Be first aboard these new cruise ships, debuting now through the end of 2008.

First up? Norwegian Gem. The new Norwegian Cruise Line ship started Oct. 8 on a series of Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona. It will start its American sailings out of New York on Dec. 22.

Meanwhile, Cunard's stately Queen Victoria will debut Dec. 11, sailing from Southampton, England, to holiday markets in European ports and the Canary Islands. It is a sister of the Queen Mary 2.

Holland America's Eurodam will debut next summer with a sophisticated, interesting home port — Quebec City.

And the gigantic Italian ship MSC Fantasia, launching a year from now, will feature a VIP section with its own English butlers.

Shiny new ships

Nine new cruise ships debut now through the end of 2008:

Norwegian Gem

Debut: Oct. 8 (Dec. 22 in the U.S.)

Line: Norwegian Cruise Line

Passengers: 2,466

Home port: New York and Barcelona

Itinerary: Caribbean, Mediterranean

www.ncl.com

Queen Victoria

Debut: December 2007

Line: Cunard

Passengers: 2,014

Home port: Southampton, England

Itinerary: Around the world

www.cunard.com

MSC Poesia

Debut: April 2008

Line: MSC Cruises

Passengers: 2,550

Home port: Venice

Itinerary: Mediterranean

www.msccruises.com

Independence of the Seas

Debut: May 2008

Line: Royal Caribbean

Passengers: 3,634

Home port: Ft. Lauderdale

Itinerary: Caribbean, Europe

www.royalcaribbean.com

Carnival Splendor

Debut: July 2008

Line: Carnival

Passenger: 3,006

Home port: Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles

Itinerary: Northern Europe, United States, Caribbean

www.carnival.com

Eurodam

Debut: Summer 2008

Line: Holland America

Passengers: 2,014

Home port: Quebec City

Itinerary: Canada, New England, Florida

www.hollandamerica.com

MSC Fantasia

Debut: Fall 2008

Line: MSC Cruises

Passengers: 3,900

Home port: to be announced

Itinerary: to be announced

www.msccruises.com

Ruby Princess

Debut: Fall 2008

Line: Princess Cruises

Passengers: 3,100

Home port: Ft. Lauderdale

Itinerary: Caribbean, others to be announced

www.princess.com

Celebrity Solstice

Debut: December 2008

Line: Celebrity Cruises

Passengers: 2,850

Home port: Ft. Lauderdale

Itinerary: Caribbean, others to be announced

www.celebritycruises.com


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