Call it the year of the sister ship. 

Three of North America’s biggest cruise lines – Carnival, Norwegian and Princess – will unveil new vessels in 2019. But while the ships will be new, they’ll look strikingly familiar. All three will be sisters to existing vessels.

Also rolling out a sibling to an existing ship will be Europe-based MSC Cruises. MSC will have two new vessels in 2019 with familiar bones. One will be a sister to the recently unveiled MSC Meraviglia; the other a stretched version of that ship. 

The newcomers won’t be carbon copies of their siblings. Most will offer new features. Princess’ new vessel, for instance, will have the line’s first cabins for families of five.    

But in the world of big oceangoing ships aimed at North Americans, the year won’t have the pizzazz of 2018, which saw the unveiling of the world’s largest cruise ship and a groundbreaking new vessel from Celebrity Cruises.

Among big-ship lines marketing to North Americans, only a minor player in the market, Europe-based Costa Cruises, will unveil a completely new class of ship. The line’s 183,900-ton Costa Smeralda will be the world’s fifth-largest vessel when it debuts late in the year.  

One other big-ship line that caters to North Americans, Royal Caribbean, will be unveiling a new ship in 2019. But in a twist, it won’t be one aimed at American vacationers. To be called Spectrum of the Seas, it’s being custom-built for the Chinese market.

In all, there will be seven big oceangoing cruise ships aimed at the North American market debuting in 2019. What will the vessels be like? With the peak period for cruise bookings – aka Wave Season – getting underway, USA TODAY Cruises offers the following guide to the newcomers (click on the ship names below for a full page on each of each of the vessels including information on onboard features, home ports, itineraries and pricing).

USA TODAY Cruises guide to the new ships of 2019 (oceangoing vessels)

Page 1: Viking Jupiter (Viking Cruises)
Maiden voyage: Feb. 16

Page 2: MSC Bellissima (MSC Cruises)
Maiden voyage: March 4

Page 3: Costa Smeralda (Costa Cruises)
Maiden voyage: Oct. 20

Page 4: Sky Princess (Princess Cruises)
Maiden voyage: Oct. 20  

Page 5: Norwegian Encore (Norwegian Cruise Line)
Maiden voyage: Nov. 2  

Page 6: MSC Grandiosa (MSC Cruises) 
Maiden voyage: Nov. 16 

Page 7: Carnival Panorama (Carnival Cruise Line)
Maiden voyage: Dec. 11 

In addition to the above vessels, there are several major oceangoing
ships coming in 2019 from lines that cater to overseas markets, such as
Germany’s TUI Cruises. The year also will bring several new small, expedition-style cruise vessels from such companies as Hurtigruten, Ponant, Oceanwide Expeditions and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. 

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