Viking Cruises: Viking Sea
Following in the knots of Viking Star last year, the sister ship, the elegant Viking Sea, will be the company’s second ocean-going ship, able to carry 930 passengers when she debuts in April. Her maiden voyage will be sailing the Mediterranean and Baltic. Decor is Scandinavian style with wrap around private verandas, a domed pool, a sauna and snow grotto to cool down, multiple restaurants, three deck atrium and a cookery school. A highlight is being able to dine around the lovely infinity pool at the World Cafe.
Holland America Line: Koningsdam
This is Holland America‘s first new ship in six years and it is also the largest in its fleet able to carry 2,650 passengers. The extra space means more live music spanning two floors in the BB King’s Blues Club that will host live entertainment five nights a week. Then there is the Music Walk complex in partnership with the Lincoln Center Stage where an ensemble performs classical music six nights a week. There’s also a culinary arts centre which will put on cookery demos and classes during the day but as night falls it morphs into a restaurant. She will spend the summer months cruising the Baltic and Norwegian fjords departing from Amsterdam.
Royal Caribbean: Ovation of the Seas
A whoppper of a vessel, Ovation of the Seas is the latest member of the Quantum Class fleet. She can carry 4000 passengers who will be privy to super-fast internet and myriad of high tech devices such as Roboscreens, a robot bartender, a video wall, RipCord by iFly – a skydiving simulator, North Star – a jewel-shaped glass capsule that rises 300 feet above sea levelproviding 360-degree views from high above the ship and wristbands that pay for drinks. She is also offering newly designed staterooms. Her maiden voyage will depart from Southampton April 17th heading for Paris, Normandy and Bruges for five nights.
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Royal Caribbean: Harmony of the Seas
Harmony, the world’s largest cruise ship holding 5,497 guests and 2,747 staterooms, will be launching in May packed with entertainment. Like the other Oasis-class ships she will have the seven neighbourhood concept such as Central Park, the Boardwalk – a series of nostalgic seaside piers, and the Pool and Sports Zone. She is introducing the AquaTheater, the deepest freshwater pool at sea where passengers will watch jaw-dropping acrobatic dives from 10-metre high platforms. There’s also an ice-skating production, Greece the Musical and The Royal Promenade returns with the new theme night Totally Awesome 90s. Her maiden voyage departs from Southampton for five nights from May 22 to Rotterdam.
Carnival Cruise: Carnival Vista
After a three-year absence, the Italian company Carnival is returning to Europe this year and bringing with her some quirky ideas such as pedal bikes suspended from an 800-foot track 150 feet above the ocean, a 450 foot colourful waterslide and the first IMAX theatre as sea. Carnival Vista will be carrying 3,936 passengers who will have a choice of more than twenty dining and drinking options as she sales around the Mediterranean between May and October.
Regent Seven Seas: Seven Seas Explorer
This all-suite, all-balcony ship has been dubbed by the company as the most luxurious all-inclusive ship ever built. But you can judge for yourself if you should decide to be one of Seven Seas Explorer 750 passengers when she sails in July. However, to get some perspective, her largest suite is 4,000 square feet, the size of two tennis courts. It will have its own sauna and steam room. There is entertainment from music to cooking demonstrations in the Constellation Theatre, a two-tiered venue that looks the epitome of Art Deco opulence. After sailing its maiden voyage from Monte Carlo on July 20 she will sail ten Mediterranean itineraries before traversing to North American on a 16-night Atlantic Retreat voyage from Rome to Miami. From Miami, the ship will embark on a 14-night Serene Islands roundtrip voyage on December 4 followed by a ten-night Caribbean Dawn roundtrip on December 18.
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Seabourn: Seabourn Encore
Seabourn’s elegant small-ship cruises tend to be more intimate than larger alternatives and Encore carries just 600 passengers. This all-suite, all-balcony vessel features a Michelin-starred US chef Thomas Keller and a sanctuary for adults only with hot tubs and cabanas. Seabourn Encore will launch in Athens, and its maiden season will include cruises to the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and the Mediterranean. She departs December 4, 2016 from Piraeus in Athens on a 16-day Holy Land & Arabian Gems cruise. Fares from £4499 per person.