To Have and To Hold
Cue the bridal music. Cruise-lovin brides and grooms can now say "I Do" at sea on Royal Caribbean ships after the Commonwealth of the Bahamas (under whose flag Royal ships sail) cleared the line to conduct legal weddings at sea. The ceremony is performed by the ship's captain, and Royal Romance wedding packages can include photography, flowers, cake, music (live or recorded) and more. Weddings begin in 2013.
Disney Be Jammin'
Cue the reggae. Disney Cruise Line will head to Jamaica for the first time in fall 2013 when Disney Wonder begins sailing a new seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary that includes Falmouth. The itinerary will operate roundtrip from Galveston and will also include Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Disney Wonder will sail five of the seven-night journeys between October 5 and December 6.
Ice, Ice Baby
Cue the shivering. There's nothing like having an ice cold drink in an ice cold bar, at least if the popularity of the Ice Bar on Norwegian Epic is any indication. And now, Norwegian Cruise Line (formerly known as NCL) has announced its newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, also will feature an ice bar. The only difference is that Breakaway's bar, kept at a constant 17 degrees Fahrenheit, will be New York-themed. Passengers brave enough to dare the cold will sip their New York-themed drinks (fancy a Times Square Lights or Yellow Cab?) among ice sculptures of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Chrysler Building. Entrance to the Ice Bar can be reserved from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. A cover charge includes two specialty cocktails and use of a hooded parka and gloves.
Come and Get It
As if there weren't enough food on its cruise ships already, MSC is expanding the hours of its buffet service. Starting immediately, the buffet is open nonstop 20 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. "By extending the buffet service, we have introduced a more relaxed and flexible approach to dining," the line explained. "Our guests can enjoy MSC's … cuisine whenever they feel like it, and not when the clock dictates that it's time to eat."
Say aloha to a fare hike. Norwegian Cruise Line is raising prices on its 2013 Pride of America Hawaii cruises. Fares will go up an average of 10 percent, the line said, for new bookings beginning January 1, 2013. The fare increase comes just as Pride of America is set to go into dry dock in March for a complete overhaul (see previous article).
Follow the Wreck Removal
Interested in the removal status of Costa Concordia? Now you can follow along on the Web as Costa and Titan/Micoperi slowly continue to strategize exactly how they plan to remove the cruise ship for where it remains submerged in Italian waters. Theparbucklingproject.com Web site provides up-to-date news, photographs and videos related to the Concordia wreck removal project and is available in both English and Italian.
Thank You For Your Service
And finally, cue the salute. To mark Veterans Day, and as a way of thanking our troops for their service throughout the years, Princess Cruises has pledged part of the proceeds from its November 5-9, 2013 sailing to two U.S. veteran organizations – the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Operation Homefront. Additionally, the line will match the proceeds donation, for a total of $1 million earmarked for the two charities. "As a veteran myself, I know that America's warriors face immeasurable challenges both during active duty and when they return home," Princess President and CEO – and Vietnam veteran – Alan Buckelew said.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor