Crystal Cruises has recently announced a new lineup of added amenities and savings aimed at families traveling aboard Crystal Serenity this summer. The ship’s seven 2017 Alaska cruises sail between Vancouver and Anchorage from June through August on seven-, nine- and 10-day itineraries. There are three ways to save! Children 17 and under sail free with the Kids Sail Free promotion as a third berth with two full-fare adults. The Crystal Memories family reunion program affords additional perks for larger families traveling together, with one free berth for every 10 full-fare guests and shipboard credit for each guest. Additionally, Crystal Clear Choices allows you to select shipboard credit, air credit, or cruise fare savings. Aboard Crystal Serenity, you will find dedicated facilities, staff and programs for younger children and teens. They were redesigned last year and are fully equipped with arts and crafts, games appropriate for all ages, seating areas and flat-screen TVs for movie nights and video games. Programming related to Alaska is integrated into the activities.
Royal Caribbean is adding lifeguards to all of its ships. Licensed lifeguards will be stationed at all pools on every ship during official hours of operation for each pool facility. The cruise line will also conduct a short water safety presentation on embarkation day of each cruise which recently began on Oasis of the Seas. Lifeguard deployment will be phased in on all other ships through mid-June. Third party firm StarGuard Elite is training the shipboard lifeguards who will be conspicuous by their bright red and white uniforms. Despite a number of pool deaths involving young children, shipboard lifeguards are still a rare occurrence in the industry. Disney Cruise Line is the only other major line to have lifeguards. Disney brought in lifeguards in 2013.
The first announcement of major cruise lines sailing to Cuba this spring didn’t give us much time for planning. But now the cruise lines have been given permission to add more sailings
into the fall months on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Oceania. Royal Caribbean is extending cruises through November 2017 on the Empress of the Seas. The four-and-five night cruises will now leave from Tampa, with stops in Key West and Cozumel. In a first for the line, some sailings will offer overnights in Havana; others will continue with just a day stop. Norwegian Cruise Line has been granted 25 more sailings on Norwegian Sky through December 2017. The ship will sail weekly on four-day cruises from Miami, overnighting in Havana and calling at Great Stirrup Cay. Oceania added 6 more sailings that will stop in Cuba through December. Carnival will also begin sailing as they fade out their Fathom Cuba itinerary. All excursions in Cuba will fulfill the current people to people visa requirements for Americans. Plenty of day and evening opportunities abound.
Hurry and book by March 4 to save $1,000 per child and teen OR $500 per adult for summer 2017 Danube River cruises with Disney Adventures! Sail through the heart of Central
Europe to eight destinations in four countries. The discount is available on sailings for this June, July or August. The 7-night sailing is on AmaWaterway’s Viola. Your cruise rates include all meals, drinks, tips, entertainment, children’s activities, internet and most excursions. Highlights include a Wachau Valley Bike Excursion from Melk to Krems through the storybook village of Durnstein; a Salzburg City Tour including a visit to the beautiful Mirabell Gardens and other sights made famous from the movie The Sound of Music; a visit to the Lazar Equestrian Park in Hungary; the Devin Castle in Slovakia—an inspiration for many fairytale stories such as the classic Disney movie Tangled and the Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna to see one of its renowned marionette shows.
Disney Cruise Line recently announced that they will continue with their special Star Wars Day at Sea and Marvel Day at Sea through 2018. Star Wars Day at Sea will be available on 15 Disney Fantasy sailings to the Caribbean from January through April out of Port Canaveral. The event features a deck party with a fireworks display, character meet-and-greets, themed food and drinks and Star Wars-themed family and youth activities. Both Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries will be available. Disney’s first Marvel Day at Sea will take place out of New York to the Bahamas this October on the Disney Magic and continue through the fall with one Canadian sailing available. In 2018, you can celebrate during eight special voyages from Miami departing January through April. On these sailings, Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Black Panther, Loki and other Marvel Universe Super Heroes and Villains will be onboard for scheduled interactions and photos. During an immersive show in the Walt Disney Theatre, Doctor Strange demonstrates the power of the mystic arts and enlists guests in an epic battle against the Dark Dimension. A party fills the upper deck with music, dancing and games, culminating in a display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects and the largest collection of Marvel Super Heroes and Super Villains ever assembled on a cruise ship!
We are excited to find out that Windstar will be sailing in Alaska next year. This is a wonderful opportunity to cruise on a smaller and upscale ship that can sail closer to the shorelines, delve deeper into the fjords, offer kayaking right off the back of the ship to view endless wilderness from sea level. The 212 passenger Star Legend luxury yacht will sail a series of three itineraries with eight sailing dates, departing May to August. All cruises will feature sailings through Tracy Arm and Misty Fjords, glacier experiences, naturalist/expedition leaders as well as Native American speakers, scenic cruising by Zodiac and stops in seven to eight Alaska and British Columbia ports. It’s the first time in two decades that Windstar has sailed in Alaska. Unique ports include Metlakatla, Alaska, the U.S.’s only settlement of indigenous Tsimshian people, Prince Rupert and Haines. The sailings open February 1!
Holland America Line has formed an exclusive partnership with BBC Earth to create a series of environmental-based interactive programs, currently available on five of their ships including the new Konigsdam. The programs will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet (except Prinsendam) by March 2017. One highlight of the partnership is Frozen Planet Live, a concert based on the BBC Earth Frozen Planet television series, with live musicians playing a specially orchestrated musical score by award-winning composer George Fenton to complement the images on screen. Additional activities include Inside Earth documentary films, game shows, trivia, and children’s activities. Your family can test their knowledge in the What on Earth! game show. Teams compete against each other, guessing locations, uncovering content hidden beneath puzzles, and deciphering animal sounds. Trivia from Earth is an informal, team-based competitive quiz that allows guests to show off their natural history knowledge. Your children can also participate in BBC Earth’s countdown fact shows and BBC Earth for Club HAL Tweens. To celebrate the cruise line’s 70th anniversary exploring Alaska, a new BBC Earth Alaska show will be developed for the 2017 Alaska cruise season. Four special cruises will allow your family to discover what happens behind the scenes on BBC Earth’s documentaries by sailing with producers, cameramen, and presenters. These BBC Earth experts will host master classes and question-and-answer sessions in their field so guests can learn directly from the show’s creators
Princess Cruises will remaking the youth centers on its ships in partnership with Discovery Communications, starting with the Grand Princess. There are three themes based on age. Ages 3 to 7 becomes The Treehouse, a bright whimsical forest and animal-themed center. Ages 8 to 12 becomes The Lodge, which is inspired by the outdoors and filled with sports activities and places to explore, hang out and lounge. Teens 13 to 17 will convert into The Beach House, with a surf theme. The two younger groups will also get regional programs focused on the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe that will immerse your children in the culture, nature and customs of those areas. New youth and teen center programming includes “MythBusters” science activities with three hands-on challenges, featuring the show’s star, Tory Belleci. Princess first partnered with Discovery in 2015 for Discovery at Sea,, which included various tie-ins to Discovery’s nature and science programs. Princess and Discovery will also create a family fair in the Piazza featuring carnival-like booths and activities, family trivia, Stargazing with Discovery at Sea, family game night and new family-themed programs. After the Grand Princess, the new youth centers will be rolled out during drydocks of Caribbean Princess (March)m Regal Princess (April), Sea Princess (October) and Island Princess (November). Princess last overhauled its youth centers in 2012 with the introduction of the Royal Princess.
Alaskan Dream Cruises is expanding its seven-night True Alaskan Family Cruises in 2017 with an overnight stay and second day in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The extra time in Glacier Bay allows your family to spend more time enjoying the scenery and wildlife around the Marble Islands, Gloomy Knob, and Margerie Glacier. It will disembark in Bartlett Cove near the park’s visitor center, as well as in Reid Inlet, a more remote wilderness area that cruise travelers typically only sail past. In Bartlett Cove, the only inhabited area of the park, adults and children can visit Snow, the largest humpback whale skeleton exhibit in the United States. The newly opened Huna Tribal House, also nearby, is a gathering place for tribal members and a learning place for visitors interested in Tlingit history and culture. A National Park Service ranger and a Native Huna Tlingit interpretive guide will be aboard to spend time with families and to share the park’s natural wonders and history as an Alaska Native ancestral home. Children can also become a Junior Range. Family cruises are also staffed with a designated Youth Expedition Leader, who leads activities and educational programs specific for young cruisers. The 74-passenger Chichagof Dream departs on July 9 and July 23 for this unique 7-night family sailing. Children ages 15 and under receive a 30 percent discount. These family cruises are designed and recommended for multi-generational groups and families with children age seven and up, although all ages are welcomed.
Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship — and the largest cruise ship in the world — departed Port Everglades, its long-term U.S. homeport this month. The ship joins joins Allureof the Seas in sailing from Port Everglades. Sister ship Oasis of the Seas moved from Port Everglades to Port Canaveral to make room for its bigger fleetmate. The 16-deck Harmony of the Seas took the title of largest cruise ship in the world from Allure of the Seas. It is one foot longer and 1,700 tons bigger than Allure. Like its sister ships, it features a neighborhood concept that includes indoor, outdoor, sports, kids, entertainment and relaxation spaces. Among the many attractions on board are: the high-speed VOOM Wi-Fi, the 10-story tall Ultimate Abyss slide, a zipline, high dive acrobatics in the AquaTheater, and a full-length performance of Grease in the main theater.