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On the Horizon: The next wave of new luxury cruise ships


After a pandemic lull during which many companies disposed of old tonnage and reviewed their fleets for 'right-sizing', we are entering a new period of announcements and ship building. Read on for expansion news from some of our favourite luxury small-ship cruise lines, with brand new ships on the horizon from Windstar, Regent, Oceania, and Crystal...

Particularly interesting to us here at Mundy Cruising is the growing small ship luxury fleet, in striking contrast to the mega ships under construction for the contemporary market.

In April we learnt that Windstar Cruises is to welcome two new ships to the fleet, a third class of ship to join the iconic Wind Class sailing ships, and the sleek stretched and refurbished all-suite Star Plus Class yachts.

The two all-suite motor yachts will be named Star Seeker and Star Explorer; Star Seeker is currently being constructed in the WestSEA shipyard in Portugal. Delivery is planned for December of 2025, and the new itineraries for this ship include a return to two very popular Windstar destinations, Alaska and Japan, which will be bookable by early August. Meanwhile, Star Explorer is expected in December 2026.

Windstar's new Star Seeker Yacht rendering

Above image & headline image: Renderings of Star Seeker and Star Explorer at sea, courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Each ship will have 112 suites, featuring full private verandas and infinity windows, as well as two new Owner's Suites with wrap-around balconies. Windstar's reputation for charming service is supported by a staff-to-guest ratio of 1:2, and these little ships will maintain the classic intimate atmosphere.

Industry watchers who recognise that the Windstar ships will be sisters to those currently under operation for Atlas will notice key enhancements and adjustments to the plans to make them true Windstar vessels, including the watersports platform with all-new staircase access, the cosy Yacht Club café and lounge, a two-level spa and fitness facility, an intimate forward whirlpool on the bow, and a spacious open deck perfect for sunbathing and Windstar's famous deck barbecues.

Windstar's new Star Seeker Yacht rendering

Image: Rendering of Windstar's new yacht with watersports platform, courtesy of Windstar Cruises.

Windstar is the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation and we will see a continuation of the augmented dining options, both in the main dining room, al fresco, and in the alternative restaurants.

Whilst Star Seeker and Star Explorer both have ice-strengthened hulls, there appears to be no intention to operate these vessels as expedition ships, but simply to unlock access to new destinations, and with strong green credentials, we can anticipate some interesting itineraries to come.

A view of Mount Fuji, Japan

Image: Japan, one of the destinations explored on board Windstar's new yacht

Continuing the flurry of newbuild announcements, NCLH has announced the most transformative newbuild programme in the company's history - a total of eight state-of-the-art vessels, representing nearly 25,000 additional berths, with new classes of ships for each of its three award-winning brands.

Whilst the announcement to the markets was key, the significance in terms of new ships for NCLH's luxury brands has not received much focus. Suffice to say that building on the success of its Allura Class ships, Oceania Cruises is scheduled to take delivery of two 86,000-gross-ton ships, each with a capacity of 1,400 guests in 2027 and 2029, whilst Regent Seven Seas Cruises is scheduled to take delivery of two 77,000-gross-ton ships, each with a capacity of 850 guests, in 2026 and 2029.

Regent Seven Seas Prestige rendering

Image: Rendering of Regent's new ship, Seven Seas Prestige, courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Over at Crystal, where newbuilds were announced following last year's return to service, A&K has quietly appointed Studio Gem of Genova, headed by Giacomo Mortola and his son Lorenzo Mortola, to design the new ocean and expedition ships for the Crystal brand, whilst Roberto Fazi, senior vice president of marine operations with Crystal, will also lead an internal team of naval engineers and architects that will partner with both Studio Gem and Studio Ibsen, and Adriana Granato will oversee all architectural and interior design projects. According to A&K Travel Group CEO Cristina Levis, her vast knowledge and unparalleled expertise in materials, shapes, and architectural history make her a true visionary in her field.

Crystal New Ship design rendering

Image: Rendering of Crystal's planned new ship, scheduled for delivery in 2028, courtesy of Crystal Cruises.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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