Saturday 25 November 2017

Slick ships, street food, DJs and yoga: Welcome to cruising 2.0

Travel Insider

U by Uniworld - 'The B'
U by Uniworld - 'The B'
The Ice Bar, U by Uniworld
The B Suite, U by Uniworld
U by Uniworld - the rooftop bar
Celebrity Edge - The Magic Carpet spans 16 storeys on the ship. This picture also shows the raised hot-tubs in the pool area and the running track.
Marella Cruises - the new Thomson Cruises
Celebrity Edge
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Think cruising is all about buffet grazers and the blue-rinse brigade? Think again.

New ships and itineraries up the ante every year and 2018 promises a bit of rock ’n’ roll, even for river cruising, the most stereotyped holiday of all.

How? U by Uniworld is piloting a pair of jet-black ships on “the Instagram and Snapchat-worthy rivers of Europe.”

We’ve already had Joon, Air France’s airline for millennials (it launches in December). Now Uniworld is directly targeting 21 to 45 year olds, or “active travellers” seeking immersive trips with a difference.

The B Suite, U by Uniworld
The B Suite, U by Uniworld

U’s ships are simply named ‘The A’ and ‘The B’ and they come kitted with rooftop lounges, yoga studios and mixology classes, aiming to create ‘waterfront hotels’ that allow 120 passengers to slip in and out of European cities without having to pack and unpack in each.

Brush aside pretentious jargon about “transforming paradigms” and U has real potential.

U by Uniworld - the rooftop bar
U by Uniworld - the rooftop bar

River cruising is a super way to see several inland cities in a single trip, but ships can be starchy and entertainment downright dull.

Imagine the same, luxurious, craft transformed with nightclubs, street food-inspired communal tables and ‘U-hosts’, taking night owls on bar hops around cities such as Paris, Budapest and Prague. Uniworld does river cruising, but it’s also a sister brand of Contiki, which knows a thing or two about travel for millennials.

U debuts next spring with nine itineraries (from five to 22 days) on the Rhine, Danube and Seine. Prices start from €1,599pp, excluding flights (ubyuniworld.com).

Cruise on the Edge

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Celebrity Edge - The Magic Carpet spans 16 storeys on the ship. This picture also shows the raised hot-tubs in the pool area and the running track.

“Europe has never seen a ship like this,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Cruises’ president and CEO, revealing details of Celebrity Edge’s 2019 season in the Med. Edge is another ship eyeing younger passengers, with serious hype around head-turning features including its moveable ‘Magic Carpet’

— a tennis court-sized space cantilevered from the side of the ship. It launches in the Caribbean next autumn, with 7-night sailings in Europe starting from €1,379pp based on an interior stateroom (excluding flights) in 2019. See celebritycruises.ie/edge.

Bella Marella

Escenic.jpg
Marella Cruises - the new Thomson Cruises

You may have noticed that Falcon and Thomson Holidays have disappeared from holiday brochures, to be replaced as TUI.

The brand revamp also sees Thomson Cruises change its name to Marella Cruises. In 2018, the line launches a new ship in Marella Explorer (sailing from Palma) alongside the Discovery 2 (from Corfu), Dream (Palma) and Spirit (Malaga).

All are available to book with connecting flights from Ireland. A sample, seven-night cruise in September 2018 starts from €1,179pp all-inclusive, including flights. See tuiholidays.ie.

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