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New Cruise Safety Disclosures

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Starting today, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Lines—which represent nearly 90 percent of the cruise business in North America—will begin posting allegations of ship-board crimes on their websites, all in an effort to address concerns related to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA). T+L reached out to Cruise Lines International Association for comment. Their take?

Cruising is one of the safest, most enjoyable vacation experiences for millions of people every year, and the crime rate on cruise ships is a small fraction of corresponding rates on land.

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Cruise News: New Princess Ship and Hong Kong Terminal

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The past week has been a big one for cruising:

Last week in Southampton, England, a very pregnant Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton) christened the new 3,600-passenger “Royal Princess” ship from Princess Cruises. She said: “May God bless her and all who sail in her!” before cutting a ribbon that sent a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne scurrying towards the bow (godmothers for previous Princess ships have been equally glamorous, from Audrey Hepburn to Diana, Princess of Wales, who named the first Royal Princess in 1984). Life on board is decidedly royal-worthy, with private poolside cabanas and SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway that extends 28 feet beyond the top deck.

In other news: Hong Kong just opened its new state of the art cruise terminal. The $1 billion, Norman Foster-designed space will allow mega ships to dock in Hong Kong (the first to pull in: Royal Caribbean’s 3,000-passenger Mariner of the Seas). Our favorite part of the terminal? The rooftop garden, where you can picnic with locals while taking in a prime view of the Hong Kong skyline.

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

Photo courtesy of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

Cruise News: Passenger Bill of Rights

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The vast majority of cruises are fabulous—and without incident. But this week, in the (literal) wake of a fire on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, Cruise Lines International Association released big news: a freshly-signed "Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights." As a cruiser, your rights are tenfold. You have:

  1. The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
  2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.

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Dispatch from the Norwegian Breakaway

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I just returned from a lunch on board New York’s finest… Cruise ship. Here’s what made me want to do a Rockette leg-kick on the Norwegian Breakaway:

  • Spa cabins are actually relaxing. It’s worth splurging on the Haven Spa Suite for its whirlpool, which sits adjacent to your private balcony and overlooks the ocean. Another perk: access to the Haven (ship-within-a-ship) courtyard and… Drumroll, please... 24-hour butler service.
  • The Ice Bar. It’s a hot day here in New York, and stepping into the 17-degree room was totally (ahem) cool. The best part? The Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge carved into the ice.
  • The Spaitself, which is gorgeous in a heart-palpitating sort of way, with waterfalls in the hot tub and a salt cave. If I ever get to take a cruise on the Breakaway, you’ll probably find me here—recovering from my Rockette-led work-out.

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

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

Cruise News: Disney Magic Gets a Makeover

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Announced today in Celebration, Florida: Disney’s first cruise ship, The Disney Magic, is about to go through a bow to stern overhaul. The most magical elements? A new Marvel Comics Avengers Academy, where young cruisers can train as superhero "recruits" in academy missions; Pixie Hollow, a twinkling forest where tea is served on stools shaped like mushrooms and acorns; and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab, a pirate-themed art room.

Adults will love the 11,500-square foot ocean-view spa and restaurant Palo, modeled after the canal-side cafes of Venice. Look for the new and improved Disney Magic in Fall 2013.

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


Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

A Big Wave of News from Royal Caribbean

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Royal Caribbean is going overboard with a skydiving experience, bumper cars, and Ferris Wheel-like capsule ride aboard its new ship, Quantum of the Seas, launching in fall 2014.

The New Jersey-based ship will be the first from Royal Caribbean to offer solo cabins—and though it's not the biggest among the brand's fleet, it'll carry a whopping 4,180 passengers. Other new features unveiled at a Tuesday press conference include balconies with video scenery for interior cabins. Follow the story here for more details and watch this official video of the ship featuring Kristin Chenoweth.

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Cruise Conference Update: A Glimpse into the Cruising Future

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More glimpses of the future, from Cruise Shipping Miami:

° Scenic Cruises offers four new European river itineraries and new ship, The Jewel, with balconies that can be enclosed for weather protection. In April it will also launch the first new river cruising ship in Russia in memory from the company. The $10 million remake was set on an existing barge hull.

° The new Hong Kong cruise terminal designed by Sir Norman Foster and set on the site of the old Kai Tak airport features a public green space atop the terminal. The first ship berth becomes operational in June. When it's completed in about 15 months, it will be able to handle four megaliners at once.

° Along with the year-round ship it is taking to the Galapagos this year, Silversea is adding a Northwest Passage cruise aboard its existing expedition ship, Silver Explorer. Bookings are going fast, reported the line. Compagnie du Ponant, which is also launched a Northwest Passage cruise, said the sailing sold out in four days.

 

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

Photo by istockphoto

Cruise Conference Update: Norwegian Cruise's Magical Getaway

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Passengers aboard Norwegian Cruise's Getaway can sign up for a truly magic dinner in the Illusionarium, a domed space where Hogswarts meets Jules Verne. The experience, priced at $35, will feature a magic show and dinner, the company announced Wednesday at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference. The project was designed by Broadway director/choreographer Patricia Wilcox, Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo and veteran magician Jeff Hobson.

And get ready to rock. The Getaway, which launches in January 2014 with sailings from Miami, will feature a Grammy Experience venue, with memorabilia and live performances from Grammy winners and nominees. In fall 2014, the ship will host a Grammy Experience themed cruise.

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Cruise Conference Update: New Royal Princess Details

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Cruise lines often use the Cruise Shipping Miami conference as a place to reveal details of new ships, and this year is no exception.

Tuesday, Princess Cruises held a press conference to highlight new features of its Royal Princess, which debuts in Europe this June. Its signature feature — a "seawalk'' extending 28 feet beyond the hull — has been driving chatter for the past year. The latest revelations are details designed to keep the conversation going. About half require a separate fee. Among the offerings:

° New (and complimentary) on-demand programming in stateroom TVs, including movies and television series.

° A tea tower and tea sommelier who will help passengers create their own blend to take home.

° Mobile QR-code tour of the ship's $2 million collection of art

° Outdoor art installation by the marine artist, Wyland

° Whiskey flights offered at the signature Wheelhouse Bar

° Onboard intranet

° $3,000 spa package for four including all-day massages in a private cabana

° Largest outdoor movie screen (this one is 30 percent bigger than those elsewhere)

° A daily menu of 8 flavors of hand-made gelato

° Four different "dancing fountain'' shows

Windstar execs also talked about new itineraries for the three ships it has purchased from Seabourn that join the fleet over the next two years. Expect sailings in Latin America, the British Isles, the Far East and a circumnavigation of Sicily. Tahiti sailings start in spring of 2014.

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is T+L's cruise editor.

 

 

Photo by istockphoto

Cruise Conference Update: Safety Issues + Industry Impacts

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The cruise industry addressed safety issues head-on at its annual industry conference, giving the first question of the annual CEO panel to Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill, who described an in-depth review by Carnival and outside experts to determine how the company and other cruise lines can prevent future incidents. Still, the industry response to the recent Carnival Triumph breakdown and other ship failures at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference were carefully scripted, and specifics about both the cause and future changes were limited.

Cahill stressed the rareness of such incidents and the fact that no one was hurt. But Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, who also appeared on the panel, said that in the future all lines will likely pay attention not only to strict safety but also to passenger comfort when an incident does occur. Goldstein also addressed a commonly expressed concern that the industry is poorly regularly. Not so, he said. Regardless of where a ship is, it is under the regulation of various agencies at all times.

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