Are you someone who loves that “new cruise ship” smell? Ok, that’s not really a thing, but it absolutely is something that cruise lines continue to roll out the biggest, wildest, and most amazing new ships you’ve ever seen.
The cruise industry knows that it is in a constant battle to capture the imagination of the potential customers. The best way to do that is to come out with new ships that push the envelope of what’s possible at sea. Every iteration takes what passengers love about a cruise line and makes it even better.
And with so many lines introducing new ships, that also means you have the ability to find a ship that offers what you’re looking for. Whether you’re the type that wants an entire waterpark on your cruise ship (yes, that’s coming in 2024) or you want an ultra-luxury ship unlike anything else at sea, then the coming year has new options you’ll want to know about.
With that in mind, here are the best new cruise ships for the coming year that you need to know about.
Utopia of the Seas
Debuting in July 2024, Utopia of the Seas is a big deal… literally. The ship is the sixth Oasis-class vessel to join Royal Caribbean. This class of ship is currently the cruise line’s largest (though it will soon be eclipsed by the all-new Icon class), and set the bar in how much you can do on a modern ship.
Utopia of the Sea will offer a massive 237,000 gross tons (making it the second largest cruise ship in the world when it arrives) and hold nearly 5,700 guests at double occupancy across its nearly 3,000 staterooms. But what’s impressive is not the size, but what you can do on a ship this large.
There will be eight different neighborhoods, three waterslides, five pools, and more than 20 places to eat. Adults will love the Solarium, a popular spot that features an indoor pool and hot tubs along with a glass roof to allow sun in while keeping things warm. Central Park will also be featured, offering a spot to enjoy lush greenery even while in the middle of the ocean. Nearly two dozen bars are also offered.
In short, if you get bored on a ship like this, then that’s your fault — especially given that you’re only going to be aboard a few days.
Typically cruise lines debut their newest ships on week-long cruises. But Royal Caribbean is instead porting Utopia in Port Canaveral and will sail 3-4 day cruises featuring the cruise line’s private island, CocoCay. They are calling it “The World’s Biggest Weekend,” and the nice thing is it means you can sail a completely new ship for relatively little. Cruises start under $500 per person.
Royal Caribbean isn’t the only line going big. Technically debuting in December 2023, Carnival Jubilee is the third ship in Carnival’s Excel class that includes Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration.
This class of ship set a new bar in cruising for Carnival fans, and Jubilee will keep that streak alive. At 180,000 gross tons, the ship (and sister ships) are the largest in the Carnival fleet, but also offer the most to see and do.
Perhaps the most eye-catching feature is the BOLT roller coaster over the back of the ship, which has become a signature of this class. But when it comes to Carnival — a cruise line known for having lots of fun things to do onboard — Jubilee offers much more than other ships in the fleet. From multiple pools to “The Ultimate Playground” with waterslides, sport court, and mini golf, to a comedy club and casino, there are a lot of favorites packed onboard.
What we think helps the ship stand out, however, are the food options. It’s nothing special for a huge ship to have dozens of options. But Carnival offers an amazing amount of free options including Big Chicken, Chibang!, Street Eats, and Cucina Del Capitano. There are paid specialty restaurants also offered, but it’s hard to beat the included lineup.
A part of a completely new class of ships for Princess, Sun Princess is unlike anything else in the brand. When the ship debuts in February 2024, it will mark the largest in the fleet at 175,000 gross tons (roughly the size of Carnival Jubilee).
As you might expect with Princess, this ship isn’t making heads turn due to wild waterslides or roller coasters. Instead, the ship’s architecture, design, and luxury are what’s impressive. One signature of Sun Princess is The Dome. It’s a glass-covered multi-deck venue that’s a pool area during the day, but at night is planned for performances that feature acrobatics.
Then there is The Piazza, another “wow” spot on board. This serves as the center atrium for the ship, with glass panels circling and offering a sphere-encased spot where you can lounge, eat, and take in gorgeous views across both sides of the ship.
Even the theater has been reinvented, with the Princess Arena. It can transform seating arrangements to fit different shows, including circular seating with a stage in the middle — unlike other ships at sea.
Then there are all the other perks and highlights. A massive center pool area, a glass-covered Sea-View Terrace with lots of sun and sweeping views, and even a two-story spa.
If you’re the type that wants a little more luxury and elbow room, then Celebrity Ascent will definitely pique your interest when it arrives in November 2023. The ship is the fourth in the line’s Edge class (being similar to Celebrity Edge, Apex, and Beyond), which is famous for its cantilevered Magic Carpet area that hangs over the side of the ship, moving up and down from near the water to 13 stories up.
But there’s much more to the ship than just the bright orange platform that’s instantly recognizable. For one, Edge-class ships feature some of the highest space ratios of any cruise ship, meaning there are fewer passengers per gross ton.
Veranda rooms (a fancy term for balcony cabins) run up to 228 square feet plus the balcony. Typically room sizes are around 180 square feet on most lines. In other words, you should have plenty of elbow room to enjoy the ship.
And enjoy you will. Celebrity is known for a higher-end atmosphere that’s more focused on luxury. Spots like the Rooftop Garden where you can relax and take in the views figure prominently on Ascent. Eden also makes an appearance, the three-deck lounge and bar spot that features massive windows to bring in ocean views.
Of course, Ascent will also have a focus on food. There are more than a dozen cafes, bars, and lounges, eight specialty restaurants, four main dining rooms and four included restaurants. And with menus featuring high-end dishes like Nova Scotia lobster casserole and prime rib, it will be hard to not have memorable meals on the ship.
Seven Seas Grandeur
Technically this ship makes its debut in November 2023, but its first full year of sailing will be in 2024. For those who care more about luxury and the onboard experience instead of huge mega ships, this is the ship you want to pay attention to.
Regent Seven Seas is known for being a high-end cruise line. Its latest iteration with Seven Seas Grandeur is pushing the bar even higher.
First, there is the space. The ship is relatively small — just 55,500 gross tons and carrying 746 passengers. That provides a “space ratio” of 74.4 gross tons per passenger, or roughly double what you find on most mega ships.
Every cabin on the ship is a suite with its own balcony, and the smallest size available is 307 square feet. That’s about 70% larger than a typical balcony cabin on a mass market ship.
Across the ship, it’s all about luxury and sophistication. From high-end restaurants (think French cuisine in one restaurant or the ability to design your own meal in another) to bocce ball courts, this is not meant for travelers looking for a cheap cruise. It’s meant to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
If you want the best of everything, opt for the Regent Suite, a 3,150 square foot suite (with 1,300 square foot balcony) with its own in-suite spa, a mini pool, and three walk-in closets. Just be prepared to open your pocketbook. We saw prices of nearly $85,000 per person for some two-week cruises for this cabin.
Icon of the Seas
We’d argue that no ship is as anticipated in cruising (not just for 2024 but in history) than Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. So what’s the buzz all about? Anytime there’s a new largest cruise ship in the world, there’s reason for interest. When it arrives in January 2024, the ship will be the first to top the 250,000 gross ton mark. All told, Icon will be nearly 1,200 feet long and have the ability to carry 7,600 passengers at max capacity.
But it’s not just the size of Icon that’s so compelling. It’s the fact that the ship looks like nothing else at sea and features things never before seen on a cruise ship.
Let’s start with the full-fledged waterpark at the back of the ship. Category 6 will feature six different slides ranging from extreme drop slides to family raft slides. At the front you’ll find the Aquadome, complete with indoor area that features a waterfall and stage for the water-focused theater and lounge seating with wraparound views.
Eight neighborhoods are aboard Icon of the Seas, so there will be a spot for you to enjoy no matter what you’re looking for. This includes the all-new Surfside area that’s specifically built for those with smaller kids, including pool, splash area, and restaurants for families.
In total, you’ll find seven pools (including Royal Caribbean’s first pool with swim-up bar), 22 different eateries, the popular Central Park, ice-skating rink, and more. Put simply, if it’s possible, it’s on Icon of the Seas.