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 mega-cruise ships just keep getting bigger.
Italian line Costa Cruises has ordered two 6,600-guest ships, the largest yet in terms of guest capacity, for delivery in 2019 and 2020. The so-called "green ships" will be powered by liquefied natural gas, a cleaner-burning fuel that significantly reduces exhaust emissions at sea and in ports of call. (At 180,000 gross tons, Costa's ships won't be as large as Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas, the two biggest ships currently at sea today, though they'll carry more than 1,000 additional guests.)
Norwegian Cruise Line is joining the raft of cruise companies expanding into Asia . Between fall of 2016 and March 2017, the 2,400-guest Norwegian Star will offer a series of voyages departing from Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Auckland, marking the line’s return to the Asia and Australia regions for the first time since 2002. The ship also will operate itineraries to Middle East ports and to India -- a first for Norwegian.
A Christmas market cruise...in the U.S.
There's no need to sail to Germany for Christmas cheer this year. American Queen Steamboat Company's 436-guest American Queen riverboat will operate three holiday itineraries on the Mississippi River between Memphis and New Orleans beginning late November. On the weeklong cruises, port calls will feature festive Christmas markets offering locally produced crafts and strolling carolers.
From $2,699 per person, based on double occupancy.
More good news for solo travelers.
For the first time ever, Windstar Cruises is waiving single supplement fees on 43 itineraries in the South Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean, and other destinations -- and reducing the supplement for another 94 voyages. Typically, solo cruisers are forced to pay a nearly 100 percent surcharge (to make up for occupying a cabin meant for two), but cruisers would pay just 10-25 percent more with the Windstar reduction. Waived and reduced supplement fares must be booked by September 18.
Add this to the Cuba cruise list.
Luxury adventure line Pearl Seas Cruises is planning a series of seven- to 10-night cultural voyages to Cuba in the spring of 2016. The 210-guest Pearl Mist will sail roundtrip voyage from South Florida, visiting Cuban ports like Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. The voyages are pending governmental approval, but they're based on people-to-people programming that U.S. travelers would be eligible to sign up for.