Backroads has teamed up with AmaWaterways to bring you a revolutionary Backroads experience: incredible River Cruise Biking and River Cruise Walking Trips with an elegant ship as your home base! Enjoy the best of river cruising through some of the world’s most captivating cityscapes and countryside—along with the outstanding Trip Leaders, routes and support that travelers expect from Backroads. Choose from the Danube, Rhine, Seine and Douro Rivers in Europe as well as Mekong in Asia. Backroads is chartering a full ship in September 2016. Their Danube Full Ship Celebration on the new AmaViola will start Prague and then you’ll sail and bike from Passau to Vienna, Bratislava and on to Budapest. All enhanced by the camaraderie of 150 or so fellow Backroads travelers!
Windstar Cruise is currently offering a terrific added value package. Get three free shore events, a private event experience, unlimited beverage package including cocktails and wine by the glass, free internet and tips for their tropical sailings in Tahiti, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama including some holiday travel weeks! Pricing starts at $2,499 per person and sailings are appropriate for ages 7 and older. There are no kids or teen programs, but the ships are in port nearly every day offering your family plenty of outdoor adventures or relaxation. Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of small luxury cruise ships known for its intimate, yacht-style experience and unique voyages to the world’s best small ports and hidden harbors.
Carnival Corp. has recently announced the launch of a new cruise brand that will take your family to foreign countries to do cooperative social projects. Called fathom, its first destination will be the Dominican Republic with a sailing from Miami in April 2016. The 710-passenger ship is designed for voluntourism to transport people eager help teach English, work on reforestation or water purification projects, or help a women’s cooperative harvest cocoa. You will have a choice of projects as well as a choice of traditional excursions such as windsurfing or hiking as well as on board activities. Travel with a purpose!
Disney Cruise Line is bringing Star Wars to eight sailings next year. Star Wars Day at Sea will feature a full day of celebrations including a deck party, meet-and-greets with characters, Star Wars-themed youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings and merchandise. Also featured will be exclusive at-sea screenings of the Star Wars films and the new Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels. An evening deck party culminates in a display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects and lasers. The cruises will depart Port Canaveral on January 9 and 23; February 6 and 20; March 5 and 19; and April 2 and 16, 2016.
In other Disney news, the Disney Magic will return to New York City in October 2016 with four southbound cruises to the Bahamas and Disney World (park ticket included!) for 7- or 8-nights and a 5- night cruise to Canada to take advantage of the fall foliage.
Adventures by Disney is adding Danube River cruising to its roster of vacation options next summer using AmaWaterways ships. These sailings feature eight destinations across four countries—Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, and revisit scenes from the movie, “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg and explore Devin Castle in Bratislava, as well as offer lessons in traditional Austrian folk dancing in Melk. Eight Adventures by Disney Adventure Guides will be on each sailing in addition to the AmaWaterways crew. Special activities for children include activity nights, movies, karaoke, relay games, life-size chess lessons, video games, and more. Teens can take part in activities and themed nights specifically created for them. Sailing dates are July 7-14, July 14-21, July 21-28, and July 28-August. 4 and August 4-11, 2016. The holiday-themed sailing departs on December 15-22 or December 22-29, 2016 and includes visits to the Christmas markets in Budapest and Vienna, a Vienna Boys Choir Christmas performance in the Hofburg Palace Chapel, and a special holiday menu lunch. You can also add an Adventures by Disney 3-day pre- or post-stay experience in Prague, Czech Republic.
Crystal Cruises is offering a variety of Kids Sail Free voyages in 2015 and 2016 when booked by June 30. The promotion is available for a 3rd guest (17 and under) sharing a cabin with two passengers. Family groups of six or more can qualify for $400 in onboard spending credits, $500 credit toward a Crystal Private Adventure, family photo and other benefits offered with the line’s Crystal Family Memories program. The ships feature kids and teen clubs as well as kid-friendly events, video games and toys. Choose from a variety of destinations to Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Canada and Alaska. Your cruise rates include alcohol; tips; enrichment classes in diverse topics such as world affairs, art, wine appreciation, digital photography and iPad filmmaking, evening entertainment and extensive fitness programs.
In other Disney Cruise Line news, the line will sail its first British Isles voyage in the summer of 2016, visiting Scotland, England, Ireland and France. The Disney Magic will depart Dover, England, on June 5 for a 12-day cruise, sailing to Invergordon, Kirkwall and Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland; Newcastle and Liverpool, England; Dublin; Le Havre (Paris), France; and Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. All of these, except Kirkwall, are first-time ports of call for Disney. Also in summer 2016, Disney will return to Norway with a seven-day fjord cruise and two 12-day sailings that combine Norway and Iceland, all on the Disney Magic. The fjord cruise departs Dover on May 29, and the Norway/Iceland voyages leave Dover and Copenhagen on June 17 and July 13, respectively. Each cruise spends two days in Reykjavik, Iceland. Disney is sailing the Norwegian fjords and Iceland for the first time this summer. The Magic also will sail the Aegean and Mediterranean seas in the summer of 2016. The Disney Wonder will once again offer Alaska cruises from Vancouver. Bookings for summer 2016 itineraries are now open!
Disney Cruise Line has announced that Star Wars fans will get a special day on eight Disney Fantasy sailings in 2016. The Star Wars Day at Sea marks the first appearance of Star Wars characters on a cruise ship. The event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, meet-and-greets with characters, Star Wars-themed youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings and merchandise. Also featured will be exclusive at-sea screenings of the Star Wars films and the new Disney XD animated series “Star Wars Rebels.” An evening deck party culminates in a display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects and lasers. Star Wars Day at Sea cruises will depart Port Canaveral on January 9 and 23; February 6 and 20; March 5 and 19; and April 2 and 16, 2016. Book early for the best availability and to get the dining time your family prefers!
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is throwing in free round-trip air from Miami to Galapagos on select departures between August 20 and December 15 aboard National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Islander as well as for their Galapagos + Peru trips. You must book by April 30. Lindblad has been sailing the Galapagos since Eric Lindblad led the first non-scientific expedition there in 1967. They have exclusive naturalists on board, certified photo instructors, Zodiac boats to cruise the shorelines, undersea specialists for snorkel exploration, glass bottom boat and a unique set of tools to explore under the sea (video microscopes, plasma screens, hydrophones, video chroniclers and splash cams). They also offer a wellness program featuring nature-inspired spa treatments (and a floating massage platform on Endeavour), daily stretching and well-equipped air-conditioned gyms.
The next Oasis-class cruise ship from Royal Caribbean will be named Harmony of the Seas. And it will feature the line’s first ever water slides! The ship is set to debut in April 2016 and will feature three water slides that start from the top-deck Pool and Sports Zone and twist and turn down three decks into one of two pools. A fourth Oasis-class ship (still-unnamed) will begin sailing in 2018. Meanwhile, the new Anthem of the Seas will debut this spring and will feature the North Star, a jewel-shaped glass capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level; RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator; and SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea, with everything from bumper cars and roller skating, to video gaming and a circus school complete with a flying trapeze. The ship will be based in Southampton, England this summer offering Mediterranean itineraries before redeploying to Cape Liberty, New Jersey where it will sail seven- to 12-night Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries beginning November 2015.