With cruising firmly back on the UK travel agenda, there are some sizzling ship launches set to satisfy that pent up demand in 2022, from Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas to P&O’s Arvia. Here Karl Cushing spotlights eight of the hottest debuts, guaranteed to quicken clients’ pulses.
What: Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas
When & where: Wonder sets out its stall in March, operating a Caribbean programme out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Come May it’ll switch focus to Western Europe, sailing from Rome and Barcelona.
Why: As the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder promises more of everything, including a new Suite Neighbourhood for guests seeking added exclusivity. Other strengths include the family attractions such as its mehusive waterpark, incredible zip line and Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, backed by the excellent Ultimate Family Suite concept.
Book it: Royal Caribbean is offering a 14-night Transatlantic Cruise, departing Barcelona on October 30, 2022, from £978pp.
What: Ambassador Ambience
When & where: Home porting in London Tilbury, Ambience kickstarts its Eurocentric programme with a maiden four-night sailing to Hamburg, departing April 6, 2022.
Why: A refurb of an existing vessel, Ambience marks the launch of a new British line and makes a statement with its three-deck Centre Court area. Onboard, the classic, old school experience caters to an older crowd. Think afternoon high teas and gala dinners, with crafting and bridge featuring among its Ambassador’s Enrichment Programme and themed cruises.
Book it: Ambassador is offering a seven-night British Broadcasting Legends-themed Autumn Fjordland cruise, focused on Norway, from £559pp, departing October 16, 2022.
What: Celebrity Beyond
When & where: Beyond’s maiden 10-night Western European cruise departs from Southampton on April 27, 2022.
Why: Beyond is rich with signature designer flourishes that characterise Celebrity’s Edge-class vessels, chiefly the Rooftop Garden and Retreat Sundeck spaces reimagined by Kelly Hoppen, and its two-story Sunset Bar. With 32 separate venues, F&B is a decided strength, another selling point being its exclusive area, The Retreat, with its roomy, two-storey Edge villas.
Book it: Celebrity Cruises is offering an eight-night, six port Eastern Caribbean Holiday, departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 18, 2022, is priced from £1,327pp.
What: Norwegian Prima
When & where: Prima will enjoy its maiden voyage on August 17, 2022, an eight-day Northern Europe cruise from Amsterdam.
Why: First of six planned Prima-class vessels, Prima is a clear statement of intent from Norwegian and doesn’t disappoint. Open spaces such as Ocean Boulevard and the sculpture-studded Concourse promote wellbeing while Vibe Beach Club and Infinity Beach seriously hit the unwind buttons, popular ‘ship within a ship’ concept Haven affording added exclusivity.
Book it: Norwegian is offering an 11-day transatlantic cruise, departing New York on May 14, 2023, featuring Akureyri, Iceland among its six ports of call, and costing from £1,215pp.
What: Carnival Celebration
When & where: Caribbean sailings from Miami, Florida will be Celebration’s preoccupation after completing its November 6 maiden, a transatlantic voyage from Southampton to Miami via Spain and Portugal.
Why: It’s Celebration by both name and nature for Carnival which will mark turning 50 next year by launching its largest vessel yet. Second of the line’s Excel-class vessels, after Mardi Gras, the 2,641 cabin giant certainly brings the party, too, from venues such as Punchliner Comedy Club, Piano Bar 88 and Center Stage to the BOLT rollercoaster.
Book it: An eight-day Eastern Caribbean cruise from Miami costs from US$699pp, sailing December 11, 2022, with Carnival.
What: MSC World Europa
When & where: Expect a packed programme of Middle East and Europe itineraries out of the UAE, starting with December’s maiden voyage from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and Qatar.
Why: First of MSC’s LNG-powered World class vessels, Europa, the longest vessel in the MSC stable, features a striking design, from unmistakable Y-shaped aft to The Spiral, an enormous slide spiriting guests from atop to the expansive ocean-view promenade below.
Book it: An 18-night ‘MSC Grand Voyage’ from Abu Dhabi to Barcelona, departing March 27, 2023, is priced from £969pp, with MSC Cruises.
What: P&O Cruises’ Arvia
When & where: Arvia’s sun-soaked Caribbean and Med programme kicks off on December 9, 2022 with a 14-night Canary Islands voyage.
Why: Standout feature of the LNG-powered Iona sister ship is surely the retractable SkyDome glass roof shielding the top deck pools, cinema and event space. Adults will also appreciate the casino, Oasis Spa and Health Club and The Reef clubs for their kids – if they can coax them away from new activity zone Altitude, with its signature high-ropes experience, that is.
Book it: P&O Cruises is offering a 15-night Caribbean cruise from Southampton to Barbados, departing January 6, 2023, from £1,329pp, including flights.
What: Viking Octantis
When & where: Opening its account with a January 2022 Antarctica voyage from Ushuaia, Argentina, Octantis’ more singular offerings include its explorations of North America’s Great Lakes.
Why: Spearheading Viking Cruises’ new Viking Expeditions offering, with sister ship, Polaris, launching late 2022, the six-deck, 189-cabin vessel Octantis is replete with creature comforts. Take Aquavit Terrace, an indoor-outdoor pool space with a retractable glass dome roof, or the cosy Explorers Lounge and Finse Terrace. Other strengths include the Hangar, enabling guests to board excursion-bound RIBs, Zodiacs and six-passenger submarines within the ship, and the expert-led onboard enrichment programme, backed by citizen science space, The Laboratory.
Book it: Viking Cruises is offering an eight-day Great Lakes Explorer cruise, from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay, from £6,595pp, departing September 10, 2022.