Cruise News Shorts: Smoking Ban Extended, Steaks Prices Go Up and More Cruise News

March 1, 2013
(2:40 p.m. EST) -- Every week we catch wind of so much cruise news, we don't always know what to do with it all, but a few standout bits sometimes catch our attention. Here are some interesting cruise tidbits we think you might like to know about.

No Smoking Here
There's one less place to smoke onboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises' ships. As part of the line's "ongoing commitment to keep pace with the changing preferences" of its passengers, the line no longer allows smoking in: Stars Lounge on Seven Seas Navigator; Stars Nightclub on Seven Seas Mariner; and Voyager Lounge on Seven Seas Voyager.

Carnival has no plans to leave New Orleans any time soon. The cruise line just signed a three-year extension of its agreement with the Port of New Orleans, which keeps two ships sailing year-round from the city through at least February 2016, Cruise Industry News reported. Carnival carries some 340,000 passengers annually onboard Carnival Conquest and Carnival Elation. Beginning in November, New Orleans also will be home to Carnival Sunshine.

Norwegians Pay More for Steak
That steak at Cagney's is about to get a little bit more expensive. Norwegian Cruise Line is raising the cover charge for its specialty steakhouse by $5 to $30. "In our ongoing efforts to continue to improve our specialty restaurants, we are in the process of making enhancements to the menu at Cagney's," a Norwegian spokesperson told Cruise Critic. The cover charge change will start April 13 with Norwegian Epic then roll out to the rest of the fleet.

Bike Chain Not Required
If pedaling your way to nowhere on an exercise bike in a cruise ship gym isn't your idea of a good bike ride, take note. Cruise Business reports MSC is launching the MSC Bike Experience onboard MSC Magnifica. From April 15 to September 1, MSC will offer cycle tours in Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.K. Tours, available for different levels of ability, will have fixed itineraries, a guides and someone to provide technical assistance if needed. Bikes will be provided by Italian bike brand Lombardo.

Celeb Eats
When Norwegian Getaway launches in February 2014 it will feature Geoffrey Zakarian's Ocean Blue restaurant. Ocean Blue makes its debut this year on Getaway's sister ship Norwegian Breakaway. The seafood eatery will be located within the ship's 678 Ocean Place three-deck hub and will feature two secondary locations: the casual Ocean Blue on The Waterfront and The Raw Bar. Getaway will sail year-round to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami. For more on 678 Ocean Plance, visit Norwegian Breakaway's ship page.

An Epic Mistake
Someone at the port of Nassau in the Bahamas has a real problem with addition. Not for the first time, the port overscheduled cruise calls and was forced to turn away a ship February 23. But this time, the ship turned away was Norwegian Epic, with its 4,100 passengers. Not only were passengers unhappy, local businesses called foul as well, Bahamian newspaper The Tribune reported. Atlantis Resort, for instance, confirmed to the newspaper that it had lost an estimated $100,000 as a result of the cancellation. Downtown business owners also were upset. "Whatever boat replaced it could not have been as big and could not have brought as many tourists to town," one business owner was quoted as saying.

A New Kind of Cruise Concierge
The folks in most cruise lines' shore excursion departments are great when it comes to answering questions about their offerings. But if you've got a general destination question, you're typically on your own. Enter Celebrity Cruises' Destination Concierge service, launching 2014. Each concierge will have in-depth knowledge of the ports of call on every itinerary and will be able to help passengers create customized excursions.

An Extra Night of Fun
It's not a dream. Carnival really is expanding Carnival Dream's Caribbean offerings to include an eight-night itinerary. The longer sailings schedule includes a three-port southern Caribbean itinerary with stops in Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk; and a four-port eastern Caribbean sailing with stops in St. Maarten, Tortola, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. Two new five-day options and a four-port, seven-day eastern Caribbean sailing are also new. Carnival Dream sails out of Port Canaveral.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor