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$9.6bn in new ships, 38,000 lower berths to join global cruise fleet in 2020

Scarlet Lady.jpeg
Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady is perhaps 2020's most anticipated new cruise ship
2020 will ring in 23 new oceangoing cruise ships, adding 37,710 lower berths to the global fleet.

This makes for a total investment of just over $9.6bn, according to Seatrade’s orderbook.

The 'Class of 2020' compares to the 23 oceangoing newbuilds and 41,736 lower berths of 2019, whose total value was just under $9.6bn. (Originally, 25 newbuilds were set for delivery but Star Clippers’ Flying Clipper was in limbo over a dispute with builder Brodosplit, and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s first vessel, Evrima, was postponed at Astillero Hijos de J. Barreras on delivery and cost issues.)

New brands

Perhaps the year’s most anticipated new ship is Scarlet Lady, kicking off Virgin Voyages’ debut as Richard Branson realizes his decades-old dream of a creating a cruise experience he would enjoy. And this is the first ship with a tattoo parlor and drag queen brunches.

As well, the first luxury hotel brand goes to sea with The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s boutique entrant, Evrima.


Big, new-design ships that are LNG-powereed will emerge for P&O Cruises (Iona) and Carnival Cruise Line (Mardi Gras), the latter becoming North America’s first LNG-powered cruise ship. Among their notable features: Iona’s glass SkyDome for day to night activities/entertainment and Mardi Gras’ first roller coaster at sea.

Ten expedition newbuilds

The expedition cruising boom continues, with 10 new ships. Among them are the first bluewater expedition newbuilds for several owners: Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Endurance, Silversea Cruises’ Silver Origin for the Galápagos, Crystal Expedition Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor and Quark Expeditions’ Ultramarine.

Expedition ships continuing a series include Hurtigruten’s Fridtjof Nansen (which was due to be handed over in the last days of 2019), Ponant sisters Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier, SunStone’s Ocean Victory (to operate in Antarctica for Albatros Expeditions and in Alaska for Victory Cruise Lines), Mystic Cruises’ World Voyager and Coral Expeditions’ Coral Geographer.

Further encores

Regent Seven Seas Cruises figured out a way to follow its ‘most luxurious ship ever built’ (2016’s Seven Seas Explorer) with this year’s ‘luxury perfected,’ sister vessel Seven Seas Splendor.

And fellow luxury line Silversea continues its series with Silver Moon, however, the pioneering new culinary program, S.A.L.T., brings a new twist.

Spirt of Adventure follows the first newbuild for Saga Cruises, 2019’s Spirit of Discovery, yet it has a distinct identity with different décor.

Celebrity Apex continues Celebrity Cruises’ attention-getting series following the big splash of 2018’s Celebrity Edge.

Costa Cruises introduces its second purpose-built ship for the Chinese market with Costa Firenze, whose interiors are themed on Florence, following 2019’s Costa Venezia with its Venetian theme.

The biggest

By tonnage, the largest new ships of 2020 are Iona and Mardi Gras, at 180,000gt. (They’re also the largest in terms of lower berths, with 5,200 each.)

Next sizewise is the 177,000gt MSC Virtuosa (4,900 lower berths), sister of 2019’s MSC Grandiosa, followed by the second Quantum-Ultra ship, Odyssey of the Seas (168,600gt/4,180 lower berths), and Princess Cruises’ Enchanted Princess (143,700gt/3,560 lower berths), fifth in a series after 2019’s Sky Princess.

The smallest

By tonnage, the smallest newbuild is Sea Cloud Cruises’ sailing vessel, Sea Cloud Spirit, at 4,230gt. It can carry 136 passengers. Smallest by capacity is the 100-passenger Silver Origin, at 6,000gt.

For a peek inside the year’s new ships highlighting some of their novel features, see the 'Class of 2020' cover story in the latest (digital) issue of Seatrade Cruise Review.