An update on new tall-ship options

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For agents with clients who are looking for an alternative to the megaship experience, there is no shortage of small-ship choices.

But to be really radical, why not look at ships that are not only small but wind-powered, too?

There are two lines, Star Clippers and Sea Cloud Cruises, where guests feel the thrill of watching sails set by hand and listen to nothing but the breeze while underway. Both are in the process of building new ships.

(Windstar is another tall-ship line, but it sets its sails mechanically and also can operate under engine power.)

But while Star Clippers’ new Flying Clipper seems hung up for the time being in a shipyard dispute, Sea Cloud’s newbuild, the Sea Cloud Spirit, is on schedule to be delivered at the end of August.

That’s according to Sea Cloud CEO Daniel Schaefer. In an interview, Schaefer said the 136-passenger ship has recently been floated out and interior work is proceeding. He said the yard on its current pace will deliver the ship a bit ahead of when Sea Cloud actually needs it to make its schedule.

Building a new ship isn’t as routine for Sea Cloud as for the big lines, which crank them out every year. Its last ship, the Sea Cloud II, was delivered in 2001. The flagship Sea Cloud was built as a yacht in 1931 and converted to cruise use in 1979.

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The designs have been evolving more towards cruise ships, away from the yacht-like attributes of the original ship, Schaefer said. The Sea Cloud Spirit will have 25 balcony cabins, for example, a first for a sailing ship. It will also have an elevator, another first.

Dining tables will be round, rather than the long, rectangular ones on the Sea Cloud, he said. There will be a larger wellness area, a sauna and a second, more casual restaurant.

A third ship should really increase Sea Cloud’s availability for FIT passengers. Currently up to 50% of Sea Cloud’s capacity is devoted to charters. The Spirit will be chartered, too, but overall there should be more opportunities and itineraries for individual passengers.

In Europe, Sea Cloud will no longer have to shuttle one of its two ships back and forth between the Med and the Baltic, the line’s second most popular summer region.  It will be able to keep two ships full time in the Med, he said, and still offer Baltic itineraries with the third.

Exciting new ships are on the horizon

Crystal Endeavour - Crystal Cruises
Crystal Endeavor will be the line’s latest megayacht

Scenic Eclipse, Crystal Endeavor, and Seabourn Ovation join the luxury set, while Ponant will offer its passengers underwater lounges on four additions to its fleet.

New ships, new ports of call and a voyage around the world in 180 days are on the horizon over the next two years.

Megayachts Scenic Eclipse and Crystal Endeavor will be among the newcomers, while Seabourn is launching Ovation.

Ponant is gearing up for four new ships, all with an underwater lounge.

Scenic is hailing Eclipse as ‘the world’s first discovery yacht’. It will launch in August next year to carry 228 guests – down to 200 while in the Arctic and Antarctic. Each of the 114 suites will have a private veranda, lounge and butler service.

While guests will have the choice of nine dining options, the smallness of Eclipse – at only 16,500 tons – means it will be able to dock in more remote ports. But it’s big enough to boast two helicopters and a submarine.

Seabourn Ovation - Seabourn
Seabourn Ovation will be joining the fleet in May 2018

Ponant is set for a busy couple of years with the arrival of Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain in 2018 and Le Bougainville and Le Dumont d’Urville in 2019. All will have 88 cabins and four suites, each one with a balcony. The ships will also be the first in the world to have an underwater lounge, the Blue Eye.The 25,000-ton Crystal Endeavor will launch in 2019, cruising polar regions during the summer and autumn and following the route of migrating whales to Antarctica during the winter. A remote-operated vehicle will allow passengers to see sunken galleons, warships and liners such as Titanic.

Seabourn is introducing its latest ship – Ovation – in May 2018. Like Encore, launched this year, it will carry 600 guests, all with a private veranda, and measure 40,350 tons. “Seabourn Ovation will carry on the standard of ultra-luxury cruising that can only be found on Seabourn. We can’t wait to welcome our guests on board,” said company president Richard Meadows.

After some delay in construction, Star Clippers will finally say hello to Flying Clipper, the largest sailing ship in the world, with five masts and room for 300 guests, next year.

Many luxury lines are adding new destinations and overnight stays in the next two years. But the ultimate cruise for 2019 must be the 180-day world voyage on Oceania Cruises ship Insignia. It will travel 45,000 nautical miles across two oceans and 16 seas while visiting 90 destinations in 36 countries.

Le Laperouse - Le Champlain - Ponant
Two of Ponant’s new ships, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain, will be launched next year

Bob Binder, the president and CEO of Oceania, said: “Our exciting 2019 Around the World journey offers guests an expertly crafted route spanning the four corners of the globe, touching on nearly 100 captivating destinations and dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is truly the journey of a lifetime.”

For the first time in the history of Crystal Cruises, both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will embark on world cruises next year, offering travellers four separate global itineraries.

With the ships meeting in Sydney on February 17, 2018, guests can switch vessels for a new route. Ranging from 97 to 129 nights, the voyages will travel to a combined 111 destinations in 45 countries with 50 overnights.

Silversea is sailing a 132-day world cruise in 2019, with Silver Whisper calling at 52 ports in 31 countries across five continents.

Nine writers, including Paul Theroux and Pico Iyer, will be invited on board to create short stories inspired by the destinations.

Cunard has launched its Oceans of Discovery programme for January to May 2019, including the cruise line’s first return to Alaska in more than 20 years with Queen Elizabeth. Queen Victoria will do a full 107-night western circumnavigation of the globe.

Regent Seven Seas is offering world cruises next year and in 2019 on Seven Seas Navigator. Looking even further ahead, it has announced a 131-night world cruise on Seven Seas Mariner, departing from San Francisco on January 24, 2020

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New Shipyards Entering Cruise Business Face Uphill Challenge

Two new shipyards have entered the cruise ship building business recently, while an additional yard with a surprise cruise order has some passenger vessel history, but all will be facing a set of staggering challenges when it comes to building customized ships for picky clients and pulling off a flawless hotel build.

The major players in the cruise-ship building business have been going at it for decades, and most specialize in passenger vessels.

Meanwhile, major cargo-ship building yards in South Korea have tried again and again to land orders without success.

In Japan, Mitsubishi has built for local companies along with Princess Cruises and AIDA Cruises, but late deliveries and cost overruns on the recent AIDA ships have not helped the cause.

Kleven

New Hurtigruten Ship Rendering

The last time a cruise ship was built in Norway, the shipyard went bankrupt. That was just over a decade ago with the ship being The World and the shipyard Fosen Mekaniske Verksted against a backdrop of an extremely expensive labor environment.

Earlier this year, Kleven entered into a contract with Hurtigruten to build a set of expedition cruise ships earlier this year, with an option for two more. The ship’s are being built on a Rolls-Royce technical platform.

Shipyard executives declined to speak on the record, but the yard’s website said Kleven was a family-owned operation dating back many decades.

The yard’s recent deliveries show no shortage of supply and platform vessels for the offshore industry, in addition to Coast Guard ships.

A log of ship deliveries back to 1961 shows everything from fish vessels to tug boats, with the last passenger vessel being the Finnmarken, which was built in 2002 for coastal service. The yard has only built three (coastal) passenger ships.

Uljanik Group

Scenic Elipse

In Croatia, Uljanik Group will build its first cruise ship for a new entry to the cruise ship market in Scenic.

The agreement calls for a five-star level expedition ship to be delivered in August of 2018, with an option for a second vessel. The ship is 16,500 tons with capacity for 228 guests.

In 2015 the yard delivered a 3,311-ton ro/ro ferry, the second in a two-ship order. However, the yard mainly builds barges and other supply vessels, but did deliver a series of car carriers as recently as 2008.

The Croatian builder can trade its history back to 1856, when it started out building ships for the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

In 2013, the yard added another facility and building site, 3.Maj, to its portfolio, which has upped its capacity.

The group also owns an engine factory, ULJANIK Diesel Engines Factory Ltd, and has recently delivered a number of large tanker vessels.

Brodosplit

New Star Clippers vessel

Another Croatian yard, Brodosplit, landed an order from Star Clippers for a sailing ship, and is believed to be working toward a separate order for smaller niche vessels.

Of note, the yard has built new motor vessel ships for Grand Circle Cruise Line over the years.

The shipyard is located in Split, Croatia, and was formed when several smaller ship repair facilities combined forces in 1922. The yard builds various types of ships including commercial, container and passenger vessels.

The new Royal Flyer for Star Clippers will be 162 meters long and 18.5 meters wide, and feature five masts and sails.

While it is a sailing ship, the vessel will have two fully independent electric propulsion engines and be compliant with Safe Return to Port rules with two engine rooms.