Scenic Eclipse will carry a helicopter and a sub and sail in Antartctica

There’s never a dull moment at sea as designers come up with exciting new features to amaze cruisers. Jane Archer looks at some highlights on the horizon in 2018.

With 13 vessels launching in 2018, as well as 10 new river ships, there are numerous opportunities for groups to get that ‘first’ feeling. And with new ships for families, explorers and luxury lovers that between them have race tracks, underwater lounges, helicopters, even submarines, there really is something for everyone.

Family fun

Look out for plenty of family fun on the high seas in 2018 as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises launch new ships packed with things to do, games to play and lots of restaurants.

Carnival’s 3,974-passenger Carnival Horizon, launching in April, has a bike track at the top of the ship and a new Japanese teppanyaki where chefs juggle knives as they prepare food in front of diners.

Choose Royal Caribbean’s 5,500-passenger Symphony of the Seas for new seafood restaurant Hooked and to go Mexican in the El Loco Fresh al-fresco diner. For the ultimate family treat, a two-level suite has a kids’ bedroom with a slide to the living room below.

For those with a need for speed, NCL’s Norwegian Bliss has a top-deck race track that drivers can speed around at up to 30mph, water slides that extend over the side of the ship and a Texas smokehouse BBQ.

Manfredis Italian Restaurant Viking Orion

Pictured: Manfredi's Italian Restaurant on Viking Orion.

A life of luxury

Launching in August next year, the 230-passenger Scenic Eclipse will carry a helicopter, seven-man sub, kayaks, Zodiacs and scuba diving gear, and also have all-balcony accommodation, eight places to eat and a luxurious spa.

Seabourn’s 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation has a restaurant designed by US chef Thomas Keller and sushi bar, both included in the price (as are drinks and tips).

Viking Cruises’ new Viking Orion accommodates 930 passengers and has free specialty restaurants, an infinity pool and cooking school. Prices include drinks with lunch and dinner, and one free tour per port. It will sail the Med from July.

Passengers on Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam can learn to mix wines in Blend and dine on French favourites in Sel de Mer brasserie. The ship will accommodate 2,650 passengers and spend its maiden season in the Caribbean.

Azamara Club Cruises is adding a third ship, Azamara Pursuit, to its fleet in August 2018

Pictured: Azamara Club Cruises is adding a third ship, Azamara Pursuit, to its fleet in August 2018.

On the rivers

Ten new river ships are making their debut in 2018 including an as-yet-unnamed vessel from CroisiEurope’s that will operate safari cruises on the Chobe River in Africa. It holds just 16 passengers.

CroisiEurope is also one of five cruise lines – the others are AmaWaterways, Crystal Cruises. Riviera Travel and Amadeus River Cruises - bolstering their European fleets next year with vessels that variously have swimming pools, speciality restaurants and connecting doors so families can stay close. CroisiEurope’s new Elbe Princesse II will cruise between Berlin and Prague and be powered by a paddlewheel.

And in Asia, Avalon Waterways’ new 36-passenger Avalon Saigon will sail the Mekong River between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, while Pandaw’s 28-passenger Sabei Pandaw will cruise the Upper Mekong between Vientiane in Laos and Chiang Saen in Thailand.

Read Jane Archer’s full What’s New feature in the Winter edition of Cruise Magazine, in Group Leisure & Travel December here.

Lead image: Scenic Eclipse will carry a helicopter and a sub and sail in Antartctica.