2015 is a bit of an odd year for new cruise ships. Of the just seven oceangoing ships debuting this year, two are German, one is French, and one is British. Of the remainder, Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas is practically a carbon copy of sister Quantum, Norwegian Escape is a supersized version of its Breakaway-class siblings, and Viking Star takes some of the river ship hallmarks of Viking River Cruises and brings them to the ocean.
The varied roster of new-builds is still exciting, with plenty of "first ever" and "largest in fleet" designations. Britannia will be the biggest ship ever built for P&O Cruises and the British cruise market; AIDAprima will be the largest in the German line's fleet. Norwegian Escape will have the line's biggest casino and highest number of Studio and Haven cabins. If you love a new ship -- and we certainly do! -- it's time to get hyped for the 2015 lineup.
|Ship Name||Deployment Date||Passenger Count|
|Anthem of the Seas||April 2015||4,180|
|Viking Star||April 2015||930|
|Mein Schiff||June 2015||2,506|
|Le Lyrial||April 2015||264|
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The Lowdown: Britannia will be the biggest ship ever built for the U.K. market and the eighth to join P&O Cruises' fleet. The 3,611-passenger-ship takes the most popular features of the rest of the fleet -- Olly Smith's The Glass House, Atul Kochar's Sindhu restaurant, The Crow's Nest Bar -- and combines them with some brand-new features. These will include the first cooking school onboard a British ship, The Cookery Club, which will be run by TV chef James Martin. He'll be joined by P&O regulars Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochar and wine guru Olly Smith, as well as Eric "Cake Boy" Lanlard. The chefs -- Britannia is calling this power group "Food Heroes" -- will come onboard at varying times to teach cooking classes; Martin will lead the effort. Other firsts for the line include purpose-built solo cabins with balconies, a TV studio and a supper club.
As its name suggests, Britannia is all about Britain, and for the first time, a British design company, Richmond, has overseen the whole interior design of the ship. Many of the onboard features will reflect Britain today; two pieces of artwork entitled "The Spirit of Modern Britain" will include depictions of iconic Brits, such as Her Majesty the Queen, J.K. Rowling, Dr. Who and Noel Gallagher.
The Lowdown: Anthem of the Seas, the second ship in Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class, debuts just six months after its fleetmate, Quantum of the Seas, and the two ships will be nearly identical. Like its sister ship, Anthem will offer more activities onboard than most people will be able to do during a cruise. Passengers will find bumper cars, a skydiving simulator, a surfing simulator, a trapeze school, a huge state-of-the-art fitness facility and the North Star, a London Eye-inspired pod attached to a mechanical arm that can be extended 300 feet above sea level for magnificent 360-degree views.
The ship also will feature the cruise line's Dynamic Dining concept, essentially allowing passengers to choose from a number of themed restaurants, serving everything from American comfort food to Asian cuisine, as well as dishes inspired by traditional cruise liner fare of old (think lobster tail). Dining rooms will be smaller than is customary on cruise ships, and there will be no set dining times, another departure from common cruise practices.
Royal Caribbean calls Anthem of the Seas a "smart ship" because it will be equipped with technological advances like true high-speed Internet, RFID wristbands to open cabin doors and to make purchases, and an entertainment space, called Two70, that seamlessly integrates technology with live performances from singers, dancers and acrobats.
Deployment: Mediterranean, Caribbean, the Bahamas
The Lowdown: Viking Cruises, a major player in the European river cruise industry, is ready to make a splash on the oceans, debuting with a 930-passenger ship, Viking Star, that will feature modern decor, a full promenade deck that encircles the ship, a fire pit and an infinity pool that partially hangs off the back of the vessel. It also will feature the Aquavit Terrace, an indoor/outdoor restaurant popular on the line's river ships. Cruise fares will include amenities more common on river cruises, such as beer and wine with lunch and dinner, and free Wi-Fi. Passengers also will have access to self-service laundry and 24-hour room service. All cabins will have balconies. Starting at 270 square feet, each cabin will be about 20 percent larger than the industry average.
Deployment: Mediterranean, Europe
The Lowdown: Mein Schiff 4 will become the fourth ship in German-based Tui Cruises' fleet. (All ships have the "Mein Schiff" moniker, which translates to "My Ship.") The 2,506-passenger, 99,500-ton ship will feature 11 restaurants, including a steakhouse, Mediterranean restaurant and Japanese venue. More than 80 percent of the cabins will feature balconies, and all will offer Nespresso machines and flat-screen TVs, among other amenities. Family cabins will be equipped with game consoles. The line caters to Germans, and German is the primary language onboard all Tui ships.
The Lowdown: The first ship in Norwegian's Breakaway-Plus Class, Escape will carry 4,200 passengers and feature one more deck than sister ships Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, which make up the original Breakaway Class. The new ship, which will be the largest in Norwegian's fleet, will borrow popular Breakaway-class elements including outdoor dining and drinking venue The Waterfront and a three-deck atrium, dubbed 678 Ocean Place. Escape will also feature new outposts, such as the famed Miami bar, Tobacco Road and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. For cabins, Norwegian Escape will have an expanded Haven, a private section of the ship that requires keycard access. It will include 55 suites, an outdoor terrace, a private restaurant, a courtyard with retractable roof and pool, two whirlpools, a sauna, spa treatment rooms and a sun deck. The Studio area, housing cabins designed for passengers traveling solo, will also be expanded to 82 cabins. A new private dining venue called the Private Room at Taste will be located on Deck 5 with a 100-person capacity. The 19,000-square-foot Escape Casino will be the largest casino in the fleet. Within the casino, the new Skyline Bar will feature entertainment, video poker and multiple LED screens that change to create a variety of scenes and moods.
Escape will continue the line's theme of artist curation (Peter Max, David Le Batard) with a hull painting by marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey. Environmentally conscious, it will be one of the first new-builds in the fleet to include energy-efficient scrubbing technology. The ship will homeport out of Miami.
Deployment: Eastern Caribbean
The Lowdown: Le Lyrial will become the fifth ship in Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions' fleet. The upscale vessel will feature 122 cabins, with sizes ranging from 199 square feet to 581 square feet; all but eight cabins will include balconies. The color scheme of the decor is inspired by the destinations Ponant visits (think Mediterranean turquoises and Arctic ice gray-blues). Le Lyrial will have a small pool, a theater, several dining options (including a molecular gastronomy restaurant called Marina), and a spa and a fitness center.
Deployment: Mediterranean, Antarctica, Caribbean
The Lowdown: When it debuts, AIDAprima will be the new flagship of AIDA Cruises. Accommodating 3,300 passengers and coming in at 124,500 gross tons, it will be the largest in the line's fleet. The ship will feature two waterslides, a lazy river, a rock climbing wall and a huge LED wall designed for watching sports. The AIDA Beach Club, covered by a dome, is meant for relaxation by day and beach parties at night. The ship will have 13 restaurants and 14 cabin categories, including 32 suites.
Deployment: Middle East, Asia