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The ever-chic Ponant, known for its French flair, style and ability to convey art de vivre on board, gets yet more intellectual with an educational Smithsonian and Ponant collaboration.

Staffed with Smithsonian experts on board who accompany guests to lesser-known, behind-the-scenes sites and treasure-like shore excursions, the new program incorporates trips as diverse as Southern Spain and Portugal, the Dalmatian Coast, the Great Lakes, and Greece and the Southern Aegean.

Created for all travelers, the cruises encourage solo travelers with waived single supplements on many trips, especially if booked early, and the assurance that Smithsonian’s offerings will support connections among like-minded cruisers.

[See also: The Most Innovative Cruise Lines of the 21st Century]

The list of celebrity creatives commissioned to bring the brand-new, billion-dollar Celebrity Beyond to fruition reads like an aesthete lover’s dreamy dinner party list. Aboard, find architecture by Burj Al Arab designer Tom Wright, interiors by AD100 talent Kelly Hoppen, a stunning two-deck Sunset Bar by Nate Burkes, Daniel Boulud at the helm of 50-seat Le Voyage and a continuation of the Goop at Sea partnership with wellness maven Gwyneth Paltrow.

Just as impressive, the brand’s CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who’s deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, exemplifies inclusivity in cruising with trailblazer-level hiring (Celebrity Cruises crews boast 33% women in an industry that averages 3%) and innovations such as choosing role model godmothers like recently inducted Malala Yousafzai (advocate for female education and empowerment) and Olympian Simone Biles (for Celebrity Beyond) to showcase the benefits of mental wellness and perseverance.

New cruise ships on the horizon

MSC Cruises

Two words: Sophia Loren. In December, glitterati will join this revered actress when she takes on the role of godmother for MSC Cruises’ newest US flagship, MSC Seascape. Loren has been a godmother to 17 other MSC Cruises ships, but that doesn’t mean the naming ceremony won’t draw top dignitaries to the Big Apple for the December 7, 2022 event. MSC Seascape will be the cruise line’s first ship to be named in New York, reflecting MSC Cruises’ commitment to the North American cruise market and its upcoming expansion to New York and the Northeast, with year-round cruises available from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal beginning in April 2023.

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The MSC Seascape is the company’s new US flagship / ©MSC Cruises

Oceania Cruises

They’ve already bedazzled us with their artfulness and lavish interiors, but Oceania Cruises doesn’t rest on its laurels. The company has announced a stem-to-stern re-inspiration of the 1,210-guest ships Riviera and Marina, with Riviera debuting in December 2022 and Marina in November 2023 as re-inspired, better-than-new ships. With redone surfaces in every suite and stateroom, the ships will also vaunt refreshed color palettes, light fixtures, fabrics and furnishings in public spaces. Expect a continued focus on the fine arts with Tuscan marble and new works complementing the opulent, reimagined spaces throughout the ships.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

With the proud launch of its second small ship slated for November 1, 2022, Atlas Ocean Voyages added World Traveller to its coterie of upmarket expedition ships. That trip will go afloat in Montevideo, Uruguay to explore the Antarctic Peninsula via the Falkland Islands, inaugurating a season of in-depth, longer itineraries (13-20 days) aimed at intrepid adventurers. Of note, in terms of brand ethics: Atlas was the first cruise line to announce redeployment of its ships from Russia on the day after the Ukraine invasion. It replaced St Petersburg with stops in other captivating northern ports — such as Iceland and the Norwegian fjords.