A year in cruise: Jane Archer rounds up all the new ships launching this year
Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said, ‘rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated?’ This idea feels quite familiar for cruise lines too: forced to stop sailing for months as Covid rampaged around the world, while cruising’s detractors gleefully proclaimed the industry’s demise. How wrong they were.
Cruise lines have not only come back with a bang as loyal passengers raced to get back on board, but Covid has failed to derail future growth. More than 40 ocean and river ships will launch this year, among them sister ships, prototypes with smart new features and existing vessels with new owners and names.
The details: With room for just 100 passengers and 64 crew members to look after them, Emerald Azzurra promises luxury indeed. There are pristine suites with balconies, a spa for pampering, inflatable Zodiacs for trips ashore and a marina full of water toys including paddleboards and snorkelling gear.
Find it: Sailing the Mediterranean.
Royal Caribbean International
Ship:Wonder of the Seas
The details: Wonder is the fifth in the series of world’s biggest ships, but larger than her siblings with room for nearly 7,000 passengers and 2,300 crew. There’s a familiar feast of places to eat, drink and stay active but also more pools and play areas. Plus, the ship boasts a VIP retreat with a restaurant and sundecks exclusively for those in Sky and Star suites.
Find it: Spending summer in the Mediterranean.
The details: The all-suite Silver Dawn holds 596 passengers and showcases Otium, a wellness programme inspired by the ancient Romans’ love of indulgence, pampering and pleasure. Looking after mind, body and soul has never been so much fun.
Find it: In the Mediterranean.
The details: With its Magic Carpet and rooftop garden, this is unmistakably a sister to Edge and Apex, but bigger – it holds 3,260 passengers – and, as the name says, it goes beyond what Celebrity has done before. New features include AquaClass SkySuites, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s first restaurant at sea, a two-storey Retreat for suite passengers and a Beach Club-inspired sunset bar.
Find it: Sailing the Mediterranean this summer.
The details: Swan Hellenic’s Phoenix-like rebirth started in 2021 with the launch of Minerva and continues this year with Vega. It holds 152 passengers and has a sauna with a view, three restaurants, a bank of batteries for emissions-free sailing and an ice-strengthened hull for the polar regions.
Find it: In Northern Europe this summer, Antarctica in winter.
Disney Cruise Line
The details: Disney’s Imagineers have been at it again, coming up with fun features for all the family, from a splashtacular wild-water ride to a Toy Story-themed water wonderland for toddlers and a Frozen-themed dining room with live entertainment. The vessel holds 4,000 passengers.
Find it: Cruising the Bahamas from Port Canaveral.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The details: NCL has switched things around on this new class of ship, moving the suite-only Haven to the back, where it is spread out over eight decks, and adding a food hall serving everything from noodles and tapas to Indian dishes. There’s a three-level go-kart racetrack, a 10-storey free-fall dry slide and theatre that morphs into a nightclub. It holds 3,215 passengers.
Find it: In Europe and the Caribbean.
The details:Seascape’s finer points remain under wraps. What we do know is there is a suite-only Yacht Club, 11 places to eat, six swimming pools and a glass-floored Bridge of Sighs looking down to the ocean.
Find it: In the Caribbean.
Carnival Cruise Line
Ship: Carnival Celebration
The details: Named after one of Carnival’s first ships and in honour of the line’s 50th anniversary this year, this 5,374-passenger giant reprises fun favourites including the Bolt rollercoaster, waterslides, ropes courses, Guy Fieri’s burger bar and the comedy Limelight Lounge.
Find it: In the Caribbean.
Carnival is also slated to take over Costa Magica from sister brand Costa Cruises, but details are still under wraps.
Ship:MSC World Europa
The details: The first of a new class of ship, World Europa has an indoor and outdoor promenade, a Zen-like sanctuary for adults, and numerous dining and accommodation options (duplex suites anyone?). There are kids’ clubs, waterslides and a dry slide that spirals down 11 decks for cruising daredevils. It holds 6,774 passengers with all berths full.
Find it: Cruising the Middle East and Mediterranean.
The details: Look out for an escape room, ropes course and Caribbean dishes created by TV chef Shivi Ramoutar as the 5,200-passenger Arvia sets sail. A SkyDome converts from being a daytime sun spot to a live entertainment venue after dark. New Green & Co restaurant caters for fish and veggie diets.
Find it: In the Caribbean.
The details: Think Vega but bigger. Ship number three will be much the same as her sisters, but with room for 192 passengers.
Find it: TBC
The details: Viking’s first expedition ship holds 378 passengers, has an enclosed marina and slipway for boarding and launching Zodiacs, a research lab, kayaks and two submarines. Cabins and suites have balconies that convert into a sunroom on chilly or wet days. A lecture theatre opens out to a terrace warmed by lava rock firepits.
Find it: In Antarctica in winter and the US Great Lakes in summer.
The details: Adventure meets luxury as Seabourn sets sail with its first purpose-built expedition ship. The 264-passenger vessel has an ice-strengthened hull for cruising at the poles, two submarines, kayaks and zodiacs, and an interior designed by Adam Tihany where passengers can sip free champagne as they reminisce on the day’s penguin and polar bear sightings.
Find it: In the Arctic in summer, Antarctica in winter.
The details: Sister ship to Viking Octantis.
Find it: In the Arctic in summer and Antarctica in winter.
Ships:Polaris, Capella, Vega
The details: APT Travelmarvel’s new ship trio offer everything from restaurant and pub-style dining to a rooftop bar and bikes that passengers can borrow for DIY exploring. Each holds 182 passengers.
Find it: The Rhine, Main and Danube.
The details: Viva’s first new river ship (hence the ‘one’ in the name) is a hybrid, able to sail on electric and sulphur-free gas to liquid fuel. Passengers (it holds 176) can pick from restaurant or bistro dining and stay in cabins or suites.
Find it: The Rhine and Moselle.
The details: A-Rosa is chalking up a raft of firsts with this 280-passenger river ship, which can switch to battery power when it is entering and leaving cities. It also has a kids’ club and family cabins, and adds the option for passengers to have dinner served from the buffet (A-Rosa’s traditional self-service remains available).
Find it: A-Rosa will sail the Northern Rhine, round-trip from Cologne.
The details: This vessel holds 88 passengers, has a top-deck pool and alfresco cafe, and a complimentary restaurant serving a five-course Vietnamese menu.
Find it: Cruising the Mekong between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
The details: This is a bigger version of Viva One, accommodating 190 passengers and with a third restaurant, Moments.
Find it: The Danube.
The details: Viking’s makes its Mississippi debut with a 386-passenger river ship modelled on its ocean and river ships, offering an Aquavit Terrace, Explorers’ Lounge and infinity plunge pool.
Find it: Upper and Lower Mississippi.
Best of the rest
Virgin Voyages is back with two more ships identical to Scarlet Lady. Valiant Lady debuts in March with three cruises from the UK between March and May before heading to the Med. Resilient Lady launches in July and will sail in Greece and Croatia.
Princess Cruises’ 3,360-passenger Discovery Princess launches in March with signature venues including an adult-only sanctuary, Movies Under the Stars big screen and Crown Grill steakhouse. It will sail the Mexico Riviera from Los Angeles and Alaska from Seattle.
APT Travelmarvel’s new 34-passenger yacht, Lady Eleganza, starts cruising the coast of Croatia in April.
Viva Cruises joins the expedition sector with Seaventure (formerly Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Bremen). It will sail in Northern Europe from April.
Azamara Onward is not new (it formerly sailed as Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess) but it will look as good as new once it joins Azamara in May. The ship will cruise the Greek Isles most of the summer.
Viking’s identikit ocean ships are joined this year by Viking Mars (May) and Viking Neptune (late 2022). They hold 930 passengers and debut in the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe.
Aurora Expeditions’ 132-passenger Sylvia Earle makes its debut in spring. Like sibling Greg Mortimer, it has a science centre and lecture room, a sauna with a view and plenty of cabins, suites with balconies. It will sail Baja California, the Russian Far East and Antarctica.
Saga’s 190-passenger Spirit of the Danube launches in March. A sibling for Spirit of the Rhine and exclusively for passengers aged 50 and over, it will sail the Dutch and Belgian Waterways, the Rhine and Danube.
Emerald Cruises is expanding its Rhine and Danube fleet with the addition of the 180-passenger Emerald Luna from April.
Tui Isla joins the Tui River Cruises’ fleet in April. It’s the line’s third river vessel and will sail the Rhine, Main, Moselle and Danube.
Arena River Cruises has chartered two new vessels this year. Arena, the line’s flagship, launches in April, Calypso starts sailing in May. Between them, they will sail the Dutch Waterways, the Rhine, Moselle and Danube.
Amadeus River Cruises’ new Amadeus Cara launches in June. The vessel holds 163 passengers and sails the Rhine and Danube.
APT Travelmarvel has a new ship on the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia starting July. Called Apsara, it previously sailed for parent company APT as AmaLotus.
Viking’s 80-passenger Viking Saigon launches on the Mekong in August, sailing between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. In Egypt, look out for new 82-passenger Viking Osiris. It’ll be sailing one-week cruises round-trip from Luxor starting in September.
American Cruise Lines is adding two more European-style river boats to its Mississippi fleet. American Symphony launches in the middle of this year, American Serenade at the end of the year. Each holds 175 passengers.