Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney -- ShermansTravel’s cruise expert -- has all the latest news. Check back every Tuesday for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea.
Ooh-la-la! A dreamy French replica is hitting the seas.
Tall ship line Star Clippers is constructing a five-masted, square-rigged barque that will be a near-replica of the France II, a famous French sailing ship built in 1912. But the new vessel will feature modern-day amenities -- like three pools, a water sports platform, four lounges, and a restaurant with open-seating dining -- as well as a variety of cabins and 34 suites. The 300-passenger ship will debut in Europe in 2017, and it'll be the fourth ship in the Star Clippers fleet.
Mantis, a group known for its game reserves and eco-lodges, has launched three small riverboats to join its flagship vessel (the 14-suite Zambezi Queen ) to ply the Zambezi and Chobe rivers in Botswana. Together, the small ships make up the Zambezi Queen Collection , bringing a luxury level river experience to the plethora of safari options in the region. The ships have been renovated and outfitted with amenities like a plunge pool, and itineraries explore ecological destinations like the wildlife-rich Chobe National Park.
A three-night sailing on the Zambezi Queen is about $1,480 per person.
Whew, it's legal again to take food to-go (kind of).
Norwegian Cruise Line did an about-face on its month-old policy that prevented cruisers from bringing food from ships' buffets and other eateries back to their cabins. The no-food rule followed closely on the heels of a new room service delivery fee of $7.95, but Norwegian said the two decisions were coincidental.
A fancy-pants spa is making cruising even more indulgent.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises will be bringing a Canyon Ranch SpaClub to its new all-suite Seven Seas Explorer, launching in July 2016. Spa lovers will recognize the famed wellness brand's touches in pampering treatments like the Red Flower Hammam, in which guests are scrubbed with a blend of coffee, olive stones, and fresh lemons -- then cleansed with Moroccan mint tea and silt before getting massaged.
It's all-suite galore this year!
Last week, Windstar Cruises christened the third of its new all-suite power yachts in Rome. The 212-guest Star Legend, which got a $8.5 million spruce up, is the last of the three vessels that Windstar bought from Seabourn. It's cruising the Mediterranean and Northern Europe for the summer season. (Stay tuned for a more in-depth report coming next week.)
A seven-night London to Copenhagen cruise in July starts at $2,999 per person.
Never hear the words "I'm bored" again.
Here's a new reason to consider a multi-generational cruise next summer: Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Vista will have plenty of bells and whistles for families when it launches in May 2016. Along with water rides, sports attractions, IMAX movies, and a dedicated lounge with games and snacks, the 4,000-guest ship will feature 96 Family Harbor cabins -- including two-bedroom suites that accommodate five, plus toiletries and bathrobes made specifically for kids. A family concierge will be on hand, too, for all your registration and reservation needs.