Cruise Order Book: crafting cruise innovation

Shipbuilders are set to deliver a varied range of large, luxury and river cruise ships in the first half of 2024, debuting new classes and innovating on popular designs

Cruise Order Book: crafting cruise innovation

Chris Ison Photography/Cunard

Cunard’s newest ship, Queen Anne, is under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard

By Alex Smith |

Just a few months into 2024, new ships are already beginning to bring change to the cruise industry. The latest ship designs and features are demonstrating innovation in both the ocean and river sectors, introducing guests to new experiences and improving operations. 

Icon of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, began sailing in February 2024 after its delivery by Meyer Turku in December 2023. The newbuild is the first in the Royal Caribbean International fleet to be powered by LNG and has been equipped with sustainable technologies such as an air lubrication system and waste heat capture systems. Guests sailing on the ship can visit the largest water park at sea, Category 6, which includes the tallest waterslide, the first open free-fall waterslide and the first family raft slide on a ship. Icon of the Seas also includes several architectural firsts, such as the 50-metre wide, 25-metre-tall glass AquaDome. According to Meyer Turku, the dome is the largest single-piece glass and steel structure ever lifted onto a ship. 

“Delivering Icon of the Seas represents all that can be accomplished with strong partnerships and a commitment to delivering memorable vacations responsibly, and we thank Meyer Turku and an incredible village of skilled partners for joining us on this journey,” says Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “The memories millions of families and vacationers will make on Icon will be our greatest accomplishment yet.” 

Also among the newcomers is Sun Princess, the first LNG-powered ship in the Princess Cruises fleet. The ship features several firsts for the cruise line, including a glass-enclosed, multilevel dome that offers a pool in daytime before transforming into a venue for acrobatic performances created in partnership with Cirque Éloize at night. The central Piazza, meanwhile, has been built within a sphere of glass to offer views of the ocean in every direction, with an interior inspired by European town squares. The Princess Arena theatre can shift into several different layouts to fit a variety of new production shows, while the main dining room is now spread across three stories. Fincantieri constructed the 4,300-guest ship at its Monfalcone shipyard in Italy, continuing the shipbuilder’s relationship with Princess after the completion of the previous Royal class. 

“Our multi-decade shipbuilding collaboration continues to progress as we build spectacular ships that are enabled by the most advanced technology available while infusing magnificent Italian craftsmanship and respecting beautiful Princess design heritage,” says John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises. 

Fincantieri is set to complete Cunard’s Queen Anne, which is currently under construction at its Marghera shipyard in Venice, Italy, ahead of its maiden voyage in May. The 249th Cunard ship will cater for up to 3,000 guests across six accommodation categories, with twice the number of Britannia Club staterooms compared to other ships in the cruise line’s fleet. Queen Anne will feature a new Indian restaurant, Aranya, and an expanded Pavilion pool area that will offer film screenings and live music at night. The debut of the ship will mark the first time that Cunad has had four ships operating simultaneously since 1999. 

“It is both incredible and inspiring to see the progress that has been made by the craftsman, engineers, and workforce at Fincantieri’s shipyard and as we start to see Queen Anne’s interiors take shape, we can all see what a truly magnificent Queen she will become,” says Katie McAlister, president of Cunard.  

TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 7 is currently undergoing final construction at Meyer Turku in Finland, ahead of its maiden voyage in June. The ship introduces new single cabins for individual travellers, as well as new Asia & Sushi and La Spezia restaurants. A shore power connection will allow Mein Schiff 7 to reduce emissions while in port, and the ship was designed to be able to run on lower-emission green methanol fuel in the future. TUI is also equipping the ship with a system that can shred organic waste through thermal treatment and process it for further use on land. 

“We are pleased that the seventh newbuild in the Mein Schiff fleet now has water under its keel,” says Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises. “The sister ship of Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 not only offers many wonderful innovations for our guests, but also relies on new low-emission fuels for propulsion.” 

TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 7

TUI Cruises

Mein Schiff 7 will be equipped with a system that can shred organic waste through thermal treatment

Meyer Werft is also set to deliver Silversea Cruises’ second Nova-class ship, Silver Ray, in June. The vessel, which will be identical to its predecessor Silver Nova, will feature returning venues such as the reimagined Pool Deck, The Dusk Bar, and The Marquee. 

Three river cruise ships are scheduled to be delivered in the first half of 2024, including AmaWaterways’ second ship for the Nile River. AmaLilia, currently under construction at Egypt’s Masaara Shipyard, will feature a similar design to its predecessor, but an expanded capacity with five more staterooms onboard. 

Chesapeake Shipbuilding is set to deliver the third of 12 planned American Cruise Line’s Coastal Cat vessels, American Liberty, in summer 2024. The 100-guest ship is designed to access small ports and rivers across the USA, and features interiors that reflect the culture of New England, Chesapeake Bay, and the Southeast United States. The fourth ship in the series, American Legend, will make its debut in November, while three more vessels will be completed in 2025. 

Amadeus Nova will be the first in a new generation of ships for Amadeus River Cruises, and will be equipped with a hybrid diesel-electric drive system, solar panels, heat recovery systems and a battery. The ship will also use autonomous control and positioning systems to improve fuel efficiency and safety. For guests, the ship will offer 12 suites and 67 exterior cabins, along with an open Café Vienna, spa and fitness areas, and a heated pool.  

“Amadeus Nova is our response to the question of whether you can combine ship comfort with environmental awareness,” says Wolfgang Lüftner, founder and managing director of Amadeus River Cruises. “The ship maintains all the characteristics for which the Amadeus fleet is famous for and offers customers a new style of luxury cruising.” 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2024 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.

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