It seems like 2015 has just sailed by! With such an exciting year filled with new ships, new partnerships, and plenty of cruise memories, we felt there was no better time than now to reflect on all that has happened in cruising this year by taking a look at the top cruise news of 2015.
Similar to last year, this Thanksgiving we are taking some time to reflect back at all that we are thankful for when it comes to travel and cruising.
Enchantment of the Seas from 2015
Of course, we are sure that there is plenty you too are thankful for this holiday, so we would love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a comment below to share what you felt were the biggest headlines this year as it relates to cruising!
Top Cruise News 2015
“Traditional Dining” Options on Quantum Class Ships
An announcement that made our top cruise news of 2015 was the updating of Dynamic Dining. When Royal Caribbean announced a brand new dining concept in 2014, called Dynamic Dining, loyal royal cruisers were a bit upset. The brand new Quantum class, starting with Quantum of the Seas, was going to do away with traditional dining and bring in a more flexible, freestyle approach with no set dining times, waitstaff, or table assignments…well sort of.
Dining Onboard Quantum of the Seas
After being penned by many on the message boards and Facebook groups, Royal Caribbean made some revisions to the program and released Dynamic Dining Classic (which received a loud applause when it was announced to a group of travel agents). Now, travelers can opt for a standard dining time and rotate through the different restaurants, keeping the same waitstaff-similar to the rotational dining found on Disney Cruise Line- or continue with the Dynamic Dining Choice with more flexible dining arrangements.
Viking Cruises Takes to the Ocean
Long known for providing in-depth and authentic river cruises to exotic locations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, 2015 saw the debut of the Viking Ocean Cruise Line. A top cruise news story, this new luxury cruise line launched their first ship, the Viking Star, earlier this spring.
Hailed by some as one of the best values in ocean cruising in the Mediterranean, this new ship’s cruise base fare includes specialty restaurants, beer and wine at meals, as well as a free tour at each port of call. With some of the most luxurious rooms and public spaces at sea, the Viking Star also includes internet and some other additional amenities that other lines charge for, such as specialty coffees and soft drinks. Set to rock the ocean cruise world, we are looking forward to the two sister ships, the Viking Sky and Viking Sea, launching in the next couple of years.
Viking Star in Instanbul – Viking Ocean Cruises ©
“Social Impact” Cruising
This past year was the year of new cruise lines. Making historic cruise news of 2015 was the announcement by Carnival Corporation of a new cruise line named Fathom. Focusing on responsible tourism, this new cruise line aims to provide travelers a way of combing cruising with a way to give back and make a difference in the locations the ship visits.
Currently, Fathom consists of one ship, the Adonia, which is a 700 passenger vessel with many of the typical cruise ship features you would expect like a pool deck, restaurants, and even a spa. Fathom will take cruisers to both Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2016 for a cultural enriching experience as travelers volunteer at the ports of call assisting in agriculture, education, and other projects to support the local communities. Is this form of social impact the future of cruising?
High Speed Internet Goes Viral
Making headlines in 2015 was the announcement by several cruise lines regarding expanded internet options.
Carnival Cruise Line Internet Offerings in 2015 |Source|
Carnival Cruise Line’s Social Media internet package, starting at $5 a day, was tested on several ships this year, and the company announced that all ships would get the plans by the end of the first quarter of 2016, along with different internet packages based on speed and application accessibility. Princess Cruise Lines announced a similar package in 2015, and also introduced different bandwidth plans with WiFi packages that provide internet speeds allowing for video and audio streaming at the cost of about $100 a week.
Royal Caribbean International ©
Then there was Royal Caribbean, which announced that Voom internet, debuted on Quantum of the Seas, would be making its way to all of the fleet’s ships over the next couple of years. At prices starting at $20 a day, Voom is reported to be the fastest WiFi of any cruise line, with speeds comparable to broadband back on land. We suspect more internet options and improved speeds will continue over the next couple of years as more brands try to appeal to younger, tech savvy travelers.
Megaships Dominated the Cruise News
Also popular cruise news in 2015 was the release of more new cruise ships. A total of seven new ocean liners took to the waterways in 2015, which is something all cruisers should be very thankful for this year! At the top of our list were the brand new mega ships, Anthem of the Seas and Norwegian Escape, now two of the biggest ships afloat.
Anthem of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International©
The sister ship to Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas is the line’s second largest class of ship, behind the world’s largest ships, the Oasis class. Providing room for over 4,000 guests, Anthem of the Seas is now stationed in Cape Liberty, NJ offering Bermuda, Caribbean, and New England cruises through 2017.
Norwegian Escape – Norwegian Cruise Line ©
Norwegian Escape, which is currently in her third week of operation, is Norwegian Cruise Line’s largest ship to date, offering a great variety of restaurants, bars, and entertainment.Sailing from Miami, FL, the ship offers Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, along with plenty of thrills and firsts found only on this behemoth!
Famous Onboard Eats
In attempt to lure more people who are fond of land based vacations, cruise lines formed partnerships with well known chefs and food brands in 2015. Norwegian Cruise Line formed a new deal with Jimmy Buffet to bring the first Margaritaville at Sea to Norwegian Escape. The same ship also features Bayamo, a restaurant created by well known chef Jose Garces.
Margaritaville on Norwegian Escape – Courtesy of Carmen’s Cruise Diary
Other brands also hopped on the celebrity chef bandwagon in 2015. Curtis Stone announced a new partnership with Princess Cruises which includes the addition of specialty restaurants designed by the celebrity chef on many of the company’s ships, as well as Chef’s Table experiences on some ships in 2016. Just this month, the line also announced they will be teaming up with chef Ernesto Uchimura, the former executive chef of Umami Burger, Kitchen + Bar, to open The Salty Dog Gastropub aboard the Crown Princess.
Curtis Stone at Launch of Specialty Restaurant Share on Princess Cruises – Princess Cruises ©
P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Britannia, also got into the mix this year with the Cookery Club, sailings featuring well-known chefs offering cooking demonstrations and Q&A sessions on some sailings. Royal Caribbean kept agreements with Jamie Oliver and Devin Alexander to keep their restaurants on the Anthem of the Seas.
These yummy additions made cruisers very thankful for all of the great food found onboard cruise ships in 2015.
More Thrills at Sea
With the release of these new ships, came more exciting reasons to go on a cruise in 2015.
North Star on Quantum Class Ships
With indoor skydiving and an aerial gondola rising 300 feet above sea level, Anthem of the Seas continued the Quantum class tradition of raising the stakes when it comes to onboard excitement during your cruise.
Norwegian Escape Water Park – Norwegian Cruise Lines ©
Norwegian Escape also decided to raise the bar. Increasing the size of the Ropes Course which features “The Plank” (an eight food beam that extends over the side of the ship) and a zip line, there are plenty of heart pumping activities on this ship. The ship also features the line’s largest Aqua Park at sea that includes the Aqua Racers (the fastest water slides at sea).
Waterslides on Harmony of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International ©
Royal Caribbean also decided to get into the water slide trend this year by announcing this past spring that their new ship, Harmony of the Seas, will get waterslides, as well as a 10 story dry slide known as the Abyss. The company also announced that they will be adding slides to other ships, including the first ever boomerang slide at sea on Liberty of the Seas.
These extreme onboard activities set the trend for other cruise lines who made announcements in 2015 for future onboard thrills. Carnival Cruise Line’s new ship debuting in 2016, Vista, will offer the first IMAX at sea and a Skyride-a suspended race track over the pool deck in which travelers compete in a bicycle race. We are very excited to see what cruise companies come up with in the future as a way to get even more thrills onto cruise ships!
Days Spent At Sea
Lastly, we are thankful for the days we got to spend at sea, and with you. In 2015, we were fortunate enough to sail on three great ships-Quantum of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, and Adventure of the Seas.
On Our Last Cruise of the Year- Adventure of the Seas
We are truly grateful to all of our readers who visit our site regularly to get the latest cruise reviews and planning tips. It is connecting with you all on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms that keeps us going and sharing our stories and tips everyday.
To you, we give thanks! We hope you and your family have a great holiday and get to board a beautiful cruise ship sometime soon!
What was your favorite cruise news of 2015? Did we miss a key cruise development from the previous year? Drop us an anchor below to let us know what you felt was the most significant cruise story of 2015!