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American Queen Steamboat Company

Which cruise lines are making headlines? We’ve got the latest on new itineraries and deals, spruce up rooms, themed sailings, and more in this week’s weekly cruise news column. 

River cruise line Emerald Waterways is heading to Eastern Europe in 2015 — and is currently running a promotion to celebrate. Enchantment of Eastern Europe is a 9-night itinerary between Budapest and Bucharest along the Danube, including seven nights onboard and two nights on land in Bucharest. As they pass through Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania, travelers can immerse themselves with excursions like a home-hosted lunch in Vukovar (Serbia) and visits to a Roman tomb, Ottoman fort, and medieval fortress (Romania). Departures on July 23, 2015 travel from Budapest to Bucharest, while departures on April 23 and July 28 reverse direction. Prices range from $3,335 to $5,730 per person based on double occupancy, but book by October 31 and get $250 off per person.


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Elvis fans, take note. American Queen Steamboat Company, which operates the 19th century-inspired American Queen riverboat, is offering an Elvis-themed cruise December 5 to 13. The eight-night itinerary, with a one-night stay in The King’s birthplace, will take its 436 visitors to New Orleans along the Lower Mississippi, stopping by musical landmarks such as Graceland Mansion. Onboard highlights will include performances by Elvis tribute artists and special related lectures. Rather stick to a good old holiday celebration? Three eight-night Old Fashioned Holiday sailings from New Orleans to Memphis and back feature bonfires on the levees, Christmas shows in the ship’s Grand Saloon, and a Creole Réveillon Christmas dinner. Trips depart on November 28, December 12, and December 19, both roundtrip from New Orleans. Rates for both theme cruises start from $1,599 per person.

Here’s one for the bucket list: Fresh out of a Panama shipyard, following a month-long spruce-up, luxury line Silversea Cruises‘ all-suite Silver Galapagos is sailing its first expedition voyage with refurbished suites and a redecorated Explorer Lounge. If you’re going to experience the wildlife-abundant region, you may as well opt for an intimate 100-passenger experience with close-up encounters with of sea lions, penguins, and Darwin’s famous finches. The new upgrades follow an earlier phase of renovation last year, when the ship received new marble bathrooms, a new fitness center, massage room, outdoor Jacuzzi, and Silversea’s signature outdoor dining venue. Silver Galapagos sails Saturday to Saturday on six-night voyages through the Galápagos Islands, following either a western or north central route. Cruise fares begin at $5,850 per person for sailings this winter.

If you’ve got a musical teen in the family, Carnival Cruise Lines new Spin U DJ academy will make for a dream vacation. Created in partnership with DJ IRIE — the official DJ of Carnival and the Miami HEAT basketball team — the program for youngsters 15 to 17 is part of the line’s larger O2 teen program. Young cruisers can learn how to operate the latest mixing and sound equipment as well as how to create the perfect playlist for every crowd. Choose from three packages: a free 30-minute introductory session covering equipment and mixing basics; DJ 101, a 45-minute instruction program that costs $20; and DJ Master, which includes three in-depth learning sessions for $99. Bonus: the master program features a Battle of the Beats competition among its students, so they can show off their new spinning skills.

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