Four of the cruise industry’s leading brands: AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Seabourn, will debut new ships in 2018 as Carnival Corporation, the company that is now world’s largest leisure travel company, is set to add 18 new cruise ships to industry’s largest fleet between 2018 and 2022.

The fleet enhancement program enables the company to manage the overall fleet by aligning new ship deliveries with a strategy for measured capacity growth over time, while also refurbishing existing ships and phasing out less-efficient vessels.

Carnival Corporation’s four new cruise ship additions for 2018 include:

Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Horizon
Expected launch date in April 2018

As the 26th ship for Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Horizon will offer a number of innovations, including the first Dr. Seuss WaterWorks aqua park, the line’s first teppanyaki dining venue and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse | Brewhouse, a new restaurant that combines BBQ offerings created by Food Network star Guy Fieri along with four specifically designed craft beers brewed at an onboard brewery.

Carnival Horizon will also indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted in 2016 on its sister-ship, Carnival Vista, such as the bike-ride-in-the-sky SkyRide attraction and an IMAX Theatre.

Accommodation choices include spa cabins with privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon will debut with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona in April 2018 as the first of four round-trip departures from the port. Carnival Horizon will then reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018, positioning the vessel for a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple. Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami to launch a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018, and will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Seabourn: Seabourn Ovation
Expected launch date in May 2018

Following in the footsteps of sister ship, Seabourn Encore that launched in early 2017, Seabourn Ovation is set to debut in May 2018. Designed by Adam Tihany, the ship will feature contemporary interiors, modern design elements and innovations. The fifth all-suite ship in Seabourn’s fleet, it offers a number of in-suite amenities to provide guests with a “home away from home” onboard experience including a private veranda in each suite. Guests will also find a number of innovative offerings and programs, including “An Evening with Tim Rice,” the new theater-style experience created exclusively for the line. The experience highlights some of his most loved work – from “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

Following the ship’s delivery, Seabourn Ovation will embark on an 11-day inaugural voyage departing May 5, 2018, from Venice, Italy, to Barcelona. The ship will spend the majority of her maiden season cruising the waters of Northern Europe, offering a variety of Baltic and Scandinavian cruises, which will include the line’s signature three-day stay in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Seabourn Ovation will also sail on longer 14-day voyages, visiting the majestic Norwegian fjords and British Isles. Select sailings will also include the Ventures by Seabourn program, which are optional for-charge expedition-style excursions featuring a team of experts, Zodiacs and kayaks with a focus on allowing guests to experience nature up close.

AIDA Cruises: AIDAnova
Expected launch date in December 2018

Arriving in late 2018, AIDAnova will be the first cruise ship fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, with nearly zero emissions. This ship will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG to generate 100 percent of its power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support Carnival Corporation’s aggressive sustainability goals.

AIDAnova’s next-generation, fully LNG-powered design is an evolution from the brand’s previous class of ships that includes AIDAprima and AIDAperla, the first two cruise ships in the world to use LNG while in port. AIDAnova will be followed by six additional fully LNG-powered ships scheduled to be delivered across several Carnival Corporation brands by 2022.

AIDAnova marks a new generation of AIDA Cruises ships that combine design with state-of-the-art technology to provide even greater onboard comfort. For instance, the onboard brewery features a beer garden, the beach club and Four Elements bring three water slides. There is a new escape room for puzzle lovers and 360-degree Theatrium and Studio X, a TV studio at sea.

Other highlights include 20 different stateroom types, ranging from a two-deck penthouse suite to spacious family and patio cabins to comfortable single options with a balcony. The ship will also feature the Body & Soul Spa, spanning two decks and offering over 80 treatments from around the world. For the first time, the ship has two private outdoor sun islands for couples; an all-new concept with 17 restaurants – five specialty restaurants, six à la carte restaurants, five buffet restaurants and one snack bar; 23 bars offering a variety of culinary trends from around the world; and the new Time Machine restaurant, blending experience and culinary art to take guests on a dinner trip through time.

In its debut season starting in December 2018, AIDAnova will offer seven-day trips around the Canary Islands. Prior to the Canary season, AIDAnova will make a stop in Hamburg, and will visit the Hanseatic City on the Elbe before setting off toward Gran Canaria.

Holland America Line: ms Nieuw Statendam
Expected launch date in December 2018

Nieuw Statendam is the second Pinnacle Class ship for Holland America Line, joining ms Koningsdam, which launched in April 2016.

The 99,500-ton ship is an expression of the brand’s evolution, with grand light-filled spaces; visual drama; and interiors inspired by the fluid curves of musical instruments, all created by leading hospitality designer Adam Tihany and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten.

The ship will carry 2,666 guests and feature fine-dining options at alternative restaurants Sel de Mer, a French seafood brasserie, and Tamarind, an Asian fusion concept, in addition to the Grand Dutch Café with traditional Dutch treats and European beer.

Onboard entertainment will include the popular Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard and the dynamic B.B. King’s Blues Club. With the 270-degree LED projection at World Stage, show-time performances will immerse the audience in panoramic visual and sound effects.  The ship will also launch with the newly created Exploration Central’s hub located in the Crow’s Nest, now a comprehensive resource and engagement center with interactive screens and a Virtual Bridge.

Holland America Line’s first ship to be called Statendam sailed in 1898, and this will be the sixth ship in the company’s history to carry the name.

Nieuw Statendam is scheduled to depart Dec. 5, 2018, on its maiden voyage with guests – a 14-day transatlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. The ship will then spend the winter season cruising roundtrip from the South Florida port on seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with select three-, four- and 10-day options. 


How to Pick a Ship

Cruise Critic, cruise reviews site and online cruise community, picked released its roster of 2017 winners in a variety of categories that highlight each cruise line’s strength. The awards were selected to according to the best ocean, river and luxury cruise lines across dozens of categories.  

The Ocean’s Best

The award for ‘Best New Ship’ on the ocean went to MSC Cruises’ 4,475-passenger MSC Meraviglia, which debuted in June. It was commended by editors for innovations such as introducing Cirque du Soleil at sea, and the exclusive suite-class Yacht Club.

Marella (formerly Thomson) Cruises, whose fares include all tips and service charges, as well as alcohol drinks on some of its ships, was awarded ‘Best Value for Money’. Celestyal Cruises won a new award for 2017 – the ‘Best for Service’ award.

Another new accolade for 2017, ‘Best for Solo Travelers’, went to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. It also won the coveted ‘Best Itineraries’ award. Other ocean cruise line award winners included Celebrity Cruises, for ‘Best Cabins’ and ‘Best Shore Excursions’. While sister company, Royal Caribbean, held two of its titles, ‘Best Entertainment’ and ‘Best Suites’. Here is the full list.

Best New Ship: MSC Meraviglia
Best Ship Refurbishment: Cunard – Queen Victoria
Best for Adventure: Hurtigruten
Best Cabins: Celebrity Cruises
Best Dining: Holland America
Best Entertainment: Royal Caribbean
Best for Families: MSC Cruises
Best Itineraries: Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Best Nightlife: Norwegian Cruise Line
Best for Romance: Celebrity Cruises
Best Service: Celestyal Cruises
Best Shore Excursions: Celebrity Cruises
Best for Solo Travellers: Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Best Suites: Royal Caribbean
Best Value for Money: Marella (formerly Thomson) Cruises
Best River Cruise Line: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Best New River Ship: Crystal Cruises – Crystal Bach
Best for Active Cruisers: Avalon Waterways
Best for Adventure: Pandaw River Cruises
Best Cabins: Avalon Waterways
Best Dining: AmaWaterways
Best Enrichment: Viking River Cruises
Best for Families: Tauck
Best Itineraries: Viking River Cruises
Best for Luxury: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Best Service: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Best Shore Excursions: Tauck
Best for Solo Travelers: Pandaw River Cruises
Best Value for Money: Amadeus River Cruises
Best Luxury Cruise Line: Seabourn
Best New Luxury Ship: Silversea – Silver Muse
Best Ship Refurbishment: Crystal Symphony
Best for Adventure: Silversea
Best Cabins: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Best Dining: Crystal
Best Enrichment: Seabourn
Best Itineraries: Silversea
Best for Romance: Windstar
Best Service: Crystal
Best Shore Excursions: Azamara Club Cruises
Best for Solo Travelers: Crystal
Best Spa: Viking Ocean Cruises
Best Value for Money: Viking Ocean Cruises