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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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Two Over-the-Top Cruise Ship Suites

cruise suites

Which is the most over-the-top new cruise cabin? You be the judge.

Reflection Suite, Celebrity Reflection (left)
Launch: October 2012
The Stats: Two bedrooms, two baths, 1,636 square feet (including veranda)
Wow Moment: Rinsing off in the glass shower cantilevered over the ocean
Geek Factor: Customizable mattress with a zero-gravity effect
Details for the 1%: Two crystal chandeliers, a Wendell Castle coffee table, hot tub on the balcony
Let the Butler... Transport your bags from ship to limo to hotel
The Tab: From $11,999 per person, double, for seven nights.

Owner’s Suite, Oceania Riviera (right)
Launch: May 2012
The Stats: One bedroom, two baths, 2,000 square feet (including veranda)
Wow Moment: Basking in all that space—including his and hers walk-in closets
Geek Factor: 3-D TV in the living room (glasses provided)
Details for the 1%: Hasley cashmere-covered armchairs, a deep soaking tub, a baby grand piano
Let the Butler... Bring up a tray of Manhattans and canapés at 2 a.m.
The Tab: From $12,000 per person, double, for seven nights, including airfare.

Photos courtesy of Celebrity and Oceania Cruises

Q+A: Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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In honor of Regent Seven Seas Cruises' 20th birthday, T+L Cruise Editor Jane Wooldridge spoke with Mark Conroy, the President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises with 38 years in the industry.

Q: What was your first cruise-related job?

A:
While attending the University of Miami in 1973, I worked weekends on the pier at NCL. We delivered and picked up the ships’ mail, assisted guests going through customs, ran errands, and sold baggage insurance. I also worked part time in the mail room.

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A River Cruise on the Refurbished American Queen

American Queen

Channel your inner Rhett or Scarlett on Great American Steamboat Company’s newly refurbished American Queen. Life aboard is genteel, but don’t miss exploring the many charming towns along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Namely:

Red Wing, Minnesota: Known for the salt-glazed pottery made here since 1865, not to mention the Red Wing Shoe Museum (315 Main St.; 651/388-6233). Don’t miss the size-638 work boot.

Helena, Arkansas: Bubba’s Blues Corner (105 Cherry St.; 870/338-3501), near the Biscuit Row historic district, stocks hard-to-find vinyl.

Louisville, Kentucky: See works by such artists as Chuck Close and Ivan Navarro while sampling from a new library of more than 50 bourbons in the lobby of 21c Museum Hotel.

Natchez, Mississippi: Tour the antebellum homes of the Natchez Trace. Linden, circa 1800, inspired Gone with the Wind’s Tara. Three-day cruises from $995.

Photo courtesy of Great American Steamboat Company

New Cruise Trends: Paddle-Wheelers, Chef Tables, More

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Look for a new cruise ship with a dozen outdoor eateries from Norwegian Cruise Line, a chic new chef’s table concept on Princess Cruises’ next ship and a return of wheelers on U.S. rivers. Those nuggets were among news revealed at last week’s Cruise Shipping Miami, an annual cruise industry trade show held each year in March.

But the topic that drew the most attention in this year following the Costa Concordia tragedy and other incidents was safety at sea. Cruise company executives focused on safety during their annual “State of the Industry’’ presentation. Lines showed off the newest simulators used to train shipboard staff for potential emergencies; seminars focused on medical care at sea. At the week’s end the U.S. Coast Guard announced its review of each ship’s safety procedures will now include observing a passenger safety drill now that cruise ships have changed their own rules to require safety drills before a ship leaves port.

Among more upbeat developments:

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Costa Cruise Ship Being Towed to Safety After Fire

The Costa Allegra is being towed toward Mahe in the Seychelles following an engine-room fire Monday that left the ship adrift. None of the 636 passengers and 413 crew members were injured, according to Costa. Food and communications gear are being sent to the ship via helicopter; the vessel is expected to reach land early Thursday.

“Guests onboard are continuously being informed and assisted by the captain and the staff,” Costa said in an emailed statement.

Passengers were sent to their muster stations as a precaution when the fire broke out, according to the company. The ship currently has no air conditioning and lighting is limited, but passengers were served a cold breakfast Tuesday, according to Costa. The seas has been struck in the past by Somalian pirates, but Costa officials have said  they have armed security on board.

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Sea Sick: T+L Takes on the Norovirus

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When passengers aboard the Crown Princess were struck with norovirus for two sailings in a row, Princess Cruises brought the ship back to port two days early for extensive sanitation.
 
Two ships from other companies also have been hit with norovirus in recent weeks in well publicized incidents, leading to the impression that norovirus is a "cruise ship'' disease. It's not, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which says that 1 in every 15 Americans will contract norovirus this  year.
 
My own too-close encounter with the gastrointestinal virus is a case in point. It arrived courtesy of a conference in a hotel in a major U.S. city.

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Question of the Day: Is Cruising Safe?

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The Costa Concordia’s accident off the Italian coast is a horrible tragedy, with at least 11 people dead and others still missing. But the industry’s record for safety remains strong: Nearly 14 million people cruise each year on major cruise ships, and few industry watchers can even remember the last time a fire or ship failure resulted in passenger deaths.

The U.S. Coast Guard is involved with safety aspects of the cruise ship design before it is even built. Once launched, each cruise ship that sails from the U.S. must pass U.S. Coast Guard certification. Each is inspected at least every six months on both announced and unannounced inspections that include reviewing staff safety procedures. Crews are drilled regularly on safety procedures. Those that don’t sail from U.S. ports still must meet safety standards set by individual countries and by SOLAS, an international safety and standards convention that is set by International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations.

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