Cruise News Shorts: Cruises to Siberia, Brochures Brought to Life, Ship to Be Re-Christened and Other Cruise News

December 6, 2013

(3 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.

A Ship Called Insignia ... and Columbus 2 ... and Insignia

Oceania Cruises is planning a re-christening ceremony for a ship it has leased to another cruise line since 2012. Insignia, which has been sailing for Hapag-Lloyd under the name Columbus 2 for the past two years, will rejoin the Oceania fleet in 2014. The line has a re-christening ceremony scheduled for June 11, with Virginia Watters -- wife of Oceania founder Joe Watters and original godmother of the ship -- slated to preside over the events. Prior to the ceremony, the ship will undergo a multimillion-dollar refurbishment. Immediately following the re-christening, Insignia will sail a 10-day voyage that includes Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Greece.

Carnival Corp. Appoints First Chief Maritime Officer

Following a handful of brand mishaps in recent years (Costa Concordia, Carnival Triumph, etc.), Carnival Corp. has named its first-ever chief maritime officer, effective December 9. The post will be held by U.S. Navy retired Vice Admiral William Burke, who has more than 30 years of experience in dealing with safety, engineering and operations. In his new role, Burke will oversee ship refurbishments, the building of new ships, and maritime quality assurance and policy.

Siberia Cruises (No, We're Not Kidding.)

German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd will offer a sailing to Siberia in 2014 aboard 184-passenger expedition ship Hanseatic. The 17-night sailing from Shanghai to Otaru will feature stops at Zarubino, Rimsky Islands, Vladivostok, Petrov Island, Prosiolochnaya, Neprimentnaya, Olga, Udobnaya Bay, Ternei Bay, Samarga River and Kholmsk. The voyage departs on May 10 and will set passengers back a cool £7,800 each (roughly $10,700).

Hurricane, Schmurricane

On Saturday, November 30, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season quietly ended with barely a whimper. The season, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to rank as the sixth-least active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982 with 13 named storms, of which only two became hurricanes. Neither hurricane developed into a major storm (category 3 or higher), the first time since 1994 there have been no major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. Only four Atlantic storms forced cruise lines to make port changes this year, as compared to last year, when storms prompted more than 100 itinerary changes.

A New Gem in the Caribbean

Beginning in February 2015, cruisers wishing to visit the Caribbean will have a shiny new cruise ship, Pearl Mist, to select. The 210-passenger ship from Pearl Sea Cruises will sail a mix of seven-, 10- and 11-night cruises, visiting ports in the Bahamas, U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, St. Martin, Martinique and more. Pearl Mist debuts 2014 with a series of Canadian Maritime and Great Lakes cruises.

Tiptoe, Expedition Style, Through the Tulips

Forget amazing wildlife and exotic cultures. Next year Lindblad will takes its expedition cruise ship, National Geographic Explorer, to very familiar territory -- Holland and Belgium. A one-time-only offer, the nine-night May cruise aims to uncover the "hidden facets of familiar places." For instance, passengers will visit small islands in the area for local bird sightings, while the line's zodiacs, better known for skirting icebergs in Alaska, will instead transit city canals.

Brochures that Come to Life!

U.K. cruise line Thomson Cruises' paper brochures will soon come to life through special "augmented reality technology," accessible via any handheld device. To access the hidden footage, you first have to download the free Aurasma App from the App Store or Google Play. Then just search for, select and follow Thomson Cruises. By holding the smart phone or tablet over selected images, recognizable by an icon in the brochure, it will trigger one of six films which will start playing on your device. The films showcase some of the entertainment and dining options onboard, as well as the 'Platinum' offering on Thomson Dream and Thomson Celebration.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor, and Ashley Kosciolek, Associate Editor