The largest, the most luxurious, the most innovative, the most expensive — cruising’s biggest names are vying to outdo each other with launches in 2016. Here are the top new cruise ships setting sail.
Holland America Koningsdam
When the 2,650-guest Koningsdam launches in April, Holland America will debut several new concepts on the ship, which will homeport at Port Everglades and sail 7- to 11-day Caribbean cruises. A new venue will teach guests the art of winemaking and allow them to create their own blends. And the Culinary Arts Center, a fleet highlight for the last decade, is being reimagined on Koningsdam, the first Pinnacle Class ship. By day, guests can participate in cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes with visiting chefs. At dinner, the space become a farm-to-table restaurant.
Viking Sea is the sister to Viking Star, which launched the line in May 2015. She will make her debut in April 2016. Like Viking Sea before her, the 930-passenger ship will have all-veranda staterooms and fares include Wi-Fi, alcohol, specialty restaurants, and some shore excursions. During its inaugural season, Sea will sail on two new itineraries: the 15-day Ancient Empires & Holy Lands and the 15-day Bergen to the Bosphorus, in addition to current itineraries in the Baltic and Northern Europe, and the Mediterranean.
The 684-passenger Sirena will join Oceania as the sixth ship in its fleet in April. Originally built in 1999, Sirena — sister ship to the line’s original trio, Regatta, Insignia, and Nautica — will undergo a 35-day, $40 million overhaul before setting sail in the Mediterranean. The new cruise ship will get two of the line's signature restaurants, Tuscan Steak and Red Ginger.
Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line, has designed its biggest ship ever. The 3,936-passenger Carnival Vista debuts in May 2016 and will homeport in Miami after summering in the Mediterranean. The line’s first new ship in nearly four years, Vista will feature lots of firsts: SkyRide, a first-of-its-kind suspended cycling experience; the line’s first onboard microbrewery inside RedFrog Pub; and the first IMAX theater at sea. Vista will also be home to the fleet’s biggest WaterWorks park.
Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas
Royal Caribbean already has two of the largest passenger ships ever constructed and, in May 2016, the 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas will become the new record holder. Harmony of the Seas will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, and Caribbean-bound passengers will have plenty to keep them busy during sea days. Look for Splashaway Bay, an interactive water park for kids, and the Perfect Storm, a trio of multi-deck waterslides. Thrill-seekers who’d rather stay dry can coast down the 10-story Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea.
Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas
The line’s third Quantum class ship will launch in April 2016. Specifically designed for the Chinese market, the new cruise ship will debut in April before heading to her homeport of Tianjin in northeast China in May.
Carnival Corporation created buzz earlier this year when it launched its latest brand, Fathom, and announced planned trips to Cuba. Fathom will pioneer a new category of cruising, dubbed “social impact travel.” The ship isn’t new, but when it arrives in May, the 704-passenger Adonia will be the first American cruise ship to visit Havana in more than 50 years. The ship is set to be refurbished in March and will feature new restaurants, lounges, bars, pools, a spa, and a state-of-the-art gym. Billed as a cultural exchange, passengers on the Cuba itineraries will be immersed in Cuban culture in port and on board. Fathom also sails to the Dominican Republic in 2016.
Regent Seven Seas Explorer
Deep-pocketed cruisers are in for a treat when Regent launches its newest cruise ship in July. The 750-passenger all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Explorer is the most expensive luxury ship ever built. The biggest claim to fame: the priciest suite at sea. Measuring 3,875 feet and costing $5,000 per person per day, the Regent Suite comes with a lavish in-room Canyon Ranch spa retreat and a glass-enclosed garden on its wraparound veranda.
When it sets sail in December, the 600-passenger all-suite, all-balcony Encore will be the largest ship in the Seabourn fleet, yet it’s still designed to feel like a yacht. Famed designer Adam Tihany is creating a tailored aesthetic for the new cruise ship, and world-renowned chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller is bringing his Michelin-starred cuisine aboard.