Four new luxury liners, the Tropicale, Atlantic, Scandinavia and Song of America -- each costing more than $100 million, carrying 1,000 or more passengers and offering the latest advancements in design and energy-efficient operation -- will add more than 5,000 new beds to the cruise industry in 1982.

For the traveler it will mean a more competitive market, a possible damper on rising fares, more variety in ports of call, and a new era in cruising. Here is an advance look at the vessels:

M.S. TROPICALE, Carnival Cruise Lines, 30,000 tons, Liberian registry, Italian staff, home port Los Angeles, will accommodate 1,022 to 1,400 passengers and have a crew of 500.

Joining the line's "Fun Ships" Festivale, Mardi Gras and Carnivale, this new "Ship of the '90s" will start western Caribbean seven-day cruises on Jan. 16 from Miami to Ocho Rios, George Town (Cayman Islands) and Cozumel.

On May 15 it will sail on a repositioning cruise from Miami through the Panama Canal to Vancouver, British Columbia, to commence seven-day Alaskan cruises under Westours charter with calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Glacier Bay and Sitka. Then, on Sept. 19, it will begin seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.

Addition of the new ship will mark Carnival's 10th anniversary and the first time it has entered Alaskan and western Mexican markets.

Like the action-filled promenade decks on her three sister ships, Tropicale will offer a something-for-everyone variety of entertainment: four orchestras in four lounges, a bar, and the big suede-decorated Paradise Club Casino. The casino will have 100 slot machines, 14 blackjack tables, two crap tables, a wheel of fortune, a roulette table and a 50-seat bar.

Other unusual ship features include 4- by 5-foot cabin windows, a dramatic main lobby circular staircase, deluxe cabins with private verandas, dual lower beds that convert to king-size, multi-channel closed circuit television, plastic cards instead of door keys, and a spectacular 30-foot serpentine water flume at the main pool.

M.V. ATLANTIC, Home Lines Cruises, 30,000 tons, Liberian registry, Italian staff and crew, home port of New York, will carry 1,050 passengers and a crew of 550.

Riding "The Crest of a New Wave in Cruising," the ship is scheduled to start seven-day New York-to-Bermuda cruises on April 17. This will continue until October when the new vessel will join the Home Lines' Oceanic at Port Everglades for nine- to 14-day cruises in the West Indies.

Using the same name as a previous ship that entered service in 1949, it will replace the venerable Doric, scheduled to become the Royal Odyssey under Royal Cruise Lines' colors. Five leading architects from three countries will create a totally different atmosphere on each of the Atlantic's decks.

There will be 30 cabins for singles and 250 of the double cabins will be adaptable for singles. Seventy-five percent of the cabins will be outside. A Magrodome (retractable glass roof) will be used to cover the pool-play area during inclement weather.

M. S. SCANDINAVIA, Scandinavian World Cruises, 20,000 tons, Bahamian registry, Danish staff, home port of Nassau, will accommodate 1,000 to 1,600 passengers and 400 automobiles.

Flagship of a newly-created four-vessel fleet that includes Scandinavian Sun (former Caribe), Scandinavian Star (former Tor Brittania) and Scandinavian Sea, the vessel is slated to inaugurate a new cruise/car transport service between New York and Florida next summer.

Sailing from New York every five days (72 departures a year), it will arrive at Freeport, Grand Bahamas, on the third day so passengers and cars can be transferred to the Sun for a five-hour cruise to Miami (6 to 11 p.m.). The Sun is scheduled to start daily service in late February, leaving Miami at 8 a.m.

The Star, due to begin service in the spring, will carry 1,400 passengers on three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas (sailing Fridays and Mondays) from Miami. The Sea will have day cruises out of Port Canaveral and will coordinate with the Scandinavia's New York-Freeport cruises.

The four vessels will join a fleet of 12 passenger ships and 16 cargo ships owned and operated by DFDS (Det Frenade Dampskibs-Selskab or the United Steamship Company) in North Sea, Baltic and Mediterranean waters.

Maximum comfort, superb food and top entertainment will be the main goals of the line with its new Scandinavia. All outside cabins will have picture windows, there will be 24-hour room service, closed-circuit television will offer several channels of first-run movies and sports events and many cabins will have double beds.

A mechanically-operated glass roof will cover the sports deck during inclement weather so the 45-foot-long pool can be used at all times. There will be a fully-supervised children's play area.

M. S. SONG OF AMERICA, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, 32,000 tons, Norwegian registry, Norwegian deck and engine staff with international hotel staff, home port of Miami, will carry 1,414 passengers and a crew of 500.

Last major entry of the year, this vessel will join RCCL's popular Song of Norway on seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami in November. Their Nordic Prince will make 14-day trips and Sun Viking will probably have nine to 17-day cruises.

The ship will be distinguished by a spectacular Viking Crown Lounge cantilevered off the stack 12 stories above the sea providing a 360-degree panoramic sea view. A unique multi-level main lounge will be the focal center for superior entertainment.

An 850-seat dining room will have attractive twin terraces (seating 164 each) flanked by a series of large windows that extend nearly 300 feet on each side. The center main dining room section will seat 522. There will be twin pools, an open-air lounge seating 80 and large saunas for women and men.

Overbuilding? Industry surveys indicate a potential cruise passenger yearly growth of about 7 percent. This is the picture over a five-year period:

At the start of 1980 there were 33,000 beds (on the basis of two to a cabin). During that year added berths included: Norway, 1,890; Oceanic Independence, 750; and Nordic Prince, 290. The Prinsendam's 380 berths were lost, thus additional berths totalled 2,550 (about 7 percent).

1981 -- Sagafjord, 30; Prince George, 285; Galileo Galilei, 1,200; Royal Viking Star, 220, for an additional 1,735.

1982 -- Tropicale, 1,022; Royal Viking Sea, 220; Royal Odyssey, 24; Atlantic, 1,150; America, 100; Royal Viking Sky, 220; Scandinavia, 1,600; Song of America, 1,400 -- 5,716.

1983 -- Fairsky, 1,200; and Nieuw Amsterdam, 1,200; 2,400.

1984 -- Noordam, 1,200.

This will add 13,601 beds for a total of 46,200. Some ships are new, some are being brought back into service and some are being stretched or having decks added.

Snow is a free-lance travel writer based in Orlando, Fla.