Here’s a quick look at what’s new this week in cruising, and how it could impact your next trip.
- The world's largest ship, Harmony of the Seas, is now officially the 25th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet. The $1 billion, 5,479-passenger ship left the STX France shipyard this week en-route to Southampton, U.K. for a series of preview cruises. Besides having a population the size of a small town -- in addition to passengers there's a crew of 2,100 onboard -- the behemoth ship has a thrill slide with a 100-foot drop, robotic bartenders, and a Central Park with more than 52 real trees. After an inaugural season out of Barcelona, Harmony of the Seas will homeport in Fort Lauderdale beginning in November.
- Marilyn Monroe fans will want to hop on board Cunard's Queen Mary 2 for the August 9-16 transatlantic crossing as the world celebrates what would have been the star's 90th birthday. The ship will host highlights from the world’s largest Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collection.
- Passengers cruising the Mediterranean on Carnival Cruise Line's new, 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista this week are sampling the first batches of three types of beer actually brewed on the ship and available nowhere else. The RedFrog Pub & Brewery is the first brewery on a North American ship. There are two copper-topped glass kettles at the pub entrance plus eight fermenting tanks visible behind glass. If you want to learn more about the brewing process, you can book a behind-the-scenes tour ($12.95) conducted by the onboard brew master.
- Prog-Rock goes to sea this winter when iconic bands Yes, Kansas, and others participate in a Cruise to the Edge from Tampa to Cozumel on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. The four-day sailing embarks Fort Lauderdale on February 7, 2017.
- Carnival Corp.'s Fathom brand has committed to seven-day cruises from Miami to both the Dominican Republic and Cuba (on alternating weeks) through December 2017. Officials said demand for the social impact cruises is growing.