The cruise industry shows no signs of slowing down in 2013 as seven new ships take to the sea offering the latest and greatest the industry has to offer.
Cruise Market Watch projects 20.9 million cruise passengers will travel worldwide in 2013, a 3.3 percent increase over 2012. While companies will debut fewer vessels than in years prior, the new ships are projected to generate $3.2 billion more in annual revenue for the industry and offer cutting edge innovation, the likes of which cruise passengers have never seen.
From a three-story sports complex to glass-bottom walkways and floating breweries, here’s the lowdown on what to expect on the biggest ships making a splash in 2013:
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Breakaway
Capacity: 4,010 passengers
Scheduled Launch: April
Best Features: The biggest new ship to set sail in 2013 will also be the largest ever to sail in and out of New York City. The 143,500-ton Norwegian Breakaway has several NYC-themed offerings, including the Broadway show “Rock of Ages,” performances and classes from the Radio City Rockettes and a hull featuring the works of New York artist Peter Max. This ship will certainly please anyone who envisions a cocktail-filled cruise. It features several themed lounges like Maltings whiskey bar, Shakers martini bar, Humidor cigar bar and the LED-lit Bliss Ultra Lounge. Other notable features include a casino, a Nickelodeon-themed aqua park with five water slides, a nine-hole miniature golf course and a three-story sports complex replete with a ropes course, rock climbing wall and zip track.
More Information: www.ncl.com/cruise-ship/breakaway/overview
Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess
Capacity: 3,600 passengers
Scheduled Launch: June
Best Features: This 141,000-ton vessel is the first of two new-generation ships from Princess being built by Italy’s Fincantieri. New additions include Princess Cruises’ largest top deck pool ever with a water and light show, a poolside outdoor movie theater, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending out over the water and a state-of-the-art fitness and health center that includes an outdoor jogging track. Other features include a live television studio with interactive morning shows, three new dining options and two additional for-fee buffet options: a fondue dispensary and a crab shack. The ship will sail seasonally through the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
More Information: www.princess.com/learn/ships/rp/index.html
MSC Cruises’ MSC Preziosa
Capacity: 3,502 passengers
Scheduled Launch: April
Best Features: The MSC Preziosa is to become the flagship of MSC Cruises when it launches this spring, featuring a Balinese-inspired spa, infinity pool, disco, casino and three main restaurants. Though it has yet to sail the open sea, this ship already has a fascinating history. Once the pet project of the late Libyan dictator’s son, Hannibal Gaddafi, he lost his contract after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. MSC later purchased the vessel and made some changes (instead of a 120-ton shark aquarium, for instance, they put in a waterpark for kids with the longest waterslide in the industry). The ship will winter in the Caribbean and summer in the Mediterranean.
More Information: www.msccruises.com/gl_en/Ships/MSC-Preziosa.aspx
AIDA Cruises’ AIDAstella
Capacity: 2,192 passengers
Scheduled Launch: March
Best Features: The seventh ship from Germany-based, Carnival Corp.-owned AIDA will sail through Northern Europe and the Baltic beginning this spring before changing course for the Canary Islands over the winter. The ship boasts 14 decks with seven restaurants, 12 bars and, because this is a German ship, an onboard brewery. Specialty dining areas include a steakhouse and sushi bar.
More Information (in German): www.aida.de/kreuzfahrt/reisen-mit-aida/schiffe/aidastella.24627.html
Voyages of Discovery’s Voyager
Capacity: 540 passengers
Scheduled Launch: Just Launched
Best Features: Voyages of Discovery’s second ship, a former Cunard vessel, sails on multi-week history-based journeys around the world. The “unpretentious, peaceful and charming” cruise has no casinos or extravagant theme nights, simply classic restaurants, cozy bars and engaging entertainment like guest speakers and lectures. It does, however, boast traditional features like shops, a pool, beauty center and gym. The Voyager posits itself as the kind of intellectual cruise suitable for those who may never have considered cruising before.
More Information: voyager.voyagesofdiscovery.co.uk/
Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2
Capacity: 516 passengers
Scheduled Launch: May
Best Features: This stylish and spacious new ship is an update on the original Europa, which won the coveted ranking of 5-stars-plus by Berlitz Cruise Guide in 2011. Europa 2, which sails through the Mediterranean and Asia, features eight restaurants, six bars, a wider variety of entertainment and an increased focus on wellness and fitness. The accommodations, too, are top of the line, with cabins from 300 square feet and up with expansive balconies and luxurious amenities.
More Information: www.hl-cruises.com/
Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Soleal
Capacity: 264 passengers
Scheduled Launch: July
Best Features: This luxury explorer offers all ocean-view cabins, two restaurants with haute French cuisine, three lunges, a fitness center and a theater. The ship will debut with several Arctic explorations out of Iceland and Greenland before heading off across the globe.
More Information: en.ponant.com/Ships/Le-Soleal
Also in 2013, the 90-passenger Tere Moana from Paul Gauguin Cruises will begin sailing through the West Indies, while Carnival will relaunch its Destiny ship as the completely redesigned Carnival Sunshine. Viking River Cruises, meanwhile, will launch a whopping 10 new “Longships” in Europe, traveling down the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.