Crystal Expedition CruisesCrystal Endeavor, Quark Expeditions Ultramarine and Silversea Cruises’ Silver Origin for the Galápagos.

RELATED: Lindblad goes carbon neutral.

Named in honor of Ernest Shackleton, Endurance sports the patented X-BOW design with its distinctive inverted bow, for better seakeeping. Expanded fuel and water tanks allow for long-range operations, while a Polar Class 5 rating enables exploration in icy areas.

The 126-passenger ship has Scandinavian-style interiors and lots of glass for great views. Each of the 13 extra-large balcony suites is named for a polar explorer.

National Geographic Endurance's X-bow

National Geographic Endurance has an inverted X-BOW design for better seakeeping. * Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions

National Geographic Endurance large suite

Each of the 13 extra-large balcony suites is named for a polar explorer. * Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions

The all-suite Crystal Endeavor will emulate luxury brand Crystal’s hallmarks, including butler service, the Palm Court and specialty restaurants Prego for Italian fare and Umi Uma for sushi and dishes from master chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Additionally, the two-story Solarium pool deck will house the Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen & Bar during the evenings.

Below the Crystal Endeavour is “rolled out” of the covered building dock December 21. 

The 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor has a Polar Class 6 rating and will carry two helicopters and a pair of seven-person submarines.

Crystal Endeavor is one of the new ships for 2020

Crystal Endeavor will sail to the world’s far reaches, including the polar areas. * Rendering: Crystal Expedition Cruises

One of 2020 news builds is Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s versatile Solarium transforms into a dinner venue by night. * Rendering: Crystal Expedition Cruises

Ultramarine is designed for polar operations, Quark’s specialty. It will have an exceptional 70-day operational range and equipment for heli-hiking and heli-skiing, along with kayaks, paddle boards and Zodiacs. The 200-passenger Ultramarine will come with six suites for solo travelers.

Quark Expeditions' Ultramarine new ship for 2020

Ultramarine is Quark Expeditions’ first owned new build. * Rendering: Quark Expeditions

Silver Origin is purpose-built for the Galápagos, with an Explorer Lounge for expedition briefings and Basecamp, an elegant space with a large, interactive digital wall that connects with the Zodiac embarkation area.

This 100-passenger ship has lavish all-suite accommodations, some with sea-view bathtubs and showers, a new feature for Silversea. (Peek-a-boo, boobies!)

new ship Silver Origin

Silver Origin is built for the Galápagos. * Rendering: Silversea Cruises

New Ships of 2020: Continuing Series

French line Ponant continues its Explorers series with Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier, distinguished by their sleek, superyacht profiles and a marina platform with three positions, for use as a sun deck, as a launch pad for water sports and as the Zodiac embarkation point.

Each 184-passenger ship also contains the distinctive underwater lounge Blue Eye.

RELATED: Ponant & Backroads adventure in New Zealand

Ponant's new ships for 2020

Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier will sport Ponant’s distinctive Blue Eye underwater lounge. * Photo @L.Patricot

Portugal’s Mystic Cruises adds its second 200-passenger new build, World Voyager, which has features like an Observation Lounge topped by a glass dome for stargazing and a lighted glass well that looks down into the sea. Heated seats on the bow add a Mercedes-like touch and comfort for travelers spending extended time outdoors in the cold to view wildlife.

World Voyager is a new ship in 2020 for Mystic Cruises

World Voyager is second in a series of a planned 10 ships. * Rendering: Mystic Cruises

World Voyager is a new ship for 2020

World Voyager has an Observation Lounge with a glass dome to the sky and a glass well looking down into the sea. * Photo: Mystic Cruises

SunStone Ships continues building in China with expedition ship Ocean Victory. It will be chartered by Denmark’s Albatros Expeditions for the Antarctica season and by Victory Cruise Lines for Alaska as this U.S. brand branches into expedition sailings for the first time.

Ocean Victory has capacity for 186 passengers. It uses the X-BOW design and is built to Polar Class 6 standard.

Ocean Victory is a new ship in 2020 for Victory Cruise Lines

Ocean Victory’s lounges include a spacious library. * Rendering: Victory Cruise Lines

The new ship Ocean Victory

Ocean Victory’s elegant dining room. * Rendering: Victory Cruise Lines

Australia’s Coral Expeditions follows up 2019’s Coral Adventurer with a near twin, Coral Geographer. The 120-passenger ship will provide four more bridge deck suites (six total) featuring bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and an infinity bathtub with sky views.

Though Coral Geographer is scheduled for delivery in late 2020, it actually begins sailing the Indian Ocean in early 2021.

the new ship Coral Geographer

Coral Geographer will debut with sailings to remote islands of the Indian Ocean. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

The new ship Coral Geographer is a stunner

Coral Geographer has six of these roomy bridge deck balcony suites. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

New Ships of 2020: Classic Sailing Vessel

One of the year’s more unusual small ships is a classic sailing yacht. The three-masted Sea Cloud Spirit of Sea Cloud Cruises will turn heads with its 4,100 square meters/44,100 square feet of sails.

Of the 69 ocean-view cabins, 25 have their own balconies. An elevator will connect the five decks. A fine dining restaurant and a casual dining experience on the lido deck are planned. Sea Cloud Spirit will have a wellness/spa venue, too.

RELATED: Sea Cloud II Cruise to the Canary Islands & Morocco 

Sea Cloud Spirit

Sea Cloud Spirit — a classic yacht style and tons of sails. * Rendering: Sea Cloud Cruises

Sea Cloud Spirit rendering

Shaded deck space on sailing ship Sea Cloud Spirit. * Rendering: SeaCloud Cruises

Fellow sailing ship specialist Star Clippers had been set to introduce Flying Clipper, a replica of the largest square-rigged tall ship ever built, in 2019. The vessel was completed and ready for handing over, according to Croatia’s Brodosplit yard. However, a dispute with Star Clippers drags on in arbitration, leaving Flying Clipper in limbo.

RELATED: Star Clippers in Thailand, This Cruise Rocks

QuirkyCruise Review

 

 

Don’t miss great articles, reviews, news & tips about small-ship cruising, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for monthly updates!  


© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Expedition Ships for 2019-2022

New Expedition Ships for 2019-2022

By Heidi Sarna & Ted Scull.

The big news in the small-ship world of late are the 25 expedition ships (under 300 passengers) being built or on order. An unprecedented number of cruise lines have been investing time and resources into building small expedition cruise ships to explore hard-to-reach places around the world.

Whether you’re eager to explore the breathtaking glaciers of Iceland, see polar bears in the Arctic or a waddle of adorable penguins in Antarctica, small expedition ships will take you there. In fact, there are many isolated locales where an expedition cruise is really the only way to go: from hopping around the Galapagos Islands to exploring the Polar Regions and isolated corners of Australia or South Pacific islands.

While some are very cushy and luxurious with fancy spas, plush suites and multiple gourmet dining venues, others are more restrained and destination-focused. Either way, expedition vessels are built as transportation for intrepid travelers to reach remote places. Most have ice-strengthened hulls for cruising the Polar Regions, some with extra-strengthening, and most carry Zodiac boats for excursions.

Trends in next-generation expedition cruise vessels focus on high-tech gear to enhance passenger interaction with the environment — think mini-submarines and helicopters. Some have underwater cameras that a diving staff member uses to take high-definition footage of the undersea world around the ship, beaming the video back to passengers on board. Hydrophones, or underwater microphones, used to catch whale sounds are standard equipment on expedition ships. Increasingly, ships carry a ROV, a remotely operated vehicle capable of diving far deeper than a human Scuba diver to view parts of the undersea world you could otherwise only speculate about.

In terms of environmental impact, the newest expedition vessels are being kitted out with hybrid engines fueled by hydrogen and with hull designs that improve fuel efficiency. Read on for more details.

 

2019-2022 SCHEDULE OF NEW EXPEDITION SHIPS UNDER 300 PASSENGERS
CRUISE
LINE
SHIP
NAME
PASSENGER COUNT GROSS TONNAGE DEBUT
DATE
Antarctica XXI Magellan Explorer 100 4,900 Q4 2019
Aurora* Greg Mortimer 180  8,000 May 2019
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Flora 100 5,739 Q2 2019
Coral Expeditions Coral Adventurer 120 5,000 Q1 2019
Crystal Yacht Expeditions Endeavor 200 25,000 Q4 2019
Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Nature 230 15,540 April 2019
Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Inspiration 230 15,540 Oct 2019
Lindblad Expeditions Nat. Geo. Endurance 126 12,300 Q1 2020
Lindblad Unnamed Polar Explorer Class 2021
Mystic Cruises World Explorer 200 9,300 May 2019
Mystic Cruises Unnamed 200 9,300 Q1 2020
Oceanwide Expeditions Hondius 180 5,590 Q2 2019
Ponant Le Bougainville 184 10,038 June 2019
Ponant Le Dumont-d’Urville 184 10,038 Sept 2019
Quark Unnamed 200 13,000 2020
Scenic Scenic Eclipse 228 16,500 April 2019
Scenic Scenic Eclipse II 228 13,000 2020
Ponant Le Bellot        184 10,038 April 2020
Ponant Le Jacques Cartier      184 10,038 July 2020
Seabourn Unnamed 264 23,000 Spring 2020
Seabourn Unnamed 264 23,000 Spring 2022
SunStone Unnamed 160 8,000 Sept 2019
SunStone Unnamed 130 8,000 April 2020
SunStone Unnamed 160/180 8,000 Sept 2020
SunStone Unnamed 160/180 8,000 April 2021

*Charter from Sunstone

 

A BRIEF SNAPSHOT OF THE EXPEDITION LINES
ANTARCTICA XXI 

The pioneering company Antarctica XXI is building the MV MAGELLAN EXPLORER for a late 2019 delivery. The company specializes in offering Antarctica expedition air-cruise combos; flying passengers over the stormy Drake Passage to board their small expedition ship directly in Antarctica.

Holding a maximum of 100 passengers, the MV MAGELLAN EXPLORER will have a large, forward-facing observation lounge, a viewing deck, and a dining room that accommodates all guests and expedition staff in a single sitting. Cabins range from 220 to 440 square feet; most have balconies and a handful are dedicated cabins for singles.

The ship will be outfitted with a pair of meeting rooms, protected outdoor barbecue area, sauna and gym. Kayaks and snowshoes are carried on board. It’s being built to the latest Polar Code specifications established by the International Maritime Organization and carries a Polar Class 6 ice-class. For comfortable navigation, the ship will have stabilizers as well as bow and stern thrusters.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of Antarctica XXI’s Magellan Explorer. * Rendering: Antarctica XXI

CELEBRITY EXPEDITIONS

To debut in mid-2019, Celebrity Cruises is building 100-passenger CELEBRITY FLORA, an all-suite ship with a glass-wrapped observatory and a library dedicated to the Galápagos. A marina at the stern will make it easy to step into Zodiacs for the frequent nature tours — hiking, swimming and snorkeling — that characterize a Galápagos cruise. A staircase leads from the marina to the Sunset Lounge, an outdoor space with a plunge pool. Inside, Darwin’s Cove is the place where passengers can chat with the naturalists who lead tours and give informative talks.

Briefings will be delivered in the Discovery Lounge, where there’s a full bar, stage for entertainment and comfy seating. Besides the Seaside Restaurant, open for all meals, the ship will have a casual alternative, the Ocean Grill, with panoramic views and the opportunity to dine under the stars.

The standard “Sky Suites” measure 330 square feet with an “Infinite Veranda” that has doors that can slide to the side to make the veranda a seamless part of the room. When the doors are closed, creating a separate veranda area, the top of a floor-to-ceiling outside window can be lowered to the open air. The Penthouse Suites, at 1,288 square feet, are the top accommodations. CELEBRITY FLORA’s will have dynamic positioning so there’s no need to drop anchor to keep it in a fixed position at sea and an in-suite water filtration system that should cut or eliminate the use of bottled water, reducing plastic waste.

Celebrity's Custom-Built Galápagos Ship

A bird’s eye view rendering of the Flora. * Photo: Celebrity Cruises


CORAL EXPEDITIONS

Australia-based Coral Expeditions is scheduled to release the new 120-passenger CORAL ADVENTURER in mid-2019 with another sister ship expected to follow after that one. The design will reflect Coral Expeditions’ standard of offering a relaxed and intimate onboard atmosphere. The ship is designed to explore tropical regions including the Kimberley; Cape York and Arnhem Land (the top of Australia); Indonesia’s Papua New Guinea and Spice Islands; and the South Pacific. There are six zodiac boats carried on board plus a pair of trademark Xplorer tenders that comfortably seat all passengers at one go for excursions.

Wow-factor features include multiple indoor and outdoor bars, including the Explorer bar on the sundeck for sunset drinks with 180-degree views. The casual dining area will seat all guests at once and the curated wine cellar features modestly-priced boutique wines for daily drinking and exceptional vintage Australian reds as well.  More than half the cabins will have balconies and there’s also a gym with elliptical trainers and treadmills.

New Expedition Ships for 2019-2022

The new 120-passenger Coral Adventurer. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

CRYSTAL CRUISES

Crystal Cruises is building the 200-passenger CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR “mega-yacht” for launch in late 2019. Designed for Arctic, Antarctic, and tropical conditions, the megayacht will have a PC6 Polar Class designation for cruising in Polar Regions and also be fitted with state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology. This means that computer-controlled systems allow the ship to automatically maintain its position with its own propellers and thrusters, so it can float atop coral reefs and historic ship wrecks without using anchors.

CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR’s cool exploration “toys” include capacity for two helicopters and a submarine. Eighteen electric amphibious zodiacs are also part of the entourage, plus kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling and diving equipment, recompression chamber and dive support tender. There will also be SEABOBs, high-tech underwater scooters for exploring what lurks beneath.

The onboard vibe will be just as over-the-top in terms of amenities, with six dining venues, an observation lounge with 270-degree panoramic views, and a pool whose floor can be lifted to create a dance floor or alfresco dining area. There will be a “Crystal Life” spa, salon and fitness center.  The standard suites will be 400 square feet (including balcony) and all have butler service. Fares are all-inclusive.

New Generation Expedition Ships

Rendering of the Crystal Endeavor. * Rendering: Crystal Cruises

HAPAG-LLOYD CRUISES

The German line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises plans to release two new 230-passenger expedition sister ships — the HANSEATIC NATURE (April 2019) and HANSEATIC INSPIRATION (Oct 2019). The HANSEATIC NATURE will be a German-speaking ship while the HANSEATIC INSPIRATION will be an international ship, with all cruises conducted in both English and German.

Both with have the highest ice class for passenger ships (PC6).

A blend of adventure and comfort, these ships are setting the bar high with three restaurants, two bars, a lounge, ocean-view fitness studio, and an extensive spa with floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor area with a Finnish sauna. There is also a hydrotherapy shower and ice fountain, and a hairdressing salon. A pool out on deck can be covered with a retractable roof.

The pair will have 120 cabins and suites, with balconies or French balconies, ranging from 236 square feet for a Panorama Cabin to 764 square feet for a Grand Suite. Both will carry Zodiacs on board for excursions, and ply the waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as the Amazon River and South Pacific.

Expedition Ships for 2019-2022

Rendering of the Hapag-Lloyd’s 2 new expedition ships. * Photo: Hapag Lloyd

LINDBLAD EXPEDITIONS

Lindblad wrote the book on small-ship expedition cruising, when it pioneered Antarctic and Galapagos expeditions a half-century ago. In May 2018, Lindblad introduced the new 100-passenger NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURE, a sister to the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC QUEST, to Alaska, the Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest. The new ship will have 22 of 50 cabins with step-out balconies and six sets of connecting cabins for families and groups. There is a Sun Deck Bar and a dedicated mudroom for storing your expedition gear. Guides and naturalists are excellent, and the ship comes equipped with twin expedition landing craft, Zodiacs, kayaks, paddleboards, undersea video camera, hydrophone, glass bottom boat, video microscope, snorkeling gear and a crow’s nest camera. The line has an open bridge policy.

Bigger news is the recent announcement that the line is building its first new ocean-going ice-class polar vessel, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENDURANCE, for delivery in early 2020. A core design feature of the 126-passenger vessel is the distinctive X-BOW that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving passenger comfort in rough seas. The X-BOW, designed by Norway’s Ulstein Group, is found on numerous non-passenger vessels, but is just breaking in to the some of cruising’s next-generation expedition ships.

The impressive exploration toys range from kayaks and cross-country skis, to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), hydrophones, a video microscope, underwater video cameras and a helicopter landing platform. Amenities include two dining venues, multiple observation decks, and suites and cabins include a dozen designated for solo travelers. You’ll find a spa, gym, yoga room and a pair of infinity Jacuzzis. Read more details in a recent QuirkyCruise news piece.

Lindblad Orders New Expedition Ship

A rendering of Lindblad’s polar new build. Look at that dolphin nose-like bow! * Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions

MYSTIC CRUISES

Running on an energy-efficient Rolls Royce hybrid propulsion system, the 200-passenger WORLD EXPLORER was launched by Mystic Cruises in October 2018. This ship is the first vessel in a series of as many as 10 ships in total, with three more réplicas of the WORLD EXPLORER slated for delivery first quarter 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each will have a Bureau Veritas Ice Class 1B rating.

Amenities will include a bow observation deck, theater/lecture hall, main lounge, observation bar, restaurant, library, small casino, fitness room, outdoor pool and jogging track. For the expedition itineraries, the mudroom and lockers for passenger gear will come in handy. Most cabins are 280-square-foot balcony suites, with two dozen “infinity” cabins having a sea-facing glass wall.

The ship is chartered to Quark Expeditions for Antarctica (2019/20) and the rest of the year to Germany’s Nicko Cruises, a company owned by Mystic Invest, for sailings to the Arctic, Norwegian Fjords and Mediterranean.

Expedition Ships for 2019-2022

A rendering of Mystic Cruises’ 200-passenger World Explorer * Rendering: Mystic Cruises

OCEANWIDE EXPEDITIONS

A leading polar cruise company since 1993, Oceanwide Expeditions is building the new 180-passenger HONDIUS to ply the Arctic and Antarctica. Launching in the spring of 2019, it will be rated Polar Class 6. A speedy zodiac embarkation is guaranteed, with two separate gangways and an indoor platform that can be used for outdoor activities such as kayaking. The line’s goal is to offer a comfy, informal atmosphere onboard, with the main focus placed on the nature and wildlife programs and related shore activities, from camping to snowshoeing, and zodiac excursions. Accommodations range from twin cabins and quads, to spacious suites — a total of 14 have balconies.

The propulsion system consists of two medium speed main engines and one adjustable pitch propeller. The environmentally-friendly system, which features a shaft generator instead of a diesel-driven generator, allows the lowest possible fuel consumption and CO2 emission. The vessel will also use biodegradable lubrication oils; certifiably hazardous-free coating and paint; steam for onboard heating; LED interior and exterior lighting (reducing power and fuel needs); and waste heat (such as cooling water for the main engines) reused for the production of fresh water.

Expedition Ships for 2019-2022

The 180-passenger Honidus, to ply the Polar Regions. * Rendering: Oceanwide Cruises

PONANT

French-owned Ponant, known for its sophisticated international atmosphere, is scheduled to release four new 184-passenger “Explorer” sister ships in the span of two years, all named after French explorers: LE LAPEROUSE (2018), LE CHAMPLAIN (2018), LE BOUGAINVILLE (2019), LE DUMONT-D’URVILLE (2019), LE BELLOT (2020) and LE JACQUES CARTIER (2020). The Explorer series will have an Ice Class 1C rating with reinforced hull for polar navigation. Inside, elegant cabins will have private balconies and public rooms are being designed with light woods and lots of blues and beige.

The ships will have cool pools with wake-facing views and also a counter-current system. Each will sport a 188-seat state-of-the-art theatre, sauna with ocean views, and two restaurants. The innovative “Blue Eye” lounge located under the water line will immerse passengers in the undersea world with two porthole windows and three underwater cameras projecting images on big screens.

A stern marina allows easy access to swimming, kayaking, diving and other watersports, as well as Zodiacs for excursions. These vessels will offer cruises to Iceland and the Arctic Circle as well as Norway, the Greek Isles and Indonesia.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of the stern of Ponant’s new builds. * Rendering: Ponant

SCENIC

Known for its large fleet of river boats, Scenic is entering the expedition world. The line is building a new 228-passenger luxury expedition yacht called SCENIC ECLIPSE, delayed and now to debut in April 2019. After inaugural voyages in the Mediterranean and Cuba, it will head to Antarctica for the winter, then back through the Mediterranean to the Arctic region.

Marrying luxury with adventure, SCENIC ECLIPSE will have heated indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, gym, and yoga and pilates studio. Choose from nine different dining venues, ranging from casual to fine dining. The all-suite accommodations have balconies and butler service. All-inclusive fares cover all drinks, laundry service and wifi. For exploring on shore, two helicopters and a submarine are carried on board, plus Zodiacs, kayaks and snow shoes. SCENIC ECLIPSE II is due in 2020.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of the swanky Scenic Eclipse. * Rendering: Scenic

SEABOURN

Seabourn has offered an expedition-style program in Antarctica with the Seabourn Quest since 2013, and will continue to do so until the arrival of the purpose-designed pair of 264-passenger expedition vessels expected to debut in 2020 and 2022. Seabourn Cruise Line introduced a trio of ships that offered a new high standard of luxury accommodations beginning with Seabourn Pride in 1988 with 208 passengers, the identical Seabourn Spirit the following year, and slightly larger Seabourn Legend 1996.

When these ships were sold to Windstar Cruises, Seabourn’s new, much larger fleet exceeded QuirkyCruise’s passenger limits,  with Seabourn Odyssey (2009), Sojourn (2010), and Quest (2011) taking up to 458 passengers and Seabourn Encore (2016) and Ovation (2018) with 600 passengers. So now that Seabourn is entering the expedition ship business, as have other upscale lines, with passenger capacities falling below our 300-passenger limit, we’re back reporting on Seabourn and their new builds.

 

SUNSTONE SHIPS

The largest tonnage provider of expedition vessels to the cruise industry, Miami, Florida-based SunStone Ships is releasing four new sister ships within the span of the next two years, and has an option to build additional six vessels.

The ships are being designed with inverted bows, which are thought to mitigate vertical motion from waves to create a smoother ride. The first delivery will be in September 2019, with one vessel to follow every six months afterwards. SunStone’s new ships are being planned to accommodate between 130 and 200 passengers. They’ll be rated Ice Class 1A or Polar Code 6. The vessels’ interior will be created by Florida-based design firm Tomas Tillberg Design International, one of the most sought after names in the business.

The vessels are being built in China (by China Merchants Heavy Industry, near Shanghai,) with the design, equipment and management supplied by Norway’s Ulstein Design & Solutions. The plan is for the fleet to be chartered to other companies within the expedition world. The first vessel has been chartered long-term to Aurora Expeditions in Australia. This vessel’s technical operations will be managed by Cruise Management International (CMI) and the hotel operations, by sister company CMI Leisure.

New Generation Expedition Ships

Note the inverted bow of SunStone’s new builds. * Rendering: SunStone

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com HERE for monthly updates! 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Ben Lyons

QuirkyCruise’s Ben Lyons is Named to Seatrade’s ’20 under 40′

By Anne Kalosh.

QuirkyCruise.com contributor Ben Lyons has been named to a prestigious list of 20 people under 40 who are making an outstanding contribution to the global cruise industry. Lyons, a maritime expert, licensed captain and CEO of Expedition Voyage Consultants and EYOS Expeditions, is also a travel writer — to the benefit of Quirky readers.

The “20 under 40” competition is the brainchild of Seatrade Cruise News, a leading news site covering the global cruise industry. Seatrade sought young professionals who show great initiative, an exceptionally hardworking culture or strong leadership.

Ben Lyons

Ben in Staten Island Argentina during the first call by a foreign ship with Lindblad Expeditions.

“The caliber, talent and achievements of the nominees was of an amazingly high standard, which made the judging process extremely hard,” says Mary Bond, managing director of publishing, Seatrade. “It’s so encouraging to see so much young talent build, maintain and innovate this thriving and exciting industry and all the judges were left invigorated by the exercise and applaud the winners.”

Lyons, 39, has demonstrated all the winning qualities and more. His company, Expedition Voyage Consultants, designs itineraries and plans expeditions to the remotest areas; provides expedition team staffing and management; operates helicopters, ROVs and submarines; consults on expedition ship design; and assists in writing Polar Code operating manuals.

Ben Lyons

In front of Windstar’s Star Legend in Geraingerfjord in Aug 2017 in prep for her Alaska season this year which Ben’s company Expedition Voyage Consultants assisted with.

“We are lucky to have a tremendous team of some of the best expedition talent in the industry. With such a diverse set of skills in-house, we’ve been able to tackle wildly different projects,” says Lyons.

Accomplishments have included designing the pioneering Crystal Serenity expedition through the Northwest Passage in 2016 and partnering with Damen Shipyards as expedition design consultants to help create a new line of expedition cruise ships.

Ben Lyons

Ben Lyons, second right, at Pond Inlet, Nunavut, during Crystal Serenity’s 2016 Northwest Passage expedition. * Photo: Anne Kalosh

EYOS Expeditions, meanwhile, provides many of the same services for yachts and superyachts, and was involved in Damen’s cutting-edge SeaXplorer design.

Lyons says he has always been captivated by ships and travel. “Ever since I was five years old, I remember being fascinated with ships. It may have started with taking the Cape May-Lewes ferry as a child, but it quickly turned into passenger ships. I remember welcoming QE2 into Baltimore on her maiden arrival there when I was six years old. Four years later I was invited onboard by former CEO Ralph Bahna for a tour of the ship,” Lyons says.

Ben Lyons

Ben as a 10-year-old meeting Captain Robin Woodall on the QE2.

In-between breaks from Groton school, Lyons would volunteer onboard the WWII Liberty ship John W. Brown in Baltimore, which inspired him to attend the U.S Merchant Marine Academy. Afterwards, he served as an officer aboard a variety of vessels, ranging from large cruise ships in Hawaii to cable ships installing undersea fiber optic systems. In 2003, he was recruited for Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, then under construction in France, and consequently became the first American officer the company had hired in its over 160-year history. He served for five years on board, ultimately as chief officer.

Ben Lyons

Ben Lyons in 2006 as an officer aboard Queen Mary 2. At far left is QuirkyCruise.com co-founder Ted Scull and center Ralph Grizzle of Avid Cruiser. * Photo: Anne Kalosh

After traveling to Antarctica in 2007, he fell in love with the continent and joined Lindblad Expeditions to explore more of the world’s polar regions. He sailed on National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Explorer, first as chief officer and later as captain.

Ben Lyons

Dry dock in Germany as captain onboard Lindblad’s Nat Geo Explorer.

Lyons’ interest in the business of shipping and expedition travel spurred him to earn an MBA at Columbia Business School in his adopted hometown of New York City.

“Of course, I miss being at sea full time — the camaraderie with crew and getting to know guests (in particular on the smaller ships), plus the incredible destinations you are traveling to. However, there is a lot to love about being on the other side, helping companies behind the scenes develop their product and watching how the industry is changing. It is definitely an exciting time to be in the expedition world,” Lyons adds with a smile.

Ben Lyons

Ben lives happily ever after in NYC with wife Kathryn Harrison 💕

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for monthly updates!  

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

By Anne Kalosh.

Crystal Endeavor may be a small ship but it caused a big splash in Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the Aug. 21 keel-laying festivities at MV Werften in Stralsund.

Merkel made her entry to the tune of “Gonna Fly Now” from “Rocky,” applauded by hundreds of shipyard workers in blue “Team Endeavor” shirts, upper management of Crystal Cruises and of its parent company, Genting Hong Kong, and international media.

Merkel said she’d seen renderings for Crystal Endeavor, “and I wish I could take a voyage on that vessel.” Crystal Endeavor, the chancellor added, is a great name. She wished the yard workers “good ideas and strong nerves” as they build the 20,000-gross-ton, ice-class luxury expedition yacht.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mecklenburg Vorpommern Minister President Manuela Schwesig place lucky coins. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

First New Build

This is the first new build for the Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises brand, which also operates the small, luxurious Crystal Esprit. Bookings have just opened for Crystal Endeavor, which will make its debut in August 2020, with voyages exploring Japan and the Russian Far East, New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica, as well as the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

A rendering of the Crystal Endeavor.

Merkel said it was an emotional day for her as she returned to her political home, Mecklenburg Vorpommern state in northern Germany. This is where Genting Hong Kong acquired three struggling shipyards in Stralsund, Wismar and Warnemünde for €230 million and pumped in €250 million to bring them up to the capability of building the latest generation cruise ships.

So far MV Werften has turned out four luxurious river vessels for Crystal River Cruises. A sister to Crystal Endeavor is due in 2021, followed by the first 65,000-gross-ton Crystal Diamond class ship for Crystal Cruises in 2022.

There was a strong sense of pride in Stralsund’s giant covered building hall as Merkel spoke. “People here in Stralsund will always do their best to create great value … We know how to compete. We are very proud in Mecklenburg Vorpommern and Germany and we want to make the label ‘Made in MV’ an attraction,” she said.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

Chancellor Angela Merkel with MV Werften interns at the Crystal Endeavor keel-laying. * Photo: Anne Kalosh

Historically, Germany has built a 25 percent share of the world’s cruise ships. Thanks to Genting Hong Kong’s investment, that will go up to a 35 percent share by 2020, according to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong.

Merkel joined Lim, Mecklenburg Vorpommern Minister/President Manuela Schwesig, Crystal Cruises President and CEO Tom Wolber, and other officials to place “lucky” coins in the keel — 88 U.S. dollars and 88 euro coins, 8 being a lucky number in Asia. Then Merkel radioed a crane operator to begin lowering the 400-ton keel block into place.

As for the Chancellor’s wish to take a cruise on Crystal Endeavor, “I’ll make room for her,” Wolber said.

German Chancellor Presides Over Crystal Endeavor Keel-Laying

The Crystal Endeavor builder’s plate. * Photo: Anne Kalosh

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for a monthly update of our best posts!

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Crystal Cruises Tom Wolber

5 Questions for Crystal Cruises Tom Wolber

By John Roberts.

Crystal Cruises Tom Wolber

Crystal CEO Tom Wolber

It’s been just about a year since Tom Wolber was appointed president and CEO of Crystal Cruises.

The cruise industry vet had spent 28 years with The Walt Disney Co., including his final decade in the company with Disney Cruise Line.

Crystal Cruises parent Genting Hong Kong placed Wolber at the helm to help steer the brand toward the future. Wolber arrived at Crystal Cruises during a period of rapid growth, and a bit of turbulence, as he says, with three new brands coming online: Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yachts and Crystal Air.

QuirkyCruise recently caught up with Wolber in Amsterdam to check on how his first year running the ship at Crystal has been going. He sat down for five questions during a break in preparations for the christening of Crystal Debussey, a new ship for Crystal River Cruises.

 

 

QuirkyCruise: What is your overall vision for the brand, now that you have become well acclimated with everything during your first year?

Tom Wolber: I think the overall vision for the brand is to continue to widen and deepen the Crystal appeal for guests that fit into the Crystal profile. Within luxury, there are many different niches. So, what we are doing is broadening our appeal, with the introduction of river cruises and expedition cruises — on three new mega-yachts dues in 2020 and 2021, and on the yacht Crystal Esprit that debuted in 2015 — so that people can find the Crystal experience in more places. Maybe you’ve done ocean cruises a couple of times, but want to go inland a little bit more and explore that. You can do it with Crystal.

We’ve had turbulent times, as you add a yacht, river ships … big growth after 25 years of relatively stable ocean-going business. So, the immediate strategy now is to stabilize what we have. Let’s focus on them, iron them out so they perform at the level they should.

 

QuirkyCruise: What excites you the most everyday about getting up and working for Crystal?

Tom Wolber: Our segment of the luxury market is still growing quite well, and there are still so many destinations we can take passengers to. Designing those experiences so that they are truly what you expect from Crystal is something that excites me. We have inclusive tours in every port (for river and yacht cruises), and we design them so they are not the same tours as everyone else’s. That they are unique and not crowded is the biggest Crystal advantage.

Crystal Cruises Tom Wolber

The Crystal Bach. * Photo: John Roberts

 

QuirkyCruise: How important are the people and crew and their roles to the success of Crystal?

Tom Wolber: I have always maintained that the most beautiful architecture, the most-exquisite finishes, it is all just stuff. You can have great technology, a beautiful ship; it’s an empty body and a beautiful body. What brings it alive and puts the heart and soul into it, is the crew.

The crew are what creates the memories for our guests. Yes, you have a wonderful restaurant, but it’s the waiter that you remember. It’s that experience about how you were talking about your day ashore and maybe about how they are from a little village near there and how that all connects.

I think this is what Crystal does better than anyone out there. To allow the crew to interact with the guests in a professional way, but in a way that is also personable.

Crystal Cruises Tom Wolber

A Crystal crew member. * Photo: John Roberts

 

QuirkyCruise: What challenges or opportunities do you see coming for the company?

Tom Wolber: Obviously, we have to step up our game when it comes to our footprint. I mean footprint in multiple ways. The environmental footprint. We have to get cleaner as an industry.

We also have a “volume” footprint. We are bringing passengers to port, and as an industry, overcrowding is going to be a massive issue as we move into the next 10 years. It is opportunistic, as well. There are lots of ways to fix it.  We have to start getting really smart about that, and we have to start working more hand-in-hand with the local authorities. We can bring expertise. I think that is something that will be really important for us to push for.

 

QuirkyCruise: What’s next for Crystal, whether it be shipwise, excursions or other?

Tom Wolber: The next big thing is going to be introducing Crystal Endeavor to the fleet. (Crystal Endeavor is a polar-class expedition yacht that carries 200 passengers and is due to set sail in 2020.) Then, we’re going back to the Diamond-Class ships, back to the ocean, introducing ships around the size of Crystal Serenity — 800 to 850 passengers max. We also will be looking to maintain that edge of generosity and space, feeling uncrowded. That is what no one else can copy.

 

Crystal Cruises Tom Wolber

A rendering of the Crystal Endeavour.

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for monthly updates!

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises’ Mark Spillane

By Anne Kalosh.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

Mark Spillane, manager, sales & marketing, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises.

Quirkycruise.com spoke with Mark Spillane, Manager, Sales & Marketing, for Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises. This was the first brand extension after Crystal Cruises was acquired by Genting Hong Kong, which also owns Asia’s Star Cruises and Dream Cruises. Under Genting’s ownership, Crystal began operating the luxurious yacht Crystal Esprit and is building the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, to enter service in 2020. Two more expedition new builds are planned.

 

QC: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Mark Spillane: I worked at Silversea, another luxury cruise line, for three years and came to Crystal last year. I’m fortunate to have the expedition background from Silversea, and Crystal Endeavor will be our first expedition yacht. There’s a lot that goes into that, and having that insight is great to make sure we offer our guests a true luxury experience.

 

QC: What are your responsibilities?

Mark Spillane: I oversee a lot of different departments. My main focus is sales and marketing, but I do sit on the itinerary planning team and I work closely with the on-board team to see if there are things we could be doing shore-side to further enhance our product.

 

QC: Have you sailed Crystal Esprit? What’s it like?

Mark Spillane: Twice, in the West Indies. One of my favorite things starts right when guests get to Esprit, the embarkation process. Typically, on a cruise ship you arrive at a terminal and go through security, and you may have a line — not so much with Crystal. But with Esprit, you arrive and are greeted in the reception area with a glass of champagne by one of our staff members and walked to your suite, which is ready for you. The staff member checks you in on an ipad, and that’s the extent of the process. So you’re left to enjoy the ship or the port of call.

quirky-cruise-naturalists-on-small-ship-cruises-crystal-espirits-marina-is-stocked-with-water

Crystal Esprit’s marina is stocked with water sports ‘toys.’ * Photo: Crystal Yacht Expeditions Cruises

 

QC: Tell us about an adventure you had on board.

Mark Spillane: Saba’s a unique port in the West Indies. It’s not that typical beach experience. It’s a marine park. Not many cruise ships go there, and there are fewer than 2,000 people on the island. It’s a big mountain. When you wake up in the morning, we’re anchored right up against the island and you look out and see the dramatic landscape. There we offer a hiking adventure and it is true hiking for those who enjoy that physical adventure. It’s about a three-hour hike, which ends at a hotel on the other side of the island, where guests can have a beverage or two. From there a transfer takes them back to the ship. It’s a real adventure experience. It’s not paved. You’re hiking through the mountains and you have the canopy overlay of all the trees and you see the wildlife.

 

QC: What’s the dining like on Esprit, and which is your favorite dining spot?

Mark Spillane: The cuisine on board is superb. The executive chef puts out the sublime and a work of art, each dish. What you can do when you only have 62 guests on board is à la minute preparation of each dish. We even have an on-board pastry chef for our breads and desserts. That seems to be what really sticks with the guests. From their perspective, and mine as well, it’s the best food they’ve had, on land or sea. We like to call it Michelin-inspired cuisine.

I love to dine alfresco. On Esprit we have the patio grill and it’s typically open all day for fresh fish, salads, wraps, burgers. We have a great fritto misto, usually shrimp, calamari and some vegetables. It’s a phenomenal place to dine when you’re heading back from an excursion. You freshen up and head up to sunset deck and enjoy lunch while you’re anchored in these beautiful harbors around the world.

 

QC: Tell us about the service.

Mark Spillane: The crew on board is really what sets esprit apart, and that’s what we look to bring to Endeavor. On Esprit we have 90 crew for just 62 guests and that leads to this perfect balance of professionalism and camaraderie. You quickly become a family, not only with the fellow guests but with the crew. They come to know you, your likes and your dislikes. They have things prepared for you. For example, I sleep with three pillows. They picked up on that. So the next day, when they made up the bed, there were three pillows on one side. All these little details that you don’t even tell them, they pick up on.

 

QC: Who cruises on Esprit?

Mark Spillane: People who want an adventure. We don’t typically offer sea days on Esprit. There are some, but for most itineraries you’re in port every day. You’re up in the morning, going on hikes or kayaking. We have jet skis. It’s an active experience. So that typically means in the evenings, it dies down a little sooner because guests are going to bed because they’re preparing for the next day’s adventure.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

Crystal Esprit provides an active experience, including water toys. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

For Crystal, Esprit has the youngest demographic of all our ships. The average age is 56, 57. They’re working professionals who have had success. They don’t have a long time to take off, so our itineraries are shorter, seven to 10 days. We offer free, unlimited Wi-fi on board, so they can still be connected if they need to work.

It’s also typically more international guests. And it’s good for multigenerational families. I met a family consisting of two teen-age boys, two adult couples and the grandparent, and this was their third time on the Esprit. This was the only Crystal experience they’ve had, and that’s what we find: it brings in new-to-Crystal guests and they absolutely love it. As that family grows, they can grow into river and ocean ships as well.

 

QC: It sounds like you should be somewhat fit to sail on the Esprit?

Mark Spillane: There is no elevator on Crystal Esprit so guests have to climb the stairs between the decks, and climb into and out of the Zodiacs and tenders as needed. And children under 6 aren’t allowed on the tenders, so Esprit is really for older kids.

 

QC: How far ahead do people need to book?

Mark Spillane: For this summer in the Adriatic, we just have a couple of suites still available. In 2019, we have plenty of availability at this point for the Adriatic. Guests who want to experience the West Indies this winter should definitely look into it now because we just announced that in fourth quarter 2019, we’ll be in Dubai. So for our current itinerary set, this coming November will be the last season, for now, in the West Indies.

 

QC: Esprit launched in the Seychelles. You’ve really been expanding itineraries. What’s hot?

Mark Spillane: When we had our last season in the Seychelles, at the end, when we went to the Adriatic, we were sold out. The Esprit is all about offering options to our guests, and many of them do return so we’re trying to offer as many unique destinations as we can.

We have a great Holy Land sailing with some great ports in Israel and it’s really selling very well, I think because it’s unique, and Esprit has never offered something like this. It’s only one voyage. We don’t plan on offering it again in 2019, possibly in 2020. It depends on where the ship goes from the Seychelles.

 

QC: How much do the cruises cost?

Mark Spillane: The West Indies cruises tend to be priced at about $4,500 per person, double occupancy, for the week. The Adriatic tends to be slightly more, around $5,500 per person for the week. And that’s all-inclusive, so transfers are included if you fly in and out on the days of embarkation and debarkation, wi-fi is included, and beverages. Really the only extra costs on the esprit are our submersible experience and optional shore excursions. We typically offer two shore excursions in each port, included in the price. One is more active, like the hike in Saba. The other is a panoramic city tour for those who don’t want to be as active. We do offer a handful of optional shore excursions that guests can purchase for an additional charge.

 

QC: Tell us about some of the included excursions.

Mark Spillane: In St. Bart’s we have a catamaran. It’s a really nice way to see this chic French island. We take our guests on a tour around the island, then we anchor in a bay where there’s a beach. Guests can snorkel, there are water noodles. They can enjoy the water and the beach. We serve light hors d’oeuvres and beverages on board. Then we sail back to the ship.

We have exclusive rights to Moskito Island [Richard Branson’s private hideaway in the British Virgin Islands] during our calls. It’s a great beach day. We do a fun wet landing, bring our guests to the beach in Zodiacs and they hop out. We do a beach barbecue. We have sun-loungers, everything down to the details of sunscreen and bug spray, should you need it. I’ve been there; there’s actually no mosquitoes. We bring all our water toys, kayaks and snorkeling gear for our guests to use. It’s a peaceful retreat.

We have a wider speedboat and we offer a complimentary champagne cruise on that for our guests. We do need permission from the local port authorities to use the wider so it’s not offered in every port, but typically once per sailing. It’s a fun experience.

Q&A with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Mark Spillane

A ride in Crystal Esprit’s submersible costs extra but makes for a great adventure. * Photo: Crystal Expeditions

 

QC: Have you gone on the submersible?

Mark Spillane: I have, and it’s an absolutely phenomenal experience. For those who may not be scuba divers and haven’t had the experience of going under the water, it is quite surreal because you’re almost surrounded by glass. I did it in St. Kitts and there’s a shipwreck right off the coast that you visit. It’s so unique to see something like that up close. Of course you have marine life swimming around. It’s surreal to be in this bubble that’s comfortable and air-conditioned. It’s driven by the Esprit’s vice captain. It’s usually about a 30-minute experience and the cost varies. In the west indies, it’s currently $599 per person, and in the Adriatic it’s currently $350 per person.

 

QC: Turning to your new build, Crystal Endeavor, what excites you most about it?

Mark Spillane: The space. The expedition market is really booming now, and we’re starting to see new builds for luxury expeditions, which have been missing in that segment. The Endeavor will be almost 20,000 gross tons and will only have a hundred suites and 200 guests. So that really offers the space to have all the amenities the Crystal guest has come to expect and that includes a full spa, sauna and gym. These types of amenities aren’t offered on expedition ships. We can take this amazing Crystal experience that’s been perfected, and our loyal followers love, to the ends of the earth. We can take it to those bucket-list destinations that our guests haven’t had the opportunity to go to, in Crystal luxury.

quirky-cruise-new-expedition-yacht-crystal-endeavor-crystal-endeavor-solarium-in-day

Crystal Endeavor’s solarium by day. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

 

QC: Is it a real expedition?

Mark Spillane: Yes, we will have expedition leaders on board, a fleet of Zodiacs as well as water toys and equipment that we’ll be able to talk about in the near future. And we’ll be going to true, off-the-beaten path, unspoiled destinations, including the arctic and the antarctic.

 

QC: When will you announce the itineraries?

Mark Spillane: The itineraries for Crystal Endeavor are going to be announced today on July 31. Bookings will open to past passengers (Crystal Society members) on Aug. 8 and to the public on Aug. 22.

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for monthly updates! 

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.
quirky-cruise-new-expedition-yacht-crystal-endeavor-photo-of-crystal-endeavor-ship

By Anne Kalosh.

Expedition yacht CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR will have the same luxury standard and many of the restaurants and lounges Crystal Cruises loyalists know and love.

It will also house the only casino on an expedition ship.

The all-suite, 200-passenger CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR measures 19,800 gross tons and is set to debut in 2020 as Crystal’s first expedition new build.

CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR will hold to the dining standard offered on all Crystal ocean, yacht and river vessels, with all-inclusive dining, fine wines and premium spirits throughout.

Specialty restaurants include Prego for traditional Italian fare (and on CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR it also will host Crystal’s Vintage Room winemaker dinners) and Umi Uma for sushi and specialties from master chef Nobu Matsuhisa. As well, the yacht will have main dining venue Waterside and the Asian-inspired Silk Kitchen & Bar, located in the two-story, glass-enclosed solarium pool deck during the evenings.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Even Nobu Matsuhisa’s Asian cuisine will be aboard Crystal Endeavor, in restaurant Umi Uma. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

Plus, besides being the go-to spot for freshly brewed espresso and teas, the European-inspired Bistro Café will serve full breakfast and lunch.

Palm Court, a favorite place for afternoon tea, cocktails, dancing and floor-to-ceiling views aboard Crystal’s ocean and river ships, will be aboard CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR for evening entertainment, enrichment presentations and classes. Other familiar social spaces are the Connoisseur Club cigar lounge and Crystal Cove, the heart of the ship where passengers will gather for guest speakers, pre-dinner cocktails and late-night entertainment.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Palm Court, a favorite Crystal lounge, will be aboard expedition ship Crystal Endeavor. * Photo : Crystal Cruises

Further venues include the Captain’s Lounge, the Expedition Lounge, the Helicopter Lounge and the Library. The Promenade will stretch from Crystal Cove to Waterside, making a more intimate space for cocktails, conversation and views. Additionally, Crystal’s boutiques Apropos and Facets will sell designer goods and fine jewelry.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s Helicopter Lounge. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

A fully equipped fitness center and the Crystal Life Spa/Salon will come with three treatment rooms, separate men’s and women’s steam and sauna facilities, a relaxation room and full-service salon.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s solarium by day. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

Mudrooms will provide a place to gear up for the day’s adventures and clean boots and equipment upon return from exploring ashore.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor’s mudrooms will provide space to gear up and clean boots. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR ’s Polar Class 6 designation will enable operations in summer and autumn through medium first-year ice. The ship will have dynamic positioning capabilities, too, meaning that it can stay in place without dropping anchor, important when sailing over sensitive areas like coral reefs.

New Expedition Yacht Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Endeavor will have a Polar Class 6 rating. * Photo: Crystal Cruises

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

New Generation Expedition Ships

By Sasha Wodtke, Heidi Sarna & Ted Scull.

20 Next Generation Expedition Ships in the Pipeline for 2018-2020

In recent years, an unprecedented number of cruise lines have been investing time and resources into building small expedition cruise ships to explore hard-to-reach places around the world. Between 2018 and 2020, we’ll see the debut of more than 20 next-generation expedition ships carrying under 300 passengers. Several more are in the works and we’re busy confirming their launch dates and will update this article periodically.

Whether you’re eager to explore the breathtaking glaciers of Iceland, see polar bears in the Arctic or a waddle of adorable penguins in Antarctica, small expedition ships will take you there. In fact, there are many isolated locales where an expedition cruise is really the only way to go: from hopping around the Galapagos Islands to exploring the Polar Regions and isolated corners of Australia or South Pacific islands.

While some are very cushy and luxurious with fancy spas, plush suites and multiple gourmet dining venues, others are more utilitarian and destination-focused. Either way, expedition vessels are built as transportation for intrepid travelers to reach remote places. Most have ice-strengthened hulls for cruising the Polar Regions and most carry Zodiac boats for excursions.

Trends in next-generation expedition cruise vessels focus on high-tech gear to enhance passenger interaction with the environment — think mini-submarines and helicopters. Some have underwater cameras that a diving staff member uses to take high-definition footage of the undersea world around the ship, beaming the video back to passengers on board. Hydrophones, or underwater microphones, used to catch whale sounds are standard equipment on expedition ships. Increasingly, ships carry a ROV, a remotely operated vehicle capable of diving far deeper than a human Scuba diver to view parts of the undersea world you could otherwise only speculate about.

In terms of environmental impact, the newest expedition vessels are being kitted out with hybrid engines fueled by hydrogen and with hull designs that improve fuel efficiency. Read on for more details.

 

2018-2020 Schedule of New Expedition Ships Under 300 Passengers
CRUISE
LINE
SHIP
NAME
PASSENGER COUNT GROSS TONNAGE DEBUT
DATE
Antarctica XXI Magellan Explorer 100 4,900 Q4 2019
Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Flora 100 5,739 Q2 2019
Coral Expeditions Coral Adventurer 120 5,000 Q1 2019
Crystal Yacht Expeditions Endeavor 200 25,000 Q4 2019
Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Nature 230 15,540 April 2019
Hapag-Lloyd Hanseatic Inspiration 230 15,540 October 2019
Lindblad Expeditions National Geo Venture 100 1,800 May 2018
Lindblad Expeditions Unnamed 126 12,300 Q1 2020
Mystic Cruises World Explorer 200 9,300 October 2018
Mystic Cruises Unnamed 200 9,300 Q1 2020
Oceanwide Expeditions Hondius 180 5,590 Q2 2019
Ponant Le Lapérouse 184 10,038 June 2018
Ponant Le Champlain 184 10,038 September 2018
Ponant Le Bougainville 184 10,038 June 2019
Ponant Le Dumont-d’Urville 184 10,038 September 2019
Scenic Scenic Eclipse 228 16,500 August 2018
SunStone Unnamed 160 8,000 September 2019
SunStone Unnamed 130 8,000 April 2020
SunStone Unnamed 160/180 8,000 September 2020
SunStone Unnamed 160/180 8,000 April 2021

 

A Brief Snapshot of the Expedition Lines
Antarctica XXI 

The pioneering company Antarctica XXI is building the MV MAGELLAN EXPLORER for a late 2019 delivery. The company specializes in offering Antarctica expedition air-cruise combos; flying passengers over the stormy Drake Passage to board their small expedition ship directly in Antarctica. Holding a maximum of 100 passengers, the MV MAGELLAN EXPLORER will have a large, forward-facing observation lounge, a viewing deck, and a dining room that accommodates all guests and expedition staff in a single sitting. Cabins range from 220 to 440 square feet; most have balconies and a handful are dedicated cabins for singles. The ship will be outfitted with a pair of meeting rooms, protected outdoor barbecue area, sauna and gym. Kayaks and snowshoes are carried on board. It’s being built to the latest Polar Code specifications established by the International Maritime Organization and carries a Polar Class 6 ice-class. For comfortable navigation, the ship will have stabilizers as well as bow and stern thrusters.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of Antarctica XXI’s Magellan Explorer. * Rendering: Antarctica XXI

Celebrity Expeditions

Celebrity Cruises is building 100-passenger CELEBRITY FLORA, an all-suite ship with a glass-wrapped Observatory and a library dedicated to the Galápagos. A marina at the stern will make it easy to step into Zodiacs for the frequent nature tours — hiking, swimming and snorkeling — that characterize a Galápagos cruise. A staircase leads from the marina to the Sunset Lounge, an outdoor space with a plunge pool. Inside, Darwin’s Cove is the place where passengers can chat with the naturalists who lead tours and give informative talks. Briefings will be delivered in the Discovery Lounge, where there’s a full bar, stage for entertainment and comfy seating. Besides the Seaside Restaurant, open for all meals, the ship will have a casual alternative, the Ocean Grill, with panoramic views and the opportunity to dine under the stars. The standard “Sky Suites” measure 330 square feet with an “Infinite Veranda” that has doors that can slide to the side to make the veranda a seamless part of the room. When the doors are closed, creating a separate veranda area, the top of a floor-to-ceiling outside window can be lowered to the open air. The Penthouse Suites, at 1,288 square feet, are the top accommodations. CELEBRITY FLORA’s will have dynamic positioning so there’s no need to drop anchor to keep it in a fixed position at sea and an in-suite water filtration system that should cut or eliminate the use of bottled water, reducing plastic waste.

Celebrity's Custom-Built Galápagos Ship

A bird’s eye view rendering of the Flora. * Photo: Celebrity Cruises


Coral Expeditions

Australia-based Coral Expeditions is scheduled to release the new 120-passenger CORAL ADVENTURER in mid-2019 with another sister ship expected to follow after that one. The design will reflect Coral Expedition’s standard of offering a relaxed and intimate onboard atmosphere. The ship will explore the Kimberley region, Cape York and Arnhem Land (the top of Australia); Indonesia’s Papua New Guinea and Spice Islands; and the South Pacific. Wow-factor features will include multiple indoor and outdoor bars (who doesn’t love sipping a warming or cooling drink while watching the world pass by) and roomy communal areas. The casual dining area will seat all guests at once and more than half the cabins will have balconies.

Next Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of the 120-passenger Coral Adventurer. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

 

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises is building the 200-passenger CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR “mega-yacht” for launch in late 2019.  Designed for Arctic, Antarctic, and tropical conditions, the megayacht will have a PC6 Polar Class designation for cruising in Polar Regions and also be fitted with state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology. This means that computer-controlled systems allow the ship to automatically maintain its position with its own propellers and thrusters, so it can float atop coral reefs and historic ship wrecks without using anchors. CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR’s cool exploration “toys” include capacity for two helicopters and a submarine. Eighteen electric amphibious zodiacs are also part of the entourage, plus kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling and diving equipment, recompression chamber and dive support tender. There will also be SEABOBs, high-tech underwater scooters for exploring what lurks beneath. The onboard vibe will be just as over-the-top in terms of amenities, with six dining venues, an observation lounge with 270-degree panoramic views, and a pool whose floor can be lifted to create a dance floor or alfresco dining area. There will be a “Crystal Life” spa, salon and fitness center.  The standard suites will be 400 square feet (including balcony) and all have butler service. Fares are all-inclusive.

New Generation Expedition Ships

Rendering of the Crystal Endeavor. * Rendering: Crystal Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

The German line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises plans to release two new 230-passenger expedition sister ships: the HANSEATIC NATURE (April 2019) and HANSEATIC INSPIRATION (Oct 2019). The HANSEATIC NATURE will be a German-speaking ship while the HANSEATIC INSPIRATION will be an international ship, with all cruises conducted in both English and German. A blend of adventure and comfort, these ships are setting the bar high with three restaurants, two bars, a lounge, balcony suites, and gym and spa. Both will carry Zodiacs on board for excursions, and ply the waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as the Amazon River and South Pacific.

New Generation Expedition Ships

Rendering of Hapag-Lloyd’s new expedition ships. * Rendering: Hapag-Lloyd

Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad wrote the book on small-ship expedition cruising, when it pioneered Antarctic and Galapagos expeditions a half-century ago. In May 2018, Lindblad is introducing the new 100-passenger NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURE, a sister to the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC QUEST, to Alaska, the Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest. The new ship will have 22 of 50 cabins with step-out balconies and six sets of connecting cabins for families and groups. There is a Sun Deck Bar and a dedicated mudroom for storing your expedition gear. Guides and naturalists are excellent, and the ship comes equipped with twin expedition landing craft, Zodiacs, kayaks, paddleboards, undersea video camera, hydrophone, glass bottom boat, video microscope, snorkeling gear and a crow’s nest camera. The line has an open bridge policy.

Bigger news is the recent announcement that the line is building its first new ocean-going ice-class polar vessel, for delivery in early 2020. A core design feature of the 126-passenger vessel is the distinctive X-BOW that provides fuel efficiency while significantly improving passenger comfort in rough seas. The X-BOW, designed by Norway’s Ulstein Group, is found on numerous non-passenger vessels, but is just breaking in to the some of cruising’s next-generation expedition ships. The impressive exploration toys range from kayaks and cross-country skis, to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), hydrophones, a video microscope, underwater video cameras and a helicopter landing platform. Amenities include two dining venues, multiple observation decks, and suites and cabins include a dozen designated for solo travelers. You’ll find a spa, gym, yoga room and a pair of infinity Jacuzzis. Read more details in a recent QuirkyCruise news piece.

Lindblad Orders New Expedition Ship

A rendering of Lindblad’s polar new build. Look at that dolphin nose-like bow! * Rendering: Lindblad Expeditions

Mystic Cruises

Running on an energy-efficient Rolls Royce hybrid propulsion system, the 200-passenger WORLD EXPLORER will be introduced by Mystic Cruises in October 2018. This ship is the first vessel in a series of as many as 10 ships in total, with three more réplicas of the WORLD EXPLORER slated for delivery first quarter 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each will have a Bureau Veritas Ice Class 1B rating. Amenities will include a bow observation deck, theater/lecture hall, main lounge, observation bar, restaurant, library, small casino, fitness room, outdoor pool and jogging track. For the expedition itineraries, the mudroom and lockers for passenger gear will come in handy. Most cabins are 280-square-foot balcony suites, with two dozen “infinity” cabins having a sea-facing glass wall. The ship is chartered to Quark Expeditions for two Antarctica seasons (2018/19 and 2019/20) and the rest of the year to Germany’s Nicko Cruises, a company owned by Mystic Invest, for sailings to the Arctic, Norwegian Fjords and Mediterranean.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of Mystic Cruises’ 200-passenger World Explorer * Rendering: Mystic Cruises

Oceanwide Expeditions

A leading polar cruise company since 1993, Oceanwide Expeditions is building the new 180-passenger HONDIUS to ply the Arctic and Antarctica. Launching in the spring of 2019, it will be rated Polar Class 6. A speedy zodiac embarkation is guaranteed, with two separate gangways and an indoor platform that can be used for outdoor activities such as kayaking. The line’s goal is to offer a comfy, informal atmosphere onboard, with the main focus placed on the nature and wildlife programs and related shore activities, from camping to snowshoeing, and zodiac excursions. Accommodations range from twin cabins and quads, to spacious suites — a total of 14 have balconies. The propulsion system consists of two medium speed main engines and one adjustable pitch propeller. The environmentally-friendly system, which features a shaft generator instead of a diesel-driven generator, allows the lowest possible fuel consumption and CO2 emission. The vessel will also use biodegradable lubrication oils; certifiably hazardous-free coating and paint; steam for onboard heating; LED interior and exterior lighting (reducing power and fuel needs); and waste heat (such as cooling water for the main engines) reused for the production of fresh water.

Next Generation Expedition Ships

Rendering of the 180-passenger Honidus, to ply the Polar Regions. * Rendering: Oceanwide Cruises

Ponant

French-owned Ponant, known for its sophisticated international atmosphere, is scheduled to release four new 184-passenger “Explorer” sister ships in the span of two years, all named after French explorers: LE LAPEROUSE (2018), LE CHAMPLAIN (2018), LE BOUGAINVILLE (2019), and LE DUMONT-D’URVILLE (2019). The Explorer series will have an Ice Class 1C rating with reinforced hull for polar navigation. Inside, elegant cabins will have private balconies and public rooms are being designed with light woods and lots of blues and beige. The ships will have cool pools with wake-facing views and also a counter-current system. Each will sport a 188-seat state-of-the-art theatre, sauna with ocean views, and two restaurants. The innovative “Blue Eye” lounge located under the water line will immerse passengers in the undersea world with two porthole windows and three underwater cameras projecting images on big screens. A stern marina allows easy access to swimming, kayaking, diving and other watersports, as well as Zodiacs for excursions. These vessels will offer cruises to Iceland and the Arctic Circle as well as Norway, the Greek Isles and Indonesia.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of the stern of Ponant’s new builds. * Rendering: Ponant

Scenic

Known for its large fleet of river boats, Scenic is entering the expedition world. The line is building a new 228-passenger luxury expedition yacht called SCENIC ECLIPSE to debut in August 2018. After inaugural voyages in the Mediterranean and Cuba, it will head to Antarctica for the winter, then back through the Mediterranean to the Arctic region. Marrying luxury with adventure, SCENIC ECLIPSE will have heated indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, gym, and yoga and pilates studio. Choose from nine different dining venues, ranging from casual to fine dining. The all-suite accommodations have balconies and butler service. All-inclusive fares cover all drinks, laundry service and wifi. For exploring on shore, two helicopters and a submarine are carried on board, plus Zodiacs, kayaks and snow shoes.

New Generation Expedition Ships

A rendering of the swanky Scenic Eclipse. * Rendering: Scenic

Seabourn

Seabourn has offered an expedition-style program in Antarctica with the Seabourn Quest since 2013, and will continue to do so until the arrival of the purpose-designed pair of 264-passenger expedition vessels expected to debut in 2021 and 2022 Seabourn Cruise Line introduced a trio of ships that offered a new high standard of luxury accommodations beginning with Seabourn Pride in 1988 with 208 passengers, the identical Seabourn Spirit the following year, and slightly larger Seabourn Legend 1996. When these ships were sold to Windstar Cruises, Seabourn’s new, much larger fleet exceeded QuirkyCruise’s passenger limits,  with Seabourn Odyssey (2009), Sojourn (2010), and Quest (2011) taking up to 458 passengers and Seabourn Encore (2016) and Ovation (2018) with 600 passengers. So now that Seabourn is entering the expedition ship business, as have other upscale lines, with passenger capacities falling below our 300-passenger limit, we’re back reporting on Seabourn and their new builds.

 

SunStone Ships

The largest tonnage provider of expedition vessels to the cruise industry, Miami, Florida-based SunStone Ships is releasing four new sister ships within the span of the next two years, and has an option to build additional six vessels. The ships are being designed with inverted bows, which are thought to mitigate vertical motion from waves to create a smoother ride. The first delivery will be in September 2019, with one vessel to follow every six months afterwards. SunStone’s new ships are being planned to accommodate between 130 and 200 passengers. They’ll be rated Ice Class 1A or Polar Code 6. The vessels’ interior will be created by Florida-based design firm Tomas Tillberg Design International, one of the most sought after names in the business. The vessels are being built in China (by China Merchants Heavy Industry, near Shanghai,) with the design, equipment and management supplied by Norway’s Ulstein Design & Solutions. The plan is for the fleet to be chartered to other companies within the expedition world. The first vessel has been chartered long-term to Aurora Expeditions in Australia. This vessel’s technical operations will be managed by Cruise Management International (CMI) and the hotel operations, by sister company CMI Leisure.

New Generation Expedition Ships

Note the inverted bow of SunStone’s new builds. * Rendering: SunStone

 

QuirkyCruise Intern Sasha Wodtke recently graduated high school in Singapore and is looking forward to studying English and Communication Studies at Northeastern University in fall 2018. In the meantime, she’s exploring and experiencing the startup world, interning, and dreaming of traveling to Greece, France, and Greenland in the near future.

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com HERE for monthly updates! 

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Crystal Bach's Godmother Anna Maria Kaufmann

By Anne Kalosh.

Opera star Anna Maria Kaufmann sang on Crystal River Cruises‘ newly delivered CRYSTAL BACH at christening festivities in Rüdesheim, Germany, on Aug. 20.

Crystal Bach's Godmother Anna Maria Kaufmann

Crystal Bach’s Godmother Anna Maria Kaufmann

“It is an honor to have one of Germany’s most gifted and cherished talents christen CRYSTAL BACH as she officially embarks on the Rhine as part of the award-winning Crystal fleet,” CEO and President Edie Rodriguez said.

Kaufmann has a decades-long career spanning the globe that took her from her hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, to some of the world’s most prestigious stages and events.

Considering the vessel’s name, she is a perfect choice for the godmother, and performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air” at the christening ceremony.

CRYSTAL BACH embarked on its maiden voyage from Amsterdam Aug. 13.

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.