Launch date: June 2009.
Maiden voyage: An eight-night itinerary in the western Mediterranean departed on June 6 from Palacrociere in Savona.
Fast facts: Costa Pacifica and sister ship Costa Luminosa, both by Costa Cruises, made headlines when they were christened on June 5 in Genoa. The former – which can take 3,780 guests in 1,504 cabins – features five restaurants and 13 bars, a spa, a gym with the premier Technogym Kinesis circuit, a swimming pool with a retractable glass roof and a mega screen, the Grand Prix simulator and PlayStation games.
Costa Pacifica is being promoted as “the ship of music”, being the world’s first vessel with a recording studio where guests can pick from a list of 400 Italian and international hits and record their own CDs, with two sound engineers to help make them sound like professionals. Passengers can expect “a total music experience” with an atrium, for example, decorated with symbols and other instruments, plus 29 music pieces arranged by Mauro Pagani.
Launch date: July 2009.
Maiden voyage: An eight-day Mediterranean sailing which departed Barcelona on July 13 for La Valletta, Malta.
Fast facts: This nearly 138,000-ton wonder of MSC Cruises features 18 decks, 13 of which cater for passengers. Its 1,637 cabins, including 43 for the physically challenged, can accommodate 3,274 people. For those who crave exclusivity, the vessel also offers a VIP area with 99 suites and round the clock butler service.
Other facilities are a spa for Balinese massages and water treatments, an exercise room suspended above water, five swimming pools including one with a sliding sunroof, a squash court and a Formula 1 simulator. F&B options range from a specialty Mexican restaurant (with a show gallery) to wine-tasting/coffee/jazz/sports bars as well as three outdoor bars. If you must work, there is a business centre with seating for 36 people.
Eco initiatives have been introduced such as using a water-recyling plant and an energy-monitoring system for controlling temperatures.
Launch date: December 2009.
Maiden voyage: Seven-night sailings to eastern Caribbean from the homeport of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Fast facts: The 16-deck Oasis of the Seas is Royal Caribbean International’s latest liner. When launched, it will feature a “neighbourhood concept” with seven themes – Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Centre, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone – customising the passengers’ experience at sea based on their personal style, preference or mood.
Highlights include “the first living park at sea”, a zip line that races diagonally nine decks above an open-air atrium, the Rising Tide Bar that moves between three decks and indoors to outdoors, and an amphitheatre-style space (which doubles up as a pool by day and an oceanfront theatre by night for professional aquatic acrobatic and synchronised swimming performances).
Accommodation caters to a total of 5,400 guests in 2,700 staterooms, including 28 multilevel loft suites with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Delivery date: May 2010.
Maiden voyage: A seven-night eastern Caribbean departure on July 17 from the homeport of Miami, with calls in St Maarten, US Virgin Islands and Bahamas.
Fast facts: The 4,200-passenger vessel will be able to provide several accommodation choices such as the curved New Wave staterooms, 60 suites and villas on two private top decks, as well as studios for the budget-conscious.
Its range of leisure and entertainment options is said to be extensive, including a 685-seat theatre, a more intimate 265-seater (a two-hour Cirque Dreams performance and dinner have been planned), a spa, an Aqua Park with slides, a bowling alley and a mixed-use sports deck for athletic activities. The Norwegian Epic will boast several firsts at sea – an Ice Bar, a 10m-high extreme rock-climbing and rappelling wall and a squash court.
Unique dining experiences will also be a highlight with 14 restaurants and 18 bars and lounges.
Launch date: June 2010.
Maiden voyage: A 16-night cruise operates next year from Southampton, England to the Mediterranean and will feature activities such as wine tastings.
Fast facts: With 2,180 cabins, P&O Cruises’ Azura caters for 3,118 guests. Like the other vessels mentioned above, Azura houses a variety of entertainment choices for all ages, including an 800-seat theatre, a gym, an outdoor cinema screen, four pools, a wellness centre and a sports zone. Dining experiences in 11 restaurants and 12 bars include Indian fine dining at Sindhu by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, and The Glass House with wines selected by Olly Smith of the UK.
Other facilities and services include an alfresco cinema, an exclusive outdoor spa terrace, the fleet’s first single staterooms, three swimming pools and an ocean-view gym.