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Guide to Royal Caribbean 2016 new cruise ships and refurbishments

05 Jan 2016
Matt Hochberg

In 2016, Royal Caribbean will have a pretty big year with a lot of changes, but perhaps no change is bigger than the anticipated arrival of new cruise ships and refurbishment of quite a few others.

Each year, Royal Caribbean plans on changes to its fleet of ships and if you are considering a 2016 cruise, then you are certainly going to want to consider some of these ships that are getting new upgrades or are joining the fleet for the first time.

Here is what you need to know about the cruise ships joining Royal Caribbean's fleet and which ships will be upgraded this year.

New cruise ships in 2016

A total of three cruise ships are joining Royal Caribbean's fleet in 2016, two are brand new and one is rejoining the fleet.

Harmony of the Seas

If there is one cruise ship you will likely hear or read about, it will be Harmony of the Seas.  

Harmony of the Seas is the third Oasis class ship that will be the largest cruise ship in the world, with 16 guest decks, encompassing 227,000 gross registered tons and carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy across 2,747 staterooms.

Besides her sheer size, Harmony of the Seas is going to offer some firsts for the Oasis class and even Royal Caribbean itself.

Harmony of the Seas will offer guests the first set of real water slides on a Royal Caribbean ship with the addition of the Perfect Storm slides.

Three multi-story slides will be added above Central Park that descend three decks through a series of twists and turns over the ship’s tree-lined Central Park neighborhood 10 decks below.

If you want an even bigger thrill, Harmony of the Seas will feature a 10-story dry slide known as the Ultimate Abyss.

The Ultimate Abyss is more than 150 feet above sea level and offers side-by-side slides that send guests down 10 decks at a rate of 9 miles per hour.

There is plenty more to love about Harmony of the Seas, including a new aquatic adventure park for kids, the classic Broadway musical Grease, dancing robot bartenders at Bionic Bar, virtual balcony staterooms, WOWband RFID bracelets and Voom high speed internet, just to name a few.

New specialty restaurants such as Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Sabor Taqueria and Tequila Bar, and Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine will also be added.

Harmony of the Seas debuts in May 2016 for her inaugural summer season in Europe, before heading to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in November 2016 to offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings.

Ovation of the Seas

Also brand new for 2016 is Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's third Quantum class ship.

Ovation of the Seas will offer the kind of Quantum class innovations that made a name for her sister ships with exciting offerings such as skydiving at Ripcord by iFly, taking to the sky in a 360 degree view 90 meters above the sea in North Star and engaging in a friendly bump or two with bumper cars.

In addition, Ovation of the Seas will offer guests lots of other SmartShip experiences onboard, such as robot bartenders at Bionic Bar, the transformative and incredible entertainment found only in Two70 and the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with SeaPlex.

Ovation of the Seas will also offer Voom high speed internet and WOWbands, so guests can stay connected at sea.

If you are a foodie, Ovation of the Seas will offer great restaurant choices in restaurants like Izumi, Jamie's Italian and Wonderland.

When Ovation of the Seas launches, she will head to Asia to start off with a 52-night Global Odyssey cruise from Southampton, U.K. to Tianjin.  She will follow up her summer season with heading down under for winter in Australia.

Empress of the Seas

While not a new construction, Empress of the Seas is joining Royal Caribbean's fleet in March 2016 after leaving the fleet about eight years ago.

Empress of the Seas will be based in Miami, Florida, where she will sail short four- and five-night getaways to Nassau, The Bahamas; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman and Key West, Florida.

Empress of the Seas was originally launched in 1990 as the Nordic Empress but left the fleet to join a sister company.  Royal Caribbean is returning Empress of the Seas to Royal Caribbean International this year.

Royal Caribbean is offering some unique options on Empress of the Seas, such as fast pier-to-ship boarding with earlier boarding times, longer stays in ports and overnight stays in Cozumel on select five-night itineraries.

In addition, Empress of the Seas will offer guests

  • New Las Vegas-style “Sequins & Feathers” show
  • Newly reimagined Boleros Latin Lounge.
  • Fast pier-to-ship boarding with earlier boarding times of 11:00am
  • New pools and whirlpools
  • Voom internet
  • Chops Grille
  • Stateroom Refresh
  • Reimagined Casino

When Empress of the Seas does start offering cruises, guests can look forward to Sunday Brunch every day of the cruise, with complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa cocktails.  There will also be new poolside activities, like Plunge and Voom high speed internet.

Cruise ship refurbishments in 2016

Royal Caribbean is always looking to add more value to their ships and in 2016, four Royal Caribbean ships are getting upgrades, refurbishments and some nice changes.

Here is a list of what you can expect to see changed in the coming year.

Liberty of the Seas

Later in January 2016, Royal Caribbean will send Liberty of the Seas for a month-long drydock where she will receive a number of upgrades and additions.

Liberty of the Seas returns to service in February 2016 and will offer these changes

  • Two racer water slides, called Cyclone and Typhoon that will be added at the aft of the ship alongside the Flowrider surf simulator.
  • Tidal Wave, the first Boomerang style water slide at sea that features a steep drop, where riders are propelled up a near vertical wall for a moment of weightlessness and then into a freefall.
  • An adult-free zone with the introduction of Splashaway Bay, an aqua park featuring an interactive kid’s play area with water cannons, geysers and much more.
  • New specialty restaurants
  • 26 new Panoramic ocean view staterooms that feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls
  • Additional 53 staterooms throughout the ship.

Jewel of the Seas

In April 2016, Jewel of the Seas will get a $30 million bow-to-stern refurbishment that will bring many changes to the ship.

During her refurbishment, Jewel of the Seas renovation features will include

  • New 2 bedroom Family Suite stateroom
  • All staterooms will be renoveated with an additional 42 staterooms added
  • New specialty restaurants will be added
    • Giovanni's Table (replaces Portofino)
    • Vintages (replaces Champagne Bar)
    • Izumi (replaces Seaview Cafe)
  • Pervasive Wi-Fi & Digital signage throughout the ship
  • New poolside movie screen
  • Diamond Club added to the Viking Crown Lounge
  • Renovated Chops Grille
  • Renovated Spa and retail shops
  • Concierge Club will replace Hollywood Odyssey
  • Shoreside Dining Room, Explorer’s Court and Yacht Club will be removed.
  • Addition of Voom high-speed internet

Following her refurbishment, Jewel of the Seas will offer cruises from Rome on an array of itineraries showcasing the best destinations of Italy, Greece and Turkey. These 7, 8, and 9 night itineraries mainly sail through the Greek Isles.

Jewel of the Seas will complete her European itinerary in October 2016 after which she will return to her home port of San Juan, Puerto where she will sail 6, 7, 8 and 9 night Southern Caribbean itineraries.

Majesty of the Seas


Majesty of the Seas will offer summer 2016 cruises from her new home in Port Canaveral, Florida right after she sails to the Bahamas for a drydock for upgrades and receive transformational new onboard amenities.

Work scheduled to occur on Majesty of the Seas includes

  • Complimentary Voom high speed internet access
  • New water slides
  • Family-friendly Jacuzzis
  • Poolside movie screen
  • Dreamworks Experience
  • Enhanced casino
  • New specialty restaurants

Following her upgrades, Majesty of the Seas will be homeported in Port Canaveral starting in summer 2016. Majesty of the Seas will sail 3- and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas with visits to the cruise line’s private island destination, CocoCay.

Adventure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has not revealed plans yet for what changes are coming to Adventure of the Seas, aside from the fact she is on the schedule for a refurbishment in 2016.

Based purely on the schedule of planned cruises, Royal Caribbean has a gap between scheduled sailings for Adventure of the Seas from October 16, 2016 to November 14, 2016.

Anyone looking for a ballpark idea of what to expect, can likely look at the sort of changes Royal Caribbean made to sister ships Navigator of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas for a guide.

Which ship addition or refurbishment are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments!

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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