Record Year for Cruise Ship Introductions Begins

Carnival Horizon
Carnival Horizon in Barcelona prior to her maiden voyage.

Published Apr 5, 2018 1:30 AM by Allan E. Jordan

A wave of new ships is coming in the next few weeks as the cruise lines gear up for their busy summer season in Europe and North America. In fact, half of all the new ships scheduled for this year will be introduced in the next six weeks.  

The current year, 2018, promises to be a milestone year for the cruise industry with 10 large new ships scheduled for delivery in addition to the first of new ships targeted at the expedition segment. Over 1.3 million gross tons and over 34,000 new berths are scheduled for introduction over the course of the year.

Kicking off the year, Royal Caribbean took delivery on March 23 of the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, from STX France. At 228,081 gross tons and with accommodations for up to 6,680 passengers, she is the fourth in the Oasis class. She will spend the summer in the Mediterranean before repositioning in November to Miami for the winter in the Caribbean.

Following just days later, Carnival Cruise Line took delivery on March 28 of its 26th ship, the 133,500 gross ton, 3,960-passenger Carnival Horizon. Built by Fincantieri, she is a sister ship to the Carnival Vista, but also introduces a number of new features including more specialty restaurant options and the first Dr. Seuss themed aqua park, as well as employing a new hull coating technology to make her more energy efficient. After a brief period in Europe, the Carnival Horizon will sail to New York, where she will be christened by her godmother musical artist and actress Queen Latifah as part of a gala that will recognize St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The Carnival Horizon will sail from New York through September before repositioning to Miami for year-round Caribbean cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss completed its conveyance from Meyer Werft’s shipyard in Papenburg, Germany to Eemshaven, Netherlands, on March 14. The 168,028 gross ton ship, able to accommodate 4,004 passengers, is due to enter service in late April and will be in Alaska for the summer of 2018. In winter, she will sail to the Caribbean from Miami, before returning to Alaska and then to New York for the following winter season.

Rounding out the large ship introductions, MSC Cruises will be introducing a sister ship to the MSC Seaside, the 153,516 gross ton MSC Seaview. Due to enter service in June 2019, she accommodates a maximum of 6,592 passengers and will initially be sailing in the Mediterranean.

 The introduction of new ships is not limited just to the mega ships. In mid-March, Seabourn Cruise Line’s 40,350-gross ton Seabourn Ovation completed its final sea trials. With a capacity of 600 passengers, she is a sister ship to the Seabourn Encore and an enlarged version of the Seabourn Odyssey class. Due to be delivered by Fincantieri on April 27, the Seabourn Odyssey will operate in Europe in the summer and Asia and the Orient in the winter. 

The European market is also expanding with the seventh ship for TUI Cruises. Their newest, and largest ship, named Mein Schiff 1, is an enlarged version of the fleet of four ships built for the line by Meyer Turku. The Mein Schiff 1 will be 1,035 feet long and 111,500 gross tons and will have 180 additional cabins increasing capacity to 2,894 passengers. She is due to be christened early in May in Hamburg, Germany, before beginning cruises in northern Europe for the summer.  

Combined these six ships represent over 20,000 berths that will be introduced into the cruise industry between April and June. One more ship, Viking Cruises’ fifth sister ship the Viking Orion will be introduced in the summer along with the first new ships for the expedition cruise market. Then late in the year three more large cruise ships are due to enter service rounding out what will be the largest year ever for new cruise ship introductions.