Huge additions to cruise line fleets are about to make big waves in the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Regent Seven Seas are all adding new ships to their fleets, and even little American Cruise Lines will launch a new riverboat on the Mississippi riverfront in New Orleans. Since competition for voyagers continues to rise, these ships have some interesting features to attract the crowds. Here’s a quick rundown of the new ships splashing in 2016.
Royal Caribbean International – Harmony of the Seas
The long-awaited big sister of the largest cruise ships in the world will finally hit the waves on May 29, 2016, sailing from the port of Southampton, England, to Barcelona. Throughout the summer, she will offer 7-day Mediterranean cruises for as little as $637. Then she will cross the Atlantic to her new home, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Harmony of the Seas, like her Oasis-class sisters, has a hollowed-out look from the stern, where the Boardwalk and Central Park neighborhoods feature tree-lined walks with shops and restaurants. On both sides, balcony staterooms look down on the park as if from towering skyscrapers. On the top decks, the Harmony offers water slides that wind around each other and plunge into pools five decks below. Another slide, The Abyss, drops clients ten stories into the Boardwalk neighborhood. From bionic bartenders to “virtual” balconies, the Harmony has interesting features, innovations and activities. You won’t be bored.
Holland America Line – MS Koningsdam
Port Everglades will also be the winter home of the new Koningsdam by Holland America Line following a summer season cruising around Europe. The itineraries for the Koningsdam have imaginative names like “Viking Sagas and Norse Legends,” and “Voyage of the Midnight Sun.” Sailing from Rome in April and May, she will call on Greek, Italian, Turkish and Croatian ports. From there, she heads north for sailings from Amsterdam to Norwegian fjords and ports in the lands of the Vikings. By November, the Koningsdam will be in Fort Lauderdale, offering seven to eleven-day cruises in the Caribbean.
This ship is simply a work of art. Sweeping, elegant sculptures adorn the ship’s central atrium and all design features follow fluid lines like the inside of a musical instrument. The ceiling of the atrium reflects a high-definition projection of stars, clouds and colors which changes as the day goes on. Unlike the Royal Caribbean ships, activities on the Koningsdam are quieter and appeal to an adult population. Musical performances and piano-bar sing-alongs are fun and entertaining for the evening hours; cooking and cocktail classes will be offered during the day. The experience will be quiet, relaxing and sophisticated.
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Regent Seven Seas – Explorer
Regent Seven Seas calls the new ship Explorer “the most luxurious cruise ship in the world.” With the highest staff-to-guest ratios and the most spacious cabins in the industry, they may be right. Every cabin on the luxury ship is a suite and has a balcony. As with all the Seven Seas cruise ships, the fares include unlimited shore excursions, onboard gratuities, specialty restaurants, an inclusive drink package and in many cases, round-trip airfare. Service is personal and attentive without being overbearing.
The Explorer, which is being built in Italy, will be the largest ship in the Seven Seas fleet, carrying 750 guests, and will enlarge the cruise line’s capacity by 40%. She will begin cruising in the summer of 2016 from Rome, Venice and Monte Carlo, among other romantic port cities. After a season in the Mediterranean, the Explorer heads across the pond to Miami. The itinerary includes a few extended Caribbean cruises, and then the ship will transit the Panama Canal to Los Angeles.
American Cruise Lines – America
The U.S.-based American Cruise Lines is known for its small-ship experience in the coastal ports of New England, the Chesapeake and the Intracoastal Waterway. In recent years, the cruise line has ventured into luxury river cruises on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers, with cruises on the Ohio River, the Cumberland, in Puget Sound and Alaska. In 2015, they launched a brand new 150-passenger paddle-wheeler named American Eagle. When the new paddle-wheeler America arrives in New Orleans in May 2016, she will be the cruise line’s second luxury riverboat to launch in a year.
The America is exceptional for its modern amenities and traditional riverboat décor. Staterooms are large, with twin or king size beds, and most have private balconies. Hotel-style bathrooms and comfortable seating areas contribute to the feeling that you are staying in a luxury resort. (There are plenty of single cabins, too, for solo travelers.) The public lounges are furnished with overstuffed chairs and sofas, providing a social gathering place for guests. Each cruise employs a local expert on American history and culture so guests can learn as they go.
Carnival Cruise Line – Vista
With all the ships splashing in May 2016, we may need to watch for tsunamis that month! The Carnival Vista is scheduled to take its maiden voyage on May 1, 2016 from Trieste, Italy to Barcelona, Spain. The Vista will be Carnival’s largest cruise ship to date with 15 decks, 3,954 passengers, a 450-foot water slide, an IMAX theater and a “SkyRide” consisting of a pedal-powered capsule that rides along a cable suspended over the top deck. It’s 150 feet to the water below.
Kids and their families will have a special kid-friendly zone called Family Harbor where little ones can have breakfast, play games, hear stories and get free ice cream. For older kids and teens, there is a SkyCourse ropes circuit with 20 challenging rope bridges and Carnival’s largest WaterWorks park with thrilling water slides. In contrast to the quieter, more sophisticated cruise experiences on Regent or Holland America, the Vista will cater to the younger, more active, adrenaline-addicted cruiser. As Carnival’s website says, this is the “future of Fun.”
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