Cruise Tracker: Arctic Adventures, Wine Experiences, Eyes on Cuba, and More

by  Donna Tunney | Jan 14, 2015
Penguins in Antarctica
Penguins in Antarctica / Photodynamic/iStock

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. 

The chilly polar vortex might be wreaking havoc on some places across the country, but that won't keep adventure seekers from booking an Arctic experience. We think Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has just the (cruise) ticket for remote landscapes, wildlife, and riveting ice forms. For those who aren't familiar with these sailings, Lindblad Expeditions has been exploring the far reaches of Earth for 50 years, while National Geographic brings scientists, researchers, and photographers onboard to create a truly educational experience. This year's seven Arctic trips include two new itineraries: the 23-day Exploring Greenland, Baffin and Ellesmere Islands; and the 13-day Exploring Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic. Rates start from $23,990 and $12,990.

Hey wine lovers, how does a wine tasting in St. Tropez sound? Luxury line SeaDream Yacht Club is adding eight wine-intensive voyages to its 2015 European cruise schedule. Visiting the most picturesque yachting ports of the Mediterranean on five- to nine-day sailings, each of the themed voyages provides sit-down tastings featuring wineries in the regions visited -- as well as a wine master class tasting led by an internationally recognized wine expert and one tasting held by a top winemaker. SeaDream has two ships, SeaDream I and II, each carrying just 112 guests. Cruise fares start at $3,599 per person.

Carnival Cruise Lines is planning a big refurbishment of the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle in March. The 10-year-old ship will be refitted with several bars, kids programs, and other amenities that the line's newer ships already have. Guests will be able to grab a drink at the RedFrog Pub, Alchemy Bar, and a sports bar. If it's a multigenerational trip, there will be Hasbro -- The Game Show and the Seuss at Sea program to keep all ages entertained. After the upgrades, the Miracle will sail weeklong Mexican Riviera voyages from Los Angeles, with fares starting at $528.

Cruisers who love sailing in the Caribbean could soon have a new destination to visit: Cuba -- where relations between the island nation and the U.S. appear to be warming. The big cruise lines have been hankering to establish themselves there for a long time, but some small ship lines also are eager to get in on the action. We suggest keeping an eye on all of your favorite major ships as well as small ones like Pearl Seas Cruises, which points out that its small ships will be able to dock in small towns and in the heart of historic cities, such as Havana, that larger ships might not.

Say "river cruise" and you'll usually conjure up images of castles and vineyards in Europe -- but American Cruise Lines is hoping to change all that. The small-ship line plans to build a fleet of modern river ships that will sail river itineraries across the States (on point with our recent cruise trend report!). ACL already operates six river boats, including two paddle-wheelers on the Mississippi and four small ships in coastal waters. Its new fleet will have contemporary designs such as glass-enclosed lounges, cabin balconies, and open deck plans, so passengers can soak up as much of the panoramic views as possible. The line is keeping the specifics close to the vest for now, but we're eagerly awaiting the details and design renderings.




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