Cruise News Comparing 5 New Cruise Ships Sailing From Florida

Comparing 5 New Cruise Ships Sailing From Florida

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to sail on five new cruise ships across five cruise lines that are now sailing to the Caribbean and Bahamas from Florida.

The ships (Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, Virgin’s Scarlet Lady, Holland America Line’s Rotterdam, Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas, and MSC Seashore) all offer something different depending on what you are looking for. All five vessels made their debut over the past four months.

Here’s a rundown of which cruise ships excelled in different areas so hopefully you can choose the right new cruise ship for your next vacation. Note, I joined a group of media on cruises on all ships with an exception for the cruise on Virgin.


Let’s start with what is one of the most important things when choosing a cruise, the food. Yes, food is very subjective and if you asked five different people what they liked best, you’ll probably get five different answers.

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However, here were my personal three top ships in regards to food:

  1. Virgin’s Scarlet Lady
  2. Holland America’s Rotterdam
  3. Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras

Now, the food was great on all five ships and I had zero complaints.  Scarlet Lady takes the top spot because every meal was great and they are all included in cruise fares, no extra charges for any restaurants.  The specialty dining restaurants on Rotterdam are worth the extra charges and the variety of casual, complimentary dining options on Mardi Gras are second to none.


Royal Caribbean continues to have the best and fastest embarkation process using their mobile app. I went from curb to ship in under 10 minutes, it’s really amazing how fast they are compared to other cruise lines.

  1. Odyssey of the Seas
  2. Rotterdam

I only put the top two for embarkation since the other three required standing in slow moving lines on my cruises.


I had a standard balcony cabin on all five ships so comparing cabins is pretty straight forward.  All the cabins were great and perfectly fine for cruising, but here were my top three.

  1. Mardi Gras
  2. Scarlet Lady
  3. Rotterdam

I thought Mardi Gras was the best overall cabin for spending a week in when factoring in space, outlets, bed, and overall design. While Scarlet Lady lacked storage space, it did have the best shower of all five cabins and the fact that you can control the entire room with a tablet was pretty awesome.

Best Ship for Families

For those looking to travel as a family and with young kids, Mardi Gras and MSC Seashore had great waterparks and programs for younger cruisers. Since Virgin is adults only, they obviously don’t apply to this category.

  1. Mardi Gras
  2. MSC Seashore
  3. Odyssey of the Seas


Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas offers incredible entertainment since they have a main theatre and Two70.  Rotterdam is best for music lovers as the ship had the most variety of music I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship.

  1. Odyssey of the Seas
  2. Rotterdam
  3. Mardi Gras


With more people working remotely than ever before, WiFi has become a necessity for many cruisers including myself. I found it adequate on all five ships but here were the top three.

  1. Odyssey of the Seas
  2. Scarlet Lady
  3. Rotterdam

Note: While basic WiFi is included on Scarlet Lady, I paid to upgrade to the premium package to have the best speeds available.

Outdoor Space

After all, you don’t take a cruise out of Florida to sit inside all day. Two of the features that I loved the most about Mardi Gras and MSC Seashore was all the outdoor space closer to the water and not just up on the top deck.

  1. Mardi Gras
  2. MSC Seashore

Mobile App

Cruise line mobile apps have become an important part of the cruise experience as ships try to eliminate paper as much as possible.  The Carnival HUB app really was the best and easiest to use.  The virtual queue for dining worked flawlessly and made it so easy to get a reservation for lunch or dinner.

  1. Mardi Gras
  2. Odyssey of the Seas
  3. Rotterdam/MSC Seashore

Thrill Features

Cruise lines they adding thrill attractions as more and more families are taking cruises.  Mardi Gras takes the #1 spot since they have the very first roller coaster on a cruise ship.  I rode it 3 times on my cruise and it’s a blast.  Odyssey of the Seas comes in a close second with the Seaplex, iFly, North Star, and Sky Pad.  MSC Seashore has Bridge of Sighs and virtual reality racing and games.

  1. Mardi Gras
  2. Odyssey of the Seas
  3. MSC Seashore

I really loved all five of the new cruise ships that I sailed on, you really can’t go wrong when choosing any of them.  They are currently sailing out of the following homeports in Florida:

  • Mardi Gras – Port Canaveral
  • MSC Seashore – PortMiami
  • Odyssey of the Seas – Port Everglades
  • Rotterdam – Port Everglades
  • Scarlet Lady – PortMiami

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Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 42 countries and taken over 50 cruises. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, Drudge Report, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected]
Cruise News Comparing 5 New Cruise Ships Sailing From Florida

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