Cruise News Shorts: A Princess Loyalty Revamp, New HAL Internet Packages and Higher Tips on Celebrity

April 12, 2013

(3:09 p.m. EDT) -- 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.

A Secret Medallion?
Is Princess revamping its Captain's Circle loyalty program? It certainly seems that way as dozens of Cruise Critic members have been posting about a new tier (Medallion) for those who have cruised three to four times. Member nunuc2000 wrote, "On the phone with Princess now and the rep says she has a bulletin stating it's to be launched April 15th, but that further details, including benefits associated with the new level, won't be available until April 15th." Cruise Critic reached out to Princess for more info and got this: "We've not made a formal announcement about changes to our Captain's Circle levels. Please stay tuned."

You've Got Internet
Holland America is the second Carnival Corp. brand to trial all-inclusive Internet packages on at least one of its ships. Holland America declined to provide any details, but Cruise Critic members have reported back on their experiences. A couple of weeks ago MrBill64 posted that on his 10-night Panama Canal cruise onboard Zuiderdam, two unlimited packages were available. A 24-hour package cost $39.99; unlimited Internet for the entire 10-nights was $99.99. More recently, CoronaCRZR wrote that the trial pricing on the same ship had skyrocketed to $60 for one day and $249 for 11 days of unlimited access.

Higher Tip 'Suggested'
Celebrity Cruises is increasing its suggested, yet automatically charged, gratuity by 50 cents per passenger/per day beginning on all bookings made on or after April 29 for all cruises that begin on or after the same day. The new gratuity, auto-charged to passengers' accounts, will be $12.00 per person/per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $12.50 per person/per day, if you're in a Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $15.50 per person/per day, for passengers in suites. With one exception, passengers have the option of adjusting the gratuity levels once onboard. Those who opt for Celebrity's flexible dining program (rather than set seating) must pre-pay gratuities.

Foods Up
As if there isn't enough tasty food on offer already, Seabourn is expanding the dining menu in The Restaurant, the lines' main dining room. Each daily menu now offers vegetarian options, a daily specialty cheese preparation, a "Seabourn Signature" dish," and a local flavors specialty that will reflect the regional cuisine of where the ships sail.

--Dori Saltzman, News Editor