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7 Holiday Cruising Highlights



Summer is quickly coming to an end, and that means autumn and winter cruises are on the horizon.  This also means that Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s voyages are coming up! Cruise Lines International Association has put together seven highlights of winter travel, and why now is the best time to book.

1. Celebrate in the Sunshine

In December, Paul Gauguin is offering a 7-night Tahiti & Society Islands Voyage where guests can explore the best of the South Pacific – stopping in Huahine, Bora Bora, and Moorea.  Travelers will spend a relaxing day on Motu Mahana, the line’s private islet with white-sand beaches, a barbecue lunch, drinks served in coconuts, and a floating lagoon bar.

Travelers aboard Crystal Cruises can celebrate the holidays in a variety of destinations, including the West Indies, Vienna, Bora Bora, and more – complete with multi-faith celebrations onboard.  The line’s 16-day South African Holidays cruise sails roundtrip from Cape Town, marking the line’s first holiday cruise in Africa.  Guests can enjoy safaris in South Africa and Mozambique, while authentic village feasts and visits highlight the rich culture in the region.

MSC Cruises’ upcoming ship MSC Seaside will be christened in Miami in December, and will offer unique Caribbean winter cruises.  The vessel was designed with a beach condo in mind, and will connect guests to the sea with a 360 degree outdoor promenade, two glass-floor catwalks, and glass elevators with beautiful ocean views.

2. Seaside Celebrations

Over the holiday season, Uniworld river cruises will offer a variety of festive journeys.  The line’s special Holiday Season Cruises allow guests to visit multiple countries and cities during the most magical time of year.  Beginning late November, Uniworld offers seven holiday-themed cruises that travel through Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, and France.  Of course, visits to different Christmas markets are on the agenda.

Disney Cruise Line celebrates the Christmas season each year with their Very Merrytime Cruises, which begin in early November aboard all four ships.  During these voyages, events include “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” in the atrium, “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” as well as themed activities, carolers, holiday crafts, and a special “Deck the Deck Holiday Party.”  There is a three-deck tall Christmas tree i the atrium, “snow” flurries, Christmas island music, and even a decked-out tree on Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.

Azamara Club Cruises brings guests to the other side of the world for the holidays with a sailing from western to southern Australia aboard Azamara Quest.  Guests enjoy a Christmas feast at sea, followed by a New Year’s Eve air show and Harbour of Light Parade in Sydney Harbour.  When the clock strikes midnight, fireworks explode over the bridge and Sydney Opera House for a once-in-a-lifetime memory.

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3. Christmas Market Magic

Guests aboard Tauck’s Christmas Markets Along the Rhine cruise will experience the season’s magic from Cologne, Germany to Basel, Switzerland in an intimate setting.  Enjoy guided visits to traditional Christmas markets, walking tours of market towns, visits to Old Town Heidelberg and Heidelberg Castle, a traditional German lunch in Heidelberg, and traditional storytelling in Strasbourg.

Travelers looking for a shorter trip to the markets can hop on Cunard’s Bruges Short Break Getaway aboard Queen Elizabeth for a three-day holiday.  Guests can explore Bruges and its famous Christmas market filled with traditional gifts, chocolates, and the scent of waffles wafting through the air.  Cruisers can also take advantage of the wooden chalets that surround an ice rink on the cobbles of Grote Market for a unique experience.

4. Special Guests

Seabourn offers a variety of special guests and speakers aboard their ships with the Seabourn Conversations series.  For example, Steve Wozniak – designer of the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the Apple I personal computer – will be hosting a conversation aboard Seabourn Quest in December for tech-loving travelers.  Fashion-minded cruisers will enjoy a December evening with celebrity stylist and TV personality Brad Goreski on Seabourn Sojourn, and those looking to learn a bit of etiquette can listen in on a conversation with Grant Harold, Britain’s Official Etiquette Expert.

5. Holiday Family Fun

Carnival Cruise Line ships are decked out during the holiday season, and feature Santa Claus with gifts for the kids, Midnight Mass, and a special Christmas Day menu with roasted turkey and pecan pie.  Kids will love special guest the Grinch, who, as part of the Seuss at Sea program, will make special appearances for photos, participate in the Christmas show, and join kids doing fun themed activities.

6. Experts at the Helm

In January 2018, cruisers on Windstar Cruises’ President’s Cruise to the Best of the Philippines and Borneo with Windstar President John Delaney, will enjoy a bit of a homecoming for much of the ship’s Philippines-born crew.  Guests will be able to explore the country alongside those who love and know it best, while also getting a chance to spend time with Windstar’s president.  Travelers will visit islands and beaches like Palawan and Boracay, as well as Hundred Islands National Park.  A visit to Brunei will take guests inside one of the richest countries in the world, affording a look at some of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Asia.

7. Deals and Discounts

To help guests experience the holiday season for less, AmaWaterways is currently offering up to $1,500 off per stateroom now through September 30 for select Christmas Markets departure dates.  These discounted voyages include trips to the Christmas markets on the Rhine or Danube, cruises from Budapest to Amsterdam, and more.

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Instagram Posts Reveal Cruise Secrets



According to a new study, if you’ve sailed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, there’s a pretty good chance you not only took a lot of pictures but posted them to Instagram. The same can be said for folks who sailed on Carnival Cruise Line, who reportedly Instagrammed the second most photos. But those same posts reveal all kinds of information about who’s going where… and what they’re doing once they get there.

Over 1.8 Million Cruise Photos Were Studied

Harmony of the Seas docked in Nassau.

By studying nearly two million photos, the booking site SeaHub was able to figure out now only which lines had the biggest representation on the wildly popular photo-sharing app, but extrapolate info regarding popular destinations, which group is more likely to party and how long people tend to spend on shore while in port.

As of early January, Royal Caribbean cruisers had posted over 630,000 photographs to Instagram, while Carnival’s passengers clocked in at just under 500,000. Rounding out the top five were Disney (319,000), Princess (112,000)  and Celebrity (102,000). Breaking things even further down, SeaHub was able to determine which ship within the various fleets was most popular with Instagrammers… and which were the least popular.

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READ MORE: 7 Gorgeous Pics Of Sunsets At Sea

Where Royal Caribbean was concerned, Harmony of the Sea proved to be the most popular ship, with Rhapsody of the Sea coming in last place. For Carnival, Vista took the top spot while Ecstasy was on the bottom. Norwegian Cruise Line saw their Escape in first place, with the Bliss in dead last. And while this at first seems surprising, given how much buzz there is regarding the new ship, it’s important to remember that the rankings are based on photos posted, and those are few-and-far-between where the new build is concerned!

Carnival Claims The Party Prize

Carnival Vista

By looking at the hastags and terminology used in the posts, the informal study was able to reveal which cruise lines were associated with certain buzzwords. Carnival took the top spot when you looked at the word “party”, but Norwegian knocked them off the throne if you instead looked at “drinks.” When it came to “food” and “dinner”, Princess was the big winner… but “breakfast” went to Carnival. And while it sometimes seems as if lobster is the most talked-about menu item on cruise ships, it only ranked No. 5 when SeaHub analyzed what food is most posted/buzzed about on ships. (To be fair, “seafood” came in at No. 1, and that could include lobster.) The rest of the top 5 food items? Dessert was second, chocolate clocked in at No. 3 and the ubiquitous buffet earned the fourth spot.

What are you most likely to post pictures of when you cruise? 

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Cruise Line Cuts Ship In Half [PHOTOS]



Well, here’s something you don’t see every day: A cruise ship being sawed in half like a magician’s assistant. Why? So that a new 49-foot segment can be inserted.

What Does It Take To Cut A Ship In Half?

Silversea Cruises

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

This week in Palermo, Italy, the folks at the Fincantieri Shipyard have been executing the kind of thing you sort of have to see to believe: Thanks to the marvels of modern engineering, they are cutting Silversea’s Silver Spirit right down the middle, separating the two halves and then inserting a pre-built block into the ship before welding the whole thing together in so seamless a fashion that none will be the wiser.

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

So what does it take to accomplish such a feat? Well, breaking it down by the numbers, here’s what you get:

  • Over 500 workers
  • 450,000 man hours
  • 846 tons of steel
  • 360,892 feet of cabling
  • 26,247 feet of piping

And why would one undertake such a monumental task? Believe it or not, it’s actually cheaper than buying an entirely new ship… and will result in the Silver Spirit being able to increase their capacity by 12 percent. At the same time, she’ll undergo a massive refurbishment that will in essence transform her into an entirely new vessel.

How The Ship Will Be Refurbished

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

The entire project was inspired by the line’s flagship, Silver Muse (which not coincidentally was built at the same shipyard) and is serving as the focal influence of a fleet-wide renovation. “The lengthening and refurbishment of Silver Spirit will replicate the modern elegance of our latest vessel to make for a more luxurious travelling experience,” said Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer for Silversea. “This ambitious project will amplify the onboard features that matter most to our guests.”

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Photo via Silversea Cruises.

That includes dining options, which will see several dining options introduced, resulting in an 8-restaurant configuration. Up on the sky deck, the pool area will also be expanded from 98 feet to 148 feet to not only offer more space for sunworshippers, but also add a new aerobics area. The renovation will also see two new public spaces added, The Arts Cafe and Dolce Vita. Finally, all of the suites will be refurbished and upgraded.

And how cool is this? Just before arriving in Palermo to undergo her surgical procedure, the Silver Spirit stopped in Chaina, Crete, so that furniture that was being replaced could be donated to some of the charities on the island.

The ship will return to service on May 6, 2018, with 7-day sailings between Civitavecchia (Rome) and Barcelona. For more on the ship and her itineraries, click here.

“Witnessing these breathtaking phases of the Silver Spirit lengthening project has filled us with pride and excitement,” said Muckermann. And now you, too, can be wowed by the scope of the project by watching the video below.


Featured Photo via Silversea Cruises.

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Cruise Trends: What’s Topping Travel Wish Lists



When it comes to trends in cruising, Alaska is hot… and so is living the suite life. That’s according to newly released data based from the Travel Trends Survey. What else did the survey reveal about the places cruisers want to go — and what they want to do when they get there? Read on to find out.

Alaska Claims The Top Spot

Un-Cruise Adventure

While in the past, land-based vacations to places like Las Vegas and Orlando claimed the top domestic spot, the survey of over 1,300 travel agents (conducted by Travel Leaders Group) showed that Alaskan cruises are the current hot ticket. In looking at international travel, cruises to the Caribbean came in at the No. 1 spot, while there was also a sharp rise in the level of interest travelers expressed toward river cruises. The results certainly indicate that the cruise industry’s efforts to convince the public that cruising is a better value than land-based vacations seem to be paying off in spades. “Cruises are continuing to soar as a popular vacation choice for North Americans,” said Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Planning An Alaskan Cruise

The survey also revealed that interest in cruises to Cuba has increased about 10 percent over last year, which is certainly reflected in how the various lines are approaching the port. While there was some concern that recent changes in the political arena might have a negative impact on the cruise industry where Cuba was concerned, execs at the recent Seatrade Global Cruise Convention said the opposite is proving true. Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said that his line would be doubling their capacity to the region in 2018, adding, “Cuba has been great for the industry.”

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Cruisers Like The Suite Life


Photo via Carnival.

The survey also indicated that when it comes to suites, more and more passengers are booking the higher-end staterooms. In fact, 30 percent of the travel agents responding to the survey indicated that they had seen an uptick in suite bookings. Meanwhile, when asked what type of question cruisers ask most often, the respondents said shore excursion-related queries topped the list, which again is very much in keeping with what executives have indicated is happening industry-wide. During quarterly earnings calls, numerous executives from the cruise lines have indicated that when they look at onboard spending, passengers are increasingly spending their money to purchase experiences as opposed to material things.

While 72 percent of the travel agents surveyed indicated put shore excursions as the No. 1 question, other topics they were frequently grilled on by clients included shipboard activities, pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements and specialty restaurants.

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