It’s official; the cruise industry is growing by the day and more of us than ever are leaving land behind in favour of the oceans. With the first payday of the year finally here and attention turning to holidays, we’re sharing a rundown of the most exciting new ships of 2018, each of them offering something completely unique to tempt you aboard. From the biggest cruise ship ever built to one of the most ecological ever created, plus one that breaks the mould entirely, here are the happenings we’re counting down to for the world of cruising this year.
SYMPHONY OF THE SEAS – ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
Anticipation is high for Royal Caribbean’s new arrival, Symphony of the Seas. The 5,200-guest ship will become the biggest in the world when it launches in March, joining sister ships Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas in the Oasis-class fleet. She’ll spend her maiden season dishing up some serious family fun in the Mediterranean, with 7-day cruises from Barcelona and Rome. Later, Symphony of the Seas will sail to her Caribbean homeport in Miami, from where she will sail 7-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries throughout winter 2019.
So, what’s in store from the record-breaker? The seven neighbourhoods seen across the Oasis-class fleet will return, from the Boardwalk – with high-octane, high-diving performances in the AquaTheater – to Entertainment Place, which lives up to its name with a full-size ice rink, glow-in-the-dark laser tag and a comedy club.
In other news, there’ll be a trio of rip-roaring water slides, a mini-golf course, zip line and not one but TWO FlowRider surf simulators. In terms of accommodation, families will be fighting it out for the Ultimate Family Suite, which features a slide from the kid’s bedroom to the living room, a full wall of LEGO, a 3D cinema room and an enormous balcony with pool table and whirlpool. There are new foodie spots too, including Hooked Seafood and Mexican cuisine at El Loco Fresh. Night-time entertainment comes from Broadway show Hairspray, plus brand-new Royal Caribbean production, Flight.
CELEBRITY EDGE – CELEBRITY CRUISES
The new ship from Celebrity Cruises has been designed to take everything you know about cruising and turn it upside down. Celebrity Edge will sail 7-night Caribbean itineraries throughout winter 2018/19, plus a range of 7, 10 and 11-night sailings out of Rome and Barcelona for 2019, including an exclusive sailing direct from Southampton.
A host of the biggest names in interior design have been enlisted to create amazing spaces on the ship, including Kelly Hoppen, the London designer the A-list turns to for its no-expense-spared interiors. Designed to be inviting and indulgent – and unlike anything else at sea – the suites and staterooms aboard Celebrity Edge are set to revolutionise the way we cruise.
In terms of public spaces, Eden is grabbing the headlines with its ability to transform throughout the day. From leisurely breakfasts to social events such as cooking classes during the afternoons, plus extravagant evenings that will see the entire space used for show-stopping performances, Eden is unlike anything we have ever seen at sea. Equally exciting is the Rooftop Garden, an extended take on Celebrity Cruises’ popular Lawn Club, and the Magic Carpet, the world’s first cantilevered platform which will travel up and down the side of the ship offering various experiences.
ROALD AMUNDSEN – HURTIGRUTEN
We’re all becoming far more conscious of the way we cruise and Hurtigruten has taken this on board when creating the 530-guest Roald Amundsen. Launched in October 2018, she will be the first of two planned hybrid expedition ships for the adventurous cruise line. Each ship has been designed to lower emissions, use less fuel and navigate the Arctic waters in absolute silence for up to 30 minutes at a time, thanks to battery power.
Designed specifically for cold weather cruising, Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen features an ice-strengthened hull and more observation lounges from which to take in those amazing Arctic and Antarctic views. The ship will also be one of the first in the fleet ever to feature an outdoor pool with a pool bar, plus hot tubs; what better way to watch the passing scenery. All cabins will have outside views and televisions in cabins will broadcast views from the bridge, giving guests a heads-up whenever the local wildlife makes an appearance. There will be a choice of three dining venues, all dishing up Hurtigruten’s delicious locally-sourced fare.
Roald Amundsen will sail a maiden voyage from Valparaiso to Patagonia in October 2018, kicking off the Antarctic cruising season. Following its time in the Antarctic, the ship will sail South America, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean, before basing herself in Arctic waters for winter.
VIKING ORION – VIKING OCEAN CRUISES
Viking Ocean Cruises has gone from strength to strength, scooping awards left, right and centre. Viking Orion will become the fifth and smallest ship in the ocean-going fleet, carrying just 930 guests when it launches in July this year.
So, what makes the multi-award-winning Viking Ocean so popular with cruisers? First up is a fare that includes an excursion in every port, a selection of speciality dining, plus drinks at lunch and dinner. The ships are designed with Scandinavian chic in mind, with the airy Wintergarden and cosy Explorer’s Lounge appealing to guests who love a home-from-home vibe with a little extra elegance. The Nordic Spa is considered to be the best at sea by some, beating even the six-star cruise lines to the covetable top spot in spa awards, and the cruise line has also won awards for its cuisine; Manfredi’s serves the best steak you will have eaten in years. All of these signature guest favourites will be present on Viking Orion when she sails the Mediterranean, Asia and Australasia, before becoming the first Viking Ocean ship ever to visit Alaska in early 2019.
AZAMARA PURSUIT – AZAMARA CLUB CRUISES
P&O Cruises’ Adonia has been given a new lease of life and a six-star makeover courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises, emerging transformed as Azamara Pursuit in August 2018. The ship will leave dry dock looking almost identical to sister ships Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey. If you’re sad to see Adonia leave the fleet, fear not you can see all of our latest P&O Cruises 2019 deals here.
Azamara Pursuit’s first four cruises will all sail from or visit the UK and the ship will have a British godmother, the identity of whom remains a mystery. The ship’s maiden voyage will be a unique sailing from Southampton to the Norwegian Fjords, featuring overnight stays in Bergen and Oslo.
Azamara Pursuit will carry just 700 guests, making it a must for fans of small ship cruising and anyone who prefers ports of call at the heart of a destination. The ship will sail a number of destination intensive voyages, including a roundtrip cruise from Southampton to Iceland, an island-hopping jaunt around Greece and a South American sailing along the Chilean Fjords, Panama and Peru, ending with New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro.
SEABOURN OVATION – SEABOURN
Following in the wake of Seabourn Encore, released to much acclaim in January 2017, Seabourn Ovation will become the fifth luxury ship in the six-star fleet. Launching in May 2018, the ship will accommodate just 600 guests in absolute all-suite luxury, each spacious suite featuring its own veranda and walk-in wardrobe. While the ship is one of the largest in the Seabourn fleet, its occupancy will remain the same, giving it one of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea.
Seabourn has a reputation for working with the biggest names in design and cuisine and will continue to do so in the creation of Seabourn Ovation. Thomas Keller returns with The Grill, a classic American dining concept unique to Seabourn. Chef Keller is the name behind Michelin-starred establishments such as Bouchon, French Laundry and Per Se. In terms of interiors, the luxury line has once again enlisted Adam D. Tihany to work his magic with modern designs every bit as impressive as those created by the eminent interiors maestro at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Four Seasons Dubai and the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas.
Seabourn Ovation’s maiden voyage will depart from Venice to Barcelona, her maiden season seeing her cruise Northern Europe, the Norwegian Fjords and the British Isles. The ship will then soak up the early autumn sun in the Mediterranean, followed by a winter sailing 14-day Hong Kong to Singapore voyages in the winter.