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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.
Elegant, old-world-style Cunard Line will offer their first-ever circumnavigation of Australia, primed for some unrivaled Down Under discovery, come February. Setting sail on February 14 (an over-the-top Valentine for your sweetie, perhaps?) from Sydney (also its point of return), the 22-night cruise aboard the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 will provide cruisers a rare opportunity to completely navigate the massive country, as part of the vessel’s 2012 World Voyage. Read more
Make way for some revelry à la Rio during the annual Carnival celebration, courtesy of Crystal Cruises’ brand-new “Samba Serenade” sailing, set to embark on February 20. The luxury cruise line’s 12-night itinerary debut will feature five maiden calls in Brazil (Buzios, Ilha Grande, Paraty, Santos/São Paulo, and Itajai), kicking off with an overnight stop in Rio during the height of the samba- and caipirinha-fueled Carnival festivities. The cruise then continues on to Uruguay, where guests can explore wineries in Montevideo, or lap up the high life on the glamorous beaches of Punta del Este, before rounding out the trip in legendary Buenos Aires. Read more
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
Cruises departing from New York will travel to the Bahamas, Canada and New England (a new Disney route), and around the New York area on a new, two-night trip. Passengers embarking in Galveston will visit the Caribbean, and ships leaving from Seattle will sail along the Alaskan and Pacific Coast.
Sixthman Cruises operates a series of rockin’ cruise theme itineraries that are sure to rock the boat. Sign up for a sailing with them, and sure, you’ll still find the peace that comes with being out at sea and off the grid, but certainly not any quiet.
The cruise operator is dedicated to bringing their guests together through music and travel by hiring live bands (think Bare Naked Ladies and Kid Rock, along with lesser-known bands and artists) to play and stay on board. It works, too: One-third of Sixthman’s VH1 Best Cruise Ever, one of its most popular cruises, guests are returning for more this year. Cruise destinations include Cozumel in Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Nassau in the Bahamas, St. Marteen, and more. Sixthman Cruises use ships from its partner cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line, meaning that no mainstream-cruise line comfort is forgone. If cruising, rocking, and exploring are up your ally, these may be the cruises for you.
The hidden costs of most all-inclusive tours can quickly add up once you factor in gratuities, shore excursions, and single supplements. Not so with Smithsonian Journeys, which has just announced three new all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise deals that include: international airfare, shore excursions in each port, on-board lectures, gratuities to shipboard staff, and more. Unlike most cruises (where you won’t need any brainpower beyond what’s required for reading the latest trashy magazines poolside), be prepared to learn on these cruises, as they are run by the world-famous Smithsonian Institution’s travel branch.
The cruises offered are fairly lengthy, in order to allow cruisers to have ample time to explore the amazing cultural sites throughout the Mediterranean. Choose from:
“The Wonders of Turkey and the Greek Isles” (June 23-July 6) or “The Glories of Greece and Turkey” (July 1-14), which both stop in the Greek Islands of Crete, Delos, Mykonos and Samos; the historic Turkish cities of Ephesus and Aprodisias; and World Heritage sites in Athens and Istanbul. Land stops in Istanbul and Athens are also included. Book either one of these cruises by March 31st, and pay only $3,195 (which includes international airfare from select East Coast cities).
Or pay a little bit more ($3,750) and try the “Splendors of Italy and the Dalmatian Coast” (May 31-June 15), featuring the Italian cities of Rome, Corsica, Sardinia, Venice and Sicily; the tiny country of Malta; and Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split.
All three cruises will take place on-board the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey, which features a spa, pool, library, lecture theater, and a variety of dining options. Be sure to take advantage of Smithsonian Journeys’ unique lecture programs with on-board experts, to help you learn about what you’ll be seeing off the boat. Or, just hang out at one of the Odyssey’s three bars – your call.
Several eastern Mediterranean cruises use the exotic wonders of Egypt and Libya as major selling points on voyages. Unfortunately, recent violence and political turmoil in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya have caused many cruise lines to change ports of call or to cancel voyages entirely.
Cruise lines had recently jumped on the opportunity to add Libya as an exotic port of call on Mediterranean itineraries after the country began issuing visas to American tourists in 2010. Now, with the political uprising and subsequent US State Department travel warning, the same cruise lines are scrambling to reroute these trips. Small cruise company Voyages to Antiquity announced this month that it has canceled its first cruise of 2011, which was to sail via Libya from Athens to Rome. It was a stroke of bad luck for the company, as this voyage had originally been scheduled to stop in Egypt and Tunisia, but was rerouted to Libya due to Egypt’s political instability.
With travel warnings to Egypt remaining in effect, many cruise lines are scrambling to change routes rather than wait and see how the situation plays out. The majority of cruise lines have canceled stops in the region through the end of March, for fear of ending up like Viking River Cruises, who had to charter a plane to airlift 91 passengers out of Egypt when the unrest began. Costa, however, is staying the course by restoring cruising to Egypt after some tourist site warnings were lifted.
Considering the cost of last-minute changes and cancellations to itineraries, it will be interesting to see if the impact that these events have on the cruise industry are reflected in “safer” picks for the next season.
The “world’s best scuba diving locations” vary depending on who you ask, but several dive sites that frequently receive high marks also appear on a number of cruise itineraries. With many cruise lines offering scuba diving certification right on board the ship, the underwater world is that much more accessible – and affordable. There are plenty of low rates available throughout December while everyone is preoccupied with the holidays, and wave season (which starts in January) has yet to hit full force. Here are three popular seven-night cruises that set sail from U.S. ports, with prices starting from as little as $279.
The passing of Cruise West into small-ship adventure-cruising history, at least for now, has left a luxury-sized gap, where once existed glorious whale pod sightings and crystal fjord shots – a modicum of Alaska’s wild and free natural reserve. Filling in for the recently bankrupt carrier, InnerSea Discoveries, a branch of elite American Safari Cruises, unveils four new Alaska routes to launch in 2011.
Departing from opposite ends of the waterway at either Juneau or Ketchikan, two seven-night Alaska Inside Passage voyages will sail through the Eastern and Western coves of the mesmerizing inland corridor. The itineraries promise to call on less-traveled harbors like Devilfish Bay, Patterson Bay and Deep Cove, Klawock, Baird Glacier Trail, and Yes Bay, where passengers will choose from a wide range of entirely customized activities, from crab fishing, to kayaking, to camping onshore, or snorkeling in Alaska’s teeming waters.
Two 14-night cruises will also ply Alaska’s pristine depths. The Wilderness Passages of Discovery is scheduled to depart Seattle and weave through 900 miles dotted with the San Juan Islands, Little Port Walter and Mist Cove, Frederick Sound, and more, while the Alaska Inside Passage: Ultimate Adventure completes a round-trip journey from Juneau, calling on Eastern and Western ports.
Effectively tackling affordable luxury, InnerSea Discoveries exploratory cruises start from just $1,795, and carry a maximum of 49 guests, with a 3-to-1 passenger-to-crew ratio. The ships, Wilderness Discoverer and Wilderness Adventurer, offer ultra-comfortable accommodations with flat-screen TVs, hot tubs, and iPod docking stations, while passengers are treated to perks like complimentary yoga classes, prepared local Alaskan seafood, and even underwater cameras and hydrophones, amplifying the intermittent, other-worldly whale song.
To book, visit www.innerseadiscoveries.com.
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