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World's Largest Cruise Ship Sets Sail

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If one person’s “wow” is another person’s ludicrous, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas will have some people loving it and others scratching their heads.

The world’s largest ship—which previewed on a two-day cruise to nowhere for press and agents from Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 20—is certainly lively and action-packed, big, brash and different—a mass-market resort-like experience with a whole bunch of cruise industry firsts.

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Carnival Debuts "Dream" Ship

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With its red-and-gold Vegas-goes-regal ambience, Carnival's newest ship, "Dream," debuted last week. While Carnival ships are getting more refined in design, it's clear the Carnival crowd still likes to party. (On the inaugural two-night outing from New York, a group of young guys danced through several bars in their bathrobes, and late-night revelers paraded outside my cabin door at 4 a.m.) When Carnival says “Fun Ship,” they mean it.

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Bike Berlin—And Celebrate the Fall of the Wall (20 Years Today!)

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Our Berlin bike tour guide, George Wanjala (above), a Kenyan with a degree from Cornell, did not mince any words when he showed me and a pal around remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, on a 10-mile tour of a city once divided.

“We’d be dead if we were caught here before 1989,” said Wanjala, as we stood in Mauer Park (Wall Park), where today graffiti artists are free to paint a remaining strip of wall and karaoke contests are held nearby in what was once a “death strip.”

How times have changed.

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Disney Cruise Line Announces Onboard "Water-Coaster"

Cruise passengers will be screaming with excitement on Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship. That’s all but guaranteed since the 4,00-pasenger Disney Dream will feature "AquaDuck," the first water coaster at sea—a whopper ride, 2 ½ football fields in length and 46 feet high, sitting atop the cruise ship.

The AquaDuck will use technology similar to Master Blaster at Typhoon Lagoon—it’s basically a high-speed flume. Riders will get in two-person inflatable rafts with water jets pushing them forward and upward with a top surging speed of about 20 feet per second. After the initial drop, the ride actually cantilevers some 13 feet off the ship—with nothing but the sea some 150 feet below. Talk about a rush!

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See It Now: Alaska's Wild Salmon Run

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You can’t quite prepare yourself for the amazing sight of thousands of salmon heading upstream to spawn. That’s because they do not travel, la di da, to their spawning spot. They fight for it.

I observed this natural show this week in Ketchikan, Alaska, a historic town of about 8,000 people, and a popular cruise port on the Inside Passage. (I arrived in town on a Royal Caribbean ship.)

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Sneak Peek: Celebrity Equinox Sets Sail

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The brand new Celebrity Equinox is very much an American-style cruise ship, with “wow” factors including a half-acre of real grass on top. But as the vessel left shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Northwestern Germany, it was Germans who did the cheering. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Ems to watch the conveyance, some parking their RVs on the banks for the event.

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It’s a slow thing, pulling a 122,000-ton ship by tugboat backwards on a river. After hours of maneuvering, around 1 a.m., the Equinox squeezed through an exceptionally narrow passage to begin its 26-mile, 13-hour journey to the Netherlands and out to sea. People on shore raised toasts as pop music played.

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