Yet despite the unparalleled disruption, cruise lines have continued to launch new ships and upgrade existing vessels, ensuring that the industry returns stronger and better than ever before. Here are a few of the highlights of 2020 that you might have missed, giving us even more to look forward to in 2021…
Silversea have had not one but two ships delivered, both still gleaming new. Silver Origin is poised to start sailing this year, ready to claim the crown of 'most luxurious ship operating in the Galapagos', while Silver Moon officially joined the fleet at the end of October, featuring the pioneering new S.A.L.T. culinary programme, which will enable guests to get a deeper feel for the destination through immersive culinary experiences both on board and ashore. Silversea have also launched their new cruise collection, spanning March 2022 to May 2023, with flights and shore excursions now included.
Ponant's continued expansion saw Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier join the fleet in 2020, completing the line-up of six Explorer class ships, while the exciting hybrid LNG electric-powered icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot, promises the start of something new in 2021. Amazing itineraries including the geographic North Pole, the Northwest Passage and the most remote reaches of Antarctica are complemented by a hovercraft, a helium balloon, kayaks, electric snowmobiles and Zodiacs to help you explore. You can even try diving, dog sledding, hiking and ice fishing on selected itineraries.
Viking have continued to expand, announcing a 2022 expedition programme earlier this year to focus on Antarctica, the Arctic and an extensive Great Lakes programme. Also announced was the float out of their seventh ocean ship, Viking Venus, not to mention a new vessel on the Mississippi that is on sale for departures from August 2022 onwards. On the Mekong the new 80-guest Viking Saigon is under construction and due to start sailing later next year. Perhaps most impressively, Viking have announced the installation of the first full-scale PCR laboratory at sea on board Viking Star as they prepare their fleet for restart.
A plethora of other ships have been delivered and are still awaiting their first guests. Saga's second new build, Spirit of Adventure, has joined sister ship Spirit of Discovery, with her maiden voyage due in May. The vessel boasts two new speciality restaurants and exciting new décor, a great choice for no fly cruising.
Windstar's Star Breeze is finally ready after a huge refurbishment lasting over a year. The ship has been 'stretched' to increase guest capacity to 312 as well as offering more dining choices, a new pool, new spa, and a decadently appointed Grand Owner's Suite. Four new engines have also been installed, and Windstar decided to use the dry dock time to optimise safety with a new hospital-grade air filtration system that pairs virus-killing HEPA filters with UV-C irradiation treatments.
In larger ship news, Apex has joined the Celebrity fleet in the Bahamas, where five ships marked the occasion by performing a series of manoeuvres to create a welcome 'dance' (the YouTube footage is impressive), while P&O's new 5,200-guest LNG-powered Iona has become the line's new flagship.
Last but not least, don't forget Seven Seas Splendor, which joined the Regent fleet in mid-February 2020. Having welcomed guests on just a handful of voyages before the coronavirus shutdown, she has been eagerly awaiting the chance to resume her inaugural season.