Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every week for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea.
Check out this insane infinity cruise pool! It belongs to the 930-guest Viking Star, the much-anticipated ocean-going ship from river cruise giant Viking Cruises. Come April 11, we’ll finally be able to see how Viking’s beloved culture-focused approach on the river translates to the blue-water seas. After the inaugural from Istanbul and christening in Bergen, the ship will set sail for Scandinavia and the Baltic; the Western and Eastern Mediterranean; and the British Isles. (Psst — There’s currently a 2-for-1 cruise promotion with airfare discount, bookable through March 31.)
Talk about a royal send off. Britain’s own Queen Elizabeth II christened P&O Cruises‘ new Britannia ship in Southampton last Tuesday. Carrying 3,647 guests on its 15 decks, it’s the largest ship ever built for British cruisers. But that doesn’t mean Americans won’t sail on it, too — P&O is actually a Carnival Corporation brand, and there’s a free category upgrade with champagne promotion going on this month to further entice you.
A seven-night Norway and Norwegian fjords cruise from Southampton departing August 29 starts from $1,148 per person.
Speaking of Britain, we’re waiting on tenterhooks for more about Virgin Cruises, which Richard Branson only confirmed plans for in December. And he didn’t say much; we know that the two “ultra ships” will cost $1 billion each to construct. Recent reports out of London indicate that Branson’s getting ready to reveal more details — though there could be a sticky wicket in his plans. His former business associate Colin Veitch caused an uproar when he sued the company for $300 million last week, claiming that Virgin stole the cruise business plan he developed for the company. Yikes!
It’s not too late to book a summer cruise. Princess Cruises‘ Summer Super Savers sale features up to 30 percent off cruise fares on some 100 voyages to the British Isles, Europe, and Alaska — so long as you book by April 14. For just one example: A 10-night Scandinavia and Russia cruise is now $2,399 per person for a balcony cabin, down from $3,099. Or, if you can’t get enough of the Last Frontier, check out Holland America Line‘s new 13-day Alaska cruise from Seattle. It’ll be the only ship to visit the adventurous destinations of Icy Strait Point, Homer, Kodiak, Hubbard Glacier, and Tracy Arm all in one itinerary — and fares in mid-July start from $1,999 per person.
Remember Royal Caribbean International Harmony of the Seas, which we reported earlier this month would become the new largest ship in the world? We’ve heard that it will begin sailing the Western Mediterranean in May 2016 with six-night voyages, before repositioning to Fort Lauderdale for a series of winter cruises. Also in 2016, Royal Caribbean’s 3,114-guest Explorer of the Seas will become the biggest ship ever to sail Alaska.