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.
Is the Danube Europe’s hottest river right now?
AmaWaterways is sending another luxury ship to the Danube, joining other lines like Scenic and Tauck. The line’s recently christened 164-guest AmaSerena operates several itineraries, including the seven-night Romantic Danube, which visits France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The ship features the line’s first connecting staterooms, along with sun decks, multiple dining venues, a fitness room, and heated swimming pools with swim-up bars — something that you don’t often see on a river ship.
A Romantic Danube departing in September starts from $3,599 per person.
Cuba just keeps gaining cruise steam, too.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — which owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises — has applied for licenses to visit Cuba from the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is in talks with the Cuban government. If the approvals come through, the Oceania brand would likely be the first to schedule Cuba cruises. Remember, though, that a terminal needs to be built first before any ships can visit. (Other companies that have announced to cruises to the island nation include Carnival Corp., Pearl Seas Cruises, Haimark, International Expeditions, and MSC Cruises.)
But don’t forget about Asia.
Alongside many other cruise lines, luxury river cruise Emerald Waterways is making its foray into Asia with a 15-night Mekong River voyage aboard the 68-guest Mekong Navigator. In the spring and fall of 2016, visitors will travel through Vietnam and Cambodia, visiting Ho Chi Min City and Phnom Penh, plus small villages and must-see historical sites like the Angkor Wat temples.
From $4,995, covering meals with wine and beer, WiFi, shore excursions, transfers, and gratuity.
Get ready for some time travel:
Just the thought of a paddlewheeler ship gets us all nostalgic, what with the romantic images of adventures of yesteryear and all. Perhaps that’s why American Cruise Lines is getting a second one — America, set to debut in early 2016. The new 185-guest vessel will head to the heartland in place of the line’s existing paddlewheeler, Queen of the Mississippi, which in turn will reposition to the Pacific Northwest to ply the Columbia and Snake Rivers (alongside Queen of the West).
If you want to go all out…
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is expanding its butler service, currently offered on four of its 19 ships, to all suites in its European fleet. Just so you know, booking a suite at sea also means enjoying breakfast prepared by master chefs, Italian marble bathrooms, towel warmers, and a refrigerator stocked with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages during your cruise. And we hear that the butlers are trained at a prestigious school whose students go on to provide service at the finest hotels and even royal houses.
Last chance for “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea.”
For Holland America’s January 3 and January 10 theme cruises — the last two in this season’s series — celebrity personality Carson Kressley, actress Florence Henderson, and professional dancers Tony Dovolani and Kym Johnson will be competing on the stages of 2,100-guest ship Nieuw Amsterdam. Both remaining cruises are seven nights and sail to the Eastern Caribbean, featuring dance lessons, fashion shows, and chances to meet the celebrities.
The champions cruise starts from $999 per person.