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New in 2015 — Anthem of the Seas

Third in a series about new ships

This second ship of the Quantum Class will be replacing the first — and the flagship — in New Jersey after Quantum of the Seas leaves for its new home, Singapore. Other than the name on the bow and assorted other places, there isn’t expected to be much difference between Anthem of the Seas and its sister, which tells you what a winner Quantum has been for Royal Caribbean.

Launch date: April 22

Capacity: 4,905

Sister ships: Quantum of the Seas

Maiden voyage: An 8-day trip along Northern Spain with one stop in France

Home port: Cape Liberty

Ships then in Royal Caribbean fleet: 23

Interesting: The cruise line touts Anthem’s virtual balconies, with huge LCD TV screens, as being the first at sea but neither that…nor the bumper cars in SeaPlex…nor the RipCord sky diving simulator…nor the 27-degree views from Two70…is going to touch this ship’s most identifying asset. That would be North Star, the arm that takes passengers out over the waves and back, all included with the price of the cruise. It is the ship’s most recognizable feature, its signature, what makes it stand out from everything else “at sea.” The same, of course, can be said for its older sister.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Celebrity Century
14 nights
March 22, 2015
Singapore, Cochin, Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, Muscat, Dubai
Inside: $949
Cost per day: $67
www.celebritycruises.com

New in 2015 — Viking Star

Second in a series about new ships

This is what happens when river-ship people get into the ocean-ship business. Viking River Cruises is about to become just Viking Cruises (on the water) and what makes this first crossover venture a game-changer that will be watched world-wide is that all suites on the Star (270 square feet minimum) have balconies and cruises will depart late at night or stay over in ports.

Launch date: April 11

Capacity: 930

Sister ships: To come — Viking Sea and Viking Sky, both in 2016

Maiden voyage: Istanbul to Venice in nine days

Home port: Do river ships even have homes?

Ships then in Viking ocean fleet: 1

Interesting: Small by ocean standards, the Star comes out of the gate with a whopping 49-day cruise…yes, it can be broken into sections. The ship emphasizes simplicity, with gathering places named The Restaurant, The Kitchen Table and The Living Room. Several of the company's popular riverboat features are included — the Aquavit Terrace and an alfresco dining venue — and Viking is taking its commitment connecting customers and destinations to a new level by going ocean. With fewer than 1,000 passengers, the Star’s likely to feel spacious.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Carnival Conquest
6 nights
March 1, 2015
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key WestGrand CaymanCozumel
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $54
www.carnival.com

New in 2015 — P&O Britannia

First in a series about ships

The first new ship of 2015 will set sail in March and be based in Southampton before leaving for its winter home, Barbados. P&O is billing this as a five-star ship with all the amenities of a like-rated hotel, but on water. The locals won’t have trouble recognizing her because she’ll be the biggest ship ever built for that market.

Launch date: March 28

Capacity: 3,647

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: 14-day Mediterranean cruise

Home port: Southampton

Ships then in P&O fleet: 8

Interesting: Britannia is 25,000 tons bigger than Azura, currently P&O’s biggest ship. Its features include 75 per cent of its cabins with balconies (or verandas) and 27 single cabins, many also with balconies. It also has the biggest spa in the fleet…maybe that’s why its name is the “Oasis” Spa. There are 13 places to dine, including one where you can make it yourself, The Cookery Club, a kitchen classroom where the teachers are renowned enough that P&O sells it as discovering “Foodie Heaven.” A sign of the changing demographic is an Indian restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef.

Today at portsandbows.com: Dynamic Dining delay

Grand Princess
7 nights
January 17, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Puerto VallartaMazatlanCabo San Lucas
Oceanview: $619
Cost per day: $88
www.princess.com

A Quiet Princess Slips into Cruise Waters

If you do Google "Regal Princess" (as we did), you will find that most of the results on the first page are about a ship that "will" make its debut in 2014. Even Wikipedia writes of it in the future tense. So it may surprise you to learn that the Regal Princess is already here…here being the cruise waters of the world.

It happened last week. It happened in Italy. It happened quietly, or so it appears for everybody who couldn't hear the horn's first blast in Venice.

This is the 18th ship in the Princess fleet. It's a full sister to the Royal Princess, which means you can't tell them apart if you don't see the name. Ironically, the Royal Princess made her debut almost a year ago, also in Europe (Southampton), but to much greater fanfare which included the world's most prominent mother-to-be, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is more widely known simply as Princess Kate.

The new ship has everything her elder sister has…SeaWalk over the ocean, a bigger-than-ever atrium, the innovative Chef's Table Lumiere, the Princess Live TV studio, and Regal-WC-Scorcolano copyPhoto courtesy of Wikipedia Commons: Scorcolano

more. It carries 3,560 passengers, which means it takes a back seat there to its Royal sibling, which can handle 40 more passengers.

Together, they're the biggest Princess ships. They are not together these days, but they're at least in the same hemisphere. 

After spending the winter in the Caribbean, the Royal Princess is in Northern Europe for the summer and will return to North America — by way of Iceland and New York (25 days) — in late September. It will dock in Fort Lauderdale on November 4.

The Regal Princess is spending its inaugural months in the Mediterranean and will cross the Atlantic for the first time (Princess is calling this the ship's "Maiden Voyage") in October. This ship will arrive in Fort Lauderdale on November 3…the day before big sister.

At least then she'll be "first" for a day, and you can be sure more will be made of the "new" ship's North American debut.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
5 nights
December 13, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco CayNassauGrand Bahama Island 
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59
www.royalcaribbean.com

New Ship: Regal Princess

After a five-year building sabbatical, Princess Cruises conceived two sisters with the arrivals of the Royal Princess (June 2013) and the Regal Princess (May this year). The 17th and 18th ships in the Princess fleet are unlike any others, as new ships usually are, and the people at Fincantieri have made this baby "premature." It's due two weeks ahead of schedule and will sail a pair of Venice-Athens cruises before its original inaugural, a 20-day Mediterranean Escape.

Launch date: May 20

Capacity: 3,560

Sister ships: Royal Princess

Maiden Voyage: Venice to Athens

Home Ports: Venice/Fort Lauderdale

Ships now in Princess fleet: 18

Interesting: All new ships have some kind of signature and, for the Regal Princess and her sister, that was the SeaWalk, a see-through walkway that extends 28 feet over the side, 128 feet above the water. A virtual twin to the Royal Princess, the Regal also has the Princess Live! TV studio and the cruise line's largest top-deck pool. All outside staterooms have balconies. No word yet on who will be the Godmother but "junior Princess" has a tough act to follow…the Duchess of Cambridge did the honors last June just a few weeks before delivering the royal baby and the ceremony was, as the Brits would say, smashing!

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
February 8, 2014
Jacksonville (return): NassauHalf Moon Cay 
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49
www.carnival.com

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