Long gone are the days when cruise ships were pigeonholed as floating retirement resorts. Nowadays, you can expect to see groups of friends, honeymooners, young couples, families of all sizes and even solo sailers hitting the seas—and rivers—on lavish ships outfitted with the snazziest amenities and most inspiring routes. From new Disney-inspired river sailings to what’s soon-to-be the largest cruise ship in the world, these are some of the best new cruises on the planet.
1. Adventures by Disney
Disney has a reputation for glistening perfection, and their cruises are no exception. Routes through the Caribbean, Alaska and the Atlantic have been popular for years, dazzling guests of all ages with heartwarming activities, characters, thematic restaurants and lots more. Inspired by the recent release of the live-action Beauty and the Beast film, Adventures by Disney is embarking on a new European river cruise in 2018, along with adult-exclusive routes along the Rhine and Danube rivers. Perfect for families and/or the young at heart, wistful for a bit of Disney magic, the Beauty and the Beast excursion sails along the Rhine through France, surrounded by quaint scenery that helped inspire the film. Guests can also experience themed dinners, watch screenings of both the original and the newest release and visit Riquewihr, the French village reminiscent of Belle’s hometown.
Additionally, Adventures by Disney has a pair of epicurean cruises specifically for adults. With two sailings in the fall of 2018, both Rhine cruises offer numerous food and wine experiences both on board and off the ship, including a French patisserie class, gourmet demos, beer pairings, cocktail seminars and more. Then there’s the family-focused Disney Danube cruises, offering six departures next year over the summer and holiday season. One particular highlight is the special Oktoberfest sailing through Germany, inclusive of festive parties and culinary excursions both on and off the ship. Other Danube sailings stop in Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, with features like folk dancing lessons in Melk and a Salzburg stopover to revisit scenes from The Sound of Music.
2. MSC Seaside
Swiss cruise company MSC has steadily been turning its sights on the Caribbean in recent years, expanding its presence in a big way. Amid a lineup of new ships in the offing is the MSC Seaside, the company’s first built specifically for warm water routes. When it launches at the end of this year, it’ll sail out of Miami year round, transporting up to 4,140 passengers through the Caribbean for seven nights. Exceedingly family-friendly and lively, the Seaside will contain a massive water park, indoor and outdoor restaurants (including a kids-only restaurant) and a bowling alley. For those looking for a more lavish experience, the ship offers a few “beach condo” staterooms equipped with balconies and amazing views. Also in the pipeline from MSC: an even larger warm water ship called the MSC Meraviglia, which will also be based in Miami when it debuts in 2019.
3. Celebrity Edge
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the first woman CEO of a major cruise line, is the force behind Celebrity Cruises’ upcoming new ship, Celebrity Edge. Slated for a 2018 debut, this slick masterpiece employed an A-List roster of talent in conceptualizing it, including design ambassador Nate Berkus, interior designer Kelly Hoppen and architect Tom Wright. Altogether, they’ve created a cruise ship like no other, with functions and spaces that look more like opulent resort grounds than a ship. A sprawling roof deck garden contains trees that light up at night, along with an expansive lawn that provides some welcome green space in a setting where that’s typically lacking—or entirely non-existent. If you’re not scared of heights, the Magic Carpet is a jaw-dropping addition; an en-glassed movable area on the side of the ship that works sort of like a giant elevator, moving from deck 2 to deck 16. On each floor, it functions differently, serving as a a restaurant on deck 16 and as the embarkation area on deck 2. An impressive 12% of the rooms on board the Edge are suites, including two-story villas and the immaculate Iconic Suite, outfitted with a jacuzzi, a veranda over the bridge and sweeping views.
4. Symphony of the Seas
The new largest cruise ship in the world is coming soon from Royal Caribbean. Under construction in France, the Symphony of the Seas will be the largest sailing vessel in history once completed and ready to launch in April, 2018. At a whopping 230,000 tons with capacity for 5,494 passengers, the grandiose behemoth rounds out Royal Caribbean’s elite roster in its Oasis series. Initial cruises will take place in the Mediterranean before moving to Miami and the Caribbean in November, 2018 (a brand new mega-terminal is being built at PortMiami). With so much space, vacationers can look forward to plenty of amenities and adventurous additions, including the Ultimate Abyss, a pair of nine-story slides that descend from the top of the ship to the lower decks, and a huge water slide area. Adults can marvel at a special bionic bar where robots act as bartenders.
5. Carnival Horizon
World-famous Carnival cruise lines is going big for its next ship, which will mark the brand’s largest endeavor yet when it gets underway in April, 2018, with its maiden voyage out of Barcelona. Dubbed Carnival Horizon, it’s got impressive numbers: 133,500 tons and capacity for 3,950 passengers. In line with its younger sister ship, the Vista, Horizon will contain unique features like an IMAX movie theater and a peddle ride that circles the top deck. There will also be numerous restaurants and a water tube slide. Initial routes will continue out of Barcelona for three more 13-night sailings, with stops in Livorno, Naples, Messina, Civitavecchia, Cagliari, Dubrovnik, Corfu and Valletta. It’ll then travel to New York to run summer cruises to Bermuda, followed by year-round voyages out of Miami in the fall of 2018.
6. Caribbean Princess
With sailings in Europe and the Caribbean the Caribbean Princess is in the midst of a major, multi-million-dollar renovation that’s sure to set a new bar for the industry. Once completed in time for summer and fall cruises, the esteemed vessel will contain a new Camp Discovery center for teens and kids, new dining options, connected state rooms, Princess Luxury Beds in every state room and upgraded HD programming for Movies Under the Stars, a popular nighttime fixture for families. Camp Discovery is particularly impressive, with three different themed areas for kids and teens of varying age groups, including The Treehouse for ages 3-7, The Lodge for ages 8-12 and The Beach House for ages 13-17. The newly renovated ship will embark on her European season this summer in the British Isles, with calls in Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris and Iceland. Come October, the ship will head to the Panama Canal to sail through the Caribbean for the holidays.