With each new bumper crop of ships there are innovations, usually in shipboard attractions, accommodations and activities, but also in technology. The year 2019 will see the industry’s first ship powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG). Others are coming.
The 3,954-passenger Carnival Panorama, a Vista-class ship debuts December 2019 in Long Beach, CA, and will sail seven-day itineraries to the Mexican Riviera, departing every Saturday. This will be first Carnival ship home ported here in two decades.
Notable features: Spacious rooms and suites in the Family Harbor area; a huge WaterWorks aqua park, SkyRide, the open-air SportSquare, a Cloud 9 Spa—and a Cuban-themed Havana section with a dedicated bar and pool.
In November 2019 Costa’s new flagship, the 5,200-passenger Costa Smeralda, sets sail; it will be the industry’s first ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). As the ship’s name celebrates Sardinia’s “Emerald Coast,” the deck names and public are named for Italy’s celebrated places. For example, the three-deck Piazza di Spagna will feature on open-air balcony with a glass floor on the top deck. The three-level Colosseo will have large screens that display images from the ports of call. And the huge Costa Design Museum will feature designers who have participated in the Costa Smeralda’s construction.
MSC’s 4,415-passenger Bellissima debuts in March 2019, while the line’s 4,827-passenger Grandiosa, the first Meraviglia-Plus ship, launches in November 2019. The Bellissima will introduce MSC’s digital cruise personal assistant, Zoe, a new feature of “MSC for Me,” a digital innovation program. Designed for use in staterooms, Zoe will be available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Brazilian Portuguese and Mandarin. It will enable guests to get answers to frequently asked questions about their sailings (as opposed to making their queries at Guest Relations).
Zoe will also be available on the Grandiosa. Also new on the Grandiosa: two original Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows (with culinary experiences), various high-tech innovations, as well as a promenade that will be larger than that on Meraviglia, featuring shops, specialty restaurants and the French-themed L’Atelier Bistrot.
The 4,000-passenger Norwegian Encore, the line’s fourth (and last) Breakaway-Plus class ship will debut in November 2019. The Encore will homeport at a new PortMiami terminal and sail seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean, between November and April 12, 2020. Heading the entertainment line-up will be the musical show, Kinky Boots.
The Encore’s sprawling Galaxy Pavilion will house a virtual reality complex, and the go cart race track expands to two levels. Norwegian’s popular open-air laser tag arena will be enhanced with new interactive elements on this ship.
Debuting in late 2019, Princess Cruises’ 3,660-passenger Sky Princess, the line’s fourth Royal Class ship, will sail a three-day inaugural cruise from Port Everglades, FL, with a visit to Princess Cays. That will be followed by a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean cruises, roundtrip from Port Everglades through April 2020. Voyages will offer late-night stays in St. Thomas and Cozumel.
New on the Sky Princess, the Sky Suites, the ship’s largest staterooms and the first to accommodate five guests and offer the fleet’s largest balconies with luxury furnishings. Sky Suites will have 270-degree views from the top of the ship and exclusive views of the Movies Under the Stars screen. Suite amenities will also be enhanced.
The ship features a new Star Moment karaoke venue, a virtual reality bungee trampoline experience, a new enhanced SeaPlex and a new two-level, three-bedroom Ultimate Family Suite that can accommodate up to 11 guests. In addition, the Sky Princess will have a new specialty restaurant, Sichuan Red.
In June 2019 Royal Caribbean International’s 4,246-passenger Spectrum of the Seas, the first Quantum Ultra-Class ship, will start sailing from Shanghai. Though the vessel was built for the Chinese market, the Spectrum of the Seas has features that will appeal to the western market as well. For example, the ship will debut a private enclave for Golden and Silver Suite guests, who will have a private elevator, a dedicated restaurant and lounge and a number of exclusive amenities and experiences.
The 4th Quantum Plus class ship, Passion of the Seas is scheduled for delivery to Royal Caribbean in Spring 2019.
Summer 2019 will see the debut of the long-awaited Spirit of Discovery from Saga Cruises. With a capacity of 999 passengers and just 540 cabins (100 for solo travelers), the ship will have single sitting dining in a variety of restaurants, including an Asian restaurant (at no extra charge). Ship highlights include indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, a spa and a library.
The newest of Viking Ocean Cruises’ oceangoing ships, the 930-passenger Viking Jupiter will be christened in Oslo, Norway, in June 2019 by the Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø. The Jupiter will feature Scandinavian design and 465 staterooms with verandas. The itineraries will include Privileged Access experiences, as well as Local Life and Working World.
And in 2020…
In August, Carnival will launch the first of two 5,200-passenger ships, with the capacity to carry 6,600 passengers, making them the world’s largest in this regard. Both will run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).
In Spring 2020, the 2,900-passenger Celebrity Apex, sister to Celebrity Edge, will debut, with a number of new and original features, including The Magic Carpet, a movable deck; Infinite Veranda, which blends the indoors and outdoors—and two new suite classes, the Edge Villa, a two-level accommodation and the 5,000 square-foot Iconic Suite.
MSC Cruises‘ second Meraviglia Plus ship, the 6,297-passenger Virtuosa, launches in September 2020, with the same features as those on the Grandiosa (see above). Accommodations include family group “cluster cabins,” and facilities include a double-deck indoor amusement and an outdoor water park.
Due in Spring 2020, P&O Cruises’ 5,200-passenger Iona, will be the biggest ship built for the U.K. Ship highlights included a half-mile Lanai deck; 17 dining venues, 13 entertainment venues, four pools and a high atrium with glass windows.
In October 2020 Princess Cruises’ 3,100-passenger Golden Princess will be transferred to P&O Cruises’ Australian fleet and renamed Pacific Adventure.
Features include the Byron Beach Club, a private pool and bar for the exclusive use of passengers occupying suites and mini-suites.
Princess Cruises’ fifth Royal-class ship, the 3,560-passenger Enchanted Princess, will debut in Europe in June and feature such Princess staples as the three-deck Piazza atrium and Movies Under the Stars.
Royal Caribbean‘s fifth Quantum Class vessel, the Pulse of the Seas, launches in the fall of 2020. With a capacity of 4,180 passengers, the ship, like its four sisters, will have such features as a skydiving simulator, onboard bumper cars, inside cabins with “virtual balconies” and the North Star, a pod that extends over the ship and offers 360-degree views.
In the summer of 2020, Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II will have a new sister, the Sea Cloud Spirit. The tall ship will be sailed by hand and will have an elevator connecting the various decks—a first for a sailing ship.
The Spirit will have 69 outside cabins, (25 with balconies), a spacious wellness area (on the sundeck) with a Finnish sauna, three treatment rooms, a steam bath and a hairdressing salon.
In August 2020, Saga Cruises launches the Spirit of Adventure, sister to the Spirit of Discovery, with the same style and features of the first ship (see above). According to recent news, Saga will go all-inclusive in 2020.
Virgin Voyages, the new adults-only cruise brand from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, will launch their first ship, the Scarlet Lady in the spring of 2020.
The branding will be paired with a “Scarlet Squad” staffing campaign to recruit and support female shipboard talent. Virgin Voyages has two additional ships on order, due for delivery in 2021 and 2022.
Note: This article was first published in Destinations Magazine by JAX FAX.