The New Cruise Ships We’re Most Excited About in 2023
This year, cruise lines that include Celebrity, Oceania, Virgin Voyages, and Regent Seven Seas are unveiling not just some of their most impressive but also some of their most ecofriendly vessels to date.
Each year, a fresh batch of cruise ships draws headlines and fanfare. The pandemic, however, slowed down ship launches to a mere trickle as cruise lines weathered the public health crisis storm. But for 2023, with cruising fully back in action, a robust new flock of vessels is being unveiled that introduces not just sleek new designs and exciting amenities but also a stronger focus on more responsible cruising than ever before.
Cruising certainly isn’t known as being the most climate friendly mode of transportation, but as technologies advance and stronger climate commitments come to fruition, cruise lines are debuting some of their most environmentally conscious ships yet. The result is that travelers can hit the high seas knowing that cruise companies are making more meaningful efforts to reduce their footprint. It’s a start at least.
Here are our picks for the most exciting cruise ship launches coming in 2023.
“Celebrity Ascent” from Celebrity Cruises
With a specialty restaurant by legendary chef Daniel Boulud and spaces envisioned by British designer Kelly Hoppen, the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Ascent is the fourth ship in Celebrity Cruises’ award-winning Edge class—and it’s no less impressive than its sister ships. The Retreat on top is reserved for suite guests and has its own restaurant, lounge, and multi-level sundeck with pool. If you book a splurge-worthy Edge Villa, you can take dip in your very own outdoor plunge pool. The ship debuts in December in the Caribbean.
The Edge-class ships consume 20 percent less fuel when compared to the line’s previous generation of vessels. Like most new ships, Celebrity Ascent will also be able to reduce emissions in port by connecting to shore power, when available. And the vessel will be part of Celebrity’s fleet-wide “zero waste” goal. Currently, 85 percent of the line’s waste is “recycled, repurposed, or sent to a waste-to-energy facility,” according to Celebrity’s sustainability statement.
“Explora I” from Explora Journeys
The 922-passenger Explora I is the debut ship of Explora Journeys, an all-new luxury cruise line owned by MSC Group, the Geneva-based shipping container giant that also owns MSC Cruises. On a ship that’s big by luxury standards, guests will stay in oceanfront suites, penthouses, or residences, lounge around four pools, and choose from 18 food and beverage options. Unusual activities and entertainment examples will include music master classes and a monthly full-moon party. The ship debuts in northern Europe in July, with five sister ships scheduled to join it by 2029.
Explora I uses an emissions control system known as selective catalytic reduction to decrease its nitrogen oxide emissions—another extremely harmful climate pollutant—by up to 90 percent. It’s also equipped with battery storage that will allow for hybrid power generation once the new technology becomes available. Two of its sister ships will be powered by hydrogen.
“MSC Euribia” from MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises wants the world to know that its 6,327-passenger MSC Euribia is environmentally focused. The ship’s hull is decorated with huge underwater scenes and includes the hashtag #SaveThe Sea. Guests will lounge around five pools, one large enough for 1,000 people. For more intimate surrounds, splurge on the exclusive MSC Yacht Club section of the ship for access to a dedicated sundeck and pool, restaurants, bars, and lounges. The ship debuts in June 2023 and will sail its first season in the Norwegian fjords.
MSC Cruises recently laid out the framework for its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. In addition to running on cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG), the MSC Euribia has such features as an advanced wastewater treatment system, which the line says means no water leaves the ship without meeting the highest environmental standards.
“Norwegian Viva” from Norwegian Cruise Line
Debuting in August in the Mediterranean, the 3,219-passenger Norwegian Viva is the second in a newer class of upscale Norwegian Cruise Line ships geared toward cruisers who want a plethora of activities without huge crowds. The ship has a separate complex for suite guests, a multi-million-dollar art collection, and dining options that include a hip food hall with a solid international roster. For the kid in all of us, there’s the three-level go-kart racetrack up on top.
Norwegian Viva has integrated cutting-edge technologies that filter out up to 98 percent of sulfur oxides and up to 90 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions. It’s also equipped with an advanced treatment system that handles all wastewater produced on board and can plug into shoreside power.
“Resilient Lady” from Virgin Voyages
The trendy, adults-only cruise line Virgin Voyages is debuting its third ship, the 2,770-passenger Resilient Lady, in May 2023 in the Mediterranean. Given the no-kids environment expect super-fun parties indoors and around the pool, slightly naughty entertainment, and sophisticated dining. There’s also a tattoo and piercing parlor, should you have the urge to get inked or pierced.
Virgin Voyages aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Some of the new tech that will help it get there includes Climeon, units that use heat from the ship’s engines to generate a portion of the electricity on board (which decreases fuel demand). Additionally, the company invests in carbon offsets along with emissions-reducing technology, such as a catalytic reduction system (which reduces up to 75 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions), and exploring alternative fuel options for future sailings. The smart bracelet that unlocks passengers’ cabin doors is made of recycled plastic.
“Seven Seas Grandeur” from Seven Seas Cruises
The latest “world’s most luxurious cruise ship” from Regent Seven Seas Cruises (each new vessel outdoes the last in terms of extreme luxury) debuts in Europe in November, before a season in North and Central America. Expect on the 750-passenger, all-suite Seven Seas Grandeur the brand’s signature extravagances such as marble floors, crystal chandeliers, gold leaf here, and expensive art there.
Technology will reduce up to 90 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions by transforming it into water and nitrogen, while a waste heat recovery system will heat auxiliary systems, such as potable water. Among shore excursions, which are included in fares, are some 150 “eco-connect tours” focused on local conservation efforts.
“Silver Nova” from Silversea
Deputing in August in the Mediterranean, the 728-passenger Silver Nova will be the largest ship in the fleet of ultra-luxury brand Silversea. An expanded pool area is designed for optimum views from cushy lounge chairs, and the ship will boast 10 bars and lounges and 8 restaurants—including S.A.L.T., with a focus on culinary education and local food culture. The spa, with its own pool, is inspired by Roman baths.
This ultra-luxe ship is one of the most environmentally conscious ships in the world. It’s equipped with a large-scale hybrid power source, which combines hydrogen fuel cells, batteries, and dual engines that run on LNG. It can achieve emissions-free operations in ports.
“Vista” from Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises’ first new build in 11 years, the 1,200-passenger Vista, debuts in June in the Mediterranean. The ship offers an impressive 12 dining options—important on an upscale line that prides itself on its popularity with foodies. Vista will have the line’s signature cooking school and largest-in-fleet staterooms. At the top end, palatial Owner’s Suites are being styled by Ralph Lauren Home, which is also decorating the top-of-ship library.
In 2022, Oceania launched some 200 Go Green tours that look to educate travelers on ways people at ports are working to conserve their environment. In St. Lucia, you can book a tour to learn about beekeeping practices at an apiculture collective; in Norway, you can meet with a designer who upcycles to create eco-conscious clothing.