New York, New York
Royal Princess joins the list of ships calling New York City home, even if just for a short time, when it sails four Canada and New England cruises in September and October, 2014. The seven-day sailings will visit Boston, Bar Harbor, Newport, Halifax and Saint John.
One-Way Ticket to San Juan, Please
Open-jaw cruising -- cruises that start in one port and conclude in another -- is coming to New York City care of Carnival Splendor. The ship will sail six eight-night, one-way voyages between New York and San Juan beginning October 2014. The sailings, which operate both ways (three each), visit St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Maarten.
Holland America will go bananas in 2014 when it becomes the first cruise line to visit the Banana Coast. More officially known as Trujillo, the port is Honduras' first mainland cruise destination. Ryndam will make the first scheduled visit to the port November 19, 2014 and will call 11 more times between 2014 and 2015. Silversea Cruises' Silver Cloud also is scheduled to visit the Banana Coast on December 17, 2014. The $30 million Banana Coast project included construction of a passenger-reception and shopping center, completed in February and a diverse shore excursion program, unveiled in March 2012.
Modern Luxury Meets Gaming
Cruises wants you … to play Xbox. The line has teamed with Microsoft to offer a variety of Xbox-themed entertainment for passengers of all ages on its ships. Options will include age-appropriate gaming in kids' club spaces, game-themed nights, Zumba parties and sports tournaments. Celebrity Constellation was the first ship to introduce the Xbox experience when it returned from drydock May 5. The remaining Celebrity ships will offer Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360 this summer.
Microsoft Surface tablets and HTC smartphones were only the beginning. Holland America Line continues its Windows love affair with a recently renewed partnership with Microsoft. The line's popular digital workshops will undergo a Windows 8 makeover on all 15 ships. Renovated venues, updated equipment and more than 20 new 50-minute workshops will be among the changes.
Hello, My Name Is…
Cruise Critic members can now Meet & Mingle with other members at dedicated cocktail parties onboard Silversea ships with the cruise line's full blessings. At the complimentary Silversea/Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle, CC members will nibble on provided hors d'oeuvres and drink provided cocktails. There must be at least six registered Cruise Critic members onboard a sailing for a party to be scheduled. Silversea Cruises is the fifth cruise line to partner with Cruise Critic to offer "official" Meet & Mingle parties.
I Feel Pretty
If Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas could talk, it would be singing "I Feel Pretty," after emerging from a three-week, $30 million drydock this week. The ship offers several signature Royal Caribbean amenities first introduced onboard the line's Oasis-class ships. Among the additions are the Italian eatery Giovanni's Table, the multicourse Chef's Table experience, the Asian Izumi restaurant and the more casual Park Cafe and Rita's Cantina. Other features added include a Diamond Club for Crown & Anchor Society members, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery and shipwide Wi-Fi. Brilliance of the Seas offers a variety of Northern Europe itineraries out of Harwich, England.
A Shiny Schedule
As Pearl Mist gets dolled up for its June 2014 debut, Pearl Seas Cruises announced the ship's maiden itineraries. The June 28, 2014 inaugural cruise from Baltimore to Halifax, Nova Scotia will be the first of 17 cruises the 210-passenger ship will sail. Other sailings include various seven-, 10- and 11-night cruises throughout Canada, the Great Lakes and the Bahamas.
Guten Tag Europa 2
While all eyes of the cruise world were on Norwegian Breakaway, another somewhat smaller ship also got christened last week. Europa 2 -- the new cruise ship from Hapag Lloyd Cruises -- was formerly christened in Hamburg last Friday. The 40,000-ton, 516-passenger ship was named by Dana Schweiger, a TV presenter and former model. Europa 2 marks a radical departure for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which has previously targeted an almost exclusive traditional German market with its flagship, Europa. Europa 2, by contrast, is contemporary and aimed at family and international markets including the U.K. and U.S.
Who Doesn't Want More Space!
Australian river cruise company Scenic Cruises is adding more "space" to its lineup of European river ships for 2014. The new "space ship," Scenic Jade, will sail along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. The all-inclusive Scenic most recently launched Scenic Jewel, its eighth space ship, and ordered a fourth custom-built ship, Scenic Gem, for France's Seine River. Space ship cabins feature sun lounges -- large private walk-out balconies that convert into all-weather lounges. Sister company, Evergreen Tours, also announced plans to launch a European river cruise brand in 2014, with two ships -- Riva Royale and Riva Princess -- under construction.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor; Gina Kramer, Associate Editor; and Brittany Chrusciel, Editorial Assistant