Building bigger and better cruise ships for the future

A busy year of shipbuilding will culminate with the delivery of the world’s largest cruise vessel

Building bigger and better cruise ships for the future

Royal Caribbean International

Icon of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, will be delivered in October 2023

By Alex Smith |

The end of 2023 is set to see the delivery of some of the largest cruise ships ever built, as well as one of the most luxurious, as a busy year for cruise shipbuilding comes to a close.

Yet 2024 is already shaping up to be an exciting time for the industry, with new classes in both ocean and river cruising set to introduce innovative new experiences.

Royal Caribbean International will take delivery of Icon of the Seas from Meyer Turku in October, ahead of its first voyages in January 2024. The ship is the first of three planned vessels in the Icon class and will overtake the Oasis-class Wonder of the Seas as the largest cruise ship in the world. Continuing the larger-than-life theme, the ship will include Royal Bay, the largest pool at sea; Category 6, the largest waterpark at sea; and Frightening Bolt, the tallest drop slide at sea. The ship will be divided into eight neighbourhoods, five of which will be new for the ship, and feature more than 20 dining venues and 15 bars and nightlife experiences. It is also the first Royal Caribbean ship to feature a parabolic bow design.

“With each new ship, we raise the bar in the travel industry while enhancing what our guests know and love,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Group. “From the moment they step onboard, every experience is specifically designed to give them the best vacation anywhere on land and at sea. With Icon of the Seas, we’ve taken this to a new level and made the ultimate family vacation.” 

Seven Seas Grandeur, the latest in Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ fleet of luxury vessels, is set to be delivered by Fincantieri in November 2023. The 55,000gt ship will accommodate up to 746 guests, which the cruise line promises will provide one of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea. With interiors designed by Studio DADO, Seven Seas Grandeur will feature reimagined designs for signature restaurants Compass Rose and Prime 7, as well as 15 accommodation categories ranging from 28.5 to 443 square metres of space.

“Regent is renowned for its commitment to perfection and Seven Seas Grandeur will be no different when it joins the world’s most luxurious fleet,” said Andrea DeMarco, Regent’s president. “Each element of the ship, whether it’s a gourmet meal in our reimagined signature restaurants or the plush mattress in a guest’s suite, has been specifically chosen to work in perfect harmony to deliver the unrivalled Regent experience.”

China’s first domestically constructed large cruise ship, Adora Magic City, is also set to be delivered by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding before the end of 2023. The ship will be the first new vessel built for Adora Cruises, which was formed out of a partnership between Carnival Corporation and the China State Shipbuilding Corporation. Adora Magic City’s design is based upon that of Vista-class ships such as Carnival Vista and Costa Firenze but will include new features for the Chinese market. These include the 1508 Brewery, a water park, and the largest duty-free shop at sea. The 16-deck ship will be able to accommodate 5,246 passengers in its 2,125 guest rooms.

“Building large cruise ships is a tremendous breakthrough in China’s shipbuilding industry and a demonstration of the country’s high-end equipment construction capabilities and comprehensive scientific and technological level,” said Chen Rangfeng, managing director of CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping. “As the first large cruise ship built in China, Adora Magic City showcases our commitment to providing an innovative and premium cruise experience. We look forward to welcoming our guests onboard and creating unforgettable memories together.”

The third and final ship in Carnival Cruise Line’s Excel class, Carnival Jubilee, will be delivered by Meyer Werft in December 2023, marking the first time that the yard has built a vessel for the brand. The LNG-powered ship is 345 metres long and will be able to accommodate a total of 6,600 passengers in its 2,626 cabins. Like its sister ships Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, the newbuild will be split into six themed zones, including the new Currents and The Shores zones. New features will include cocktail bars Dr. Inks, PH.D. and The Golden Mermaid, as well as dining venue Emeril’s Bistro 717.

The fourth of the Virgin Voyages Lady ships, Brilliant Lady, will also be delivered by Fincantieri in 2024. Identical to its predecessors, Brilliant Lady will have capacity for 2,700 passengers and sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

As 2024 begins, Princess Cruises will take delivery of Sun Princess, the first of two currently planned Sphere-class ships and the first in the cruise line’s fleet to be powered by LNG fuel. Among the ship’s architectural features will be a three-storey central Piazza, which is built inside a sphere of windows to provide ocean views in every direction, and The Dome, a space on the top deck enclosed in glass that will serve as a pool in the day and a stage at night.

“Sun Princess is a new and bespoke ship platform, designed to simultaneously embrace Princess heritage while boldly pressing into the future with iconic, elegant and pure lines unique to our brand,” said John Padgett, Princess Cruises president. “A show-stopping, first-of-its-kind Dome on the top deck and suspended glass Piazza in the centre of Sun Princess offer innovative designs showcasing expansive ocean views for incredible opportunities to connect with the sea.”

In the world of river cruising, meanwhile, AmaWaterways will have two ships debuting in early 2024. AmaLilia, currently under construction in Egypt at Maasara Shipyard, will carry up to 82 passengers along the River Nile. Guests will be able to take in views of the river from a Sun Deck at the top of the ship and sample locally sourced cuisine at the Main Restaurant and The Chef’s Al Fresco Speciality restaurant. The second ship, AmaMagdalena, will begin sailing cruises along the Magadalena River in Colombia with a maximum of just 60 guests. The ship will feature 30 staterooms, all of which will offer outside balconies, as well as a whirlpool on the Sun Deck, a fitness room, and a Main Restaurant serving Latin American cuisine.

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

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