With another year coming to a close, we want to take this time to reflect on all of the things we are thankful for this year in the world of cruising. 2017 was certainly eventful, especially hurricane season, but there were also plenty of amazing developments and announcements that made this year one of the best years in cruising. So, as we have done the past few years, we take a look at the year in review with our annual Cruisers Give Thanks 2017 edition.
7 Things Cruisers are Thankful for in 2017
The Extended Cruising Family
The last few months have shown us the resolve of our friends in the Caribbean. It has also demonstrated the generosity of the cruise community to help those impacted by the recent hurricanes. With millions of dollars of donations made by cruisers and the cruise lines, to the help of volunteers and relief workers, the extended cruise family has done more than its fair share to help those in need get back on their feet. We are humbled to be part of such a thoughtful group of travelers. While cruisers sometimes get a bad reputation, 2017 has shown the true nature of the fun loving, hardworking, and charitable group of world travelers that call themselves cruisers.
Cruisers Give Thanks 2017
Brand New Ships Hitting the Waves
Cruise lines are continually looking to out do each other, and we think it’s safe to say that cruisers are thankful for the cutting edge ships that have come out this year. The soon to be released MSC Seaside is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovative ships that set sail in 2017. This year, we saw a variety of new builds and experiences. Viking Ocean launched two new luxury cruise ships in 2017, while Norwegian Cruise Line released an industry first go-kart race track on the Norwegian Joy. This year also marked the extension of small ship cruising. Ships like the National Geographic Quest debuted in 2017 allowing cruisers to explore exotic locations. River cruising in the U.S was also on the rise with ships from American Cruise Line and American Queen Steamboat Company. 2017 definitely expanded travelers’ abilities to “see the world, one port at a time”.
MSC Seaside Will Set Sail December 2017 (Courtesy of MSC Cruises)
More Celebrities Onboard
This year also marked an uptick in the number of celebrities and celebrity brands found on cruise ships. Leading the way was the queen of day-time talk, Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey made her way onboard a Holland America Alaskan cruise as part of the inaugural O Magazine cruise. Celebrity chefs extended partnerships with several cruise lines as well, with the likes of Guy Fieri on Carnival Cruise Line and Michelin starred chefs working with Princess Cruises. Carnival Cruise Line lead the way with celebrity sightings though during its Carnival Live concerts, bringing Jay Leno, Florida Georgia Line, Nick Jonas, and Chris Tucker (among others) onboard for sold-out performances. Will next year be able to top the current list of stars on cruise ships? We will have to wait to see what the cruise lines have in store for us in 2018.
Cruise Lines Look to Broaden Their Appeal
Cruise lines are always looking to widen the net of potential cruisers. Early in 2017, new ships headed to China to meet the needs of cruisers from Eastern cultures. Luxury travelers got spoiled this year with ships from Seabourn, Viking Ocean, and Silver Sea cruises. Explorers looking to venture to the Galapagos can now do so on multiple Celebrity Cruises’ ships. The line also appointed the first female captain sailing to this region. Just recently, the new line U by Uniworld debuted a river cruise line targeted at those aged 25-40. With more options available to meet the needs of diverse travelers, 2017 was a year of making cruising available to virtually all travelers.
U by Uniworld’s Newest Ship (Courtesy of U by Uniworld)
Investments in Current Vessels and Locales
While new ships dominated the news, cruise lines committed to updating their current fleets in 2017 as well. Holland America is in the process of updating four of its vessels. Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Line had two refurbishments this year and several more scheduled for early 2018. Princess Cruises updated the Sea Princess this year, and the Crown Princess is expected to receive similar treatment in 2018. In addition, Celebrity Cruises recently announced a 400 million dollar refurbishment plan. This Celebrity Revolution program will makeover all of its ships starting in 2018. These refurbishments will bring new amenities and experiences to all the ships fleet-wide.
Great Stirrup Cay Received Some Upgrades in 2017
On the island front, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line invested in their private islands in 2017. Royal Caribbean is updating CocoCay, Bahamas with updates including a pier (coming in 2018), new cabanas, and additional features. The line also announced plans to build a massive water park on the island. The opening date of that venue is still not known. Norwegian Cruise Line also added new venues and features to Great Stirrup Cay. The line added a new casual restaurant, Abaco Taco, along with enhanced cabanas. More additions and enhancements will be rolled out in 2018.
Expanding Our Horizons
This year was also the year to try something new. For us, we were fortunate enough to travel to Havana, Cuba. Sailing on one of the first major cruise line trips to the island was one of our most memorable cruise experiences yet. Other cruisers were able to experience the same thrill traveling to new ports of call all over the world. Cruise ships sail to all corners of the world, with more ports of call welcoming ships of all sizes. Whether 2017 was your first cruise or the first time you sailed to a particular destination, all cruisers should be thankful for the extended reach of cruise travel. With advances in technology, cruise ships are becoming more efficient, making this mode of transportation more accessible and eco-friendly.
We are Thankful We Got to Spend a Few Days in Havana, Cuba
Connecting With Fellow Cruisers
As our site continues to grow, we have been very lucky to meet so many fellow cruisers who love traveling the world via cruise ship. Whether it was exploring the streets of Havana, Cuba or meeting new friends in the Bahamas, we were very fortunate to get to know many fellow cruisers this year. We are always happy to stop, say hello, and share a drink (or two). If you ever see us on a cruise, please come on over. We are looking forward to meeting you! If you haven’t made any cruise plans yet for next year, why not join us onboard, perhaps Norwegian Bliss or Symphony of the Seas?
Looking Forward to 2018
Speaking of next year, 2018 is lining up to be just as exciting as this year. Personally, we are looking forward to our longest cruise yet. Our 10 day Ireland and Iceland trip on Celebrity Eclipse will be the most days we have spent on one ship. This trip also marks the first time we have sailed in Europe. Along with that trip, we have plans to sail on two brand new vessels in 2018. Along with a small group of friends, we will be onboard Norwegian Bliss during its inaugural Alaskan cruise season. We will also be joining our pals at the Royal Caribbean Blog for one of the first Caribbean cruises onboard Symphony of the Seas over Thanksgiving of next year. What else does the following year have in store for us? We will just have to wait and “sea”!
What are you thankful for this year in the world of cruising? What are you looking forward to the most in 2018? Drop us an anchor below with your year in review comments.