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The Best New Cruise Ships of 2016

The cruising industry just keeps delivering, with bright new ships big and small debuting in 2016. And with more than a million Australians cruising each year, the nation’s passion for cruising means its waters and neighbouring South Pacific are big business for cruise ship companies. That means great new ships debuting in the region.

The record-breaking 2014-2015 Australian cruising season which saw 34 cruise ships has already been outshone by 2015-2016, with 36 ships in our waters and a couple are newbies. Sparkling new sisters Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden bring P&O’s local fleet to five ships. The two vessels were previously Holland America Line-branded, but have undergone radical transformations to take on contemporary, fun and just a little bit quirky personalities.


Late in the year, get ready for something truly spectacular: Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, a $1.4 billion, 5000-passenger cruise ship will debut in Sydney in December 2016. She features unprecedented entertainment options, including dodgem cars, a RipCord by iFLY chamber that simulates parachuting-style flying in a controlled environment, the North Star, a 360-degree viewing capsule on a giant arm raising passengers to more than 90m above sea level, and family-friendly interconnecting staterooms as well as double-storey suites with uninterrupted windows fronting both levels.

But it’s Royal Caribbean’s third Oasis class ship, Harmony of the Seas, that will be the largest cruise ship ever built when completed in autumn. Prepare for robot bartenders,  huge waterslides and another 10-storey slide without the water. For something a bit more sedate but nonetheless novel, Harmony of the Seas will also have a custom-built and handmade carousel based on the ornate glory of antique examples. She’ll debut at Southampton in May.

Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean, Carnival Vista also launches in May 2016. Incredible accommodation options include the Family Harbour Staterooms that accommodate a family of five and feature a lounge area with games and larger-sized TV, as well as the Havana Staterooms and Suites that include private outdoor terraces with hammocks. They’ll be adjacent to the Havana Pool, hot tubs and bars, surrounded by palm trees, thatched huts and a resort-at-sea vibe. Entertainment options include a full sized IMAX Theatre –  the first-ever at sea – and a huge waterpark area with the largest waterslide at sea as its centrepiece.

At the higher end of things comes Seven Seas Explorer, being spruiked as the world’s most luxurious cruise ship. The all-suite 750-passenger offering is Regent Seven Seas’ first new ship in more than a decade and features a “modern luxe” interior. In addition to the cruise line’s legendary level of service, fares will cover internet access in a raft of plush inclusions.

Another small-ship luxury line, Seabourn, also has a new ship in the wings set for 2016. Seabourn Encore launches late 2016, also with all-suite accommodation, and for only 600 guests. And Viking, previously best known for river cruising, continues its ocean-going expansion with another 930-passenger ship debuting.

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