Let’s face it, the cruise industry has not been all that kind to solo travelers, with most ships charging as much as double to those who want to have a cabin to themselves. But, it's not all bad news for singles: Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week it would change the game when it launches its newest and largest ship, the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic, in July. Epic is paying attention to solo travelers with a new category of very hip cabins (above) affordably priced for one. Known as "The Studios," the 128 identical cabins are small (100 square feet), have double beds, and do not offer views (they are all inside).
The intimate ships of Silversea Cruises tend towards the contemporary, even Euro-trendy. So it was a surprise on a recent preview of the new Silver Spirit to find a more traditional, Art Deco-inspired elegance. But a very pleasant surprise, indeed. This is one pretty new ship for the ultraluxury crowd.
Azamara Cruises, the small-shipcruise line launched two years ago by Royal Caribbean, as an upscale sister line to Celebrity Cruises, this week got a new name—Azamara Club Cruises. And officials announced pricing will be going all-inclusive starting in April 2010, with wine at lunch and dinner, soft drinks, espresso drinks and gratuities included in the cruise fare.
The line operates two 694-passenger ships, Journey and Quest.
Why the redo? With Azamara not the big hit officials had hoped, Royal Caribbean brought in big-hitter, Larry Pimentel, as president and CEO (he previously helmed SeaDream Yacht Club and before that Seabourn). And he has ideas.
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.
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.
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!
Hoping to get rid of dated impressions and open up its programs to adults of all ages, the 34-year-old educational travel organization Elderhostel recently changed its name to Exploritas, a combination of the words ‘explore’ and ‘veritas,’ to promote their mission of pursuing “adventures in lifelong learning,” particularly among baby-boomers.
"Elder was kind of a turnoff for me, and I'm beyond living in dorms with a backpack on my back. . .That was kind of the vision I had of it. But when I started seeing the opportunities and talking to somebody who had done it, obviously it's not the case," Jack Pickard, a 62-year-old from Ohio told the Wall Street Journal.
This one's for the ladies only, guys. Sweet, recently launched by gay travel guru Shannon Wentworth, is a new tour operator for lesbians who care about the world they live in (which is most of you, right?). Wentworth teamed up with CarbonFund.org to figure out exactly how her trips could be carbon neutral (answer: by helping to reforest a large area along the Tensas River in Louisiana). Wentworth also plans to incorporate humanitarian projects into each of her trips.
Jacques Pepin, one of the world’s most famous chefs and one of the few who has not previously attached his name to a restaurant, announced yesterday that he will open a signature French bistro aboard the new 1,258-passenger Oceania Cruises’ Marina when it launches late next year. The bistro, to be called Jacques, will seat approximately 80 guests and will serve Pepin’s signature dishes like pumpkin soup a l'Anglaise served in a pumpkin shell and free-range chicken cooked on a rotisserie. The hallmarks of Pepin’s cuisine are simplicity and high-quality ingredients.
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.
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.