For cruise travelers, 2018 is all about exploring new ships with “first at sea” innovations and amenities. There’s a bevy of new restaurants and stage shows, a Dr. Seuss-inspired onboard water park, an expansive 20,000-square-foot observation lounge with spectacular views of every port of call, go-kart racetracks, laser tag courts, “movable” decks and so much more. If you’ve been thinking about giving a cruise a whirl, try any of these six ships during their maiden seasons.
Carnival Horizon (April 2018)
Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line
Get ready Carnival loyalists! The 3,960-passenger Carnival Horizon encompasses many of the line’s most popular venues such as Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, the SkyRide (basically, a bike suspended on an aerial track that you pedal around a course) and an IMAX movie theater. The real draw for families, though, is the Dr. Seuss WaterWorks aqua park, which includes slides, a 150-gallon tipping bucket and a kiddie splash zone. Another Carnival first is the addition of a 16-seat Japanese teppanyaki grill restaurant to its lineup of dining venues. The ship will sail the Mediterranean before repositioning to New York for summertime itineraries to the Caribbean and Bermuda. It will then homeport in Miami year-round for Caribbean cruises commencing in September 2018.
Norwegian Bliss (April 2018)
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
You’ll recognize the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss at a glance due to its 1,000-foot go-kart racetrack on deck. The ship also has a pair of scream-inducing water slides, a laser tag court and the Waterfront, a complex consisting of 13 restaurants and lounges. The ship makes its debut with Alaska sailings, which take advantage of the ship’s 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge that offers guests 180-degree views. There will also be a couple of great adults-only spaces: the free Spice H20 on Deck 17 and the for-fee Vibe Beach Club on Deck 19, both of which feature a lounge and hot tubs.
Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas (March 2018)
Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Want to sail on the world’s largest vessel? Pick Royal Caribbean’s passenger ship Symphony of the Seas, which accommodates 6,780 people with every berth filled. Look for the unique “neighborhood” concept that segments the ship into areas devoted to specific pursuits such as dining, entertainment and active recreation. Like other ships in the fleet, Symphony of the Seas will offer heart-thumping options such as the FlowRider surf simulator, The Perfect Storm water slide and Ultimate Abyss slide, plus there will be an escape room, mini-golf and a family-friendly kids’ zone at Splashaway Bay. If you love musicals, Symphony of the Seas will make you tap your toes with its presentation of “Hairspray.” The ship also features the line’s first ever laser tag venue and dual-level Ultimate Family Suites with a slide from the kids’ bedroom to the living room below. The ship will sail the Mediterranean this spring and summer before homeporting in Miami for Caribbean itineraries.
MSC Seaview (June 2018)
Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises USA
Looking for a hot new ship for a Mediterranean cruise this summer? Look no further than 5,179-passenger MSC Seaview, the second in the line’s new Seaside Class. Seaview—with a design sensibility harkening to Miami Beach’s high-rise condos—has a little bit of everything and can easily keep young families, couples and solo travelers busy from dawn to dark. The ship will have the industry’s largest ratio of outdoor space per guest at sea, and you can look forward to an expansive water park with 5 water slides and a kiddie splash area, plus plenty of alfresco restaurants and shops on an outdoor promenade. Twenty different bars and 9 restaurants offer everything from steak to seafood to Asian cuisine.
Celebrity Edge (December 2018)
Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
The most striking innovation of the 2,900-passenger Celebrity Edge is its “movable” deck: the first of its kind at sea. Dubbed the “Magic Carpet,” a deck the size of a tennis court is cantilevered over the side of the ship. It repositions from Deck 2 all the way up to Deck 16. It can serve as the tender boarding area, an outdoor bar or a specialty restaurant. Also, look for the ship’s new Infinite Veranda cabins, which blend interior space with the great outdoors via a bi-fold door: Close the doors to create the balcony or leave them open, which adds 23% more space to the stateroom. The ship homeports in Fort Lauderdale for the Caribbean season, offering both Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. It will then sail to the Mediterranean for 7-, 9-, 10- and 11-night voyages.
Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam (December 2018)
Photo courtesy of Holland America Line
Debuting in December is the Holland America Line’s 2,650-passenger Nieuw Statendam: the largest ship in HAL’s fleet and the second vessel in its Pinnacle Class. Though Nieuw Statendam has many of the same spaces and design flourishes as Koningsdam, there will be a few differences. Look for a new specialty restaurant (HAL has not yet released details). Expect to find the line’s popular Music Walk with 3 performance venues: Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Billboard Onboard. Other highlights that will reappear on this ship include the French restaurant Rudi’s Sel de Mer; Blend, the wine-making space; 2 pools and an outdoor movie screen; as well as the Pinnacle Grill steakhouse and the Greenhouse Spa & Salon.