The smell of sea air, the gentle rocking of waves and the promise of new horizons have lured so many of us into taking a cruise holiday. From boutique river vessels to vast floating cities, the cruise industry offers travellers a range of options for exploring by water – and every year there are new innovations to discover.
Catching up for time lost during the pandemic, river and ocean cruise companies will be launching a whole host of new vessels this year. Expect pioneering spa services, pulse-racing activities and a greener approach to travelling.
Here are a few of the key launches to look out for this year…
Maiden voyage: July 14
How many passengers: 4,000
Where? Three and four-night itineraries to Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Departs from Port Canaveral, Florida – around an hour from Walt Disney World Resort.
What makes it so special? Disney’s latest seafaring attraction promises to revive the magic and nostalgia of age-old ocean liners. Onboard, immersive dining experiences are themed around Frozen and the Marvel Universe, with a lounge transporting guests to a Star Wars galaxy. For the best views, book the two-story suite housed in one of the vessel’s red funnels.
How? A three-night Bahamian cruise costs from £715 per person. Various departures. Flights extra. Visit disneycruise.disney.go.com
Maiden voyage: April 3
Number of passengers: 176
Where? The Rhine and Moselle rivers
What makes it so special? This is the first new build from a young European river cruise company, launched in 2018. All trips are truly all-inclusive – meaning drinks, minibar and tips are covered by the package price. Reflecting a general shift towards more sustainable sailing, the ship will be powered by hybrid technology, and will use sulphur-free GTL fuel to reduce CO2 emissions.
How? A seven-night Picturesque Rhine trip costs from £1,350 per person, departing May 8. Flights extra. Visit viva-cruises.com
Maiden voyage: March 18
Number of passengers: 2,770
Where? The Canary Islands, Portugal, Spain and Miami.
What makes it so special? This is the second ship from Virgin Voyages, hot on the heels of Scarlet Lady. A disrupter on the cruise scene, the company offers longer port stays, no set dining times and even the possibility to order late-night ShipEats deliveries to your cabin. Indulgent spa treatments and keep fit programmes are also available. In a bid to clean up the cruise industry’s act, Virgin Voyages has partnered with Climeon, a Sweden-based technology company, to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions by converting engine waste heat into clean electricity.
How? A three-night Long Weekender in Zeebrugge costs from £930 per cabin (two sharing), departing April 1. Flights extra. Visit virginvoyages.com
Maiden voyage: April 1
Number of passengers: 596
Where: Mediterranean and Caribbean
What makes it so special? The tenth ship in Silversea’s fleet will debut an innovative new Otium wellness programme, built on the principle that living well and being well are not mutually exclusive. The fully customised experience might start with a butler helping to select a fragrance, followed by a journey through thermal elements and treatments, with canapes and cocktails in between. A pillow menu and mists will ensure the perfect night’s sleep.
How? A seven-day trip from Lisbon to Barcelona costs from £3,747 per person, including flights. Departs April 1. Visit silversea.com
Wonder of the Seas
Maiden voyage: March 4
Number of passengers: 6,988
Where: Caribbean and Mediterranean
What makes it so special: The largest ship in the world will feature an interactive outdoor play area, the tallest slide at sea, a surf simulator, rock climbing walls and a Central Park neighbourhood lined with more than 20,000 real plants. Live entertainment will include performances in an AquaTheater and on an ice skating rink.
How: A three-night Western Mediterranean Cruise costs from £935 per person in a suite, departing October 27. Flights extra. Visit royalcaribbean.com
MSC World Europa
Maiden voyage: December
Number of passengers: 6,774
Where? UAE and Mediterranean
What makes it so special? The big talking point of this vessel is a giant dry slide running through 11 decks. A 104-metre-long promenade for evening strolls and ocean views is another stand-out design feature. In terms of entertainment, activities have been divided into distinct districts for different age groups. Another innovation is the ship’s environmental credentials: a new generation wastewater treatment system and energy-efficient engines are part of the company’s goal to have zero emissions.
How? A seven-night trip to the UAE costs from £1,199 per person, departing January 7, 2023. Flights extra. Visit msccruises.co.uk