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Travel Blog

Latest Cruise news articles

The Explorations Central hub is new to Westerdam, offering destination immersion with interactive screens.

Cruise lines ramp up their offerings

August 21, 2017

In between taking careful peeks at the solar eclipse today, you may want to try to find time to check out some new offerings from the major cruise lines. Look for ocean cruises with winemakers, a South Seas sailing to a new destination, river cruises along the Mekong, a preview of a venue on 2018's Celebrity Edge that changes throughout the day and more. 

New itineraries

The northern lights dance over a hillside village in Norway as seen from a cruise ship on the coast.
Mike TaylorThe northern lights dance over a hillside village in Norway as seen from a cruise ship on the coast.

Viking Sky chases the Northern lights

Oh, those Northern Lights, always a lure for cruisers who love to chase romance in the sky. Viking Ocean Cruises is delivering with a new ocean cruise itinerary that allows guests the rare opportunity to explore the far north during Norway’s winter — peak time for those majestic illuminations that slash across the night sky. Come January 2019, the 13-day “In Search of the Northern Lights” itinerary will begin sailing between London and Bergen on the 930-passenger Viking Sky.

It's Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and dancers take on the colors of the rainforest.

Silversea’s new Silver Muse to do Grand South America Voyage

August 18, 2017

One of my most fantastic experiences was a cruise that included three wet and wild days at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Carnival (or Carnaval) in Rio is surreal. It is one nonstop party where even Rio's infamous pickpockets take time off.

Well, you can indulge in the wild wonders of Carnival in Rio on Silversea's new, enchanting Silver Muse, which is heading south from Ft. Lauderdale on a 69-day Grand Voyage on Jan. 3, 2018 (which is coming up soon, believe it or not).

Viking is the lead sponsor of the Ballet Sun Valley international festival, which runs Aug. 21-24.

Viking Cruises’ summer of cultural programming

August 9, 2017

Viking Cruises on Tuesday announced it has expanded its portfolio of partnerships with premier cultural institutions, with a summer season of events around the country. Viking has signed on to sponsor the United States tour of the acclaimed English boys choir, Libera, and the Ballet Sun Valley international festival this summer. The company has also extended its sponsorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl for the fifth consecutive season.

These new partnerships build on Viking’s commitment to drive cultural insight and personal enrichment, with current partners that include National Geographic’s “Genius,” PBS’ Masterpiece, TED, The Metropolitan Opera, BBC, Highclere Castle, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Oslo’s Munch Museum and St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, among others. 

“Viking’s commitment to cultural exploration extends far beyond the walls of our ships,” said Karine Hagen, senior vice president of Viking Cruises. “One of the best ways to explore a destination – whether at home or abroad – is through its music and cultural institutions. We are proud to support world renowned organizations, such as the Libera Boys Choir, Ballet Sun Valley and The Los Angeles Philharmonic, that align with our goal to create special connections between travelers and the cultures of the world.”

Three key cultural additions

Celebrating 20 years of innovation and growth in 2017, Viking’s summer of cultural programming arrives on the heels of high acclaim for its immersive destination-focused offerings, having recently been named a #1 Ocean Cruise Line and one of the Best River Cruise Lines by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2017 World’s Best Awards. Continuing its commitment to cultural exploration both onboard and off board, Viking’s summer sponsorships include:

  • Libera Boys Choir U.S. Tour: In celebration of their new album "Hope," the acclaimed English boys choir that participated in the 2016 christening of Viking Sea in London, is currently on a Viking-sponsored five-city U.S. tour. Three-time Classical BRIT nominees, LIBERA is among the top selling classical artists worldwide in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, and their work holds a place alongside major artists such as Bocelli. Viking Founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen, a supporter of classical music in its many forms, and a group of Viking colleagues from its headquarters, recently attended the choir’s performance in Westlake Village, Calif. For more information, visit
  • Ballet Sun Valley Summer Festival, featuring Xander Parish: Viking is the lead sponsor of the Ballet Sun Valley international festival, which runs August 21-24 and features dancers from six of the world’s leading ballet companies, including the American Ballet Theatre and London’s Royal Ballet. This unique festival was curated by Sun Valley-native and American Ballet Theatre dancer, Isabella Boylston, and will showcase a world premiere by emerging choreographer Gemma Bond, whose piece was inspired by the solar eclipse happening the day before the first performance. The one-night only world premiere on August 24 will feature video design by Kate Duhamel and a live orchestra under the direction of Maestro Martin West. Xander Parish, a close friend to Viking – and the first Briton to be promoted to principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet – will be performing in several “Mixed Repertoire” performances during Ballet Sun Valley. The historic Mariinsky Theatre, upon whose stages have debuted the masterpieces of such great composers as Peter Tchaikovsky, is home to the world-renowned Mariinsky Ballet, Opera and Orchestra. Guests on Viking’s river cruises through Russia have for years enjoyed onboard performances by Mariinsky singers through Viking’s Privileged Access program—and now many of Viking’s ocean cruises also feature similar performances. For more information on Ballet Sun Valley, visit
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl: For the fifth consecutive year, Viking is sponsoring six Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts at their historic summer home, The Hollywood Bowl. The Viking concert series, beginning August 10, features music by European composers whose home countries are destinations on many of Viking’s river and ocean cruise itineraries, including Antonio Vivaldi (Italy), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Russia), Wolfgang Mozart (Austria), Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany), and Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany). For more information, visit

The Viking difference

Designed for discerning travelers with interests in history, art, music and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests the “thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking difference provides guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that facilitate engagement with other guests and with the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destinations, with more time in port and more overnights. On board, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. With the most al fresco dining on the rivers and at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking’s guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

In addition, "Viking Inclusive Value" provides a small ship experience and no nickel-and-diming – with every cruise fare including an exterior stateroom, a complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; and coffee, tea and bottled water available 24 hours a day. Viking’s ocean guests also enjoy additional complimentary amenities, including: dining in alternative restaurants, self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service.     

— from Cruiseable news services

Oosterdam at dusk during a sailaway out of Port Tampa Bay.

Drone video of Oosterdam in Tampa Bay

July 26, 2017

Here's a 2 1/2-minute drone video of Holland America's Oosterdam — which I just sailed on last week in Alaska — during a sailaway out of Port Tampa Bay for a Western Caribbean cruise. Some "crazy beautiful footage" of the ship leaving at dusk, as the videography team put it. 

The drone gets closer to the ship than in most cruise ship videos I've seen. The music chosen wouldn't be my first choice. But overall, short and sweet. 

My iPhone settings on Oosterdam: Turned off Airplane Mode (left) and chose Wi-Fi > Oosterdam-Guest (center) but later discovered that a new Carrier setting appeared (right), which overrode my Wi-Fi choice without my knowledge.

Are maritime carriers hijacking your smartphone when you're on a cruise ship?

July 24, 2017

Over the years I've heard plenty of horror stories about travelers returning from cruises only to be hit by a jaw-dropping — and unexpectedly ginormous — cellular phone bill.

It's why I make every attempt to NEVER turn on cellular service on while aboard a cruise ship.

In March I spent a week aboard Windstar Cruises' Wind Surf on an otherwise splendid sailing in the Caribbean. During the trip I received a single text from AT&T informing me that I was nearing my data capacity for the month and, if it was exceeded, there would be a $20 fee for additional data usage. (I had purchased the ship's Passport Plan, which covers Wi-Fi but not cellular.) I had used my iPhone 7 on land during the trip and probably forgot to toggle the setting back to Airplane Mode when reboarding the ship a couple of times. In any case, I didn't intentionally use my iPhone on board Wind Surf for even a moment. That is, I uploaded no photos or video, texted no one, called no one. 

So imagine my surprise when my AT&T bill arrived with an overage charge of $1,825!

Fan favorites Yve Evans and Allan Vaché, who will be on board the next JazzFest at Sea.

MSC Divina to host 14th annual JazzFest at Sea

July 11, 2017

If you dig jazz and love to cruise, you might want to consider booking a cabin on MSC Divina for the 14th Annual JazzFest at Sea. The 11-night, jam-packed voyage that spotlights jazz of the 1920s and 1940s leaves from Miami on Jan. 3, 2018 for the Southern Caribbean with stops in Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts, Barbados and more.

Some of the great legends of genre that will be on board include tenor saxophonists Houston Person and Harry Allen, Warren Vaché, Allan Vaché, Rossano Sportiello, Butch Miles, Bill Allred, Johnny Varro, Howard Alden, Duke Heitger, Danny Coots, Frank Tate, Mark Shane, Mike Pittsley and Charlie Silva. Vocalists include Rebecca Kilgore, Banu Gibson and Yve Evans.

Best new cruise ships arriving in 2016

July 9, 2017

From via

2016 promises to be an exciting year for the cruise industry with several new builds coming out, including the largest cruise ship ever built.  Here is a rundown of the six best new ocean cruise ships arriving in 2016 (in alphabetical order).
Walter Christen's insight:

Wow.  Six new ships for 2016.  A banner year for new cruise ships.  Here is my take.

Carnival Vista - Will be the largest ship in the Carnival fleet with numerous innovations to keep even the most seasoned cruiser entertained.

Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas - 3rd Oasis class ship for Royal Caribbean.  I love this size ship (large) and have been on the Allure and Oasis.  Will be on the Oasis for the second time early in 2016.

Holland America ms Koningsdam - Will be the largest ship for Holland America with many innovations to entice a younger audience.

Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas - 3rd Quantum class ship for Royal Caribbean.  Being a technology nut, I really want to take a cruise on one of these ships.  Sorry to hear that this newest will be headed to the China market.

Regent Cruise Lines Seven Seas Explorer - From everything I have seen, this ship will be the epitome of luxury.

Viking Cruises Viking Sea - 2nd ship for the new Viking Ocean cruise line.  Viking Star is the first.  I really like the looks of the infinity pool and the thermal suite with snow room.

Launched in 2015, AmaWaterways' AmaDara takes up to 124 passengers on voyages up the Mekong River.

AmaWaterways adds new Mekong cruises for 2018-19

July 7, 2017

AmaWaterways will offer more river cruise opportunities in Vietnam and Cambodia for 2018, the award-winning river cruise company has announced.

The AmaDara will sail either up or downriver along the Mekong River for seven nights, tacking on pre- and post-cruise land extension options.

“We are pleased to offer our guests more opportunities to experience the unique authenticity of the Mekong and the villages that line the riverbanks,” Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways, said in a statement. 

2018-19 Southeast Asia itineraries are as follows:

Built for Bora Bora: The Paul Gauguin's size lets her  maneuver from open ocean to shallow waters as nimbly as a yacht.

Paul Gauguin unveils its 2019 itineraries

July 5, 2017

Paul Gauguin Cruises, a cruise line offering small luxury sailings to Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji and the South Pacific, has unveiled its itineraries for 2019.

The 2019 calendar includes 99 cruises that offer passengers the chance to discover some of the South Pacific’s hidden gems. In 2019, there are three new sailings to the Society Islands and Tahiti Iti.

Known for its exceptional service and its outstanding passenger-to-crew ratio, Paul Gauguin’s cruises feature roomy ocean-view cabins with balconies in select stateroom categories, gourmet dining, a state-of-the-art spa, spacious decks by the pool, a fitness center, boutique and a lounge with live entertainment.

The northern lights dance over a hillside village in Norway as seen from a cruise ship on the coast.

Viking unveils new Northern Lights cruises to Arctic

June 29, 2017

Viking Cruises has just announced a new ocean cruise itinerary that will allow guests the rare opportunity to explore the far north in Norway’s winter during a peak period for aurora borealis sightings.

Sailing between London and Bergen, Norway, starting in January 2019, “In Search of the Northern Lights” will establish Los Angeles-based Viking as the first U.S. cruise line to offer a full-length itinerary in the Arctic Circle in the winter season.

Get centered during a series of wellness routines on your Silversea sailing.

Silversea readies new enrichment activities

June 22, 2017

Silversea is rolling out a number of special enrichment experiences for the remainder of 2017 dedicated to opera, ballet, food, wine, bridge play, wellness and learning.

The culturally immersive experiences, curated by the Silversea staff, are designed to both engage and enlighten the luxury cruise line's guests, according to marketing chief Barbara Muckermann.

Here is a preview of what is to come.

SeaWorld Orlando’s new virtual reality roller coaster opened to the public on June 16.

SeaWorld Orlando is ready to unleash your summer

June 20, 2017

Just in time for summer vacation, one of the fiercest underwater legends has come to life in an entirely new way. SeaWorld Orlando’s original roller coaster offers an adventure for thrill-seeking guests unlike any other, now that Kraken Unleashed opened to the public on June 16.