Club Traveler

Cruising: Then and Now

Board a cruise ship, and you begin an exciting and luxurious adventure at sea, just like travelers have done for centuries, right? Actually, the modern-day cruise experience is relatively new in terms of vacation travel, and wasn’t common outside of elite travelers until the past 50 to 60 years.

Though steam engine technology was invented in 1712, it was not used in a trans-Atlantic voyage until 1819, when the SS Savannah left Georgia for Liverpool, England. And even then, the steam engine was used during only 12 percent of the journey.

Customers seeking a faster option for crossing the Atlantic were in luck in the mid-19th century. In 1840, Cunard began accepting paying customers on their steam engine-powered mail ships, which made the journey much quicker than traditional vessels.

Fast-forward 60 more years to 1900 — the year the first purpose-built cruise ship was born. Constructed by Germany’s Hamburg America Line, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise could accommodate about 400 passengers and featured 119 staterooms and a royal suite.

A dozen years later, the first luxury ocean liners made their debuts with lavish offerings and amenities, like swimming pools and Turkish baths. If the year 1912 sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the year the luxury cruise ship named Titanic set out on its now-infamous maiden voyage toward New York.

Next up, 1958. The cruise industry changed after commercial planes took flight. With London to New York by air now possible, the cruise industry looked south to tropical and inviting destinations, and Caribbean cruises entered into vacation itineraries. In the 1960s and early ’70s, shorter trips and competition among cruise lines—like Princess, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival—led to affordable cruises, and the method of travel opened up to more than just elite travelers.

Now that we’re in 2018, travelers have their choice of a wide variety of cruise ships, lines and themes.

So what’s new in the world of cruising this year?

  • Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas debuts as the world’s largest cruise ship in April. Able to accommodate more than 6,000 guests, the ship is divided into seven distinct neighborhoods—Boardwalk, Central Park, Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Entertainment Place, Youth Zone, and Vitality Spa and Fitness—and boasts 20 restaurants. You’ll also find fun onboard features like robot bartenders and a 10-story slide, introduced on sister ship Harmony of the Seas in 2016.
  • Princess Cruises will debut the Royal Princess on the West Coast—making it Princess’ largest ship to sail to Mexico.
  • Featuring an incredible deck-top aqua park, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship, Norwegian Bliss, will sail for the first time this summer. The company’s first ship built specifically for Alaska sea voyages, Bliss will be the largest to sail in the Last Frontier.
  • The second of Carnival’s Vista ships, Carnival Horizon, will boast a Dr. Seuss theme park on board when it hits the water this year.

Club Members’ Many Cruise Options

Members can select voyages on all major cruise lines—Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and others—at a best-price guarantee, thanks to ClubPartner CruisesOnly. Choose a vacation that fits your travel aspirations: a summer adventure through Europe, a winter exploration Down Under, a fascinating look at Pompeii or a tour of Roman Empire ruins.

Whether you’re looking to travel with the family or planning a romantic escape at sea, CruisesOnly’s more than 150 vessels visiting nearly 2,000 ports will provide you the itinerary of your dreams.

Additionally, two ClubPartner Perk Grand Adventures are slated for 2018! Enjoy Members-only pricing while discovering amazing destinations. Learn more about the Unforgettable Independence Day Getaway, which will make stops in the northeast U.S., New England and Canada during its 11-night voyage beginning June 27, and the Extraordinary Panama Canal Experience cruise that will venture to Panama, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Jamaica and Costa Rican during its 10-night journey, beginning October 8.

*This summer, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship, Norwegian Bliss, will make its maiden voyage in Alaska. Photo at top of page courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line (© Norwegian Cruise Line).