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With the recent launch of the much-anticipated Queen Elizabeth last week in the UK, I have cast my eye over upcoming ship and river boat launches, and those stretching into 2011, to see what’s new for cruise fans around the world. And the good news is there’s plenty.

In December, the world’s biggest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, welcomes the arrival of her twin sister, Allure of the Seas, joining her on weekly Caribbean runs. Then the new year kicks off with the debut of the Oceania’s Marina on a maiden voyage from Barcelona to Miami on January 22. Carrying just over 1,000 guests, and boasting six restaurants and top suites adorned with furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home, she’s set to start a new era of cruising for this fledgling cruise line.

In February, local cruisers can look forward to the arrival of P&O’s latest fleet member, the Pacific Pearl. Although not a new ship – she was built originally for Sitmar in 1987, then renamed Star Princess after Princess bought the line – she is about to undergo a major overhaul in dry dock ahead of her launch in New Zealand in December. According to P&O, she will have a brand new Aqua spa, an adults-only Sit Down Comedy Cub, and much more.

Orion’s second expedition ship, Orion II will make its debut in 2011, with a ice-strengthened hull and 68 crew, increasing coverage of off-the-beaten-track destinations. Carnival’s new “fun ship”, Magic, will also launch in Europe in May, marking the line’s first full season of Mediterranean cruises in three years, and sporting innovations including overwater spas, and a new partnership with the three-star Michelin chef, Georges Blanc.

The back half of year is also busy. The third of Seabourn’s new-style yachts launches in June, Sojourn, and the new flagship of Costa Cruises’ fleet, Favolosa, takes to the high seas a month later. These will be followed by the Celebrity Silhouette, the fourth in its Solstice class of ships, and P&O UK’s Adonia, boutique in size and a cruising experience exclusively for adults only.

The river boat market is also set to welcome some new faces to the world’ waterways. Uniworld is launching its largest boat to date, the 73-stateroom River Antoinette, which will cruise the Rhine starting in 2011. Viking will launch the new 188-guest “green” Prestige on its eight-day Romantic Danube cruises, and Avalon will launch a new double-deck vessel, Panorama, in May boasting wall-to-wall windows.

All in all, 2011 is set to continue as a busy year in cruising. The good news with all these new vessels is more choice for cruise fans in terms of ships, more things to do at sea for cruisers who prefer to do more than just hang by the pool with a cocktail and iPad in hand, and more reasons for everyone to consider taking to the high seas for a holiday. Happy cruising!