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Cruise news: 2023 round-up

From maiden voyages to new ship news and extraordinary travel experiences

Published on 29 Dec 2023

From maiden voyages to new ship news and extraordinary travel experiences, 2023 has left an indelible mark on the world of cruising. Join us as we reflect on the highlights and innovations that made this year an unforgettable chapter in maritime history: 


January set sail when Silversea unveiled the eagerly anticipated venues aboard its expedition ship, Silver NovaThe remarkable vessel promised a new level of adventure, with venues designed to immerse passengers in the world’s most remote destinations. 

Meanwhile, Ambassador Cruise Line created a buzz by announcing the godmother of Ambition would be Shirley Robertson, OBE. The cruise line also announced that Shirley would name Ambition at an official launch ceremony in Newcastle later in the year. 


In February, Oceania Cruises announced that Allura would launch in 2025 as the sister ship to Vista. Promising to redefine luxury at sea, Allura was poised to offer passengers unparalleled experiences in elegance, fine dining and exploration. 

Later, we exclusively interviewed Balmoral’s captain, Steffan Ravneng. The behind-the-scenes conversation offered a unique insight into the life of a ship’s captain and the intricacies of commanding a vessel on the high seas. 


At the beginning of March, Captain Inger, Cunard’s first female captain, shared her first diary entry: Captain Inger’s log: The countdown to Queen Anne is on. In it, she explained how she’s preparing to take the helm of the cruise line’s 249th ship in May 2024. 

Elsewhere, we spoke to Tom Götter, Scenic Ocean Cruises’ Director of Food & Beverage in an exclusive Q&A. At the time, Tom had just appeared on Top Chef, a reality competition television series, and shared how it felt to cook under pressure for some of the most talented chefs around the world. 


April was a busy month! Firstly, Holland America Line celebrated their 150th anniversary. We were lucky enough to speak to them about the past, present and future in an exclusive interview

Cunard’s Queen Anne received her crowning glory - her iconic red and black funnel. The important milestone made her instantly recognisable as a Cunard Queen, sporting a distinct feature that’s adorned the cruise line’s ships for more than 150 years. 

Scenic Ocean Cruises announced a docuseries, Maritime Masters: Expedition AntarcticaThe programme promised to showcase Scenic Eclipse’s world-class crew as they delivered exceptional ultra-luxury experiences to guests in some of the world’s most remote and spectacular locations. 

Seabourn Pursuit reached a major construction milestone in April with a traditional coin ceremony at the T. Mariotti shipyard in Genova, Italy. 

Lastly, CLIA published data that revealed holidaymakers from the UK and Ireland sailed on around 1.7 million cruise holidays in 2022. The study also proved that more people were open to cruising than ever before. 


With the King’s coronation celebrations nearing, Princess Cruises revealed coronation details for Sky Princess and Regal PrincessAn array of events and entertainment were arranged onboard to celebrate King Charles’ ascension to the throne. 

Mid-month, Ambition sailed on her maiden voyage (a 14-night Hidden Gems of France and Spain itinerary) from Newcastle. 

ROL Cruise team members Jack, Madison and Olivia spent the day aboard Iona when she was docked in Southampton for the day. They were given exclusive access to Iona’s accommodations, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues and shared their favourite spaces

Lastly, ROL Cruise team member Natasha spent a few days aboard Vista ahead of her very special christening celebration and naming ceremony.  


In June, ROL Cruise team members Roxy, Gemma and Rebecca cruised to Alaska aboard Cunard’s iconic Queen, Queen ElizabethStarting in Vancouver, the team sailed to Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage. 


At the beginning of July, six lucky team members spent the day aboard Seven Seas Splendorone of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newer ships. Docked in Southampton for the day, the team were given exclusive access to Seven Seas Splendor’s suites, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and wellness areas. 


With August came the 20th anniversary of our monthly magazineBlue Horizons. Originally named Newsround, Blue Horizons was launched in order to showcase unmissable deals, exclusive packages, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and immersive editorials to a market whose appetite for cruising was growing rapidly. 

Later in the month, it was announced that Princess Cruises would feature in The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits at Seaa 20-episode series airing on Channel 5. The series would follow groups of holidaymakers as they sailed aboard the luxurious Regal Princess. 


In September, it was announced that Hurtigruten Expeditions would rebrand as HX. The change would include a new global brand identity, a new name and a new logo across all materials. 

Towards the end of the month, team members Olivia, Emma, Carly and Alex set off on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Africa with Rovos Rail and Wendy Wu Tours. As part of the experience, the team travelled to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.  


Team member Poppy kicked things off in October with a 3-night cruise aboard Silver NovaUpon her return, Poppy shared her favourite onboard aspects, which include the Pool Deck, S.A.L.T. and The Marquee. 

Later, it was revealed that Oceania Cruises ship Riviera would debut in Alaska in the summer of 2025


November started strong with exciting news from Celebrity Cruises - Celebrity Xcel would be the fifth ship in the cruise line’s award-winning Edge Series. It was announced that she would have the same distinctive features as her sister ships but be the first ship to be powered by tri-fuel. 

Up next, Cunard announced an exclusive collaboration with acclaimed theatre producer David Pugh. The partnership would bring award-winning shows to the new ship, Queen Anne. 

Meanwhile, Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s fleet united for celebrations in MadeiraBolette, Borealis and Balmoral united for the first time which sparked a fiesta-style celebration. 

Lastly, team members Georgie, Amber, Claire, Sophie, Jasmine and Jemma were among some of the first to step aboard Seven Seas GrandeurThe team embarked in Ancona and spent 3 nights onboard. 


At the beginning of December, team member Ben returned from his very first cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth

Karen and Neela, also members of the ROL Cruise team, jetted off on an Antarctic adventure with Silversea. Upon return, they shared their recommendations and top tips on our blog. 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises officially christened Seven Seas Grandeur at a special ceremony held in Miami. Also in Miami, Celebrity Ascent was officially named with ROL Cruise Managing Director Sarah Wikevand in attendance. 

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