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Cruise Technology of the Future: 5 New Ships with Big Ideas

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This summer the cruise industry is continuing to break ground. With new technology, bigger entertainment and higher-end restaurant innovations, here’s how Viking, Royal Caribbean Princess, NCL, and MSC are competing among many “firsts” in the industry.

Viking Set its Sights on the Ocean

Last night, Viking announced that it will straddle both the ocean and river cruise markets. Starting in 2015, the Viking Star will cruise the ocean in Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Mediterranean. A second ship is scheduled for delivery in 2016, with the potential of four more ships built by Italian company Fincantieri. Viking aims to recreate the river cruising experience on the ocean: small ships of under 1,000 passengers; longer periods at shore with included shore excursions; beer and wine included with meals; and even free Wi-Fi. And don’t overlook the stylish elements on the ship. One of the pools will be surrounded by a retractable dome; another infinity pool will be on the glass-backed on the stern of the ship. Even cooler, there is a fire and ice technology with outdoor fire pits and a spa with a “snow grotto” with snowflakes falling from the sky.

Royal Caribbean Engineering Better Views with Quantum of the Seas

There are many firsts that Royal Caribbean is building into its line of Quantum-class ships, but most exciting are the new views. The North Star is a glass capsule that takes guests 300 feet over the ocean to capture 360-views. Views are also at the forefront of Two70°, the ship’s multi-level great room that has floor-to-ceiling glass walls. At night, the room morphs from a living-room-style lounge with entertainment and live  aerialists, video and digital scenery. You’ll even get a great view from interior cabins which now have a “virtual balcony,” a digital program that streams real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations to interior cabins. Know for adventure activities, the RipCord by iFly is the first skydiving experience. It’s a safe, controlled environment that gives you access to outside ocean views.

Outdoor Cruise Technology with the Royal Princess

It’s no surprise that Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess is getting regal treatment; the ship will be christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) on June 13 in Southampton, England. The royal legacy of the ship is in no way the coolest feature. Most interesting is the Sea Walk, a new engineering feature that’s a glass-enclosed walkway cantilevered 128 feet above the ocean offering unobstructed views. On most cruise ships the top deck goes dead when the sun sets.  Nighttime experiences include a water and light show and cruise line’s largest  version of Movies Under the Stars–a poolside big screen, outdoor theater with blankets, popcorn, cookies and milk. Another first onboard is Princess Live TV Studio, which is the ships own TV network with culinary shows, live concerts, late night comedy, and game shows.

Enhanced Entertainment with Norwegian Breakaway

The Breakaway sails out of New York, but manages to bring the city attractions along with it. The Rockettes are the godmothers of the ship and the dancers have their own fitness class for cruisers. Entertainment is a big part of the mega-ship, including Broadway shows like Rock of Ages, as well as comedy shows, a jazz club, a nightclub, and a dueling piano bar. Entertainment is also a big part of the food offerings with restaurants  from Food Network celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, and baked goods from “Cake Boss” Buddy Vlasto. Focusing on outdoor dining, the ship has a multi-restaurant outdoor area called the Waterfront.

Perks for Kids and Adults MSC Preziosa

This Italian cruise line’s flagship entered service in March, but is ready for summer travelers from across the globe. MSC Preziosa is catering to the kids with the longest waterslide at sea, a 4D cinema ride and Doremi Castle, an aquatic adventure park. For adults, there is a good way to escape: The solarium is an adult only-spa sun deck with spa services and a bar menu (access to the solarium comes with a fee). Grownups will also appreciate MSC’s agreement with Mario Batali’s Eataly, who created 18 dishes for the ship.

By Lily J. Kosner with Alex Thurnher for PeterGreenberg.com

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