With another year coming to a close, we want to take this time to reflect on all of the things we are thankful for from 2016. For cruisers, this past year has been filled with plenty of welcomed developments that make traveling via cruise ship more delicious, more luxurious, and even more adventurous. Along with new ships, 2016 ushered in new cruise destinations and firsts at sea, as well as some recording breaking tidings. So, as we have done the past few years, we take a look back with our annual Cruisers Give Thanks 2016.
10 Things Cruisers are Thankful for in 2016
Cruise Lines Keep Adding Mega-Ships to their Fleets
This might not please everyone, but in 2016, we saw major cruise lines christen some of the largest ships ever. From Holland America’s largest ship to date, Ms Koningsdam, to Royal Caribbean releasing two mega ships this year, including the world’s largest ship Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Carnival Cruises was not to be outdone releasing their largest vessel to date, Carnival Vista. The future looks even brighter with many cruise lines looking to roll out some massive ships, including the likes of MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line in 2017.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – Harmony of the Seas (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
New Experiences to Try While at Sea
With bigger ships, comes more things for cruisers to do while at sea. To entice younger travelers (and those young at heart), cruise lines packed new (and old) ships with new entertainment and amenities. Royal Caribbean lead the way with Harmony of the Seas, boasting three water slides and the largest slide at sea- the 10 story Ultimate Abyss. Carnival Vista offers the new Sky Ride hovering over the sports deck, along with the first ever IMAX at sea. Holland America’s World Stage, found on Ms Koningsdam, delivered state of the art digital entertainment with a 270 degree LED screen. Disney Cruise Line brought the “force” to sea with their Star Wars at Sea Days and has just announced Marvel Superhero experiences for next year. Cruise lines are always thinking of ways to push the limits, and cruisers give thanks for this ingenuity and imagination in 2016.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – Carnival Vista Sky Ride (source)
Dining Keeps Getting Better
In 2016, cruise lines really stepped up their game when it came to dining. Some added restaurants from celebrity chefs, like Princess Cruise’s Share from Curtis Stone, or the expansion of Guy Fieri venues on Carnival Cruise Line ships. Princess Cruises also announced their newest ship would have onboard restaurants backed by Michelin starred culinary masters. More food and wine pairings have been added to cruise lines as well including Holland America and Celebrity Cruises, catering to the foodie in all of us. Regent Seven Seas Voyager also emerged from dry dock in 2016 boasting the “largest specialty restaurant at sea”. Even the main dining rooms on contemporary cruise lines saw some new and upgraded menus this past year.
.Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – Better Dining Experiences
More Ways to Customize Your Cruise
Cruisers were thrilled when more cruise lines began to provide ways to further enhance our trips this year. Carnival Cruise Line improved their Cheers Package to be more inclusive of specialty coffees, bottled water, and other alcoholic beverages. Royal Caribbean similarly simplified their beverage packages to provide more value to consumers. MSC Cruises announced that they would streamline their packages as well starting in 2017. In 2016, cruise lines also made it easier to purchase other add-ons like internet packages and spa treatments with improved pre-cruise websites and planners. Some lines even began offering discounts to encourage cruisers to pre-order these additional selections. Cruisers were happy to save money!
Luxury Cruising Options Continue to Expand
For those looking for the finest accommodations at sea, 2016 marked one of the most elegant years in cruising. Hailed as the “most luxurious cruise ship ever built”, Regent Seven Seas Explorer hit the seas with the largest cabins at sea and the lowest passenger to crew ratio of any ship. Couple that with their unparalleled service, dining, and all-inclusive cruise offerings, this ship brought luxury cruising to a whole new level. Viking Ocean’s second ship, Viking Sea, also debuted this year offering one of the best values for luxury cruising. Two more ocean ships from this growing fleet are expected next year. Not to be outdone, major cruise lines continued to roll-out luxury options. New this year, Royal Caribbean introduced the Royal Suite class on Oasis and Quantum class ships. These accommodations offer guests exclusive access to a private restaurant and lounge, a private sun deck, and other preferential treatment, like a Royal Genie, while sailing on some of the world’s largest ships.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – Regent Seven Seas Explorer (Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas)
It Became Easier for Cruisers to Give Back
Even while on vacation, conscious travelers look for ways to support the communities they visit. This past year, it became easier for cruisers to learn more about their ports of call and to even lend a hand. The new cruise line Fathom Cruises brought impact travel to the masses after they launched socially responsible cruises to the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Cruisers could now engulf themselves in the culture and people of these islands while also giving back. Later in 2016, Carnival Corporation announced social impact excursions would be available on most of their cruise lines visiting the Dominican Republic. Other cruise lines have begun offering tours and opportunities for cruisers to do more than just lounge on a beach while docked at a port for the day, such as Journeys by Royal Caribbean.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – Fathom Cruise’s Adonia (Courtesy of Carnival Corporation)
Going Where No Cruise Ships Have Gone Before
In 2016, barriers were broken as cruise ships expanded their global reach. Fathom became the first major cruise line departing from the U.S. to visit Cuba since the 1960’s. With more ships arriving in the Pacific in places like China and Australia, we saw an expansion of cruising to all corners of the globe. Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor became the first ship to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage this year. Other cruise lines have announced they will also try to accomplish this feat in the coming years. Other exotic locales will also be on the itinerary with the announcements of more ships traveling to Antarctica and the Galapagos islands. Cruise ships know no bounds, and cruisers are thankful that the world is covered in mostly water so we can truly “sea the world one port at a time”.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – The Locals of Antarctica
New Lands to Explore
Along with traveling to the far ends of the Earth and back, cruise ships brought travelers to destinations that never existed in the first place. In 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Caye, Belize opened to rave reviews from the first visitors to the island. The island boasts several restaurants, beaches, and activities including multiple zip lines. Travelers can learn more about the country’s rich history and natural beauty while on the island. Other cruise lines also revealed plans for improved or new private islands including MSC Cruises’ two new islands- one in the Persian Gulf opening in December and a Bahama island, Ocean Cay, opening in 2018.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – Harvest Caye, Belize (Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Trying Something New
While many travelers like to remain loyal to one cruise line, sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone. In 2016, we left the confines of our usual cruise lines to try a totally new cruise line and style of cruising. Sailing on MSC Divina this past summer marked our first experience with this privately owned, Italian inspired cruise line. It was certainly not the typical cruise for us, but in the end, we had a fabulous time. We are looking forward to reuniting with MSC in 2018 on their newest ship coming to the Caribbean, MSC Seaside. Perhaps 2017 is the year for you to try something out of the ordinary. We are certainly thankful for giving something new a go this year.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2016 – The Pool Deck on MSC Divina
As always, we are thankful for all of our fellow cruisers who have shared their journeys and adventures with me and the Princess this past year. We are amazed as to how the community of cruisers here on EatSleepCruise.com has grown over the past 2 years. Across social media and the blogosphere, we have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. Looking ahead, we have no plans of slowing down! In fact, we will launch 2017 off with a cruise on Harmony of the Seas, along with several additional trips planned. As we have done for the past two years, we will continue to deliver the latest cruise news, updates, reviews, and information about all things cruising with the like-minded travelers who share our cruise addiction.
What were you thankful for this year? What new cruise innovations are you looking forward to this upcoming year? Drop us an anchor below to share your favorite cruise memories from 2016.