Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
When you read the words “cruise ship,” we’re guessing a particular image pops into your head: a parade of out-of-shape tourists at an all-you-can-eat buffet who, when they disembark, head straight to souvenir shops in crowded ports. But a newly launched company called Blue World Voyages plans to take a dramatically different approach, filling a hole in the cruise market.
Blue World will offer active people a healthy alternative to megaships by seeking out remote destinations for adventures like biking, hiking, diving, snorkeling, and SUPing. The ship can hold 500 passengers and will be outfitted with a sports deck where guests can work out in a training center, take spinning and yoga classes, or practice their golf swing, among other pursuits. Another innovative feature is a seawater lap pool that attaches to the side of the boat at ocean level for open-water swim training and kayak and other vessel launches. There’s also a spa deck.
Cruise cuisine will be farm-to-table, with provisions from farmers’ markets and local suppliers. Gene Meehan, a health and fitness entrepreneur and the company’s founder, says that’s part of Blue World Voyages’ commitment to make the cruise more sustainable; the ship will also burn a more expensive, cleaner fuel as part of that effort.
(Outside Integrated Media, our parent company, has formed a strategic partnership with Blue World Voyages to create themed cruises tailored to our active audience.)
Meehan says, “We want to go to more remote ports of call. You’re not going to find us in places like Venice, where there are ten other ships in port.”
He says the boat will likely spend a month in seldom-visited Spanish and Portuguese ports, a month around the French island of Corsica, and a month in Italy and Greece before heading up to the British Isles. The company will sell seven-day itineraries, so passengers don’t have to be on board the entire time.
Because the ship will hold a tenth of the people of a megacruise, it won’t require titanic docking infrastructure. That means it will be able to visit small fishing villages in Corsica and Ireland, ferrying its passengers to shore for adventures via smaller boats. Rather than blitz seven overcrowded ports in a week, Meehan says, “We want to do more leisurely sailing.”
For the past decade, cruise companies have been trying to court young, active people—the average cruiser is about 46—with millennials-only excursions. But Blue World is trying to do something different, Meehan says. Rather than target an age group, Blue World is after active people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in cruises. As a competitive rower, Meehan says, he’s found himself welcomed in rowing clubs across the world. He imagines the same kind of community developing with Blue World at sea.
“The real secret in what we’re doing is every sailing will have like-minded people on our ship,” Meehan says. “There’s a tribal mentality among athletes.”
The first trip is expected to happen in spring 2021.
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Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Gene Meehan's first name.