Probably the most amazing aspect of the cruise industry is its seeming ability to continue to add new ships to the market place without bursting the bubble. During the years 1997 to 2000 the cruise industry saw unprecedented expansion with as many over eighty new ships being introduced within those few years. At that point, most of us thought the industry was done expanding for a few years.
Were we ever wrong. Since the year 2000, 84 new ships have been introduced, including eight of the nine below (one is "like new") scheduled for debut in 2007.
Nine new ships will enter the North American cruise market this year -- most of them sister ships to vessels already deployed. Still, a few others, Queen Victoria from Cunard, for example, do break the mold and are completely original designs. Here is a list (in alphabetical order) of the new ships that will soon be hitting the waves:
Carnival Freedom (Carnival Cruise Lines)
Gross tonnage: 110,000 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 2,974
Carnival Freedom will feature wireless Internet access and cell phone service throughout the ship. Passengers can enjoy movies under the stars, a water slide for the kids, and a massive 14,500 square-foot spa. The most interesting thing about this new ship -- as one would say about any Carnival ship -- is the d�cor by the eclectic designer Joe Farcus. The theme of this vessel is "design through the centuries." Scheduled for delivery in March 2007.
Itineraries: Mediterranean and Greek cruises from March through October 16, 2007, leaving from Rome.
Costa Serena (Costa Cruise Lines)
Gross tonnage: 112,000 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 3,000
Scheduled for delivery in May 2007, if you notice a resemblance to the ship directly above it is because this is a sister ship to the Carnival Freedom and previous Carnival and Costa ships. The most outstanding feature on this new Costa ship -- similar to the Concordia -- is the huge Samsara Spa, currently the largest spas at sea. Fun things to do onboard include a Grand Prix driving simulator and a massive pool deck with a retractable roof. The inaugural is scheduled for Venice, Italy on May 26.
Itineraries: Initial itineraries include seven-day schedules to ports in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia.
Emerald Princess (Princess Cruises)
Gross tonnage: 113,000 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 3,100
Scheduled for delivery in April 2007, this is a sister ship to the Sapphire Princess. It features an Italian piazza-style atrium surrounded by several casual dining spots. The ship will include Princess' now-traditional Movies Under the Stars. The inaugural voyage is scheduled for April 11.
Itineraries: For this summer, 12-day Mediterranean and Greek Isle voyages, mostly originating in Venice. For winter 2007, 10-day Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.
MS Fram - Norwegian Coastal Voyage (NCV)
Gross tonnage: 12,700 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 318
This small, new adventure ship from Norwegian Coastal Voyages is set for an April, 2007 launch, with the christening ceremony to be held in Oslo on May 19, 2007. The Fram is an expedition ship that will have the world's first (for a commercial cruise vessel) Pole to Pole longitudinal world cruise in its first season, starting in Greenland in September and ending in Antarctica and South America 66 days later.
Itineraries: the North Atlantic to Greenland, Iceland, and points north in the summer and Antarctica in the winter.
Celebrity Journey - Celebrity Cruises
Gross tonnage: 30,000 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 710
Another one of the original Renaisssance Cruises R-class vessels (R-6), this one was acquired by Celebrity Cruises when Royal Caribbean bought out Spanish cruise line Pullmantur (she was sailing as the "Blue Dream"). Not technically a "new" ship, the vessel will receive a refurbishment before it is added to the Celebrity Expeditions fleet.
Itineraries: series of Bermuda cruises from Cape Liberty, New Jersey in the summer and fall of 2007 before repositioning to South America and Antarctica for the winter of 2007-2008.
Liberty of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
Gross tonnage: 160,000. Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 3,634
A sister ship to the world's largest passenger vessel, Freedom of the Seas, this ship also features the Flo-Rider surfing simulator, a top deck water park for the kids, and whirlpool spas suspended off the top deck. The fitness center also features a boxing ring, and there is a presidential family suite that sleeps up to 14 people. Scheduled for delivery in May 2007.
Itineraries: Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises alternating with those of Freedom of the Seas.
MSC Orchestra (MSC Cruises)
Gross tonnage: 90,000 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 2,550
Interesting features include approximately 22,500 square feet of public space, with a fitness relaxation area, a thalassotherapy pool, a full-service spa, a Turkish bath and four Jacuzzi-style hot tubs. Restaurants include Italian selections in the dining room, a pizzeria, a sushi bar and gelato ice cream. Scheduled for delivery in May 2007.
Itineraries: Summer schedules feature seven-night cruises roundtrip from Venice, Italy, from June 2 through late October with calls at Bari, Italy; Katakolon, Greece; Izmir and Istanbul Turkey; and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Winter itineraries include the Greek Isles, Tunisia, the Canary Islands and Egypt.
Norwegian Gem (Norwegian Cruise Line)
Gross tonnage: 93,000 Passenger capacity, double occupancy: 2,400.
This will be the second Norwegian Cruise Line ship with a four-lane bowling alley. Purpose-built for NCL's exclusive Freestyle cruising, the ship offers 10 restaurants and 13 bars and lounges. Family-friendly accommodations include several suites with extra bedrooms and bathrooms. Scheduled for delivery in November 2007.
Itineraries: Seven-day Bahamas and Florida cruises from New York City.
Queen Victoria (Cunard)
Gross tonnage: 90,000 Passenger capacity: 2,014
This new Queen from Cunard will feature the Cunard Museum, a collection of Cunard memorabilia from the last two centuries. There will be a two-story library with more than 6,000 books, and the main show lounge will offer private boxes in the style of classic opera houses. The ship will have Cunard's traditional Todd English Restaurant. For the first time, guests of The Grill restaurant will be able to enjoy outdoor dining. Public spaces include a winter garden with retractable roof. Scheduled for delivery in December 2007.
Itineraries: Queen Victoria will be one of the first cruise ships to spend the Christmas season in the Baltic Sea. She will quickly make her way south to the Mediterranean for a 16-night cruise, followed by a transatlantic crossing and a 99-day inaugural World Cruise from New York to Southampton.
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