2024 promises to be an exhilarating year for cruise enthusiasts, with the first half of the year offering a lot of exciting debuts. Among the lineup are two first-in-class ships that will give a peak at where the cruise industry is going in the future. Let’s take a look at the 5 ships to look forward to in 2024.
Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas
Debuting in January 2024
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about this brand-new ship from Royal Caribbean. The Icon of the Seas represents an evolution of Royal Caribbean’s popular Oasis-class ship in terms of size and features. When it launches, it will claim the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, a mere 6% larger than its predecessor, the Wonder of the Seas.
The Icon-class introduces significant enhancements, with a newfound emphasis on water and family experiences.
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class of ships is often criticized for lacking a connection to the ocean. These mega ships can feel more like gigantic hotels or malls than seafaring vessels. With Icon of the Seas, they’re rectifying that. They’re adding several infinity pools on the ship that provide stunning views, one of them being kid-focused and one adult-only. The Royal Promenade also gets enormous glass windows and an outdoor promenade seating area, pulling the ocean right into the heart of the ship.
Icon of the Seas also has a distinct family focus. On this ship, the Boardwalk neighborhood from the Oasis-class ships evolves into Surfside, a family-oriented area. Here, you’ll find Splashaway Bay, a kid pool, a dry play area, a merry-go-round, and several dedicated eateries, including a more kid-friendly buffet. The kid’s clubs are even located right off this neighborhood, meaning families can spend their time close together rather than wandering all over the ship.
But it’s not all just for kids; their focus is on multi-generational travel. Adults can try Royal Caribbean’s first swim-up bar, Swim and Tonic, go to the new dueling piano bar at night, or check out the new thrilling performances in the AquaTheater, which Royal Caribbean relocated to a new enclosed dome at the front of the ship.
Icon of the Seas has been a hot ticket, with Royal Caribbean announcing record-breaking bookings when it opened for sale (it also has record-high prices to go along with).
See more coverage on Icon of the Seas
Princess Cruises Sun Princess
Debuting in February 2024
The Sun Princess represents a whole new class of ship for Princess Cruises, called the Sphere-class. It’s the third ship to sail under the Sun Princess name, but it’s unlike any of its predecessors.
The ship represents a significant departure for Princess Cruises. It’ll be 20% larger than its current largest ship, the Discovery Princess. That puts it in line with mega ships like Carnival Mardi Gras or Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas.
The ship also focuses on serving multi-generational guests with a kids splash area and a new paraglider attraction on the top deck.
The design of Sun Princess will provide amazing ocean views thanks to the many spheres or domes integrated into the ship.
At the front of the ship, guests will find “The Dome,” a huge, glass-enclosed area that provides relaxation and beautiful views during the day, and at night, it transforms into an entertainment space. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Royal Caribbean had the same idea for Icon of the Seas.
The center of Sun Princess also has a sphere integrated into the ship’s side. It’s home to the new Piazza Atrium, which is filled with natural light from the 3-story glass windows. It will be the heart of the ship and home to activities and events throughout the cruise.
It’ll be interesting to see if this new direction pays off. When Celebrity introduced the Edge-class, the larger format didn’t resonate with many long-time cruisers, but it has found many new fans.
See more coverage on Sun Princess
Royal Caribbean Utopia of the Seas
Debuting in July 2024
The Utopia of the Seas has been overshadowed by Icon of the Seas, but it’s still something to be excited about. The ship will be the sixth in the Oasis-class. It’ll be the first Oasis-class ship to feature Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), a cleaner-burning fuel.
The biggest thing that makes Utopia of the Seas stand out is its itineraries. Traditional Oasis-class ships sail 7-day intermediaries, making them hard for people with limited vacation days or who have never cruised before and are afraid to commit such a long time at sea. The Utopia of the Seas will sail shorter 3 and 4- day cruises out of Port Canaveral (Orlando area). Each trip will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay, making it perfect for a short weekend getaway with friends or family.
The Utopia of the Seas features many improvements that Royal Caribbean introduced on the Wonder of the Seas. That includes a fully enclosed Solarium (instead of the open panels on the previous Oasis-class ships) and the addition of a dry playscape area for kids in place of a second FlowRider.
The Utopia of the Seas will also offer some new features that are unique from its sister ships.
- “Food truck” for grab-and-go food by the pool
- Improved Ultimate Abyss thrill slide with see-through sections
- Bionic Bar is replaced by a Caribbean’s themed Pesky Parrot
- Giovanis moves to where Wonderland is on other ships
- Izumi moves to Central Park and gets a new take-out window
- “Experiential” dining experience which Royal Caribbean is still working on perfecting.
Debuting in December 2024
The Disney Treasure is the second in Disney’s Wish-class of ship, following up last year’s debut of the Disney Wish. Structurally, the ship is largely similar to the Wish, so those who didn’t care for the layout and size of Wish aren’t going to like the Treasure either. But it has quite a few enhancements.
The ship will be themed around adventure and the search for treasure. Guests will first board the ship through the impressive Grand Hall. It has an entirely different look than the Wish, taking its inspiration from Aladdin with real-world influences from Asia and Africa.
The Treasure will see a new restaurant themed after the movie Coco, where guests will dine twice during their cruise (it takes the place of Arendelle on Wish). It’ll also see new bars and lounges such as the Periscope Pub, themed after 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Skipper Society, themed after the Jungle Cruise Ride, and Sarabi, which gets its inspiration from The Lion King.
The Disney Treasure will also feature a brand-new bar called the Haunted Mansion Parlor. From specialty cocktails to intricate decor, this new venue will provide an experience to rival the popular Haunted Mansion rides at the Disney theme parks.
Debuting in December 2024
While this debut hasn’t been officially announced, it’s highly likely. The Brilliant Lady was originally supposed to debut in December 2023, but due to shipyard delays, Virgin Voyages has pushed back the launch, and they haven’t yet released when it’ll sail.
When it finally debuts, the ship will be the fourth in the Lady-class of ships and very similar to its sister ships. That means it’ll have the same high-quality dining options at no extra cost. It’ll also have the same cheeky fun that Virgin Voyages has become known for, full of double entendres and cheeky winks. It also means the ship is not likely to address some of the biggest complaints of its sister ships, the lack of pools and hot tubs and an odd layout in places with dead ends.
Virgin Voyages reworked its whole fleet deployment when the Brilliant Lady was delayed, so it’s not yet known where she will sail from or what kinds of itineraries she’ll offer.
2024 is an excellent year for cruise ships
Next year will be a great year for cruise enthusiasts. The debut of two brand-new classes of ships is exciting and sets the tone for Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises for the next ten years. In the last two years, we saw Carnival and Norewgian’s next-generation ships debut, the former mostly praised and the latter not as well received. It’ll be interesting to see how guests feel about these new ships.
Looking to sail some of these newest ships? You should start shopping right away, as most of these new ships are seeing record prices, and prices only go up as the sail date gets closer. You might want to look ahead to the new ships launching in 2025 to score a deal. That includes the follow-up ships to the ones above, Star of the Seas and Star Princess, as well as the Norwegian Aqua and Celebrity Xcel.
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