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Cruise Industry Announces Change to Safety Drill Policy

USA Today  |  Every vacationer boarding a cruise ship will receive a safety briefing before the vessel sets sail under a new industry-wide policy announced today.

In a joint statement, the U.S.-based Cruise Lines International Association, Europe-based European Cruise Council and UK-based Passenger Shipping Association said the new policy would apply across the board to their members, which include every major cruise line in the world.

The announcement comes in the wake of an industry-wide safety review following last month's Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Italy, which resulted in at least 17 deaths. Fifteen passengers remain missing.

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Analyst Says Cruise Prices Have Not Fallen After Costa Accident

Travel Weekly |  UBS Investment Research analyst Robin Farley noted Jan. 24 that cruise fares have held steady or slightly increased since the start of the year, despite the crash of the Costa Concordia.

UBS had forecasted that prices would take a hit as a result of the accident.

“Although we expected that a strong start to Wave season would likely be derailed by the accident in Italy, said Farley, ticket prices appear to be up as much as 1% since the start of the year, according to the UBS Cruise Data Tracker.

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Seeing Asia by Water

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Four new ways to see the Mekong River region.

Recapturing 19th-century explorations of Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta, Jahan is modeled after riverboats from the colonial era and features 26 cabins with balconies. Also in Vietnam, Life Resorts has launched a 22-junk fleet on Ha Long Bay; the boats accommodate up to four guests (two for overnight trips) and offer kayaks and snorkeling gear. And in Indonesia, the 108-foot Pearl of Papua, an ironwood-and-teak vessel with seven cabins, plies the waters around the unspoilt Raja Ampat islands. This month, Datu Bua—a 131-foot, three-suite phinisi (traditional teakwood schooner)—will start taking guests around the little-frequented waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Photo courtesy of Life Heritage Resort Halong Bay

Vote in the 2012 World's Best Awards Survey and Enter to Win a $10,000 Dream Trip

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Calling all globe-trotters! The 2012 World’s Best Awards Survey is live!

What tops your travel list? Click here to vote for your favorite hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, and travel companies—and the winners will be featured in T+L’s annual World’s Best Awards issue in August 2012.

PLUS Enter the sweepstakes! All respondents will be entered for a chance to win a $10,000 dream trip to the destination of your choice. First and second prize winners will also receive once-in-a-lifetime vacations—and all bespoke trips are planned by one of T+L’s expert A-List travel agents. Two third prize winners will each receive American Express gift cards worth $1,000.

Vote now!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

New Ways to Cruise in Asia

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Life Resorts has launched a 22-junk fleet in Halong Bay in Vietnam—a welcome addition given the somewhat dodgy operators around the area. The boats can accommodate up to four guests and have all the modern conveniences, sunbeds on the deck, and kayaks and snorkeling gear. They’re doing day trips at the moment, but longer journeys will soon be introduced.

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Carnival Debuts First Shipboard Pub

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Somewhere between Venice and Dubrovnik, the brand new 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic ran out of ThirstyFrog Red draught beer.

This was significant not only because there was a whole lot of drinking going on from the very first night of the maiden cruise of Carnival’s latest “Fun Ship”—the 23rd vessel in the fleet—but also because Carnival clearly has a hit on its hands.

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How to Take a Luxury Cruise For Less

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Crystal Cruises, the #1 large-ship cruise line in our annual World’s Best Awards since 1996, is re-introducing the idea of stand-by travel on five of their sailings in May and June. The potential savings from the brochure price are a mind-boggling 70%, bringing the cost of a 12-day cruise to $2,995, or $250 a day.

The itineraries available for standby are pretty exciting: three 12-day Alaska cruise out of San Francisco, an 11-day Scandinavia and Russia trip  (Hamburg to Stockholm); and a 14-day North Cape/Arctic Circle cruise (Copenhagen to Stockholm).

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Europe's Newest River Cruise + Scandinavia Sails

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This spring there are plenty of new ways to sail the Continent’s waters. Launching its maiden voyage on the Danube River, the Viking Prestige (vikingrivercruises.com; trips from $1,556 per person, double) has whisper-quiet electric engines and French balconies along the top two decks.

On Crystal Cruises Serenity (crystalcruises.com; $118 per person for four-hour tour), the Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm tour sends guests traipsing through Södermalm Island, where the author’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo spent many evenings.

In Finland’s bucolic Åland Islands, Seabourn Pride (seabourn.com; trips from $5,249 per person, double) now calls at Mariehamn, as famous for its cobblestoned streets as it is for the saunas dotting its shores.

Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises

Technology Aboard Cruise Ships

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Gone are the days of heading out to sea and losing all contact with the world. Cell and Internet services are now standard (though free in-room Wi-Fi is not), and some lines have gone even further with their tech amenities. Holland America has introduced a series of classes covering such subjects as digital photography and blogging. And on its October voyage, Crystal Symphony will offer a digital filmmaking workshop, led by BBC producer Michael Rosenblum, that includes instruction on shooting and editing travel videos.

Sherri Eisenberg is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Illustration by Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Crystal Cruises’ New Voluntourism Program

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This year, Crystal Cruises is taking voluntourism at sea to a new level with its just-launched You Care, We Care program, which offers passengers the option of free, service-oriented shore excursions on all 2011 itineraries. Each of the 58 trips has been carefully designed by local tour operators to help communities. You can decorate a children’s center in Lima, Peru; tend to an urban farm in Cartagena, Colombia; or help in beach clean-up efforts in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Sherri Eisenberg is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Illustration by Laurie Rosenwald

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