8 of the best new cruise ships for 2016

CNN  — 

It’s set to be a big year for cruise fans.

Three massive beauties – including a new world’s largest cruise ship – aimed at those who like their cruises with a heavy dose of thrills are set to shake up the industry in 2016.

Prefer opulence to amusement? Good news: The new year also belongs to those who seek the ultimate in indulgent cruising. And then there are the ships that offer a little of both.

We’ve covered them all in this round up of the hottest new ships setting sail in 2016:

1. Carnival Vista

Today’s megaships are offering bigger and better thrill rides and Carnival Vista is no exception.

Its SkyRide – invented by the same guy who came up with Rollerblades in the 1980s – will be the cruise industry’s “first pedal-powered, aerial attraction.”

Guests pedal two side-by-side pods on an 800-foot track (244 meters), some 20 to 40 feet above the highest ship deck.

Carnival Vista’s water park will feature the new 455-foot Kaleid-O-Slide – a rainbow-colored drop that gives riders a psychedelic vibe, while the ship will also have the first ever IMAX Theater at sea.

Beer lovers will dig the handcrafted beers brewed each day in the RedFrog Pub’s microbrewery. Five tables have their own taps, allowing guests to refill as required.

Suites in the families-only lounge will sleep up to five, while parents can drop off kids under 12 at Camp Ocean and head for the aptly titled Serenity Adult-Only Retreat.

The Carnival Vista launches in May 2016 in the Mediterranean then will homeport in Miami, Florida.

2. Holland America’s ms Koningsdam

Ms Koningsdam's World Stage, pictured, will feature a 270-degree LED screen.

Love live music? Then the ms Koningsdam is your ride.

This ship’s “Music Walk” will offer three different stages.

World-class musicians from the Lincoln Center Stage will perform nightly thanks to the ship’s partnership with the famed performing venue.

Live musicians will rock the crowd with cover hits while the B.B. King’s Blues Club is set to deliver a Memphis sound at sea.

Aside from live tunes, the ship’s top deck is home to a stunning pool with fountains and three whirlpools. A spa features thermal pools, heated ceramic lounges and treatment rooms with sea views.

The ms Koningsdam also promises exquisite garden-to-table cuisine (thanks to its glass-enclosed growing space) and offers several upscale suite choices – including family units that sleep five. The ms Koningsdam, which will hold about 2,650 guests, departs Italy in April 2016 and will sail the Mediterranean.

In November 2016, she homeports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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3. Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer

Hailed as “the most luxurious cruise ship ever built,” Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer will carry just 750 passengers.

This all-suite, all-balcony ship will have six world-class restaurants, opulent suites, a two-story theater featuring Broadway-style productions and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

Known for being inclusive, airfare, alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and spirits), shore excursions, Wi-Fi, gratuities and more – depending on your suite package – are wrapped into the initial fare. The Seven Seas Explorer leaves Monte Carlo in July 2016 for Venice and arrives in Miami in December 2016.

This floating full-service resort will then make two round-trip cruises from Miami to the Caribbean before heading through the Panama Canal.

4. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Stretching 1,187 feet, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas will soon be the largest ship sailing the globe.

The Harmony’s dining choices are vast, with the ship featuring 20 restaurants and seven “neighborhoods.”

Along with towering water slides are water cannons, a drench bucket, multiplatform jungle gym, two climbing walls, a zip line and ice-skating rink. It also has a lavish spa and fitness center and age-appropriate camps for the kids.

The ship, which will hold 5,479 passengers, launches in May 2016 and will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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5. Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas

Quantum of the Seas with have its own Bionic Bar, featuring robot bartenders.

The Ovation of the Seas will become the third ship in Royal Caribbean’s action-packed Quantum class to sail our planet.

The ship will feature the wildly innovative inside cabins with “virtual balconies” that use high definition flat screens that replicate the look of an actual veranda.

External cameras provide real-time views giving interior-cabin passengers the sights and sounds of an actual balcony experience.

As for the ship itself, it offers 2,090 staterooms and holds about 4,180 passengers. ids will be drawn to the excitement of the FlowRider surf simulator, a towering rock-climbing wall, indoor roller skating and skydiving simulator RipCord by iFLY.

The Ovation will also have a North Star gondola propelling guests 300 feet above the ocean in a glass capsule. The ship launches in April 2016 and will homeport in Tianjin, China, and Sydney, Australia.

6. Seabourn Encore

Carrying just 600 guests, this 12-level ship will have 300 opulent suites (each with a private veranda) and will visit ports tucked away in tight spots the big ships can’t access.

Gourmet dining is a given and open bars will be sprinkled throughout the ship.

The Grand Salon is a stunning space that will be the setting for Seabourn’s guest speaker series, Seabourn Conversations (think big-deal movers-and-shakers), as well as cooking demos, comedy acts, classical recitals and more.

Evenings are for dancing as vocal and cabaret performances take center stage. or those in need of some gambling action, every night the Seabourn Encore’s The Club transforms into an intimate full casino with slot machines, blackjack and roulette tables.

The Seabourn Encore begins sailing in December 2016, making its way through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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7. Viking Sea

Viking Sea is the cruise brand's second luxury ocean vessel.

Once only serving river cruise enthusiasts, Viking has embraced ocean travel with its new line of luxury ocean vessels. In 2016, the Viking Sea will join the Viking Star.

The ship is glamorous and cozy in equal parts.

Each suite will have a king-sized bed, a generously sized veranda, a mini-bar replenished daily and luxury robes and slippers.

Nice touches include a bottle of welcome champagne, in-suite binoculars and complimentary laundry services. he main theater features live performances that delve deep into the destination’s culture.

Guests will get to watch films in two movie theaters that show first-run films as well as destination-driven classics. A unique (and mellow) space called the Wintergarden is set to offer afternoon tea service.

Viking Sea is scheduled to sail in April 2016 from Istanbul and will continuously circle Europe.

8. AIDAprima

The first ship to serve the German market on a year-round basis, AIDAprima will become the largest ship in the AIDA line when it starts cruising in April 2016. It has 1,643 cabins – half offering private verandas.

Thrills come in the form of one of the longest water slides at sea, rock climbing and a Hawaiian-style “beach club” under an expandable, transparent dome.

Tux-code? Not at this party. AIDAprima keeps it casual with no formal dress requirements and (mainly) open seat dining.

There will be 13 restaurants on board including buffets, a steakhouse and an Italian venue.

The stunning three-level Theatrium will feature an impressive circular stage with LED technology and an interactive floating globe. Kids’ play areas cater to four different age groups.

The AIDAprima will homeport in Hamburg, Germany and offer Western Europe itineraries.

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Wendy Irvine is a U.S.-based freelance writer who specializes in family travel.