Cruise News Shorts: More Ships in 2014, Norwegian Epic to Relocate and Other Cruise News

January 17, 2014
(11:25 E.S.T) -- 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.

Sunny Skies Ahead
The cruise industry has much to look forward to in 2014, including 16 new ships -- of which eight are riverboats -- the Cruise Lines International Association reported. It added that some 21.7 million people are forecast to take a cruise this year. Of those, 55 percent will hail from North America and 30.1 percent from Europe. The largest cruise market continues to be the United States with 51.7 percent of all passengers coming from there. With airfare costs between North America and Europe remaining high, cruise lines are offering more Caribbean cruises this year. Destinations that will see fewer cruise ship calls include the Mediterranean, Europe (without the Med) and South America. Within North America, both Alaska and New England also will receive slightly fewer cruise visits this year than last.

An Epic Move
Adios Florida, hola Spain: Norwegian Epic is moving. Starting April 30, 2015, Norwegian Cruise Line is moving its biggest ship to Barcelona, where it will homeport year round. The itineraries will be announced mid-March.

Who Doesn't Love Free?
Anyone booking a Mississippi or Columbia river cruise with American Cruise Lines can now take advantage of free shore excursions on any sailing in 2014. The free tours will be offered in each port and include the Battle of Vicksburg Tour (Vicksburg, MS), Oak Valley Plantation Tour (Oak Alley, LA), Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum (Hannibal, MO), Mt. St. Helens Tour (Rainier, WA) and Winery Tour (Richland, WA).

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
Well, we don't know about that, but Norwegian Cruise Line and MTN Communications are testing a new satellite modem that promises to bring land-like Internet speed to cruise ships. The modem is being tested on Norwegian Breakaway and, according to MTN, has already improved the ship's Internet service speed.

--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor