Cruise Tracker: Cuba Sailings in December & More

by  Donna Tunney | May 5, 2015

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.

Dreaming of Cuba like everyone else? This December through April 2016, American cruisers will be able to sail into five ports in the country aboard a three-masted, 49-guest schooner. Small ship company AdventureSmith Explorations is adding Cuba to its roster of destinations, which currently includes Alaska, Europe, and the Galapagos. The seven-night People to People Cruise begins in Havana and visits a handful of ports along the island's western and southern shores.
From $4,799 per person based on double occupancy, covering roundtrip air from Miami, visa, and mandatory Cuban medical insurance.

Here's another sign that cuisine is getting seriously cool on cruises: Seabourn has teamed up with Chef Thomas Keller -- the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide -- to create a new signature restaurant debuting next spring on the 450-guest Seabourn Quest . Foodie passengers can also look forward to the venue on the line's two new ships, Seabourn Encore launching in late 2016 and Seabourn Ovation in early spring 2018. Meanwhile, starting this fall, Keller will develop an array of dishes for existing restaurants aboard Seabourn Odyssey , Seabourn Sojourn , and Seabourn Quest .

If you're planning on ordering room service aboard Norwegian Cruise Line, be ready to pony up. The $7.95 service fee that the line was testing last month is now here to stay, and going fleetwide. It's essentially a delivery fee; the food itself doesn't cost extra. Again, a few items are exempt from the convenience charge, and guests in the luxury accommodations also don't pay the charge.

Carnival is playing chess with its ships again. A brief rundown of the route updates:

  • Carnival Fantasy will leave Charleston next February and reposition to Miami, where it will sail two-night weekend cruises to the Bahamas as well as three-night voyages to Key West and Cozumel.
  • Carnival Ecstasy will shift to Charleston and sail three- to six-night cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
  • Carnival Victory will be heading to Puerto Rico's San Juan in November 2016, calling on the South Caribbean ports of  St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten on weeklong sailings.

Calling all "Brady Bunch" fans: American's favorite mom, Florence Henderson, is joining Holland America Line's Dancing With the Stars: At Sea cruises departing June 6 and 13. Sailing first to Bermuda and then Canada and New England, both cruises on the Veendam feature dance themes in partnership with the hit dance show -- so it's a good bet that passengers will get to see Henderson kick up her heels on the dance floor.
From $699 per person and $599 per person for the Bermuda and Canada & New England cruises, respectively, based on double occupancy.

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