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Richard Branson with the Virgin Voyages funnel (Photo: Virgin Voyages)
Richard Branson with the Virgin Voyages funnel (Photo: Virgin Voyages)

The Most Exciting Cruise Ships Coming to North America in 2020

Richard Branson with the Virgin Voyages funnel (Photo: Virgin Voyages)
Richard Branson with the Virgin Voyages funnel (Photo: Virgin Voyages)

January 29, 2020

Dori Saltzman

(12 p.m. EST) -- Several new cruise ships are coming to North America in 2020, bringing with them a slew of standout attractions including a chicken restaurant from Shaquille O'Neal, vertical tube skydiving, a brand-new roller coaster and a hip tattoo parlor.

Onboard fun options will be endless, featuring ropes courses on Carnival Radiance and Mardi Gras, and escape rooms on Enchanted Princess and Odyssey of the Seas. Plus, you'll be able to try one of 20 dining venues on Scarlet Lady without spending a single extra dime.

With four mega-ships launching in the United States -- and two others launching in Europe but repositioning to Florida in late fall -- now is the perfect time to start planning your cruise vacation. Learn more about each new ship (in order of arrival in North America) and the itineraries each will sail below.

Scarlet Lady

Virgin Voyages' PortMiami terminal (Image: Virgin Voyages)
Scarlet Lady (Image: Virgin Voyages)

Miami, March 2020

The first new ship of 2020 is also one of the most eagerly anticipated in years. Virgin Voyages' first-ever vessel, Scarlet Lady, splashes onto the scene in March, and you can expect your social media stream to be full of it for weeks after.

Scarlet Lady, which invites "sailors" onboard rather than cruisers, will offer such firsts-at-sea as a tattoo parlor, vinyl record shop and convertible beds that switch from lounger to full-sized bed so rooms can double as an entertainment space during the day. Big spenders can live out their rock-and-roll fantasies by booking one of the 78 RockStar suites.

In lieu of a buffet, the ship has more than 20 dining options, including a food court -- and all of them are included in the cruise fare. Several venues have flexible hours to accommodate late sleepers and late-at-night diners, which is a good thing as nightlife will be a significant facet of Scarlet Lady's five-day itineraries. Multiple venues offer nightly entertainment, including late-night spa parties with a DJ and special lighting.


Scarlet Lady will be showcased to media and travel agents starting in February in England, and the ship's maiden voyage will take place April 1 from its homeport in Miami. Prior to that, it will offer a couple of three-night "sneak-a-peak" sailings, before settling into regular four- and five-night cruises that visit Key West, Cozumel, Puerto Plata or Costa Maya. All sailings will include a full-day stay at Virgin Voyages' private The Beach Club at Bimini in The Bahamas.

Carnival Radiance

Exterior rendering of Carnival Radiance
Carnival Radiance (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)

New York City, June 2020

The second new ship of 2020, Carnival Radiance, isn't a completely new ship at all. Built on the bones of Carnival Victory, which the line is putting through a multimillion refurbishment, Carnival Radiance will be different enough from Victory to be considered new.

Similar to Carnival Sunshine and Sunrise (which were built on the bones of Carnival Destiny and Triumph, respectively), Carnival Radiance will boast a two-water slide WaterWorks, a ropes course and RedFrog Pub, among other popular Carnival staples. The ship will also feature two Captain's Suites, situated atop the ship's navigation bridge and floor-to-ceiling windows.

When it comes to dining, it will have many of the line's newest venues, including Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, the Seafood Shack and Bonsai Sushi. But, it will also be the first Carnival vessel to feature Shaquille O'Neal's Big Chicken, a complimentary all-chicken eatery open for lunch and dinner.


While Carnival Radiance begins its sailing days in Europe with two months of Mediterranean cruises, it will cross the Atlantic in mid-June, arriving in New York City in June 2020 from where it will sail a variety of Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada/New England cruises though October. Four Bahamas or Caribbean sailings from Norfolk follow. In early November, Carnival Radiance will arrive in its permanent homeport of Port Canaveral, from where it will offer Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

Odyssey of the Seas

Aerial rendering of Royal Caribbean's colorful two-level pool deck on Odyssey of the Seas
The two-level pool deck on Odyssey of the Seas (Image: Royal Caribbean)

Fort Lauderdale, November 2020

The next truly new ship to arrive on North American shores in 2020 will be Royal Caribbean's much-awaited second Quantum Ultra-class ship, Odyssey of the Seas. Modeled after the line's Quantum-class ships, Odyssey will feature the vertical sky diving experience, RipCord by iFly and the North Star capsule observation space. It will also have the bungee cord/trampoline-based virtual reality activity Sky Pad.

The ship's SeaPlex (another Quantum staple) will be tweaked on Odyssey to offer more virtual reality- and augmented reality-based game. The venue will have space for laser tag, in addition to bumper cars and trampoline classes.

Odyssey of the Seas will also be Royal Caribbean's first North American-based ship to offer the Teppanyaki restaurant, a hibachi-style Japanese eatery. Royal Caribbean staples onboard will include Sorrento's Pizza, Giovanni's Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, Chops Grille, Izumi and Wonderland. Other popular Royal Caribbean activities and spaces onboard are the FlowRider, adults-only Solarium, rock climbing wall and Splashaway Bay water park.


Odyssey debuts in early November in Fort Lauderdale, sailing a special four-night cruise to the Bahamas. Regular sailings will include five- to nine-night sailings to the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean, with the former two including a full day at Perfect Day at CocoCay. In April, the ship repositions to Europe for a season of Greek and Mediterranean cruises.

Celebrity Apex

Celebrity Apex (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)
Celebrity Apex (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)

Fort Lauderdale, November 2020

Arriving in Fort Lauderdale at nearly the same time as Odyssey of the Seas is Celebrity's second Edge-class ship, Celebrity Apex, which first launches at the beginning of April 2020 in Europe. Apex will be a near-carbon copy of Celebrity Edge with the unique-in-the-industry Magic Carpet, a moveable deck that serves different functions depending on where on the ship it's stationed.

Though nearly identical, there will be a handful of differences between Edge and Apex. The most significant change will be the addition of the Craft Social Bar, a casual space that will offer draft cocktails, wines on tap and more than 50 of the world's rarest craft beers, as well as a food menu of tempting comfort foods. The rest of the changes onboard will be experiential with new menus in several of the restaurants and new entertainment offerings including a cabaret-style show in The Club.


Celebrity Apex begins its inaugural season sailing out of England to Northern Europe and the Norwegian fjords, as well as a large variety of Mediterranean and Greek cruises through October. In November, the ship repositions to Fort Lauderdale, where it will sail a variety of one-week Mexican and Caribbean cruises through April 2021. In May 2021, it returns to Europe.

Mardi Gras

SportSquare on Carnival Mardi Gras (Image: Carnival Cruise Line)
SportSquare on Carnival Mardi Gras (Image: Carnival Cruise Line)

Port Canaveral, November 2020

Another hotly anticipated ship, Carnival's Mardi Gras will be debut in Port Canaveral in mid-November. (The ship was originally scheduled to launch in August in Europe, but construction delays pushed its launch to November.)

Though the ship will feature most of Carnival's signature venues and attractions, Mardi Gras is a complete departure for Carnival. Unlike any previous Carnival ship, Mardi Gras will be divided into six themed zones and will feature a full suite complex with full-service bar, a pool and extra-fee cabanas.

Among the zones on Mardi Gras will be the French Quarter, lined with bars, a jazz venue and restaurants including the first at-sea restaurant from Emeril Lagasse. Meanwhile, the Ultimate Playground will stretch across the ship's top three decks and feature the largest water park in the fleet, along with an expanded SportSquare and the much talked about Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster.


Mardi Gras will sail alternating one-week Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises out of Port Canaveral.

Enchanted Princess

Enchanted Princess at Night (Photo: Princess Cruises)
Enchanted Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)

Fort Lauderdale, November 2020

The last new mega-ship to arrive in North America in 2020 will be Enchanted Princess, a sister ship to last year's Sky Princess. Another ship that will launch first in Europe before repositioning to the United States, Enchanted Princess will offer most of the same spaces and restaurants found on Sky Princess.

Among the key distinctions on Enchanted Princess, however, will be the addition of a Salty Dog Gastropub and a Gigi's Pizzeria instead of Alfredo's. Like Sky Princess, it will have the casual Bistro Sur La Mer, the Take Five jazz lounge and two Sky Suites, which feature massive balconies overlooking the pool deck and come with a full array of exclusive perks.


Enchanted Princess launches in Europe in June 2020 with Mediterranean and Adriatic cruises out of Barcelona, Rome and Athens. In mid-November, the ship repositions to Fort Lauderdale for a season of alternating one-week Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. In April 2021, Enchanted Princess returns to Europe.

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