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Travel Blog

Latest Cruise news articles

Avalon Visionary cruising the Rhine River.

How to fall in love with river cruising

December 13, 2016

River cruising is one of the breakout stars in travel for 2016 and there are more ways than ever to experience rivers around the world onboard any number of ships. However, there are a few tried and true tricks to making your river cruise experience a success and to fall in love with this mode of travel that can take you around the world.

Here are five ways to enjoy the journey.

Book a cruise on Holland America's Westerdam to transit the Panama Canal, cruise the Caribbean or explore Alaska.

How Holland America is changing the Mexican Riviera – and itself

December 12, 2016

From via

Sometimes, a good cruise is like a visit from an old friend. That’s the case for me this week as I cruise aboard Holland America Line’s gracious 1,916-guest Westerdam to the splendid Mexican Riviera on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

I’ve been cruising to the Mexican Riviera for over a decade now. I’ve also been sailing with Holland America for the past eleven years, having amassed two-star Mariner status with the line long before I’d ever begun writing about cruising and cruise ships as a career. Both line and destination have changed in the intervening years. Fortunately, that change has been for the better.

A decade ago, the Mexican Riviera was overloaded with cruise ships. It wasn’t uncommon to have three – sometimes four – ships calling on Puerto Vallarta on a single day. Prices were low, the weather was hot, and for many cruisers on the West Coast, a voyage to the Mexican Riviera was one of the most cost-effective cruises they could take.

Walter Christen's insight:

My wife and I have just recently talked about taking a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.  She did this itinerary many years ago with friends before I had met her.  Nice to see that the cruise ships are coming back to this location.

We have also started looking at cruise lines we have not sailed on before. Holland America has changed and has partnerships with America’s Test Kitchen, BBC Earth, and B.B. King's All-Star Band that make it an attractive option.


Hot magma flows into the Pacific from a volcanic eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Cruising in Hawaii: the world's most relaxing family cruise?

December 11, 2016

From via

Stretching ahead, as far as the eye could see, was a desolate expanse of volcanic rock, broken only by a plume of white smoke rising from a crater into the cloudy sky.All was quiet, all was calm. Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire who reputedly resides in the crater of the Kilauea volcano, was obviously (and a little disappointingly) at peace that day.The Hawaiian Islands are famously volcanic, their lush terrain a by-product of the mercurial elements that have made this tropical archipelago one of the most geologically volatile places on earth. On the Big Island – where our ship Grand Princess was moored during a 14-night cruise of the islands – such tempestuous outpourings are confined to the 500-square-mile Volcanoes National Park, one of their top attractions.

Walter Christen's insight:

The Hawaiian Islands are very beautiful and there are many things to see and do.  I would have to agree that a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands would be a great family vacation although I am unsure if the number of sea days would go over well with my family.  Might be better to fly and take a cruise around to the different islands. Norwegian Cruise lines would be the only option for this type of cruise. 


Classic Cuban apartment dwellings in Havana.

Sailing soon from the U.S. to Cuba: ships from Norwegian and Royal Caribbean

December 8, 2016

From via

It’s full steam ahead to Cuba for two of the world’s major cruise companies.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises, both Miami-based, signed agreements Wednesday with the Cuban government just minutes apart to take passenger ships to the island nation.

All three of Norwegian’s lines — Norwegian Cruise Line, premium line Oceania Cruises and luxury line Regent Seven Seas — and two Royal Caribbean brands — Royal Caribbean International and high-end line Azamara Club Cruises — will sail from the U.S. to Cuba in the near future, the companies said.

Previously, the only U.S.-to-Cuba sailings stopped only in the island nation, aboard Carnival Corp.’s Fathom brand.
Walter Christen's insight:

This is great news for people who want to take a cruise to Cuba. It is on my bucket list for the culture and people of this island nation.  The trips will be people-to-people exchanges, one of the 12 categories of travel under which Americans can visit Cuba.




MSC Seaside debuts with Caribbean sailings starting in December 2017.

Introducing MSC Seaside – the ship that follows the sun

December 7, 2016

From via

Yesterday MSC Cruises marked an important milestone in the building of MSC Seaside with the celebration of the traditional maritime coin ceremony held at the Monfalcone shipyard in Italy.

 As the first of the Seaside Class of ships, MSC Seaside has a revolutionary architectural design inspired by a beach condo concept, bringing guests and the sea closer as well as enhancing the beauty of the natural surroundings while at sea. Every element of the ship has been designed to enable guests to enjoy the outdoors in every aspect of their life onboard, from cabins and suites with outdoor spaces, eating and drinking al fresco through to outdoor fitness facilities and luxury cabanas for spa treatments in the fresh air.

 MSC Seaside will be the first ship in the MSC Cruises’ fleet to be christened in the United States, sailing in the Caribbean year-round from the Port of Miami starting in December 2017. MSC Seaside will be the fifth MSC ship offering cruises in the Caribbean.

Walter Christen's insight:

I love the look of the new MSC Cruises Seaside cruise ship. The outdoor space concepts will definitely be a plus for cruising in the Caribbean. I look forward to see this new ship in person next December (2017).


QM2 leaving Southampton in August 2010

Cunard to launch wine education courses at sea

December 6, 2016

From via

Luxury travel brand Cunard partnered with the largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications in the world, WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), to launch certified wine and spirit courses for its passengers.

The partnership with Cunard is the first time WSET courses will be available to guests on a Transatlantic and round-world cruise line with WSET courses initially available on Queen Mary 2’s westbound Transatlantic crossings and world voyages. Courses are expected to be available on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth later in 2017.

Guests aboard crossings from Southampton to New York can embark on a 5-day course to achieve WSET Level 1 Award in Wines. The course gives a hands-on introduction to the world of wine in an interactive and relaxed atmosphere for beginners, while covering the basics of wine types and styles through sight, smell, and taste, as well as how to store and serve wine and pair with food.

Walter Christen's insight:

Cunard Line Is bringing the wine tasting sessions other cruise lines have to a whole new level. Availability of the classes will start on the Queen Mary 2 during transatlantic crossings and world cruises.  Sounds like a great way to spend some time learning something new. 


St. John's, the port and main city of Antigua, taken from a cruise ship.

Why not take a cruise this winter

December 6, 2016

From via

When thinking about where you want to go to escape the winter blues, why not take a cruise? 

“Aside from the chance to escape to tropical destinations on a floating vacation, there are plenty of other enticements to cruise in December, January and February,” reports U.S. News and World Report’s Tanner Callais. 

One reason to consider a winter cruise is the price. 

Walter Christen's insight:

I enjoy taking cruises during the winter months. Yes, the prices can be better and there are fewer children and college aged passengers. One of the benefits I also have seen is that cruising in the Caribbean, the temperatures are lower allowing for some excursions that would be unbearably hot during the summer months. In November I did a Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Jade and while still warm, it was comfortable.  I will be on the MSC Divina in February to the Eastern Caribbean.  Although I will forgo any snorkel trips (my passion), I have planned some excursions to see more of the islands we will be going to.

Of course if your dream cruise is to go to Alaska, you will have to wait until May. I do not know of any cruise line that does Alaska during the winter.


Jonathan Coulton performs at JoCo Cruise, the annual gathering of music and tech nerds at sea. The next JoCo Cruise sails March 4-11, 2017, on Holland America’s Westerdam from San Diego.

The unstoppable growth of theme cruises

December 5, 2016

From via

As more and more people go on a cruise aimed at individuals who share a specific interest, we take a look at the increasing phenomenon.

Show-stopping rock band Kiss were always going to go the extra - nautical - mile.

Not content with filling stadiums around the world, and selling more than 100 million records, the face-painted, fire-breathing US hard rockers also have their own navy.

Every autumn Kiss hire a huge cruise liner to sail around the Caribbean for a week with 2,300 of their diehard fans. This year will be their sixth voyage, or Kiss Kruise VI.

The band perform two shows on the ship, and fans get to meet and hang out with the four band members.

Walter Christen's insight:

If you can think of a theme, there is most likely a cruise dedicated to it.  Last year when we were disembarking a cruise there was a very large group getting ready to embark the same cruise ship we were just on who were Harley Davidson motorcycle fans. I have seen cruises advertised or Apple geeks, Walking Dead fans,  Star Trek, Nascar, and many different music themes.

I suggest that before booking a cruise you ask your Cruiseable Travel Advocate if there are any themes on the cruise you want to book. They can also help you find theme cruises. On my next cruise aboard the MSC Divina, I did inquire and found that there was a small country western music theme group that will be aboard.


At the Culinary Arts Kitchen, you'll learn how to prepare exquisite dishes in an environment reminiscent of a  prestigious cooking school.

New Seven Seas Explorer preps special culinary classes and tours for the Caribbean

December 2, 2016

From via

Currently on its way to Miami, Florida for the first time from the Mediterranean, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ brand new Seven Seas Explorer is preparing for the Caribbean with a series of Gourmet Explorer Tours.

Beginning in December, the liner, said to be “the most luxurious ship ever built,” will make its North American and Caribbean debut sailing on 10- and 14-night voyages this winter and next spring. Besides the special shore excursions, the ship will also present new courses at its onboard Culinary Arts Kitchen.

The Culinary Arts Kitchen is ideally situated on deck 11 with scenic ocean views and 18 individual cooking stations.

Walter Christen's insight:

I think it is a great idea to have a dedicated cooking class area on a cruise ship. Regent Seven Seas brand new Seven Seas Explorer has this covered with a very nicely designed cooking area. Instead of watching a demonstration of someone cooking, actually doing the cooking is a better way to actually learn how to make some of the iconic dishes of the Caribbean.

The additional cost shore excursions also sound like they would be fun and entertaining for any foodie.  


Wind Spirit, a computer-controlled yacht-style sailing ship, now sails to Tahiti.

Windstar Cruises propels onward – with or without sails

December 1, 2016

From via

While there’s been lots of buzz about big cruise ships as of late, it’s not just the gargantuan floating palaces of the sea that offer a wonderful cruise experience. In fact, I’d argue that most of the cruisers I meet (myself included) count small ships among their favourite cruise experiences. And one of my favourite small-ship lines is Windstar Cruises.

Based out of Seattle, Windstar has a fleet of six unique ships. Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf are all known as “motor-ship-yachts” thanks to their masts of billowing white sails, but decidedly cruise-like on-board amenities. Of the three, Wind Surf is the biggest, with a capacity for 310 guests. Wind Star and Wind Surf are smaller; these identical sister-ships carry just 148 guests apiece.

Windstar also has three “power yachts” — small, luxury cruise ships that the line recently acquired from Seabourn. Known as Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride, these ships have just 212 guests and no sails — but what they lack in sail power, they make up for in terms of lavish accommodations. Suites are, on average, larger aboard these power yachts, which longtime cruisers might remember better under their former names of Seabourn Legend, Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Spirit.

Walter Christen's insight:

The Windstar Cruises lineup of three cruise ships that have sails (Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf) and the three power yachts (Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride) have been on must do cruise list for a long time. I really want to cruise on a ship with sails.  I have seen these while on other cruises and they are all beautiful ships and I feel that the small ship experience is enhanced by Windstar Cruises attention to detail.  


An aerial of Seabourn Encore, the luxury ship that debuted in early 2017.

Seabourn takes delivery of its new ship Encore

December 1, 2016

New ships are entering service at a rapid rate this year and one of the most anticipated in the industry, Seabourn Encore, was delivered to Seabourn today during an official handover ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy.

Seabourn Encore joins the fleet of ultra-stylish ships operated by Seabourn that offer all-inclusive fares, exceptional cuisine, seamless service and a chic but not stuff country club-like onboard ambience. 

The ship begins pre-inaugural sailings this Sunday and on Dec. 20 with VIPs, travel writers and a small number of guests as it gets ready for its christening Jan. 7 in Singapore.

Seabourn president Richard Meadows calls Seabourn Encore "a stunning ship that will set a new standard in ultra-luxury cruising."

The 600-passenger, all-balcony-suites Encore will deliver the high levels of personalized service expected by the line's upscale clientele along with a high staff to guest ratio.

Sunset over Waikiki, Oahu.

Five alternative cruises for those who've done it all

November 30, 2016

From via

Alternative cruises: what's available for the cruiser who's done the usual Caribbean & Mediterranean cruises? The Travelling Boomer looks at 5 alternatives

In my last post, I surveyed the cruise itineraries that are the biggest favourites with North American cruisers. But what about some alternative cruises for those who’ve already been to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean? One of the dangers of cruising is that after you’ve done a few cruises, it’s hard not to retrace your steps. So let’s go looking for something different.Happily, there’s no shortage of alternative cruises in the wide world of cruising. Even the major cruise lines now ply almost every part of every ocean. There are cruises that choose one region to explore, and others that cover thousands of nautical miles to show you an entire part of the world — or even the whole world.

Walter Christen's insight:

I am far from having done it all but at least I am in the planning stage for one of them. I am surprised that Alaska was not on this list.  I have cruises to Alaska and it is one of my most memorable cruises to date.

Canada and New England - although I do want to do a cruise here, it is not very high on my priority list as I lived in the north east for many years.

Hawaii - This is a cruise I am in the planning stage for my 30th anniversary.  As I do not think 5 sea days each way to the islands and back is ideal for us, it looks like flying to Hawaii and taking a 7 day Norwegian cruise will fit the bill.

South America - I would like to take one of the cruises that take you around the horn.  Sounds like a great trip to see a part of world with picturesque landscapes. Would also be a great start for one of my desires which it to go to Antarctica. 

Australia and New Zealand - Definitely very high on my bucket list.  Will have to dedicate plenty of time in the planning to do this one right. I can also see this being a multiple week trip.

The World - I am not sure if I could take the amount of time to do a world cruise although I am willing to try. Th cost to do it right would also be a limiting factor.


A couple of other places I would like to cruise to in the near future include Iceland, the Baltic States and the South Pacific. Iceland for the photographic possibilities, the Baltic States for the immersion into the history of the region and the South Pacific as I love pristine beaches.