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 cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's 5,500-passenger Harmony of the Seas, debuted in Southampton, bringing the latest insane shipboard thrill attraction -- the Ultimate Abyss. Those who like heart-stopping fun and/or bow to peer pressure, can step onto a translucent platform and take a look at the sea some 148 feet below before getting on a rubber toboggan and plunging through one of two purple tube slides. The drop is about 100 feet, from Deck 16 down to Deck 6, and takes about 14 seconds. Expect darkness, twinkling lights, and the sound of your own screams on the way down.
Look for Royal Caribbean to cruise to Cuba as early as late July with its 2,020-passenger Empress of the Seas. The line's smallest ship has been undergoing an extensive redo, and Royal Caribbean's President and CEO Michael Bayley is loudly hinting the Empress is poised for Cuba after a brief Caribbean run. The cruise line is just waiting for permission from Cuban authorities.
Queen Máxima of the Netherlands officially named Holland America Line's 2,560-passenger Koningsdam in a ceremony in Rotterdam, which included Her Majesty pouring Champagne over the ship's bell -- a hallowed tradition of the venerable line. Later, Champagne was smashed across the ship's hull as well.
Combine microbrew tastings, tunes, and turkey and you get the November 22 sailing of Crystal Cruises' 1,070-passenger Crystal Serenity out of New Orleans. The 14-day luxury Caribbean cruise is themed on craft beer and jazz, Thanksgiving being the added bonus.
Good news for Disney fans on the east and west coasts. Disney Cruise Line will be homeporting ships in New York (Disney Magic) and San Diego (Disney Wonder) in fall of 2017. The Disney Wonder will also do a series of cruises out of Galveston, Texas.