Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every week for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea.
Looks like the Force will be with Disney Cruise Line next year, when the heroes and villains of “Star Wars” board the Disney Fantasy. The new Star Wars Day at Sea experience will be staged during eight sailings to the Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral, Florida. Themed deck parties, fireworks, trivia games, meet-and-greets with the characters, and screenings will all be part of the fun. (The film line-up includes Disney's new XD animated series, “Star Wars Rebels.”)Good news for those who love the slots or a round of blackjack. Starting next month, Crystal Cruises will be allowing guests to convert onboard credits into casino vouchers and chips . This is a big change in the credit rule book and an industry first -- typically, credits go toward spa treatments, shore excursions, and drinks. But whether or not you're a gambler, it's always a good thing when companies offer travelers more choices. We like it.
Did you know? If you embark on a cruise vacation this year you'll join an estimated 23 million people worldwide choosing an at-sea getaway. That's the prediction from Cruise Lines International Association in its annual look-ahead. Other insights: the average cruiser is 49 years old and is married, and this year 22 ocean, river, and specialty ships will debut.
Finding your perfect cruise is no easy feat -- that's part of the reason why this column exists. But Oceania Cruises is hoping to make doing so easier with its latest website revamp. We especially like that you can filter cruises by specific ports, not just regions as is typical on cruise line sites, in the Find a Cruise section. (You can also go over to Port Explorer to see the excursions, hotels, and land programs for that port.) Also cool? The interactive deck plans that show you exactly where a room or a venue is on a specific ship, with a snapshot and key details on the side.