Heavy-duty investment in new ships continues this year as billions of dollars are spent across the global cruise industry. Recent débutantes range from Seabourn Cruise Line's ultra-luxe, 600-passenger Seabourn Encore, which first arrived in Australia in January, to the 4,180-passenger Ovation of the Seas, the latest megaship by Royal Caribbean International. This year MSC Cruises launches Meraviglia and Seaside, Princess Cruises unveils Majestic Princess, and Norwegian Cruise Line launches Norwegian Joy. And when the wind catches the sails of Star Clippers' 300-passenger Flying Clipper towards the end of the year, travellers can embark on the largest square-rig sailing ship ever built.
Viking Cruises continues its impressive expansion, doubling its ocean fleet this year when Viking Sky and Viking Sun slide down the slipway; two more ships will follow. The 930-passenger ships will be near-identical to its current fleet, with all-veranda cabins, an expansive Nordic spa and multiple dining venues.
Also expanding is Silversea. It launches its 596-passenger Silver Muse in Monte Carlo in April, promising more outdoor space, more connecting suites for families and, it claims, more dining venues (eight) than any other luxury ship. In November Silversea begins the transformation of Silver Cloud into a polar expedition ship, ice-strengthening its hull and adding specialist equipment and a Zodiac fleet.
Next year sees the arrival of two new Ponant ice-class ships, another new ship by Seabourn, the Seabourn Ovation, Crystal Cruises' Crystal Endeavor, and the first Scenic ocean ship, Scenic Eclipse, which has its maiden voyage in August 2018 on a voyage between Istanbul and Venice. Godmothers will be busy with the launch of MSC's Seaview, Norwegian's Bliss, Royal Caribbean's Oasis IV, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon and Holland America Line's Nieuw Statendam, along with an as-yet unnamed ship by Celebrity Cruises.