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Record Breakers - The Biggest, Greenest, Most Luxurious In Cruising

By:
Joanna Hall
 

As demand for new ships, innovative facilities, and more exotic places to cruise continues to grow, the cruise industry is in a constant state of change. As a result, each year sees additions to the list of new records and high seas “firsts”, from ships with revolutionary accommodation choices, to ships with unusual godmothers. Here’s seven record breakers, and some curious firsts, which reinforce why cruise holidays are so fascinating.

World’s Most Luxurious Ship: Regent Seven Seas Explorer

This is the subject of much argument among the industry as well as luxury cruise guests who’d travelled with a number of cruise lines, but Seven Seas Explorer, which has been self-dubbed “the world’s most luxurious cruise ship” is nothing if not a strong contender. Launching in 2015, the ship has all-suite accommodation, a standard for this cruise line, suites, with each one possessing its own private balcony. The real wow factor for luxury, however, is the ship's Regent Suite, which is just shy of 271 square metres in size, with a huge wraparound balcony, two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and an in-suite spa with unlimited treatments. Beyond an impressive choice of dining venues, and a Canyon Ranch Spa, there’s also the all-inclusive wow factor; Seven Seas Explorer's cruise fares include virtually everything from unlimited shore excursions and specialty dining, to unlimited beverages including most premium spirits and fine wines, tips and Wi-Fi. 

World’s Biggest Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas

It's official: there's a new world's largest cruise ship! Last year, Royal Caribbean International took delivery of the much-awaited, 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas from the French shipyard that has been constructing the vessel for more than three years. She departed on her maiden voyage on April 7, and has been welcoming guests now for close on a year. Some stats with wow factor include: the ship can carry 5,518 guests at double occupancy, but her total number of guests is a staggering 6,680; she stretches 362 metres, and is nearly 66 metres wide; her draft, that’s the amount of hull below the water, is just over nine metres; and she has a total of 18 decks, and 24 guest elevators. Just a few highlights guests can expect to enjoy include the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story slide, seven “neighbourhoods” including a Central Park with real trees, 19 dining venues, and a crew of 2,200 comprising 70 different nationalities.

World’s “Greenest” Cruise Ship: The MS Roald Amundsen

The world’s greenest ever expedition ship, the MS Roald Amundsen, is a part luxury cruise vessel and part research station which took to the high seas in 2018, and on its first voyages it explored the fjords of Chile, the Falkland Islands, Patagonia, the Polar Circle, and the wilderness of the ‘White Continent’. This unique ship, which was named for the great Norwegian polar explorer, features a state-of-the-art hybrid engine, making it the most environmentally friendly cruise vessel ever built. Other ship’s highlights include a two-story indoor and outdoor observation deck wrapped around the ship’s bow, and the Amundsen Science Centre featuring high-tech gadgetry to help guests learn about the local landscape and wildlife. All of the ship’s staterooms are outside with ocean views, with half featuring private balconies, and some luxury suites boasting private outdoor jacuzzis. Guests can mingle freely with crew and expedition leaders, and when ashore they have use of kayaks and large inflatable explorer boats for landing in otherwise inaccessible locations.

World’s Fastest Cruise Ship: Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

When she left Southampton on her maiden voyage on January 12, 2004, the Queen Mary 2 turned heads everywhere, and she continues to do so wherever she sails. In almost every detail, this “grand dame” of the high seas pays tribute to a golden age of ocean travel. Spacious and elegant, she combines classic British heritage with nostalgia, opulence and style by way of her sweeping staircases, her grand ballroom, and her wrap around promenade deck. While her grandeur captured the imagination of cruise fans, however, and her list of “firsts” is impressive - the first Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar and first planetarium at sea among them - the QM2 is a very modern ship. Although her normal cruising speed is between 24 and 26 knots, this behemoth is capable of speeds of up to 30 knots, however, making her the fastest cruise ship in the world, thanks to an environmentally friendly plant with electricity generated by four huge diesel engines and two gas turbines.

World’s First Residential Cruise Ship: The World

Launched in 2002, The World is a privately owned residential community which literally floats around the globe. Lavish from stern to bow, the ship comprises 165 residences from stylish studios to expansive three-bedroom apartments, and a palatial six-bedroom penthouse suite which can accommodate up to 12 people. There’s plenty to keep the homeowners occupied in between exotic locales, with facilities including a spa, four primary restaurants, several cocktail lounges and bars, two swimming pools, and a full-size tennis court. Each year, the World’s itinerary is determined by her residents and the ship’s Captain. In 2019 the ship started the year in South Africa before exploring Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, Oman, and Israel. In the northern hemisphere spring she will cruise the Mediterranean, the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands, then head north to Iceland and Greenland for an expedition along the Northwest Passage. Rounding out the year are visit to a string of ports in Southeast Asia, before arriving in Hong Kong in time for New Year’s Eve. 

World’s Busiest Cruise Port: Miami, Florida

As a tourist destination, Miami has many alluring attractions from the glamorous art deco district of South Beach to the expansive watery wilderness of the Everglades National Park. Overall, it’s a city with multiple personalities coupled with the promise of year-round hot weather. Miami’s proximity to the islands of the Caribbean, Mexico and the eastern seaboard, however, are reasons why it is the cruising capital of the world. Located just five minutes from downtown on Dodge Island, the Port of Miami is the eleventh largest cargo container port in the United States, handling many ships daily, and for many people taking Caribbean cruises, it’s often a start and/or end point for their trip. Millions of passengers pass through the port’s cruise terminals each year, boasting some of the most modern facilities in the world including high-tech security, VIP lounges, and airport-style conveyor belts for baggage.

World's Longest Cruise: Viking Cruises

The world’s longest continuous cruise, hosted by Viking Cruises, is a round trip departing from London in August 2019 on Viking Sun. The voyage will last 245 days, taking guests to 111 ports of call located on six continents. The cruise begins in Greenwich, UK, and heads for Norway before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Greenland. Then, after a lineup of stops in Canada and the US, with highlights including Montreal, New York City and Bermuda, the ship will visit Barbados before cruising the Amazon River and and South America. From there, the ship will cruise to ports of call in Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, China, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India, before heading back to Europe and cruising along the west coasts of Spain and Portugal.

Some Curious Cruising Firsts 

The first all suite-all balcony ship: Regent's luxurious Seven Seas Mariner was launched in 2001 carrying just 700 guests. 

First real grass on a cruise ship: Celebrity Solstice was the first of five ships in a new class for Celebrity Cruises, introducing a number of “firsts” including a half acre of real grass on its upper deck. 

First real time view portholes: Disney's Dream, which launched in 2010, has interior staterooms with "magic" portholes, showing a live feed view of the ship's real view outside.

First female ship's captain: Karin Stahre Janson, a mariner and self-described “tomboy” hailing from Sweden, took the helm of Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas back in 2007.

The first ship within a ship: MSC's Yacht Club, which is tucked away at the front of two of its ships, MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, was introduced in 2008.

First cruise to sell out in less than 30 minutes: Queen Elizabeth's maiden voyage, from Southampton to Spain in October 2010, went on worldwide sale in April of the same year and sold out in 29 minutes and 14 seconds. 

First ship with a non-human godmother: Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas has a unique godmother in the 3-D star of the popular Shrek movies, Princess Fiona.

 

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  1. Posted by on 5th Mar 2019 Verified Customer

    The World 5 Star Review

    We took a cruise last year and were in port docked next to the World. I had to admit I was quite envious of the ship....it's not too big, of course you live on it rather than taking a holiday....and from our balcony we could see a huge private balcony which had an outdoor hot tub! That's heaven on a stick!

  2. Posted by on 5th Mar 2019 Verified Customer

    Fascinating 5 Star Review

    As a surfer I have never had the desire to go on a cruise holiday....to be honest for a long time there I couldn't think of anything worse! But this was a fascinating article....it's amazing what you can learn about a facet of an industry by reading! I was particularly interested in the green cruise ship, I imagine it can explore some pretty amazing places and offer travellers a quite different perspective of the world. My only concern is that I bet it's super expensive. The firsts were great too I had no idea there are ships in the world with real grass and real trees! Another great article UT