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Cruise

Viking Freya Longship

Viking Cruises/Viking Freya Longship

River cruises are all the rage these days, with dozens of new ships hitting the market each spring in time for the season. While most people know the major players like Viking (or have at least seen the commercials while watching Downton Abbey), the concept of barge cruising is less familiar to most. Sure, they both run on rivers and are a fraction of the size of ocean liners, but they offer a world of difference when it comes to size and style.  Here, we break it down so that you can decide what floats your, well, boat.

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Norway, Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten

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.

We promise you’ll see the Northern Lights.
Norwegian expedition line Hurtigruten is so confident that guests will see the Northern Lights on its 11-night winter sailings along coastal Norway that it has pledged a free cruise to passengers who don’t view the natural phenomenon. The cruises sail above the Arctic Circle, Bergen, and Kirkenes, and those who can’t spot the Aurora borealis onboard will receive a free six-night voyage between October 2016 and March 2017.
Rates vary but start from around $1,400 per person for 11-night cruises.

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S24381K

Crystal Cruises

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 major, major expansion.
Consider this one of the biggest pieces of cruise news this year, and arguably in cruise history generally. Crystal Cruises, a luxury line that currently has two mid-sized ships, is expanding in a huge way. In addition to building three new “executive class” ocean-going ships — featuring top-deck Residences with private restaurants — it’s also creating a whole new Crystal Yacht Cruises brand and a Crystal River Cruises unit. The first yacht, the renovated 62-guest Crystal Esprit, is launching later this year, while the river itineraries will launch in 2017. But wait, there’s more: Crystal is buying its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and will begin offering 28-day around-the-world tours, also in 2017.

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kate mccue first female captain on celebrity cruises

Celebrity Cruises/pixabay.com

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.

Introducing the cruise industry’s first American female captain.
When mariner Kate McCue begins serving as captain of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit next month, she’ll be making history as the first American female to helm a mega-ship. With 15 years of experience sailing worldwide itineraries and a graduate of the California Maritime Academy, McCue will take 2,158 guests from New Jersey’s Cape Liberty on seven-night sailings to Bermuda.
From $629 per person.

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Old Havana, Cuba

Flickr/Gareth Williams

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.

Major cruises will be calling in Cuba.
In May, we shared how small ship company AdventureSmith Explorations is sailing to Cuba, and now not one but two major cruise lines are getting in on the action. Just a few hours ago, Carnival Corp. announced a weeklong itinerary for their new Fathom sailings, priced at $2,990 per person and launching in May. The cruise will more strictly follow People-to-People programming, in compliance with current travel restrictions, though the company is working with the Cuban government on how to incorporate a volunteer angle (per general focus of the new brand). Bookings are open now.

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Opener

Christine Dayao

There’s much to admire on Viking Cruises’ first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star: beautiful decor, all-veranda staterooms, complimentary WiFi, impeccable service, the cuisine, and a friendly staff. But since we returned from our Lisbon-to-London media preview voyage in May, we often find ourselves daydreaming specifically of the beautifully designed sitting areas throughout the ship.

Featuring custom furniture, the seating areas are well-appointed for cozying up with a good book or just watching life pass by — and there’s plenty of seating for the ship’s 930 passengers so that it never feels crowded. And thanks to Scandinavian-style furniture characterized by clean lines and soft color palettes, you certainly won’t find any garish neon accents on this ship. Here, a photo tour of our favorite places to lounge on the Viking Star.

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Star Legend

Facebook.com/WindstarCruises

Many think that small-ship cruising is the equivalent to private yachting: exclusive, pampering, and out-of-reach. After the recent launch of two of Windstar’s power yachts, the Star Breeze and Star Legend, setting sail in Europe and the Caribbean, we can testify that these assumptions aren’t all true. A posh experience, yes – Star Breeze and Star Legend’s passenger count indeed makes you feel like a privileged few, and the upgrades lend the ships a refined polish. But, perhaps surprisingly, you won’t be turning out empty pockets after paying for it. Here’s what to expect on Windstar’s newest ships.

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Silver Shadow

Silversea Cruises

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.

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miami-skyline-reflected-istock

iStock

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.

Launch update for Virgin Cruises.
Months after Richard Branson announced his new cruise project in December, we’ve finally learned that Virgin Cruises will debut in 2020, with one ship homeporting in Miami. Two more will launch in 2021 and 2022, and all three ships will be mid-sized and carry 2,800 guests each. None of the ship names were revealed yet, but we know the first one will be offering weeklong Caribbean cruises from the South Florida port.

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Floating Market Willemstad Curacao

Christine Wei

The Caribbean is a classic destination for an affordable, short getaway during the summer. Prices have dropped, flights are aplenty, and the islands are close enough for an extended weekend trip. But as we get into July and especially August, rains get heavier and heavier — unless you’re outside the hurricane belt, of course.

Of the ABC islands — Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao — Curacao arguably has the best mix between rugged adventure and urban offerings, so you can feel like you’ve truly escaped without the risk of getting bored.  It’s the biggest of the three islands in geographic size, and sun-seeking travelers visit for the diving, hiking, and nice touch of sophistication. The Dutch influence here is strong, so you’ll rub elbows with European visitors and find colonial architecture among the humbler residences.

With JetBlue’s new twice weekly direct flights from New York’s JFK Airport, launched just this past December, there’s never been a smarter, more convenient time to plan a trip. Here’s a neighborhood overview.

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eurail austria pass

Eurail

It’s summertime, and for many that means that big family vacations are just around the corner. And if you’ve done some traveling with kids, whether yours or not, you know the extra head count can add up. Thankfully, there are tons of travel perks for families this season, from cruises to Broadway shows to theme parks. Here, some higher-ticket items that makes traveling with the kids a much easier — and even free.

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amawaterways river cruise vs ocean cruise

AmaWaterways

River cruising has been the fastest growing segment of travel for several years — but is it the perfect fit for you? Before you board a river cruise to sail through Europe, Asia, or other destinations with smaller ports that are well-suited for river cruising, consider these 10 differences between small ship and mega-ship sailing.

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water bottles

pixabay.com

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 crackdown on sneaking alcohol onboard.
Starting July 9, Carnival Cruise Line will no longer permit guests to bring bottled non-alcoholic beverages onboard during embarkation. It’s an attempt to speed up embarkation, they say — having to examine all bottled beverages, thanks to guests attempting to smuggle alcohol on board, causes delays. Guests will still be able to bring up to 12 unopened cans or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages, plus, per old policy, one bottle of unopened wine per person on embarkation day.

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Nobu on Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises

There are restaurants that consistently rank at the top of every nearly every critic’s list. The highest among them comes from Thomas Keller — chef and mastermind behind New York City’s Per Se, where the multi-course tasting menu starts at $310, and the San Francisco-area French Laundry, where the prix fixe is $295. Reservations at these top tables open a month in advance and, more to the point, sell out as soon the line opens.

Have a hard time getting your name into the books? Try heading for the high seas. Thomas has signed a contract with Seabourn Cruise Line to first bring his menu dishes to the line’s various restaurants before the end of 2015 — and then to introduce his namesake restaurant onboard Seabourn Quest in the spring of 2016. Booking this restaurant onboard the cruise ship could be easier than getting a table at Per Se, and meals are included in the fare. (Previous Seabourn Quest sailings have started at $2,999 for seven nights.)

Keller isn’t the first chef to lend his name to a cruise ship restaurant. Book a cabin on one of the following vessels to get a front row table to award-winning, celebrity chef restaurants.

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Mantis - facebook.com_ZambeziQueen

Mantis / Facebook.com/ZambeziQueen

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.

Ooh-la-la! A dreamy French replica is hitting the seas.
Tall ship line Star Clippers is constructing a five-masted, square-rigged barque that will be a near-replica of the France II, a famous French sailing ship built in 1912. But the new vessel will feature modern-day amenities — like three pools, a water sports platform, four lounges, and a restaurant with open-seating dining — as well as a variety of cabins and 34 suites. The 300-passenger ship will debut in Europe in 2017, and it’ll be the fourth ship in the Star Clippers fleet.

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