By Bob Hoelscher
We previously reported on the plans of Avalon Waterways to offer two new 2013 Mississippi River programs aboard American Queen. Now Tauck, in conjunction with renowned filmmaker Ken Burns, has unveiled a new 11-day Life on the Mississippi itinerary from Memphis, Tennessee, to New Orleans, including a seven-night cruise aboard American Queen, land accommodations and an array of Tauck-exclusive shore excursions. Tauck has also provided good news recently for frustrated solo travelers as it has dropped the “single supplement” for Category 1 cabins on all 14 of its European river cruise itineraries.
• Heading Down Under •
Vantage Deluxe World Travel has announced that its new, state-of-the-art European river cruise vessels, River Splendor and River Venture, will depart on dual inaugural voyages from Antwerp, Belgium, to Amsterdam on March 13.
American Cruise Lines has acquired a 132-year-old Nichol steam calliope to be installed aboard its new Queen of the Mississippi. The historic instrument, originally from a paddle-wheel steamboat that operated on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers from 1880 to 1938, is being meticulously restored to full operation.
• New Hardware •
Celebrity Cruises has formally named the fifth in its five-ship Solstice Class fleet: Celebrity Reflection. Presiding over the December 1 ceremony were the ship’s four godmothers, all company employees whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. Celebrity Reflection embarked on its inaugural Caribbean season with roundtrip seven-night sailings from Miami on December 8.
Carnival Corporation has announced an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of two new cruise ships. First will be a 99,000-ton, 2,660-passenger ship for Holland America Line scheduled for delivery in fall 2015. A 135,000-ton, 4,000-passenger vessel for Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) is scheduled to follow in winter 2016. Also, CCL has unveiled additional details of the $155 million makeover that will transform Carnival Destiny into Carnival Sunshine during an upcoming 49-day dry dock in Italy. The ship will re-enter service in April with the dining, bar and entertainment elements of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program, along with a new racing-themed water park, the tropical-themed Havana Bar and a full-service Asian restaurant,
• Ocean Offerings •
Royal Caribbean International and DreamWorks Animation have announced the extension of their alliance, plus the expansion of the DreamWorks Experience to a sixth ship, Mariner of the Seas, when it arrives in the Far East in May. The DreamWorks Experience was first launched aboard Allure of the Seas in November 2010.
Hurtigruten is expanding its operations to the secluded Hjørundfjord, one of the most stunning fjords in Norway, on all of its ships traveling the country’s west coast between September 1 and October 31, starting this year. Situated in the Sunnmørsalps, this fjord stretches 35 kilometers as it cuts its way through the mountains, interspersing steep rock walls and green meadows with mountain farms and small villages.
Disney Cruise Line will visit Jamaica for the first time with new itineraries departing Galveston, Texas, late this year. The new seven-night Western Caribbean sailings will call on Falmouth, Jamaica, one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns, as well as Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico.
Princess Cruises will launch new service from the Port of Houston beginning in November when it initiates sailings from the Bayport Cruise Terminal. A total of 26 departures are planned for the season.