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Latest Cruise news articles

The Christmas market begins to ramp up in Stuttgart, Germany.

Magical cruises to Europe's best Christmas markets

November 10, 2016

From via

Whether you go to buy gifts, replenish your Yuletide larder or simply to soak up the atmosphere, Europe’s Christmas markets weave a captivating spell.

While snowfall cannot be guaranteed, it is more likely. At the very least you can expect a Christmas-card setting with traditional handmade decorations, along with daytime and evening markets packed with festive flavors and, if you’re lucky, local choirs providing the requisite soundtrack.

It is possible to cruise by river or sea to enjoy Europe’s markets. The advantage with river cruising is the opportunity to visit not just one but several Christmas markets and, as you sail, to see towns and villages decorated for the festive season. The biggest concentration of Christmas markets lies along the banks of the Rhine and the Danube; there are also some on the Main and the Seine – many in Paris itself.

There are still some cruises to choose from, but you’ll have to be quick.

Walter Christen's insight:

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than taking a river cruise to Europe's Christmas markets. Looks like a great way to really get into the Christmas spirit. 


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

The best northern lights cruises

November 9, 2016

From via

Our fascination with nature’s grand illuminations never wavers. An Arctic Circle cruise not only brings the Northern Lights within reach, but also offers a holiday that’s enjoyable in so many other ways, not least through participation in some truly out-of-the-ordinary excursions and activities.

The phenomenon

The Northern Lights can be seen from anywhere in the far northern hemisphere. Only last week, displays were visible in Scotland and northern England. Although present year-round, they can only really be seen when the sky is dark at night – from mid-September to early April.

Much has been said about the intensity and regularity of the Lights – or the aurora borealis. The phenomenon is caused by particles on the solar wind interacting with those in the Earth’s atmosphere, but the extent of the display depends on activity on the surface of the Sun, measured over an 11-year cycle. Solar activity has been at its maximum over the past two winters, resulting in some spectacular displays.

 So is it still worth going? Although the Sun’s cycle may have peaked, its descent into a quieter phase is long and gradual and there’s no reason why dynamic displays should not be seen for at least a couple of years to come. Sightings are not unknown even at times of a solar minimum; conversely, when there is a lot of cloud cover, say, you may not see the aurora during a solar max.

Walter Christen's insight:

Seeing the northern lights is definitely on my bucket list. In fact both Norway and Iceland are also on my list so one of these cruises could let me tick off more than one bucket list place.

Cruise lines mentioned that have cruises dedicated to the northern lights are P&O Cruises, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Saga, Hurtigruten, Quark Expeditions. 


The children's pool on Disney Wonder.

Previewing Disney Cruise Line’s enhanced Disney Wonder

November 8, 2016

From via

Come November 10, 2016, Disney Cruise Line will reintroduce the Disney Wonder to the fleet with new improvements, and we’ll be onboard to share them all with you. Until then, let’s take a look at what work has been done to the ship before her next grand unveiling.Gene Sloan at USA Today got a sneak peek at the ship being remodeled during its extensive September 9 to October 23 dry-dock in Cadiz, Spain, showing a little of what went on to soon bring new venues to life. Most significantly, the kids facilities, one of the three main dining rooms and adults-only spaces were retooled.“Frozen” will be integrated into Disney’s Oceaneer Club for ages 3 to 12 and open to all ages during select open house hours to check out. The new Frozen Adventures space we now know will feature Wandering Oaken’s, the trading post from the amusing character known for his signature “woo hoo” call.

Walter Christen's insight:

I think most people would agree that Disney Cruise Lines ships make for the perfect cruise vacation for families with with small children.  The additions and enhancements being made to the Disney Wonder while in dry dock will only enhance this reputation.


Walltopia Rollglider

Walltopia’s Rollglider might be the wildest cruise ship attraction yet

November 7, 2016

From via

Just weeks after speculating that a zip-line roller coaster type of attraction might at some point make its way aboard a cruise ship, Walltopia, a climbing wall manufacturer, has actually modeled what its Rollglider product, called a “safe proximity flight,” would look like onboard.The company has even produced a fully rendered video, embedded below, showcasing what its zip-line roller coaster hybrid product might look like installed on one of Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign-class vessels like the Majesty of the Seas. While it doesn’t actually show it running, it does give you a sense for how such an attraction would scale and potentially traverse high above and out beyond the upper decks of a relatively small ship.In reality, the Rollglider would probably be better suited to a larger cruise ship like Royal Caribbean’s own Harmony of the Seas, the biggest one in the world currently, where it could really sprawl a much longer distance. The pairing of the video-rendered attraction with a ropes course even suggests it could be well suited to Carnival Cruise Line or Norwegian Cruise Line which already have such structures perched on their decks.

Walter Christen's insight:

All I can say is WOW.  This looks like a fun thing to do and would make a welcome cruise ship attraction.  Even with my fear of heights I think I would give this a try.  I wonder which cruise line will be the first to give this a go.


World's three biggest-ever cruise ships sail together for the first time

November 6, 2016

From via

The three largest cruise ships in the world have ‘met’ for the first time in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.Royal Caribbean International's Oasis-class ships, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and the new Harmony of the Seas appeared together to mark the latter’s arrival at her new permanent home at Port Everglades.All three feature seven themed ‘neighborhoods’, a Central Park with nearly 12,000 plants and trees, FlowRider surf simulators, an 82-foot zip wire, luxurious multi-level loft suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor ‘aqua theatre’ that hosts high-diving, aquatic and acrobatic performances, and a Boardwalk with a hand-carved carousel. Until recently Oasis of the Seas, which sailed in 2009, and Allure of the Seas, which followed in 2010, had held the record as the largest cruise ships in the world.

Walter Christen's insight:

I have sailed aboard the Oasis of the Seas twice and the Allure of the Seas once. My family found them to be fantastic ships with plenty to keep them occupied while aboard.  I especially liked Central Park and the Aqua theater.  Now that Harmony of the Seas will be berthed in Florida, I am planning a family vacation aboard for later next year.


View stunning glaciers while sailing through Antarctica on the Crystal Symphony.

The best destinations for an adventure cruise

November 2, 2016

From via

Looking for a more adventurous cruise experience? AOL’s UK website has some suggestions for livening up your next sailing.

“While a cruise might not be the first thing that springs to mind when planning to go off the beaten track, you'll certainly venture to places you never imagined and many that can only be reached by sea,” writes Roshina Jowaheer.





Walter Christen's insight:

Two of the three suggestions are actually on my bucket list. My order of preference (yours may be different) would be Antarctica, Galapagos, and then Asia.

Check out Cruiseable for more information on these locations and the cruises that you can take.



Spend a relaxing afternoon on the Aquavit Terrace on  Viking Star.

What sets Viking Ocean Cruises apart in the Caribbean

November 1, 2016

From via

Fresh off Viking Ocean Cruises’ inaugural cruise to the Caribbean, it can be said that the company is well on its way to making a bigger splash in the industry. Up until now, Viking Cruises, with its Viking River Cruises brand, has predominantly covered the European continent, but as its ocean fleet expands, so too does its international itineraries.

The 2015-launched Viking Star and 2016-launched Viking Sea initially started out with sailings in the Baltic and Mediterranean with farther jaunts west to the British Isles and north to Norway. The Viking Star has now left from Bergen, Norway to cross the Atlantic and visit Canada and New England before calling on the United States In New York City (where we boarded) for the first time on the way down to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Currently, it is embarking on a season of roundtrip 11-day West Indies Explorer itineraries.

Most remarkably on the first run, the Viking Star was almost always the only ship in port, only encountering two other Carnival Cruise Line ships and a Royal Caribbean International one in San Juan. Even in those cases, one of the greatest benefits to sailing on Viking was apparent in seeing ample lines for guests returning to the larger ships as we swiftly boarded the intimate 930-guest Star with no wait.

Walter Christen's insight:

Viking Ocean Cruises is on my must do cruise list. The luxury amenities, destination immersion, complementary excursions and the attention to detail is why Viking Ocean Cruises is on my list.  The infinity pool is also big plus.   


Take spinning to new heights: MSC Divina is the first ship to offer Aqua Cycling at sea.

MSC Divina AquaCycle class is a cool cruise fitness challenge

October 31, 2016

From via

We all love our pool time when on a cruise. Some of us even enjoy getting in a daily workout while sailing -- all the better to warrant my massive increase in calorie consumption when I'm on vacation, I rationalize.

 How about being able to do both at the same time? I'm talking about starting your day with a challenging workout while in the pool. On a cruise ship!

 I know, it sounds crazy. Well, you do a get a few odd looks of interest when taking part in the AquaCycle class on MSC Divina. MSC Cruises' signature U.S.-based ship sails out of Miami on weeklong cruises to the Caribbean and offers AquaCycle classes, which are fun 45-minute sessions that replicate the shore side spin classes that you know from your health club back home. 

Except on MSC Divina, the spin studio is the aft adults-only Garden Pool. Special spin bikes are dropped into the pool by the instructor, who must artfully negotiate the sensitive and potentially explosive task of telling morning swimmers that they must leave the pool because a AquaCycle class will soon be starting.

Walter Christen's insight:

This looks like this would be a lot of fun and a great way to get in a little exercise while cruising.  I recently booked my very first MSC cruise for early next year on the MSC Divina. My wife and I are going to give this a try. 


 Harmony of the Seas at its debut in Southampton, England, in May 2016.

Why do cruise ships float?

October 30, 2016

From via

Not everything that's heavy sinks right to the bottom of the ocean floor, and there's no greater proof than Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas—which happens to be the biggest cruise ship on Earth.

The world's largest cruise ship boasts an ice-skating rink, a movie theater, 10-story dry slide, and weighs no less than 227,000 tons. And that's without any of its 6,780 passengers.

We know that giant ocean liners don't sink, even with their rock climbing walls and nightclubs. But have you ever wondered why?It's not magic or flying unicorns that keep the Harmony of the Seas plying the open waters. It's all about buoyancy: the power of a liquid to keep things afloat.

Colossal vessels stay above water by displacing an amount of water equal to their mass (the wide, U-shaped hull helps with this). As the ship moves forward and pushes water away, the water is ceaselessly trying to return to fill the space, with an energy that forces the ship upward.

Walter Christen's insight:

I must admit, but I am love watching documentaries where the show how cruise ships are built and operated.  Many of these shows are on the Smithsonian channel.

I never really gave it much thought in the 25+ cruise I have been on how something so massive could stay afloat. Now I know.


Hawaii is for lovers: Walking along the beach in Kauai.

Best honeymoon cruises 2017

October 30, 2016

From via

You've said your "I dos," you have your first mate, so now it's time to sail off into newlywed bliss aboard a luxury honeymoon cruise. But cruising is for cheesy Hawaiian-shirt-clad retirees, right? Think again. Each of these stunning ships is packed with once-in-a-lifetime amenities, like ultra-romantic rooms (many with private balconies), Instagram-worthy cuisine, full-service spas, and to-die-for destinations.We hand-picked these bespoke cruises for their unrivaled access to undiscovered cities and deserted beaches, their diverse range of romance-packed excursions, and their opulent onboard set-ups guaranteed to make you feel like a celeb. Best of all, with minimal planning necessary — the logistics of destinations, activities, and excursions are already mapped out for you! — cruising is the ultimate stress-free honeymoon. (And seriously, after all those guest list battles with your in-laws, who needs more stress?)If you've never set sail before, here's what you need to know: Cruise experiences can differ greatly on a small ship (fewer than 500 passengers), a midsize one (500 to 2,000), and a large one (more than 2,000). If you and your hubby crave energy, people, and nightlife, choose a large vessel, which will have multiple bars and restaurants, plus often a casino and theater for movies and live shows. If you prefer a sense of community and intimacy, stick to smaller boats, where you get to know your fellow cruisers (but also have less privacy, so plan alone time when you're in port).

Walter Christen's insight:

My wife and I have met many honeymoon couples on the cruises we have been on. Presented in this article are a few exceptional luxury cruises that would appeal to many different types of travelers. Although pricey, many are all inclusive which could make them the ideal choice.

When my wife and I married we did not take a cruise by instead spent 10 days in Hawaii. I have already started the planning for our 30th anniversary.  Choices right now is an around the Hawaiian island cruise aboard the Norwegian Pride of America, or a cruise to one of my favorite islands, Bermuda. Only reason Bermuda may be a no go is that our anniversary is during hurricane season for the region.

Have you taken or booked a cruise for your honeymoon?  What was your thought process in selecting a cruise line and/or itinerary?


Attendees at the social lunch connecting startup founders with angels.

Notes from the 2nd Angel Investors-Startup Founders Social Lunch

October 28, 2016

Following on the heels of a similar lunch Cruiseable put together in May, yesterday we hosted the second Angel Investors-Startup Founders Social Lunch in San Francisco, given our role as technology innovators in the travel space.

The idea was to connect angel investors with startup founders — in this case, mobile and travel startups — in a more thoughtful way than the typical big-stage event or the "speed dating" feel of too many events where founders get to pitch their idea in as little as 2 minutes. 

Here, founders gave a 4-minute summary followed by 5 to 10 minutes of Q&A by investors, all during a free 5-star Burmese lunch prepared by SF chef Ma in the Garage venue in SoMa arranged by social dining startup Feastly for the occasion. 

Chef Ma explains the fresh ingredients in her Burmese dishes.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableChef Ma explains the fresh ingredients in her Burmese dishes.

Here's a quick recap of the event. I kicked things off with my view that, when 98 percent of startup pitch applicants don't make it onto the event stage at big conferences like Launch or TechCrunch Disrupt, the likelihood is that many (perhaps most) of the most successful, innovative  startups are in the audience — let's call it the Startup Long Tail Effect. Pillsbury Law agreed to underwrite the event and sort through all the applicants with Kristen Gorts as the point person, and they surfaced four startups with particularly promising business decks.

John Ricci, founder and president of US Angel Investors, said all four pitches were impressive and worthy of attention. He and Henry Soo, president of Gold Ocean Capital Corp. in Vancouver, both found the social lunch idea to be a winning idea and one they thought could be a valuable addition to the angel investor ecosystem. (Inexplicably, angels from DreamFunded, Bay Angels, Ahead Innovation and a few others confirmed that they would attend but didn't show, without explanation.)

Croissant: A new way to be productive in your city

Co-founder Dave Idell (bottom left in the photo at top) of New York-based Croissant gave the first pitch, outlining the New York startup's goal of solving multiple pain points in the co-working space. Croissant has a subscription-based service that lets you access the best co-working spaces in New York City, Boston, and Washington DC with one membership, giving you access to reliable Wi-Fi and a space where you can be productive. (They're pitching at the 500 Startups Demo Day today.) 

Elisabeth Mouchy of Daylighted during her pitch.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableElisabeth Mouchy of Daylighted during her pitch.

Daylighted: Bringing art to hotels, digitally

French-born co-founder Elisabeth Mouchy explained how SF-based Daylighted provides a contemporary portfolio of thousands of contemporary art as well as digital displays to a number of hotels. Its "smart gallery" is a digital canvas that can rotate photos at will and in real time, enabling curators to change exhibits on the fly. While many startups are focued on achieving one utilitarian thing, Daylighted strikes me as a much-needed breath of fresh air, bringing a soulful visual poetry into spaces that could surely use it.

Mauricio Madrigal of Getabed during his talk.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableMauricio Madrigal of Getabed during his talk.

Getabed: Score a last-minute hotel deal

The next startup, Getabed, currently operates only in Mexico but hopes to make its U.S. debut in 2017. Founder Mauricio Madrigal described the startup as solving the problem of finding a room in slightly different ways than Hotel Tonight (also a mobile app that lets you find rooms at the last minute, but Getabed offers travelers more flexibility) or Airbnb (while Getabed works only with established hotels with unsold inventory). This looks to be chiefly aimed at millennial travelers looking to score a lower hotel rate with amenities that can be ordered on demand. 

Kristen McClellan, co-founder of Snappy Screen, during her pitch.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableKristen McClellan, co-founder of Snappy Screen, during her pitch.

SnappyScreen: Make sunburns a thing of the past

Two-thirds of people get a sunburn while vacationing in a sunny spot. Three Cornell University students, including CEO Kristen McClellan, took on that problem head on by founding SnappyScreen, a sunscreen application system. Based in Locust Valley, NY, the startup sells pretty little kiosks to hotel chains like the Four Seasons and Hyatt for placement near their outdoor pools. Through the use of a special camera in the kiosk that only shows UV light, they're able to demonstrate that a SnappyScreen user receives full coverage.

A final word

Thanks to Kristen and everyone who contributed to the success of our second Social Lunch. We'll likely do the next one in late January. Email me if you'd like to know about it as plans firm up.  


Virgin Voyages, the former Virgin Cruises, announced it has ordered three 2,700-passenger cruise ships that will provide a boutique experience.

Virgin Voyages set to launch three ships starting in 2020

October 20, 2016

Look for three new spiffy and most likely definitely different ships coming out starting in 2020 when flamboyant billionaire-entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson launches his much-anticipated cruise line, Virgin Voyages.

Apparently the mogul likes alliteration since he just announced he changed the company name from Virgin Cruises. Virgin first ship is scheduled to launch and home port in Miami in 2020 for a series of Caribbean cruises; the second ship will sail in 2021 and the third in 2022.

Three ships, currently under construction at the famed Fincantieri Shipyard, will each carry about 2,700 passengers. As Cruiseable's Ship Discovery Tool will tell you, that's roughly the same size (in terms of passengers) as Golden Princess, Holland America's Koningsdam, Carnival Victory, Celebrity Solstice or MSC Magnifica.

Branson recently did a telephone press conference where he said Virgin Voyages would create boutique experiences that are as "magical" as those offered by his other enterprises, which include Virgin Atlantic airline, a Chicago hotel and a game reserve and lodge in South Africa. The company is also developing spaceship tourism through the Virgin Galactic venture.

He also said his fleet will be the first major cruise line to adopt a new clean energy technology called Climeon Ocean that transforms waste heat from ship engines into electricity for onboard use. A Virgin spokesman said the green tech will save up to 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year per ship and it would take 180,000 trees 30 years to absorb that amount of carbon dioxide, providing a large positive impact for the environment. 

Branson suggested that the ships might also sail into Cuba.