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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. 

Want to win 100 days of free cruises? We sure do. And that’s exactly the grand prize in a new campaign from Carnival Corp., the parent company of 10 well-known cruise lines. Here’s all you need to do: Visit and choose the advertising concept that you think does the best job of  debunking cruising myths and bringing the cruise experience to life. The winner will be selected at random, and the free cruises can be taken on any of the company’s lines — including Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, and Holland America Line. The campaign kicked off just yesterday (along with a Twitter contest encouraging past cruisers to share what they love about vacations at sea).

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Space travel. Bitcoin payments. Suites on airplanes. Some trends just keeping popping up on our news feeds time and time again. Some of these are fantastic and others… not so much. But for better or worse, here are nine that we think are here to stay.

1. Wearable tech.
Now that Apple’s in the game, wearable tech seems more and more like a part of the future — and not just as an ugly fashion trend. While we all love to hate Google Glass, travel brands are already responding to the Apple Watch unveiled in September. For example, Starwood’s new SPG app, which will let guests unlock rooms with their iPhone, is already designed to be Apple Watch-compatible. Of course, at nearly $349 dollars, Apple Watch isn’t a casual purchase, and we bet there will be some software and hardware challenges to overcome. Plus, it needs to be paired with an iPhone, though brands like Samsung are attempting to market what’s essentially a mini-smartphone to wear on your wrist.

2. Space voyages.
Despite the unfortunate Virgin Galactic crash at the end of last month, space travel is going to happen. The brand’s CEO shared that the company is continuing full steam and will “have a new spaceship that’s going to be ready in a few months” (as investigations into the crash continue). Having recently received massive funds from NASA, Boeing is also working on developing passenger aircraft for space. And it’s not just planes we’re talking about here. A Beijing-based company called Space Vision is developing a “high-tech balloon” powered by helium to bring tourists into space, and a Japanese construction company, Obayashi Corporation, is aiming to operate an elevator into space by 2050.

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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.

When it comes to culinary prowess, cruise lines are constantly trying to one-up each other with specialty restaurants, guest celebrity chefs, and unique fusion recipes. In a major coup, Celebrity Cruises went to the World White Truffle Auction in Grinzane Cavour, Italy — and scored two of the world’s most rare and sought-after wild mushrooms. Celebrity, which bills itself as a “modern luxury” line, is planning to use the coveted truffles to create special menus (think: risotto with truffle slices and dessert topped with Chantilly truffle cream) on certain upcoming Caribbean sailings. Lucky you, if you’re a foodie headed onboard!

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Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on how you can score a free cruise this month, game-changing technology that’ll improve onboard internet speeds by 10 times, and exciting new launches. 

In a first-of-its-kind deal, MSC Cruises is running an very generous promotion: a free seven-night Caribbean cruise out of Miami this month. To snag the trip, vacationers must book any nine-night Mediterranean cruise and land combo departing between May 16 and September 19, 2015 from Europe. But plan quickly — the offer is good only on reservations made by this November 15, and the free cruise must be taken on one of two departures, November 22 or November 29, 2014. (The bonus cruise is transferable, though, so you can gift it to other passengers if you’re unable to take it yourself.) Rates for the Europe cruise start at $2,311 per person and include roundtrip airfare from Miami, New York, or Chicago as well as airport transfers.

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Azamara Club CruisesDid you know that people care far more about port stops on a cruise than they do days at sea? Or that there’s such a thing as port stop overkill? We caught up with Claudius Docekal, who oversees all itineraries as Azamara Club Cruises’ Head of Deployment, to find out how he caters to the cruise line’s passengers and keeps them happy.

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4132910198_50b9d465b1_zThe best things about birdwatching? You can do it at almost any time of the year, it can be a relaxing break from a packed travel itinerary, and it’s often a fairly low-cost activity. With migratory birds on the move or already at the their winter habitats, now is the perfect time to grab a pair of binoculars (and field guide) and explore some of the nation’s best bird watching destinations. Here are some of our favorites…

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Seabourn  Caviar in the Surf

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on ocean and river combo itineraries, a new East Coast cruise terminal, and more.  

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cruise fix

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on luxury sales, a great idea for crowd-funding your next vacation, holiday itineraries, and more. 

Now here’s a great idea for newlywed travelers: Rather than asking for home appliances, why not have friends and family contribute to your post-nuptial trip? Princess CruisesHoneymoon Wishes Registry allows others to chip in for everything from cruise fare and shore excursions to specialty dining and drinks by the pool to relaxing spa treatments. All gifts are applied as an onboard credit to the couple’s stateroom account to use during their honeymoon cruise, and the bride and groom can create an accompanying website to share wedding details and personal photos.

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Want the ultimate Disney vacation? There’s a way you can enjoy Mickey and friends on both land and sea: by combining a stay at a Walt Disney World hotel with a trip aboard Disney Cruise Line that embarks from Port Canaveral.

The easiest way to do this is to first book the cruise, then make your stay at Disney World an add-on with a Land and Sea Vacation package. But there are some caveats with this method of booking — here’s the dish on what you should know.

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Which cruise lines are making headlines? We’ve got the latest on protecting against Ebola at sea, packages for doing Europe right, new Caribbean sailings, and more.

The biggest news from this weekend: A lab supervisor who handled workup for the recent Ebola patient in Dallas jumped on a cruise after the case was closed. Crazy, we know — but the good news is that nothing actually went wrong, at least on the medical front. She and her companion voluntarily quarantined themselves on the cruise, and their tests have since come back negative. The only blip was that the ship, which returned to Galveston yesterday as scheduled, wasn’t allowed to dock in Cozumel (and the couple couldn’t disembark in Belize with the other passengers) as a precaution. And if you have a sailing scheduled, worry not. Cruise Lines International Association says that cruise lines have begun to perform contact screening at embarkation to protect against the virus on commercial ships. The group, which has been “actively engaged” with the CDC and is working on a standard monitoring protocol, is also urging its member cruise lines to deny boarding to any passenger or crew member who’s traveled through Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone within the previous 21 days. 

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The last thing you want to think about on vacation is how to eat well. But overindulging while away can mean extra work to get back in shape when you return home.

The good news? There are lots of little things you can do to minimize the damage and take advantage of your destination’s local fare at the same time. Registered dietician Cheryl Forberg — who’s the nutritionist for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and a brand nutritionist for Omni Hotels and Resorts — offers specific tips for different types of escapes.

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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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carnival magic - flickr-El Coleccionista de Instantes

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on charitable itineraries, new pricing structures, and more in this week’s weekly cruise news column.

Call your cousins and neighbors! American Cruise Lines passengers who refer a friend or family member to cruise with the small ship river line will get a reward in the form of a $500 credit toward their next cruise. Planning a group cruise and have already sailed with ACL before? You could conceivably have friends or family make a booking, get your credit, then join them on the same sailing so that everyone can enjoy a little extra.

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oceania cruises - deborah jones studio

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on new deals, onboard programming, and special itineraries in this week’s weekly cruise news column. 

The cruise industry is gearing up for its annual CLIA Cruise Week on October 6 through 13, when members of the Cruise Lines International Association will roll out a slew of incentives for booking a vacation at sea — so if you’ve been considering a cruise, this is the time to do your homework. Twenty six cruise lines, both ocean and river, are participating this year with special promotions like cabin upgrades, onboard spending credits, airfare deals, discounted shore excursions, and more. Sample savings include up to $300 in onboard credits with Holland America Line. (CLIA estimates that 21.7 million people will cruise worldwide this year!)

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Carnival_Cruise_Lines_Carnival_Spirit - Wikimedia Commons-Hpeterswald

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on new ships, onboard activities, and itineraries in the first edition of Cruise Tracker, our freshly minted weekly cruise column.

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