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.
Disney Cruise Line will bring the Frozen phenomenon onboard its cruise ships this summer, Olaf the snowman’s favorite time of year.
All of Disney’s ships will have meet-and-greets, giving your family an opportunity to pose for a photo with your favorite characters from the film. Disney will take the Frozen theme a step further on select Alaska and Europe sailings on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, throwing an all-day deck party for which the ship will be transformed into a winter wonderland and include a scavenger hunt, learning a traditional Scandinavian dance and dining on Nordic fare in the restaurants. Guests sailing to Norway on the Magic can participate in a shore excursion created exclusively for Disney Cruise Line. In Alesund, guests will experience an “enchanting storybook village” with princesses Anna and Elsa. Also on the Magic, Disney will put on a three-song show with special effects that it calls a “heartfelt, humorous and memorable tribute to the Frozen film.” On Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island destination in the Bahamas, the cruise line will open Olaf’s Summertime Freeze, a bar serving nonalcoholic drinks in souvenir cups.
This March, Copenhagen Airport will become the first in Europe to let cruise ship passengers check bags for their flights before leaving the ship. You will just label and leave their luggage outside your cabin before it’s taken to Copenhagen Airport and then onto the final destination airport. The move follows successful trials this year by airline SAS and Princess Cruises, as well as Holland America Line’s Eurodam.
We are excited to hear that Holland America Line’s newest ship, the Koningsdam, will feature 32 spacious, family oceanview staterooms ranging from 222 to 231 square feet. These cabins will also feature two bathrooms and allow up to five people. It will also be the first ship in the fleet to have single cabins for solo travelers; a great option for multi-generational groups. HAL said the 12 single oceanview cabins will range from 127 to 172 square feet in size and will be available on multiple decks at a variety of forward, mid-ship and aft locations. Slated to enter service in February 2016, the 2,650-passenger Koningsdam will also showcase 912 cabins and suites with balconies, the most of any vessel in its 15-ship fleet.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s next ship will feature the largest aqua park at sea and include four water slides. Scheduled to debut in October, the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Escape will also have the largest ropes course at sea, a miniature golf course, a full-size basketball court, baby nursery and a bocce ball court — a first for the line. The 163,000-ton vessel is an expanded version of Norwegian’s recently unveiled Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway and will be the line’s largest ship to date. Aqua Park will boast a dedicated Kids’ Aqua Park, two pools and four hot tubs. The water slides will include Aqua Racer, a tandem slide where competitors can race side-by-side on tubes, and Free Fall, a side-by-side set of slides where you will free fall into a loop as the floor drops from underneath them. There also will be a more relaxing, family-friendly open-flume body slide. The ropes course will be three stories high and feature 99 elements including two walkable planks extending over the side of the ship and zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. The ship will have the line’s first dedicated nursery for young cruisers two and under. It will sail the Caribbean year-round from Miami. Next in line is the Norwegian Bliss, due in 2017.
European Waterways has declared the 2015 cruise season “the year of the family,” offering up to 10 percent off the price of whole boat charters on ten of its most popular barges in the fleet. Since the vessels hold from just 8 to 12 passengers, chartering a hotel barge guarantees a personal, private holiday, with the option to modify family-friendly itineraries to meet the unique needs of your group. European Waterways offers the kind of experiences that are tailor-made for today’s multi-generational families. For example, the 8-passenger Anjodi sails along the 330-year old Canal du Midi in France. Among the family-friendly activities offered is a visit to the city of Carcassonne, the most complete medieval fortified city in existence and a visit to the unique Meze Dinosaur Park and Museum, the largest museum in Southern France dedicated to dinosaurs. Discounts off the whole boat charter on the Anjodi are available on March 29, April 5 and April 12 for a great spring break getaway!
Disney Cruise Line announced that it will make port calls in Tortola and Martinique for the first time as part of its 2016 winter/spring season. The Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic will sail from Port Canaveral on Eastern Caribbean itineraries, including the British Virgin Islands stop of Tortola. Disney Wonder will return to San Juan in January for seven-day cruises to Barbados, Grenada, Martinique, Antigua and St. Kitts. Disney will also sail to the Bahamas from Miami and Port Canaveral. Bookings are now open!
Ecoventura, which currently operates three first-class, 20-passenger motor yachts in Galapagos, is expanding its family offerings with a new family teen departure featuring a culture exchange and/or science project with local students through Ecology Project International. The cultural exchange is offered at the EPI camp Reserva Parajo Brujo and includes lunch and a tour in the company of a student who has a special perspective on the town of Puerto Ayora. This unique opportunity will be available for sailings in July. Ecoventura has also scheduled 25 dedicated “family” and “family teen” departures for next year although it welcomes children age 12 and up on all sailings. The cruise line makes every effort to group families with the same age children and to make sure that there is more activity (hiking, snorkeling and kayaking) than on their regular sailings. They also plan to designate departures for families traveling with young adults (age 18-25) in late May and early June. The company will add a new premium yacht, the 20-passenger MV Origin, for the 2016 season.
International Expeditions’ tour of the Amazon River will offer family-friendly experiences throughout 2015 on its new 31-passenger La Estrella Amazonica river cruiser. The ship even has two triple cabins and four cabins on each deck with adjoining doors. Next year the company will offer a week long Family Amazon Cruise. The cruise begins on the Rio Ucayali, the water land of the pink dolphins. You will enter the Pacaya Samira Reserve (the largest wetland in the world) where your children will fish for piranhas and spot caimans and capybaras; hike and look for otters; and go head-to-head in a soccer match against local village children. The riverboat sails back to Iquitos on the Rio Maranon, and by docking time, your children will have learned survival skills, bird calls, 20 ways to cook a piranha, and how to make mosquito repellent from medicinal plants. The cruise can be combined with time at the luxury Ceiba Tops Rainforest Lodge for an added perspective of this amazing region. The lodge provides additional rainforest hikes, canopy walkway excursions and opportunities to meet two rainforest cultures: the Yagua and Ribernos people. Other extensions include Macchu Picchu or the Nazca Lines.