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Latest Cruise news articles

The classy Atrium of Viking Star rises three decks in the heart of the ship.

The 4 most stylish new cruise ships

December 29, 2016

From via

Cruise lines have always tried to top themselves, whether it’s with towering ships, luxurious spas, or decadent cuisine. And these companies show no sign of resting on their laurels.

 Their latest vessels up the ante in terms of luxury and forward-thinking design. With interiors by some of the world’s top hospitality designers, including Lauren Rottet and Richmond International, cuisine by Michelin-starred chefs, and boutiques that would be right at home on Madison Avenue, these ships offer five-star amenities as they sail to their ports of call.

 Whether you’re planning a transatlantic voyage or a quick river cruise, these stylish ships offer trips of a lifetime.

     Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Star

     Ponant’s Le Lyrial

     Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas

     Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape


Walter Christen's insight:

Three of the four new cruise ships mentioned are on my short list. And the only reason that Ponant’s Le Lyrial is not currently on my list is I need to do more research.

I am in the beginning stage of the planning a family cruise for later in 2017 and I am considering both Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape. I think Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Star would be better suited for a cruise with just my wife.



Choose the spa or the pool for a quick dip — Carnival Vista offers many activities poolside.

Carnival Vista cruise review

December 27, 2016

From via

Carnival Cruise Line has had much to celebrate in 2016 with the launch of the 25th ship in its fleet, the Vista. We got an insider’s look at the brand new liner on one of its early voyages from Miami to check out the gizmos and gadgets that keep the ship afloat and the party going.

 The Carnival Vista was built in Italy, and after its completion in March of this year, it’s made its way from Europe to New York and down to the Port of Miami, where it currently sets sail with a variety of destinations. Cruise date options range from four days to eight days with a price range of $349 to $849 on average per person (taxes, fees and port expenses not included). We joined the five-day, sold out cruise embarking from the Port of Miami and traveling to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk Island. The short trip was just long enough for us to test and enjoy every attraction aboard.

 Although most features on the ship come with no additional charge to guests, some entertainment costs extra. Tickets for the IMAX theater are $12.95 for adults, specialty dining ranges from $5 to $35 per person, and internet plans range from $5 to $25 per day. As usual, alcohol and soda cost money unless you have a beverage package, starting from $49.95 per day for alcohol and $6.50 per day for soda for adults.

Walter Christen's insight:

I enjoy cruising on the larger cruise ships as the ship becomes an additional destination. Carnival Cruise Line's Vista has a lot of the amenities and entertainment to keep almost anyone (including the kids) busy on a cruise. I particularly like the IMAX theater and I really want to give the Skyride a try. 


The Greenhouse Spa & Salon on ms Koningsdam.

Holland America's Koningsdam makes splash with fitness amenities

December 26, 2016

From via

Sure, the newest Holland America ship, Koningsdam, charts a new course in entertainment and dining.  

With its revolutionary Music Walk venues that keep passengers singing and dancing well into the night, and restaurants like the Culinary Arts Center, Sel de Mer and Tamarind that serve up foods to suit a wide variety of tastes, travelers will thoroughly enjoy this cruise ship. Your health and fitness regimen doesn't take a back seat on Koningsdam, either. I took a cruise on Koningsdam and found several ways the ship works for travelers who like to stay fit.

Walter Christen's insight:

Holland America's Koningsdam makes it easy to keep up with your healthy regimen. Whether it is fitness classes, jogging track, healthy food options, or the spa, there are many options available.

One of the first thing I look for when cruising is the walking/jogging track.  I like to keep up with my walking habit. Usually the cruise ships I have been on have a sign that let me know how many times I have to circle the ship to make a mile.


Enjoy live music and classic dishes in Norwegian Escape's Manhattan Room.

6 things everyone gets wrong about cruise ships

December 23, 2016

From via

As a longtime avoider of mega cruise ships, I had a lot of assumptions going into my first large-ship cruise. It would be crowded, I thought. I would be incapacitated by seasickness. My only dining choices would be sub-par buffets. Realizing I was floating on a raft of preconceptions before even leaving port, I spoke with some fellow cruise-ship avoiders to develop a list of common reasons people don’t cruise. Once onboard, I set out to prove each of these cruise ship myths right or wrong. Here’s what I found.


Walter Christen's insight:

I get asked by friends and family about these myths all the time. While there are always exceptions, I firmly believe these are myths. Here is my take.

Rooms will feel tight - Yes the rooms are smaller and depending on which cabin category and cruise ship they can be pretty small.  My advice is to look at all of the information available on square footage and make your decision wisely.  Some people do not mind a small room as they are rarely in the room except to sleep. I prefer a slightly larger room with a balcony if possible.

It's crowded - While it may look crowded when embarking on a cruise, I have found that once onboard, there are plenty of places to spread out. My suggestion is to take a good walk around the ship after boarding and find the quite out of the way places you may want to try later.

It's only buffets - This is far from true.  One of my rules on a cruise ship is that I partake of the dining room if it is open for service, and I do not have a early tour, I like being served and it makes my meal extra special.  There are occasions that the dining room is closed and usually happens when the ship is in port. It should be noted that the buffets on may cruise ships have greatly improved and offer a very varied menu.

You'll get seasick - My whole family is lucky that we do not get seasick very easy.  I find that the larger cruise ship give the best chance of not getting seasick.  If you are prone to getting sick, take appropriate precautions and also be careful where you book your cabin.  Best place is lower on the ship in the middle. 

You'll have to talk to strangers - No one will make you talk to anyone you do not want to. When my wife and I cruise, we request a table for two for this reason.Actually we met some very good friends of ours on a cruise while waiting on line for a excursion.

You can only skim the surface of destinations - I have never felt this way.  I enjoy seeing a lot of different places while on a cruise.  Also since I do cruise often, I do sometimes go to the same ports.  Half the fun is finding something different to do on a return stop and to see how things change over the years.



Recline on a sun lounge up on the deck of the River Beatrice cruise ship as you sail past historic and scenic points of interest along the Danube River.

Uniworld launches river cruises for millennials

December 22, 2016

From via

In an industry first, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has launched U by Uniworld, a new brand aimed at river cruisers ages 18 to 40, which will feature vessels with a more contemporary look and feel, fewer inclusions and longer stays in each destination.

Uniworld will renovate two of its existing vessels, the River Baroness and River Ambassador, which launched in 1997 and 1999, respectively, after which they will be entirely dedicated to the U by Uniworld brand. Sales of U by Uniworld will start in March 2017 and the first sailings will begin in early 2018.

The 116-passenger sister ships, River Baroness and River Ambassador, are being transformed to have a more contemporary look and feel, featuring communal tables for dining, a new culinary program, cocktail mixologists and international DJs onboard.

Walter Christen's insight:

I believe Uniworld is on to something here.  Traditional river cruising has the undeserved reputation as only for the older crowd..Updating ship to have more modern amenities and programs is a great way to attract more people to river cruising.  In addition, longer stays at different destinations is also a plus.  


Book a romantic cruise to the Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas.

Cruise line dedication - Sticking to one brand

December 21, 2016

From via

Are you cruise line dedicated? Do you find yourself taking cruises on only one brand because that’s the brand you started with and are happy with the brand? Does the thought of straying and trying another cruise line scare you? Maybe just a little bit? Don’t worry… you’re not alone. Many people start out with a cruise line and find themselves, shall we say, infatuated with the cruise line. If it was their introduction to cruising, they will probably always have a very strong tie to the cruise line and even to a particular ship. Why would they ever want to try out another cruise line when they are so happy right where they are. Is cruise line dedication and sticking to one brand a good or bad idea?

I’ve mentioned “Velveeta syndrome” before on my blog and I’ll mention it again. If left to his own devices, my husband would eat exactly how he ate in college. Give him a brick of Velveeta, macaroni, and a microwave, and he’d be set for lunch and dinner for at least a week (hopefully more!). Let’s just say that he wasn’t always as adventurous as he is now. I introduced sushi, Indian food, and vegetarianism to him among other things, including cruising. Now he is the one to suggest something different when I sometimes fall into a rut.

But if you are madly in love with your current cruise line, why would you want to try a new one? Perhaps it makes you realize that there are other options besides the first one you chose. You might decide your first cruise line was a great introduction to cruising, but your tastes have advanced to something new. Or the new cruise line might only reaffirm your love for your original cruise line and why you should never stray again. If you never try another cruise line, how will you ever really know that your first is your one and only?

Walter Christen's insight:

My very first cruise was on Royal Caribbean's Song of America. Much of my cruising has been on Royal Caribbean to the point that I am a diamond member in the Crown and Anchor Society.  I have also been on a few of the other mainstream cruise lines. One issue see with dedication to one cruise line is that the food and entertainment are basically the same across all of the cruise ships.

 This year I decided to try some of the other cruise lines and see how they stack up.  This past year I have taken a Norwegian Cruise Lines Western Caribbean cruise and had a wonderful time.  Yes the feel and amenities were different, but different does not mean bad. Early next year, I will be taking a cruise on the MSC Divina. I cannot wait to see what the differences are from the other cruise I have taken.

 There are many other cruise lines I have not experienced but I am ready and willing to try them all.


Bringing your little one on board? The Youth Center aboard your Princess ship offers a venue full of activities, including drawing and face painting.

Revamped Princess youth centers spring from Discovery partnership

December 20, 2016

From via

Princess Cruises expanded its partnership with Discovery Communications to create reimagined youth centers with new themes, experiences and designs.

This multimillion-dollar investment is rolling out fleetwide through 2018, with program implementation taking place in early 2017 and new center designs planned for installation during scheduled ship renovations. There are three center themes catering to specific age groups.

Camp Discovery, for ages 3-12, includes The Treehouse (formerly Pelicans) for ages 3-7 and The Lodge (formerly Shockwaves) for ages 8-12. The Treehouse consists of a bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed center with hands-on activities, while The Lodge is inspired by the great outdoors and filled with sports activities and fun places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge.

The Beach House (previously Remix), for ages 13-17, provides a contemporary, surf-themed lounge where teens can hang out and socialize.

Walter Christen's insight:

To appeal to a wide variety of children, youth programs on cruise ships need varied programs and updated to today's technologies.  Nice to see that Princess Cruises understands and is making the changes needed to keep up.  I was impressed with some of their new upcoming offerings like 'MythBusters' science activities. 


The renowned Christmas Markets of Prague, the Czech Republic, are centered around the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Disney hops on the river cruising trend with holiday tours down the Danube

December 18, 2016

From via

This summer, Adventures by Disney-- the guided tour arm of the Disney Company-- dipped its toe in the growing river cruising market, offering a Danube River cruise itinerary in partnership with AMAWaterways.

River cruising has traditionally catered to a more mature consumer but the new 170 passenger AMAViola sold-out for the limited Adventures by Disney summer sailings.

Now, Adventures by Disney returns to the Danube for two holiday cruises this December. There are plenty of family friendly things on board-– from twinkling lights and dangling baubles, to spiced gingerbread cookies and spiked eggnog, to carols and music.

You'll also get to visit historic and renowned old-world European Christmas markets during the trip.

Walter Christen's insight:

What could be better than a Disney run Christmas river cruise on the Danube river. The AMA Waterways AMAViola was designed to be family friendly and is the perfect ship for these cruises.  I believe this would be the perfect multigenerational trip and only enhanced by the Christmas sights and sounds.


Al fesco in style: Take in the view and the ocean breeze during a casual lunch on the deck of Oceania Insignia's Terrace Café.

Oceania Cruises introduces evening tapas menus in the Terrace Café

December 15, 2016

From via

Travelers with an appetite for global flavors will enjoy the introduction of Oceania Cruises’ new evening Tapas Menus. Offered each evening in the Terrace Café, the new menus comprise a distinct and different array of destination-inspired flavors. Guests can choose from an ever-changing selection of crostini, fruit- and vegetable-based salads, rolls, fresh fish, and seafood tapas, crudités and other small dishes artfully presented in tasting spoons and verrines. With more than five-dozen dishes included in the 14 new menus, bon vivants will enjoy spending a relaxing evening in the Terrace Café, sharing small plates, toasting the day’s memories, engaging in sparkling conversation and sharing the breathtaking vistas all around. The Tapas dishes are available every evening of the cruise, in addition to the Terrace Café’s amazing assortment of starters, soups, salads, main courses, carving station, and desserts. “Cuisine and the overall dining experience are such integral parts of the Oceania Cruises’ culture and the fabric of the destinations we visit. We are always looking to provide our guests with unexpected moments of surprise and delight,” stated Bob Binder, president and chief executive office of Oceania Cruises.

Walter Christen's insight:

Tapas is one of my favorite dining experiences.  I like to sample many different foods and flavors. Oceania Cruises, with their destination inspired tapas menus definitely piqued my interest.


Crystal Symphony takes you past sweeping icebergs in Antarctica.

Polar cruises

December 14, 2016

From via

Top destinations for cruise travels are usually the Caribbean and the Mediterranean routes, where you can relax on white beaches or be enchanted by the beauties of the great ancient empires. But there is something magical that awaits you if you choose the right route and decide to sail to the Poles. The spectacle of the Northern Lights is a truly extraordinary experience which happens in one of the most fascinating and uncontaminated places in the world, the North Pole. On the other side of the planet, Antarctica offers off-the-beaten-track sceneries and alternative adventures. Hence, a cruise to the Polar regions offers you new exciting experiences, they’re much less exploited destinations and you’ll have the opportunity to follow the paths of the greatest explorers of the past.

Walter Christen's insight:

Both polar regions are on my must cruise to list. To see the northern lights would be fantastic and the south pole would be a great adventure.

Living in Florida, I am unaccustomed to very cold weather but I still want to go.  Guess I will have to look online for thermal underwear and polar coats as I do not think I would find any locally. 


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.