Sailing Into The New Year: The Best New Ships Launching In 2020
We’re entering a bumper year for new cruise ships, with lots of exciting launches on the way
What a year 2019 has been for the cruise industry, with more innovative ships delivered and more rivers, destinations and faraway ports explored than ever before.
But incredibly enough, 2020 looks set to top it, with highlights including the hotly-anticipated launch of Celebrity Apex, P&O’s Iona and Virgin Voyages’ debut cruise ship, Scarlet Lady. There’s also a host of new river ships on the horizon, including Marella’s first foray into river cruising, Tui Isla.
And if you’re in search of adventure, a whole fleet of new expedition ships will soon be ready to transport you to the tropics or the poles, including Crystal Endeavor and G Adventures’ Reina Silvia Voyager.
Featuring all these and more, here’s our pick of the most sensational new ships arriving in 2020…
New ocean ships
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seven Seas Splendor
Super-luxe cruise line Regent Seven Seas will be launching its latest Explorer-class vessel, Seven Seas Splendor, in February. Decked out as a six-star floating hotel, the ship will take you back to the golden age of travel, with white-gloved butlers attending
to your every need, Michelin-quality tasting menus, and evenings spent in the glitzy casino or the Art Deco-style Constellation Theatre. There will be no fewer than 10 grades of cabin, from entry-level veranda suites up to the amazing Regent Suite, which is four times the size of the average family home and comes with an ensuite spa.
Public areas will be super-chic, and you can dine in pan-Asian Pacific Rim or Parisian Chartreuse, learn cooking techniques in the Culinary Arts Kitchen, or enjoy a seaweed body wrap at Serene Spa and Wellness before exploring the sun-soaked shores of the Caribbean or the Med.
10 decks, 750 passengers, 542 crew,
11 restaurants and bars, 2 pools
Favourite feature: The enormous Regent Suite with its own in-room spa.
In 2018, the launch of Celebrity Edge instantly redefined ocean cruising, offering cruisers a cool new vessel, beautifully designed by Kelly Hoppen. Now, an almost identical sister ship, Celebrity Apex, is set to launch in April.
Accommodation will be some of the most luxurious around, with ‘infinite’ retracting balconies and twin-level villas with outdoor plunge pools.
Across the 16 decks, guests will have their choice of 29 world-class eateries and drinking dens, including seven speciality restaurants offering everything from classic French and Italian to raw and vegan.
Plant-lovers will adore the new ship’s greenery-filled atriums, while pampering fans will go wild for the vast thermal suite and wellness centre.
16 decks, 2,900 passengers, 1,320 crew,
29 bars and restaurants, 3 pools
Favourite feature: The Magic Carpet outdoor elevator lounge, which moves up and down the side of the ship.
Virgin Voyages’ first foray into cruising is finally here. And with the launch of Scarlet Lady, Sir Richard Branson is hoping to turn the industry on its head with a ship unlike any other at sea.
There will be no main dining room, no buffet, no set dining times and no dress code, but all restaurants will be included in the cruise fare. Sailings are adults-only and prices are per cabin, not per passenger, so guests can treat themselves to a ‘Rock Star’ suite, or groups of friends can squeeze into larger standard staterooms.
The ship will cruise from Miami on exciting four and five-night itineraries around the Caribbean, with late-night sailaways and visits to The Beach Club at Bimini, Virgin’s exclusive Bahamian haven.
The whole package is set to appeal to younger audiences, so expect crowds of carefree, fun and sun-seeking travellers.
17 decks, 2,770 passengers, 1,150 crew,
20 bars and restaurants, 2 pools
Favourite feature: The ‘shake for champagne app’ – just jiggle your smartphone and a bottle of bubbly will be brought to wherever you are on board.
The California-based line’s fifth new Royal-class ship, Enchanted Princess, will sail into the spotlight in June 2020, taking the crown from Sky Princess as the most glamorous of the Princess fleet.
Designed to integrate with the line’s Ocean Medallion – the coin-sized wearable device that lets cruisers interact with the onboard tech – Enchanted Princess offers high-speed MedallionNet wi-fi and is perfect for multi-gen holidays.
Well-heeled guests will want to book into the opulent Sky Suite, a mini penthouse at the top of the ship with a 1,000sq ft continuous balcony – the largest at sea.
Other highlights include the ornate Italian-style Piazza, the Lotus spa, a host of fun activities for kids and teens, and a truly tantalising range of 24-hour dining options.
19 decks, 3,660 passengers, 1,358 crew,
25 restaurants/bars, 2 pools and 8 Jacuzzis
Favourite feature: The extravagant Sky Suite, with the largest balcony anywhere at sea.
Loved by British cruisers, P&O is looking forward to welcoming its largest-ever ship in 2020. The 5,200-passenger Iona promises to be perfect for families and anyone who likes to have fun at sea. Life on board will centre around the impressive Sky Dome, an entertainment space that’s flooded with natural sunlight.
Iona will also house the first-ever distillery at sea, in collaboration with Salcombe Gin. Guests can choose from 30 eateries, including seven speciality restaurants serving cuisine by celebrated chefs including José Pizarro, Kjartan Skjelde and Marte Marie Forsberg.
For families, Iona offers 95 innovative Conservatory Mini-Suites, with a generous lounge area featuring floor-to-ceiling glass.
19 decks, 5,200 passengers, 1,800
crew, 30 bars and restaurants, 4 pools
Favourite feature: The onboard
gin distillery – a first for any ship
Silversea’s luxurious fleet is expanding, and following the successful debut of Silver Muse in 2017, Silver Moon will launch in August 2020. This sleek, glamorous vessel will take 596 guests on sailings around the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and South America.
With classically elegant decor, the ship will feature a beauty salon, a spa, luxury boutiques, a fitness centre and an observation lounge.
Foodies will be happy to hear that Silver Moon will also debut Silversea’s new Sea And Land Taste (SALT) programme,
an immersive culinary experience that allows guests to explore destinations through food, with gastronomic excursions, cookery demonstrations and regionally inspired menus.
11 decks, 596 passengers, 411 crew,
12 bars and restaurants, 2 pools
Favourite feature: The SALT Lab, where cookery workshops and classes take place Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
The Ritz-Carlton group operates some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, and the line is now making its cruise-ship debut. After months of delay, the first ship in the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is due to make its debut in July.
Evrima is a streamlined vessel with a heavenly infinity pool, a host of bars and eateries (including a Michelin-starred restaurant), a spa, gym and a sprawling marina deck, well stocked with water toys for guests to use.
As you’d expect of a floating Ritz- Carlton hotel, suites are nothing short of decadent, with private terraces and marshmallow beds (the Owner’s Suite even has a separate dining room).
10 decks, 298 passengers, 246 crew,
8 restaurants and bars, 1 pool
Favourite feature: The sea-level marina deck, with sun loungers and water toys (we’re thinking jet skis).
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Mardi Gras
This US-based family favourite is set for a show-stopper in 2020. Carnival Mardi Gras will be the biggest and most technologically advanced ship in the fleet, sailing around some of the most popular Caribbean islands.
The onboard focus is on ensuring that every guest has the best possible time, which is why the ship is named after one of the world’s favourite celebrations.
There will be cabins for everyone from solo travellers to families, and with six themed areas – including The Ultimate Playground, with its ground-breaking rollercoaster – there’s sure to be something to suit all tastes.
19 decks, 5,282 passengers, 1,745 crew,
21 restaurants and bars, 5 pools
Favourite feature: BOLT, the first rollercoaster at sea.
Spirit of Adventure
In 2019 this ever-popular British brand launched its first new-build, Spirit of Discovery, bringing five-star hotel luxury to the 50+ cruising market. Due in August 2020, sister ship Spirit of Adventure will follow the same formula, with luxurious cabins and chic interiors.
Cruising the Med, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean and the fjords, it will accommodate 999 guests in 540 balcony cabins, 100 of them just for solo travellers. The ship will also offer a 444-seat Playhouse Theatre, an indoor spa and wellness centre, outdoor lido and a host of all-inclusive speciality dining options, including the first Nepalese restaurant at sea.
10 decks, 999 passengers, 505 crew,
9 bars and restaurants, 2 pools
Favourite feature: The spa, with its hydrotherapy pool and steam room
Bellissima and Grandiosa, launched in 2019, are a tough act to follow, but 2020’s Virtuosa will surely be the new star of the fleet. Carrying 4,888 guests, she is designed to feel like a European city, with each deck named after a musical instrument.
Onboard features include the first contemporary art museum at sea, as well as an impressive spa, indoor amusement park, full-sized bowling alley, F1 simulators and an outdoor waterpark.
Guests will be treated to exclusive performances by Cirque du Soleil, and in the super-chic cabins, tech lovers will find themselves in the company of a virtual assistant called Zoe (think Amazon Alexa for cruises).
19 decks, 4,888 passengers, 1,704 crew,
21 restaurants and bars, 4 pools
Favourite feature: Zoe – your 24/7 virtual personal assistant.
Odyssey of the Seas
Royal Caribbean is on a roll when it comes to launching fantastic new ships, and next year sees the addition of Odyssey of the Seas, the line’s new Quantum Ultra-class vessel.
Odyssey will sail around the Caribbean and Mediterranean, offering families a fun, floating holiday resort, with 21 dining and drinking options, an island-style pool deck and SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea.
Kids will enjoy surfing and skydiving simulators, a rock-climbing wall and bungee trampoline VR experience, while parents get to relax on the two-level pool deck. Dining options include Italian, teppanyaki and Mexican, while accommodation ranges from interior cabins with virtual screens to Royal Loft family apartments.
16 decks, 4,200 passengers, 1,550
crew, 24 restaurants and bars, 3 pools
Favourite feature: SeaPlex – the made-for-kids activity centre.
New river ships
SS Sphinx and Mekong Jewel
There are few better ways to take in the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Horus and the pyramids than from a river ship, and with the recovery in visitor numbers to Egypt, Uniworld will launch SS Sphinx on 4 January 2020.
One of the most luxurious vessels ever to cruise the Nile, she will accommodate just 84 guests but will offer two restaurants, a swimming pool and french balconies for all cabins.
Launching in the same week is Mekong Jewel, a new ship designed to cruise along the mystical Mekong river through Vietnam and Cambodia, with itineraries between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap.
Constructed using sustainable and eco-friendly materials, she is a compact vessel for just 68 guests, who will have the benefit of
a top-deck swimming pool, spa with sauna and steam room, two lounges and a well-stocked library.
5 decks, 84 passengers, 58 crew,
3 bars and restaurants, 1 pool
Favourite feature: Egyptian artwork, fabrics and hand-carved furnishings.
4 decks, 68 passengers, 51 crew,
2 bars and restaurants, 1 pool
Favourite feature: Opulent
Luxury tour group Tauck will launch MS Andorinha on Portugal’s Douro river next spring. Built to take 84 cruisers through a landscape of charming villages and stunning vineyards, the sleek and streamlined ship will offer five grades of cabin,
most with floor-to-ceiling windows and french balconies.
Guests can enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages, including local wines. Two restaurants will serve regional and international delights, with flexible dining times appealing to those who like to spend more time exploring ashore.
4 decks, 84 passengers, 36 crew,
4 bars and restaurants, 1 pool
Favourite feature: Al fresco restaurant Arthur’s – a top-deck scenic alternative to the Compass Rose main dining room.
Tui Isla, Tui Maya and Tui Skyla
Known for all-inclusive, fun-filled sailings on the world’s oceans, Tui brand Marella is now dipping its toes into the world of river cruising. And the line is planning to make a splash by launching not one but three river ships in 2020.
All three 155-passenger vessels will follow the same format, with refined decor and airy cabins. Each ship will have two restaurants on board – the casual Bistro and elegant Verdastro.
The Club Lounge is the place to be for coffee and cocktails, while a bright Observatory Lounge with an outdoor heated terrace will allow guests to relax while admiring panoramic views of the Rhone, Rhine, Danube or Moselle.
5 decks, 155 passengers, 60 crew,
3 bars and restaurants, 0 pools
Favourite feature: The outdoor heated terrace – allowing for great city views, even in winter
Cruising the romantic Rhine and Danube, popular European river-cruise line Avalon Waterways will be launching Avalon View in May 2020. The all-suite, 166-passenger ship is all about comfort and luxury, with Panorama Suites featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that transform the space into an open-air balcony.
When not exploring Europe’s great cities, guests can use the fitness centre, read in the library or dine in the casual Panorama Bistro, al fresco Sky Grill or elegant glass-walled Dining Room. For adventurous travellers, there will be bikes, watercraft and Nordic walking gear available to borrow.
4 decks, 166 passengers, 47 crew,
4 bars and restaurants, 1 whirlpool
Favourite feature: The 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, 30 per cent larger than the industry standard.
AmaWaterways is well-known for taking river cruisers around Europe’s waterways in style, with its wide, well-equipped vessels boasting modern, airy interiors.
The sister ship of AmaLea and AmaKristina, AmaSiena will arrive next year, offering 156 passengers the chance to cruise 10 and 11-night itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Moselle or Danube.
Like her sister ships, AmaSiena will be spacious, comfortable and inviting, whether you choose a chic river-view room or one with AmaWaterways’ trademark twin balconies. As elsewhere in the fleet, there will be a small fitness centre and a heated pool with swim-up bar, along with a spa and hair salon.
4 decks, 156 passengers, 51 crew,
3 bars and restaurants, 1 pool
Favourite feature: A fleet of onboard bicycles, perfect for exploring all those beautiful European cities.
American Cruise Lines
American Jazz and American Melody
Stateside river cruising is really taking off in the UK, with more Brits than ever taking the opportunity to visit exciting cities such as Memphis and New Orleans.
Expecting a continued surge in demand, American Cruise Lines is launching two new ships, American Jazz (August 2020) and American Melody (later in the year).
In time for the scorching summer season, Jazz will sail the Upper and Lower Mississippi. Both ships will feature
a five-storey glass atrium, private balconies in all staterooms, a modern exercise suite and a sundeck, while onboard historians will add enrichment, explaining the turbulent past of the US southern states.
Creating a friendly atmosphere, the grand dining room will accommodate all the guests together, while a cocktail hour will take place each evening.
5 decks, 195 passengers, 60 crew,
3 bars and restaurants, 0 pools
Favourite feature: The fun top-deck putting green.
Viking River Cruises
Viking already has more ships on the waterways of Europe than any other cruise line, and next year the company will be launching even more – four on the Rhine, Main and Danube and four on the Seine.
Named after one of the legendary horse-riding Valkyries, 190-passenger Viking Radgrid will take guests through the heart of Normandy and right into central Paris.
In true Viking style, guests can look forward to elegant Scandi-chic interiors and an array of accommodation options, ranging from 150sq ft standard staterooms with river views to the grand 445sq ft Explorer Suite.
From the ship’s sun deck, guests can marvel at 360-degree views before heading to the Aquavit Terrace for a cocktail or snack. Along with its indoor and outdoor lounge, the ship also has a library, an on-board shop and an elegant bar and main restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass doors.
4 decks, 190 passengers, 50 crew,
3 bars and restaurants, 0 pools
Favourite feature: The ship will dock right in the heart of central Paris.
New expedition ships
Taking its renowned level of luxury to icy Antarctica and the steamy tropics, Crystal will launch its new polar-class expedition ship, Crystal Endeavor, in August.
As well as enjoying a Nobu restaurant, opulent cream interiors and a spa with mudroom, the ship’s 200 guests can explore using state-of-the-art expedition equipment, including Zodiacs, two helicopters and a miniature submarine.
10 decks, 200 passengers, 200 crew,
9 restaurants and bars, 1 pool
Favourite feature: OO7-style expedition equipment – especially that mini-sub.
The Amazon is surely the world’s greatest waterway, and now it can be explored in luxury, thanks to Aqua Expeditions’ new Aqua Nera, launching in October.
With 40 crew to look after a mere 40 passengers, the ship features indoor and outdoor bars, an outdoor cinema, a shaded lounge, gym and a top-deck plunge pool.
3 decks, 40 passengers, 40 crew,
2 restaurants and bars, 1 pool
Favourite feature: Private cabanas round that top-deck outdoor pool.
Le Bellot and Le Jacques-Cartier
As the only French-owned luxury cruise line, Ponant’s small ships offer a uniquely Gallic glamour, and in 2020 the company will launch two new Explorer-class expedition vessels.
Le Bellot and Le Jacques-Cartier will each have just 92 elegant staterooms and suites, all with private balconies and 24-hour room service.
Both ships will feature the amazing ‘Blue Eye’ – a multi-sensory underwater lounge, located beneath the waterline, where guests can look out at the seabed through two illuminated portholes and listen to the sounds of the ocean via hydrophones.
7 decks, 184 passengers, 110 crew,
4 restaurants and bars, 1 pool
Favourite feature: The Blue Eye lounge – who wouldn’t want to watch passing marine life with a glass of fizz in hand?
Reina Silvia Voyager
When it comes to wildlife-spotting, nowhere competes with the Galapagos islands, whose incredible flora and fauna did so much to inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Visitor numbers are strictly controlled, but
G Adventures’ new expedition ship Reina Silvia Voyager will launch next year, offering new opportunities to marvel at blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises and basking marine iguanas.
What’s on the horizon?
Celebrity Edge-class, autumn 2021
Working towards a total of five Edge-class ships, Celebrity will welcome a sister ship to Celebrity Edge and Apex – and she’ll mark a new pinnacle in cruising technology.
Costa Toscana, October 2021
If you love the glamour, food and lifestyle of Italy, then Costa Cruises is for you. Costa Toscana will launch in 2021, with over 2,600 staterooms, elegant piazzas and the feeling of an Italian city.
Disney Wish, late 2021
Disney Cruises is making youngsters’ dreams come true with Disney Wish, a ship that looks like a fairytale castle. Rapunzel from Tangled will appear on the stern, while the atrium will have a grand staircase with a glittering chandelier.
Discovery Princess, October 2021
The sixth of Princess Cruises’ Royal-class ships, Discovery will cruise the Med and the Caribbean, with class-leading Ocean Medallion interactive technology.
Wonder of the Seas, November 2021
Royal Caribbean will make a splash with the world’s biggest cruise ship when Wonder of the Seas sets sail from her homeport of Shanghai in 2021.
Seabourn Venture, June 2021
Seabourn is venturing into expedition cruising, offering guests the chance to explore faraway lands on an ultra-luxurious Polar-class vessel, complete with two custom-built submarines.
Valiant Lady, summer 2021
Following in the glamorous footsteps of Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages’ second ship – Valiant Lady – looks set to help Mr Branson build the brand.
Viking Venus, 2021
The seventh identical ship in Viking’s ocean fleet, Venus will carry 930 guests.
- 7 nights, departs on the 31 Jul 2021
- AmaWaterways, AmaCerto
- Vilshofen, Vilshofen, Passau, + 7 more
4 Night Bahamas - 2 Stops At Perfect Day
- 4 nights, departs on the 23 Aug 2021
- Royal Caribbean International, Navigator of the Seas
- Miami, Florida, Coco Cay, Nassau, + 2 more
Mekong Discovery (Southbound)
- 7 nights, departs on the 25 Nov 2021
- Avalon Waterways, Avalon Saigon
- Phnom Penh, Angkor Ban, Phnom Penh, + 5 more
7 Night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day
- 7 nights, departs on the 15 May 2022
- Royal Caribbean International, Harmony of the Seas
- Port Canaveral, Florida, Coco Cay, Charlotte Amalie, + 2 more
Authentic Danube & Prague
- 7 nights, departs on the 07 May 2021
- UNIWORLD Boutique River Cruises, River Princess
- Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, + 5 more