5 Spectacular New Ships
Departures now available
for the next wave of innovative vessels
By Elizabeth Armstrong
Royal Caribbean International
Back then, could I have imagined that cruisers would one day be stepping aboard ships with skydiving simulators? With overwater walkways, elaborate aquatic shows, cantilevered pools and inside cabins equipped with real-time views?
These are the features planned for ships debuting over the next 12 months. Read on to learn more, and when you're tempted to book, visit Vacations To Go online or contact the cruise specialists at (800) 338-4962.
Sister to the Royal Princess, which launched last year, the 3,560-passenger Regal Princess is part of the line's new generation of ships. All outside cabins -- a total of 2,876 on each vessel -- have balconies.
We can't wait to try it: The swanky private cabanas on the adults-only Sanctuary deck are outfitted with comfy seating, flat-screen TVs and fridges. You can rent the VIP shelters for a half-day or full day. Also alluring: the Chef's Table Lumiere, a dining experience in the Allegro restaurant for a handful of guests who are cocooned in a soft curtain of fiber-optic light.
The place to be: The expanded lobby warmly glows with burnished golds and coppers and rich creams. It provides easy access to new Princess venues like a gelato spot and the Italian-influenced Bellini Bar. Take a perch at the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar and feast on sushi, oysters or an indulgent treat of caviar.
Walk above water: The top-deck SeaWalk has a glass floor and walls and extends more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship.
Nighttime delights: After the sun sinks into the ocean, the top-deck pools are transformed into the Princess WaterColor Fantasy, a mesmerizing sound-and-light show complete with multicolored dancing fountains, with some plumes shooting 33 feet high. Crooner's boasts a staggering menu of 75 martinis, plus entertainment courtesy of dueling pianists.
Inaugural season: The Regal Princess makes its first official voyage from Venice on May 20 and will cruise the Mediterranean through early October. It then crosses the Atlantic to begin Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International
These twin 4,905-guest ships promise some astonishing firsts at sea and appealing new stateroom designs, including stunning, two-story Loft Suites and interior cabins with "virtual balconies" -- live images streamed to an 80-inch LED screen mounted on the wall.
New heights: The glass-enclosed North Star capsule gently swoops guests more than 300 feet above the sea for 360-degree vistas. Meanwhile, RipCord by iFly simulates a skydiving experience.
Time to play: SeaPlex, touted as the largest indoor "active space" at sea, has a quirky collection of amenities: circus school with flying trapeze and full-size basketball court by day, and bumper cars, roller-skating and a floating DJ booth by night.
A break from tradition: For Quantum ships, Royal Caribbean has done away with the standard scheduled dinner times in cavernous main dining rooms. Instead, it has established five smaller restaurants, each with its own style. Try the American Icon Grill for classic comfort fare and Silk for Far East flavors.
Curiouser and curiouser: There will be 18 eateries in all, some with a cover charge. At Wonderland, chefs stretch their imaginations to come up with fun, creatively plated dishes. The use of liquid nitrogen and tableside smoking of ingredients are on the menu in this surreal space inspired by Alice and her adventures.
Inaugural season: On Nov. 2, Quantum departs from Southampton, England, carrying its first passengers across the Atlantic to Bayonne, NJ. It then will sail to the sunny Bahamas and Caribbean from that East Coast city. Anthem debuts on April 22, 2015, on a voyage to Atlantic coast ports in Spain and France. It spends its first season exploring Mediterranean and Northern European destinations.
The 928-guest Viking Star represents the first foray into ocean cruising for Viking, a company best known for its inland cruises and rapidly growing fleet of riverboats. (The line recently made news for christening 16 brand-new vessels over a 24-hour period this March.) Pricing for the seagoing voyages includes wine and beer with lunch and dinner, a guided excursion in each port and complimentary coffee, tea and sodas.
Classic comforts: You'll find all the necessities for a relaxing sea escape: plentiful alfresco dining, a spa, bars and several eateries (including the Chef's Table for tasting menus paired with wines). An infinity-style pool cantilevered off the stern has a glass wall overlooking the sea.
Scandinavian style: Artist renderings released by the line show understated, modern interiors of clean lines, pale woods and soothing, light hues. It promises to be an appealing combination of textures and colors.
Let it snow: Cool off in the spa's snow grotto, where snowflakes fall from the ceiling through chilled air. Then follow Nordic tradition and pop into the hot sauna.
Destination immersion: Experts give port talks that cover history, art and culture. Two movie theaters screen films that reflect the cruising grounds -- you might catch "Room With a View" on a Mediterranean voyage that incorporates the Italian Renaissance city of Florence. Chefs use local ingredients as they prepare regional specialties; nibble on mezes (small, savory plates) while off Turkish shores, for example.
Inaugural season: The first voyage of the Viking Star, slated for mid-April 2015, has already sold out, but there's still space available for the rest of its maiden season, which will be spent in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas.
Costa has crowned its next vessel as its new flagship -- diadema is Italian for "tiara." The ship is the 10th vessel built in Italy's Fincantieri shipyard for Costa since 2000. Carrying 4,947 passengers, it's the largest in the company's fleet.
Wining and dining: Costa plans seven restaurants and 15 lounges and cafes for the Diadema. They include a wine bar, a beer pub, a spot for Japanese teppanyaki-style dining and the Samsara Restaurant, a specialty venue that's complimentary for guests who reserve one of the 141 spa cabins. And, Costa being an Italian cruise company, the ship will sail with a pizzeria, gelateria and a prosecco bar for flutes of sparkling libations.
Namaste: Restore balance and seek harmony at the Asian-inspired Samsara Spa. Book a calming ayurvedic ritual or a detoxifying body wrap, meditate upon one of the beds in the Temple of Peace or let the bubbling thalassotherapy pool gently work at your tired muscles. As a final gesture, a spa employee will hand you a cup of Japanese tea after your treatment, to sip as you gaze at the waves.
Go where the action is: Make like Mario Andretti in the Grand Prix race car simulator or test your skills with an interactive laser game in the two-story gaming area. Hit up the classic rock club, check out the 4-D cinema or simply lounge by a pool or soak in one of the eight hot tubs.
Inaugural season: The Costa Diadema makes its initial sailing from Trieste, Italy, on Nov. 1 this year. The ship will focus on the Mediterranean, visiting such cities as Barcelona and Valencia in Spain, Marseille in France and Naples -- a gateway to enchanting Capri island -- in Italy.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in May/June 2014. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.