In just five months' time, Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC)'s latest ultra-luxury ship will set sail. To whet your appetite, RSSC's vice-president, Lisa Pile, reveals seven firsts for Seven Seas Splendor.
1.Captain Serena Melani will take the helm of Seven Seas Splendor from the shipyard to its maiden season in the Mediterranean, making her the first woman to captain a new cruise ship. "Captain Serena has been with RSSC since 2010 and is very hands-on with the development of Splendor," says Pile. "She has spent much of this year at the shipyard in Italy, collaborating with the engineers and designers to ensure the ship's form and function is perfect."
2. Splendor's most lavish accommodation will be even bigger than the Regent Suite on Seven Seas Explorer (412 square metres – 20 times the size of the average stateroom) and fitted with an in-suite sauna and steam room along with a host of uber-luxe features.
3. "Dining at the new over-water alcove at Sette Mari, the Tuscan restaurant at La Veranda, is one of my 'must-dos' when I'm on the ship next year," says Pile. "Imagine the views!"
4. Lunch at La Veranda will feature dishes incorporating local ingredients and culinary traditions from destinations where Splendor is sailing.
5. The Culinary Arts Kitchen will offer 20 new classes teaching professional techniques and recipes by master chef instructors.
6. New Gourmet Explorer Tours will take guests on one-of-a-kind epicurean adventures all over the world.
7. "Al fresco seating in the popular Coffee Connection is sure to be a hit with our Australian and New Zealand guests," says Pile. See rssc.com
CLUB ORANGE PERKS
Cruise lines are increasingly personalising fares to add extra services and Holland America Line is rolling out its new Club Orange premium amenities program on all its ships this month. Club Orange offers guests perks such as priority access, stateroom upgrades in some categories, a private dining room and special events. It is available free to guests in Neptune and Pinnacle suites and costs $33 per person per day for a limited number of non-suite guests ($47 on Nieuw Statendam and Koningsdam). See hollandamerica.com.au
Royal Caribbean's 27th ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will be the first Quantum Ultra-class ship to be based in America, arriving at its seasonal home port of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November 2020. It will sail six- and eight-night Caribbean cruises before heading to Europe for summer 2021. Destination highlights include diving in Cozumel, Mexico; swimming with turtles in George Town, Grand Cayman; and a day on the line's activity-packed private resort island, CocoCay in the Bahamas. Described as an evolution of the Quantum-class ships, Odyssey will sport new, yet to be announced, features. See royalcaribbean.com
AQUA BLU'S STAR CHEF
Aqua Blu is a newly refurbished, boutique expedition ship that will start sailing for Aqua Expeditions in East Indonesia next month. A maximum of 30 guests will enjoy consulting chef Benjamin Cross' "journey of flavours", as well as a 1:1 crew to guest ratio on the luxury, 15-suite vessel. Chef Cross has worked with Australian talents Neil Perry (Rockpool) and Janni Kyritsis (MG Garage) and has been based in Bali since 2008. He has created more than 100 dishes for Aqua Blu, showcasing local products such as indigenous spices and sustainably sourced seafood. See aquaexpeditions.com
Award-winning actress Helen Mirren is the godmother of Australian company Scenic's first ocean-going ship. What is its name? Last week's answer: No
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LYNETTE WHEELER, WANTIRNA, VIC
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 12
LAST CRUISE A 21-day voyage from Dubai to Southampton on the Queen Mary 2 took us through the Suez Canal. On boarding her we were dumbfounded at her size and elegance. We knew that the QM2 was largest of the fleet; however, it was larger than we expected. Throughout the voyage the stability of the ship made us feel that we were on terra firma. Among the ports we called into were Muscat, Jordan (Petra), Cyprus, Rome, Barcelona and Lisbon. Rome greeted us with a sunny day. We enjoyed the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum and Pantheon. There was also St Peter's Basilica, the ultimate symbol of Vatican City. We took a tour that included climbing to the top of the dome of the basilica, where the views were amazing.
NEXT CRUISE A round trip from Melbourne to New Zealand over Christmas and New Year aboard Queen Elizabeth.
DREAM SHIP That's difficult to answer. However, I look forward to sailing on Cunard's fourth queen, which is due to join the fleet in 2022.
DREAM CRUISE Sailing in convoy through the Suez Canal was breath-taking.
DREAM PORT Lisbon. Sailing under the 25th April Bridge into the Portuguese capital was a great experience. Once the ship had berthed it was a short walk into the city centre, where we enjoyed some excellent seafood.
BEST CRUISE TIP Take a mini-cruise to see if you enjoy cruising. If you've never sailed before, book a mid-ship stateroom because it's the most stable place on the ship. Adhere to strict hygiene before meals.
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