Lonely Planet Writer

The new tide of cruises coming on stream in 2018

Taking a cruise remains an ever-popular way to see multiple countries in one go, but life on board the ship is a whole luxurious world of entertainment and fine dining all by itself. 2018 will see a new wave of luxurious and innovative ships coming on stream to add to the cruise offerings around the world, and here is a selection of some of the fabulous ships we came across this year that are making us excited for life at sea.

1. The ship with a racetrack on board

A rendering of the race track on Norwegian Bliss. Image: Norwegian Cruise Lines

If you’re contemplating a cruise in 2018, you might be interested in Norwegian Bliss, the latest luxury liner from Norwegian Cruise Lines. The company’s 16th ship will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera, beginning in June 2018. Among a host of impressive amenities, the 4000-capacity ship promises to have the largest racetrack at sea. Guests needn’t worry about being disturbed by the roar of a standard racetrack though, as the electric cars run silently. It also boasts an aqua park, two pools, six infinity hot tubs, a stunning 180-degree indoor observation lounge, and a whole host of restaurants, cafés and bars.

2. The world’s greenest ever expedition ship

Outdoor infinity pool on board the RoaldAmundsen
Infinity pool on the Roald Amundsen. Image by Hurtigruten

The world’s greenest ever expedition ship – part luxury cruise vessel and part research station – will be launched next year. The MS Roald Amundsen will set sail in 2018 and is destined for the seas and oceans around South America and Antarctica. On its first voyages, it will explore the fjords of Chile, the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Patagonia, the Polar Circle, and the wilderness of the ‘White Continent’. The ship features a state-of-the-art hybrid engine, powered by battery, making it the most environmentally-friendly cruise vessel ever built. It will also feature a two-storey indoor and outdoor observation deck that is wrapped around the ship’s bow.

3. The ship containing the tallest slide at sea

Symphone of the Seas will launch in 2018. Image: Royal Carribbean

Royal Caribbean already boasts the world’s largest cruise ship, but the ambitious cruise line is set to break its own record with the launch of Symphony of the Seas in 2018.The new ship will be ready for its maiden voyage in April 2018, and is set to have ground-breaking innovations and thrilling experiences. These include Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea with a ten-storey plunge, FlowRider, a 40-foot-long surf simulator, and two rock walls that give unparalleled views from 40 feet above.  The ship is planned to be 1188-feet long, 215.5-feet wide, with 16 guest decks and room for 6780 guests.

4. The ship with a multi-sensory lounge where guests can connect with the ocean

The two portholes are in the shape of Whale's eyes.
The two portholes are in the shape of whale’s eyes. Courtesy of Ponant

Luxury French cruise liner Ponant has announced that its cruise ship, Le Lapérouse, will be the first ship in the world equipped with a multi-sensory lounge so that guests can connect and interact with the ocean. Named Blue Eye, the lounge will be at the bottom of the cruise ship and there will be two portholes to view the marine wildlife, and screens showing a live feed from three underwater cameras. When dolphins follow along the waves of the ship, it will be broadcast in the lounge. The architecture of the room is designed to mimic the marine wildlife outside of the ship – the colours in the room are luminescent and the shapes lead to the two eye-shaped portholes. The ship will debut in 2018 when it will sail from the Mediterranean to the Antarctic.

5. The ship with a Magic Carpet on it

Celebrity Edge will launch in April. Image: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Edge will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, making her first sailing on 16 December 2018.  The 2918-guest ship will have a “Magic Carpet” cantilevered from the side of the ship. The size of a tennis court, this incredible engineering feat will scale the 16-deck ship through the day and evening, positioning at four of the ship’s decks, transforming into a new and exciting experience at each one. Then there’s Eden, a unique venue spanning three decks at the aft of the ship, containing almost 7000-square-feet of glass for an amazing viewing experience.

6. The ship that hosts wine-tasting and blending classes

Nieuw Statendam will launch in 2018. Image: Holland America Line

Nieuw Statendam will arrive into service in December 2018 and will become the new flagship of the Holland America Lines fleet. The 2666-passenger vessel will have its year-round homeport in Florida. Leading hospitality designer, Adam D. Tihany, and designer and architect, Bjorn Storbraaten will create the 99,500-tonne ship’s style. Onboard activities include tasting and wine-blending classes and home video-editing skills.

7. An environmentally-friendly ship that will allow passengers to explore Norway’s fjords

A cruise ship passes through Geiranger fjord in Norway.
The Unesco-listed Geiranger fjord, Norway. Image by ©Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

A new zero-emission passenger ship launching in April 2018 will allow passengers to explore Norway’s fjords without harming the pristine natural environment. The 42-metre ship, called Future of The Fjords, will be built by The Fjords company and will be completely electric and emission-free. It will contain a hull that minimises wake and the erosion of shorelines. It will be able to carry up to 400 passengers and show off many views of the Western Norwegian fjords, a popular attraction for tourists in the area. The ship will travel along the fjord route between Flåm and Gudvangen and is expected to undertake about 700 trips per year.

8. The ship where you can zip around on a Skyride

Carnival Horizon will launch in April. Image: Carnival

Carnival Horizon will debut in April from Barcelona, and will ultimately operate from its year-round homeport in Miami. The service from the Florida port will offer six- and eight-day cruises to the Caribbean, and its features include a Dr. Seuss WaterPark, Guy Fieri Smokehouse venue and SkyRide, where you can strap in and zip safely around a suspended two-lane bike course high above the deck.

9. The river cruiser that will take you around Europe’s rivers

The SS Beatrice will take passengers on a river cruise. Image: Uniworld

Formerly the River Beatrice, Uniworld’s S.S. Beatrice will launch in spring 2018 after an extensive bow-to-stern renovation. Its fresh, sleek look includes a graceful bow, redesigned lounge and an elegant grand staircase. It will undertake various European river cruises, including the 19-day Portraits of Eastern Europe river cruise, which sails from Prague to Bucharest. Additional dining venues will include a private space to replace the Captain’s Lounge and Library, and two new Royal Suites and an additional Owner’s Suite are being created. There will also be several connecting rooms that are ideal for families travelling together.

10. The ship with helicopters and a helipad

The Scenic Eclipse will have a helipad. Image: Scenic

Scenic’s first ocean vessel will launch in the Mediterranean in August 2018, and will have an onboard marina equipped with two helicopters and a helipad, plus a seven-person submarine and kayaks.  The ten-deck ship will also have a spa, ten dining options and eight bars, outdoor terraces, multiple theatres, an observatory and a library, and it will spend three months of the year operating deep in the Arctic and Antarctica.