A New Era Of Real Ships (250-550 berths) – Other Cruise News: The New Explorers (200-249 berths) – Hotel Yachts (298 berths) – Norwegian Coasters (468 berths)

by Kevin Griffin

Since the introduction of the first of the big ships, with the Sovereign of the Seas in and the first 100,000-tonner with the Carnival Destiny in there has been a substantial evolution in ship design among smaller vessels. The Cruise Examiner first covered these trends on May 12, 2008, in an article entitled “The Middle Way – A Return to Medium-Size Ships?”   and a follow up three years later, “The Market for Middle Size Ships,” on May 30, 2011. However, these ships came in to the 30-50,000-ton range whereas the latest crop are mostly Polar Class 6 vessels in the 15-30,000-ton range. Le Commandant Charcot is an exception, a real Polar Class 2 icebreaker.


A New Era Of Real Ships (250-550 berths)

The largest of this class in terms of berths offered, the first seven ships we deal with here are all expedition ships and all to be completed to Polar Class (six PC6 and one PC2).

The interesting thing about these ships is that they are not homogeneous. These ships and the others we deal with here come in many different designs and dimensions, but also in classes. Their experimental power systems involve LNG and batteries as well as the traditional low distillates diesel engines, with much lower emissions than the ships they are replacing.

Viking Polaris (Rendering courtesy Viking Cruises)

Viking Polaris (Rendering courtesy Viking Cruises)

Roald Amundsen - Hurtigruten

Roald Amundsen – Hurtigruten

Seabourn Venture (Artist impression, March 2019)

Seabourn Venture (Artist impression, March 2019)


The New Explorers (200-249 berths)

In the new grouping between 200 and 249 berths, replacing the old 100-130 size with platforms that offer better economies of scale. All nine ships in this category will be completed to Polar Class 6.

The Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises, March 2018)

The Crystal Endeavor (Artist concept, courtesy Crystal Cruises, March 2018)

Scenic Eclipse (August 2019, Courtesy Scenic Cruises)

Scenic Eclipse (August 2019, Courtesy Scenic Cruises)

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Hanseatic Inspiration

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Hanseatic Inspiration

There are also a number of smaller vessels on order, most running between 160 and 200 berths, including series such as SunStone Ships’ “Ocean” class from China Merchants’ in China (the only ships being built outside of Europe) and Atlas Ocean Voyages’ “World” class from the WestSea shipyard in Portugal.

Each class is planned for at least six or seven hulls, perhaps as many as a dozen.

Hotel Yachts (298 berths)

Ritz-Carlton’s first yacht is now due to enter service in June 2020 following shipyard delays at Barreras in Vigo. The first voyage is a 7-night cruise from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca, with calls in the Balearic Islands.

Unlike the ships covered earlier in this article the Ritz-Carlton ships will have no Ice Class.

Norwegian Coasters (468 berths)

Norway’s Havila Shipping has been contracted to supply four out of the eleven Norwegian coastal passenger and mail ships required to run the daily service from Bergen to the North Cape and Kirkenes, near the Russian frontier. Like the Ritz-Carlton ships, these vessels are not being completed to any Ice Class.

Havila Capella

Havila Capella

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd and a director of specialist cruise operator Culture Cruises Ltd, both of London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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