Compared to the previous couple of years, 2023 will be a quiet year for cruise ships in North America. We won’t see any new class of ship introduced this year, just iterations of existing classes as sister-ships debut.
Still, there are some things to be excited about. Here are the ships you should look forward to in 2023.
Virgin Voyages Resilient Lady
Coming May 2023
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Virgin Voyages. The new cruise line was originally set to start its sailings literally weeks before the cruise industry shut down in 2020. Since then, they’ve had delays on many of the ships. For example, the third ship in their fleet, the Resilient Lady, was supposed to launch in July 2022, but Virgin Voyages pushed it to May 2023.
When it finally launches this spring, Resilient Lady will feature Mediterranean sailings and then switch to Australia for late-fall/winter sailings.
Like its sister ships, Resilient Lady will be for adults only, offering a great alternative to those who are wary of summer sailings that are jam-packed with children.
The ship is going to be nearly identical to its sister ships, the Scarlett Lady and Valiant Lady. While the decor may change some, the overall design of the ship and the included restaurants and amenities will be the same. That’s both good and bad.
It means guests will experience the same high-end food offerings found on the sister ships. For example, Virgin Voyages doesn’t have the typical cruise buffet and instead offers made-to-order offerings in “The Galley.” Also, they don’t have any dedicated specialty restaurants with an extra fee. While a select few dishes on the menus will have a nominal fee attached, for the most part, you can eat everywhere on the ship without paying an extra dime.
The downside of having an identical ship is that Resilient Lady keeps the same flaws its sister ships have. Mostly, the main criticism of these ships is the grossly undersized pools, cramped pool deck areas, and a confusing layout.
Then again, Virgin designed these ships for the destination, not the journey. As a result, most Virgin Voyages sailings have a minimal amount of sea days, so they expect you to enjoy the destination during the day and then return to the ship at night.
Coming June 2023
Ok, so technically the Carnival Venezia isn’t a new ship. It actually debuted as the Costa Venezia in 2019. Costa Cruise Lines originally built it for the China market, but because of the continuing restrictions there, they’re loaning the ship to their sister cruise line, Carnival.
The Venezia is based on the same design as Carnival’s Vista-class of ships, but Costa made some different choices when building it. The ship was created as a tribute to Italy and Venice, with rich decor and Italian flare. It has open street-like plazas, fake-painted skies, and even gondolas in the main dining room. It will keep much of that theming when it sails under the Carnival name. Carnival is calling it “Carnival Fun Italian Style.”
In order to make it feel part of the brand, Carnival has revamped the ships, adding some popular venues like Guy’s Burgers and retheming many of the bars and restaurants. They have kept with the Italian feel though, offering lots of bubbly drinks, coffee, and Italian food.
Carnival Venezia will be sailing year-round out of New York City. It’ll be the first time a Vista-class ship has homeported in the area and brings a new class of ship to people in the North East. The Venezia also has a retractable glass dome over the pool, making it perfect for winter sailings from NYC. Still, the ship will feel completely different from the rest of Carnival’s fleet, and we’ve yet to see if guests will appreciate the excessive Italian themes.
Coming August 2023
Over the summer, Norwegian Cruise Line will add a second Prima-class ship to their fleet, the Norwegian Viva. So far, the Prima-class has been highly polarizing with Norwegian Cruise fans. Some love the new higher-class take on a cruise vacation, while others find the design to be out of touch with their loyal customers.
Typically, when the second ship in a class is built, plenty of changes and optimizations are made to improve upon flaws in the original. In this case, the Viva is widely expected to be a near-identical copy of the Prima.
This similarity is because Norwegian built the ships so close together. During a session we attended during a Norwegian Prima inaugural sailing, the ship’s designers said the Viva design was already locked in years ago, and they were currently working on the fifth Prima-class ship. That means Viva won’t reflect most of the learnings from the first sailings of the Prima. Still, they will be able to make minor tweaks to the decor and setup of areas to make better use of spaces.
The good news is that the Viva will also have some things that make the Prima great, like the Indulge Food Hall, an impressive outdoor promenade area, and a high-end feel. We’ll be sailing on the Viva in May 2024 and think it’s the perfect ship for a scenic Mediterranean cruise.
Coming December 2023
The Carnival Jubilee will be the third in Carnival’s Excel-class of cruise ship. They originally hoped to debut the Jubilee in October, but due to delays at the shipyard, it’ll now be sailing just in time for Christmas.
The Jubilee will be similar to its siblings, the Mardi Gras and Celebration. That means you’ll have a bunch of delicious fast-casual dining options, tons of outdoor deck space, a ropes course, and even a roller coaster.
Overall, Carnival’s Excel-class of ships has been well received. However, it’s pretty different from what people were used to on Carnival. It’s much bigger than Carnival’s older fleet and has a more sophisticated feel. Still, it has Carnival’s signature fun in every corner.
Unlike the Viva and Resilient Lady, the Jubilee won’t be a carbon copy of its sister ships; it’ll have two zones that are different from its siblings.
One zone will replace the French Quarter and The Gateway from Mardi Gras and Celebration. The other will replace Mardi Gras’ La Piazza and Celebration’s 820 Biscayne.
Carnival has yet to release the theme of these two new zones, but we’d bet good money at least one will be Texas-themed, as the ship will be sailing out of Galveston.
Coming in December
Celebrity will be debuting its newest ship, the Celebrity Ascent, at the beginning of December. The ship will be the fourth in their Edge-class of ships which are known for their infinity veranda staterooms and the Magic Carpet that can reposition itself on the side of the ship.
Celebrity hasn’t released all the details of Ascent, but we know it’ll have many of the enhancements its sibling, Celebrity Beyond, had when it debuted in 2022. That means larger spaces in The Retreat Pool area, the enhanced and supersized Rooftop Garden, and the improved atrium called the Grand Plaza.
2024 is going to be even more exciting
While 2023 seems to be pretty quiet, 2024 will be huge for the cruise industry again. We’ll get two brand-new classes of cruise ships debuting in the first quarter of 2024; Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas and Princes Cruises’ Sun Princess.
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