The newest cruise ships elevate the onboard experience.
BY EUGENIA LAZARIS
FEATURE | THE WORLD’S NEWEST CRUISE SHIPS
Cruise ships have a longstanding reputation for pushing the boundaries of luxury and entertainment. But when the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a near halt, it threatened the existence of the cruising industry. Thankfully, the industry is nothing if not resilient, and it not only managed to survive but pushed forward through adversity with the introduction of some of the most impressive ships to ever sail the seas. The ships being introduced by today’s top cruise lines will include all of the standards travelers have come to love — such as spa treatments, first-rate entertainment and world-class dining — but the newest ships to grace the seas will take these experiences to new heights. This year Norwegian Cruise Line introduces its newest class of ship, the Prima, designed to encourage passengers to live life to the fullest by elevating the cruising experience from every angle. Norwegian Prima, the first ship in its class and christened in August, emphasizes luxury, wide-open spaces and family entertainment. Prima’s spacious design and welcoming outdoor common areas encourage passengers to enjoy the sunshine and fresh sea air, while lavish staterooms and suites top off the voyage with rooms designed for comfort and relaxation. Ocean Boulevard, the ship’s outdoor pool and lounge area, offers a unique way to stroll the ship with Oceanwalk, a glass over-the-water bridge that creates the effect of walking on water. Infinity pools that let you swim up to the edge of the ship, lulling hammocks and romantic firepits complete the relaxing space. At the same time, a never-ending list of activities, including a first-of-its-kind entertainment venue that transforms from a three-story theater into a Vegas-style night club, ensures guests enjoy themselves at every turn. Kids of all ages will appreciate the thought put into onboard activities like Prima Speedway, a three-level go-kart racetrack, as well as two different slide experiences that offer an extreme rush as you drop 10 stories in the world’s first free-fall dry slide at sea. The Galaxy Pavilion, a venue where guests can enjoy escape rooms, racing simulators or the first at-sea Topgolf experience, gives tech fanatics a chance to enjoy the latest in virtual entertainment. For in-room relaxation and onboard dining, NCL spared no expense, with rooms reminiscent of the world’s most luxurious hotel rooms rather than a cruise ship cabin. The Haven offers an exclusive, VIP guest experience with private elevators, personal concierge and 24-hour butler service along with spacious suites designed by Italian designer Piero Lissoni. Following the debut of Norwegian Prima, NCL plans to add sister ship Norwegian Viva to its family of ships in May 2023. The ship is expected to sail throughout the Caribbean and Mediterranean beginning in summer 2023. Royal Caribbean recently introduced Wonder of the Seas, a ship making its debut in March of this year with seven-day western Mediterranean itineraries sailing from Barcelona and Rome. This inaugural European season will run through October, at which time the ship will homeport in Cape Canaveral to offer year-round Caribbean itineraries. Currently enjoying the distinction of the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas measures a whopping 1,188 feet, nearly four times the length of a football field. This impressive ship houses eight distinct neighborhoods, each designed to provide guests with a unique onboard experience. The Boardwalk features a variety of games, dining and activities including an arcade and Aqua Theater, an acrobatic aquatic performance theater. The Central Park neighborhood features 20,000 real plants and offers the perfect place to stroll, shop or dine in the fresh air; while the Solarium, an adults-only climate-controlled lounge space with pools and whirlpools, offers the perfect place for parents to relax while the kids enjoy their own indoor and outdoor play spaces. Wonder of the Seas, along with future sister ships Icon of the Seas (planned for a fall 2023 debut) and Utopia of the Seas (coming in spring 2024), will mark a shift toward cleaner energy for Royal Caribbean. Powered by liquified natural gas, all three feature other advanced technologies introduced on Wonder of the Seas. A heat waste recovery system that repurposes the ship’s excess energy into usable power, shore power connectivity which reduces emissions while in port, and the ship’s ability to produce 90 percent of the fresh water used on board poise Royal Caribbean International at the forefront of the future with clean-energy cruise ships. In late 2021 Regent Seven Seas Cruises began construction on its newest addition, Seven Seas Grandeur. “Seven Seas Grandeur will be a culmination of Regent’s rich history of providing discerning travelers unrivaled experiences with every imaginable luxury included and worldwide, immersive exploration,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Designed to accommodate a maximum of 750 passengers, it will boast one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the cruising industry, creating a passenger-centered experience from the moment a guest steps aboard. Seven Seas Grandeur is expected to launch its inaugural season in November 2023 with 17 voyages throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean, as well as two trans-atlantic crossings. Voyages will sail seven- to 16-night itineraries, and guests may choose from 15 suite categories, including the spacious 4,443-square-foot Regent Suite, which includes its own in-suite spa. With each accommodation curated to live up to — if not surpass — Regent’s heritage of luxury and excellence, passengers will enjoy pure indulgence during their voyage. Princess Cruises debuted its newest ship, Discovery Princess, in March 2022, marking the final addition to the cruise line’s Royal Class of ships. Built at the world-renowned Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, the ship accommodates 3,660 passengers and features the decadence and personalized service for which Princess Cruises is known. With bars and restaurants led by Michelinstarred chefs and master mixologists, world-class shopping and entertainment, and a host of activities designed for both fun and relaxation, Discovery Princess leaves nothing to be desired. The ship’s Sky Suite takes decadent accommodations to a new level. Featuring a private 1,000-foot continuous balcony offering a 270-degree panoramic view of the ocean and a dedicated Suite Experience Manager to see to your every need, the Sky Suite ensures the ultimate experience in luxury cruising. Year after year, the cruising industry proves its commitment to providing travelers with unmatched excellence and unrivaled experiences. Today’s cruise lines introduce ships representing the face of tomorrow’s cruise industry, giving travelers the comfort they crave without compromising on quality. As the industry continues its road to recovery, we can expect to see even more impressive selections like these new additions, carefully designed to give adventure-seeking travelers an experience laced with luxury.