What you can't miss on the newest cruise ships

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What you can't miss on the newest cruise ships

I’m a millennial and I love cruising. It’s not hard to find articles out there reporting cruise lines are attracting my generation by offering fancy cabins and faster Wi-Fi, but these are the least of my interests. In fact, part of why I love traveling aboard a giant ship is because, in the middle of the ocean, I have absolutely zero digital connectivity. It’s fantastic.

Whenever I tell people this, they look at me as though I’ve lost my mind. In fact, on my last cruise, a couple dinner tablemates spent a large portion of one evening complaining about how they couldn’t get great service to check social media, eventually asking me if I’d logged into my accounts. I politely told them I don’t get the internet package and only carry my phone for the camera.

There it was again, the look of confusion followed up with the questions about how I do this. Isn’t that the point of vacation, to relax and disconnect? But, I digress.

I discovered the joys of cruising a handful of years ago, after my best friend, who has been to almost every Caribbean island and European country via cruise ships, told me how great these oversized vessels are for getting in some quality reading time. I gave it a try, going on my first cruise with a group who’d all read the same series by an author who also joined us aboard.

And now I’m hooked, always looking for a new cruise, new places to visit and approval from my boss to take a week (or more) off without cell service.

The last cruise I took was on Carnival’s brand new ship, which got me thinking about the cool new things the major cruise lines are putting together. Here’s what you must see if you’re a cruise fanatic like me or considering your first cruise.

Carnival Cruises: Carnival Horizon

Maiden voyage: March 28, 2018
Size: 133,500 gross register tonnage (GRT)
Passengers: 3,960 guests, 1,450 crew

I cruised on this beautiful new ship shortly after its maiden voyage this summer, once it made its way to New York City. I leave every cruise feeling like there’s still a lot on board I didn’t get a chance to see, but that was amplified on this ship because it’s ginormous. But of all the things I did get to see and do onboard, the SkyRide (a bike you can pedal high above deck) was my favorite. You get gorgeous views of the ocean and it’s just fun, especially the dip where you speed down at 2Gs. Totally worth the wait time. Just don’t be like me and put off trying it until the end of the trip. Otherwise, your last day on board will be spent waiting in line to ride it again and again.

In terms of food, Guys Pig and Anchor is a must. I still dream about the barbecue lunch, which is free on sea days.

Royal Caribbean: Symphony of the Seas

Maiden voyage: April 7, 2018
Size: 228,081 GRT
Passengers: 6,680 guests, 2,200 crew

If you’re looking for adventure, this is the way to go. There’s a slide with a 92-foot drop called the Ultimate Abyss. Oh and you make that drop in about 13 seconds, so it’s perfect for rush-seekers. There’s also a zipline that is nine decks high, giving you a view of the Boardwalk below.

The bartenders on cruises are a lot of fun and are usually filled with energy. You’ll find that across the board, but this ship has a couple bartenders running on a different kind of energy — electric, that is. The Bionic Bar has two robot bartenders (yes, you read that right) that you absolutely must visit.

Princess Cruises: Majestic Princess

Maiden voyage: March 31, 2017
Size: 143,700 GRT
Passengers: 3,560 guests, 1,346 crew

Princess didn’t launch any new ships in 2018, although they did refurbish a couple, so the Majestic Princess it the newest. One of the coolest things to experience on this ship is the Seawalk, a glass walkway that extends almost 30 feet beyond the edge of the ship. Head across the ship to the SeaView Bar where you can enjoy a cocktail (or two) while enjoying the view of the ocean through the glass paneled floor. The entertainment on board is unparalleled, with everything from a colorful water show to live theater.

Expected to debut in October 2019 is the Sky Princess, which will head to the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Bliss

Maiden voyage: April 21, 2018
Size: 168,028 GRT
Passengers: 4,004 guests, 1,716 crew

You can speed around the ship on the race track — that’s right, there’s a race track complete with go-karts — or take a ride down the slide at the water park that extends off the side of the ship. If you’re looking for more relaxation, you can check out one of the really cool themed spa relaxation rooms. There’s the thermal room, complete with sauna, a warm waterfall and heated chairs. And there’s the snow room, which is as chilly as it sounds (but apparently helps stimulate your blood circulation) as well as the salt room, inspired by restorative salt caves in Eastern Europe.

Where to eat after all this adventure and relaxation? Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is a fun place to stop for some food, drinks and tunes, but will cost you $14.95 extra per adult.

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Edge

Expected maiden voyage: December 9, 2018
Size: 129,500 GRT
Passengers: 2,908 double occupancy

This ship hasn’t taken its maiden voyage yet, but it’s the first new one this line has had in six years, so it felt right to include it here. Plus, it looks really cool. They’ve got huge a platform that sticks out over the edge of the ship and it moves up and down its side. Deemed the “Magic Carpet,” it will be used as a restaurant or boarding platform, depending on its position. They’ve also got a lot of nature aboard, with a rooftop garden and Eden, a space that incorporates different themes throughout the day.

Holland America: Nieuw Statendam

Expected maiden voyage: December 2018
Size: 99,800 GRT
Passengers: 2,666 guests

The most recent Holland America ship is the Koningsdam, which set sail in 2016. But like Celebrity, Holland America is launching a new ship this December, so that’s the one we’re looking at. This ship is a musicians dreamscape, with design features “inspired by the fluid curves of musical instruments,” per the Holland America website. And it’s got an exclusive partnership with Lincoln Center, so musical performances are bound to be on point.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney only has four ships and 2012 was the last time they introduced a new ship. However, they announced plans to introduce three new ships, which are expected to have maiden voyages in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Planning to take a cruise? Here are some considerations you should make about cruise insurance.

Image: BraunS