They just keep comin' and they're bigger than ever. By year-end, seven brand new mega ships will have debuted, and all are outfitted with lots of dining, entertainment and recreation outlets, plus huge spas and gym, and impressive facilities for kids. Here are the highlights:

Noordam (

  • Debuted: February, 2006
  • The Stats: 85,000 tons, 1,918 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: This stylish ship gets big points for its Starbucks-like Explorations Café, an Internet center cum library, café and gathering place. Just as enticing for foodies is the demonstration kitchen, complete with flat panel TVs around the room; two free cooking demos a week are offered.
  • The Where: Through April, 10- and 11-night Caribbean cruises are round-trip out of New York City; the ship moves to Alaska for the summer, sailing out of Seattle.

Freedom of the Seas (

  • Debuted: April, 2006
  • The Stats: 160,000 tons, 3,634 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: Aside from her sheer size -- she's the biggest cruise ship on earth -- Freedom of the Seas introduced some jaw-dropping diversions for its thousands of passengers a week. In the "I can't believe they put that on a cruise ship department," you'll find a sprawling top-deck water park for all ages, plus a hardcore, really challenging surfing simulator machine, a full-sized Everlast boxing ring, and a pair of hot tubs cantilevered 20 feet out over the side of the ship for amazing views.
  • The Where: The ship's so big, she stays put year-round in the Caribbean doing 7-night cruises out of Miami to the eastern and western islands.

Crown Princess (

  • Debuted: June, 2006
  • The Stats: 113,000 tons, 3,080 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: Could be her ex-con godmother, Martha Stewart, but more wow than that is the The Sanctuary, on a deck just above the spa. Three-quarters canopied and dotted with lounge chairs, trees, and private cabanas, it's a perfect onboard chill-out space, staffed with "serenity stewards" to make sure things stay quiet. Light meals, massages, and beverages are available, and the cover charge to get in is $15 bucks for half a day.
  • The ship also gets big points for having a wedding chapel where the captain himself performs about six or seven bona fide, legal marriages every cruise, and also for having the cruise-ship must-have amenity of the day: a giant video screen up on deck showing showing movies, concerts, and other stuff throughout the day and evening.
  • The Where: 9-night eastern and western Caribbean sailings though October, all from New York's new Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Afterwards, the ship will reposition to San Juan for winter Caribbean sailings.

Pride of Hawaii (

  • Debuted: May, 2006
  • The Stats: 92,100 tons, 2,400 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: Well, a-loooowwwHA! NCL's third Hawaii-based, Hawaii-themed ship impresses with its 10 different open-seating restaurants, including a steakhouse and French, Asian and Italian venues. Check out which restaurant has a table or where there's a wait on large computerized "billboard" screens sent up around the ship. Accolades also go to the ship's pair of mansion-sized 4,390-square-foot three-bedroom Garden Villa suites and the smaller Courtyard Villas that share a private pool and sundeck area.
  • The Where: 7-night inter-island Hawaii cruises year-round from Honolulu.

Costa Concordia (

  • Debuted: July, 2006
  • The Stats: 112,000 tons, 3,000 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: This well-stocked mega ship even has a high-tech Grand Prix driving simulator. Guests can "virtually" compete at virtual speeds of virtually 200 miles per hour. Reserved for the 16 and older set, there's nothing else like this at sea.
  • The Where: 7- and 11-night Europe cruises round-trip from Civitavecchia/Rome year-round.

MSC Musica (

  • Debuted: June, 2006
  • The Stats: 89,600 tons, 2,550 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: Aside from being christened by that ageless screen siren Sophia Loren, the Musica's claim to fame is it's MSC's biggest ship to date. The vessel boasts all the latest must-haves: from a three-deck theater to an 8,000-square-foot casino, 13,000-square-foot spa center, tennis court, golf simulator and miniature golf course.
  • The Where: 7- and 11-night Europe cruises round-trip from Genoa through most of next year.

Norwegian Pearl (

  • Debuting: November, 2006
  • The Stats: 92,100 tons, 2,384 passengers double occupancy
  • The WOW: You think the 10 restaurants, 14 bars, and over-the-top Garden Villa and Courtyard Villa suites are pretty impressive? There's more: The Pearl redefines cool with a full-size, four-lane, ten-pin onboard bowling alley!
  • The Where: 5- and 9-night Caribbean cruises out of Miami through May; May through September, 7-night Alaska cruises round-trip from Seattle.

Coming Soon to a Port Near You in 2007

Another six brand new mega ships will make their debut, including:

  • Carnival Freedom (
  • Debuting: February 2007
  • The Stats: 110,000 tons, 2,974-passengers double occupancy, fifth in the Conquest class
  • Emerald Princess (
  • Debuting: May 2007
  • The Stats: 113,000 tons, 3,110 passengers double occupancy, sister to Crown Princess
  • Liberty of the Seas (
  • Debuting: May 2007
  • The Stats: 160,000 tons, 3,600 passengers, sister to Freedom of the Seas
  • Costa Serena (
  • Debuting: summer 2007
  • The Stats: 112,000 tons, 3,000 passenger, sister to CostaConcordia
  • MSC Orchestra (
  • Debuting: summer 2007
  • The Stats: 89,600 tons, 2,600 passengers, sister to MSC Musica
  • Norweigan Gem (
  • Debuting: October 2007
  • The Stats: 92,100 tons, 2,400 passengers, sister to Norwegian Pearl

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