This year has seen the launches of several new ocean-going passenger ships, defying the weakened economic climate with new levels of luxury such as an on-board circus, a 4D cinema and an "aquatheater."

Costa Luminosa
Maiden Voyage - May 5

The 1,130 cabin Luminosa, owned by Costa Cruises, set sail across Northern Europe during summer, toured the Canary Islands, Spain and Morocco in the fall and is currently heading for the Middle East. The Luminosa has a capacity of 2,260 passengers and includes a "4D cinema" that uses scent as well as sound and vision.

Seabourn Odyssey
Maiden Voyage - June 24

Yachts of Seabourn is an ultra-luxury cruise company that has a fleet of high-end vessels and specializes in visiting smaller destinations that are unreachable by large liners. The Seabourn Odyssey is the line's largest ship carrying up to 450 passengers. The liner offers an 11,400-square-foot (1,059 square meter) spa and mini golf course. Odyssey cruised the Mediterranean over summer and fall, ahead of a round-the-world tour in 2010.

Celebrity Equinox
Maiden Voyage - July 31

This ship sailed the Mediterranean through October before heading to the Caribbean. Part of Celebrity's new Solstice Class, the Equinox holds 2,850 passengers. Among its highlights are a Lawn Club deck with real grass and glass-blowing demonstrations.

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas
Maiden Voyage - December 1

The world's biggest and most expensive cruise ship made its four-night maiden voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Labadee, Haiti in early December. The 16-deck ship can accommodate up to 6,360 passengers and offers amenities such as rock-climbing, surfing and zip-lining. The €900 million ($1.32 bn) extravaganza also features a wooded Central Park and an "Aquatheater" that doubles as a swimming pool by day, whilst hosting acrobatics, synchronized swimming, water ballet and fountain shows by night.

Pacific Jewel
Maiden Voyage - December 13

P&O launched the Pacific Jewel with a glittering ceremony in Sydney, showcasing the vessel's on-board circus, three storey atrium foyer and a 13,993-square-foot (1,300 square meter) spa, the largest in Australasia. Pacific Jewel will operate year-round cruises from Sydney carrying 1,950 passengers.