While most of the UK cruising scene is eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of Anthem Of The Seas  from her builder’s yard, it is also worth remembering that Norwegian Escape, the first of the ‘Breakaway plus’ class of vessels for Norwegian, is also due in October.

Now, these two ships have many things in common- size, a huge range of accommodation and, perhaps more than anything, some truly amazing, state of the art entertainment. But it’s the differences in emphasis that interest me.

Both are clearly going to be stunning ships, with huge popular appeal. But it seems to me that the primary emphasis with Anthem is in terms of the super, advanced technology showcased everywhere on board the ship. Whether you are talking about amazing, robotic bartenders to inside cabins with simulated balcony walls, there’s no doubt that these Quantum class ships have upped the ante massively.

By contrast, Norwegian Escape seems to be emphasising a continual array of fine dining choices on board, and the notion of taking people ‘back to the sea’ in a series of stunning outdoor spaces, spanning the length of the promenade decks. Bars, eateries and ice cream parlours range the length of this new ship. It’s an idea so successful that it will also be incorporated into the new MSC Seaside class ships, coming on line in the next couple of years.

In other words, you’re getting one line- Royal Caribbean- trying to turn your attention inwards, towards their fantastic technological showpiece, while Norwegian is trying to do the opposite, amid quite spectacular, breezy surroundings.

Which is better? Well, neither and both. Each of these two ships offers so much tech savvy inclusivity that the choice becomes more a case of how you want to optimise your leisure time, and in what surroundings. It isn’t even so much about where these ships go these days. Both are such complete resort experiences in themselves that, for many, ports of call will become more and more academic, especially so among people with a few cruises under their belt. The era of the cruise ship as a ‘floating island’ has truly arrived with the genesis of these twin giants.

For singles, the studio cabins on Escape are obviously very appealing. But for sheer, spectacular entertainment, I think that Anthem is going to be very hard to beat. And, for those who say that it’s unlikely that they would ever drive a dodgem car at sea, that is missing the point; the fact remains that you can, should the mood strike you. It all comes back to inclusivity and, of a truth, both these ships seem to have it all. It’s simply that the way in which each is presented is being emphasised in slightly different terms.

I’ll be putting up blogs from Anthem Of The Seas in a couple of weeks. As ever, stay tuned,

The concept of a 'Floating Island' has now become cruising's aspirational new benchmark

The concept of a ‘Floating Island’ has now become cruising’s aspirational new benchmark


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