According to CLIA’s 2014 Economic Impact Study, which was just released in October 2015, “Demand for cruising worldwide increased 68 percent in the last 10 years, from 13.14 million passengers in 2004 to 22.04 million passengers in 2014. Since 2013, demand grew 3.4 percent.” Take note of those numbers, because North America accounted for 55 percent or 12.2 million cruise passengers.
Feeding that demand is a spate of new ships—both on rivers and on the oceans—that are upping the ante in offerings and creating unrivaled vacations at sea and on the world’s rivers.
This year saw the debut of the ocean-going Viking Star—the 930-passenger Viking Sea makes its appearance in April—and Crystal Cruises’ huge expansion, with the Crystal Yacht Cruises launch and plans to sail the rivers of the world in 2017. In the next couple of pages, you’ll see onboard reviews on Norwegian’s and Royal Caribbean’s newest babies, and come spring, the Mediterranean will welcome the 3,936-passenger Carnival Vista, but don’t let the big guys blind you to Regent’s 750-passenger, all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Explorer, debuting summer 2016. Then there’s Holland America, with its shiny new 2,650-passenger Koningsdam set to sail in April 2016 (they’re also plunking down $300 million to refresh the line’s existing fleet between 2016 and 2018). April will also see Oceania Cruises’ 684-passenger Sirena make its debut. Waiting in the wings is the 604-passenger Seabourn Encore, celebrating its naming ceremony in January 2017, while Silversea Cruises’ new 596-passenger Silver Muse is scheduled to arrive on the scene in April 2017, and late in 2017 is the expected unveiling of the 4,140-passenger
Rivers are no less popular for 2016, with AmaWaterways introducing two new 158-passenger sister ships—the AmaViola and the AmaStella—in Europe that will feature connecting cabins, ideal for families. Avalon Waterways’ two new 128-passenger Suite Ships, Avalon Passion and Avalon Imagery II, and Tauck’s new ms Grace and the ms Joy—both carrying 130 passengers—will set sail along Europe’s famed and scenic riverways in 2017. Although it might have one eye on the oceans, Viking is certainly still focusing plenty of attention on the rivers in 2016, debuting five new Viking Longships in Europe, as well as a smaller custom-built vessel for the Douro River. And over in Asia, Victoria Cruises’ largest vessel, Victoria Jenna, will receive an updated design and be set to debut in April 2016. Meanwhile, India’s Ganges River will welcome Uniworld’s Ganges Voyager II next month.
Don’t let all these prospective bookings sail away.