Giant ships, new destinations: The biggest cruise stories of 2018

From the unveiling of the biggest passenger ship ever to the completion of one of the most ambitious ship overhauls ever, it was another year of milestones in the cruise world. 

Perhaps the biggest cruise story of the year was the debut of Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas – at 228,081 tons, the biggest cruise ship ever. Eighteen decks high and chock full of eateries, bars and entertainment zones, Symphony is a floating mega-resort on a scale only matched by its three slightly smaller sisters. Sailing to the Caribbean year-round out of Miami, it can hold up to 6,680 passengers.

Symphony’s debut in 2018 brought the cruise world its first two-deck-high family suite, complete with a slide between floors, and such innovations as an ice skating show featuring dozens of choreographed, light-emitting drones. The ship also houses Royal Caribbean’s first seafood restaurant. Still, in terms of head-turning new features, Symphony hardly compares to the new vessel unveiled in 2018 by Royal Caribbean sister company Celebrity Cruises: the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge.

Christened in December by Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Malala Yousafzai, the first Nobel laureate to name a cruise ship, Edge is the prototype for a groundbreaking new series of vessels designed to be oriented to the ocean in a way that is unusual for big ships. Among innovations, it boasts outward-facing cabins fronted with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glass – a new concept for ocean cruising. It also features a first-of-its-kind, 90-ton platform the size of a tennis court cantilevered over its side that moves up and down to serve as a lounge, restaurant and tender boat-boarding station.

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