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Preview: The hottest new cruise ships of 2018

New cruise vessels coming in 2018 include ships from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Seabourn and Holland America.


Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, shown here under construction in October 2017, will be the world's largest cruise ship when it debuts in March 2018.  Royal Caribbean International

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Royal Caribbean's next ship, Symphony of the Seas, will be the largest cruise vessel ever built. At 230,000 tons, it'll be slightly bigger than Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas (shown here), the current record holder.  Michel Verdure

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A photo taken in October 2017 shows the water slide area of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas taking shape.  Royal Caribbean International

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The main theater of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, as seen in a construction photo taken in October 2017.  Royal Caribbean International

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A sister ship to Norwegian Cruise Line's eight-month-old Norwegian Joy, to be called Norwegian Bliss, is scheduled to debut in April. Carrying 4,000 passengers at double occupancy, it'll sail in Alaska and the Caribbean.  Norwegian Cruise Line

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Norwegian Cruise Line's next ship, Norwegian Bliss, will have a deck-top Aqua Park with two major water slides, as seen in this architectural drawing.  Norwegian Cruise Line

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Among the attractions of the Aqua Park planned for Norwegian Bliss is a water slide with a loop over the ocean.  Norwegian Cruise Line

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Scheduled to debut in April 2018, the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss will be the first North America-based cruise ship with a race track on its top deck.   Norwegian Cruise Line

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Norwegian Bliss will be the third vessel in Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway-Plus series, which began debuting in 2015 with the arrival of Norwegian Escape.  Norwegian Cruise Line

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At the center of Norwegian Bliss' public decks will be a three-deck-high open area called Ocean Place, as seen in this architectural drawing.  Norwegian Cruise Line

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Norwegian Bliss will feature a new venue called the A-list bar, a subtle homage to Norwegian Cruise Line president and CEO Andy Stuart.  Norwegian Cruise Line

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Royal Caribbean's 226,963-ton Harmony of the Seas debuted in May 2016.(Photo: Michel Verdure)

Get ready for a big year in the world of cruising. 

Just about every major cruise line will have a new ship in 2018 as the industry continues to expand rapidly around the globe. 

Among the newcomers will be a new vessel from Royal Caribbean that will smash the record for biggest cruise ship ever — if only by a tad. Dubbed Symphony of the Seas, it'll carry more than 6,000 passengers and feature dozens of lounges, bars and restaurants as well as an array of deck-top amusements.

Just as notable will be a new ship from Royal Caribbean's sister company, Celebrity Cruises. To be called Celebrity Edge, the 2,900-passenger vessel will be the line's first new ship in six years and boast an innovative new design.

RELATED:  The biggest cruise stories of 2017 

Also unveiling new ships in 2018 are Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line. At all five brands, the newcomers will be sisters to earlier vessels. Fast-growing Viking Ocean Cruises also will be rolling out a new ship in 2018 — its fifth since its 2015 debut. 

In all, that adds up to eight major new oceangoing cruise ships aimed at the North American market. What will the ships be like? With the peak period for cruise booking — aka Wave Season — now underway, USA TODAY Cruises offers the following guide to the new vessels of 2018 (click on the ship names below to go to a full page on each of the newcomers that offers details on on-board features, home ports, itineraries and pricing).

USA TODAY Cruises guide to the new ships of 2018 (oceangoing vessels)

Page 1: Symphony of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Maiden voyage: March 31

Page 2: Carnival Horizon (Carnival Cruise Line)
Maiden voyage: April 2

Page 3: Norwegian Bliss (Norwegian Cruise Line)
Maiden voyage: April 23

Page 4: Seabourn Ovation (Seabourn Cruise Line)
Maiden voyage: May 5 

Page 5: MSC Seaview (MSC Cruises)
Maiden voyage: June 10 

Page 6: Viking Orion (Viking Ocean Cruises) 
Maiden voyage: June 19

Page 7: Nieuw Statendam (Holland America)
Maiden voyage: Dec. 5

Page 8: Celebrity Edge (Celebrity Cruises)
Maiden voyage: Dec. 16 

In addition to the above vessels, there also are several major oceangoing
ships coming in 2018 from lines that cater to overseas markets such as
Germany's Aida. The year also will bring several new small, expedition-style cruise vessels from such companies as Lindblad Expeditions and Ponant. 

USA TODAY Cruises:  The 25 most beautiful ships at sea 


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