New Cruise Ships Making Their Debut in 2016 (Slideshow)
July 5, 2016
Here are 8 new cruise ships that took or will take their maiden voyage in 2016, with the best reasons to try them out yourself
On May 7, 2016, AIDA Cruises christened the AIDAprima, the line’s largest ship and first ever to serve the German market on a year-round basis. Clocking in at over 125,000 tons, the vessel can hold 3,300 passengers over 18 decks in 14 different stateroom categories. To keep all these folks happy and busy, the AIDAprima provides 15 dining options (including French, Mediterranean, Indian, fast food, and buffets), an AIDA cooking school, 18 bars (like the two-deck Spray Bar), indoor and outdoor pools, the longest indoor waterslide on a cruise ship, a lazy river, a rock wall, and a dome-covered Beach Club for “outside” relaxation in all types of weather.
Four years have passed since Carnival last introduced a new ship, but the wait was absolutely worth it. On top of being the largest ship ever built for the line, the new Carnival Vista has a lot of firsts to look forward to, including the first IMAX ever to hit the open seas, the first ever Kaleid-O-Slide (a 455-foot waterslide that will make kids think of kaleidoscopes, while adults have flashbacks from the ‘70s), and a unique attraction called the SkyRide. Invented by the same guy who came up with rollerblades, this pedal-powered, aerial journey will transport guests along an 800-foot track above the top deck at heights of 20 to 40 feet in the air. Additional activities include mini golf, mini-bowling, and a ropes course. Looking for more grown up-focused fun? Drop the kids (under age 12) off at Camp Ocean and head to the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat or the RedFrog Pub and microbrewery, which features five tables that have their own self-serve taps. In other eating- and drinking-related news, guests can tuck into Mexican fare at BlueIguana, New England favorites at Seafood Shack, burgers at Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, and take a behind-the-scenes look into the cooking process at The Chef’s Table. The Vista will call numerous ports home, including Athens, Barcelona, Miami, and New York.
Holland America’s ms Koningsdam
It’s been a full six years since Holland America last introduced a new ship (the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010), but the company is back with the ms Koningsdam, which debuted in April. Not only is this ship the first in the new Pinnacle Class, but it’s the first to offer ocean-view cabins for single travelers and families, and can accommodate a total of 2,650 guests. The 99,500-ton vessel also includes a three-story atrium, a 270-degree LED projection at World Stage, and Music Walk, which includes three stages featuring three different types of music: chamber music at the Lincoln Center Stage, blues and jazz at B.B. King’s/Queen’s Lounge, and five decades of top hits at Billboard Onboard. For dining, Sel de Mer offers French seafood in a brasserie setting, Dutch treats and European beer at the Grand Dutch Café, themed serving stations at the Lido Market, and an impressive main dining room, in addition to classic favorites like the Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto (Italian), and Tamarind (pan-Asian). The most interesting addition is the new Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine, where guests can take part in cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes taught by visiting celebrity chefs as well as the ship’s own culinary masters. Wine lovers will also enjoy mixing their own blends at the appropriately-titled Blend. The ms Koningsdam is a Rome-based ship that is currently touring the Mediterranean. In November it will make a 16-night transatlantic voyage to Ft. Lauderdale, where it will call home for the winter while roaming the Caribbean.
Regent Seven Seas Explorer
Regent Seven Seas has made a bold claim regarding its new ship, the Explorer, which will debut this month: it will be the most luxurious ever built. This is a tall order, but Regent really pulled out all the stops to attempt to attain the title. The 738-passenger vessel contains nothing but suites, all decorated with marble and stone and measuring a whopping 212 square feet — except for the 2,917-square-foot Regent Suite, which books for $10,000 a day, a price that includes roundtrip airfare, a personal car and guide for use in ports, unlimited in-cabin massages, a glass-enclosed sunroom, a personal butler, and a 958-sqaure-foot wraparound balcony. Even if you’re not staying in this opulent accommodation, you can still dine at the ship’s six restaurants and the Culinary Arts Kitchen, with all food, drink, and gratuities included. After spending her inaugural season in the Mediterranean, the Explorer will ring in the New Year in Miami.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
As of her maiden voyage on May 29 of this year, Royal Caribbean’s 226,000-ton. 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas was the largest passenger ship in the world. The ship is so huge that it necessitated being divided up into seven neighborhoods, which have names like Central Park and Boardwalk. Here is just a sample of the amenities and activities onboard: four pools, 10 hot tubs (including two that cantilever over the edge), 2 surf simulators, a sports center (with mini golf, ping pong, and full-size basketball court), a “room escape” activity, an ice rink, an aquatic theater, a bionic bar (where drinks are served by robots), a bar that raises and lowers between levels, two rock walls, a zip line, and an astonishing 20 dining venues (including Sabor Modern Mexican, Japanese specialties at Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, and an Alice in Wonderland-themed eatery featuring what's billed as imaginative, never-before-seen fare). Although she currently offers seven-night Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Rome (Civitavecchia), the Harmony will begin Caribbean cruises in November.
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas
Following in the footsteps of the Quantum of the Seas (2014) and Anthem of the Seas (2015), the new Ovation of the Seas (April 2016) brings Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class service to the regions of Tianjin, China and Sydney, Australia. Although it shares some activities with the Harmony of the Seas (like the rock walls and surf simulators), the Ovation also has a skydive simulator, an observation capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level at the end of a robotic cantilever arm, a 220-foot outdoor movie screen by the pool, and the largest indoor active space at sea, featuring bumper cars, roller skating, basketball, and circus lessons. For dining, two big-name, award-winning chefs have restaurants onboard: Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, and 150 Central Park and Michael’s Genuine Pub, both by Michael Schwartz (of Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink). These are in addition to the 18 other onboard dining options.
Looking for an encore to all the ships debuting in 2016? The Seabourn Encore will hit the water in December and bring with it 600 guests in 300 suites (all with private verandas) across 12 levels. In addition to visiting ports in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that are inaccessible to larger ships (even though the Encore is the largest ever by Serbourn), the vessel will also introduce a signature restaurant from Chef Thomas Keller, the famed brain behind The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon (all of which have made our list of the 101 Best Restaurants in America in the past). Guests can burn off their meals up on the marina deck, which features onboard windsurfing, kayaking, and pedal boats, or relax and take in a show or speech at the Grand Salon. As always, the cruise fare includes all dining, drinking, and tipping.
After ruling rivers for almost 20 years, Viking introduced its first ocean-going vessel in 2015, the Viking Star. Joining it in April 2016 was the Viking Sea, the second of the line’s six ships debuting between 2015 and 2020. Capable of carrying 930 passengers, the vessel combines small-ship intimacy with all the flashy features of the bigger boats, like all-balcony accommodations, numerous dining venues, complimentary beer and wine during lunch and dinner, included shore excursions, and two pools (including an infinity pool that extends off the back of the ship). Luxurious touches include a bottle of welcome bubbly, a minibar that’s replenished daily, robes and slippers, and even complimentary laundry services. Guests can also grab afternoon tea and a number of finger foods at the airy Wintergarden before taking a cooking class at The Kitchen Table and attending a screening of a first-run film at one of two cozy movie theaters. The ship will call Mediterranean and Scandinavian ports home in the summertime, before moving across the Atlantic to San Juan for the colder months.