If you book a Royal Caribbean cruise in early December, don’t be surprised to see capes, pointed ears, and furry feet on some of your fellow passengers. Trilo3y Voyages, with the blessing of J.R.R. Tolkien’s family, is planning the first in a series of cruises for fans of the author’s works, including The Lord of the Rings. Onboard activities will include a cosplay competition and masquerade gala.
In March, a ban forbidding the largest cruise ships from entering Venice, was lifted leading to renewed protests by concerned citizens and scientists who claim that the mega ships erode the city’s delicate waterways and ecosystem.
See Venice in World’s Most Beautiful Canal Cities
Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest
Whether you're a cruise novice or expert, join our Cruise Travel Twitter chat this Tuesday, May 27th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. We'll be asking experts about emerging cruise destinations, ship trends, and even industry misconceptions. Join along and ask them for their insider advice!
T+L Senior Editor, Jacqueline Gifford, @jacquigiff
Cruise Critic, @CruiseCritic
Celebrity Cruise, @CelebrityCruise
The Avid Cruiser, @avidcruiser
Stewart Chiron, @CruiseGuy
Viking Cruises, @VikingRiver
Uniworld Cruises, @UniworldCruises
Seabourn Cruise, @SeabournCruise
Princess Cruises, @PrincessCruises
Porthole Magazine, @PortholeCruise
Royal Caribbean, @RoyalCaribbean
Cruise Maven, @CruiseMaven
Chris Owen, @OrlandoChris
How does it work?
2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.
3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.
4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own!
All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.
Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.
Royal Caribbean is taking an (ahem) quantum leap with its culinary offerings, as revealed at their glittery event in New York last night. When 4,180-guest Quantum of the Seas launches this fall, you’ll notice some sweeping changes onboard. For starters? They’re doing away with the main dining room, replacing it with a collection of complimentary full-service restaurants, from American Icon Grill (creamy New England clam chowder; sugar-dusted New Orleans beignets) to The Grande, a “nod to a bygone era” where you’ll find lobster on the menu every single night.
To kick their specialty restaurants up a notch, Royal Caribbean is bringing the work of star chefs to the table: Jamie Oliver and James Beard Award-winner Michael Schwartz, both of whom have restaurants on board. As Schwartz said: “The secret to good food is good food. Right?” Right. And one of the secrets to a good cruise is good food, too.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson—the knight best known for his planes, trains, and spaceships—is turning his sights to the cruise industry.
Branson recently told The National he has been interested in launching his own cruise company since he was in his twenties. Now 63, he’s seeking $1.7 billion to finally develop a premier fleet of Virgin liners.
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.
On small-ship line Un-Cruise Adventures, you can stand on a paddleboard, grab a towrope, and “skurf’’ behind a speeding launch (like waterskiing).
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 Wooldridge is the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises
Cruises have been hit hard this season by the notorious norovirus. In January, a Royal Caribbean voyage was cut short when nearly 700 passengers and crew were sickened by norovirus, and a Caribbean Princess ship aborted its itinerary when 189 cases were reported. An unidentified agent also caused a norovirus-like outbreak on the Norwegian Star in early January.
Because this gastrointestinal virus is so easily transmitted—it spreads from person to person, or via contaminated food and water—cruise ships (with their close living quarters) can act as powerful incubators. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the particular strain on the ill-fated Caribbean ships as GHII, a new(ish) Sydney-based norovirus that has been associated with more severe symptoms, and may have a higher rate of infection.
Sailing the high seas just got even more relaxing: Celebrity Cruises announced a new partnership with the iconic Canyon Ranch (a rumored getaway of luminaries from Oprah to Julia Roberts, who are rumored to have visited their Tucson location). Spas, salons, and fitness offerings on all 10 ships will be Canyon Ranch-ified come April. Look for Reiki healing energy therapies, aromatherapy-infused steam room, and its beloved and inspiring wellness workshops. (I visited Canyon Ranch Lenox last year, and adored my courses on gratitude and—yes—knitting.)
In other news? Eighty one interior staterooms on Royal Caribbean’s brand new Navigator of the Seas come with…wait for it…virtual balconies (above), floor-to-ceiling screens that project what’s happening off-ship in real time, replete with the sounds (was that a squawking sea gull?). My favorite part? Each has a very secure-looking balustrade. Safety first.
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.
Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International
T+L reached out to some of the industry's top travel experts during a recent Twitter chat to learn what trends would make it big in 2014. From airports enveloped in botanical gardens to in-cabin WiFi on your next cruise, here are their predictions: