Five Faves: Caribbean Cruise Debuts

Porthole’s Five Faves

Caribbean Cruise Debuts

Five new ships repositioning to the U.S. this fall

In case you missed it, there have been some amazing new cruise ships that have debuted recently, introducing new features in luxury, onboard thrills, décor, entertainment, dining, and more. Following their inaugural seasons sailing in Europe, soon these new ships will make their way to the United States, either repositioning to a new year-round homeport or to offer a series of Caribbean cruises from various U.S. ports. Either way, here are five faves to put in your planner for the year ahead.


Holland America Line’s new Koningsdam, which debuted in Europe in May for an inaugural summer season, will reposition to Fort Lauderdale in November to sail winter and spring Caribbean cruises. The largest ship built for the line and the first of the new Pinnacle-class ships, Koningsdam combines traditions of the line’s Vista and Signature classes, but also debuts a sleeker interior design (much of which was created by iconic hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany) as well as a host of new features such as wine-making venue, BLEND, which was created in partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle; new dining venues including Sel de Mer, an intimate new seafood brasserie; and new entertainment venues Music Walk, Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard, and World Stage.

Carnival Vista

After debuting in May for a summer season in the Mediterranean, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista will head to New York in November for her official christening ceremony before repositioning to Miami for year-round Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean cruises. Carnival Vista boasts several new and exciting features such as the Havana Bar & Pool, a suspended cycling experience called SkyRide at SportSquare, a Seafood Shack, the first IMAX Theatre at sea, and the RedFrog Pub & Brewery, which offers three different kinds of craft beer brewed on board.

Harmony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas debuted in June and is currently spending an inaugural summer season sailing 7-night Western Mediterranean itineraries. The line’s newest Oasis-class ship, which boasts exclusive features such as seven distinct neighborhoods, a FlowRider surfing simulator, a zipline across the top of the ship, and an AquaTheater for diving shows, also adds new featurs such as the Ultimate Abyss waterslide and Splashaway Bay water park. In November, the ship will reposition to her permanent homeport in Fort Lauderdale to sail 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Seven Seas Explorer

Dubbed by the cruise line as “the world’s most luxurious ship,” Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer was christened in July in Monaco and will spend her maiden season sailing the Mediterranean. Featuring luxurious accommodations, including the Regent Suite, a two-bedroom, 3,875-square-foot suite complete with an in-room spa; fine dining venues such as Pacific Rim, Chartreuse, and Prime 7; and a Culinary Arts Kitchen cooking school, the all-suite, all-balcony ship will head to Miami in November to sail an inaugural Caribbean season through March 2017.

Viking Star

Viking Ocean Cruises’ 930-guest Viking Star, which debuted as Viking’s first ocean cruise ship in May 2015 in Europe, will expand into North America and the Caribbean when she crosses the Atlantic for the first time in September from Bergen to Montreal. After an Eastern Seaboard itinerary from Montreal to New York, the ship will then reposition to San Juan to spend the winter in the Caribbean sailing a series of West Indies itineraries before returning to Europe for the spring 2017 season. Viking Star features all veranda staterooms; a LivNordic Spa, which includes a Snow Grotto; The Wintergarden for afternoon tea; multiple dining venues; and Viking’s Culture Curriculum for onboard learning.

— Jodi Ornstein

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Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!