Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every Tuesday for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea.
A 10-story water slide with a 100-foot plunge is coming to the seas.
More specifically, the “Ultimate Abyss” will debut onboard Royal Caribbean International’s new megaship Harmony of the Seas next May, complementing other waterpark features — like the trio of slides and an interactive “waterscape” with water cannons and a huge drench bucket. (See the cruise line’s cheeky photo that shows where the huge slide will go.) The 16-deck ship will cruise its first summer season in Europe before arriving in Fort Lauderdale next November.
A five-night Western Mediterranean cruise next June starts at $686 per person, based on double occupancy.
Solo travelers, rejoice!
Grand Circle Cruise Line, which tends to attract older travelers one its fleet of 15 river vessels and small ships, adding 21 percent more single accommodations in 2016. That translates to 622 more solo cabins compared to this year. If you aren’t able to snag one of them, the company also has a Solo-Friendly Program, which waives or offers reduced single supplements on all river and small ship cruises, and waives single supplements on all pre-and-post trip extensions.
Onward to Havana.
While U.S.-based cruise lines are hoping to enter the Cuba market, Greek line Celestyal Cruises has been sailing to the destination for two years, under its Cuba Cruise brand. Even better, starting mid-December, U.S. Americans will be able to book through one of Celestyal’s U.S. tour operator partners — or directly with Cuba Cruise by registering for a People-to-People program with the U.S. non-profit group called Fund for Reconciliation and Development. Cruisers board in Havana or in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
All-inclusive fare from $1,529 per person for six nights, including five shore excursions, all beverages, and gratuities.
If you must stay connected…
You’ll be happy to hear that Crystal Cruises is expanding (some) free Internet access to all of its luxury guests starting August 30 — a perk that was previously only offered to members of the line’s repeat guest loyalty program. Each deluxe stateroom and penthouse guest on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will get one free hour of WiFi per day, while penthouse suite guests will receive 90 minutes. Additional minutes are 37-74 cents, depending on the rate plan you choose.
Sorry, you’ll have to pay for the hard stuff.
Starting September 30, Disney Cruise Line will no longer allow guests to carry hard liquor aboard — though guests (21 and over) can still bring up to two bottles of wine or champagne, or a six-pack of beer, on embarkation day and at each port of call. The $25 corkage fee for bringing your own wine or champagne to a dining room will still apply.