Celebrity Cruise recently announced that they are building a brand new and all-suite ship specifically designed for the Galapagos. The Flora will sail with 100 passengers (the limit in Galapagos) with a naturalist on board for every 12 guests! The new ship will debut in May 2019 and bookings are now open. Cabins and restaurants will feature floor-to-ceiling windows to bring in the surrounding nature with beds facing the window and cabins with Infinite Verandas. The Flora’s two 1,288-square-foot Penthouse suites will be the largest in the Galapagos with separate indoor and outdoor living areas and telescopes for stargazing. The ship will also have a small pool, cabana rentals (you can even sleep under the stars!), two restaurants and two lounges. The ship will sail year-round from Baltra Island.
The locally owned and small ship cruise line, Alaska Dream Cruises, is expanding its dedicated family sailings to three (departing June 24, July 8 and July 22 for 7 nights). These cruises will be hosted onboard the Chichagof Dream with expanded amenities for families and multi-generational travelers. This includes an additional kids-only activity leader, who during the school year serves as Sitka’s middle school science teacher. While the sailings welcome children of all ages, the activities are geared toward the 7-14 age range, and include soft science activities, performance, art and writing. If they’re brave enough, your children can join the Killer Whale Club by taking the plunge into the cold Alaskan waters. Children receive a 30 percent discount for these family sailings, double the line’s regular 15 percent discount. Family sized cabins include two bedroom suites and cabins with two sets of bunk beds.
Carnival Cruise Line said the computer-controlled Dreamscape art installation in the atrium of the upcoming Carnival Horizon will use images created by patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. The Dreamscape, a three-deck centerpiece in the Horizon’s atrium, will feature 33 artistic creations from patients of St. Jude, one of Carnival’s largest charitable partners. The 24-foot funnel-shaped centerpiece that debuted on Carnival Vista is comprised of more than 2,000 flexible LED tiles that have been customized for the shipboard environment. Each day, technicians program the rotating artwork based on the time of day, port or occasion. For Carnival Horizon, the young artists were asked to create fun pieces with bright, bold colors showcasing their personalities. The Horizon’s maiden cruise departs April 2. Founded by entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude’s opened in 1962 with a mission to find cures for childhood cancer, sickle cell and other deadly diseases.
This April, Royal Caribbean will reveal their newest ship, Symphony of the Seas. The Oasis class ship will be the largest at sea with a capacity of 5,535 passengers (higher when cabins have more than two passengers)! After a summer in the western Mediterranean, she will move in November to Miami. The ship will feature the most awesome family accommodation at sea with their Ultimate Family Suite. This two-level suite with over 1,300 sq. ft. uses a slide to get down from the top level loft bedroom, a private cinema with popcorn maker, air hockey table, floor to ceiling Lego wall and a balcony bumper pool table. It will sleep up to 8. Several new dining venues, entertainment and recreation will be showcased. Symphony of the Seas also will debut a new check-in process Royal Caribbean calls Frictionless Arrival. You will download an app to your smartphone before departure and use it to skip through check-in!
For many years MSC Cruises has allowed children under age 2 to sail free on all sailings and for children ages 2-11 to sail free on select sailings. Starting next summer, teens ages 12-17 will also sail free on select sailings in the low and mid-season! On-board programming is available for all ages including baby care. MSC also features the LEGO Experience at Sea, including LEGO-designed playrooms, entertainment options, contests, games and character meet and greets. Other child-friendly activities and amenities include waterparks, 4D movie cinema, separate laundry for babies, DOREMI family activities, personalized prepaid debit card for children 7 to 17 years-old and more. Four new ships are slated to launch between 2017 and 2019. The first, the 4,140-passenger MSC Seaside, will debut in December and sail out of Miami. The ship will showcase plenty of waterslides, water playground and more.
Halloween is a ghoulishly good time with Disney Cruise Line’s Halloween on the High Seas. All four Disney ships have already seen a complete transformation with festive decorations, costume parties, special shows, tasty treats and more. It’s the perfect way to add a little spookiness to your cruise. Some of the highlights include:
Mysterious Pumpkin Trees: Each ship will have their own unique pumpkin tree. These eerie centerpieces will go from ominously quiet to the life of the party each night.
Mouse-Querade: This costume party will feature Disney characters with a Halloween twist. Your family will enjoy dancing, games and candy.
A Nightmare Before Christmas – Sing and Scream: Join Jack and Sally for a special interactive movie experience as you venture into Halloween Town and meet the couple after the show.
Haunted Stories of the Sea: No Halloween party is complete without ghost stories. You family can gather around as a mysterious sea captain tells the spooky tales of those who once sailed the high seas.
Adults-only costume contest: Each ship’s nighttime entertainment district will host a costume contest that will prove that Halloween isn’t just for kids. A Villainous Takeover on the dance floor will really get the party going.
Attention theater lovers: Stephen Schwartz is continuing his relationship with Princess Cruises by writing and producing a new stage show for the line. The Secret Silk is Schwartz’s third Princess show. The story is a classic Asian folk tale with a contemporary spin. It is about a young woman with a secret, and the magical ability to create brilliant silk fabric. The 50-minute show also features puppets by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Magic to Do was the first show Schwartz created for Princess and is a revue of his amazing work. It includes on-stage illusions and some of his most famous songs, including Day by Day and Defying Gravity. It is being staged on Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess. His second show, Born to Dance, celebrates Broadway dance. The multimedia production traces the journey of renowned artists and shows that made musical theater history. It is being produced on Grand Princess, Star Princess and Golden Princess. In addition to being staged on Diamond Princess, The Secret Silk will be produced on Regal Princess in early 2018.
For many of our families, wildlife viewing is a top vacation priority. For spring break next year Lindblad Expedition’s is offering a $500 air credit plus $1,000 off for children on their Whales and Wilderness sailings in March and April. Spring in the Sea of Cortez is among the best times and places to see a great variety of whales—humpback, sperm, fin, Bryde’s, and blue whales—plus large aggregations of dolphins. Your family will explore its many islands free from tourist infrastructure that are also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The flexible itinerary means the boat is free to follow the seasonal movements of wildlife to optimize sightings. Explore caves by kayak, hike uninhabited beaches, snorkel among the sea lions and more under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, six veteran naturalists, including two Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructors and an undersea specialist, plus a wellness specialist! Sailing are aboard the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion.
Disney Cruise Line continues to grow! The line has has upsized its order of new ships from two to three, revealing that another new ship is set to debut in 2022. The move follows last year’s announcement that the family cruise line would build two ships in Germany with scheduled completion dates of 2021 and 2023. This latest 135,000-ton ship will be built at the same shipyard and launched the year in between the two previously announced vessels. All three are designed to be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas and have around 1,250 cabins, carrying upwards of 2,500 passengers, which is slightly larger than the newest Disney Cruise Line ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, launched back in 2011 and 2012. The new names, design plans and itineraries are still in development, but each ship is expected to have its own unique features. According to a media statement, the new ships “will usher in the next generation of innovative cruise experiences designed especially for families that will transform the art-of-cruising and take guests on adventures in a way never dreamed of before”.
Princess Cruises’ most popular Sip + Sail promotion is back. The line is offering a free drink package when booking a balcony or higher on any cruise or cruise tour booked by August 31, 2017 for sailings from spring 2018 through summer 2019! The All-Inclusive Beverage package is offered to the first two people in a cabin who are age 21 and older and includes beer, cocktails, spirits and glasses of wine up to $10; all non-alcoholic beverages including bottled water, coffee, tea, and espresso specialty drinks; with a pre-paid 15% gratuity included for these items. You also get 40% discount on bottles of wine under $100 (gratuity not included on wine bottles). Additional passengers in your cabin (or under age 21) will receive the Unlimited Soda & More Package which includes tumbler with straw, fountain soda by the glass, root beer in the can, malt and thick shakes at the ice cream bars only, hot chocolate, fruit juices and mocktails, with pre-paid 15% gratuity included for these items. Ship board credits can be substituted only if you don’t want the alcohol package ($150-250 depending on length of sailing), but both guests much choose the same amenity.