The last several years have seen the debut of cruise ships that defy previous notions of what cruising is all about. From real grass lawns to ziplines to world class spas, cruise lines continue to innovate each time they debut a new cruise ship. This year is no exception. With improvements in stateroom layouts and amenities, and an impressive array of onboard entertainment, 2013 is continuing in the new tradition of cruise lines’ debuting inventive cruise ships with luxurious cruise ships – whether it’s sailing on an ocean or a river. So just what exactly is in store for cruise travelers this year on the newest ships? Read on to find out.
Princess Cruises is taking favorite aspects from their fleet of ships and expanding them on their newest ship, the Royal Princess, debuting in June. The ship will hold 3,600 passengers who while on board can enjoy a water and light show and watch movies on an outdoor cinema from the pool deck – the largest ever on board a Princess Cruises ship. The ship will also have an expanded atrium to house more activities and dining options. When it comes to accommodations, cruisers will find more balconies (every outdoor stateroom has one) and modern staterooms.
Royal Princess will sail a maiden cruise departing from Southampton, England, followed by a series of Mediterranean cruises ranging from 12 to 30 nights, which will depart from Barcelona, Spain, or Venice, Italy. In November, the Royal Princess will make its way to the Caribbean, where it will sail for the rest of the winter on 7-night itineraries departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
MSC Cruises’ newest ship, MSC Preziosa, carries on the cruise line’s tradition of fine Italian-style cruising. The ship sets sail in March and will be sailing the Mediterranean, with stops at popular ports of call such as Naples, Italy; Tunis, Tunisia; Barcelona, Spain; and Marseille, France.
Guests onboard MSC Preziosa will experience MSC’s newest flagship and its delightful features, which include a Swarovski grand staircase and an infinity pool. MSC Preziosa also includes elements of the area in which it is sailing – the cruise ship will have a stone plaza, reminiscent of a plaza in an Italian town. MSC Preziosa will also include the MSC Yacht Club, a luxurious and exclusive area of the ship for passengers with staterooms in that section of the ship, giving them the ambiance of a smaller, luxury cruise ship with the entertainment of a larger ship.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, sets sail from New York City in May. Some of the most notable features of Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest mega-ship will be a Broadway show production of Rock of Ages, fireworks on every cruise, a Cirque Soleil inspired dinner show and an aqua park complete with tube slides. After dinner, there are a variety of venues to spend your time at, including a karaoke bar and a jazz bar. Staterooms onboard Norwegian Breakaway offer a variety of options from studios for solo passengers to 2-bedroom family suites to the opulent owner’s suite.
After a transatlantic cruise from Southampton, England, Norwegian Breakaway will be sailing seven to 12 night itineraries to the Caribbean out of New York, which will be a convenient new ship for east coast cruise lovers.
MS Europa 2
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is launching the Europa 2 in May. This new ship will join the cruise line’s fleet of luxury vessels and will be sailing a variety of itineraries in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula and Asia, ranging from seven to 16 nights in length.
Europa 2 is designed to be stylish, yet casual, and will only hold 516 passengers. A focus is put on personal attention on board and gourmet dining options. All suites on board Europa 2 are tastefully decorated with large balconies and special amenities such as welcome Champagne and a tablet PC for you to use during your cruise. When not in your stateroom you can enjoy the onboard pool and spa.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises is aggressively adding ships to its fleet over the next few years, ten of which are debuting in 2013. These new ships are being dubbed Viking Longships and are a step forward for river cruising in terms of space and stateroom and balcony layout. The ships give passengers more stateroom options plus additional variety in onboard entertainment. Highlights of the ten ships setting sail this year, which are all sister ships, include an indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace as well as a sun deck to lounge on.
The names of the ships debuting in 2013 are Viking Bragi, Viking Skadi, Viking Tor, Viking Var, Viking Forseti, Viking Rinda, Viking Jarl, Viking Alta, Viking Baldur and Viking Magni. All ten ships will be sailing in Europe.
Viking isn’t the only river cruise line debuting new ships in 2013. AmaWaterways is introducing two new ships this year: AmaVida and AmaPrima.
AmaVida will be sailing the Douro River in Portugal starting in March and will offer an intimate experience on board with only 106 passengers. The ship will feature a swimming pool on the sun deck and complimentary Internet access in each stateroom.
AmaPrima will start sailing in April along the Danube River with stops in the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and other countries in the region. AmaPrima will feature AmaWaterways signature “Twin Balconies” which is a stateroom with a French balcony in addition to an outdoor balcony. The sun deck swimming pool on the AmaPrima features a swim-up bar, giving the ship a resort feel while you’re sailing through the heart of Europe.
Avalon Waterways also has two ships coming out in 2013, Avalon Expression and Avalon Artistry II, both of which are part of Avalon Waterway’s Suite Ship class.
Avalon Expression offers two decks of suite staterooms, which have wall-to-wall panoramic windows – ideal for seeing the scenery of Europe as the ship sails by. The river cruise ship also has a whirlpool on the Sky Deck, an expanded fitness center and free Wi-Fi on board. Avalon Expression sets sail in May and will be sailing along the Danube, Rhine and Main rivers in Europe.
Avalon Artistry II will also be sailing Europe’s rivers, starting in April. Avalon Artistry II will depart from Amsterdam, Netherlands, or Zurich, Switzerland, and sail to various stops along the Rhine river. Like Avalon Expression, Avalon Artistry II also features suites with panoramic windows and a whirlpool. However, Avalon Artistry II offers less staterooms onboard, providing a more intimate experience.
Set your sights on either a river cruise or ocean cruise vacation and check out one of these new cruise ships for 2013. Whether you’re looking for a romantic cruise experience on a smaller ship or a cruise ship that is essentially a resort at sea and great for family travel, you can find what you’re looking for on one of the new cruise ships debuting this year.
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– Gina Douglas