Are you looking for the next big thing in cruise ships? The largest new vessels offer an astonishing range of features and amenities for passengers to enjoy. Today's mega-ships combine luxury and technology with cruise activities you would only dream of - and some you might never have thought possible. The large ships that have debuted since 2013 are proof-positive of the industry shift; this is definitely not your grandma's cruise.
Largest Cruise Ships Launched Since 2013
As cruise vacations become increasingly popular, cruise lines continually vie for dominance in the market by introducing ever more glamorous and impressively large ships. The largest ships afloat today - and those planned for the near future - are generally found in mainstream cruise lines that offer more itineraries and are suitable for a wide cross-section of the cruising population. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are behind the five largest vessels launched since 2013.
1. Quantum of the Seas
Quantum of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's latest massive liner, and she tips the scales at 167,800 gross tons. This ship comes in third behind the world's largest twins, Royal Caribbean's older Oasis of the Seas, launched in 2009, and Allure of the Seas, launched in 2013. Both of those ships weigh in at 225,282 gross tons.
The ship introduces cruise-industry firsts, including:
- RipCord by iFly, the first skydiving experience at sea
- A glass-enclosed viewing capsule called the North Star that rises 300 feet in the air, and offers a 360-degree look at the ocean
- A 30-bumper car arena
- Onboard 'food truck' dining experience, The SeaPlex Dog House
- DreamWorks Experience movies and related activities
- Character parades
Not to be left out of the celebrity chef name-dropping game, Quantum class has an Italian venue by Jamie Oliver, as well as Michael's Genuine Pub, "the first American gastropub at sea," courtesy of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz.
The 2,095-stateroom ship will make her maiden voyage in November of 2014. The ship will initially operate seven and 12-day Caribbean and Bahamas cruises out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey. Beginning mid-2015, the ship will move to Asia and will offer cruises from her new home port of Shanghai, China.
2. Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean rolls out sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring of 2015. The second in the Quantum class of ships, Anthem is equally impressive with similar stats and size; all the same eateries and amenities can be found on both ships. Anthem of the Seas features the Broadway show We Will Rock You, based on the music of Queen, while Quantum of the Seas features the musical Mamma Mia!
Anthem of the Seas will debut in 2015 from her home port of Southampton, England and offer voyages throughout the Mediterranean. The ship will be repositioned to Cape Liberty in New Jersey for Bahamas and Caribbean cruises starting in the winter of 2015.
3. Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Cruise Line launched its all-new class with the eponymous Breakaway in the spring of 2013. Named Best New Ship of 2013 by the editors of Cruise Critic and Best Rookie Cruise Ship by the readers of Travel Weekly, this vessel is among the best of the Freestyle concept ships. Freestyle cruises differ from traditional cruising because they offer casual dining options, a flexible meal seating policy, and a relaxed dress code.
With such an emphasis on freedom, the 4,000-passenger Breakaway is right at home in her year-round port of Manhattan. The ship displays a New York City- theme hull painted by the iconic pop culture artist Peter Max; her godmothers are none other than The Rockettes.
Breakaway offers a departure from traditional cruising in nearly every sense, including:
- An innovative design feature called simply The Waterfront, which is an open-air walkway lined with shops and restaurants
- Nearly 30 dining choices, with outlets by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Carlo's Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro of TLC's "Cake Boss" fame
- Aqua Park with five water slides that allow guests to slide from towering heights at sea
Norwegian Breakaway is the largest ship to call New York its home port year-round, and she sails to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
4. Norwegian Getaway
Breakaway's Miami-theme sister is the Getaway, an official partner of the Miami Dolphins (the NFL team's cheerleaders are godmothers of the ship). She launches in the fall of 2014 and has already been named 2014 Bon Voyage Magazine Editor's Choice for "Best New Ship." Identically sized to the Breakaway, she has many of the same features right down to the celebrity restaurants and five water slides.
Two entertainment highlights are:
- Illusionarium, a new dinner show (separate fee required) with magicians performing never-before-seen illusions at sea
- Legally Blonde the Musical; the ship's version of the Broadway show
Norwegian Getaway offers seven-day cruises year-round from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean.
5. Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Escape is already on order around the corner, as part of the newest Breakaway Plus class planned. Its inaugural season begins in autumn 2015. At 163,000 gross tons, she will be the next largest of the new builds after Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, and she'll be the largest ship in Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet.
The 4,200-passenger behemoth will feature:
- The Escape Casino, the cruise line's largest casino to date, equipped with 357 slots machines and 27 gaming tables
- A designer hull by Guy Harvey (his largest canvas ever) that features his signature marine wildlife art
- A 100-person private dining room just for groups, located on deck 5 and part of the Taste restaurant, but with its own separate entrance and lounge
Norwegian Escape will be the largest ship to make Miami her home port year-round, and she will offer seven-day cruises to the Caribbean starting in November of 2015.
Fabulous Vacation Option
The largest new vessels offer passengers far more than the standard cruise ship experience. With their stunning features and exciting activities, they are destinations in and of themselves. With so much to do, these large ships are more like floating cities that offer sea-going guests the opportunity to have truly larger-than-life ocean vacations.