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.
Launch update for Virgin Cruises.
Months after Richard Branson announced his new cruise project in December, we've finally learned that Virgin Cruises will debut in 2020, with one ship homeporting in Miami. Two more will launch in 2021 and 2022, and all three ships will be mid-sized and carry 2,800 guests each. None of the ship names were revealed yet, but we know the first one will be offering weeklong Caribbean cruises from the South Florida port.
Beginning in January 2016, every single Silversea Cruises guest will receive free a WiFi package for use throughout the ship, even on expedition voyages. This will be the first initiative among oceangoing cruises to offer passengers complimentary internet access across all cabin categories -- though access will be limited (everyone gets "at least one hour" daily) unless you're in certain types of suites. Free WiFi joins a host of other amenities currently included in regular Silversea fares, like butler service, alcoholic beverages, and gratuities.
Summer in the Mediterranean just got cheaper.
Windstar Cruises extended its free shore excursions offer to include summer voyages in the Mediterranean. For bookings made by August 14, guests will receive three excursions on such weeklong itineraries as Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast, Glitter & Glams of the Riviera, and Morocco & the Canary Islands.
From $2,799 per person, based on double occupancy.
All about Asia.
Emerald Waterways, a luxury river line that operates in Europe, is expanding next year with a 15-night itinerary exploring Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong River. Traveling aboard the 68-guest Mekong Navigator, guests can meet local inhabitants in remote areas, sample exotic cuisine at floating markets, and explore the agricultural way of life. Highlights include visits to Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay, and Angkor Wat, and land add-ons like Hanoi and Singapore visits are also available.
From $4,995 per person.
Carnival's Florida flurries.
We first reported this April that the relatively new Carnival Magic was coming to Florida's Port Canaveral, and it looks like the 3,600-guest ship will arrive sooner than expected. Starting April 2016 (instead of December), the ship will embark on two weeklong itineraries from the Space Coast, one to the Western Caribbean and one to the Eastern Caribbean. Meanwhile, the 2,900-guest Carnival Valor will continue to sail from Port Canaveral next summer, with two- to seven-night cruises -- after undergoing a major refurbishment.
From $539 per person (Carnival Magic).