The 7 most anticipated new cruise ships of 2022

Nov 9, 2021

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Cruise lines may have canceled many of their sailings over the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. But they didn’t cancel orders for new ships.

As 2022 approaches, major cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line are moving forward with plans to unveil more than 20 new oceangoing vessels during the year. That’s a big number in the cruise world — on par with the years before the pandemic.

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The new ships are coming even as many lines have yet to restart operations with all the vessels in their existing fleets.

In some cases, the new ships will be arriving months behind schedule due to pandemic-related construction delays at the shipyards that are building them. Thanks to such delays, the arrival of a few ships that had been scheduled for delivery in 2022 will be pushed to 2023.

But it’ll be a big year for new cruise ships nevertheless.

Among the most notable newcomers will be Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, the biggest cruise ship ever built (and by big, we’re talking about a ship that can hold nearly 7,000 passengers). Originally set to debut in 2021, it’s now scheduled to begin sailing in March.

There also will be major new ships coming from Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Disney Cruise Line. The latter, notably, hasn’t had a new vessel debut in 10 years.

In all cases, the new ships that are on the way already are available for booking — and, indeed, booking up fast. Cruise fans always love to be on the latest and greatest.  Hopefully this guide will help supplement your planning process as you seek to pick the best cruise line and best cruise ship for you.

Here, a list of the seven new ships arriving in 2022 we’re most excited about:

Viking Octantis (Viking)

Maiden voyage: Jan. 12

Viking Octantis during sea trials. (Photo courtesy of Viking)

Fast-growing Viking has rolled out more than 70 new river cruise ships and oceangoing vessels since its founding in 1997. But there’s never been one like this.

Designed to hold just 378 passengers, Viking Octantis is the line’s first “expedition” cruise ship — a type of cruise ship specifically designed to take travelers to the most off-the-beaten-path parts of the world, including Antarctica and the Arctic.

As is typical for expedition ships, it’ll be a tough vessel, with a reinforced bow that will let it bump through ice in polar regions and extra tanks for fuel and food. It also will have its own landing craft on board to bring people ashore in remote locations as well as kayaks and even submarines for exploring (the latter being something that is relatively rare on cruise vessels of any type).

Like other expedition ships, Viking Octantis also will sail with a large and seasoned “expedition team” that will include biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists and ornithologists who will lecture regularly.

But there will be several new and unusual features to Viking Octantis, too. Most notable will be The Hangar, an enclosed marina that will allow passengers to transfer to the ship’s Zodiac landing craft while still in the protected interior of the ship. It’s a first for an expedition cruise ship.

Viking Octantis also will be upscale. Like all of Viking’s vessels, it will have an elegant Scandinavian design. Its restaurants will include a version of Viking’s signature Italian spot, Manfredi’s, and the Scandinavian-inspired Mamsen’s outlet. Also familiar will be a top-of-the-ship, glass-walled Explorers’ Lounge promising stunning views of passing scenery.

In another first for polar expedition cruise vessels, every cabin on the vessel will have floor-to-ceiling glass walls that slide partially open from the top to create a balcony-like feel.

The details: Viking Octantis will debut in January with sailings to Antarctica out of Ushuaia, Argentina, before repositioning to the Great Lakes for the summer. Fares for 12-night Antarctica trips start at $14,995 per person, not including taxes and fees. Great Lakes sailings start at $6,495 per person, not including taxes and fees. For more information, call 855-338-4546 or visit viking.com.

Wonder of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

Maiden voyage: March 4

An artist’s drawing of Wonder of the Seas. (Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean is going big again with its next ship — really big. The latest in the line’s groundbreaking Oasis Class of vessels, Wonder of the Seas will measure 236,857 tons, making it the biggest cruise ship ever built.

That’s about 4% bigger than the current size leader in the cruise world, which also is part of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class: The 3-year-old Symphony of the Seas.

Wonder of the Seas will be similar to Symphony of the Seas and three earlier Oasis Class vessels with a few new twists that will contribute to its bigger size, including a dedicated suite area with a private lounge, restaurant and sun deck. Like the four earlier Oasis Class ships, it will be 18 decks high and nearly 1,200 feet long — the equivalent of more than three football fields.

Royal Caribbean’s first Oasis Class ship, Oasis of the Seas, debuted in 2009. The line added additional Oasis Class vessels in 2010, 2016 and 2018. Each of the ships has been a little bigger than the last, and they’re all more than 20% bigger than any other cruise vessels afloat.

Like the earlier Oasis Class ships, Wonder of the Seas will offer multiple main pool areas, a kiddie splash zone, surfing simulators, a miniature golf course, a basketball court and even a zip line. And that’s just on its top deck. Inside the vessel, you’ll find more lounges, bars, restaurants and shops than you can imagine, plus a huge casino, spas and theaters with real Broadway shows.

As with earlier Royal Caribbean ships, it’ll even have an indoor ice-skating rink.

The details: Wonder of the Seas initially will be based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for sailings to the Caribbean, before moving to the Mediterranean for the summer. Fares for seven-night Caribbean voyages start at $763 per person, not including taxes and fees. For more information, call 866-562-7625 or visit royalcaribbean.com.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean ships and itineraries

Seabourn Venture (Seabourn)

Maiden voyage: April 10

An artist’s drawing of Seabourn Venture. (Image courtesy of Seabourn)

Viking isn’t the only major line getting into expedition cruising in 2022. So is Seabourn. Seabourn Venture will be the 33-year-old luxury line’s very first expedition ship.

Like Viking Octantis, Seabourn Venture will be a hardy vessel specifically built to travel to some of the world’s most remote places, including Antarctica and the Arctic. Indeed, it’s scheduled to spend much of its time each year in the polar regions, while also offering sailings to such off-the-beaten-path, warm weather places as the Amazon.

Designed to carry just 264 passengers, it’ll be a ship loaded with outdoor equipment for off-ship adventure, including kayaks and bikes. It’ll also boast a staggering 24 Zodiac boats for waterborne exploring and landings in remote areas — enough to get every passenger off the ship at the same time (something that isn’t always the case with expedition ships). And it’ll be home to 26 expedition guides including scientists, historians and naturalists who will lecture regularly on board and lead guided tours on land.

But perhaps Seabourn Venture’s standout adventure feature will be its two six-person submarines. As on Viking Octantis, passengers on Seabourn Venture will be able to explore the world under the water in polar regions as well as what’s above the waterline.

The ship also will have a high-definition Cineplex camera that can pick up wildlife like a polar bear up to 4 miles away, streaming the footage into the Discovery Center while leaving the wildlife undisturbed.

On the luxury side of things, every room on Seabourn Venture will be a suite and have its own balcony — something that often isn’t the case with expedition ships. And the ship’s restaurants will serve elegant cuisine crafted in part by leading American chef Thomas Keller.

The details: Seabourn Venture will spend much of its first summer sailing in the Arctic before repositioning to Antarctica for the winter. Fares for Arctic sailings start at $11,099 per person, not including taxes and fees. For more information, call 206-626-8351 or visit seabourn.com.

Evrima (The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection)

Maiden voyage: May 6

The 298-passenger Evrima. (Image courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection).

We feel like a broken record on this one, as we placed it on our list of the most anticipated new cruise ships of 2020 (the year it originally was scheduled to debut) and then shouted it out again on our list of the most anticipated new ships of 2021. But after a seemingly never-ending series of delays blamed first on shipyard troubles and then on the COVID-19 pandemic, the very first ship from startup line The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, the new luxury cruise division of The Ritz-Carlton, failed to debut during either year.

Now the line is adamant that it is truly coming in May of 2022. If it does (and we’re sure hoping so), it’ll be a notable event in the cruise world, marking the entry of one of the luxury hotel world’s most famous brands into cruising.

Holding just 298 passengers, Evrima will be a small, yacht-like vessel with an elegant, residential look (as you might expect for Ritz-Carlton). Standout features will include spacious cabins, a stylish spa and lots of deck-top lounge space for sunning, plus five separate restaurants including an à la carte venue designed by Sven Elverfeld of the three Michelin-starred Aqua at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg, Germany.

Fans of Ritz-Carlton, for sure, are excited about the new vessel.

The details: After a series of five delays that have resulted in the cancellation of more than two years worth of cruises, Evrima now is scheduled to debut in May in Europe before repositioning to the Caribbean for the winter. Fares start at $3,900 per person, not including taxes and fees, for a seven-night voyage in the Caribbean. For more information, call 833-999-7292 or visit ritzcarltonyachtcollection.com.

Disney Wish (Disney Cruise Line)

Maiden voyage: June 17

An artist’s drawing of Disney Wish. (Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)

It’s been a long time coming. But Disney Cruise Line finally is coming out with a new ship this year — its first in 10 years.

At 140,000-tons, Disney Wish will just be a tad bigger than Disney’s last two new ships (Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy). But it’ll have a whole new array of trademark Disney wow on board, from a Star Wars-themed “hyperspace lounge” that offers a “window” view of passing starships to Marvel- and “Frozen”-themed restaurants.

Cabins on the ship will include seven oceanview rooms located over the bridge — a first for Disney Cruise Line. These rooms will have an extended living area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bow and out across the ocean. And if all that isn’t enough, there will be four Royal Suites with a Sleeping Beauty theme — two of which feature an insane two-story floorplan.

Among other notable features will be a reimagined Oceaneers Club (the area for kids 3 to 12 on Disney ships) where children can enter via a “magical slide.” The Oceaneers Club also will offer a Marvel Super Hero Academy where kids can design (and virtually fly) in their own super suit. The club also will house Rapunzel’s Art Studio, Belle’s Library and Anna and Elsa’s Sommerhus where there will be a variety of mini-games with Olaf serving as the host.

Disney Wish is just the first of three new “Triton Class” ships that Disney Cruise Line has on order for delivery over the next few years — an expansion that will nearly double its size when measured by passenger capacity.

The details: Disney Wish will sail three- and four-night trips to the Bahamas out of Port Canaveral, Florida. Fares start at $771 per person, not including taxes and fees. For more information, call 800-951-3532 or visit disneycruise.disney.go.com.

Related: The ultimate guide to Disney Cruise Line

Norwegian Prima (Norwegian Cruise Line)

Maiden voyage: Aug. 17

An artist’s drawing of Norwegian Prima. (Image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

For the first time in nearly 10 years, Norwegian Cruise Line is getting an entirely new class of ships. Under development since 2017, Norwegian Prima will be the first of six sister vessels scheduled to debut between 2022 and 2027 that collectively will be known as the Prima Class.

At 142,500 tons, Norwegian Prima will be notably smaller than the vessels the line has been adding in recent years, such as the 2-year-old, 169,116-ton Norwegian Encore — a factor that will allow it to access smaller ports around the world. But Norwegian Prima still will pack a lot of over-the-top amenities, including a go-kart track that spreads over three decks (a cruise industry first).

The ship also will boast The Drop, a 10-story dry slide that the line says will provide more G-force than an accelerating F1 racecar. Additionally, the vessel will be home to a three-deck theater that converts into a Las Vegas-style nightclub, and a list of interactive real-life gameshows, including at-sea versions of “The Price Is Right,” “Supermarket Sweep,” “Press Your Luck” and “Beat the Clock.”

But Norwegian Prima will be about more than flashy entertainment and activities. It’ll also mark a more upscale turn for the line. Norwegian says Norwegian Prima will offer the largest variety of suite categories (13) for a large ocean ship as well as the largest three-bedroom suites of any new cruise vessels as well as the brand’s largest-ever inside, oceanview and balcony cabins.

Norwegian also says Norwegian Prima will offer the most outdoor deck space of any new cruise ship including more total pool deck space than any other ship in the brand’s fleet.

The details: Norwegian Prima initially will sail in Northern Europe during the summer before repositioning to North America in the fall. Fares start at $799 per person, not including taxes and fees, for a five-night trip to Mexico out of Port Canaveral, Florida. For more information, call 800-657-5773 or visit ncl.com.

Related: The ultimate guide to Norwegian Cruise Line

MSC World Europa (MSC Cruises)

Maiden voyage: Dec. 20

At 205,700 tons, the new World Class ships on order for MSC Cruises will be among the biggest cruise vessels ever built. (Image courtesy of MSC Cruises)

It won’t be quite the world’s biggest cruise ship, though it will be close. At around 205,000 tons, MSC World Europa will be nearly as big as Royal Caribbean’s record-size Oasis Class vessels, including the aforementioned Wonder of the Seas.

By one measure, it’ll be even bigger. MSC World Europa will be 21 decks high — three decks higher than the Oasis Class ships. But it’ll be less long and less wide than the Oasis Class ships, leaving it about 10% smaller in overall size.

Like the Oasis Class ships, MSC World Europa will be able to hold nearly 7,000 passengers with all berths filled — 6,762 to be exact.

As for its onboard offerings, MSC Cruises is taking a page from Royal Caribbean’s playbook by breaking down the public areas of MSC World Europa into districts. They will include an adults-only “Zen district” and a separate “family district” that houses as many as 10 new kids facilities. There also will be a central interior promenade with entertainment, shops and bars.

In addition, MSC World Europa will have six pools and 14 hot tubs, making it one of the most pool-covered ships at sea. The watery offerings will include an Aquapark with multiple waterslides that will integrate virtual reality technology. There also will be a family sundeck.

MSC World Europa also will have 13 dining venues, including the new-for-the-line Chef’s Garden Kitchen (an outlet focused on microgreens) and La Pescaderia, a traditional seafood grill with alfresco seating. In a twist, the ship will have three separate buffet restaurants as well, each with its own ambiance.

Drinking spots will include an English-style pub serving beer made on board as well as a new gin bar concept, a first for MSC Cruises. Dubbed Masters of the Sea Pub, it’ll span two decks.

The details: MSC World Europa initially will sail in the Persian Gulf out of Dubai before repositioning to the Mediterranean for the summer of 2023. Fares for seven-night sailings start at $559 per person, not including taxes and fees. For more information, call 877-868-8870 or visit msccruisesusa.com.

Related: The ultimate guide to MSC Cruises

Other newcomers

In addition to the above, newcomers for 2022 also include several more small expedition ships and other small vessels from such cruise operators as Silversea Cruises, Emerald Cruises and Atlas Ocean Voyages. There also are two new ships debuting for start-up line Virgin Voyages and new ships coming for Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises — all sisters to previously unveiled vessels.

Viking also has several other new ships debuting in addition to Viking Octantis.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

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