Ever since the first dedicated passenger liner first set sail, the cruise industry has been in a constant state of development, with each year seeing newer bigger vessels, more features and innovations, both leisure-based and technical. With that in mind, here’s a look at 15 firsts from throughout the history of cruising.
First cruise ship
Back in the day, they were actually known as passenger liners, but the principle was the same, so it’s relatively safe to say that the first ever cruise ship was the Prinzessin Victoria Luise. Launched on June 29, 1900, she was the first vessel purpose-built for passenger cruising and boasted a library, gym and luxury staterooms. If it ain’t broken, eh?
First swimming pool at sea
It’s the mainstay of every cruise ship but that said, it may surprise you how far back the history of the pool goes. In fact it was White Star Line’s RMS Adriatic in 1907 which was the first ship to offer passengers the opportunity to take a dip.
First cruise ship to offer internet
None of us can believe how we used to live without it and it’s become a part of cruising too, but the first cruise ship to offer an internet café was Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky in 1999.
First cruise ship to offer IPads in all staterooms
Continuing with the internet theme and making the web even easier to access for travellers, Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas was the first vessel to offer passengers IPads in their staterooms as of 2012.
First cruise line to offer baths in a stateroom
It may seem like a basic amenity but most cruise lines looked no further than showers when it came to keeping passengers clean. In fact, it was Disney Cruise line which was the first to realise the appeal of a good old fashioned bath for cruising families.
First cruise line to own its own island private island
A common fixture on a number of the major cruise lines’ Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries, the private island offers passengers their own escape for the day. In fact, it was Norwegian Cruise Line who started the trend when they purchased Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas’ Berry Islands, in 1977.
First ship to offer outdoor movies
Enjoying a night at the cinema is a common attraction on a large number of mainstream cruise ships, but the first ship to offer them outdoors on a giant screen was Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess when the line launched its Movies under the stars in 2004.
First ship to feature real grass
For all those cruisers who can’t leave the land behind, Celebrity Solstice became the first vessel to offer a real grass lawn on-board in 2008.
First ship to have a park
Taking this love of all things natural and green a stage further, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas became the first ship to have its own park on-board the ship.
First skating rink
As cruise ships got bigger, so did the list of activities available to cruisers on-board. Ice skating cruisers pirouetted for joy when in 1999, Royal Caribbean became the first line to offer an ice skating rink.
First rock climbing wall
Keeping fit and active on-board was taken to literally new heights when Royal Caribbean became the first line to feature a rock climbing wall on-board in 2003.
First line to offer a behind the scenes ship tour
Aimed at those with a fascination for how it all works, Princess Cruises’ Ultimate Ship Tour was the first behind-the-scenes ship tour of its kind. On a guided tour offered twice per cruise on a sea day, visitors can explore the engine room, control room, medical centre, Laundry bridge and visit the command centre, where they can meet the captain.
First ship to have on-board glass-blowing
Where would we be without a spot of glass-blowing? Obviously realising a gap in the market, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice became the first vessel to offer this experience in the form of The Hot Glass Show, where live demonstrations and performances take place on-deck.
First cruise ship with bumper cars
Bang up to the present day, we have the announcement that Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, due to launch in November 2014, will feature bumper cars. Will this mark the start of a trend to include more fairground attractions on board our cruise ships?
By Simon Brotherton