New Cruise Ships
In the last 10 years, cruise ships have transformed from staid vessels with predictable activities to moving metropolises with something for everyone. Rock walls for climbing! Musical theater stars performing in exclusive shows! Five-star restaurants! And more!
Lately, innovation in cruise ships is being led by Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Airlines and the supersonic jet travel company Virgin Galactic. The tycoon recently announced the first Virgin Voyages vessel. Branson’s entry into the previously more predictable world of cruise ships has shaken the industry up, helping to inspire bolder thinking in the industry.
These 12 new and cutting-edge ships setting sail soon are particularly exciting.
‘Scarlet Lady,’ Virgin Voyages
Maiden voyage: 2020, from Miami
Ports of call: Destinations in the Caribbean, including Havana, Cuba
First on our list is Branson’s 2,700-passenger ship, which is for adults only and themed around wellness.
The boat boasts seven public spaces, each designed by a different firm in hopes of creating a diverse, city-like feeling. The general vibe of the ship is glamorous and fun, harking back to the golden age of sea travel. Also included are extensive gym amenities, including a playground for adults and a room with floor-to-ceiling windows, for sunrise and sunset yoga.
Branson has promised a ship that is particularly welcoming to first-time passengers, especially those who’ve never been on a cruise before.
‘Viking Jupiter,’ Viking Ocean Cruises
Maiden voyage: June 2019, from Oslo, Norway
Ports of call: Cities throughout Europe, including Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; and Stockholm, Sweden
Where Virgin is always about fun, Viking focuses on a more sedate and sophisticated experience. Their latest ship features public spaces done up in a soothing Scandinavian style, as well as outdoor dining spaces ideal for taking in views of the sea.
Viking always prioritizes longer visits to ports of call, and offers cultural-enrichment programs, including guest lectures from resident historians and specially arranged destination performances. The “Jupiter” will be no exception.
‘Carnival Panorama,’ Carnival Cruise Line
Maiden voyage: December 2019, from Long Beach, California
Ports of call: Destinations throughout Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas
The “Panorama” will continue Carnival’s tradition of fun-loving cruises geared toward families. While onboard, you can ride a bike in the sky or visit a large water park. Exhausted parents can relax at an on-board spa.
Also on-tap for families: larger rooms designed to accommodate the brood, and a special lounge featuring board games, video games and a selection of family films.
‘Costa Smeralda,’ Costa Cruises
Maiden voyage: November 2019, from Savona, Italy
Ports of call: Destinations across the Western Mediterranean, including Barcelona, Spain and Marseilles, France
The “Costa Smeralda” will be the first ship powered exclusively by liquefied natural gas, a green revolution in cruise ships that other lines are also pursuing.
In addition to this eco-focus, the ship boasts an Italian theme, with decks and restaurants named after sites in that country. Several piazzas have been designed to dazzle, including the Piazza di Spagna, where a large stairway leads to an open-air balcony at the top of the ship. There, a glass floor will offer incredible views.
‘MSC Grandiosa,’ MSC
Maiden voyage: November 2019, from Hamburg, Germany
Ports of call: Destinations throughout the Mediterranean, including Genoa, Italy and Valleta on the island of Malta
Those who love outstanding entertainment on a cruise should consider the “Grandiosa.” The ship will offer not just one, but two Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows. Both are presented in a high-tech lounge where guests can enjoy a meal while they’re dazzled by the acrobatic feats of the troupe.
The ship also offers a “ship-within-a-ship” complex with larger staterooms – perfect for families.
‘Sky Princess,’ Princess Cruises
Maiden voyage: October 2019, from Athens, Greece
Ports of call: Destinations throughout the Mediterranean, including Sicily, Italy and Barcelona, Spain
The “Sky Princess” joins many other new ships in offering larger staterooms, with room for five passengers. Luxury balcony suites are also a selling point, including Sky Suites offering 270-degree views from the top of the ship, as well as exclusive viewing opportunities for Princesses’ Movies Under the Stars program.
Princess Cruises reports that 80 percent of the staterooms will offer balconies.
‘Celebrity Apex,’ Celebrity Cruises
Maiden voyage: April 2020, from Southampton, England
Ports of call: Cities in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and other European locales
The Celebrity Cruise line prides itself on offering a good time to all passengers, and its new ship should deliver on that promise.
Distinctive features include The Magic Carpet, a deck cantilevered off the side of the ship that can transform into a restaurant. The engineering marvel soars 13 feet above sea level, and also includes a full bar and space for live music performances.
The Retreat, a calmer area ideal for getting away from it all, offers views of the ocean as well as a private pool and sundeck.
‘Iona,’ P & G Cruises
Maiden voyage: May 2020, from Southampton, England
Ports of call: Destinations throughout Norway, including Olden and Bergen
No fewer than 17 restaurants, 12 bars and 13 different entertainment options will be available to guests when this ship sets sail next year. The most notable feature? A massive glass dome, under which guests can lounge by a pool during the day and take in aerial performances at night.
P&G is also on the environmental cutting edge; like Costa Cruises' “Costa Smeralda,” "Iona" will be powered by liquefied natural gas.
‘Spirit of Adventure,’ Saga Cruises
Maiden Voyage: August 2020, from Dover, England
Ports of call: Destinations throughout Europe and the Caribbean
Saga cruise ships are distinguished by their smaller size, making for less overwhelming, more intimate experiences at sea.
The “Spirit of Adventure” will offer only 540 rooms, 100 of which are designed exclusively for solo travelers, and all of which feature private balconies.
Despite its size, the ship won’t skimp on amenities: “Spirit of Adventure” promises a well-stocked library, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa, and what’s being touted as the first Nepalese restaurant on a cruise ship.
‘Spectrum of the Seas,’ Royal Caribbean International
Maiden voyage: June 2019, from Shanghai
Ports of call: Destinations throughout Asia, including Singapore and Okinawa, Japan
This ship is geared toward Chinese passengers, who haven’t always had easy access to cruises, and offers Royal Caribbean’s standard mix of adult- and family-friendly amenities.
Posh hotel amenities in special Golden and Silver Suites feature key-pad entry to staterooms, a private elevator, and exclusive clubs and restaurants.
Families will enjoy the aptly named “Ultimate Family Suite,” with a private 3D cinema and floor-to-ceiling Lego wall.
A virtual-reality bungee trampoline park and karaoke rooms galore add to the fun.
Unnamed Ship from Disney Cruises
Looking ahead to 2021, a new Disney ship is on the horizon – the first from the company since 2012. While not much information has been released yet, count on Disney’s commitment to family vacations to be a big part of this ship.
Clubs for kids, shared bathroom suites and a water park or two are all but guaranteed. Disney is an expert in putting together ships that every member of the family can enjoy.
Unnamed Ship from Holland America
Another ship taking to the waters in 2021 is from Holland America. This one will offer a “music walk,” which will include a B.B. King’s Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard. The World Stage, a 360-degree music and dance venue with a wrap-around screen, will add to the music-themed fun.
Can we book passage yet?