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Luxury cruise ships are premiering

How posh are these upscale vessels? Imagine two-story loft suites, a miniature-golf course, a Central Park-like area, and a water park.

September 27, 2009|Si Liberman

If cruise lines are being pinched by the recession, you'd never know it by the parade of new luxury vessels hitting the market.

So far this year, nine upscale ships have made their debut. Among them Costa Cruises' siblings, the 2,260-passenger Luminosa and the 3,000-passenger Pacifica, which were christened in dual June ceremonies in Genoa, Italy. A third Costa newcomer, the $450-million, 2,260-passenger Deliziosa (Italian for "delightful" or "delicious"), will join its 14-ship fleet on Feb. 5 with a 20-night inaugural. That cruise leaves from Savona, Italy, and travels to Dubai; fares start at $2,899, based on double occupancy.

If you're interested in inaugural cruises, there are plenty to choose from. Within the next 15 months, 15 more cruise ships are to be launched with elaborate christening ceremonies and expectations of commemorative perks and special events. Prices for all inaugural cruises are based on double occupancy and are subject to change as the launch dates near.

On Dec. 1, Royal Caribbean International will roll out the world's largest cruise ship, the $1.2-billion, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas. The 18-deck giant is nearly as long as four football fields, will have a crew of 2,165 and the ability to accommodate 1,600 extra guests. A sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, is scheduled for launch in November 2010.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
Opulent cruise ships: An image in the Sept. 27 Travel section with an article on luxury cruises, illustrating the garden on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, was a combined photograph/artist's rendering that was not credited as such. Times policy requires that such altered images be identified as photo illustrations.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 04, 2009 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 3 Features Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Opulent cruise ships: An image that appeared on Sept. 27 with an article on luxury cruises, illustrating the garden on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, was a combined photograph/artist's rendering that was not credited as such. Times policy requires that such altered images be identified as photo illustrations.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, October 06, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 2 inches; 84 words Type of Material: Correction
Cruise lines: An article in the Sept. 27 Travel section on the debut of various luxury cruise ships incorrectly reported that the Celebrity Equinox's inaugural cruise would be in April. That ship is already in service. The story should have said the Celebrity Eclipse, a 2,850-passenger, 122,000-ton vessel, would begin duty April 29 with a four-night Southampton, England, round-trip cruise to Cork, Ireland. The Eclipse, a sister ship to the Equinox, is the second vessel in Celebrity's Solstice class, which was christened in July.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, October 10, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
Travel correction: In Tuesday's For the Record, a correction of a Sept. 27 Travel article about the debut of various luxury cruise ships introduced a new error. The Eclipse is the third ship, not the second, in Celebrity cruise line's Solstice class.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 11, 2009 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 3 Features Desk 2 inches; 80 words Type of Material: Correction
Cruise lines: A Sept. 27 article on the debut of various luxury cruise ships incorrectly reported that the Celebrity Equinox's inaugural cruise would be in April. That ship is already in service. The story should have said the Celebrity Eclipse, a 2,850-passenger, 122,000-ton vessel, would begin duty April 29 with a four-night Southampton, England, round-trip cruise to Cork, Ireland. The Eclipse, a sister ship to the Equinox, is the third vessel in Celebrity's Solstice class, which was christened in July.

Among their innovations are two-story loft suites, an amphitheater with poolside shows, a carousel and neighborhood-type areas like a Central Park with live greenery, a sports zone, youth center and boardwalk. Both will begin service with Caribbean itineraries sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The lowest advertised fare for the inaugural Dec. 5 Oasis cruise is $1,399 per person (plus taxes and other fees).

From Fort Lauderdale, it will visit Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas.

"We are still planning the inaugural cruise perks," said Tracy Quan, the cruise line's director of brand communications. "There'll also be a variety of commemorative gifts and other celebration extras. We don't disclose reservation numbers, but there's still availability on both."

Carnival, the world's largest cruise line, launched its 23rd and biggest Carnival brand vessel this month, the 130,000-ton, $840-million, 3,600-passenger Carnival Dream.

Service began with a 12-day Mediterranean sailing out of Civitavecchia, Italy, and stops in Naples; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Venice; Messina; Barcelona; Monaco; and Livorno.

Its innovations include a twin-deck miniature-golf course, water park with slides and suites with balconies and two bathrooms. A sister ship, Carnival Magic, will debut in June 2011.

Queen Elizabeth sold out

Cunard began taking reservations April 2 for the Oct. 12, 2010, maiden voyage of its 2,092-passenger, 92,000-ton Queen Elizabeth.

"In a record 29 minutes we were completely sold out," said Laurel J. Davis, Cunard's public relations coordinator.

By mid-2010, Celebrity and Norwegian cruise lines will also have unveiled new ships. Celebrity Equinox, a 2,850-passenger, 122,000-ton vessel, will begin duty April 29 with a four-night Southampton round-trip inaugural cruise to Cork, Ireland, at a $1,199 starting price.

The 4,200-passenger, 150,000-ton Norwegian Epic will initiate seven-day eastern Caribbean cruises from Miami on July 17 after inaugural events in Europe and the U.S., according to AnneMarie Mathews, Norwegian's public relations director. Prices begin at $699.

New additions will also be added to the Silversea, Seabourn and Oceania fleets within the next 15 months. On Dec. 23 Silversea will launch the all-suite 540-passenger Silver Spirit with an 11-day cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Lisbon. Prices for the all-inclusive cruise begin at $5,860 per person.

More launches coming

The Yachts of Seabourn will debut its 450-passenger Sojourn vessel on June 6 with a 14-day maiden voyage from Dover, England, with stops in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands. Fares begin at $8,999. Special inaugural events are being planned onboard and in ports of call, said Bruce Good, Seabourn's public relations director.

"Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilding company in Trieste, hasn't yet given us a firm delivery date for the Marina, our newest ship," said Tim Rubacky, Oceania Cruises' public relations director. "We expect it to be delivered in the fourth quarter of next year so it's too early to begin planning for the inaugural."

The 1,260-passenger, $450-million Marina will be the 7-year-old cruise line's fourth vessel.

Other cruise lines with new ships slated for delivery next year include MSC, P&O, Sea Cloud and Compagnie du Ponant.

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travel@latimes.com

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