With 2014 almost following Elvis out of the building, now seems as good a time as any to look at some of the most pertinent events in the cruising firmament this coming year. Not all of you will necessarily agree with this list, which is fine. And, for the sake of clarity, these events are not listed in any kind of personal preference. As such it’s a compendium, and not a pecking order.
That noted, here we go;
CRYSTAL CRUISES’ 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
The benchmark of deluxe cruising, it is hard to believe that suave, classy Crystal celebrates 25 years of continuing excellence next year. Both the superlative Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will offer a series of celebratory cruises next year, including ‘guest appearances’ on certain trips from former captains such as the likes of the well loved Glenn Edvardsen, and a special, round Europe cruise hosted by new Crystal CEO, Edie Rodriguez. As ever with Crystal, expect a distinct helping of style, and a total absence of hype.
CUNARD’S LUSITANIA COMMEMORATIVE VOYAGE
To be undertaken by the Queen Victoria in May, 2015, this commemorative voyage will celebrate and honour the achievements of the mighty Lusitania, tragically torpedoed with horrendous loss of life in May, 1915, off the coast of southern Ireland.
This is timely and apt; these days, Lusitania is remembered almost solely for her loss; yet she was a hugely groundbreaking ship and, over eight years of civilian service, a hugely popular and successful one, too. The voyage will also house a temporary display of salvaged artifacts from the lost liner, and also the launch of a new book on the Lusitania by renowned maritime author Eric Sauder, who will be on board. The culmination will be a memorial service in the cathedral at Cobh, where both survivors and victims of the sinking were brought ashore. A hugely emotional experience all round.
ALLURE OF THE SEAS IN EUROPE
Some might roll their eyes, and others might head for the hills. But the advent in Europe of one of the two largest cruise ships in the world- Allure Of The Seas – for a full season is hugely significant. While sister ship Oasis Of The Seas dipped her toe in (as it were) for a few cruises last year, the full summer deployment of her younger sibling on the seven night ‘Meddy-Go-Round’ circuit is an event on the same scale as the great ship herself. Definitely one worth following.
THE VIKINGS ARE COMING
At last! The first, real ‘back to the future’ cruise ship finally makes her debut in the svelte form of Viking Star. Travel writers will look in vain for rock climbing walls, outdoor beach clubs and extra tariff restaurants, while old Royal Viking Line hands may smile sagely and, hopefully, nod in recognition. With all excursions included in the cost of each cruise and an emphasis on a more traditional ship board experience, this one truly will be one to watch, especially with two similar, confirmed sister ships in the offing.
THE MARCO POLO AT FIFTY
Cruise And Maritime’s venerable, 1965 built Marco Polo celebrates an (almost) unbeaten ‘fifty not out’ next year with a pair of special, round trip cruises across the Atlantic to Canada and back. While these will be without doubt the highlights of the grand old lady’s year, expect a series of year round events on this beautiful. venerable grande dame of the ocean. Throw in some of the most awe inspiring sights in Europe, Scandinavia and Greenland, plus the evocative Art Deco luxe of this exquisite liner turned cruise ship, and you have the stuff of nostalgia junkie dreams.
Food for thought, I hope. Are you taking part in any of these?