by Fran Golden
The New Year brings brand new cruise ships and cruisers should prepare to have their socks knocked off. The class of 2016 introduces the first IMAX Theater at sea and the most fancy suite ever on a cruise ship. But that’s just the beginning of the features that have us giddy.
Here are six new ships that we can’t wait to see.
Kongingsdam. This contemporary, music-inspired, 2,650-passenger Holland America Line ship embraces the classic stuff the line’s fans love, including a big all-weather pool area, but also says hello to the new, with such cool features as a hands-on winemaking experience, BLEND, and a live concert with large-screen images that’s based on the BBC TV show “Frozen Planet.” The Koningsdam debuts in April and will summer in Europe and winter in the Caribbean.
Viking Sea. Built by the same company that owns Viking River Cruises, this 930-passenger ship, like its sister ship Viking Star, will be full of well-designed modern spaces designed for socializing. Hang out in The Living Room, two-level Explorer’s Lounge or Wintergarden solarium. Dine outdoors and don’t miss the infinity pool on a sunny day. But save time for the complimentary Thermal Suite, where you can do warm treatments before entering the sub-zero Snow Grotto to give your body a wonderful jolt. The ship debuts in Europe in April and will do Mediterranean and Baltic itineraries. (Photo Credit: Viking Sea)
Carnival Vista. Hmm… what to add to your newest and largest ship? If you’re Carnival Cruise Line and talking about the 3,936-passenger Carnival Vista, you go with a RedFrog Pub that actually brews three kinds of beer onboard, a real IMAX Theater and a suspended cycling experience called SkyRide, where daring passengers can cycle a recumbent bike on a track some 24 feet above the top deck – some 150 feet above the sea. There’s also a WaterWorks waterpark with slides and a new inner-tube raft ride and a new indoor sports spot with mini-bowling. The Carnival Vista debuts in May in Europe and after a few sailings from New York, lands at its new homeport of Miami in November. (Photo Credi: Carnival)
Harmony of the Seas. The fact this 5,500-passenger Royal Caribbean ship will debut as the largest ship in the world is already a wow (like its Oasis-class sister ships it will have seven neighborhoods, it’s that big!). But the line went above and beyond adding the jaw-dropping feature of the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story thrill ride that plunges riders from the upper deck down 100 feet. After the scare-fest you can pony up to the Bionic Bar and have a robot bartender pour you a drink. Get onboard beginning in late May in Europe and November in the Caribbean. (Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean)
Seven Seas Explorer. If you’ve got big bucks to spend you’ll find yourself in good hands on this all-suite, 750-passenger Regent Seven Seas Cruises ship, being billed as “the world’s most luxurious ship.” The 3,785-square-foot Regent Suite, complete with private spa, goes for $5,000 per person, per night. But mere mortals can stay in nice digs too and enjoy such features as the Canyon Ranch SpaClub and a hands-on cooking school. Set sail in Europe beginning in July or from Miami in December. (Photo Credit: Seven Seas)
Seabourn Encore. Noted hospitality designer Adam Tihany let his imagine run wild on this 604-passenger ship, which promises luxurious contemporary spaces with dramatic flair. Look for The Restaurant to be ethereal, the pool deck exceptionally cushy. But the foodie in us is especially excited that the ship will feature cuisine by top American Chef Thomas Keller. Encore previews in December in Arabia, India and Asia before a season in Australia and New Zealand. (Photo Credit: Seabourn Encore)
Fran Golden is a well-known, award-winning cruise writer whose work appears in a variety of publications and websites. She is author of several cruise travel books including the upcoming Frommer’s EasyGuide to River Cruising, due out this spring. Connect with Fran on Twitter @FranGolden or Linkedin.