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The Group Guru Looks at the New Ships

The Group Guru Looks at the New Ships

Would you like your next reunion, seminar or event to be something truly unforgettable? Consider hosting that meeting at sea. If you want to generate high level “buzz” and genuine excitement – a trip of a lifetime that guests will be talking about literally for years to come – host your seminar on one of these awesome new ships scheduled for launch in 2012 & 2013. An event at sea is almost always a better value than a similar event at a land-based venue – and group leaders almost always sail for free. With this amazing array of choices and an option to match virtually any interest, age group and event budget, you are sure to find a perfect match for your group or organization!

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Lines has for years led the cruise industry in innovation. NCL pioneered the popular “Freestyle Cruising” concept featuring “your time” dining, a feature that has now been adopted industry wide Innovation continued with their 2010 launch of Norwegian Epic that brought an entirely new level of name-brand entertainment to modern cruise ships.

NCL again puts innovation front and center when the Norwegian Breakaway launches next spring. The ship will feature a dining and entertainment hub named 678 Ocean Place where numerous restaurants, bars and amusement venues cluster. Several additional alfresco “waterfront dining” options and shops will be offered on the quarter-mile Boardwalk on Deck Eight. In addition, the ship will continue most of the most popular offerings from sister Epic: the private access Haven area offering “ship within a ship” luxury suites complete with butler service; top name entertainment; and the incredibly popular studio suites for solo travelers. After her maiden voyage, the Breakaway will sail 7-night itineraries year-round from New York to Bermuda beginning May 2013.

What groups might consider the Breakaway as a first choice? This ship is perfectly suited for speakers, coaches, authors and seminar leaders with a diverse group of otherwise unrelated followers. Norwegian’s Freestyle Dining model allows these guests to spend time with their travel companions and make their own dining and entertainment choices outside of group events.

Royal Princess

The Princess tagline “Escape Completely” has never been more appropriate than with the forthcoming launch of Royal Princess. In marked contrast to ships touting endless arrays of onboard activities, upscale Princess fashions its onboard experience as a relaxed retreat at sea. While you won’t find climbing walls, skating rinks or expansive sports courts aboard Princess ships, you certainly won’t lack for entertainment. Their ships feature beautifully appointed staterooms and public areas, welcoming nooks that beckon you to stop and reflect, lectures and workshops, expansive spas, and some of the largest libraries at sea.

The Royal Princess will continue to evolve Princess hallmarks: warm intuitive service, excellent cuisine, outstanding itineraries, Movies Under the Stars and the adults-only Sanctuary retreat. Indeed, the Sanctuary will be expanded both in size and amenities, as will the popular multi-deck hub known as The Piazza. Possibly the most innovative feature aboard the Royal Princess will be the top deck’s breathtaking enclosed glass-bottomed walkway, cantilevered a full 28 feet from the side of the vessel – offering stunning and unparalleled ocean views.

Royal Princess will sail a variety of Mediterranean itineraries beginning in June 2013. If your guests would appreciate a slightly more upscale environment – their seminar sessions punctuated with opportunities to relax, rejuvenate and rewind – the Royal Princess could well be the ship of first choice for you. Some suggestions for your Princess group might include writer workshops, photographers, collectors and fraternal organizations.

Disney Fantasy

Everybody knows Disney as THE cruise line of choice for the pre-adolescent crowd – but many are surprised at all the grown-up glamour and amenities these ships offer as well. While kid-friendly features and characters abound, adults-only areas such as Quiet Cove are plentiful as well. Here you can enjoy a swim, unwind in a glass-bottomed hot tub, and even get a relaxing massage. Other adult areas include select restaurants, nightclubs and expansive show lounges.

The newly launched Fantasy does not disappoint no matter what your age. Her chic oceanliner decor features an appealing art nouveau ambiance. Certainly, the Disney motif is evident on this sophisticated, contemporary ship but is frequently understated. Bring on the kids – but expect your adult preferences to be richly catered to as well. Fantasy’s first official voyage sails from Port Canaveral this Saturday booked to capacity.

The Disney Fantasy will be sailing 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries year round through December 2013. Bring your group of home schoolers, mothers & daughters, family reunions, and educational groups. Each guest will enjoy the trip of a lifetime – regardless of age.

Celebrity Reflection

Do you have a sophisticated group that appreciates the finer things in life? A touch (or more) of elegance? A penchant for premium? A loving of luxury? If so, the Reflection may be the perfect ship for you.

The Reflection will be the fifth – and largest – and last – of Celebrity’s incredibly popular Solstice Class ships. These ships took the premium cruise market by storm with their first launch in 2008. Gracious public spaces, frankly upscale ambiance, along with their sought-after Concierge and Aqua Class staterooms and suites, have made these ships some of the hottest booking ships in the industry.

The Reflection will continue many of the popular elements of her Solstice predecessors, some with a new twist. The Lawn Club, featuring a half acre of real grass, will add the Lawn Club Grill offering daytime cooking classes and demonstrations, sometimes with guest chefs, and an evening for-fee dining venue. Also new to the Lawn Club is the Art Studio, a hands-on venue with instruction on drawing, painting and beadwork. The ever popular Michael’s Club will have a contemporary new vibe featuring a craft beer bar with up to 50 different brews, as well as fine whiskeys, scotches, cognacs and bourbons.

The Reflection’s maiden voyage is December 2012. She will make a fabulous choice for culinary groups; beer, wine and whiskey connoisseurs; artists, or for any type of group appreciative of a more upscale and refined cruise experience.

Carnival Breeze

Budget friendly. Fun in the Sun. Carnival Cruise Line is legendary for both and the Carnival Breeze will continue the cruise line’s traditions when she launches in June this year.

Carnival quickly acquired a reputation for its fleet of low budget “party ships.” They have evolved. You’ll still find poolside dance parties and the requisite hairy leg contests on most sailings, but Carnival’s current fleet consists of beautiful ships offering a wide array of entertainment for passengers of all ages and stages. These ships can compete toe to toe with virtually any of the other popularly priced lines for ambiance, activities, cuisine and service.. Carnival arguably has the best children’s programs afloat and the line has won numerous awards including Porthole Magazine’s 2010 top prizes for Best Value and Best Entertainment. And, hey — what’s wrong with having a little fun, anyway?

The Breeze will sail a variety of 12-day Mediterannean itineraries this summer. When she moves to Miami in late November, she will cruise alternating 6- and 8-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Carnival is exceptionally “group friendly,” and The Breeze would be a perfect choice for multi-generational groups of travelers, those seeking to sail from a nearby port, and for any group seeking a budget-friendly cruise option.

There you have it, the “A List” of the most exciting new ships scheduled for launch in the coming year. With these ships offering exceptional amenities, exotic itineraries, and outstanding value – why not consider coming onboard with your group to host a truly unforgettable Special Event at Sea? With options to match virtually any interest, age group and event budget, there is sure to be a perfect match for your group or organization!

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About Philippe Matthews

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