A new year is upon us, and as we flip our calendars ahead, it’s a good time to look at the bold new cruise ships that will be on the waters in 2019. The innovations and designs continue across the industry in a bid to offer more flexibility and something for everyone who want to enjoy a memorable voyage.
The biggest cruise lines are developing interesting music and theater productions, as well as enhanced culinary experiences.
Let’s highlight the best new ships you’ll be hearing a lot about in the new year. Two of them — Celebrity Edge and Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam — launched at the very end of the past year, and three others — Carnival Panorama, Sky Princess and Norwegian Encore — will be making their splashes during 2019.
Here is what we think makes these new cruise ships so exciting:
Celebrity Cruises launched its first new ship since 2012 in November 2018, and Celebrity Edge features several stunning innovations and graceful design choices. The ship carries up to 2,918 passengers (double occupancy) and offers the first-of-its-kind Magic Carpet among a number of distinctive features.
The Magic Carpet is a flexible tennis-court-sized space, a cantilevered platform that can be placed at four different positions alongside the ship to extend the space and functionality of those areas. On Deck 2, it’s a launch platform for tendering operations. The best aspect of the Magic Carpet is that it is essentially a lounge and bar space. Passengers can enjoy the comfy seating areas and bar services while waiting to go ashore or just after returning from shore at tender ports.
On Deck 5, the space is an extension of the restaurant Sushi on 5. On Deck 14, the Magic Carpet is a lounge and bar extension of the pool deck, and up at Deck 16, it’s a venue for a special dining experience called “Dinner on the Edge.”
While the Magic Carpet has generated the most buzz, it’s certainly not the only reason to like Celebrity Edge. The ship has an elegant feel, with wide-open areas built for comfort and relaxation.
The Grand Plaza is the main social area within the ship, with the line’s Martini Bar, a three-story LED chandelier and a white grand piano as the main attractions in this airy centrum-style space that is surrounded by many of the shops and specialty dining venues on the ship.
Cruisers will also love the pool area and Resort Deck. This area offers two large Martini-shaped hot tubs, private cabanas and the Rooftop Garden, which has a stage for live music, a screen for movies and the Rooftop Garden Grill restaurant for al fresco meals.
Eden is unique space across three decks at the back of the ship that offers a wilderness-themed environment filled with whimsical interactive performances at night as well as Eden Restaurant and Eden Café. The space is a great place for relaxing during the afternoons and enjoying sailing with full views of the sea through large glass windows.
Overall, the ship features 15 restaurants and cafes and 12 bars and lounges.
The ship also offers an industry first for ocean cruises: Infinite Veranda staterooms. These cabins feature a flexible indoor-outdoor space that becomes a balcony with the flip of a switch to lower a window.
Chris Caulfield, a cruise travel professional and owner of Chris Caulfield CruiseOne, puts Celebrity Edge at the top of his list for must-see ships in the new year.
“The Infinite Veranda cabins on Celebrity Edge are a game-changer in my opinion,” Caulfield says. “Having the whole cabin open to the ocean while you’re at sea or docked in port is just an amazing experience.
“Of course Edge also continues Celebrity’s tradition of fine dining, while introducing new delicious casual eateries like the Rooftop Garden Grill.”
Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam launched in December 2018 and carries 2,666 passengers. Highlights of the second ship in Holland America’s Pinnacle Class (along with sister Koningsdam) include the gourmet specialty restaurants Sel de Mer (serving French cuisine), Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse), Canaletto (Italian) and Tamarind (Pan-Asian creations).
Food is definitely a highlight onboard Nieuw Statendam, and the ship differs from Koningsdam in that it features al fresco dining at Tamarind and additional seating at Sel de Mer.
Nieuw Statendam also offers America’s Test Kitchen, a program of cooking demonstrations and cooking classes that roams among venues on the ship. Club Orange is a new specialty restaurant (with an expanded Pinnacle Grill menu) available to Neptune Suite and Pinnacle Suite passengers and cruisers who pay a fee for access. You also get concierge services and priority embarkation and tendering privileges.
The Music Walk area on Nieuw Statendam gives the ship a lively vibe and distinguishes the cruise experience from the Holland America sailings of generations past. Music Walk features B.B. King’s Blue Club, Billboard Onboard (a fun piano bar) and Lincoln Center Stage (for classical music). This ship also offers Rolling Stone Rock Room, a five-piece live band venue in partnership with the company behind Rolling Stone magazine.
Princess Cruises’ new ship Sky Princess is scheduled to launch in October 2019 as the fourth ship the line’s Royal Class, joining Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess.
Sky Princess, which will carry up to 3,600 passengers, features an elegant three-deck-high Piazza atrium. Other highlights include staples that stand out on the sister ships. Sky Princess offers large pool areas (including a new aft pool area called Wakeview), amazing restaurants, the Sanctuary retreat space and the delightful Lotus Spa.
Passengers will love the culinary options at Alfredo’s Pizzeria, Crown Grill, Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Salty Dog Saloon and La Mer French Bistro.
Sky Princess offers a new cabin category for Princess Cruises, too. Sky Suites, located at the top of the ship, sleep up to five passengers and have 270-degree views and extra-large 700 square-foot balconies.
This sister ship to Norwegian Bliss will carry about 4,000 cruisers and offer a wide array of fun activities and venues. Norwegian Encore debuts in fall 2019 and will sail from Port Miami.
The big cruise ship is built for excitement. Norwegian Encore features a slick two-level go-kart race track, the largest open-air laser-tag complex at sea, Galaxy Pavilion (an immersive virtual-reality escape room) and separate Aqua Parks for kids and adults.
Entertainment includes the massively popular Tony Award-winning show Kinky Boots and The Choir of Man, a feel-good live music pub show.
Restaurants and lounges include Q Texas Smokehouse, Teppanyaki, Maltings Whiskey Bar, Food Republic and The District Brewhouse.
Norwegian Encore also has the exclusive Haven ship-within-a-ship private suites area.
“Norwegian Encore continues to build on the amazing activity offerings Norwegian has introduced over the years including the go-karts at sea and an even larger laser tag park,” Caulfield says. “This is far removed from how many people think of cruising as just hanging out by the pool. Not to mention adding another Broadway-caliber play to their offerings with Kinky Boots.
“The entertainment options aboard Norwegian Encore truly offer something for everyone.”
Scheduled to launch in December 2019 from Long Beach, California, Carnival Panorama is buzz-worthy because it is the first new Carnival ship to sail from the West Coast homeport in two decades.
Carnival Panorama includes many of the same features as sister ships Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon. The ship will carry up to 3,934 passengers who will enjoy such activities as SkyRide (a suspended aerial side-by-side bike track), SportSquare, SkyCourse (ropes course) and Carnival Waterworks waterpark.
Carnival Panorama also offers a new experience, the SkyZone indoor trampoline park.
The ship is loaded with lounges, bars, restaurants and serene retreats. Passengers will love the diversity of choices. You can spend time at Cloud 9 Spa, Serenity adults-only retreat, Havana Bar and Pool, Alchemy Bar, Piano Bar 88 and Library Bar.
You also will be spoiled for food choices with Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse|Brewhouse, Guy’s Burger Joint, Bonsai Teppanyaki, Bonsai Sushi, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Seafood Shack, JiJi Asian Kitchen, Cucina Del Capitano and BlueIguana Cantina.
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