If there is one constant in cruising, it’s that every year you can expect new ships that offer an experience bigger and better than ever before.
From larger ships to the newest restaurants, groundbreaking experiences at sea, and even more luxurious cabins for passengers, every new ship pushes the bar of what’s possible at sea just a little higher.
And while there was a slow-down in new arrivals during the recent pause in cruising, that’s no longer the case. Major new ships are arriving in the months ahead across nearly every line. That includes names like Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and many more.
In fact, we can think of no other time in history when so many new ships were arriving all in a short span. That’s why to help you know exactly what’s coming and keep track what the newest ships to watch, we’ve rounded up the five most exciting new builds coming to a port near you.
Sun Princess | Arriving February 2024
Coming in at 175,500 gross tons, more than 1,100 feet and with an occupancy of 4,300 passengers, Sun Princess may not be the biggest ship in the world. However, it will mark the largest ship in the Princess fleet and a major new addition for the premium cruise line.
One new feature aboard Sun Princess that will wow cruisers is “The Dome” — a glass-enclosed space that serves as a pool during the day. At night, however, it transforms into a stage for performances, which Princess says will feature acrobatics.
Perhaps the most prominent feature of the vessel is The Piazza, the central atrium on the ship. Here, Princess has designed a sphere of glass that opens up to the water, allowing views of the ocean no matter where you are in the space.
There are dual lido pools, and a new Wake View Terrace at the back of the ship with an infinity pool as well. The Sea View Terrace sits forward on the ship, providing a glass-enclosed spot to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
If you’re a fan of Princess, this ship promises to take that luxury feeling you enjoy and make it even better. See more on Sun Princess here.
Celebrity Ascent | Arriving November 2023
Just a few months from now, Celebrity will welcome its newest ship, Celebrity Ascent. The ship is the fourth in the cruise line’s Edge class, which have proven popular as some of the most distinctive and stylish ships at sea.
At more than 140,000 gross tons and carrying around 3,200 passengers at double occupancy, Ascent should be a happy medium for many passengers. It’s large enough to offer a lot to do, see, and eat (32 different restaurants, bars, and lounges!). At the same time, it’s not so large as to overwhelm the senses like other mega-ships.
Onboard, the signature “Magic Carpet” — a bar/lounge on a cantilevered platform that moves up and down the side of the ship — makes an appearance. So too does Eden, a spot that is a multi-story area with sweeping views that offers everything including food, drinks, and entertainment. The rooftop garden with its greenery and outdoor sculptures will also be a popular spot for passengers to relax while still being outdoors.
And of course, everything is done with an upscale style that you’d expect from Celebrity. See more on Celebrity Ascent here.
Carnival Jubilee | Arriving December 2023
Carnival fans — especially those in Texas — are no doubt looking forward to the arrival of Jubilee. The ship, which will be homeported in Galveston, is the third vessel in Carnival’s Excel class.
These vessels are a step above other ships in the fleet. At roughly 180,000 gross tons and carrying around 5,300 passengers, there’s no doubt the ship is big. And it offers all the best that Carnival has to offer.
From restaurants (Rudi’s Seagrill, Emeril’s Bistro, ChiBang!, Guy’s Pig & Anchor, among others) to multiple pools to one of the most innovative theaters at sea and yes, the BOLT! roller coaster also makes an appearance… there is an amazing amount of variety. You’ll never run short of things to do, see, or eat.
For those who have sailed Mardi Gras or Celebration, the experience should feel familiar. For those that haven’t yet, it’s something unlike any other Carnival cruise you’ve ever sailed. See more on Carnival Jubilee here.
Utopia of the Seas | Arriving July 2024
How does a cruise ship that would be the largest in the world if it sailed today somehow not get much buzz? Well, it has some stiff competition with the upcoming arrival of Icon of the Seas (more on that ship in a moment).
Still, Royal Caribbean’s “other” new ship — Utopia of the Seas — is nothing to scoff at. It’s part of the cruise line’s Oasis class of ships, which currently hold the records as the five largest cruise ships at sea.
At 237,000 gross tons and nearly 1,200 feet, Utopia of the Seas will carry almost 5,700 passengers at double occupancy. Onboard will be eight neighborhoods, 21 different places to grab something to eat, two casinos, five different pools, three waterslides, the AquaTheater with water-themed acrobatic performances, a Flowrider standing wave, and that’s just the start.
What’s also surprising is that the ship will sail short 3/4-day itineraries from Port Canaveral. Typically the biggest and newest ships sail weeklong routes, meaning they are more expensive and require longer breaks from work or school to sail. Now, just about anyone — no matter the schedule or budget — will be able to enjoy one of the biggest ships at sea. See more on Utopia of the Seas here.
Icon of the Seas | Arriving January 2024
If you pay attention to cruising — even casually — then you’ve no doubt heard of Royal Caribbean’s next ship, Icon of the Seas.
This ship will take the crown of largest cruise ship in the world when it starts sailing with paying passengers in early 2024. The first of the new Icon class of ships from the line, it will have 20 decks and measure a staggering 250,800 gross tons. Surprisingly, it will hold about 5,600 passengers at double occupancy — slightly less than Utopia of the Seas. But at maximum capacity, it will hold 7,600 guests. Add in the 2,350 crew members, and you’re looking at nearly 10,000 people on the ship at once!
Of course, Royal Caribbean is known for going bigger in not just size, but also what is offered onboard.
The new Category 6 waterpark gets lots of buzz, with six different slides for passengers. There are seven swimming pools (including one with a swim-up bar). Central Park, the central outdoor space complete with plants, shrubs, and actual trees also makes an appearance. The Aquadome at the front of the ship is a new feature that’s one part lounge with sweeping views of the ocean and one part theater with a 55-foot waterfall.
There is a new neighborhood specially made for families with smaller kids, new adventures like Crown’s Edge that takes passengers out over the side of the ship (before dangling them over the water!), and even a completely new design for the ice-skating rink to make ice shows even bigger.
The cruising world has simply never seen anything quite like Icon of the Seas, making it the most anticipated new ship in years. See more on Icon of the Seas here.