Cruise News Shorts: Norwegian Intros MDR Reservations, Royal Caribbean Embraces Virtual Reality & More Cruise News

July 11, 2014
reservation reminder on a calendar page

(11:56 a.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 snippets we think you might like to know about.

Freestyle Reservations?
Is freestyle dining going out the door at Norwegian Cruise Line? The cruise line famous for its dine-when-you-want policy in its main dining rooms is now offering reservations on all ships. Reservations, which are still completely optional, can be made up to 90 days prior to sailing or once onboard ship. Details about the specifics of the reservations are not yet available but Cruise Critic forum member punkincc wrote that on an upcoming Pride of America sailing reservations are being offered for 5:30, 6:30 and 8:30.

A View with No Room?
Cruisers can get a sense of what life is like onboard the world's biggest cruise ship -- without ever stepping foot onboard. Royal Caribbean became the first cruise line to be featured on Google Maps Business View, which uses the search engine giant's uber-cool Street View technology. Would-be passengers can get a virtual tour of Allure of the Seas, which features a carousal, FlowRider surf simulator, pool and sports deck, ice skating rink and enormous promenade. The project required 60 man-hours of work over the course of eight days, and more than 20,000 photos were taken. Royal Caribbean says it currently has no plans to extend the technology to other ships in its fleet. Check out the project for yourself here.

You're Invited
Passengers onboard Windstar Cruises' 2015 sailings will be invited to exclusive private events designed to give them an in-depth local experience. Events can include such activities as an after-hours tour and dinner under the stars in the Celsus Library of Ephesus, a private ballet performance at the Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre or a private tour of Italy's Valley of the Temples and lunch at the five-star Hotel Villa Athena. Windstar trialed the private events on all 2014 South Pacific sailings.

High Fashion
We guess dressing celebrities just doesn't do it anymore; instead dressing a cruise ship's crew is where it's at. Italy's fashion school the Istituto Europeo di Design of Milan has revealed the newest uniforms for Silversea Cruises' crew. Designers from the school, who spent several days onboard Silver Spirit to get a feel for the line, created several variations of the uniform in a palette of black, white, blue and gray. In the coming months, several hundred Silversea crewmembers will be outfitted in the uniforms.

The Italian Americans Are Coming
Passengers on the Oct. 29 sailing of Oceania Cruises' Riviera will be the first to see the new PBS documentary series, The Italian Americans. They'll also get to interact with the producers, writers and directors. The series of four, one-hour episodes is narrated by actor Stanley Tucci and chronicles the history of Italian Americans from the mid-19th century to the present day.

--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor and Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor