Eleven new cruise ships – with 27,263 new berths – will hit the high seas this year.
It’s a second boom in as many years: In 2008, the cruise industry unveiled nine new ships with more than 23,000 berths.
The parade of new ships and additional staterooms is expected to dip next year and really slow in 2012 as the industry reflects the impact of the ship-ordering drought that began when the economy started to tank about two years ago.
But for now, the news is good for would-be cruisers, as lines compete to fill their ships.
The 2010 class ranges in size from Royal Caribbean’s 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, due in November for Caribbean sailing, to American Cruise Lines’ 104-passenger Independence, scheduled for a maiden cruise in June at Chesapeake Bay, before it begins regular Atlantic Coast sailings.
The 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic, due in June, will be Norwegian Cruise Line’s largest ship to date – and one of the most innovative of the new builds: It’ll feature specially designed entertainment venues, including a big-top-style tent for Cirque du Soleil shows and an Ice Bar, where the temperature will be set to 17 degrees and the bar, walls, tables and stools will all be made of solid ice. It’ll also cater to single travelers, with 100-square-foot studio cabins, with shared common areas. The ship will sail the Caribbean.
Costa Cruises’ 2,260-passenger Costa Deliziosa will be the first cruise ship to be christened in the United Arab Emirates – and will spend its inaugural season homeported in Dubai. Most of the other new ships will sail around Europe.
The Costa Deliziosa will begin its inaugural sail on Feb. 23 in Dubai. Also this month, the German cruise line AIDA Cruises is introducing the 2,050-passenger AIDABlu. It’ll cruise off Western Europe.
On March 6, MSC Cruises will christen its new 3,013 -passenger MSC Magnifica in Hamburg. Entertainment options aboard ship will include a high-tech 4-D movie theater. The Magnifica will be based in the Med.
In April, P&O Cruises will debut the 3,100-passenger Azura and Celebrity will introduce its 2, 850-passenger Eclipse. The Azura, which will sail the Mediterranean, will offer P&O’s first single-occupancy cabins – 18 staterooms in all. Celebrity’s Eclipse, which will spend its inaugural season in Northern Europe, will offer a country club setting on its top deck – complete with a real lawn.
In June, three new ships will begin cruising: American Cruise Lines’ Independence, the Norwegian Epic and Seabourn Cruises’ Seabourn Sojourn. The 450-passenger Sojourn, will be christened in London and spend its first season cruising Northern Europe. The ship, a twin of the very successful Seabourn Odyssey (which launched last year) will offer 225 luxury suites, four dining venues, six bars and lounges.
Holland America Line’s 2,104-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam will debut in July and sail the Eastern Mediterranean. The ship will feature a culinary arts center presented by Food & Wine magazine, where guests can learn to cook. It’ll be the first Holland America ship with private cabanas that guests can rent by the day or by the cruise.
Cunard’s newest queen, the 2,092-passenger Queen Elizabeth will sail its maiden voyage on Oct. 12 from Southampton. The first cruise on the much anticipated ship sold out 29 minutes after it went on sale. The new Queen Elizabeth will evoke memories of both the original Queen Elizabeth and the QE2 with such detailing as marble floors and wood flourishes in the lobby. It’s Cunard’s third new ship in six years and will embark on a 103-day world cruise from Southampton in January, 2011.
Royal Caribbean International will introduce the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas in November, for Caribbean sailings. A nearly identical twin to RCI’s Oasis of the Seas, which debuted to raves in late November, Allure will have a Central Park with live trees, a Boardwalk amusement area with a carousel, multiple entertainment venues and restaurants and four decktop pool areas. It’ll share the Oasis the title of world’s largest cruise ship.