New Cruise Ships Coming In 2013

New cruise ships commonly offer the latest and greatest of what cruise lines have to offer. When they enter service, inaugural sailings sell out fast as cruise travelers want to be among the first to sail. But after a long and sustained growth period, building new cruise ships like they were preparing for war, just a few cruise lines have new ships set to sail in 2013.

The two ships that will garner the most attention for North American cruise travelers are 141,000-ton Royal Princess from Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line’s New York City-themed, 146,600-ton Norwegian Breakaway.

Royal Princess
Under construction since October, 2011 at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Royal Princess highlights include an increased focus on fitness and health with a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Called the Princess Sports Central and Fitness Center, passengers of all athletic abilities can keep in shape with a new outdoor jogging track, additional circuit exercises including elliptical machines, and all of the latest equipment with a private aerobics studio for special classes.

On her top decks, Royal Princess will feature a new adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two additional pools and a tropical island will offer pool seating by day. At night, the area will become an outdoor dance club, complete with what promises to be a dazzling water and light show. A Princess-first, the Movies Under the Stars poolside theater will be on board with an expanded size and high-definition viewing.

Never forgetting their “Love Boat” roots, Royal Princess promises new features for fans of the line’s “Escape Completely” mantra too.

Princess’ signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary, will be expanded with new private cabana options that will give passengers the opportunity to personalize their relaxation time. Passengers might choose cabanas in The Sanctuary or a new cabana location, the Retreat Pool, which offers poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. New cabana picnic baskets, packed with artisan edibles paired with a premium wine will also be available.

Among the other special features found on board Princess Cruises new Royal Princess will be:

  • Expanded atrium- Added to the 50% larger area are new casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.
  • SeaWalk- The “wow” feature of Royal Princess, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway that extends more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel.
  • Princess Live! television studio- An experience that takes the audience behind the scenes to the excitement of a working television studio that will showcase live television broadcasts, intimate performances from musicians, and special events such as cooking shows.
  • Pastry shop- An industry first, a dedicated pastry shop where passengers can indulge in fresh-baked goodies throughout the day.
  • Chef’s Table Lumiere- A private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.
  • Balconies on all outside staterooms- In other words, no staterooms with just windows, a first as far as we know.

Check more of the ship’s new features in this photo gallery from Princess Cruises:

%Gallery-176342%Norwegian Breakaway
This is Norwegian Cruise Line’s answer to critics of Norwegian Epic, an odd single ship that could be described as “Innovation On Acid” as psychedelic ship designer dreams played out at sea.

Moving past Norwegian Epic, new Norwegian Breakaway has got to get an A+ for engaging their target audience prior to sailing. Solidly locked into New York City, with even a New York skyline-themed painted hull and Sabrett hot dog carts on deck, Norwegian Cruise Line seems to have proposed and New York City accepted in a partnership that could work out really well. Here’s why…

Unique features on Norwegian Breakaway, set to sail year-round from New York City to Florida, the Bahamas and Bermuda include:

  • The Haven– These private enclaves at the top of the ships are home to Norwegian’s most luxurious accommodations offering top shelf service and elegance. The Haven guests have an array of special amenities just for them, including private butler and concierge service, poolside valet, and white tablecloth in-suite dining.
  • Fireworks At Sea- Previously the sole domain of Disney Cruise Line, an environmentally friendly pyrotechnics display will be featured on the second to last night at sea each week, after the ship departs Bermuda during her summer inaugural season.
  • Top Deck Attractions- Experiences include Norwegian’s version of an Aqua Park at sea with five full-size water slides, including twin Free Fall slides (the first ever at sea), a three-story sports complex that includes the largest ropes course at sea, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall and more.
  • The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place- Norwegian will offer a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that will create a whole new complex at sea – trendy, relevant dining and entertainment.
  • Entertainment- Quality entertainment will pick right up where bar-raising Norwegian Epic left off, including three Broadway shows, comedy troupe The Second City, Howl at the Moon dueling pianos and New York’s own Slam Allen.
  • Dining options- Celebrity Chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will also debut his first restaurant at sea on Norwegian Breakaway, Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian.

Norwegian Breakaway will sail weekly summer seven-day cruises to Bermuda on Sunday, May 12, 2013. From October 2013 through April 2014, New York’s ship will offer voyages from the heart of Manhattan to the Bahamas & Florida and the Southern Caribbean.

Seven ships in total will launch this year, adding about 10,000 berths to worldwide cruise ship accommodations.

In March, MSC Cruises will launch 139,000 ton MSC Preziosa and British-American owned German cruise line AIDA Cruises, the German branch of Costa Cruises, will launch 71,000-ton AIDAstella. Hapag-Lloyd will give us Europe 2, a small, new build at 40,000 tons sailing with just over 500 passengers, due in May. In June, French cruise line company Compagnie Du Ponant will present even smaller 264 passenger Le Soleal.

Can’t wait for new ships to arrive? Check this new video from Norwegian Cruise Line all about new Norwegian Breakaway:

[Photo Credits- Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line]

Preview: Princess Cruises New Royal Princess

Princess Cruises will debut their latest cruise ship, Royal Princess in July of 2013. The new ship promises to be everything fans of “The Love Boat” line have become accustomed to. At the same time, new Royal Princess has a renewed look for Princess Cruises with updated classic and new features that may very well prove appealing to fans of other lines as well.

“Royal Princess will not only be Princess Cruises newest and largest cruise ship, it will be its most distinguished,” cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO told Gadling,

Over the past decade, the cruise industry has pumped out new ships like there was no tomorrow. Luxury cruise liners of all shapes and sizes capitalized on the latest technology to bring over-the-top onboard programming and features. We saw Royal Caribbean roll out gigantic Oasis and Allure of the Seas blowing away every ship in the ocean with enough attractions and diversity to occupy 6000 travelers without seeming crowded. Celebrity Cruises focused on and perfected their modern Solstice class series of ships, raising the bar on mainstream luxury. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic heralded a new era in at-sea entertainment and Carnival Cruise Lines paced calculated, steady growth resulting in Carnival Breeze, a flagship like no other.

Princess Cruises
too grew during that time, adding several more cruise ships but slowed down growth over the last half of the decade, carefully perusing what they might do next.

Princess Cruises new Royal Princess, due out in June of 2013, looks to be a careful evolution of all of their former work. Rabidly loyal Princess fans will feel quite at home with a ship laid out in typical Princess patterns, with all of the Princess Cruises signature onboard programming, features and staff. The big differences look to be a focused concentration on what made the line of “The Love Boat” popular over the years and keeps travelers coming back for more.

The central atrium Piazza area of Royal Princess looks to be the classic liner hub of activity it always has been with new features and capitalizing on the popularity of tried and true venues. Added to the 50% larger area are new casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.

Also in the atrium of Royal Princess, Celebrations, a new gift shop has flowers, gifts, chocolates and other items for sale to help celebrate a special occasion. Vines
Wine Bar will feature tapas, sushi and wine by the glass. New to Royal Princess, an adjacent extension takes passengers to the shore excursion and passenger services desks. Next door is signature Italian eatery Sabatinis, featuring a new gourmet a la carte menu.

On upper decks but still in the Piazza area via either of the dual spiral staircases, showcased by a water and light feature, is an Italian-inspired cocktail venue Belinis Bar, Alfredos Pizzeria, the Photo and Video gallery and more.

Like other new cruise ships, a great deal of attention is given to top deck features on Royal Princess.

At one time, a pool or two, a few hot tubs and plenty of lounge chairs made for a good top deck layout. Princess changed all that with their Movies Under The Stars concept years ago and other lines quickly followed.

Royal Princess continues that innovative tradition with new top deck features not before seen at sea.

New features include the first SeaWalk, a glass-floor walkway hovering 128 feet above the ocean, a nighttime interactive sound and light show featuring fountains shooting water 33 feet into the air and a 30% larger screen.

“Princess debuted the outdoor video screen and is the most copied feature on all ships following Caribbean Princess debut in 2004. Royal Princess’ Sea Walk, a previously introduced design on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, will take passengers farther out over the ocean in the most unique fashion, providing outstanding views,” added Chiron.

Princess bent over backwards on the Royal Princess design to respect its Love Boat heritage that has served the line so well over the years.

The original Pacific Princess that sailed as TV’s Love Boat was a tiny 19,903 tons. At 141,000 tons, new Royal Princess is obviously a huge ship by comparison and a huge ship by today’s standards as well. But the way Princess has put this one together, it promises to have every bit as big a heart as the original that brought the line so far.

Princess Cruises has a series of videos about the construction and features of new Royal Princess. Here is one released this week about the new top-deck features:

[Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises]

Celebrity Silhouette debuts to rave reviews

Celebrity Cruises new 2,886 passenger Celebrity Silhouette debuted this week in Hamburg, Germany. Initial reviews indicate the line’s fourth new ship in less than three years offers far more than a cookie-cutter version of her three older sisters.

“The most striking change was replacement of glass blowing with the Lawn Club Grill, allowing more passengers to enjoy 1/2 acre of real grass in an engaging and tantalizing culinary experience with views of the lawn and the best oceanviews available” cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO, told Gadling late Thursday from Hamburg.

Fans of Celebrity Silhouette’s three sister-ships will find familiar features including the signature Lawn Club, an on-deck area with actual growing grass. New in this part of the ship is the 48-seat Lawn Club Grill, replacing the Corning Glass Works feature on earlier models. The open-air outdoor restaurant allows guests to select and grill their own meats, barbecued pizza or fresh vegetables by themselves or with the help of the ship’s chefs at night for an additional fee. Accompanying beverages include wine, frosty buckets of beer and pitchers of sangria.”I’ve been on the new ship for about 12 hours now, and already love the few changes Celebrity has made to this ship” said Linda Garrison of

Another change, a new complimentary breakfast and lunch venue called The Porch, serves lighter fare including sandwiches and soups. Not far is The Art Studio where guests are invited to explore the artist within them with a Master Artist from the ArtCenter South Florida via a variety of activities including jewelry making, learning to sketch, make a mosaic or travel journal of their vacation.

“The enhancements on Silhouette over her three predecessors are striking. The Lawn Club received six cabanas and hammocks” said Chiron.

Those cabanas can accommodate up to four guests and are WiFi-enabled in what the line calls “your own cabana-styled haven” called the Alcove. Cabana rental includes the use of an iPad, continuing a partnership/program with Apple offered on other Solstice-class ships that also enables self-guided tours of the ship’s extensive art collection.

“Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice Class ships were game changers when Solstice debuted in 2008” concluded Chiron “With the introduction of the fourth ship in the series, Celebrity further changed the game into uncharted territory.”

Celebrity Silhouette joins her three older sisters Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, and Celebrity Eclipse. Thursday’s naming ceremony of the 122,000-ton ship, the largest to be officially named in Germany, was streamed live on Celebrity’s Facebook page and officially named by US travel agent and Cancer survivor Michelle Morgan following a Celebrity tradition in supporting breast cancer charities.

Compared to her younger sisters, Celebrity Silhouette was also built with 17 additional cabins. Upcoming Celebrity Reflection, due in 2012, will add 89 cabins on an entire extra deck, increasing capacity to 3,030 passengers. New 251 square foot Aqua Class suites will be added with all the current amenities plus butler service.

Celebrity Silhouette debuts
with sailings to the Holy Land and eastern Mediterranean from Rome’s port of Civitavecchia before repositioning to Bayonne, New Jersey to sail Caribbean itineraries through the winter. New Yorkers can enter to win a free ride on the new ship in the line’s NYC Celebrity Silhouette Sweepstakes through August 31, 2011.

Flickr photo by

Grill your own dinner on new cruise ship, get free apron

Celebrity Cruises new 2,886-guest Celebrity Silhouette will debut soon with all the bells and whistles of her previous 122,000 ton Solstice-class sister-ships. Look for iPad art tours, a “trendsetting onboard experience and larger than normal staterooms. Sailing from New York, a whole lot of New Yorkers and tri-state area residents will be on board, starting their vacation without taking a flight, maximizing their vacation time. Also on board will be something new and unique to this vessel; the industry’s first interactive, open-air grilling restaurant The Lawn Club Grill.

“People tend to associate grilling with the relaxing, carefree mood of summer – exactly what a Celebrity vacation is all about,” said Jacques Van Staden, Vice President, Culinary Operations. “What can be better than experiencing something that’s popular among so many cultures around the world, while relaxing near a lawn of growing grass, surrounded by an endless view of the sea?”

The highlight of the dining experience at the 58-seat Lawn Club Grill will be the opportunity for guests to serve as their party’s “Grill Master,” by being paired with a Celebrity Cruises chef to assist in preparing the menu for their table over custom-built, ventilated grills. This unique, one-on-one interaction will give the Grill Master a one-of-a-kind, firsthand lesson in proper grilling techniques and other tricks of the grilling trade.
“Our guests consistently tell us that fresh, exciting culinary experiences are essential to their enjoyment of their vacation, and we are always looking for new ways to deliver that to them,” said Van Staden.

All guests will have the opportunity to choose from a gourmet salad bar, a la carte “build your own” pizzas and more than 12 grilled specialties. “Grill Masters” will receive a complimentary apron as a memento.

“Just as we introduced the ‘uniquely unordinary’ experience of using iPad-based menus to design individual culinary journeys featuring dishes presented in unexpected ways in Qsine on Celebrity Eclipse, we are introducing customized, open-air grills to the cruise vacation dining experience.”

By combining a premium culinary experience with the sensation of relaxing on the top deck of a ship, surrounded by live grass and cool ocean breezes, Celebrity’s aim is to celebrate the passion people have for grilling, as they enjoy their precious vacation time.

I think they might just get that done when guests grill their own dinner at The Lawn Club Grill.

Carnival Magic: experience is the name of the game

New cruise ships seem almost commonplace in recent years, with several cruise lines pumping them out quickly. Worldwide economic concerns slowed down new orders but ships still emerge with more features and more attractions than ever. One could say that Carnival Cruise Lines new ship, Carnival Magic, is a bit light on the bells and whistles expected of a big new ship today. One would be wrong.

If features on a ship are the ingredients that go into making a good cruise experience, new 130,000 ton Carnival Magic would come up short. You won’t find a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, Broadway show or a dozen different restaurants to choose from.

What you will find is a very nicely appointed ship that has everything one might need to have a great cruise experience, a cruise line that knows how to deliver it and is now talking about it.

“We’re encouraging our guests to try something different, to go outside their normal comfort zone” said Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill, on board the Carnival Magic this week for the ship’s inaugural sailing.

Gadling is along for the ride too. Our focus after the Inaugural Ceremony that began this voyage has been on the intense itinerary and exploring the notion of using a cruise ship as merely transportation between places for Gadling readers, much like one might take a car, plane, train or bus.

Let’s just go ahead and give that test a passing grade right now.

One might do a whole lot worse than visiting 8 different places in 9 days via cruise ship for a fair sampling that might result in a future, longer visit. Of the ports visited so far, Dubrovnik in Croatia plus Sicily and Naples, in Italy, I have captured enough information make future plans. (We will be going back to Dubrovnik) We still have three more ports to go, Rome and Livorno in Italy then Monaco and Barcelona, but to give “by cruise ship” a thumbs-up for a way to get there works.

To stop right there though would only tell a small part of the story. There is something a whole lot bigger and better going on with Carnival on the new Carnival Magic.

Carnival Magic is like an artist’s blank canvas, waiting for us to create life-changing experience.

I know, that sounds too good to be true, but this is where we get right down to the true nature of today’s cruise vacation. It’s an experiential form of traveling like no other that has earned at least a look if not a try from even the most anti-cruise people among us. Cruise fans will love this one too.

Yes, Carnival Magic does have bingo, a hairy-chest contest and a buffet; standard elements one might find on any ship. What makes this one different is that Carnival, unlike any other cruise line, is talking about what was a pretty closely-guarded secret up until now.

Before, only those passengers who completely immersed themselves in the cruise experience, chose not to sweat small inconveniences that come along with any kind of travel and really “get into it” gained a life-changing experience.

They got it.

By immersing themselves in what was being offered on board, they were able to put their heads in a place that heads need to go sometimes: away. From sailing away on the first day of any cruise until the last night at sea, cruise lines made available all the elements to make that happen, they just did not directly tell you about how it all worked. Still, many got it and came away refreshed and renewed, surely a goal of any vacation.

Now, Carnival Cruise Lines is talking. They are telling guests right up front that “we have your life-changing experience right here” IF they embrace the programming on board. The line then encourages guests to jump in with both feet.

Following their past success, Royal Caribbean added an almost theme-park feel to their new Oasis-class ships. They find themselves wondering “What will we add next?” to the extent that the next new ship from them is a secret, buying them time to gauge the market, size the ship and add features appropriately. They don’t quite get it but they are close, close enough to realize “big is not always better so let’s rethink this shall we?”

Following their past success, Norwegian Cruise Line went for first-class entertainment options for their newest ship, long-desired solo cruiser accommodations and top-shelf alternative dining options. They went overboard and find themselves in the familiar profit doghouse once again.

Building on their past success, Carnival paid attention to their guests and got everyone in their organization on the same page saying “we create experiences” and, new with this ship; “we will show you how to make this work for you”.

That’s the significant part that nobody else is talking about. Allowing those experiences to happen is the secret ingredient that only those who managed to fully immerse themselves took advantage of.

In our family of four, we almost always came away from a cruise as changed people in some way. I always thought it was the mark of a good vacation; to come back home and have the clarity to break up with that boyfriend, quit that job, go after that next goal or simply define us a little bit more. We went on vacation, we relaxed, and we were ready to resume real life, perhaps with a fresh look or from a different perspective.

When we first started cruising our then teen, now Gen Y kids always agreed: a cruise was the best vacation ever. But a lot of changes go on in teen years so being able to attribute that “I always feel a little different after a cruise” feeling to anything other than growing up was hard to do. Teens feel different every 12 seconds. That ambiguity was no problem for us: we got it. Others had to be told, led to the experience and shoved into it.

If they were lucky enough to have someone there to do that, great, they had a chance. If not, they often amused themselves complaining about stupid things that don’t matter/you can’t do anything about like slow service in the dining room. Someone into the whole experience would either use that slow service time to engage others in conversation or break away and do dining differently, maybe on their own in a variety of venues.

We have noted before that a cruise is what you make it and that there is a cruise for everyone. Recalling the essence of that and a story we did not long ago about theme cruises, helps make the point.

Every sailing of every ship is like that blank canvas, waiting for us to create a one-of-a-kind travel experience. Carnival Magic makes that easier by having all the elements needed for a good experience in place AND providing a crew that knows what to do with them.

In other words: Carnival is giving away the big secret. That is actually the easy part.

The big trick to this magic will be to see if the cruise line can keep crew in place that will deliver the experience.

A year from now, the ship, ocean, ports and other elements will be pretty much the same. The single most important factor to continuing this grand plan of immersing their guests is the crew. Right now, the ship is staffed with a high percentage of the best crew members from other ships around the fleet. At some point the best, happiest, most productive crew members will rotate out and a regular crew will be left.

Can Carnival reproduce this in your face “we got the experience for you” thing fleet-wide?

Time will tell. Let’s take a brief look at how it is playing out right now.

The Red Frog Pub is a perfect example of the listening and delivering Carnival is up to on Carnival Magic that can lead to a life-changing experience. Yes, other lines have many more alternative dining venues. But to fund those, a cover is charged, up to $50 per person extra on top of the cruise fare paid. There is no cover for the Red Frog Pub and typical bar food is offered at a truly nominal price of $3.33.

“We don’t want to nickel and dime our guests” says Cahill, leading a unified management team on board Carnival Magic who all echo exactly the same credo. That’s huge news to cruise lovers who have tried multiple cruise lines and are quick to observe that the all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation is not what it once was. The cruise fare that used to cover about 85% of the total cost of a cruise has covered less in recent years on many lines. Carnival’s experiential focus brings that back.

For the most part, we won’t pay extra like we might on a different cruise line for what is included in the reasonable price of a Carnival cruise which can be exactly what we want it to be.

If what we want is simply a way to get from place to place, that’s a good reason to choose a cruise that helps fulfill your travel plans. We were glad to see our familiar ship at the end of an exhausting day sampling various ports.

But if what we want is an experiential travel experience like no other, Carnival is partnering with us to make that happen and Carnival Magic has what it takes.

The question we asked back in January: “Can Carnival capture the magic?” has been answered: Absolutely, and then some!