New Ships to Check Out: A Guide for Big Boat Lovers

The world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, has begun its sea trials in the Baltic Sea. The ship, which was was under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, left the yard for the first time in December of 2022, for a series of tests and inspections before its delivery to Royal Caribbean International in late 2023.

Icon of the Seas is the first ship in Royal Caribbean’s new Icon class, which will feature a revolutionary design, size, and look compared to other ships in the fleet. Icon of the Seas will have a gross tonnage of 250,800, making it the largest cruise ship in the world by 6%. It also will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), a cleaner and more efficient fuel source than conventional marine diesel.

Icon of the Seas will sail from Port Miami for its maiden voyage in January 2024. Offering seven-night cruises to the Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean, some of the ports of call include Perfect Day at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in the Bahamas; Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth and Labadee, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

However, if you are looking for a cruise line with a more local port-of-call, you might want to consider booking a cruise from more nearby Galveston, Texas. Galveston is one of the most popular homeports in the U.S., attracting guests from across the Midwest, southwest and western regions. Galveston offers a variety of other attractions as well, such as the historic Strand district, the Moody Gardens, the Pleasure Pier and the Schlitterbahn Waterpark.

However, what makes Galveston even more appealing is the wide variety of cruise options available. Besides two Oasis-class ships from Royal Caribbean, there are several new cruise ships offering voyages from the port.

Carnival Jubilee

Carnival Jubilee is the newest and most innovative ship from Carnival Cruise Line, and it will be delivered to and sailing out of Galveston starting this year. Carnival Jubilee is the third Excel-class ship from the line, joining her sister ships Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. The Excel-class ships are powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) as well, so as to be cleaner and more efficient.

Carnival Jubilee has a capacity of more than 5,400 guests and 1,700 crew, and offers many amazing attractions, such as:

  • The BOLT roller coaster, which is the first roller coaster at sea. Guests can enjoy thrilling twists and turns at speeds up to 40 mph while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean.
  • New designs for suites and staterooms, including Family Harbor suites that can accommodate up to five guests and Havana Cabana suites, which feature private patios with hammocks and pool access.
  • A three-deck atrium on the starboard side of the ship that overlooks the ocean and converts to an entertainment venue at night.
  • A variety of dining options, including Guy Fieri’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, Emeril Lagasse’s Bistro 1396, Big Chicken by Shaquille O’Neal and more.
  • A wide range of entertainment options, including Playlist Productions shows, Punchliner Comedy Club, Lip Sync Battle, Hasbro The Game Show and more.
  • A host of fun activities for all ages, including WaterWorks aqua park, SportSquare recreation area, Cloud 9 Spa, Camp Ocean kids club and more.

Carnival Jubilee sails seven-day cruises to the western Caribbean, visiting ports such as Cozumel, Belize City, Mahogany Bay and Costa Maya, and has been operating since early 2022.

Norwegian Prima

Norwegian Prima is the first ship in Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Prima class, and she will start offering cruises out of Galveston starting in December of 2023. Norwegian Prima is designed to offer guests more space, more luxury, and more experiences than the cruise line ever has.

Norwegian Prima will have a capacity of 3,215 guests and 1,345 crew, and will feature many innovative amenities on board, such as:

  • The Ocean Boulevard, which is a wrap-around promenade deck that offers stunning ocean views and access to various dining venues, bars and lounges.
  • The Infinity Beach Club, which is an adults-only area with two infinity pools that extend over the edge of the ship.
  • The Indulge Food Hall, which is a culinary marketplace with 11 different food stalls serving diverse cuisines from around the world.
  • The Haven by Norwegian, which is an exclusive enclave for suite guests that features a private pool deck, lounge, restaurant and concierge service.
  • A variety of staterooms and suites, including studio cabins for solo travelers, balcony cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious spa suites with whirlpool tubs.
  • A wide range of entertainment options, including Broadway-style shows at the Prima Theater, live music at The Local Bar & Grill, comedy acts at Headliners Comedy Club and more.
  • A host of fun activities for all ages, including Aqua Park with two multi-story waterslides, Ocean Loops with two loops that extend over the side of the ship, Free Fall with a drop slide that plunges guests into a splash zone below, Kids Aqua Park with a pirate-themed play area, Entourage Teen Club with video games, arcade games, and social events, Splash Academy with supervised programs for kids aged 3 to 12, and more.

Norwegian Prima will sail seven-day cruises to the western Caribbean, visiting ports such as Roatan, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. Sailings also are already available for booking.

Allure of the Seas

The Allure of the Seas is one of the largest and most impressive ships in the world, and it has sailed from Galveston since November of 2022. Allure of the Seas is part of the Oasis class of ships, which are known for their seven distinct neighborhoods that offer something for everyone.

Allure of the Seas will have a capacity of 5,484 guests and 2,165 crew, and it will feature many attractions such as:

  • The Boardwalk, which is a lively area with a carousel, a rock climbing wall, a zip line, and the AquaTheater, which hosts spectacular water shows and diving performances.
  • The Central Park, which is a tranquil oasis with lush gardens, live music, and upscale dining venues, such as 150 Central Park, Chops Grille, and Park Cafe.
  • The Royal Promenade, which is a bustling boulevard with shops, bars, and cafes, such as Starbucks, Sorrento’s Pizzeria, and Boleros Latin Lounge.
  • The Pool and Sports Zone, which is an action-packed area with four pools, two FlowRider surf simulators, a mini-golf course, a basketball court, and the Ultimate Abyss, which is the tallest slide at sea.
  • The Vitality Spa and Fitness Center, which is a wellness area with a full-service spa, a fitness center, a solarium, and a jogging track.
  • The Entertainment Place, which is a nightlife area with a casino, a comedy club, a jazz club, and the Royal Theater, which hosts Broadway-style shows such as Mamma Mia! and Blue Planet.
  • The Youth Zone, which is a family-friendly area with Adventure Ocean kids club, Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, Teen Lounge, and more.

Allure of the Seas sails seven-day cruises from Galveston to the western Caribbean, visiting ports such as Falmouth, Labadee, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. Sailings are already available for booking.

Non-Cruise Ships in Galveston

If you are not interested in cruising from Galveston, you can still enjoy the port’s maritime history and culture by visiting some of the non-cruise ships that dock or operate from there. Some of these ships include:

  • The Elissa, which is a three-masted sailing ship built in 1877 and restored by the Galveston Historical Foundation. The Elissa is designated as a National Historic Landmark and offers tours and educational programs to the public.
  • The USS Cavalla and USS Stewart, which are two World War II-era naval vessels that are part of the American Undersea Warfare Center. The USS Cavalla is a submarine that sank a Japanese aircraft carrier during the Battle of Midway. The USS Stewart is a destroyer escort that served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Both ships are open for self-guided tours and special events.
  • The Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, which is a replica of an 1800s paddlewheel boat that offers one-hour cruises around Offatts Bayou. The boat features live entertainment, snacks and drinks, and scenic views of Galveston Island.
  • The Galveston Island Ferry, which is a free service that transports passengers and vehicles between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry ride takes about 18 minutes and offers views of dolphins, pelicans, seagulls, and other wildlife.

Whether you are looking for a cruise or not, Galveston has plenty of ships to offer you an unforgettable experience on the water!

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured

Photo Sources: Royal Caribbean, Turku Shipyard, Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines


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