With 2017 comes an onslaught of new cruise ships taking to the seas. In fact, 26 vessels -- ranging from small ships to ones of the mega variety -- will debut in the New Year, promising new features, luxuries, and at-sea experiences. Here's what we're looking forward to the most.
1. Vegging out at The Retreat on Seabourn Encore. The luxurious, 600-passenger Seabourn Encore will be christened in Singapore in January and houses all passengers in suites with balconies. Amenities like Thomas Keller cuisine are included in the fare, but for an over-the-top experience, passengers can book a $350 private cabana in The Retreat area of the ship.
2. Relaxing at the spa on Viking Sky and Viking Sun. When the 930-passenger Viking Sky and Viking Sun debut in February and October, respectively, they will continue the highly acclaimed milieu of their two older Viking Ocean Cruises sister ships. Expect features like Scandinavian-chic décor, plenty of al fresco dining, and a terrific Nordic-themed spa that has hot and cold facilities (including a "snow grotto") at no extra charge.
3. Racing on Norwegian Joy. The 4,200-passenger Norwegian Joy is being built specifically for the Chinese market. Debuting in the summer, it will have a two-level racetrack where passengers will compete against each other using electric go-karts -- a first at sea.
4. Dining on Majestic Princess. The latest Princess Cruises vessel will have space for 3,600 passengers once it's introduced in Europe this spring before heading to China for year-round cruises. Like sister ships Regal Princess and Royal Princess, Majestic Princess will have a lively Piazza atrium. Specialty dining (for a fee) will include new restaurants by Richard Chen (formerly of Wynn Las Vegas) and a French bistro, La Mer.
5. Indulging in French cuisine on Silver Muse. In the spring, Silversea rolls out its largest ship, carrying 596 passengers in "ultra-luxury" style. Everyone aboard Silversea Muse stays in a suite with a balcony, and the ship replaces the main dining room with eight specialty restaurants, most included in your cruise fare. Plan for an extra splurge at La Dame by Relais & Chateaux, where guests will get the special white-glove treatment.
6. Kayaking from National Geographic Quest. This new Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic soft-adventure ship, debuting in June, will have room for 100 passengers; 22 of its cabins will tout balconies. Two-dozen kayaks aboard National Geographic Quest are available for use, along with other water toys such as paddleboards, for fun in Alaska in summer and Costa Rica and Panama in the fall.
7. Watching Cirque du Soleil on MSC Meraviglia. This 5,700-passenger baby arrives in June to sail around Europe. As one of the largest ships in the world, MSC Meraviglia will feature both an indoor amusement park and outdoor water park -- but the star of the show is a lounge dedicated to performances by the top circus troupe.
8. Ziplining on MSC Seaside. The "wows" on this 4,140-passenger MSC ship, debuting in Miami in November, include the design -- the ship looks like an apartment building. Onboard delights of MSC Seaside include a water park, Pan-Asian restaurant operated with famed chef Roy Yamaguchi, and the longest at-sea zipline, stretching 425 feet across an open deck.
9. Learning to dive on Flying Clipper. Sailing fans will get a new option with Star Clippers' Flying Clipper. Due later this year, the five-masted, square-rigged vessel will be the largest of its kind. As on the cruise line's other ships, you'll be able to help with the rigging and relax in the bowsprit. The 300-passenger ship is also outfitted with two plunge pools and a scuba diving pool.