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I’ve Heard Repositioning Cruises Are a Great Value—But Are They Worth It?

Celebrity Cruises

These seasonal cruises, when ships relocate from one part of the world to sail in another, can offer as much as 70 percent off the price of regular voyages—though be prepared for more days at sea and potentially costly one-way flights. We asked cruise editor Jane Wooldridge to find the best ones.

Crystal Cruises, San Diego to Auckland, New Zealand; Cost per day*: from $212; 15 days
You’d ordinarily pay more than $400 per night on the luxury 922-passenger Crystal Symphony, where a recent update added Murano glass, Calcutta marble, and a 37-foot-long living wall. Guests have two days to explore Oahu, Hawaii, then a dozen more on board that are filled with filmmaking and art classes, magic shows, and lectures on maritime history and international relations. Oct. 28, 2014.

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Beyond the Buffet: New Cruise Food

Cruise Food

Shipboard cuisine is going beyond the buffet.

Crystal Serenity—fresh from a $17 million makeover—is bringing foods of the world (Alsatian tarte; lamb dumplings from North Africa) to its Tastes restaurant. The “living walls” planted in the alfresco Trident Grill provide the herbs.

Befitting its home port of Miami, the new Norwegian Getaway has cooked up the Tropicana Room, a retro dinner club with a decidedly Latino vibe. To order: ceviche and churrasco steak.

New guest lecturers aboard Holland America Line ships include New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman and Jehangir Mehta, a former protégé of Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Oceania’s Riviera and Marina are now offering food-themed excursions and courses, such as a tour of the Mercado Central in Valencia, Spain, followed by an onboard paella class.

Related Links:
T+L's Cruise Finder
Best Tacos in America
Best Mexican Restaurants in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Three New Ways to Cruise the Mediterranean

Mediterranean Cruise

Three buzz-worthy new cruises from Oceania, Celebrity, and Princess are plying the Mediterranean. But which one is right for you? Read on for the breakdown.

Ancient cliff-side villages, artisanal food, history at every turn...there’s more than one reason almost 20 percent of global cruise itineraries sail the Med. Though all three of these ships distill the best of the region in their ports of call, each brings its own offerings to the table—including restaurants and art to rival what you’ll find on land.

Oceania Riviera

Number of Passengers: 1,250.

Great For: Food and culture cognoscenti.

Interiors: With its marble lobby and grand staircase inset with Lalique crystal medallions, Riviera feels like a luxury condo. In the staterooms, you’ll find 1,000-thread-count bedding and bathrooms equipped with that all-too-rare cruise amenity: a full-size tub. (It’s not your average bubble bath, either. The pink bath crystals are made from 250 million-year-old Himalayan salt.)

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4 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on a Cruise Ship

4 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on a Cruise Ship

Make Your Own Movie

Judd Apatow and George Lucas attended USC—why not you? On Crystal Cruises, take an iPad iMovie video course with USC film professors.

Learn to Play the Ukulele

Reprise South Pacific’s “Happy Talk” on this Polynesian instrument aboard Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Tahitian sailings.

Go “Skurfing”

On small-ship line Un-Cruise Adventures, you can stand on a paddleboard, grab a towrope, and “skurf’’ behind a speeding launch (like waterskiing).

Free Fall

Put on a jumpsuit, goggles, and helmet to “skydive” in a glass, 23-foot-high wind chamber atop Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas.

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.





Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line's New York-Inspired Ship

Norwegian Cruise Lin

Comparing Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest ship, the New York–inspired Breakaway, with its muse.

Norwegian Breakaway

Population: 4,000 passengers.
Lady Liberty:
A three-foot frozen version in the Ice Bar.
Cost of a Bagel and Cream Cheese:
Free.
A Yellow Cab Is...
a cocktail! With vodka, peach schnapps, and orange juice.
Nationalities:
Sixty-eight, and that’s just the crew.
Cost of a Studio:
From $214 a day for a 100-square-foot solo cabin, with meals, activities, and lounge access thrown in.
Dish by Geoffrey Zakarian:
Roasted scallops with guanciale and grapefruit, at Ocean Blue.
Kicks:
Courtesy of you, at Rockette-led fitness classes.
Hottest Theater Ticket:
Broadway’s Rock of Ages, free, with six shows a week.
Last Call:
Never.

New York City

Population: 8.2 million residents.
Lady Liberty:
151-foot original in New York harbor.
Cost of a Bagel and Cream Cheese:
$2.72 at Murray’s Bagels.
A Yellow Cab Is...
an impossible dream, come rush hour.
Nationalities:
An estimated 161.
Cost of a Studio:
About $85 a day for 550 square feet, in Manhattan, not including utilities.
Dish by Geoffrey Zakarian:
Braised lamb shank with pickled-turnip tzatziki, at the National.
Kicks:
Courtesy of the Rockettes, at Radio City Music Hall.
Hottest Theater Ticket:
Kinky Boots, $77 to $142 a seat, if you can snag tickets.
Last Call:
4 a.m.

Jane Woolridge

Jane Wooldridge is the cruise editor at
Travel + Leisure.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Best New River Cruise Itineraries

river cruise

As river cruising continues to gain steam, Jane Wooldridge shares the best new itineraries for every sort of traveler.

For the History Buff: Tauck has introduced a 10-night Mississippi voyage designed by filmmaker Ken Burns aboard the American Queen paddle wheeler. Don’t miss the tour of Louisiana’s 1837 Oak Alley, or Oakley Plantation, where John James Audubon worked on his Birds of America. In Europe, AmaWaterwaysJewels of France sets out from Arles and cruises along the Rhône and Seine, with stops in the medieval town of Perpignan and at Avignon’s massive Gothic papal palace.

For the Epicure: Visit Porto, Portugal, the birthplace of port wine, on a 10-day Douro River journey aboard a Viking River Cruises longship. The Po River trip from Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection sails from Venice to the foodie haven of Bologna (think mortadella, tortellini, and Parmesan cheese).

For the Explorer: In Egypt, Sanctuary Retreats’ 32-passenger Sanctuary Nile Adventurer ferries guests along a stretch of the Nile that has just reopened after 15 years. (The rock tombs at Beni Hasan are a notable stop.) Even farther afield: Burma, where Orient Express Trains & Cruises is adding a second, smaller boat for sailings on the Irrawaddy to the temples of Bagan and into the remote, rugged region along the Chindwin River.

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises; Illustration by Michael Hoeweler

A Big Wave of News from Royal Caribbean

201304-hd-cruise-newsjpg

Royal Caribbean is going overboard with a skydiving experience, bumper cars, and Ferris Wheel-like capsule ride aboard its new ship, Quantum of the Seas, launching in fall 2014.

The New Jersey-based ship will be the first from Royal Caribbean to offer solo cabins—and though it's not the biggest among the brand's fleet, it'll carry a whopping 4,180 passengers. Other new features unveiled at a Tuesday press conference include balconies with video scenery for interior cabins. Follow the story here for more details and watch this official video of the ship featuring Kristin Chenoweth.

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Cruise Conference Update: European River Cruises

A-ROSA cruise 

If you've tried to book a river cruise this summer in Europe, you know that it's close to Mission Impossible. But representatives of A-ROSA Cruises at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference want you to know that they're offering a new luxury alternative that does have availability—largely because few people know about it.

The line itself isn't new; its been operating in Germany for a decade. But beginning this year, the company is dedicating specific sailings to the North American market, with a contemporary cruising product that focuses on fine cuisine and features active excursions (think: biking and kayaking), light decor, a large spa and gym with panoramic views. Cabins measure 156 square feet—smaller than on some ships, but larger than on others. And yes, on these sailings, the language is English.

The cruises traverse the Rhone, Soane, Danube and Rhine rivers for 7 to 14 nights, depending on the sailing. The line is waiving single supplements for a substantive number of cabins each sailing, said A-ROSA's U.S. representative Marilyn Conroy. Pricing includes airfare, all excursions, airport transfers and open bar. Prices start at $4,802 per person from New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.

 Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

Photo courtesy of A-ROSA Cruises

Cruise Conference Update: New Destinations for Azamara Club

Azamara Quest

Azamara Club Cruises took advantage of the cruise industry's annual Miami conference to show off its recently refurbished Azamara Quest. Like sister ship Azamara Journey, the 694-passenger Quest was drydocked for the first time since 2007 for a freshening. 

The decor in both public rooms and staterooms retains the casually elegant country club feel, with a few new Deco-inspired leather chairs and a slightly smaller casino. There's also a new caviar-and-Champagne bar and a chef's table in the steakhouse. 

But the biggest changes for Azamara passengers won't be on board but in the ports they visit, said Azamara president Larry Pimentel. The brand's focus is on offering unusual "bucket list'' destinations such as Vietnam's Halong Bay, world celebrations like Monaco's Grand Prix, and private experiences otherwise unavailable. Among those is a visit by night to Italy's Verrazano Castle with a surprise concert. The two-ship line will also go to 41 new ports this year.

Says Pimentel: "We create the 'Wow' factor by using the destination as 'Wow.' " 

 Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's Cruise Editor.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Azamara Club Cruises

Three More Carnival Ships in Trouble

File this under the Department of Not Again: Carnival Cruise Lines has had problems with not one but three of its ships in the last week alone—this just a month after the Carnival Triumph limped into port in Mobile, Alabama after a highly publicized four nights at sea without power, air conditioning, and functioning toilets.

Early this week, as the Miami Herald reports, Carnival Dream reported problems with an onboard generator (which allegedly led to some plumbing issues) while docked in St. Maarten. The cruise line canceled the remainder of the trip and is flying passengers back home rather than risk sailing back to Cape Canaveral without a back-up generator.

And now the Legend ship, reporting mechanical problems with its propulsion system, is skipping a scheduled stop at Grand Cayman Island to get back to port in Tampa. And new information emerged about a steering problem on Carnival Elation the week before; the company said it had asked a tugboat to accompany it as it left port in New Orleans in an excess of caution.

No passengers or crew members were hurt during any of these incidents. And there reportedly was little passenger inconvenience, unlike the situation a month ago when a fire aboard the Carnival Triumph left passengers adrift for days without power. Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of the beleaguered cruise company, announced on Wednesday a comprehensive maintenance review of Carnival’s entire fleet, news he hopes will calm the rough waters his company has hit in 2013. The Triumph is scheduled to be out of service through mid-April; the Dream has cancelled at least one sailing.

The bright side for travelers: Deals may be on the horizon.

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's Cruise Editor.

 

 

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