Cruise News: Biggest launch this year

From megaships to onboard kennels, we look at what's new on the high seas.
Harmony of the Seas launches in April.
Harmony of the Seas launches in April.

High-tech Oasis

It's a big year for Royal Caribbean, which launches the world's largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, in April. The Oasis-class ship, which weighs a hefty 225,282 tonnes, will span 16 decks, carrying a staggering 5479 guests at double occupancy in 2747 staterooms.

Harmony will have similar "neighbourhoods" to the company's other vessels and will have two FlowRider surf simulators, a rock-climbing wall, mini-golf course, a bar with robotic bar tenders, and a water park with four waterslides, including the 10-storey Ultimate Abyss.

The ship will also feature Royal Caribbean's latest tech innovations, including the fastest internet connection at sea capable of streaming video and sharing pictures on social media, as well as RFID wristbands for guests, which can be used to open stateroom doors and wirelessly make onboard purchases; and special personal assistants called "royal 19-02-2016 05:00:00genies".

Water slides aboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.
Water slides aboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas will homeport at Barcelona for its first season and sail a round-trip, seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary.

The cruise line is bringing megaship Ovation of the Seas to New Zealand in December. She'll start in Dunedin and make her way up the east coast, and will be the largest cruise ship to be based in the region.

Key features include an iFly skydiving simulator and a North Star mechanical viewing platform that suspends guests 90m above the ocean in a capsule.

Queen Mary goes to the dogs

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 is being renovated, adding 15 staterooms for solo travellers and more onboard kennels for those who can't bear to leave their dogs and cats behind. There's even a special recreation area for the pampered pets, with fire hydrants and lamp posts for the pups.

Disney's world

The Disney Cruise Line has dominated the 2016 Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards, winning in 11 categories across three ships, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder.

Disney Dream offers entertainment for all ages.
Disney Dream offers entertainment for all ages.

The awards are based on consumer reviews and ratings by thousands of members of the Cruise Critic website.

Dream won for Best Cruises Overall, Best Cruise Ship Cabins, Best Entertainment, Best Public Rooms, Best Service, and Best for Families in the large ship category.

Disney Fantasy won for Dining, Best Embarkation and Best Fitness and Recreation in the large ship category, while Disney Wonder won for Best Entertainment and Best Service in the midsize category.

Three Oceania ships won five awards, while new ship Viking Star won for Best Cruise Ship for First-Timers.

Carnival Freedom was named Best Value for Money in the large ship category.

The awards are bestowed in three ship categories, based on passenger capacity. Large ships carry 2000 or more passengers, midsize ships 1200 to 1999 passengers, and small ships fewer than 1200.

What's in Port

The big ships you'll see in Auckland

Pacific Pearl (P&O Cruises): 1624 passengers and 514 crew. Next port: Sea.
Carnival Spirit (Carnival Cruises): 2124 passengers and 930 crew. Next port: Sea.
Golden Princess (Princess Cruises): 2600 passengers and 1100 crew.
Next port: Melbourne.
Europa (Hapag Lloyd Cruises) 408 passengers and 280 crew. Next port: Sea.

- NZ Herald

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