New cruise ships launching in 2021 including those delayed by the pandemic

Cruise holidays have been brought to a halt this year due to the impact of the pandemic with travel restrictions and changes in advice for holidaymakers.

However, that hasn’t stopped cruise lines from preparing to welcome new additions to their fleets.

There are plenty of cruise ships which were set to launch in 2020 but have been delayed (unsurprisingly) and are now set to make their big debut in 2021.

Then there are the ships which were always planned for a 2021 launch – although some have been pushed back to 2022.

For those missing cruises who want a dose of wanderlust, we take a look at the cruise ships currently set to take to the waters in 2021…

1. Iona, P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises’ new ship is called Iona

Iona was originally set to launch in May 2020 sailing to the Norwegian Fjords. This has been pushed back – although no official date has been confirmed, there are sailings available to book from September 2021.

At 185,000 tonnes and 345m in length with 17 guest decks, she is the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market, and incidentally will be the sixth largest in the world.

We’ve got a guide with everything we know about Iona so far including the cabins, entertainment and restaurants that will be on offer.

2. Spirit of Adventure, Saga

Spirit of Adventure

Spirit of Adventure was due to launch in November 2020, but the impact of the pandemic meant that Saga only took delivery of the ship in September, with her inaugural cruise currently planned for May 4 2021.

The new ship boasts a gross tonnage of 58,250 GT and will offer 554 cabins, all of which have a balcony, as well as heaps of fine dining venues. She will be able to accommodate up to 999 passengers.

Cruise fans got a glimpse of the ship when she arrived in the UK.

3. Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Cruises

Blue and white cruise ship Celebrity Apex in a shipyard before her debut in March 2020
Celebrity Apex cruise ship

Celebrity Apex was due to launch in April 2020, but this has been pushed back. In September she made a brief appearance in Southampton ahead of her trans-Atlantic sailing to Florida.

Celebrity Apex boasts a gross tonnage of 129,500 and will hold up to 2,908 passengers. We’ve got a sneak peek inside the ship including the cabins and restaurants if you want to catch a glimpse of what will be on offer for passengers.

There are currently sailings planned onboard Apex from March 2021.

4. Bolette and Borealis, Fred Olsen

New ship Borealis joins the Fred Olsen fleet

Fred. Olsen will be offering sailings on not one but TWO new cruise ships in 2021, set to sail from April.

Borealis will be the first to return to sailing with her maiden cruise on April 23 to the Scottish Lochs and Isles, while Bolette will follow with a sailing on May 29.

Both ships have already been delivered to the Fred Olsen fleet and were originally set to launch in 2020, but at the time of writing Fred Olsen has temporarily paused operations until April 2021.

5. TUI River Cruises

A view of the TUI Isla river cruise ship
TUI Isla

TUI was set to launch its new river cruises in 2020, with three new ships – TUI Isla, TUI Maya and TUI Skyla.

However, these have been delayed now to launch in 2021. (We’ve got a sneak peek inside the ships if you want to see what’s on offer).

The three ships are now set to make their debut in March and April 2021 instead.

6. Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess, Princess Cruises

Enchanted Princess

Enchanted Princess was due to join the Princess Cruises fleet in 2020, with the ship set to offer swanky cabins, pools, a casino, theatre, movie nights under the stars, and dining options spanning gourmet offerings to laidback pizzerias. She will hold up to 3,660 guests. Her inaugural sailing is now planned for 2021 although there is currently no confirmed date.

She’s not the only new ship for the cruise line.

Discovery Princess will be the sixth ship for the company, and she’s currently planned to sail in November 2021. Expect some of the largest balonies at sea, a luxurious spa, and swanky dining options with food from Michelin-star chefs. Other highlights will include an on-board casino, theatre and of course, some top deck pools. She will be able to host up to 3,660 guests.

7. MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seashore, MSC Cruises

MSC Virtuosa

MSC Virtuosa was scheduled to launch in September 2020 but is now set to make her debut in April 2021, with a winter maiden voyage to the Gulf region, homeporting in Dubai.

She will be one of the two largest ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet, along with sister ship MSC Grandiosa.

Highlights include Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, virtual personal cruise assistant Zoe (think Amazon’s Alexa but for cruises), the Galleria packed with shops, restaurants and social spots where you’ll also find concerts and parties, an MSC Aurea Spa and of course some seriously breathtaking cabins.

A rendering of cruise ship MSC Seashore
MSC Seashore

Meanwhile, MSC Seashore is set to make her debut in June 2021 and will be the first of the company’s Seaside Evo ships, about 16m longer than other ships in the cruise line’s fleet.

Her inaugural season in the summer will be in the Mediterranean, before later offering itineraries to the likes of Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas. On-board highlights include a new aft pool, luxurious suites with hot tubs on their balconies, and even larger main restaurants, casinos, retail and entertainment areas.

8. Mardi Gras, Carnival

A sneak peek of BOLT - the world's first rollercoaster at sea
A sneak peek of BOLT – the world’s first rollercoaster at sea

Mardi Gras’ inaugural sailing was initially planned for 2020 but this has now been pushed back to April 24 2021.

One of the ship’s most highly-anticipated features is the onboard rollercoaster BOLT, where riders can control the speed and even race with their families. (You can take a sneak peek at what to expect here). Her sister ship Carnival Celebration, launching in 2022, will also feature the BOLT ride.

Oh, and we’ve also got a look inside the ship including the restaurants, entertainment and general decor too!

9. Odyssey of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

It’s a brand new private island owned by Royal Caribbean

Planned for a November 2020 debut, the 4,200-passenger ship will now be taking to the seas in April 2021 for an inaugural season in the Mediterranean, before heading over to the US for Caribbean sailings from November including stops at Royal Caribbean’s £191million private island CocoCay.

The ship will have heaps of brilliant features including an onboard wave machine, indoor skydiving experience, a huge theatre, spacious pools, an escape room, and countless bars and restaurants offering everything from casual eateries to fine dining.

10. Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, Virgin Voyages


Scarlet Lady, the first cruise ship for Virgin’s new cruise line, made her UK debut in February 2020, all ready for her maiden voyage in the USA. Then the pandemic hit. Months later cruises around the world were suspended, so inevitably her inaugural season was delayed. (We got a tour inside the ship when she arrived in the UK if you want to catch a glimpse of what’s on offer).

Currently her new inaugural sailing is currently set for May 9 2021.

A second ship was already planned to follow Scarlet Lady’s footsteps; Valiant Lady. She is still expected to make her debut in 2021, with a maiden voyage planned for November 14, 2021.

Cruise ships delayed from 2021 onwards

Unsurprisingly, some ships were due to launch in 2021 but have already been pushed back due to the impact of the pandemic.

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish was due to be revealed in 2021 and head on her first sailings in early 2022, but Disney has already said that her maiden voyage is now planned for Summer 2022.

Meanwhile the delivery of Celebrity’s new ship Celebrity Beyond will be delayed by about 10 months, meaning it will join the fleet in 2022 instead.

Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas is another ship that was due to be delivered in 2021 but this has been pushed back, although no new date has yet to be confirmed.

Costa Cruises’ Costa Tocana is also expected to be delivered in 2022 instead of 2021.

  • At the time of writing, the Foreign Office advises Brits against travel on a sea-going cruise ship. You can find out more in the latest FCDO cruise travel advice.

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