Monday, July 18, 2011

Cruise News Update: New Ship to Set Sail and Weezer Hits the Water

Cruise-Ship-Vacation.jpg (259×146)
Next week I will be flying to Hamburg, Germany to witness the inauguration of the newest Celebrity cruise ship, Celebrity Silhouette. This is the fourth ship in Celebrity's Solstice class, which I consider some of the most beautiful vessels afloat.
Construction of the ship was just completed at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, the same yard that built the new Disney Dream and will be producing Norwegian Cruise Line's new ships as well.
For those who are new to cruising, a "class" of ships is a series of vessels with the same basic floor plan. But unlike cars or planes, it’s rare for any class of ships to have more than two or three iterations. Probably the most prolific class of ships is the so-called "R Class," with eight ships all built for Renaissance Cruises in the 1990s. All are still in service and are doing very well for their new owners (Renaissance went belly up in 2001). The R-ships currently sail for Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Princess.
Some cruise lines tend to make sister ships nearly identical--even with the décor. This was especially true with Celebrity Cruises' four Millennium-class ships, which are virtually indistinguishable. However, the line has learned that too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. As the Solstice-class has grown, Celebrity has given each new ship-- Equinox, Eclipse and now Silhouette-- some unique attributes to make each more unique. While Celebrity Silhouette will be very similar to its sister ships, it will have a few distinct features.
Solstice was the first cruise ship to have live, growing grass; this feature was unique, but it didn’t do much. It is a lawn like any other, even if it is growing on the top deck of a cruise ship. Yes, you can play croquet and bocce ball on it, but that is about all. Solstice also introduced the first glass-blowing exhibition at sea sponsored by Corning Glass.
Equinox introduced two significant changes: a new restaurant and a relationship with Apple. 
The Qsine Restaurant has a unique style of serving best described as “family-style tapas” and diners view the menu on an Apple iPad full of mouth-watering pictures and demonstrations. Each course is a single menu item, such as spring rolls, but there are single servings for everyone at each table. The presentation of each course is creative and imaginative, with the spring rolls coming inside actual metal springs and sushi presented as “lollipops” already prepared on a stick with pickled ginger and wasabi.
Equinox's new affiliation between Celebrity Cruises and Apple computers (hence the iPad menu) brought about the ship's Apple-based computer learning center called the iLounge. There are also Apple computers in the Internet café and an Apple store onboard with a classroom for lessons in Apple hardware and software.
The unique attributes of Silhouette remain to be seen, but there is already talk of the Lawn Club Grill, billed as the cruise industry’s first outdoor interactive grill. This suggests it will also have an iPad menu that diners can use to order directly from the kitchen.
The ship will also have a new area called The Hideaway, said to be something like a high-tech treehouse where guests can relax. For more relaxation, The Alcoves will offer private cabanas around the lawn with a nearby studio for hands-on art lessons from professional instructors. Most of the improvements to each Solstice ship have been cumulative, so Silhouette will also have Qsine and the iLounge.


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