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Two cruise ships couldn’t possibly be more different than Seabourn Sojourn (www.seabourn.com; shown at left; courtesy of the Yachts of Seabourn) and Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (www.royalcaribbean.com). I was recently onboard preview sailings of both as they arrived in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and I can tell you they only have two things in common: They are the newest vessels in their fleets (both debuted in 2010) and they are truly fantastic ships. Come to think of it, comparing them is kind of like comparing a Yorkshire Terrier and a Great Dane. Both are best in show, but for very different reasons!
Here’s a rundown of what to expect, beginning with an aft-to-stern comparison:
It’s nearing that time again when cruise lines reposition their ships for the summer sailing season in the Mediterranean. This means you can hitch a ride to Europe from the States at rock-bottom rates and enjoy some colorful ports of call along the way (not to mention a little pampering onboard the cruise ship). Our editors have their eye on this 14-night voyage from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton that calls on Portugal and Spain starting from as little as $549 – that’s just $39/night!
The late summer months of August and September are an ideal time to visit Northern Europe. Temperatures are still warm and airlines launch abundant autumn fare sales, giving travelers a golden opportunity to snag reduced rates. To top it off, the European cruise season is winding down and cruise lines are making last-ditch efforts to fill cabins on the remaining ships. This 5-night sailing aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas has six sailing dates available to choose from, with prices starting from as little as $471.
Cruisers looking to hit the high seas with their ship’s hull pointed south of the border can officially dust off those sombreros. Thanks to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) downgrade from a “Travel Alert” to a “Travel Health Precaution” for Mexico, concerning the swine flu (or the H1N1 strain), Carnival and Royal Caribbean (in partnership with Celebrity) cruise lines have just announced that they’re soon to resume their Mexican itineraries. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity sailings to Mexico are now slated to start up again on May 24, while Carnival will head back to the region in mid-June.
While flu cases in Mexico have been, for the most part, reported in areas of inland Mexico (especially Mexico City), far away from the popular ports of calls, most mainstream cruise lines cancelled or modified at least one of their Mexican-inclusive itineraries in response to the outbreak. Holland America and Disney have since resumed their regular itineraries as of early May, though Princess will hold off until the summer season to dive back into its turf there. Norwegian has no scheduled itineraries in the region until September.
Each cruise line is taking steps to assure guests that precautions against swine flu are being taken, including screening passengers for flu-like symptoms and carrying anti-viral medications on board.
If you’d like to be your own swine flu sleuth, visit the CDC’s H1N1 section of their website for precaution updates, and the best personal preventative measures you can take.
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