The Most Anticipated New Cruise Ships of 2018

by Donna Heiderstadt

The Most Anticipated New Cruise Ships of 2018

by Donna Heiderstadt

If you love to cruise — whether on a ship with 600 passengers or 6,000 passengers — there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018. The major cruise lines will introduce nine new ships between March and December that offer itineraries in Europe, Alaska, the Caribbean, Asia, the South Pacific, and South America. Here’s a look at the ships, what they’ll have onboard, and which destinations they’ll visit.

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Carnival Horizon / Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Horizon
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Carnival Horizon

Debuting on April 2 in Barcelona, the 3,960-passenger Carnival Horizon continues the active onboard fun of sister ship Carnival Vista with a SportSquare, featuring SkyRide (a suspended bike course) and SkyCourse (a ropes challenge). The food scene (which comprises 15-plus eateries) includes some new additions (Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse/Brewhouse and Bonsai Teppanyaki) and some established favorites (such as Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina). After a month cruising the Mediterranean, the Carnival Horizon will head to New York for Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean sailings through October and then onto Miami for Bahamas and more Caribbean itineraries.

Debuting on April 2 in Barcelona, the 3,960-passenger Carnival Horizon continues the active onboard fun of sister ship Carnival Vista with a SportSquare, featuring SkyRide (a suspended bike course) and SkyCourse (a ropes challenge). The food scene (which comprises 15-plus eateries) includes some new additions (Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse/Brewhouse and Bonsai Teppanyaki) and some established favorites (such as Guy’s Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina). After a month cruising the Mediterranean, the Carnival Horizon will head to New York for Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean sailings through October and then onto Miami for Bahamas and more Caribbean itineraries.

Rendering of Seabourn Ovation
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Seabourn Ovation

The second ship in the Encore class, the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation sails from Venice on May 5 and offers upscale, all-inclusive pampering. The spacious suites all feature private verandas; contemporary public spaces were executed by renowned designer Adam Tihany; a culinary partnership with Thomas Keller brings The Grill, an American chophouse; and the Spa & Wellness center was created in partnership with Dr. Andrew Weill. Seabourn Ovation will spend the summer and fall cruising the Baltic, British Isles, Mediterranean, and Adriatic before heading to the Middle East and Asia in November.

The second ship in the Encore class, the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation sails from Venice on May 5 and offers upscale, all-inclusive pampering. The spacious suites all feature private verandas; contemporary public spaces were executed by renowned designer Adam Tihany; a culinary partnership with Thomas Keller brings The Grill, an American chophouse; and the Spa & Wellness center was created in partnership with Dr. Andrew Weill. Seabourn Ovation will spend the summer and fall cruising the Baltic, British Isles, Mediterranean, and Adriatic before heading to the Middle East and Asia in November.

Rendering of Norwegian Bliss
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Norwegian Bliss

With its launch on April 21, the 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss will become the second Breakaway Plus class ship (after Norwegian Escape) and will feature more than 26 restaurants and bars (among them, Food Republic and Q Texas Smokehouse and The District Brewhouse and A-List Bar, respectively). New activities include an on-deck race track and laser tag course, plus new entertainment with "Happy Hour Prohibition — The Musical" and a Beatles-inspired lounge called The Cavern Club, which will host a nightly Beatles cover band. The ship’s inaugural journey is a 12-night transatlantic crossing from London to New York; there’s also a 15-night Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Los Angeles in mid-May. After arriving in Seattle in late May, Norwegian Bliss will offer several seven-night itineraries to Alaska through late September, then sail from Los Angeles to Mexico’s Pacific coast in October before transiting the Panama Canal back to Miami for Eastern Caribbean cruises through March 2019.

With its launch on April 21, the 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss will become the second Breakaway Plus class ship (after Norwegian Escape) and will feature more than 26 restaurants and bars (among them, Food Republic and Q Texas Smokehouse and The District Brewhouse and A-List Bar, respectively). New activities include an on-deck race track and laser tag course, plus new entertainment with "Happy Hour Prohibition — The Musical" and a Beatles-inspired lounge called The Cavern Club, which will host a nightly Beatles cover band. The ship’s inaugural journey is a 12-night transatlantic crossing from London to New York; there’s also a 15-night Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Los Angeles in mid-May. After arriving in Seattle in late May, Norwegian Bliss will offer several seven-night itineraries to Alaska through late September, then sail from Los Angeles to Mexico’s Pacific coast in October before transiting the Panama Canal back to Miami for Eastern Caribbean cruises through March 2019.

Rendering of Symphony of the Seas
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Symphony of the Seas

Upon its inaugural sailing from Barcelona on March 31, Symphony of the Seas will become the world’s largest cruise ship — nosing out sibling Harmony of the Seas. The fourth vessel in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class (and the 25th in its fleet), this 5,518-passenger ship again features seven distinct neighborhoods with 18 restaurants and adrenaline thrills galore (including the Ultimate Abyss and The Perfect Storm waterslides), but also adds Laser Tag and a production of "Hairspray." Symphony of the Seas will cruise from Barcelona through the Mediterranean in November and then from Miami through the Caribbean into early 2019.

Upon its inaugural sailing from Barcelona on March 31, Symphony of the Seas will become the world’s largest cruise ship — nosing out sibling Harmony of the Seas. The fourth vessel in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class (and the 25th in its fleet), this 5,518-passenger ship again features seven distinct neighborhoods with 18 restaurants and adrenaline thrills galore (including the Ultimate Abyss and The Perfect Storm waterslides), but also adds Laser Tag and a production of "Hairspray." Symphony of the Seas will cruise from Barcelona through the Mediterranean in November and then from Miami through the Caribbean into early 2019.

MSC Seaside, sister ship of the new MSC Seaview
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MSC Seaview

On June 5th, just six months after the debut of its sister ship MSC Seaside, this 4,134-passenger vessel by Italian-owned MSC Cruises will “follow the sun” with its inaugural sailing from Barcelona and will stop at a variety of ports in the Mediterranean through mid-November. Then MSC Seaview crosses the Atlantic to South America, where it will visit Brazil through March 2019. What’s onboard? Nine restaurants (including the Pan Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi), 17 bars and lounges (two of which are located in a four-deck glass-walled atrium), a 360-degree outdoor promenade, a Panorama Pool, and an Aqua Park with five water slides.

On June 5th, just six months after the debut of its sister ship MSC Seaside, this 4,134-passenger vessel by Italian-owned MSC Cruises will “follow the sun” with its inaugural sailing from Barcelona and will stop at a variety of ports in the Mediterranean through mid-November. Then MSC Seaview crosses the Atlantic to South America, where it will visit Brazil through March 2019. What’s onboard? Nine restaurants (including the Pan Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi), 17 bars and lounges (two of which are located in a four-deck glass-walled atrium), a 360-degree outdoor promenade, a Panorama Pool, and an Aqua Park with five water slides.

Viking Orion
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Viking Orion

The fifth ocean ship to be launched by Viking Cruises in three years, Viking Orion will be identical to her siblings (Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sun, and Viking Sky), offering the familiarity and sleek Scandinavian design that made the line a pioneer in river cruising. The 930-passenger ship features five restaurants, six bars, and an atmospheric spa (there is no casino). After its June 19th inaugural from Barcelona to Venice, Viking Orion will cruise a trio of itineraries in the Mediterranean and Adriatic until mid-August, before heading to India and Southeast Asia (through November) and the South Pacific and Australia (through March 2019).

The fifth ocean ship to be launched by Viking Cruises in three years, Viking Orion will be identical to her siblings (Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sun, and Viking Sky), offering the familiarity and sleek Scandinavian design that made the line a pioneer in river cruising. The 930-passenger ship features five restaurants, six bars, and an atmospheric spa (there is no casino). After its June 19th inaugural from Barcelona to Venice, Viking Orion will cruise a trio of itineraries in the Mediterranean and Adriatic until mid-August, before heading to India and Southeast Asia (through November) and the South Pacific and Australia (through March 2019).

Rendering of Azamara Pursuit
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Azamara Pursuit

When she sails on August 1 from Southampton on a 12-night Norway Intensive itinerary, the 690-passenger Azamara Pursuit will become the third ship in the Azamara Club Cruises’ fleet. And like her siblings, she’s not a new build (all were originally R-class ships in the former Renaissance fleet), but is undergoing an extensive refurbishment to create contemporary interiors that include seven restaurants and lounges (there is no casino). After spending September and October in the Mediterranean and Greek Isles, Azamara Pursuit will cross the Atlantic to embark on South American itineraries through March 2019.

When she sails on August 1 from Southampton on a 12-night Norway Intensive itinerary, the 690-passenger Azamara Pursuit will become the third ship in the Azamara Club Cruises’ fleet. And like her siblings, she’s not a new build (all were originally R-class ships in the former Renaissance fleet), but is undergoing an extensive refurbishment to create contemporary interiors that include seven restaurants and lounges (there is no casino). After spending September and October in the Mediterranean and Greek Isles, Azamara Pursuit will cross the Atlantic to embark on South American itineraries through March 2019.

Rendering of Celebrity Edge
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Celebrity Edge

The first in its class — and the first new ship for the line since 2012’s Celebrity Reflection — the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge will launch November 21 with a three-day sailing from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas. Edge Staterooms with Infinite Veranda are 23-percent bigger than Solstice-class staterooms with bathroom space that’s 10 percent larger. The ship also features Edge Villas with private plunge pools and outward-facing design in public spaces, such as the adults-only Solarium, a Rooftop Garden, and the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered lounge that travels up and down the side of the ship. Celebrity Edge will cruise Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries until April, when it heads to the Mediterranean.

The first in its class — and the first new ship for the line since 2012’s Celebrity Reflection — the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge will launch November 21 with a three-day sailing from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas. Edge Staterooms with Infinite Veranda are 23-percent bigger than Solstice-class staterooms with bathroom space that’s 10 percent larger. The ship also features Edge Villas with private plunge pools and outward-facing design in public spaces, such as the adults-only Solarium, a Rooftop Garden, and the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered lounge that travels up and down the side of the ship. Celebrity Edge will cruise Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries until April, when it heads to the Mediterranean.

Rendering of Nieuw Statendam
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Nieuw Statendam

Sister ship to two-year-old Konigsdam, Holland America’s 2,650-passenger Nieuw Statendam will debut December 5 with a 14-night transatlantic cruise from Rome to Fort Lauderdale. The ship features interiors by designer Adam Tihany, as well as 10 restaurants, America’s Test Kitchen, a make-your-own-wine blend workshop by Chateau Ste. Michelle, a “Music Walk” experience, and a three-deck atrium. Nieuw Statendam will cruise the Caribbean through mid-April before returning to Europe.

Sister ship to two-year-old Konigsdam, Holland America’s 2,650-passenger Nieuw Statendam will debut December 5 with a 14-night transatlantic cruise from Rome to Fort Lauderdale. The ship features interiors by designer Adam Tihany, as well as 10 restaurants, America’s Test Kitchen, a make-your-own-wine blend workshop by Chateau Ste. Michelle, a “Music Walk” experience, and a three-deck atrium. Nieuw Statendam will cruise the Caribbean through mid-April before returning to Europe.

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