The Vibe: Fun and family-focused—like its sister ship, the Carnival Dream—Magic has kid-friendly cabin styles (one that sleeps five and has two bathrooms); an outsize water park; plus a two-story adults-only area. (Is this why they call it magic?)
Highlights: A sports deck with a ropes course and outdoor weight-lifting; a Caribbean restaurant with a lengthy rum menu, flights of local beer, and Jamaican wings.
Itineraries: Seven-, nine-, and 12-day Mediterranean cruises out of Barcelona through November 2011; seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Galveston, Texas, after that.
Carnival Cruise Lines Launch Date: May 2011
Size: 3,690 passengers; 130,000 tons. 888/227-6482; carnival.com; from $799 per person, double, for seven nights.
Allure of the Seas
The Vibe: A veritable city afloat, divided into distinct neighborhoods (as on its twin, the Oasis of the Seas, currently the world’s largest cruise ship).
Highlights: The 28 two-story Loft cabins, resembling chic urban apartments; an “aqua arena” for high-dive and acrobatic shows; a full-length production of Chicago; a 3-D movie theater; an 82-foot zipline; a 22,000-square-foot park.
Itineraries: Seven-night cruises, out of Fort Lauderdale, alternating between the eastern and western Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean Launch Date: December 2010
Size: 5,400 passengers; 220,000 tons. 866/562-7625; royalcaribbean.com; from $729 per person, double, for seven nights.
The Vibe: Sophistication at sea. Celebrity struck gold with 2008’s Solstice, which put design, cuisine, and technology at the forefront; the Silhouette is the fourth entry in that class.
Highlights: Croquet and bocce on a real-live lawn; a glassblowing studio; a jazz club featuring performances by name musicians.
Itineraries: Twelve-night Holy Land cruises out of Rome from July through October; then 12-night cruises alternating between the eastern and southern Caribbean out of Cape Liberty, New Jersey.
Celebrity Cruises Launch Date: July 2011
Size: 2,850 passengers; 122,000 tons. 800/437-3111; celebritycruises.com; from $1,229 per person, double, for 12 nights.