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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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Disney Cruise Line Aces Environmental Exam

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Big-name environmental organization Friends of the Earth recently released its 2013 Cruise Report Card, and Disney Cruise Line has come out on top, earning an A.

The report ranks the world's major cruise lines according to their ships' sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, and water quality compliance. Go Disney!

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Disney Magic Cruise Relaunches With Super Heroes On-Board

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I’m not an experienced cruiser, but when I heard there was a ship that has Iron Man’s armor, Thor’s hammer, and Captain America’s shield, I knew my kids would be the perfect passengers.

With twin 4-year-old boys in the house, superhero talk starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends at bedtime. Disney’s relaunched Disney Magic has a new Marvels Avengers Academy program to give the short-cape set a sneak peek into the Avengers’ world.

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Cruise Travel Twitter Chat on Wednesday, October 30th

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Love cruising? Are you a ship aficionado or novice? We’re discussing the best new destinations, themes, amenities, and insider travel tips for cruise travel this Wednesday, October 30th from 2-3pm EDT.

Our panel of experts will share the best cabins that they’ve ever stayed in, the new lines and voyages that they’re most excited for, and cruise planning tips. Ask them for their insider advice!

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Time-Lapse Video: Raising the Costa Concordia Cruise Ship

After nearly 20 months since Costa Concordia's shipwreck off the coast of Italy, the vessel is finally upright. The above video shows the ship over the course of a 19-hour operation to pull it up from its capsized state.

Maria Pedone

 

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Cruise Lines Ban Smoking on Balconies

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Disney became the third cruise line this week to announce new smoking bans on private balconies, following similar moves from Cunard and P&O.

As Travel Weekly's Hollie-Rae Merrick reports, the policy changes are responding to guest feedback and safety concerns. Smokers will still be able to light up in designated areas on open decks according to the cruise lines.

This is the latest in a string of recent smoking bans, such as beach bans in Jamaica and Oahu. All are attempting to make commonly-trafficked tourist areas more appealing to—and healthier for—all visitors.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo by iStockphoto

Cruise News: A Female Captain for Silversea!

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This week Silversea Cruises announced that for the first time in its 20-year history, one of their ships will have a female captain. Swiss-citizen Margrith Ettlin will be taking the helm of 132-guest Silver Explorer expedition ship.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of our planet, and its countless different cultures,” Ettlin says. “I thought that spending a life at sea would be the perfect way to explore the world.” Her first stops as captain? The worlds tough-to-navigate, ice floe-filled polar regions.

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