The year 2008 was another good one for those of us who love to experience new cruise ships. At least sixteen new ships -- eight large cruise ships, seven small and river ships, and one significantly refurbished expedition ship -- were launched in 2008. Several major cruise lines, including Carnival, Celebrity, HAL, Princess, and RCI named new ships.
The new year got off to an early start with the naming of two new ships in December 2007 - the Cunard Queen Victoria and the NCL Norwegian Gem.
Photo by Andy Newman, Courtesy of Holland America Line
The Eurodam joined the Holland America fleet in July 2008, after construction was completed at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Italy. The Eurodam spent its inaugural summer season on alternating 10-day Northern Europe itineraries, sailing roundtrip from Copenhagen, before moving to the Caribbean for the fall and winter cruise season. The Eurodam is a new class of ships for Holland America, and the largest ever constructed for the cruise line. With an estimated all-in cost of $450 million, the new 86,000-ton Eurodam carries 2,014 passengers.
I sailed on the Eurodam in the Caribbean for a week in late October and had a wonderful cruise. The ship is beautiful, and we especially enjoyed the new Tamarind Asian restaurant.
Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
The Celebrity Solstice is a new class of ship for Celebrity Cruises, the Solstice-class. She is probably the most innovative and sophisticated large ship launched in 2008. She carries 2,850 passengers and is 122,000 tons. At 121 feet wide and over 1000 feet long, the Celebrity Solstice is too big to go through the Panama Canal. The Celebrity Solstice
was launched in November 2008 and will sail the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale through the spring of 2009. The Solstice will then reposition to the Mediterranean for the summer months.
I sailed a 2-day preview cruise on the Celebrity Solstice and was very impressed with the design and overall atmosphere of the ship.
Ruby Princess Photo Courtesy of Princess Cruises
The Ruby Princess is a sister ship of the Emerald Princess
and Crown Princess
. She was named on November 6, 2008 and carries over 3,000 passengers. The Ruby Princess offers the popular Movies Under the Stars, Personal Choice Dining featuring traditional or Anytime seating, Lotus Spa with fitness center, and nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies. The Ruby Princess is based in Fort Lauderdale and sail the Caribbean for the winter of 2008-2009 and in the Mediterranean for the summer of 2009.
I attended the ship's christening ceremony and sailed on the Ruby Princess
for a two-day preview cruise. Like her sister the Emerald Princess, this ship should provide a delightful cruising experience for travelers.
Carnival Splendor Photo Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines
The Carnival Splendor is 110,000 tons and carries 3,000 passengers. She was launched in Europe in July 2008. The ship is too large to go through the Panama Canal and looks somewhat similar to the Carnival Liberty
and Carnival Freedom
However, the Carnival Splendor is a new class of ships with the biggest change from these previous ships being the addition of a 21,000 square foot spa and 16 spa suites. This Cloud 9 Spa is Carnival's largest, and passengers in the spa suites and cabins can go directly to the fitness center or spa without passing through any of the public areas.
The Carnival Splendor also has four swimming pools and an outdoor movie theater.
Photo of the Silversea Prince Albert II in the Harbor at Monaco Courtesy of Silversea Cruises
Silversea Cruises launched its new expedition ship, the HSH Prince Albert II, in the summer of 2008. The Prince Albert II formerly sailed as Society Expeditions' World Discoverer, and underwent a major refit in Italy after Silversea bought the ship in 2007. The 6000-ton HSH Prince Albert II has a high ice rating, and Silversea will send the ship to Antarctica for the winter (i.e. summer season in Antarctica) part of the year.
When the Prince Albert II is not in Antarctica, she will be sailing the Arctic or South America.Pictures of the Silversea Cruises' HSH Prince Albert IIPrince Albert II Sails on Maiden Voyage from London
Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International
The Independence of the Seas is the third ship in the Freedom-class at Royal Caribbean. She joined her two sister ships, the Freedom of the Seas
and the Liberty of the Seas
, as the largest-ever cruise ships afloat.
The Independence of the Seas is a huge ship, coming in at 160,000 tons and with a 3,600-passenger capacity. She was constructed at Aker Yards in Turku, Finland, and was home-ported in Europe for her first summer season. The Independence of the Seas has all the special features found on her sister ships, including the FlowRider surfing pool, cantilevered whirlpools, rock-climbing wall, and ice-skating rink.
Photo Courtesy of American Safari Cruises
American Safari Cruises added the 36-passenger Safari Explorer to its fleet of small ships in May 2008. The Safari Explorer will sail Alaska in the summer. Like her American Safari sister ships, the Safari Explorer will cruise to less-traveled, more intimate destinations. I sailed on the Safari Quest
in March 2008 and loved the ship and the adventures we had in the Sea of Cortez
Among the new yacht's features are a wine library for tastings; suites with balconies, master bedrooms and Jacuzzi tubs, and an active spa environment with complimentary massages from a licensed masseuse, sauna, yoga classes, exercise equipment and an on-deck hot tub.
Courtesy of MSC Cruises
The MSC Fantasia is the largest ship commissioned by a European ship owner to date. At 133,500 tons, 1,093 feet long and 125 feet wide, she has a passenger capacity of 3,300. The MSC Fantasia is the first MSC ship to have a VIP area, called the MSC Yacht Club, which has restricted access and butler service. In addition to the butler, the 99 suites in MSC Yacht Club have a special bar, solarium, two hot tubs, pool with retractable dome, and an observation lounge.
The MSC Fantasia also has a 4300 square foot children's area with a giant water slide and aquapark.
Adults will enjoy the 5 restaurants, 4 pools, 12 hydro-massage tubs, and over 20 bars.
Photo Courtesy of MSC Cruises
MSC Poesia, sister ship to MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra, was launched in April 2008. The Poesia is a large ship -- 92,400 tons, 964 feet long, 105 feet wide and 164 feet tall. She has 1,275 cabins, of which 80 percent are outside cabins with balconies, able to host 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members. A total of more than 236,000 square feet is dedicated to the public areas.
The MSC Poesia was built by Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France.
Photo Courtesy of P&O Cruises
The Ventura is a brand new ship for British cruise line P&O Cruises. Those who have sailed on one of Princess Cruises' Grand-class ships will immediately recognize the same style on the Ventura. The new P&O ship is 116,000 tons and carries about 3000 passengers. The Ventura was designed for the British family cruising market, with special children's activities and areas.
The Ventura was constructed at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard, just outside Venice, and she was launched in April 2008.