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$10bn in new ships, 39,000 lower berths to join global cruise fleet in 2021

From left, Hanseatic Spirit's Glass Balcony, Mardi Gras with its top-deck roller-coaster, Odyssey of the Seas and its North Star viewing capsule
2021 will ring in 27 new oceangoing cruise ships, adding 39,530 lower berths to the global fleet.

This makes for a total investment $10.4bn, according to Seatrade’s orderbook, just updated to include Coral Geographer, arriving in March, instead of late 2021. Twenty-six lines will be adding a new ship (one ship is shared by two brands on a split-year charter), while MSC Cruises and Viking are each gaining two.

15 expedition ships

Among the year's new entrants are a whopping 15 expedition vessels — Coral Geographer for Coral Expeditions; SunStone Ships' Ocean Explorer (for Vantage Travel), Ocean Victory (for Albatros Expeditions and Victory Cruise Lines) and Sylvia Earle (for Aurora Expeditions); Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Resolution, Ponant's Le Commandant-Charcot, Atlas Ocean Voyages' World Navigator, Quark Expeditions' Ultramarine, Scenic's Scenic Eclipse II, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Hanseatic Spirit, Crystal Expedition Cruises' Crystal Endeavor, Oceanwide Expeditions' Janssonius, Swan Hellenic's SH Minerva, Seabourn's Seabourn Venture and Viking Expeditions' Viking Octantis.

Of these, the one with the highest ice-class rating is Le Commandant-Charcot. Its Polar Class 2 construction allows year-round operation in moderate multi-year ice conditions. National Geographic Resolution and SH Minerva are the next sturdiest, each with a Polar Class 5 rating, which enables year-round operation in medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions.

Four LNG-powered including one hybrid electric

Four ships are LNG-powered: Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras, AIDA Cruises' AIDAcosma, Costa Cruises' Costa Toscana and Ponant's Le Commandant-Charcot which, as a hybrid electric vessel, can also run for stints on battery power.

New brands/brand extensions

Five new brands are debuting their first ships: The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection with its luxury super-yacht Evrima, Crystal subsidiary Crystal Expedition Cruises with Crystal Endeavor, Atlas Ocean Voyages with its expedition ship World Navigator, the revived Swan Hellenic with its expedition entrant SH Minerva and Viking offshoot Viking Expeditions with its Viking Octantis.

The mightiest

By gross tonnage, the year's biggest cruise ships are Carnival's recently delivered Mardi Gras, Costa Toscana and AIDAcosma, each 180,000gt. Then come MSC Cruises' MSC Virtuosa (177,000gt) and MSC Seashore (169,380gt) — the largest cruise ship built in Italy, and Royal Caribbean International's Odyssey of the Seas (168,600gt).

The smallest

The smallest is Sea Cloud Cruises' tall ship Sea Cloud Spirit at 4,230gt, followed by Coral Geographer (5,000gt), Janssonius (5,590gt), sisters Ocean Explorer, Ocean Victory and Sylvia Earle (8,000gt) and World Navigator (9,300gt).


Mardi Gras splashes out as the first LNG-powered cruise ship in the Americas and the Carnival brand's biggest vessel with a new design of six themed zones plus a top-deck roller-coaster, BOLT.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's long-awaited Evrima has a yacht-like profile created by Tillberg Design of Sweden with open aft decks cascading down to a marina.

As the first Seaside EVO ship, MSC Seashore advances the Seaside platform (2018's MSC Seaview, 2016's MSC Seaside) with 200 additional cabins, new public spaces and a triple-deck MSC Yacht Club. It is 16 meters/52.5 feet longer than the first two.

Le Commandant-Charcot will be one-of-a-kind for reasons already mentioned — LNG-powered, hybrid electric and the highest ice class of any new cruise ship. Plus, it has a working science lab.

A science lab will also feature on Viking Octantis, largest of this year's crop of expedition ships (30,150gt). Viking's debut expedition vessel also has The Hangar, an enclosed area with a conveyor to launch rigid inflatable boats for long-range exploration.

Other new-design expedition ships include Crystal Endeavor, Seabourn Venture and Ultramarine.

Sea Cloud Spirit sports 4,100 square meters/44,100 square feet of sails and modern amenities like balcony rooms, a spa and an elevator connecting the five decks.


Ships that continue a series include Ocean Victory, Ocean Explorer and Sylvia Earle for SunStone Ships' Infinity series that began with 2019's Greg Mortimer, all from China and featuring Ulstein's patented X-BOW. Another X-BOW design, National Geographic Resolution, is the sister of 2020's National Geographic Endeavor.

MSC Virtuosa is the second Meraviglia Plus ship, after 2019's MSC Grandiosa, AIDAcosma is the sister of 2018's AIDAnova, the first LNG-powered cruise ship. Valiant Lady follows 2020's Scarlet Lady. Silver Dawn is the younger sister of Silver Moon (2020) and Silver Muse (2017).

Viking Venus is the seventh in Viking's 930-passenger ocean ships series. Rotterdam is Holland America Line's third Pinnacle-class ship, after Nieuw Statendam (2019) and Koningsdam (2016). LNG-powered Costa Toscana is the sister of 2019's Costa Smeralda. Odyssey of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Ultra ship following 2019's Spectrum of the Seas.

World Navigator, though the Atlas brand's first ship, is third in a series built by Atlas parent company, Portugal's Mystic Cruises, following World Voyager (2020) and World Explorer (2019). Janssonius is the sister of 2019's Hondius, while Hanseatic Spirit follows 2019 twins Hanseatic Inspiration and Hanseatic Nature. Scenic Eclipse II is the double of 2019's Scenic Eclipse.

The builders

A wide range of builders are responsible for the new vessels. Fincantieri's various Italian yards are producing five of them, with Fincantieri-owned Vard facilities in Norway, Romania and Vietnam producing an additional four. China Merchants Heavy Industry is also building three. Finland's Meyer Turku and Germany's Meyer Werft are building two each, as is Croatia's Brodosplit.

Each of the following yards is turning out one new cruise ship in 2021: France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique, Spain's Astillero Barreras and Metalships & Docks, Finland's Helsinki Shipyard, Germany's MV Werften, Italy's T. Mariotti, Croatia's Uljanik, Norway's Ulstein Verft and Portugal's WestSea Viana.

For a peek inside the year’s new ships highlighting some of their novel features, see the 'Class of 2021' feature in the latest (digital) issue of Seatrade Cruise Review, available for download.


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