Cruise Tracker: Protecting Against Ebola, All-Inclusive Perks, and More

by  Donna Tunney | Oct 21, 2014
Passengers on board the Celebrity Equinox
Passengers on board the Celebrity Equinox / Photo courtesy of the cruise line

Which cruise lines are making headlines? We’ve got the latest on protecting against Ebola at sea, packages for doing Europe right, new Caribbean sailings, and more.

The biggest news from this weekend: A lab supervisor who handled workup for the recent Ebola patient in Dallas jumped on a cruise after the case was closed. Crazy, we know -- but the good news is that nothing actually went wrong, at least on the medical front. She and her companion voluntarily quarantined themselves on the cruise, and their tests have since come back negative. The only blip was that the ship, which returned to Galveston yesterday as scheduled, wasn’t allowed to dock in Cozumel (and the couple couldn't disembark in Belize with the other passengers) as a precaution. And if you have a sailing scheduled, worry not. Cruise Lines International Association says that cruise lines have begun to perform contact screening at embarkation to protect against the virus on commercial ships. The group, which has been "actively engaged" with the CDC and is working on a standard monitoring protocol, is also urging its member cruise lines to deny boarding to any passenger or crew member who’s traveled through Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone within the previous 21 days. 

If you're going to do Europe, might as well do it right -- right? For a memorable cruising experience, New York area passengers can take advantage of Celebrity Cruises' new all-inclusive package for European itineraries aboard the Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Silhouette, and the line's newest ship Celebrity Reflection. Seven-night cruises start at $2,999 per person and include an oceanview or higher category staterooms, beverage packages for two, and direct roundtrip airfare from JFK or Newark to Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Venice, Istanbul, Stockholm or Athens. Also covered are gratuities, taxes and fees for both airfare and the cruise, and roundtrip ground transfers, so you won't have to worry about a thing.

Good news for Caribbean-loving Texans: Norwegian Cruise Line has returned to the Port of Houston for the first time in seven years, with the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel. The ship -- featuring Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising with 16 dining options, 13 bars and lounges, plus Nickelodeon programming for youngsters -- began sailing the first of 27 Western Caribbean cruises that will be offered through April 11. The itineraries include calls at Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize, and Roatan Bay, Honduras. In between, passengers can enjoy new amenities from the ship's recent refurbishment, including the popular O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, a casual pub eatery. Fares for a six-night voyage start at $249 per person.

Carnival Cruise Line will be rockin' out on the seas next year. The new line-up of rock, country, and R&B artists for the Carnival LIVE concert series -- bringing musicians onboard in ports of call like St. Thomas and Cozumel -- include Smokey Robinson, Journey, Styx and Rascal Flatts. In all, the shows will be offered on 10 ships, departing from Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Jacksonville, Charleston, and, for the first time, Galveston. Tickets start at $35 for general admission, but get them fast; the line says that the concerts, held in the ships' main theaters, consistently sell out.

Been thinking about sailing with Princess Cruises? Now's the time to take the plunge -- as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in the coming year, the cruise line will be introducing special entertainment as well as themed dining across is fleet in the coming year. A "Love Boat" Disco Deck Party, honoring the role that the hit TV show played in the line's history, and the Chocolate Journeys dessert experience, featuring treats such as chocolate raspberry mousse with vanilla crème brulee, are just some examples. The celebrations kick off on November 5 with a naming ceremony of the Regal Princess, before the ship begins its maiden series of Eastern Caribbean cruises. (For "Love Boat" fans: Original cast will be onboard the first sailing!) Rates for winter departures start at $519 per person for six nights.

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