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Disney Cruise Line has recently announced itineraries and ports for 2013, which include the exciting return of European cruises and a new home port in Miami. And although the news for 2012 is not quite as recent, this year is nevertheless a big year for Disney Cruise Line as well, from the March debut of the Disney Fantasy (one of our 2012 best cruise picks) to the introduction of three new home ports – some of which will no longer be used in 2013. As such, here’s a breakdown of what’s to come in 2013, and a reminder list of 2012’s options, so you can be sure to join Disney at the port-of-call that strikes your fancy.
New in 2012
New York City, New York: Starting this year, you can choose from several cruise itineraries that call NYC their home port: The 8-night Bahamian cruise (with Walt Disney World day trip included), the 5-night New England and Canadian coastal cruise, or the 2-night get-away-from-it-all New York Weekend Getaway Cruise. Note, though, that none of the New York City itineraries are available in 2013.
Looking for a high-adrenaline family getaway on the high seas? Small-ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations has just the ticket (and discounted ones, at that!), with their sweet selection of reduced-rate cruise offerings for the year ahead. The company specializes in high-end adventure cruise travel and works with a bevy of upscale, expedition-style ships that accommodate just 12 to 148 passengers, and ply the coastal waters of exciting destinations like Alaska, Borneo, Baja, and beyond. Their itineraries are tailored for high-energy excursions, including sea kayaking, wildlife viewing, wilderness hiking, and cultural encounters, with a handful of special departures dedicated especially to family-friendly fun. Some of the best kid-friendly values include: Read more
I had never been on a cruise, river or otherwise, so I was thrilled to have booked a four-day trip on the M/V Aria – Aqua Expeditions‘ new, 147-foot-long river cruiser stationed in the Peruvian Amazon. After a few-hour delay on our LAN flight from LAX to Lima, I was wondering if the experience would continue to elude me. Several glasses of Cabernet in LAN’s lounge mellowed my concerns.
When we finally boarded, I was tucked lovingly away in LAN’s plush Business Class cabin with a crisp bubbly and the best blanket in the business and let visions of rivers race through my head. Once airborne, our flight was so seamless, we were landing in Lima before I could say, “Café!”
After a several hour layover in Lima, we boarded a flight to Iquitos, the launching point for most Peruvian Amazon cruises and expeditions. This is where the journey really began.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspection onboard Cunard’s luxe Queen Mary 2 gave the ship a failing sanitary score. The inspection report, which mentions the discovery of cockroaches in a food storage bin, dirt and corrosion found on the deck of one of the ship’s splash pools, and chemicals found stored next to napkins and other paper products, was released on June 10. The final score from the report was 84 – an 85 or lower is deemed “unsatisfactory.” The Queen Mary 2 may be the only ship with a failed score thus far this year, but the list of ships that have failed inspection throughout the history of the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program is long. 64 ships have failed inspection since 1993, with V. Ships Liesure’s Albatross the last ship to fail inspection, scoring 69 in Februrary 2010. Jackie Chase, a spokeswoman from Cunard, said she was confident the failings would not happen again. In a statement she said, “The poor assessment on June 10 resulted largely from one small area of the ship’s overall operation. All the issues raised in the report were immediately addressed and have now been corrected.” So, Cruise News readers – will this deter you from sailing Cunard’s grande dame anytime soon?
When I stepped aboard the bite-sized Avalon Panorama, I had no idea what to expect from a ship built to navigate a quarter-mile-wide waterway. The 166-passenger and 47-crewmember cruiser (the ninth Avalon Waterways vessel to be inaugurated into the European river cruise fleet since 2006; two more are in the pipeline for 2012) sailed a five-night christening voyage from Frankfurt to Amsterdam on May 13 and docked at historic countryside and city ports on the Main, Rhine, and Mosel rivers.
Designed more like a floating hotel than a cruise ship – a characteristic of river vessels – the 443-foot-long Panorama is short enough for passengers to walk from the self-serve beverage station at the back to the outside viewing deck at the bow in less than five minutes. This ship trades commercial ocean liner facilities like casinos, theaters, and climbing walls for truly exclusive touches, such as floor-to-ceiling windows in public spaces and suites, insightful local tour guides, and the Silent Drive System for soundless cruising, so you can enjoy the rolling riverside without the background hum of a motor – at unexpectedly affordable prices.
A fitting complement to this year’s 150th Civil War anniversary, American Cruise Lines will feature Civil War era-themed cruises come 2012, aboard the Queen of the Mississippi sternwheeler (which is currently under construction). Visits to Vicksburg’s National Military Park in Mississippi and New Orleans’ Civil War Museum, along with stops at Civil War battlefields mark some of the highlights on this 7-night itinerary between a variety of southern cities, while onboard offerings like authentic regional cuisine (think jumbo shrimp cocktails and lobster thermidor with fingerling potatoes) and lectures given by Civil War historians let passengers experience the South’s unique past. Emulating the architecture of traditional riverboats, the Queen’s oversized staterooms, private balconies, and elegant dining salon is due to provide a luxurious journey along the entire Mississippi River System. “Cruising aboard Queen of the Mississippi is a historic experience on its own – only to be heightened by our Civil War theme cruises. Passengers are in for quite a treat,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American Cruise Lines. Dates and details about the Civil War and other theme cruises on the Queen will be available later this summer – be sure to check back in on Savvy Flyer for the latest developments.
Windstar Cruises has a new captain. Purchased by Xanterra Parks and Resorts on May 25, the cruise line will be “financially stronger and well-positioned for long-term profitability and success,” according to Hans Birkholz, Windstar CEO. It will also maintain its customer programs and policies, as well as honor Windstar fares and reservations (including charter contracts). Windstar’s three-ship fleet sails to nearly 50 nations with 100 ports throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Its smaller two yachts carry just 148 guests, providing an intimate onboard experience, while its largest ship accommodates 312 guests. With a history of outstanding hospitality dating back to 1876 (with the Fred Harvey Company), Xanterra intends to continue Windstar’s legacy of “exceptional luxury travel experiences and the highest level of service.”
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Sarah Palin isn’t the only one making waves in the 49th state. Thanks to a voter-enacted head tax and skyrocketing fuel costs, cruise ships have been unmooring from its ports for the past couple of years – but the tides are changing. Liners like Disney are newly bound for Alaskan waters, and a bevy of other boats are debuting new routes and intrepid Last Frontier excursions in 2011.
Oceania: The 684-passenger Regatta makes its inaugural voyage through the Inside Passage this May, with ports of call in Juneau and Ketchikan before slicing through Hoonah’s rugged terrain. Travelers can choose from four itineraries – Majestic Alaska, Alaskan Grandeur, Frontiers and Glaciers, and Glacial Wilderness – that depart from San Francisco or Vancouver. Ten-day trips from $3,299; www.oceaniacruises.com.
Azamara Club Cruises just added South America to its long list of serviced destinations, ranging from Borneo to Croatia. To celebrate the new ports of call, such as locales in vibrantly cultured Brazil and wildlife-filled southern Argentina, Azamara Club Cruises is offering a savings of up to 50 percent and $1,000 in air credit, depending on the cruise cabin reserved. This offer must be booked from now until June 30 for select cruise routes and departure dates.
Journeys to South America, between eight and 16 nights long, will commence this October and run through February 2012, with itineraries running over Christmas and New Year’s. Azamara Club Cruises’ fleet includes two intimate, 694-guest ships that allow for a more personalized touch and familiar feel than larger cruise liners. Both of Azamara’s posh ships include a state-of-the-art fitness center with on-site Pilates instructors, a spa center with acupuncture treatments, multiple restaurants, and a casino. www.azamaraclubcruises.com
Cunard Cruise Line is introducing new entertainment, including 3D films, songwriting workshops, and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) “street theatre” performances, for its luxury ship the QM2‘s transatlantic cruises. The new 3D movie screenings, thanks to Cunard’s partnership with the leader of 3D technology, RealD, increases movie options for passengers and greatly enhances the cinematic experience onboard. Chris Differ of British 1970s band Squeeze will conduct songwriting workshops certain dates with three other songwriters and musicians in a Professional Insights program. Additionally, actors and actresses from RADA will also perform “street theatre” around the ship, taking the plot lines from well known stories and making them relevant to the onboard experience (think The Cunard Tales instead of The Canterbury Tales).
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