Cruise ships are back at sea, with a fleet of new entrants to consider when you feel it’s safe enough to book your next sailing in these COVID-19 times.
We describe 10 of the new ships below. Some are already plying the oceans; others are launching soon or throughout 2022. And a few are very high-end, including the first ship from the new Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, but many are more affordable — fun for a cruise with kids or a grownup getaway.
Note: The prices listed below are starting rates for one of each ship's less-expensive cruises, which tend to be to the Caribbean.
Nice for Grownups
Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Cruises
Maiden voyage: June 2021
On the 2,910-passenger Apex, a cartoon chef and his family dance in 3D across your plate as you dine on filet mignon during a Le Petit Chef experience. At a new show, Rockumentary, you not only rock out to hits from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, but use the Celebrity app on your smartphone to choose the show’s ending. Debuted last summer in Europe, the Celebrity Apex, like its sister ship Celebrity Edge, targets couples seeking a stunning and cushy contemporary environment heavy on tech advances. In lieu of step-out balconies, “Infinite Veranda” staterooms become open-air spaces with the simple push of a button (that opens the upper half of a windowed wall). An open-air platform called the Magic Carpet rides a track up and down one side of the ship, serving on alternate levels as cocktail and dining venues, and a no-stress way to board tenders to head ashore — you simply walk off the platform’s dock onto the small boats. Even with kids welcome, a sense of romance prevails.
Insider tip: No matter where in the world you’re cruising, you won’t miss the big game at the Craft Social Bar. Along with big-screen TVs, it has more than 40 beers and ciders on the menu and upscale comfort foods, such as Kobe beef sliders and truffle fries.
What you’ll pay: From $789 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night western Caribbean cruise in March 2022 from Fort Lauderdale.
Launching next: Sister ship Celebrity Beyond debuts in April 2022. Onboard, dine at a globally focused restaurant created by world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud.
Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages
Maiden voyage: October 2021
Hip, flashy and certainly innovative — think tattoo parlor and late-night pool parties — best describes the first ship in the just-launched Virgin Voyages fleet, the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady. With only those 18 and up allowed onboard, adults-only gets interpreted in interesting ways, such as naughty signage. Cleverly designed standard cabins come with beds that turn into sofas by day, and those with balconies feature a swinging hammock chair. The ship shines most on the dining front, with top-flight restaurants (no extra fees involved) replacing the standard dining rooms on other ships. The most extravagant option: the Test Kitchen, with a five-course tasting menu featuring various palate pleasers (eggs and caviar served in a smoking orb, for example) that come with a detailed description of ingredients and how chefs created the dishes. Entertainment goes way beyond typical show productions, such as a loud video- and dance-driven dance party that keeps everyone on their feet.
Insider tip: Don’t miss the circus show Duel Reality, says Nirmal Saviermuttu, Virgin’s chief operations officer. “The audience is quite literally on the edge of their seats as our incredible cast members contort their bodies, slide down towering poles, and leap across the air on a seesaw.”
What you’ll pay: From $1,520 for two passengers for a four-night sailing from Miami to the Bahamas in February 2022.
Launching next: Sister ships Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady debut in Europe in March and July 2022, respectively.
Enchanted Princess, Princess Cruises
Maiden voyage: November 2021
On Princess’ newest ship, you’ll easily find space to turn to mush (or completely veg out) when looking at the sea. The 3,560-passenger Enchanted Princess has 10 hot tubs, more than on any other Princess ship. The redesigned pool deck also encourages time in the sunny outdoors, or in the shade, in a top-deck bar and in two deep-tank pools linked by sunken seating. At the ship’s aft end, take in spectacular views of the horizon at another swimming spot, the Wakeview Pool. In the elegant three-deck Piazza atrium, sip a latte, enjoy a gelato or savor a glass of wine while people-watching and catching performances by street performers — just as you might in Italy. For a special dinner, check out Bistro Sur La Mer, created by acclaimed French chef Emmanuel Renaut, for pâté or escargot followed by coquilles St. Jacques (scallops) or seared duck. After dinner, extend your evening of fun by heading to the Take Five lounge for live jazz.
Insider tip: Catch a blockbuster movie outdoors on a giant poolside screen with Movies Under the Stars, the cruise equivalent of a drive-in. See family-friendly blockbusters such as Avatar and Black Widow. Use Princess’ OceanMedallion app on your smartphone to order a pizza, delivered right to your lounge chair.
What you’ll pay: From $1,148 per person (double occupancy) for a 10-night southern Caribbean cruise in February 2022 from Fort Lauderdale.
Launching next: Sister ship Discovery Princess arrives in March 2022.
Ships Fun for Kids
Mardi Gras, Carnival Cruise Line
Maiden voyage: July 2021
The 5,282-passenger Mardi Gras is packed with family-friendly attractions divided into six zones to disperse crowds. The headliner: the BOLT, the world’s first at-sea roller coaster, which whips around the bravehearted on an 800-foot track with twists and turns at speeds of up to 40 mph. Five water slides, including Orange Thunder — you drop 229 feet into a splash zone — join the coaster in the Ultimate Playground. In another zone, a jazz club livens up the New Orleans-inspired French District, where celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s first shipboard bistro serves up jambalaya, po’boys and other Cajun favorites.
Insider tip: When you want to shift into slow gear and get some quiet on this action-packed ship, escape to either of the two infinity pools located aft on decks 8 and 16 around 6 p.m., when most others aboard are getting ready for dinner.
What you’ll pay: From $489 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral (near Orlando) in January 2022. When booking any cruise, check to see whether taxes, fees and port charges are included. If they aren’t, expect to pay $200 extra for a one-week sailing.
Launching next: Sister ship Carnival Celebration debuts in November 2022.
MSC Seashore, MSC Cruises
Maiden voyage: November 2021
This 5,632-passenger ship set sail in the Caribbean last month with the promise to bring its all-ages North American and international guests closer to the sea, via more outdoor space, including six pools. While the kids play in the pirate-themed water park, walk the long promenade that wraps around the 1,100-foot ship, meant to feel like a stroll through a seaside town. Its New York-inspired design includes a 9 1/2-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty in the casino, as well as a three-story Times Square, an entertainment and shopping area, with a 28-foot-high projection of the Manhattan skyline.
Insider tip: If you aren’t afraid of heights, make your way up to the Bridge of Sighs on Deck 16, 72 feet above the ship and hundreds of feet above the sea, and look down through the glass floor. It’s like being on a helicopter hovering over the ship.
What you’ll pay: From $329 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night eastern Caribbean itinerary from Miami in December.
Wonder of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Maiden voyage: March 2022
The family-friendly, 6,988- passenger Wonder of the Seas will be the world’s largest cruise ship. While its slightly smaller Oasis-class sister ships are divided into seven neighborhoods, this one adds an eighth, a spacious area complete with its own sun deck (including a plunge pool, cushy loungers and a restaurant and bar) for the big-spending suite set. Away from this fancy neighborhood, you can take the grandkids to play in the outdoor Wonder Playscape playground, featuring climbing walls, slides and an interactive mural you touch to see sea creatures, or for a ride on a classic carousel in the Boardwalk area. If you’ve got teens in tow, they can fly over the Boardwalk on a zip line and shoot down the Ultimate Abyss, a slide that winds down 10 decks. For alone time, escape to the ship’s Central Park and meander through a forest of trees.
Insider tip: Catch striking sea views from the top-deck pool bar, the Vue, which stretches off the side of the ship and is the best place to watch the sunset.
What you’ll pay: From $769 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night cruise to Mexico from Fort Lauderdale in March 2022.
Disney Wish, Disney Cruise Line
Maiden voyage: June 2022
Disney’s first new ship in a decade, the much-anticipated 4,000-passenger Disney Wish, will launch with the line’s first Disney attraction: the Mickey- and Minnie-themed AquaMouse. As you travel along a 760-foot track in a two-seat vehicle, you follow the mouse duo on animated adventures (spoiler alert: you’ll get wet). Throughout the ship, Avenger, Disney, Pixar and Star Wars characters drive experiences, whether in costumed appearances or in themed spaces, like a water playground with a Toy Story theme.
Dining experiences are themed, as well. At the Avengers: Quantum Encounter restaurant, you and the kids are part of an Avengers story involving Ant Man and the Wasp and “Super Hero technology.” The menu plays with fact and fiction, with global foods and made-up recipes from the Marvel Universe’s fictional Sokovia and Wakanda.
Insider tip: Take the youngsters in your party to the Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge during the day (only adults are allowed at night) for Star Wars-inspired mocktails while movie clips from the popular space series play on multiple screens.
What you’ll pay: From $1,053 per person (double occupancy) for a three-night Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral (near Orlando) in September 2022.
Norwegian Pr1ma, Norwegian Cruise Line
Maiden voyage: August 2022
The 3,215-passenger Norwegian Pr1ma, launching in Europe next summer, will get your adrenaline flowing. It includes a three-story, 1,378-foot electric go-kart racing track (the fleet’s largest), high-speed dueling racing water slides, and a 10-story free-fall slide (you don’t get wet on this one) that starts with a floor that opens, and then you fall and fall. A new-design theater will host the Tony-nominated Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, then morph into a Vegas-style, technology-driven dance club that will also host audience-participation game shows — such as an oceangoing version of The Price Is Right — on real show sets and with prizes.
Insider tip: Enjoy classic games in exciting new ways, thanks to high-tech wizardry — and win prizes. On a mini-golf course, scorekeeping is automated, with technology knowing which ball belongs to whom. On hole No. 4, answering a trivia question correctly earns you an advantage (the length to the hole shrinks). While adults will be asked an adult question, kids might be quizzed about a TikTok star, or something else the younger set will know. Smart darts automatically keep score in a game of darts.
What you’ll pay: From $799 per person (double occupancy) for a five-night cruise to Mexico from Port Canaveral in December 2022.
For a Splurge
Silver Moon, Silversea
Maiden voyage: August 2021
On the ultra-luxurious, 596-passenger Silver Moon, launched in August, everyone settles into suites (most with balconies), ranging in size from 334 to nearly 2,000 square feet. Your butler will shine your shoes, draw a bath and bring caviar or whatever else your heart desires. The ship also pampers with extraordinary dining experiences and drinks on the house. It was built to travel the world, as reflected in a new culinary experience called S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste), designed to both titillate the taste buds with ingredients gathered on shore and educate guests on local food culture. Throughout the ship, lounge amidst modern Italian décor and impressive contemporary art.
What you’ll pay: Suites from $5,040 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen in July 2022.
Launching next: Sister ship Silver Dawn sets sail in March 2022, pampering with a wellness program more about indulgence than deprivation. Roman baths inspired the concept, so you’ll be treated like an emperor or empress; if you want to sip champagne and munch caviar in the hot tub, so be it.
Evrima, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
Maiden voyage: May 2022
Come spring, if you have deep pockets, expect the same level of luxury at sea that you get at a Ritz-Carlton hotel on land when the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection debuts its first ship, the 298-passenger, Evrima after several delays. Spoil yourself with an open-air massage at the spa, complimentary champagne at the infinity pool, and hand-rolled stogies in the Humidor cigar lounge. And splurge At S.E.A., with a tasting menu designed by chef Sven Elverfeld of the three-Michelin-starred Aqua at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Wolfsburg, Germany. All guests settle into spacious suites (starting at 312 square feet) with “terraces” (balconies). Some are 700-square-foot, two-level lofts with the bedroom downstairs and living room area upstairs. Whichever type of suite you choose, a personal assistant will be at your beck and call.
Insider tip: Bring along the kids and grandkids — unusual for a luxury ship, the Evrima welcomes children aboard. Those ages 4 to 12 may learn a thing or two in programming (from $45 for three hours) that combines play with environmental responsibility. They might do experiments to learn what’s in seawater or make art from recycled materials.
What you’ll pay: From $6,100 per person (double occupancy) for a five-night cruise from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Venice in July 2022.
Cleveland-based freelancer Fran Golden has written several books about Alaska, including 100 Things to Do in Alaska Before You Die and Frommer’s travel guides.