March will bring P&O’s Britannia, the biggest ship in the line’s fleet for the U.K. market. She’ll have the biggest spa in the fleet, upgraded cuisine, the new Cookery School with British celebrity chef James Martin -- and a sure-to-be-popular innovation: single cabins with balconies.
Uniworld’s Maria Theresa, sister to the Catherine and Antoinette, debuts in March, to sail along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.
Also in March, American Cruise Lines will debut the American Eagle, sister to Queen of the Mississippi; she will sail roundtrip Mississippi River cruises from New Orleans.
On March 24, Avalon’s newest river boat, the Avalon Tapestry II will be christened in France. The boat is the first suite ship in France and will sail such itineraries as “Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches”. The following month, another of Avalon’s suite ships, the Avalon Tranquility II, will begin sailing the rivers of Europe.
Starting in April, CroisiEurope’s new Loire Princesse will sail 6- to 8-day cruises on the Loire River. This will be the first time that a vessel with cabins has cruised the Loire.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas was billed as the most technically advanced ship afloat. Sister Anthem of the Seas debuts in April, with all the toys that generated so much press for Quantum, including the skydiving simulator, bumper cars, robo bartenders and virtual balconies for inside cabins that display real-time views via floor-to-ceiling LCD TV screens mounted on the outside of the ship. Anthem will be based in Southampton during the summer, offering Mediterranean itineraries; over the winter months, it will sail Caribbean itineraries out of Bayonne’s Cape Liberty port.
Viking Star, the first of Viking’s oceangoing vessels will also debut in April, with maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. Viking Star’s itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights. Cruise fares will include a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Complimentary amenities included: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service. Three sister ships are ordered, with the next to debut in 2016. Viking has also ordered 12 new river vessels for 2015: 10 Longships and two vessels for the Elbe River.
In another April launch, Le Lyrial joins four sister ships as the last vessel in the Ponant fleet. Like her sister ships, Le Lyrial will cruise the Mediterranean for her inaugural season, to Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece and Turkey - before heading to Antarctica.
SS Maria Theresa will sail from Budapest to Amstersdam on Uniworld’s European Jewels tour, as well as the Tulips & Windmills, European Holiday Markets, and Grand Christmas & New Year’s cruises.
Starting in May, AmaWaterways’ new AmaSerena, sister to the AmaPrima, will sail itineraries on Europe’s great rivers: the Rhine, Main and Danube.
June will see the debut of Mein Schiff 4, the second new-build from German-based Tui Cruises, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and TUI AG. Departing Kiel, Germany on June 5, the ship will sail her maiden voyage on June 6, calling on ports in the Baltic and continuing to sail a variety of Baltic itineraries. During the winter season, the ship sails seven-day voyages to the Canary Islands, Morocco and Madera.
Also in June, the new flagship of AIDA cruises will be christened with the name AIDAprima. The line is the first to have a ship sailing year-round from a German port. Hamburg will be the homeport for seven-day voyages visiting the cities of Western Europe.
On August 17, AmaWaterways’ new AmaDara makes its inaugural sailing on the Mekong River. Like sister ship AmaLotus, the AmaDara will operate 16-day programs to Vietnam and Cambodia.
Norwegian Escape, the first in NCL’s Breakaway-Plus Class, will debut in November and sail Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. As a “Plus,” it will have one more deck than the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. Other features: Tobacco Road, the legendary Miami bar; The Waterfront, for outdoor dining and drinking; a hull painting by artist Guy Harvey.
Also in November, Pandaw River Expeditions launches the new Laos Pandaw, sister to the Kha Byoo, on the first-ever 10-night sailings through the Laos.
And just to make 2015 more interesting, many ships will undergo renovations and refurbishments; these include Regent’s Explorer of the Seas, Celebrity’s Eclipse, Seabourn’s Sojourn, Carnival’s Miracle, Azamara’s Quest and