Planners considering at-sea meetings or incentive programs in 2016 and beyond will have a host of new options for groups large and small.
Following is a lineup of the latest vessels that already launched or will begin sailing this year. For details on meeting facilities, charters and itineraries, contact the respective cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's
Anthem of the Seas
Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean's second Quantum Class vessel debuted in April in Europe and arrived at its home port of Bayonne, N.J., this past November. The 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas was designed with adrenaline junkies in mind: Onboard activities include a skydiving simulator, a skating rink, bumper cars and the North Star, a pod that extends up and over the ship for a 360-degree view. Another unique feature: Inside cabins have "virtual balconies," which are floor-to-ceiling LCD TV screens linked to a camera mounted on the outside of the ship. Anthem also has the first food truck at sea and a Bionic Bar where cocktails are shaken and stirred by two robot mixologists.
Note: Ovation of the Seas, RCCL's third Quantum Class ship with all the same bells and whistles as Anthem, will debut in August. It will be based in Asia to serve the burgeoning Chinese market.
Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Star
Viking Ocean Cruises
The 930-passenger Viking Star, Viking's first ocean-going vessel, was launched last year in its home port of Bergen, Norway. The ship features 465 staterooms, each with its own veranda. The style is decidedly modern Scandinavian design, with clean lines, woven textiles and light wood. A curated collection of Norwegian artwork bedecks the walls of the restaurants and public spaces.
The ship's spa is based on Scandinavian holistic wellness precepts and features Nordic elements such as a hydrotherapy pool and the first "snow room" at sea. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a space where afternoon tea is served. Viking Ocean Cruises include complimentary excursions in each port, and an onboard cultural-enrichment program featuring academic lecturers, interactive demonstrations and more.
Note: A sister ship, the Viking Sea, will debut in April; the Sea will have the same number of rooms and features as the Star.