What are the best new cruise ships? The coolest new cruise ships being built and coming out in 2023?
As passionate cruisers, we’ve written a lot about cruises.
We’ve sailed the high seas on dozens of different yachts and ships – from a luxurious phinisi in Indonesia (where we spied Komodo dragons!) to the lovely Seabourn Odyssey (where complimentary champagne flows freely).
Naturally, we’re keen to know what new cruises we can safely experience in future and tell you about.
So we reached out to our cruise contacts and cruise experts (and scoured the Internet) to see what’s making waves.
Hop aboard for a peek at what we found out!
Lately, there have been boatloads of exciting developments in the “new ship” department – and some of the new cruise ships being launched are sure to really surprise you!
Best new cruise ships
17+ Best new cruise ships!
2) Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady (and the Valiant Lady cruise ship)
3) Seabourn Venture (and Seabourn Pursuit)
4) National Geographic Resolution
6) MSC Virtuosa (and more new MSC ships)
7) Viking Venus
8) Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen (and MV Roald Amundsen)
9) Silversea Silver Moon (and Silver Dawn)
10) Sea Cloud Spirit
12) Celebrity Apex
14) Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Evrima
16) Atlas Ocean Voyages World Navigator
Let’s first tackle Covid.
Many cruise lines have gone to great lengths recently to put in place appropriate public health and safety measures.
Windstar Cruises, for example, has installed hospital grade HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters plus a UV-C germicidal irradiation process on all its yachts to kill viruses and germs in the air.
As part of their health and safety commitment, the new Scenic Eclipse ships (covered below in #1) provide 100% fresh air throughout each vessel, also through both ultralight (UV-C) and HEPA filter treatments. No recirculated air passes between suites and public areas.
Of course, do check the protocols for the particular cruise line and ship you’re interested in.
Now for the fun stuff!
What’s new? New ships that launched in late 2019, 2020 and 2021 are still very “new” – they didn’t get much of a chance to cruise in 2020 and 2021!
So you’ll see some of these ships, along with 2022 cruise ships and new ships coming in 2023, in this round-up of exciting new cruise ships.
1) Scenic Eclipse II
Scenic Cruises is a front-runner in luxury river cruises. (Our Seine River cruise on the Scenic Gem was absolutely delightful.)
Now the Australian cruise line has blazed a new path with its Scenic Eclipse discovery yachts.
First came the Scenic Eclipse in 2019 – possibly the world’s most luxurious mega yacht for expedition cruising.
Now the Scenic Eclipse II is on course to join her in 2023. She’ll have an enhanced spa and a larger pool and outdoor deck.
The ships can carry 228 guests. But that number is limited to 200 when they sail to the world’s polar regions.
Go hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding and exploring the unchartered outdoors on Zodiac excursions.
Then return to your serene suite (complete with a remote-controlled electric-adjustable mattress and butler service) to clean up for a gourmet dinner.
The Scenic Eclipse yachts are each equipped with toys that even James Bond would covet – a six-guest submarine (which can dive down to almost 1,000 feet) plus two state-of-the-art helicopters. Heli-skiing, anyone?
Launch date: The Scenic Eclipse II enters service in April, 2023.
2) Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, Valiant Lady + Resilient Lady
Richard Branson dreams big. And his latest big dream is Virgin Voyages.
This new cruise line offers what it calls a “rebellious” adults-only twist on cruising the Caribbean and Bahamas with the Scarlet Lady ship – the first vessel in the fleet and one of the coolest ships out there.
Drag queen brunches? Table top dancing? A tattoo parlor at sea? Grammy-nominated DJs spinning music that rocks?
This is definitely not your granny cruise of old! (But you know, today’s grandmothers may also like hip!)
Accommodating 2,770 passengers, the ship is designed to feel more like a hotel, not a ship. And instead of a main restaurant, there are plenty of separate dining venues, from Korean BBQ and upscale Mexican food restaurants to a test kitchen.
There are more new “Lady” ships too.
Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady (the line’s second ship) embarked on her first cruise in March, 2022. She offers Mediterranean cruises out of Barcelona.
Resilient Lady, the line’s third ship, debuts in 2023.
Standard cabins with balconies on the Scarlet Lady cruise ship feature hand-crafted hammocks on the balconies.
And to really break the mold, there are 78 “RockStar Quarters” (suites).
They have peek-a-boo showers, vinyl turntables (you can crank out tunes with the records provided) and real guitars on the walls (that you can play).
There are even specially-designed champagne tables on the private terraces – the ice bucket fits right in the center of the table.
Launch date: Scarlet Lady set sail in September, 2021. Other ships: Valiant Lady (2022) and Resilient Lady (2023).
3) Seabourn Venture (+ Seabourn Pursuit)
Seabourn has captured our hearts and tummies with whisper service and unlimited complimentary caviar and champagne on their luxury small ship cruises.
Now they’ve also branched out into expedition cruising with the new Seabourn Venture (2022) and sister ship Seabourn Pursuit (2023).
With 132 suites each, these polar class ships are created to be ultra-luxurious.
Suites start at a spacious 355 square feet and range up to splashy signature suites more than 1,000 square feet in size. They come with private verandas, walk-in closets, writing desks with personal stationery and built-in heated jacket wardrobes.
Seabourn’s adventures of discovery can take you to exotic locales like Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Brazil and the Amazon.
Options for getting outdoors include e-bike tours, Zodiac cruising, scuba diving (if PADI qualified), mountain biking, hiking and snorkeling.
And then you get to have more caviar and champagne!
Not to be outdone by Scenic (#1 above), Seabourn’s new expedition vessels are equipped with two custom-built submarines. They can take six guests at a time to explore shipwrecks and other underwater natural wonders.
Launch date: The Seabourn Venture just welcomed its first guests on July 27, 2022 (on a 12-day Northern Isles expedition). The Seabourn Pursuit is slated to launch in 2023.
4) National Geographic Resolution
If you have your heart set on exploring the poles (and seeing penguins in Antarctica!), you’ll be excited to hear about the National Geographic Resolution – another one of the newest cruise ships in the expedition category.
Named in honor of Captain Cook’s second voyage, the 126-guest National Geographic Resolution can go where few other vessels can.
Operated by Lindblad Expeditions (in partnership with National Geographic), this new ice-class vessel is purpose-built to navigate the North and South Poles, year-round.
Its unique X-Bow allows it to slice through wicked waves, giving it the smoothest ride possible, no matter the sea conditions. (The bow’s shape also reduces spray on deck so you can see better.)
(To get to Antarctica, most ships must cross the notoriously rough Drake Passage, so the design of this ship aims to offer as comfortable a crossing experience as possible.)
All 69 cabins are outside; most have balconies. They each feature “expedition command centers” with tablets and USB/mobile device docking stations.
In addition to Antarctica, the state-of-the-art ship journeys to places like Iceland, the Arctic, the Chilean Fjords and Scotland’s “wild islands.”
The ship carries a fleet of two-person kayaks, snowshoes and cross-country skis so you can explore your environment in a variety of different fun ways.
Launch date: The National Geographic Resolution started cruising in November, 2021.
5) Golden Horizon
Modeled after the 1911 France II – the largest square-rigger ever built – the steel-hulled, five-masted SV Golden Horizon recreates the Golden Age of clipper ships.
Think lots of gleaming wood and brass!
This 272-passenger luxury sailing ship was originally designed for the Star Clippers cruise line and built by a Croatian shipyard. But due to a dispute, the shipyard remained the owner and the ship was chartered by a new cruise line, the UK cruise start-up, Tradewinds Voyages.
Unfortunately, sailings were canceled soon after Tradewinds launched the ship. The latest news (as of August, 2022) is that the shipyard has now put the Golden Horizon up for sale for 100 million pounds.
Our Star Clippers’ Caribbean cruise on the Star Flyer was pretty special (as was our cruise on the Royal Clipper).
So needless to say, we have high expectations for the SV Golden Horizon ship when she finds her home on the sea again!
On the world’s largest sailing ship, you can learn to dive onboard in a deep glass-bottom swimming pool.
Launch date: The SV Golden Horizon set sail in July, 2021. (She’s currently no longer sailing, however, while she waits for a new owner to buy her.)
6) MSC Virtuosa (+ 3 more new MSC ships)
When MSC Virtuosa welcomed her first passengers, she was one of the biggest cruise ships in the world (able to carry almost 6,300 passengers).
Discover lots of sassy innovations on this new 19-deck behemoth of the seas from MSC Cruises – including a huge indoor promenade full of restaurants, bars and shops, crowned by a “digital sky” roof.
More fun can be had at the ship’s water park, contemporary fine art museum and entertainment center, complete with a racing car simulator as well as a flight simulator.
The MSC Virtuosa cruises the British Isles, the Med, Dubai (and Qatar) and Northern Europe. But with so much to experience on the ship, you might never want to leave and go ashore!
Shimmy up to the bar at the Starship Club, and your cocktails will be mixed and shaken by the world’s first humanoid robotic bartender, named Rob.
No doubt about it. When it comes to the newest and best large cruise ships, the MSC Virtuosa is hard to beat.
The newest MSC ships will try though.
The MSC Seashore also debuted in 2021. (She does Bahamas and Caribbean sailings.) And the MSC World Europa and MSC Seascape set sail in December, 2022.
Launch date: MSC Virtuosa‘s naming ceremony took place in Dubai in November, 2021 (she was christened by godmother Sophia Loren).
7) Viking Venus
When the Viking Star set sail in 2015, she wowed the cruise industry with her serene light-filled design, all-veranda staterooms, free wine and beer at meals and other goodies.
Indeed, she was hailed by many as the “world’s best new cruise ship” at the time. (See our review of the Viking Star.)
Since then, Viking Cruises has launched several new ocean-going ships, all similar to the Viking Star. (Following our Viking Star voyage, we cruised the Caribbean on the Viking Sea.)
After all, if the formula was good the first time, why fiddle with it!
The 930-passenger Viking Venus is the sixth ship in the ocean-going fleet.
And just like her predecessors, she’s one of the best new luxury cruise ships.
Sister ships Viking Mars and Viking Neptune will also join the fleet in 2022. And a ninth new ship, Viking Saturn, debuts in early 2023.
You can make like a Norwegian in the (complimentary) hot-and-cold-water spa.
Launch date: The Viking Venus was launched in 2021. She offers British Isles, Mediterranean and Northern European itineraries.
8) Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen (+ MV Roald Amundsen)
Designed by Rolls Royce, the MS Fridtjof Nansen takes you up the Norwegian coast, as well as offering itineraries along the banks of the Amazon and the ice edges of the Arctic and Antarctica.
She’s almost identical to her sister ship, the MV Roald Amundsen – the world’s first hybrid-powered ship.
But while a true explorer vessel, the 530-passenger MS Fridtjof Nansen ship is also comfortably luxurious.
Scandinavian materials – granite, oak, birch and wool – are used in the décor of the staterooms. Each stateroom also comes with boot warmers to warm and dry your boots.
Greener than most other cruise ships, the MS Fridtjof Nansen and MV Roald Amundsen use a combination of battery power, biogas (fossil-free fuel made from organic waste) and cleaner liquified natural gas (not heavy fuel oil) to help them cruise to the far regions of the world.
On battery power, you sail through sensitive wildlife areas in total silence.
Other standout features aboard each vessel are the industry-first Science Center, staffed by experienced research scientists, and Blueye underwater drones for streaming live underwater images to screens on the ship.
Launch dates: Hurtigruten’s MS Fridtjof Nansen set sail in 2020; the MV Roald Amundsen debuted in 2019.
9) Silversea Silver Moon (+ Silver Dawn)
One of the best new cruise ships in the non-expedition, ultra-luxury market is the Silver Moon from Silversea Cruises.
There are no less than eight restaurants – from the French “La Dame” (decorated with 11 handmade Lalique crystal panels) to the Japanese “Kaiseki” – for her 596 passengers.
Gigantic suites (minimum size almost 400 square feet) are de rigueur too, along with designer Bulgari toiletries and butler service. And if you fancy swimming laps, there’s a pool large enough to do just that.
“Simply divine” is how Silversea described sister ship Silver Muse, when she debuted in 2017.
Silversea’s newest ship is even more divine, with new outdoor spa spaces, more alfresco dining and other tweaks.
And because one new luxury ship isn’t enough, Silversea launched Silver Dawn in April, 2022. She also carries 596 passengers and offers many different dining options.
Silversea is one of the world’s best luxury cruise lines.
For sailing the British Isles, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and South America in pampered style, the new Silver Moon and Silver Dawn are your ships.
Foodies can enjoy bespoke food experiences (trips to local markets, cooking demos with local chefs and special dinners) through Silversea’s new “Sea and Land Taste” (S.A.L.T.) program, curated in partnership with former Saveur magazine editor-in-chief Adam Sachs.
Launch date: The Silver Moon’s inaugural cruise took place in June, 2021, leaving from Athens. Silver Dawn debuted in April, 2022.
10) Sea Cloud Spirit
Are you a Sea Cloud fan? Your wait is over!
The Sea Cloud Spirit is the line’s first brand new ship in almost 20 years.
One of the best small ship cruise lines, Sea Cloud offers deluxe old-world sailing cruises.
Its first yacht, the Sea Cloud, was originally built in 1931 as a barque for American billionaire Marjorie Merriweather Post. It was then bought in 1978 by the German-based ship owners and turned into an exclusive cruise ship. Sea Cloud Cruises also has Sea Cloud II in its fleet.
The new three-masted Sea Cloud Spirit can carry 136 passengers in 69 outside cabins, many with balconies or windows that can be opened.
In keeping with the romantic sailing ambience, there are lots of nautical touches like polished wood paneling and shiny brass, along with elegant white-tablecloth dining.
Talk about “green” cruising!
The Sea Cloud Spirit flaunts more than 44,000 square feet of sails, and its Caribbean and European itineraries are designed to allow her to catch the wind and sail most of the time.
Launch date: The ship departed Civitavecchia (Rome) in September, 2021, visiting ports in Sicily and Tuscany.
11) Holland America Rotterdam
Several ships over the decades have been named “Rotterdam.” But none like the new Rotterdam cruise ship from Holland America Line.
She’s the third in HAL’s Pinnacle class of cruise ships.
We’ve sailed on the Nieuw Statendam (second in this class of ship). With its jazzed-up approach to cruising, it made us rethink our previous views of cruising on Holland America.
The 2,668-passenger Rotterdam hits all the same right notes as the Nieuw Statendam – from the B.B. King’s Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage (for classical music) to well-designed veranda staterooms and tasty specialty restaurants (don’t miss the sake and sushi at Tamarind).
Rock to the best rock-and-roll. Tap your toes to Memphis R&B. Or be spellbound by talented violinists.
The innovative onboard “Music Walk” (a deck with different vibrant music venues) serves up a huge range of quality live music at sea.
The new vessel spends the summer months in Europe and the Mediterranean, then sails from Fort Lauderdale for a winter season of Bahamas and Caribbean cruising.
Launch date: The Rotterdam departed on her maiden voyage in October, 2021, on a 14-night cruise from Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale.
12) Celebrity Apex
The Celebrity Edge, the first ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge class, shook up the cruise industry with oodles of pioneering breakthroughs when launched in 2018.
Take her “infinite verandas” – just push open bi-fold, wall-to-wall glass doors and your cabin and balcony become one space.
The Edge also has a cool outward-facing design – king-size beds in Sky Suites face the ocean (instead of the traditional sideways placement), and glass windows between the bathroom and bedroom allow daylight to shine through into the bathroom.
Two-level Edge Villas on the ship even have private plunge pools.
And let’s not forget the ship’s rooftop garden (cared for by a resident horticulturist), martini glass-shaped hot tubs suspended high in the air around the main pool and tech innovations (dim your cabin’s lights using your phone).
Now there’s the Celebrity Apex.
Operated by Celebrity Cruises (a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean), the new 2,910-passenger Celebrity Apex is the second ship in the line’s Edge class. (Two more new Edge ships are in the works also.)
The Apex features many of those same nifty design upheavals as the Celebrity Edge.
Want to feel like you’re on a VIP cruise? Book a suite on Celebrity Apex – and gain access to The Retreat (with a private pool and lounge area just for suite guests) and other perks.
You know how you hate waiting in the lounge for a tender to go ashore? You may not hate waiting anymore on the Celebrity Apex, as you can do that on the ship’s so-called “Magic Carpet.”
The size of a tennis court, the Magic Carpet is a large tangerine-colored cantilevered deck – furnished with a lounge, couches and bar – which is used as the tender platform.
It can also be moved up and down to different decks to serve as an alfresco specialty restaurant or as an extension of the main pool deck.
Launch date: Celebrity Cruises’ Apex ship set sail from Athens in June, 2021, for an inaugural season of cruising the Greek Islands, before moving to the Caribbean in November for the winter cruise season.
13) Enchanted Princess
An adults-only pool “Sanctuary”? A very cool glass-floor walkway arcing out from the top deck, where you can see the waves 128 feet beneath you? A “Rock Opera” musical performance with a live 8-piece orchestra?
Say hello to the new Enchanted Princess (passenger capacity 3,560) from Princess Cruises.
Splash out in one of the ship’s new Sky Suites. (The Celebrity Edge and Apex – see #12 – aren’t the only ships with Sky Suites!)
The Sky Suites on Enchanted Princess are a whopping 1,873 square feet in size, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and dining area.
The best part? The 270-degree views – and you can watch the ship’s “Movies Under the Stars” without leaving your suite.
Launch date: November, 2021, is when the Enchanted Princess made her debut, for a season of Caribbean cruises.
14) Ritz-Carlton Evrima
Yes, the luxury hotel company is getting into the cruise biz with the debut of the Evrima yacht!
As the first cruise ship in the new Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, the 298-passenger Evrima will appeal to discerning travelers who trust the Ritz-Carlton brand and want the same kind of service and style the hotels feature.
Staterooms are spacious (312 square feet for entry-level cabins), and everyone gets a personal assistant who books your dinner reservations and organizes your tours ashore.
Itineraries are crafted to explore smaller ports (like Saint-Malo in France) not visited by the big ships.
No mingling with the hoi polloi necessary!
When the ship is anchored in port, a large marina-style platform at the stern means you can lounge on this sundeck, then walk down stairs directly into the sea for a cooling swim.
Launch date: The Evrima makes her first cruise appearance with an inaugural voyage from Athens, Greece, on August 6, 2022.
15) Odyssey of the Seas
Are you up for some high-flying fun on the new Odyssey of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International? This is one of the best cruise ships for families!
Feel what it’s like to go skydiving in a freefall simulator. Drive bumper cars and play laser tag in the “SeaPlex” activity center – the largest indoor active space at sea. Grab a boogie board and ride the waves on a 40-foot-long surf simulator.
Young ones will love the fountains, water cannons and waterslides at the ship’s water park.
Holy moly – there’s no way you and the kids will get bored on this new 4,180-passenger ship!
New specialty eateries include an Italian kitchen and wine bar plus a hibachi-style Japanese resto.
Don a virtual headset, strap yourself into a bungee harness and jump on a trampoline inside the yellow bubble-shaped Sky Pad balanced at the back of this ship – and make like you’re traveling light years into the future!
Launch date: The Odyssey of the Seas’ inaugural sailing was in June, 2021.
16) Atlas World Navigator
Virgin Voyages (#1), Tradewinds Voyages (#5) and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (#14) aren’t the only new cruise lines to float out recently.
Newcomer Atlas Ocean Voyages launched the high-end World Navigator cruise ship in 2021.
Accommodating 196 passengers, the World Navigator is a polar class expedition vessel with butler-serviced suites and gourmet dining.
All-inclusive fares on the super-yacht include roundtrip airfare from select U.S. and Canadian cities, fine wines and alcohol onboard, WiFi, exercise classes (yoga, Pilates and spin classes), gratuities, shore excursions and (if ever needed) emergency medical evacuation insurance.
Spa like you’re in Provence, but at sea.
The new 947-square-foot SeaSpa is the world’s first L’Occitane spa on a cruise ship, using those beautiful L’Occitane products you find at some luxury hotels. The spa has treatment rooms, an infra-red sauna and the “serenity” lounge.
Launch date: The World Navigator set sail in August, 2021, to cruise the globe, from the Black Sea to South America and Antarctica.
17) National Geographic Venture
Built in the U.S. as an expedition vessel, the 100-passenger National Geographic Venture explores remote spots in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest in the summer.
The state-of-the-art vessel then heads south in winter for water sports, hiking and bird watching in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and Belize. (Snorkeling and diving are popular things to do in Belize.)
The ship carries a fleet of 24 two-person kayaks, so you can paddle coastal waters on your own.
Launch date: The National Geographic Venture started cruising in North America in 2019.
Which of these new cruise ships floats your boat?
We’d love to hear from you. See the Comments section below.
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Photo credits: New cruise ship photos courtesy of the respective cruise lines
About the authors
Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.
Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!
Tuesday 6th of December 2016
The cruise ships you feature all look incredible! (I'd love to visit Timor-Leste, one of the world's newest countries.)
Janice and George
Tuesday 6th of December 2016
The cruise industry just gets more inventive and better! There's a Paul Gauguin itinerary visiting Timor Leste that looks interesting. The ship is adding new interesting ports-of-call and different itineraries to its cruises, which mostly focus in and around French Polynesia, so cruisers who love the Paul Gauguin and the region can return but visit different areas.
Monday 5th of December 2016
We don't do a lot of cruises but Uniworld’s S.S. Joie de Vivre cruise sounds very lovely. We would also love to do a National Geographic or Lindblad cruise some day.
Janice and George
Tuesday 6th of December 2016
You two have good taste :-).
Irene S. Levine
Thursday 1st of December 2016
I loved this post; it was so inspirational! So much for an avid cruiser to look forward to experiencing in 2017! This post is definitely bookmark-worthy~
Janice and George
Thursday 1st of December 2016
We can't wait to sail on the "Flying Clipper"! And then, of course, we'd love to cruise Cuba. And the "National Geographic Quest" would be awesome for exploring some remote destinations. Sigh...