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Cruise News: Quantum of the Seas

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.

Sir Richard Branson Embarks on New Virgin Cruise Venture

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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.

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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

Cruising During Norovirus Season

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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.

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Cruise News: Celebrity Partners With Canyon Ranch; Royal Caribbean Offers Virtual Balconies

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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-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International

2014 Travel Trends: Airports, Hotels, Cruises

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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:

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2014 Cruise News and Trends: Small Ports, River Cruising, New Onboard Experiences, More

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We just returned from Cruise Lines International Association's 2014 State of the Industry Report, a mini-conference-of-sorts held in Manhattan's Alexandria Center. Our takeaway: 2014 will be a particularly great year to cruise—for many reasons. Here, a peek at some of the news that really excited us:

Glamorous new ships, including Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas (replete with its own 23-foot sky diving center); Windstar’s 212-guest Star Pride; new sister ships from AMA Waterways, the AmaSonata and AmaReina, cruising the Rhine and Danube rivers; and the Costa Diadema (don’t miss the Bar Bollicine prosecco bar), to name a few.

NEW! Check out the T+L Cruise Finder

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Port Canaveral's Cool New Cruise Terminal

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Port Canaveral, Florida—home to America’s coolest cruise terminal? Soon, it just may be. In 2014, the city is pumping some $85 million into the ultimate cruise complex—complete with a new 1,400-foot-long berth (their eighth). Among its other amenities: three public beaches (including four-acre Rodney S. Ketcham Park, a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail), a seven-story observation deck, an outdoor crafts market, and waterfront Tiki bars. Now that’s worth cruising to.

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.

Photo Courtesy of the Canaveral Port Authority

Cruise Travel Tips and Tweets Straight From Our Experts

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Our most recent T+L Twitter Chat covered the best new voyages, destinations, amenities, and themes for cruise travel

We started out our chat by asking our panel of cruise experts what voyages they were most excited for.

The Cruise Guy's Stewart Chiron, is “most excited to cruise on @RoyalCaribbean['s] brand new #QuantumoftheSeas. Definite #gamechanger.” Cruise Critic is ready for new voyages from “@WindstarCruises [with] Asia and Arabia itineraries.” Rich Beattie wishes he could go back on a past excursion he took, sailing the Amazon with Abercrombie & Kent.

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New Cruise Finder Launches on TravelandLeisure.com

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This week, TravelandLeisure.com debuts the T+L Cruise Finder.

With more than 70 percent of the world covered in water, it’s no surprise the cruise industry is the world's fastest-growing travel sector. But with so many waterways to explore, it's often difficult deciding which cruise—and cruise ship—is the right fit.

From first-timers to seasoned wayfarers, cruisers can now compare ships side by side. Powered by Find The Best, the T+L Cruise Finder makes it easy to search by ports of call, ship size, price point—you name it—and compare features. It's the first platform of its kind.

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