Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Sat January 02 2016

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  • Amber Nolan | January 2, 2016 10:00 PM ET

    The Snazziest Ocean and River Ships Debuting in 2016

    The Snazziest Ocean and River Ships Debuting in 2016

    Rendering courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

    A new year means new cruise ships, and there are a number of snazzy ocean and river vessels debuting in 2016. While many are sister ships of existing favorites, others are rolling out brand new features and designs that add a different element to the sailing. Here are some new cruise ships to consider this year.

    MS Koningsdam

    Debuting April 8, Holland America’s MS Koningsdam is musically-inspired ship with a dedicated nightlife area called “Music Walk.” The culinary arts center transforms into a farm-to-table concept but there’s also a French specialty restaurant, plus Blend, a space that allows passengers to create their own wine. Her deployment begins in Rome on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise. In November, the ship will sail Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.

    Ovation of the Seas

    Ovation is the third ship in the Quantum Class from Royal Caribbean and will have all the similar features as its sister ships like a bionic bar and skydiving simulators. Ovation sails her inaugural season from France on April 17 and will be based in Asia.

    Carnival Vista

    Carnival’s newest is loaded with buzzworthy features like Sky Ride — the first elevated bicycle at sea; a kaleidoscope waterslide with LED effects; an IMAX theater; and family staterooms with a dedicated family lounge. The Havana suites provide exclusive use of Havana Bar, a throwback to old Cuba. As the largest ship in the fleet, Vista will sail the Mediterranean in May before offering Caribbean cruises from Miami.

    Seven Seas Explorer

    Regent is branding the 738-passenger, Seven Seas Explorer as the “most luxurious ship in the world,” and with the cruise lines’ reputation for six-star ships, it might be. She’ll be fitted with a culinary arts center, infinity plunge pool and six restaurants including the beautifully-designed Pacific Rim. Regent suites have an industry-first, ensuite spa with a sauna, steam room and complimentary spa treatments. The ship launches July 20 from Monte Carlo on a two-week cruise to Venice and will spend its inaugural season in Europe.

    Viking Sea

    Sister ship to Viking’s first ocean ship, the 930-passenger Viking Sea is slated to debut in April, with the same stunning features like an infinity pool, Nordic spa, and Explorers’ Lounge.

    Harmony of the Seas

    Joining its sisters in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class, Harmony of the Seas will carry the title of the largest ship in the world. New features include three “Perfect Storm” waterslides, a reimagined kids splash park, a 10-story slide and a two-story specialty restaurant. Harmony sets sail from Southampton in May, and will be based in Fort Lauderdale late October.

    Seabourn Encore

    Seabourn Encore will debut December 4 on a 16-day cruise between Greece and Dubai. As on other vessels, public rooms were made smaller to encourage socializing and the Seabourn Square returns, a popular lounge, library and espresso cafe. The line will also continue its signature “caviar in the surf” beach barbecue on select stops.

    River Cruises

    Ganges River Voyager II

    Uniworld’s beautiful all-suite ship, the Ganges River Voyager II launches in January on a 13-day cruise tour that includes Indian’s Golden Triangle. The 56-passenger vessel will have spacious state rooms (the Maharaja suite boasts 400 square feet) with French balconies, rain showers, spa robes and pillow menus.

    Crystal Mozart

    Crystal’s big debut into river cruising begins July 13 when the Crystal Mozart takes her maiden voyage along the Danube River. Details of the ship are still emerging, but it will feature an indoor pool, spa and two-bedroom penthouse suite spanning 860 square feet. Crystal Mozart will also be cruising a more unique Eastern European itinerary between Vienna and Belgrade later in the year.

    Avalon Passion and Imagery II

    Avalon Waterways is launching two more of its signature “Suite Ships,” the Avalon Passion and Imagery II, in April 2016. Imagery II will be sailing the Rhine River and Passion will ply the Danube.

    Viking Osfrid

    The Viking Osfrid is being custom built to sail Portugal's Douro River, so it is smaller than the fleet of Viking’s long ships but will feature similar amenities — including a small swimming pool. Maiden voyage and sailing dates for 2016 are still being determined.

    AmaViola and AmaStella

    Two new 158-passenger ships, the AmaViola and AmaStella, are sisters to AmaSerena with spacious “twin” balcony staterooms, a swim-up bar, and spa and fitness center. Both will be sailing the waterways of Europe in 2016.


    A new paddlewheeler from American Cruise Lines will take to the Mississippi River in spring 2016 on both upper and lower Mississippi River Cruises. The 185-passenger, America, will showcase private balconies in staterooms and will be followed in 2017 by another paddle wheel ship. 


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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