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A flotilla of new ships and itineraries is set to take to the seas this year, thanks to high demand: Cruising is the most popular type of vacation with both millennials and Gen X, according to a new JD Power studySo if you’re picturing geriatric and sedentary, you’ve got the wrong decade.

Many of the cruise lines have loyalty programs that offer discounts, room upgrades and onboard perks, depending on your status. The Platinum Card® from American Express will also net you discounts and onboard upgrades, depending on your cruise.

Of course, you can also offset the cost of your trip using general travel points from a card like Capital One Venture Rewards or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. If you’re paying cash, make sure to maximize your points earned by getting 3x bonus points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, 2x on Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Here’s what’s new and not to miss in 2018. Smooth sailing!

Adventures by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

If you’ve already done the see-Mickey-in-Florida cruise, this is how you level up. Adventures by Disney has teamed up with luxury river cruise line AmaWaterways for eight departures in 2018 down the Rhine, where your Belle-obsessed babies can live and breathe their favorite fable, dine on the “gray stuff” during meticulously themed dinners, tour idyllic French villages just like Belle’s hometown and take a twirl around the dance floor with the Beast himself.

(Photo courtesy Adventures by Disney
(Photo courtesy Adventures by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)

U by Uniworld

With its jet-black ships slipping down the Seine, Danube and Rhine, this line aims to reinvent the river-cruising category, which has historically been more closely associated with grandparents than millennials. No one would make that mistake now with amenities and considerations aimed squarely at the 21-to-45 set, like itineraries wrapped around festival dates, overnight stays in cool ports (think the Budapest Sziget Festival, the Paris Jazz Festival and King’s Day in Haarlem), silent discos at night and trips like Rolling Down the Rhine and the Danube Flow. Trips begin this April — if you book by the end of the month, you’ll score a 20% discount and credit on board.

U by Uniworld
Open air bar on the top of the a U by Uniworld cruise. (Photo courtesy of U by Uniworld)

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas

Launching in April, Symphony of the Seas will become the world’s largest ship as it sails through the Mediterranean and then moves to the Caribbean in November, porting in Miami. Fun amenities include a 10-story water slide, ice skating, two-story family suites and glow-in-the-dark laser tag. You’ll want to act fast: We tried to book an April trip but found that many dates are already sold out on this Royal Caribbean vessel.

Norwegian’s Norwegian Bliss

Sailing Alaska this summer and then the Caribbean via Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss has built an entire top-deck electric racetrack at sea (the largest of its kind) and a new huge water slide called the Aqua Racer, where riders go head-to-head down the flume. Guests seeking quiet will love the new observation lounge with its 180-degree viewing deck.

(Photo by Norwegian Bliss)
(Photo by Norwegian Bliss)

Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge

This November, the Edge will begin sailing western Caribbean itineraries with features like open-air staterooms; the Magic Carpet, a bar that floats up and down the side of the ship; and the Retreat, a private sundeck, lounge and specialty restaurant for suite-level guests.

Photo courtesy U by Uniworld

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