Several new ships hit the water this year – but the ones I like might surprise you

Whenever I see articles about new cruise ships coming online next year, I always see a single ship mentioned as the ‘Most Anticipated Ship of 2014’: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

Quantum of the Seas will even feature a capsule known as the NorthStar that will whisk guests high above the ship - and the sea. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Quantum of the Seas will even feature a capsule known as the NorthStar that will whisk guests high above the ship – and the sea. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Make no mistake about it – Quantum of the Seas is nothing short of impressive. Like her larger fleetmates Oasis and Allure of the Seas, they are nothing if not amazing achievements in maritime engineering and creativity.

It makes me sound like the old man in the crowd, but I’m just not that excited about it.

Sure, laying claim to the first bumper car area at sea is pretty cool. So is the skydiving simulator, the enhanced FlowRider surfing simulator, the massive “Sports Court” arena, and the “NorthStar” glass-enclosed capsule mounted to the end of 135-foot long crane arm just aft of the radar mast that will swing guests out over the open sea.

A long ocean voyage may be just what you need to "reset." Photo © Aaron Saunders

Things I will miss aboard Quantum of the Seas: the massive, open Promenade decks found on past Royal Caribbean vessels. Photo © Aaron Saunders

For all of its amazing technological innovations, it seems to leave one rather important thing out: the joy of being at sea. In fact, Quantum of the Seas appears to be designed to hide the sea from guests as much as possible.

This is a huge switch from ships like the 1996-built Grandeur of the Seas or the larger, more modern Radiance of the Seas – ships belonging to two entirely different classes that were touted for their sleek, elegant styling and walls of floor-to-ceiling glass windows that let in light – and ocean views – from every corner.

In typical Royal Caribbean fashion, I’m sure Quantum of the Seas will prove me wrong. The line rarely, if ever, makes bad decisions with their newbuilds, and I have no doubt passengers from around the world will flock to Quantum just as they have to Oasis and Allure of the Seas.

It’s just not for me.

Norwegian Getaway experiences her first night outside of the building dock at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Photo courtesy of Meyer Werft

Norwegian Getaway experiences her first night outside of the building dock at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Photo courtesy of Meyer Werft

Not that I don’t like big ships; I’m hugely excited about Norwegian Cruise Line’s forthcoming Norwegian Getaway, the Miami-themed sister to this year’s New York-esque Norwegian Breakaway.

Click here to read our coverage from onboard Norwegian Breakaway!

To me, Norwegian did everything right with this ship: they appealed to people who don’t give two craps about the ocean while at the same time managing to satisfy cruising traditionalists who like their promenade decks, open spaces and ocean views. Their oceanfront promenade deck known as The Waterfront became my favorite new cruise innovation in a long time.

CruiseCritic Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown and Princess Executive Vice President Rai Caluori stand in front of Regal Princess at her float-out this past March at the Fincantieri shipyards in Italy. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

CruiseCritic Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown and Princess Executive Vice President Rai Caluori stand in front of Regal Princess at her float-out this past March at the Fincantieri shipyards in Italy. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises

I’m also excited about Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess, which sets sail in May. The first sister-ship to this year’s Royal Princess, Regal Princess will sport several tweaks and enhancements over her predecessor as designs are refined and passenger flow and behaviour are better understood. If Royal Princess wasn’t a resounding success this past June, Regal Princess is the ship that could exceed all expectations.

Costa Diadema sets sail in the fall of 2014 as the first 'Dream Class' ship to enter service for the line. Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises.

Costa Diadema sets sail in the fall of 2014 as the first ‘Dream Class’ ship to enter service for the line. Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises.

Finally, I am really excited for the launch of Costa CruisesCosta Diadema. As hard to say as it is to spell, she will become the line’s largest vessel in operation for Costa and the largest passenger ship to fly the Italian flag when she enters service in the fall of 2014.

Based upon the highly-successful (and super-sexy) Carnival Dream, Costa Diadema will be the first ship of this class to enter service for a line other than Carnival, and I am endlessly interested to see how the line tweaks her design for her primarily European-based clientele.

There’s a lot to like about the newest crop of ships to enter service this year. Here’s to hoping they don’t have to all have bumper cars onboard to succeed.

From the Deck Chair will return tomorrow.

 

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