Pearl Seas Cruises
OnboardMany of the final details of life onboard are still in the planning process, but several major decisions have been made and announced.
Beverage and snack service will be offered both on deck and in a selection of lounge venues, as will entertainment of a low-key style. No casino plans have been announced; nor has a decision on public smoking.
The library is to be stocked with both current volumes and a range of background books reflecting the ship's itineraries and stops.
One of the more interesting aspects of the ship experience with Pearl Seas is the combination of onboard lectures and discussions with shoreside trips and excursions on related topics, with both often led or hosted by the same individual. So when a naturalist, botanist or historian talks about his field of interest one day at sea, he may be actually showing it to you the next day on land. Pearl Seas terms these people "enlighteners" and hopes to expand the program in each area where they will operate.
Additionally, many of the planned excursions will feature what one might term "light adventure" for lack of a better term, with hiking, fishing or scuba as the focal point. Other trips will highlight local lore and crafts, music and food in an attempt to give guests more of an opportunity to "touch" the locales they visit.
It has already been announced that a range of spa services will be offered onboard with specially trained personnel available for treatments. Exercise equipment will most likely be of the multi-use type allowing for a range of workout options.
About Pearl Seas CruisesEditor's Note: After repeatedly pushing back the debut of its first ship, Pearl Mist, since 2009 due to disputes with shipbuilders Halifax Shipyard Limited, Pearl Seas has set the ship's inaugural season for the summer of 2014.
While the old saying may well be true -- you can't teach an old dog new tricks -- in this case you might be able to teach a "new" dog "old" tricks. At least that seems to be part of the idea behind Pearl Seas Cruises, a new operation that will be covering well-traveled territory, but in a significantly different fashion. The line plans to introduce new and radically updated ships along well-known routes in the world of coastal/river/island cruising, with summer routes in Canada and the Maritimes, winter cruises in the Caribbean, and East Coast repositioning cruises in between. Despite the existence of a number of established competitors in each of the markets, the "new" dog has ambitious plans.
Interestingly, there has been no actual explanation as to the choice of the company's name, though a press release noted a connection to beauty, excitement and the pearl as a precious jewel. It might also have something to do with the fact that the ships will be registered in the Pacific's Marshall Islands, known as the "Pearl of the Pacific." What is known is that Pearl Seas Cruises' U.S. headquarters will share the same Connecticut address as the well-established American Cruise Lines, and has been referred to as that line's "offshore affiliate" in press reports. How close that affiliation will prove to be, and how the new company reconciles its status and plans with the requirements of the Jones Act regarding foreign ships operating in US ports and waters remains to be seen.
One thing that is known is that Pearl Seas' ships will be a real change from those currently serving the same markets. Sleek and luxurious, the vessels are planned with obvious references to both the cabin comforts of the latest mega-ships as well as many of the Euro-design influences of the newest cruisers on Continental rivers. Expansive balconies, flat-screen TV's, upgraded linens and amenities will join fine dining choices and leisure options in an effort to bring a "boutique hotel" feel to the product, distancing the ships from their more basic and traditionally styled competitors. Onboard and onshore programs will be linked to make them mutually enhancing, and passengers will be treated to a level of service previously unexpected within this segment. It should present a uniquely interesting experience.
Pearl Seas Cruises FleetWhen the initial announcements were being made about the formation of Pearl Seas Cruises, it was indicated that the line would start service with a first 165-passenger ship in 2008, to be joined by a slightly different second ship in 2009, carrying 210 passengers. Within a few months, a subsequent release stated that the decision had been made to reconfigure the original planning, and that both ships would accommodate 210 passengers. Whether the "twins" will be identical or just fraternal is not known at this time, though it does seem simpler to work with a single design from the outset. Neither ship has been formally named (that will come later); they are currently referred to as Pearl Seas I and Pearl Seas II for convenience.
The ships will be unique in their field with all cabins being outsides -- and having balconies. Another interesting factor is that each ship will have a number (10 or so) of single-occupancy cabins, truly a rarity these days. There will be several categories of regular cabins and suites, ranging from 240 - 460 square ft.; all will be equipped with Internet access, flat-screen TV's, DVD players, as well as premium bedding and branded bath amenities.
Public space will be extensive with a large glass-walled dining room offering water views during single-seating meals. The ships will each have a well-stocked library and two major lounges facing forward over the bow, along with a number of smaller areas for a refreshing drink or quiet conversation, as well as small group gatherings. It should also be noted that all decks will be served by elevators, making handicap access more readily available than on many small coastal and river ships.
Open deck space will provide for both sunning and sightseeing, and gym and spa services will be offered. At the current time there is no indication of a pool or hot tubs in the ships' plans, though they may be added during actual development.
Technically, the ships will be very up to date, with full stabilization, communication and engineering equipment. Diesel-powered, they will be shallow draft vessels, giving them speed between ports and stops and the ability to enter both small and large locales with equal ease.
Fellow PassengersCertain itineraries, like certain cruise lines or ships, attract a certain kind of passenger. Short trips and mega-ships have their followers, as do long voyages and smaller vessels. Coastal and river trips have generally been the province of the comfortably mature and curious. With the aging of the Boomer Generation and its desire to get up close and personal with the world -- but in up-to-date comfort -- Pearl Seas may have a market ready and waiting for it. Those same people who have discovered European river cruising and inter-island voyages around Tahiti or the Greek Islands will certainly enjoy the size and style of the product while exploring smaller islands in the Caribbean or visiting the rugged coasts of New England and Canada's Maritimes.
Expect a blend of middle-aged and older folks, educated and well-traveled, mostly American and Canadian, with a healthy dose of the British Isles and their brethren from Down Under, as well as a smattering of Europeans curious to see another aspect of America and the Caribbean.
Depending on the company's desire to pursue it, the ships might also represent an alternative for families looking for quiet quality time or young professionals in search of a comfortable respite from the pace of daily life. Additionally, the ships also offer an excellent opportunity for corporate incentives and reunion groups of many types. While these groups will always be a minority, they do represent potential that can't be ignored.
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