Shermanstravel Blog


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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royal caribbean - north star - 620

Forget lounging by the pool with a sleepy novel as you drift from port to port. Cruise ships today are working hard to outdo each other when it comes to thrills. Here are the latest on-board attractions that pack a serious adrenaline rush.

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royal caribbean oasis of the sea climbing wall

Being healthy during a cruise vacation is typically a foregone conclusion. Cruise lines make food almost constantly available to their guests, making it as easy as pie to lay on a few extra pounds between the gourmet meals, overflowing buffets, and tasty midnight snacks. And guests certainly take advantage, considering the treats are mostly already covered in their cruise fare.

But for a growing number of cruisers, staying fit has become a significant part of their vacation plans. The good news is that in recent years, cruise lines have created innovative ways to help their passengers both have their midnight feasts and keep their waistlines, too.

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sunset on cruise deck - Samantha Beddoes - 620

Cruise lines lure couples onto their ships with promises of romance for all ages. After all, what could be more lovely than watching the evening sky turn pink across a calm sea with your loved one?

Indeed, cruisers typically travel in pairs, says Cruise Lines International Association, with married couples representing 80 percent of the passengers. We can think of a few ways to kindle the fire on any itinerary — like cozying up with a room service dinner or making a reservation at an intimate specialty restaurant. You can always spring for a side-by-side massage at the spa and try the hot tub after dark (when kids who run around during the day will be all tucked in). Or, during a port of call, why not take a horseback ride on the beach or sign up for a two-person parasailing excursion?

But for those who want to take romance to the next level yet, cruise lines also offer many romance and special event packages that feature amenities designed to create just the right mood:

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There’s a running joke among boat owners that riffs on the steep costs associated with such a high maintenance toy: BOAT, they say, stands for “bring out another thousand.” For those who yearn for the boating lifestyle but can’t stomach the expense or commitment, there are a number of Airbnb-style platforms that offer yacht-sharing as a cheaper alternative to ownership. Here’s the scoop on three different sites, with examples of where you’ll be able to sail and how much it’ll cost you.

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It’s sunrise. You’re sitting on the outdoor deck of your cruise ship, sipping coffee and nibbling a croissant, watching the ship maneuver into its dock in turquoise waters. But disembarking on the gorgeous island won’t come cheap.

By this we mean that the cruise line you’re traveling with will hand over oodles of money to each port your ship visits, and often to various U.S. government agencies like Customs. That’s where the government taxes and port charges that you pay with your base cruise fare come from (and, to some first-timers’ surprise, that bump up the total cost of your vacation).

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norwegian epic family suite - 620Summers and holidays are typically when everyone comes together for big family reunions. For those who want to take the show on the road (or the seas), a multigenerational cruise is hard to beat for value and variety. Cruise lines have been focusing on family-style perks, from suite cabins, to enhanced children’s activities, to free or reduced fares for youngsters. Here are five reasons to book a cruise for your next trip with your extended family:

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cunard suite

We’ve already taken a look at the most over-the-top suites in Vegas. Now, we’re heading out to sea to look at the best cruise ship suites that (a lot of) money can buy.

Note that prices are an estimate and vary depending on itinerary.

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Cruise lines are reaching out to solo travelers like never before, with offerings like studio staterooms designed for one person, policies that lower or waive single supplement fees, and onboard meet-and-greets that facilitate new friendships. Here, the guide to solo cruising that our readers have been asking for:

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river cruise - Rolf Heinrich - 620

Tens of thousands of vacationers have embraced the idea of meandering along a river in ships that carry 200 people — or less — rather than dealing with crowds aboard the mega-cruise ships that accommodate thousands. The cozier atmosphere of river cruises originally attracted an older clientele, one that looking for cruises that deliver them closer to city centers, serve regional cuisines and locally produced wines, and provide small group excursions. But this mode of travel has grown more mainstream in recent years, beyond the niche market it had begun in.

Need proof of river cruising’s popularity? Just take a look at the numbers. The demand for river cruising has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Viking River Cruises alone added 18 ships in Europe last year and in 2015 will debut another dozen, bringing its fleet to 64 vessels. Other lines such as AMA Waterways, Uniworld, and Avalon Waterways are adding to their fleets as well, albeit at a slower pace. River cruising has also been spreading quickly in Asia and is amping up in the States.

Whether you’ve already booked your cabins or are still contemplating a future trip, here are five river cruise basics you should know:

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River cruising finally seems to be taking off in the States, with sailings along the Mississippi river in the lead. The appeal, once you think about it, isn’t difficult to understand — it’s relatively easy and cheap to get to the various U.S. departure ports, and there’s something romantic and simply American about imagining yourself as a character in a Mark Twain novel. Here, some cruise lines that are reconnecting travelers to the rivers of the nation:

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Disney's Frozen-Themed Parade in OrlandoUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Disney’s animated film Frozen has become a global sensation since its release last year. It’s currently the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the demand for film merchandise at Disney Stores led to the implementation of a limit of two items per guest. Guests hoping to meet the film’s animated stars, Anna and Elsa, in the Magic Kingdom have reported wait times of three to five hours.

Cashing in on the movie’s success, Disney is bringing more Frozen offerings to its parks this year, and even to its Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney vacation company in 2015. Here’s what’s brewing…

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cruise ship - Christian Lambert Photography - 620

Of all the vacation trip choices out there, cruising appears to have the greatest need to defend itself. Non-cruisers often are misinformed about shipboard life, landlubbers are anxious about the possibility of seasickness, and those who dislike closed spaces will avoid cruise ship cabins — just to name a few. But we think that these “obstacles” shouldn’t dissuade consumers from booking a vacation at sea. Here are five cruise myths, debunked:

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passau - germany - river cruise - uniworld - gary bembridge - 620

One of the best parts about taking a river cruise is that your home-away-from-home is docked right in the center of things, giving you the luxury of hopping out and exploring when there’s free time. And there will be plenty. Here’s how to make the most of it and explore a port town solo.

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