If you’re looking to book a brand-new cruise ship sailing island-centric itineraries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and beyond, 2023 offers lots of options. There’s a new cruise ship debuting almost every month from April to December as nine leading cruise lines add vessels to their fleets, an upscale newcomer debuts, and a familiar brand relaunches.
So, whether you prefer lively megaships accommodating more than 4,000 guests or small luxury ships focused on fine dining and pampering, there’s an island-hopping cruise waiting to be booked. Read on for the top itineraries from 2023’s new cruise ships.
Inaugural cruise: July
What’s onboard: Luxury-ship newcomer Explora Journeys, a division of MSC Cruises, will christen its first vessel, Explora 1, in July. The 922-passenger ship is the first of six planned eco-conscious vessels that will sail six- to 35-night immersive itineraries, first in Northern Europe and then in South America, and feature nine inclusive dining experiences, four pools (one with a tractable roof), and 10 bars and lounges (several featuring hand-crafted Steinway pianos).
Top island itineraries: Among Explora 1’s early itineraries will be the 19-night Extended Journey from Flemish Canals to Icelandic Lagoons (from Hamburg, Germany to Reykjavik, Iceland) that calls on England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Lewis, and the Shetland Islands, as well as the Faroe Islands. After arriving in the Caribbean, the ship will sail itineraries that include the 10-night Caribbean Escapes in European Outposts, visiting Key West, Virgin Gorda, St. Barths. St. Kitts, Antigua, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
Inaugural cruise: April
What’s onboard: When you step aboard Viking Saturn, the cruise line’s ninth ocean ship, there won’t be any surprises. That’s because Viking’s philosophy for its ocean cruise line is to offer guests a consistent experience with identical 930-guest ships. Just like its siblings, Viking Saturn is adults-only and features tranquil Scandinavian-modern décor, a Liv Nordic Spa with a soothing thermal area available to all guests, an aft infinity pool, and a main pool with a retractable roof, five dining venues (all included in the cruise fare along with complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner), and educational guest lectures.
Top island itineraries: Viking Saturn will be in Europe throughout 2023 with itineraries that include: Iceland, British Isles, and Iberia, which combines port calls in Iceland, Ireland, and England with coastal visits in Spain and Portugal; Empires of the Mediterranean, which cruises coastal Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece plus the islands of Corfu and Santorini; and Cities of Antiquity and the Holy Land, which visits Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Cyprus, as well as coastal Israel and Italy.
What’s onboard: The third ship in Richard Branson’s three-year-old Virgin Voyages fleet, 2,700-guest Resilient Lady offers an adults-only cruise experience that’s music-centric and campy, with an onboard tattoo parlor, a resident drag-queen “Diva,” suites called “Rockstar Quarters,” 20 restaurants (all complimentary) and edgy nightlife and entertainment. Resilient Lady will set sail in May from Athens (Piraeus), Greece and then from Barcelona, Spain and spend winter 2023/2024 in Australia (summer Down Under).
Top island itineraries: Resilient Lady will cruise 7-night French Daze and Ibiza Nights itineraries to the islands of Ibiza and Mallorca (plus Marseilles and Cannes) from Barcelona and Greek Island Glow to Santorini, Rhodes, Mykonos and Bodrum, Turkey from Athens (Piraeus) through fall 2023 and then homeport from Melbourne Australia, offering 2-to-5-night cruises to Tasmania and 10-to-12-night sailings to Tasmania and New Zealand through March 2024.
What’s onboard: It’s been 11 years since Oceania Cruises launched a new-build ship and 1,200-guest Oceania Vista, the first in in the Allura Class, will set sail in May in the Mediterranean. Vista, featuring elegant contemporary design and all-veranda accommodations, will offer all-complimentary dining options that include new options Ember serving inventive New American cuisine and wellness-inspired Aquamar Kitchen, along with guest-favorite Red Ginger for flavorful pan-Asian specialties. There’s also an onboard culinary center, an innovative mixology program, a chic pool deck, and an Aquamar Spa with an aft pool on the Spa Terrace.
Top island itineraries: While in Europe, Oceania Vista will offer a 10-day Greek and Italian Artistry cruise that visits the islands of Sicily, Malta, Mykonos, and Santorini, as well as coastal Italy and Turkey and a 12-day British Isles Splendor, which sails roundtrip from London and visits 10 ports in England, Ireland, and Scotland. In late fall, the ship heads to Miami for a series of winter sailings in the Caribbean, such as the 10-day Caribbean Wanderlust, which calls on the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, St. Barth, Dominica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Antigua.
Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony
Relaunch: July and September
What’s onboard: Crystal, now owned and managed by British travel company A&K Travel Group Limited and holding company Heritage, plans to relaunch 740-guest Crystal Serenity (in July) and 606-guest Crystal Symphony (in September), following extensive refurbishments. A brand that dominated the luxury cruise market for two decades until its former owners suffered bankruptcy and liquidation in early 2022, Crystal is known for attentive service and elevated cuisine in venues that will now include Waterside main dining room, new Italian specialty restaurant Osteria D’Ovidio, global family-style Tastes Kitchen and Bar, and exclusive Vintage Room for six-course wine-paired dinners (at extra cost).
Top island itineraries: When Crystal Serenity arrives in Miami in late October, it will begin several months of Caribbean itineraries, including the 10-night Miami to San Juan sailing that visits Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Barth, Tortola, and Puerto Rico, while the 13-night Miami to Miami itinerary calls on Grand Turk, Jost Van Dyke, St. Thomas, Antigua, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, and Puerto Rico. Crystal Symphony will spend September and October in the Mediterranean before heading to Asia, where a top itinerary is a 30-night Sydney to Bali sailing visiting Tasmania, New Zealand, Komodo Island, and Bali.
What’s onboard: Just a year after the debut of Norwegian Cruise Line’s first-in-its-class Norwegian Prima, 3,099-guest Norwegian Viva will set sail in the Mediterranean and offer the same onboard innovations as its sibling: a dozen dining venues (including four complimentary eateries, among them the new Indulge Food Hall and seven specialty restaurants), bright and modern décor in its airy staterooms (some for solo travelers), a dazzling three-story atrium, and a wide array of indoor and outdoor bars and lounges. Ideal for both couples and families, the new ship features expansive deck space with sleek infinity pools, twisting slides, and a three-level Viva Speedway.
Top island itineraries: As Norwegian Viva spends the autumn months in the Mediterranean, the 9-day Italy, Greece and Croatia sailing visits Sicily, Malta, and Corfu, as well as coastal ports in Italy and Croatia. After arriving in the Caribbean, Viva will offer a 9-day Curacao, Aruba, and St. Lucia sailing (roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico) that calls on St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts.
What’s onboard: With 728-guest Silver Nova, luxury cruise line Silversea is debuting a novel new asymmetrical design that orients the pool deck toward the ship’s starboard side for panoramic views. The ship also features new aft suites offering 270-degree vistas, nine restaurants (including S.A.L.T. Kitchen for destination-inspired menus), 11 bars, and the Otium Spa inspired by 2,000-year-old ancient Roman therapies. After its summer debut in the Mediterranean, Silver Nova will head to the Caribbean and South America.
Top island itineraries: Silver Nova’s 17-day Lisbon to Lisbon sailing in late September will visit six islands in the Azores, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, and Madeira; and in November its 16-day New York to Bridgetown cruise will call on Bermuda, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Barth, St. Kitts, Antigua, Martinique, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
What’s onboard: Is visiting Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands, South Georgia Island, or the Falkland Islands on your bucket list? The debut of Pursuit adds a second 264-guest vessel to Seabourn’s luxury expedition fleet with itineraries exploring remote locales while guests enjoy world-class amenities and spacious staterooms—plus access to a trained expedition team, two submarines and 24 Zodiacs. And while polar expeditions and other remote voyages are a key part of Pursuit’s line-up, so are Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises.
Top island itineraries: The 14-day Spanish French and Italian Gems itinerary in late August visits Mallorca, Sardinia, and Corsica as well as coastal ports in Spain, Italy, Monaco, and France, while the 10-Day Atlantic Sunrises sailing in late September visits Puerto Rico, Jost Van Dyke, Anguilla, St. Kitts, Antigua, Martinique, Bequia, and Barbados. Non-tropical Islands are part of polar exploration, with the 21-day Antarctica, South Georgia, and Falkland cruise in February 2024 visiting South Georgia Island (famed for its king penguin colonies) and the Falkland Islands. Dreaming of the South Pacific? Pursuit will make an epic 37-day Island Cultures: From Easter Island to Melanesia journey in March 2024 that visits Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands.
What’s onboard: Do you just want to have fun—at an affordable price? Carnival Cruise Lines has always had “fun” as its mantra and 5,374-guest Carnival Jubilee, joining the fleet with cruises to the Caribbean from Galveston, TX in November, is the third megaship in the festive Mardi Gras class. Carnival continues its “party at sea” legacy onboard Jubilee with more than two-dozen restaurants and bars, a WaterWorks aqua park, five pools, a Family Feud Live game show, a BOLT rollercoaster, and much more.
Top island itineraries: Carnival Jubilee will homeport in Galveston and offer 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries year-round that call on Cozumel, Mexico, and Roatan, Honduras, as well as Costa Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Regent Seven Seas Grandeur
What’s onboard: Seven Seas Grandeur, launching in November with a transatlantic crossing followed by sailings from Miami to the Caribbean, will be the third ship in Regent’s Explorer Class and feature the most expensive art collection at sea—which will include the first Fabergé egg to permanently reside on a cruise ship. Grandeur will offer seven gourmet dining venues (all included in the cruise fare), elegant bars and lounges, two pools, a gleaming spa, and spacious veranda suites in 10 categories.
Top island itineraries: Seven Seas Grandeur’s 12-night Miami to Miami sailing in February 2024 calls on Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Barth, and Tortola, while its 10-night Istanbul to Athens itinerary in June 2024 visits the Greek Islands of Mykonos, Lesbos, Patmos, Rhodes, and Crete, along with Malta and coastal ports in Turkey.
What’s onboard: Celebrity Ascent, the fourth ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge class, makes its debut in December, cruising to the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale. The 3,260-guest vessel continues the evolution of Edge-series ships, which are distinguished by the tangerine-hued Magic Carpet lounge perched on their starboard side, signature martini-shaped hot tubs, and 32 food and beverage experiences, including specialty dining at Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud and the two-deck Nate Berkus-designed Sunset Bar, both first seen on 2022’s Celebrity Beyond.
Top island itineraries: During its inaugural Caribbean season, Celebrity Ascent will offer 7-night San Juan, Tortola, and St. Kitts sailings and 7-night Bahamas, Mexico, and Grand Cayman itineraries (visiting Cozumel, Nassau, and Grand Cayman) before heading to the Mediterranean and offering varied itineraries, including 12-night Greek Isles, Italy, and Malta sailings in September and October 2024.