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New Ships: 2018 and Beyond

Written by  Lillian Africano

The appetite for cruise travel is ever growing, both in the United States and worldwide -and the industry keeps building ships to feed that demand with a record number of vessels on order over the next ten years. There will be bigger ships-the biggest ever-new technology, new toys, new luxuries and new dining experiences.

Scheduled to debut in spring 2018, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship ever built. At 226,963 tons and carrying more than 6,000 passengers, this third Oasis class ship will have seven neighborhoods: Boardwalk, Central Park, Royal Promenade, Pool and Sports Zone, Entertainment Place, Youth Zone and Vitality Spa and Fitness. Symphony of the Seas will have all of the great new features that Harmony of the Seas brought to cruising last year, including a 10 story slide, robot bartenders, an ice skating rink, and an aqua theater. After a season in the Mediterranean, Symphony will sail to the Caribbean from Miami.

NCL’s Norwegian Bliss will be the first cruise ship built for Alaskan cruises-and the biggest, at 168,000 gross tons and carrying 4,200 passengers, to sail to Alaska. Beginning in summer 2018, this third ship in the Breakaway line will sail week-long itineraries in Alaska, starting in Seattle with calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria (B.C.). In the fall, the Bliss will offer a series of Pacific Coastal, Mexico and Panama Canal voyages before arriving at its winter homeport of Miami, from which it will offer seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises.

A notable Bliss feature (similar to the line’s China-based Norwegian Joy) will be the two-level electric Go-Kart racetrack, which will accommodate drivers of all levels, with four speeds, 30 mph being the fastest. Though drivers will hear the sounds of a race car engine though the speakers near their headrest pipes, the cars actually run silently, so they do not disturb other passengers.

Launching in December 2018, Holland America’s ms Nieuw Statendam, sister to ms Konigsdam, will be the line’s second Pinnacle class ship. At 99,500 tons and carrying 2,650 passengers, the ship will feature a music walk which includes a World Stage (a 360-degree entertainment venue), Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. Kin’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, a French brasserie and a wine-mixing venue.

For the 2018-19 season Nieuw Statendam will sail Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.
Carnival’s 26th “Fun Ship,” the 135,000 ton, 4,000-passenger Horizon debuts in April 2018. As part of Carnival’s Vista class, she will feature a Dr. Seuss themed water park, new Family Harbor Cabins, and will have all of the attractive features of her sister ship, Carnival Vista. This includes an IMAX, the Sky Ride, LED centerpiece in the atrium and the Havana cabins and relaxation area. Carnival Horizon will sail to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Miami

Scenic’s first ocean vessel, the 16,500-ton, all-suite 228-passenger Eclipse launches late August 2018 in the Mediterranean. Billed as the world’s first “discovery yacht,” the 10-deck vessel will have a marina equipped with two helicopters (with a helipad and hangars), a submarine, kayaks and a fleet of Zodiacs.The Eclipse will not only be lavishly decorated, she is being built to the highest passenger ship ice-class rating, giving her the ability to sail the Arctic and Antarctica for three months of
the year.

Service will be exceptional due to an almost 1:1 staff to passenger ratio. (Butler service will also be offered.) The ship will have 10 dining options, several pool areas, a spa, gym and fitness areas, a theater, library and observatory. The all-inclusive fares cover not only meals and drinks, but also Wi-Fi, gratuities, excursions and the use of e-bikes.
Launching in December 2018, the Celebrity Edge will feature innovations never before seen on a cruise ship. These include the Magic Carpet, a movable deck that rises from decks 2 to 16 and acts as a bar, restaurant and embarkation area and the Infinite Veranda cabins, which bring the outdoors in with the use of bi-fold doors. Starting in December, the Edge will sail to the Eastern and Western Caribbean out of Port Everglades.

The renamed Viking Orion, the line’s fifth 930-passenger, 47,800-ton vessel, will debut in June 2018-and will be almost identical to its four predecessors. (As Viking has created a winning formula, why change what works?) The Orion will have an aft infinity pool, thermal suite with snow room (complimentary), two story explorer’s lounge, and every stateroom comes with a private veranda. One shore excursion in each port, Wi-Fi, specialty restaurants, thermal suite, laundry room, and 24/7 room service will all be complimentary.
The Orion will spend its inaugural year sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean before traveling to Asia, Australia and then, Alaska.

Launching in May 2018, the 4,140-passenger, 154,000-ton MSC Seaview is the second in MSC’s Seaside Class. These ships feature lavish public areas-more than 468,000 square feet, to include a theater, a promenade with shops and restaurants, panoramic elevators and other spaces. The Seaside will have an expanded Yacht Club, the longest zip-line at sea (426 feet), and nine dining venues, including two for fee restaurants with Chef Roy Yamaguchi. MSC Seaview will homeport in Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona and sail Western Mediterranean itineraries.

In fall 2018, AIDA will introduce the 180,000-ton, 5,186-passenger AIDAnova, the first ship in the new Helios class. She will be the line’s first vessel running on environmentally friendly LNG (liquefied natural gas) with nearly zero emissions. Also new at the line will be the AIDAnova’s single cabins. She will have 17 restaurants, including five buffet restaurants and specialty dining spots like Casa Nova and French Kiss. In addition to the Beach Club found on AIDA’s other ships, the new vessel will have a water park, water side, mini golf course and a high rope course. Starting in December 2018 on, the ship will sail 7-day cruises to Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Riviera Travel debuted four new ships in 2017, and has annouced the launch of a fifth ship in the spring 2018. The 169-guest Robert Burns will debut spring 2018 on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, joining the newbuilds Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde, all launched in 2017. These ships sail on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, as well as their tributaries, including the Moselle River. All four vessels are all-suite ships with decor showcasing sustainable wood, wrought iron, brass and copper. Suites start at 183 square feet, and accommodations on two decks have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass windows. Superior Suites run 210 square feet, and Deluxe Balcony Suites are 274 square feet. Also new in 2017, the 126-passenger Douro Elegance prioritizes environmental sensitivity, and is designed specifically for the Douro River. UK-based river cruise operator Riviera Travel has a national sales office in Connecticut.

...And in 2019
The Carnival Panorama, due to launch in November 2019, will be similar to the line’s Horizon. (With 25 vessels in the fleet, Carnival has more ships in their fleet than any other line. They will add four more, including one that will be their largest, in the next five years.)
Royal Caribbean’s fourth Quantum class ship will debut in April 2019. (RCL has the second largest fleet (24) in the world, with six more to be added over the next seven years.)
MSC will launch the Bellissima, the second of the line’s Meraviglia class, in March 2019. The line debuts the Grandiosa in October 2019. It should be noted that the line has committed a $10 billion investment to bring 11 new cruise ships into their fleet over the next decade.)
Saga Cruises debuts the small ship (540 cabins) Spirit of Discovery in summer 2019.
Norwegian Cruise Line will launch the fourth ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class in winter 2019. (Like the line’s Joy, this ship will serve the Asian market.)
Costa’s Smerelda, which will debut in October 2019, is the first of a new class for the brand-and the brand’s first LNG-powered ship.
Princesses’ Sky, the fourth Royal class ship, launches in October 2019.
Viking has announced three new ships, scheduled for deliveries in 2019, 2021 and 2022.
Cruise lines have a record number of cruise ships on order over the next ten years; the major lines will have more than 40 new ships entering service by 2026.

And Farther Down the Line:
The highly anticipated new class of cruise ships, Virgin Voyages, has three 2,800-passenger, 110,000-gross ton cruise ships planned for the start of their new cruise line. Designed for adults only, Virgin ships will only carry passengers who are 18 and older. The ships will be based in Miami and sail itineraries in the Caribbean. The first debuts in 2020, the second and third in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Another exciting debut, the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will launch their first ship in 2019; it will be the first of three.

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