The class of 2021

The class of 2021

As a result of the cancellations, delays and date-changes caused by the pandemic, 2021 looks set to be a bumper year for new ship launches. Anthony Pearce takes a look at the new arrivals we’re looking forward to setting sail on


Last year was set to be a record-breaking year for cruise ship launches, but then Covid struck. The result: delays at the shipyards, launch dates pushed back, virtual welcoming ceremonies and those ships that were delivered not having the chance to sail. This means that 2021 is set usher in a remarkable amount of new tonnage – if sailing resumes in time to allow it. Below we’ve compiled a list of ships due to arrive this year that we can’t wait to see in person.

Iona
P&O Cruises
Guests: 5,200 (double)
The largest ship ever built for the UK market, Iona is arguably the biggest cruise event for years – so it’s a crying shame that Covid delayed its planned spring 2020 launch. Still, one hell of a party awaits when the ship does sail and, as P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow has said, “Iona’s delivery is a very positive signal for the future of cruising.” The stats speak for themselves: a half-mile lanai deck; 17 eateries, including seven speciality restaurants; 12 bars, 13 entertainment venues, four pools and 16 whirlpools.

Spirit of Adventure
Saga
Guests: 1,000
The second new-build from Saga, and sister ship to the well-received Spirit of Discovery, was delayed from its summer 2020 launch, but is currently set to arrive in May. The ship, which retains its sister ship’s tastefully executed boutique-hotel feel, will have just 540 cabins, 100 of which are designed specifically for solo travellers. We’ve been banging the drum for independent travellers for years, so we’re delighted to see it.

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Cruises
Guests: 2,900 (double)
Celebrity Edge made quite the impact when it arrived in late 2018 – it remains one of the only ships to make it on to the cover of Cruise Adviser. Features include The Magic Carpet, a cantilevered deck that moves from the second to 16th deck, as well as the Infinite Veranda – one of the most exciting innovations in cruise room design in a long time. Its sister ship actually launched last year – but is yet to carry passengers, hence its place on our list.

Mardi Gras
Carnival Cruise Line
Guests: 5,200
One word springs to mind when you think of Madri Gras: BOLT – the first roller coaster on a cruise ship, taking the theme-park-at-sea style of cruising to whole new (and you could say literal) levels. There are some amazing food options, too: new restaurants from Emeril Lagasse, Rudi Sodamin and Shaquille O’Neal. Mardi Gras will of course also feature offerings from Guy Fieri, including his popular Burger Joint and Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, both of which will be in expanded locations. It will accommodate 6,600 passengers at maximum capacity.

Enchanted Princess
Princess Cruises
Guests: 3,560
Another Carnival Corporation ship scheduled for 2020 but delayed until 2021, Enchanted Princess will be a sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess and Sky Princess and will feature Princess favourites including Movies Under The Stars, as well as balconies in 80 percent of the cabins. In December, Princess Cruises revealed that all of its global fleet will be Ocean Medallion-class when it resumes service.

Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean
Guests: 4,180 (double)
Yet another ship delayed because of Covid is Royal Caribbean’s second Quantum Ultra class vessel, now due to debut in the spring. The new ship features bumper cars, glow-in-the-dark laser tag and the largest indoor activity at sea, SeaPlex. There is also Sky Pad, the virtual reality bungee experience, and RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator. It’s also set to operate a European season with a Southampton sailing due, should restrictions be lifted.

MSC Virtuosa
MSC Cruises
Guests: 4,842 (double)
MSC Virtuosa will be a sister-ship to MSC Grandiosa, the company’s first Meraviglia-plus ship. The vessel will spend its maiden season in Europe before heading to the Gulf in November. Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, promises “industry-leading guest technology”. That includes the ship’s promenade with a 91.8m long LED sky dome that, Vago says, is the “social heart of the ship and more”. MSC Virtuosa will come into service for the summer season from April 16, before moving to its new homeport of Kiel, where it will commence her Northern Europe itineraries from May 8.

Sylvia Earle
Aurora Expeditions
Guests: 132
The sister ship of Greg Mortimer – one of our favourites – is due for delivery in October and is named after the American oceanographer and marine conservationist, Dr Sylvia Earle. The purpose-built ship features the Ulstein X-Bow, a core design element that the line says is essential to the speed, agility and impressive fuel efficiency of the ships in its fleet; it makes a huge different across the choppy Drake Passage. Its 2022 global programme includes 12 new itineraries taking place between April and October, taking guests to Alaska and Haida Gwaii, the Northwest Passage, Baja California, Raja Ampat, West Papua and the Russian Far East.

Rotterdam
Holland America Line
Guests: 2,650
Rotterdam, which was originally going to be called Ryndam, will be Holland America’s new flagship and the third in the Pinnacle class, which also includes Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, which debuted in November 2018. Expect the usual excellent entertaining and eateries: BB King’s Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, French brasserie Sel de Mer and Blend, a wine-mixing venue. The ship will spend its first season in Northern Europe and the Baltics, operating round-trip cruises from Amsterdam.

Silver Moon
Silversea
Guests: 596
Silver Moon, Silversea’s ninth ship and sister ship to Silver Muse, will feature its SALT “immersive culinary concept”, including SALT Lab, which the luxury line says is an “interactive space where guests can deep-dive into local culinary techniques through workshops, lectures and cooking demonstrations”. Silversea took delivery of the ship in October, with it due to sail on May 4.