5 Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Breakaway
ABC News called Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Breakaway, launched in 2013, a game changer for the cruise industry. With it, NCL enters the competition for luxury cruise passengers. At the top of the ship, Haven, an all-suite area, rewards affluent guests with butlers, concierge service, a private pool and other extras. It’s like a little gated community within the megaship. The $840 million Breakaway is the biggest ship ever to call New York its home port. The spa and fitness center alone take up 28,000 square feet. The Breakaway’s seven-day itinerary carries passengers between New York, Bermuda and the Bahamas.
4 Disney Fantasy
The made-for-families Disney Fantasy cost $899 million to build and is the fourth ship in the Disney cruising fleet. Everything was designed with families in mind, from the split bathrooms to the youth clubs, 3D movies and three separate pools: one for families, one for kids, and the third for adults only. While the technology is up-to-date, the Fantasy has a 1920s Art Nouveau theme. The giant atrium lobby, sweeping staircase, stained glass chandelier, towering columns and blue, green, pink and gold color scheme conjure up visions of grand old ocean liners. That is, if old-time atriums featured bronze statues of Minnie Mouse in vintage travel gear. The Fantasy plies Caribbean waters.
3 Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Cruise Lines put almost as much into Norwegian Epic, its $1.2 billion, 1081-foot ship, as Royal Caribbean spent on the Allure and the Oasis. This line prides itself on “freestyle cruising,” which means you can eat when and what you want, rather than having a preassigned seating. The Epic offers 20-plus places on board to eat. This ship is also part of a new trend to offer studio rooms to solo travelers, without the additional charges cruise lines call “single supplements.” At 100 square feet, the studios are only 28 square feet smaller than regular rooms. The Blue Man Group and other well-known performers entertain guests. A crew of 1753 care for the 4100 passengers on their way to the Caribbean and Europe. (refs 1, 5)
2 Oasis of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas falls into the honking huge variety. Don’t want to leave your rock-climbing wall at home? Fancy zip-lining across the ship’s boardwalk? Then this 1,184-foot, $1.4 billion ship might be your home away from home. If you live in a smallish town—say, Saint Paul, Alberta, for example—you could bring your whole population of 5,400 souls for a cruise. The Oasis of the Seas plies the Caribbean from its home port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
1 Allure of the Seas
At $1.5 billion to build, the Allure of the Seas beats its sister ship Oasis of the Seas by 1/10 billion in price and 2 inches in length. The ship tries so hard to make you feel at home that it even includes the first on-board Starbucks. Don’t worry if you get lost or find yourself with a minute of unfilled time. Each deck sports touch-screen guides with features like “room finder” and “what to do right now.” You can also experience the Caribbean’s famous custom of ice skating on board the Allure.
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