Ice skating rink, IMAX movie theater, 10-story slide, aqua theater, bowling alleys, zip lines, race car tracks and even a floating “magic carpet” sounds like a great resort to visit. Forget about booking that resort; they are some of the features that cruise ships debuting in 2018 will have on board.
Cruising is still a relatively new industry. Currently there are 449 cruise ships sailing with an additional 27 new vessels being launched (12 ocean-going ships and 15 river cruises) in 2018. That growth represents more than 34,000 new cabins, but the demand is there. Almost all of the cruise ships are running at 100 percent capacity. Gone are the days when the frequent cruiser gets the phone call to pack and be on board in the next two weeks at a bargain price. The best bargains now are available when bookings are done 12 to 18 months in advance.
Horizon will be the newest and biggest ship from Carnival. It is focused on family travel with a Dr. Seuss waterpark and cabins with large staterooms that can accommodate up to five guests located next to a dedicated family lounge area. The Carnival favorite features are still there with 24-hour pizza and ice cream availability, Guy Fieri Burgers, but new additions abound. Guy will debut a new eatery on board — Pig and Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse. A teppanyaki-style restaurant will come to Carnival for the first time and the on-board brewery will serve a variety of craft beers. SkyRide, a biking experience in the sky, an IMAX theater, and a Havana-themed section of the ship with hammocks on balconies, private access with to its own pool and bar are also available on this new offering.
Celebrity is introducing its first new class of ships in 10 years. The company has redesigned the ship to expand balconies into the staterooms with floor to ceilings sliding glass panels opening to the outside. They are upgrading the ships and adding spacious suites. Two-story suites with private plunge pools and access to their own sundeck will be a new and exciting option. All of the amenities of the finest hotels are available here, such as butler service, and unpacking and packing service, but this hotel just happens to be one that floats. One of the newest features will be the “Magic Carpet,” a mini-deck the moves up and down on the side of the ship. It will be a nightclub at night on the top deck, a lunch spot with great views on Deck 5 during the day, but will move down the side of the deck during port calls to offer easier access on and off the ship when tendering. Celebrity is also introducing RFID-enabled arm bands that allow you to scan in and out of the ship or charge drinks to your room.
Norwegian Cruise Lines has created another mega-resort at sea with the introduction of Bliss, debuting this summer. It comes with expanded space in its Haven, the cruise ship within the cruise ship design. More suites and more private outdoor space will be available to its suite guests. One of the newest features will be the 2-level Ferrari racetrack on the top deck. It will allow up to 10 racers at a time to race electric cars that can reach up to 40 mph. Other top deck features will include an open-air laser tag course and an aqua park with two multideck slides. Bliss will initially do the seven-day itinerary from Seattle to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and British Columbia. Following the inaugural season, it will be homeported in Miami for the Caribbean and then moving to NYC in January of 2019.
These are just a few of newest ocean cruise ships coming soon. I’ll cover some of the newest river cruise ships next week.
Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at mdewitt@DreamVacations.com.