by Matt Alderton | May 04, 2017
When Cunard Lines' RMS Queen Mary had her maiden voyage in 1936, she was a marvel of luxury, with more than 50 wood in its intricately designed veneers and carvings, one for each part of the British Empire. A cutting-edge luxury at the time, incentive planners now have scores of stunning ships to choose from, each with amenities that are more amazing than the next. Here are five of the most unique offerings debuting in 2017 and beyond:

Indeed, the passengers and press who marveled at the Titanic's indulgencies would be downright astonished by today's ships. Case in point: Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Escape, which began cruising the Caribbean in 2015. Along with now-standard cruise ship features -- including more than 25 restaurants and 21 bars, a casino, a spa, and four waterslides -- it has an upscale food hall, a nine-hole mini golf course, an arctic "snow room" that stimulates spa-goers' blood circulation, a video arcade, a quarter-mile oceanfront promenade, bocce and basketball courts, a waterfall grotto, and a three-story ropes course with ziplining via "sky rails."

And that's just one ship. If you're a meeting or incentive planner in the modern age, you have scores of stunning ships to choose from, each with amenities that are more amazing than the next. Here are five of the most unique offerings debuting in 2017 and beyond: 

Norwegian Joy's Two-Story Racetrack
Norwegian Escape isn't the only Norwegian ship that's breaking the cruise-amenity mold. Its new sister ship, Norwegian Joy, also has some interesting offerings. Norwegian Cruise Line's first purpose-built ship for the Chinese cruise market, it will take its maiden voyage this summer with unique amenities like an open-air laser tag course, an open-space park, and the Galaxy Pavilion, a high-tech arcade that will offer immersive virtual-reality experiences, thrilling simulator rides, interactive video walls, and even futuristic hovercraft bumper cars. Perhaps the coolest on-board amenity, however, will be the first-of-its-kind racetrack (pictured above). Built in partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches, the two-story venue will be able to accommodate up to 10 racers at a time on electric go-karts that will race around hairpin turns in the middle of the ocean.

Celebrity Edge's 'Magic Carpet'
Celebrity Cruises' new "Edge" class of ships is designed to "leave the future behind," according to the cruise line, which will launch its first Edge ship, Celebrity Edge, in December 2018. The ship will have staterooms with "infinite verandas" that give guests open-air access to the sea with a touch of a button, a rooftop garden, and a luxury embarkation station. Its highlight, however, will be the new "Magic Carpet," a multi-purpose platform that will float off the side of the ship. Designed to move between decks, reaching a maximum height of 13 stories above sea level, it will have comfortable seating, a full bar, and space for live music performances. Depending on which deck it's positioned beside, it will serve different functions. At the very top of the ship, for example, it will become a special events venue. Elsewhere, it will serve as an extension of the main pool area, or as an open-air restaurant. Always, however, it will provide a unique view of the ocean from a vantage point directly above it.

MSC Meraviglia's Carousel Lounge
When it launches in June, the 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia will be not only the biggest ship the company has ever sailed, but also the most innovative. First of all, passengers will wear high-tech RFID wristbands that they will use to make payments, book spa treatments and dinner reservations, and even geo-locate their children. That's just the beginning, however. The ship also will have a 5,200-square-foot LED dome broadcasting light shows and entertainment 24/7, a full-size bowling alley, a full-size indoor basketball court, and two Formula 1 virtual-reality racing cars. Perhaps the neatest perk, however, will be the Carousel Lounge, a 10,000-square-foot venue custom-built for Cirque du Soleil, which will perform two shows there a night, six nights a week. All told, the lounge will be able to accommodate up to 450 guests, including 120 for a full dinner-and-a-show experience.

Carnival Horizon's SkyRide
Carnival's next new ship, Carnival Horizon, will set sail in 2018 from Miami, New York, and Barcelona. When it does, it will offer many of the same features as its sister ship, Carnival Vista, which debuted in 2016. Both ships, for example, have an IMAX theatre, a waterpark, and an onboard brewery. Also, both ships have SkyRide, a two-lane suspended course around which passengers travel in a pedal-powered "sky bike." Invented by the same guy who created rollerblades, it's essentially a recumbent bicycle that's suspended from an 800-foot track 150 feet above the ship's 12th deck. Riders can race at up to 18 miles per hour or pedal at a more leisurely pace in order to take in the 360-degree ocean views around them. Like all the best cruise ship amenities, it can be both adventurous, relaxing, or both at the same time.

National Geographic Quest's ROV
National Geographic's forthcoming expedition ship, the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest, will debut in June, offering adventurous voyages to Alaska, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize. The first ship of its kind built entirely in the United States, it will have six sets of adjoining cabins for groups or families, and 22 cabins with step-out balconies that will be ideal for nature and wildlife viewing. Those who want to get up close and personal with the environment will be able to do so using the ship's fleet of 24 sea kayaks, paddleboards, and landing craft, which were specially designed for quick disembarkation in the event of wildlife sightings. Speaking of which: The ship's coolest feature is its remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Able to reach 1,000 feet below sea level -- farther than any Scuba diver -- it allows passengers to view life below the ship through an underwater camera. Also onboard will be a video microscope for viewing microscopic sea organisms and a hydrophone that captures the sounds of nearby whales and broadcasts them across the ship. Eat your heart out, Jacques Cousteau!