Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.
(Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding? Ask us in the comments!)
Ships: Prepare yourself for an audacious Viking invasion as the cruise line’s river arm will be launching a total of 18 of its Longships this week! We’ll be hosting a a special chat with Viking live from one of the ships Wednesday at 4 p.m. EDT.
Where: Our trip is mostly centered around christenings in several ports of call: First up is Avignon, where three Rhone River-bound vessels will be christened on Tuesday. Then it’s on to Bordeaux, a brand new region for Viking this year; no christenings here, just a “first glimpse” of the itinerary. And then we head to Porto, where the company will inaugurate two more vessels on Friday.
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Why There? Why not, since the ships that are being christened will sail on their respective waterways. Interesting note: If you’ve done the math you’ll know that we’re “only” attending ceremonies for five ships. On Monday, another nine will launch in Amsterdam. On Tuesday, four more will be christened at their shipyard, in Germany’s Rostock.
We Can’t Wait: We’re kind of intrigued by the scope of the effort; 18 ships over three days in four locations — that’s pretty ambitious. Beyond that, we’re looking forward to seeing a little bit of Bordeaux; it’s a region that’s pretty new to North American-oriented lines. And we love the Longships; the 190 passenger vessels have gorgeous alfresco terraces (we’re hoping for warm weather), beautiful staterooms, and a jazzy onboard vibe.
Ships: Avalon Impression and Avalon Poetry II
Who: Jamey Bergman, UK River Section & Production Editor
Why There? Inaugural cruise on Avalon Poetry II and double christening with Avalon Impression
We Can’t Wait: As part of a raft of new river ships hitting the waters in Europe this year, Avalon will be christening three new ships — it calls them ‘Suite Ships’ — and we’ll have the chance to see two. Personally, I’m looking forward to checking out the wall-to-wall windows of the line’s open air balcony concept.
Where: The Panama Canal, with stops in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Who: Ashley Kosciolek, Copy and Ports Editor
Why There? While onboard, I’ll be taking notes to write a full, updated ship review of Legend of the Seas, and I’ll also be updating our Cartagena and Colon coverage and writing a port profile for Puerto Quetzal, which will be a brand-new addition to our site. Stay tuned also for a “live from” blog on the best “canal day” vantage points and a slideshow feature that compares and contrasts the differences between sailing the Panama Canal on a small ship versus a large one.
We Can’t Wait: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal’s construction, so it’s an ideal time to experience a visit to the historic marvel firsthand. It also offers us a chance to witness the hourslong process of maneuvering a large ship through tiny locks with just inches to spare on each side. (I’m also excited for some warm weather as the Northeast’s winter season continues.)