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.
Disney Cruise Line is taking its magic back to the Big Apple in the fall of 2016, after homeporting elsewhere since 2012. The 950-guest Disney Magic will sail a series of five- to eight-night voyages from New York to Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean, and Canada. On three of these sailings, guests can visit Disney's private island, Castaway Cay -- and, in Florida, enjoy a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket with roundtrip transportation between the ship and the resort.
Rates not yet released.
Ready for an adventure -- of the Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn variety? The American Queen Steamboat Company, known for its two beautifully restored paddlewheel riverboats, is planning an eight-night Mark Twain tribute Mississippi cruise departing August 22. Round-trip from St. Louis, Missouri, the journey includes a tour of Twain’s hometown, a visit to the Mark Twain Museum, onboard lectures from historians, and special appearances by a Mark Twain tribute. As with all American Queen sailings, fares cover a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, and free wine and beer with dinner.
From $2,699 per person.
Royal Caribbean International is set to hike its suggested daily per person gratuity charge to $12.95, up from $12 (or $15.95, up from $14.25, for suites). The new fees take effect June 1 for cruises departing on or after July 1 -- though if you're already booked on a Royal cruise departing after July 1, you can still prepay gratuities by June 1 at the old rate. These new fees match those on Norwegian Cruise Line, which raised its gratuity charges earlier this year. Reminder: Like other cruise lines, Royal automatically adds the charge onto each guest's bill, but cruisers can adjust the amount if they wish.