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Cruising christenings and planned vessels


Christening ceremony for new Viking ships in Amsterdam, by Bob Hoelscher
Despite a few unfortunate isolated but widely publicized incidents, the overall health of the cruise industry is evident from the number of new ships continuing to enter service.

The first of the new “megaliners” to arrive will be Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL’s) Norwegian Breakaway. The vessel will make its transatlantic crossing from Southampton on April 30 and is scheduled to be christened in a ceremony in New York City on May 8; it will then make two, two-night inaugural cruises and a series of seven-day sailings to Bermuda beginning May 12.

One-week Bahamas and Florida cruises will commence in October. The 1,062-foot-long addition to NCL’s Freestyle Cruising fleet will be the largest ship to be homeported in the Big Apple and will accommodate more than 4,000 guests.

Princess Cruises has announced that the Duchess of Cambridge will name the company’s new 3,600-passenger Royal Princess in Southampton on June 13 as the highlight of weeklong inaugural celebrations to welcome the vessel into service. On June 7, Royal Princess will arrive in Southampton, where a series of events for customers and travel agents will begin, among them a special naming gala on the evening of June 12. The ship’s inaugural celebrations will conclude with her maiden voyage on June 16, followed by Mediterranean cruises throughout the summer and Eastern Caribbean cruises beginning in the autumn. Furthermore, largely identical sister ship Regal Princess is scheduled to set sail on its own inaugural cruise from Venice on June 2, 2014.

Emmy and Tony award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth will be serving as godmother to Royal Caribbean International’s new Quantum of the Seas, set to debut in fall of 2014.

On the waterways of Europe, Viking River Cruises set a record by simultaneously launching the careers of 10 new 190-passenger ships in a gala christening ceremony in Amsterdam on March 20. On May 16 in Beverly Hills, the company will also be “unveiling” its new Viking Ocean, the first of two oceangoing vessels on order, with two more contingent upon financing and options.

Tauck has disclosed the names of the two new European riverboats it will be launching next year and announced that they will be considerably longer than the sister ships that make up the company’s current fleet. The new vessels, the Inspire and the Savor, will be 443 feet long, as compared to Tauck’s four existing ships, which each measure 361 feet. Despite being 23 percent longer, each new build will accommodate only 130 guests, 10 percent more than the number accommodated on the current ships.

Finally, Carnival Cruise Lines has announced the implementation of a comprehensive fleetwide operational review that was initially focused on the currently sidelined Carnival Triumph. In addition, the Carnival Sunshine is now undergoing a previously scheduled dry dock to complete a comprehensive full-ship makeover. The line is reportedly making significant investments to enhance the level of operating redundancies and the scope of hotel services that can run on emergency power while further improving each ship’s fire prevention, detection and suppression systems. Given the necessary lead time to source needed materials and implement the enhancements, Carnival Sunshine is scheduled to enter service on May 5, following the cancellation of two European cruises.