By Bob Hoelscher
For its 24th consecutive season, Royal Caribbean International will ply Alaskan waters during the summer of 2013, with the line’s recently revitalized ships, offering vacationers a virtually new fleet in the region.
After its monthlong $54 million dry dock, Rhapsody of the Seas will offer guests refreshed staterooms, expanded technological conveniences, new amenities and nearly quadrupled dining options on seven-night round-trip cruises from Seattle. Those Friday sailings will call at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, and Victoria, British Columbia; transit Alaska’s Inside Passage; and venture up Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier.
Radiance of the Seas, revitalized in 2011, will alternate seven-night northbound and southbound itineraries between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward, Alaska, also departing on Fridays. Alaskan ports of call include Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Skagway, plus guests will cruise the Inside Passage and experience up-close views of Hubbard Glacier.
Holland America Line (HAL) has expanded its Digital Workshops enrichment program with the latest Microsoft Windows technology and classes for all skill levels. These complimentary workshops, led by Microsoft-trained “techsperts” on all 15 ships in the fleet, teach guests with varying levels of computer and camera experience how to take better vacation photos, make movies, edit pictures and create online scrapbooks.
Guests also learn how to share digital memories via email, keep a more secure personal computer at home, stay connected through instant messaging and webcams, find the best personal computer for their budget and lifestyle, and navigate new features of Windows 7, Microsoft’s latest operating system.
Recently, HAL’s culinary consultant, master chef Rudi Sodamin, was again named Best Cruise Line Chef by Porthole Cruise Magazine. A leading cruise travel publication, Porthole also recognized HAL as having the Best On-Board Art Collection.
Furthermore, HAL and sister line Seabourn have both been recognized as one of the 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute, a leading business ethics think tank. The awards come on the heels of both lines earning Ethics Inside Certification for 2012-2013 from the Ethisphere Institute last December.
Princess Cruises has “opened the books” on its 2013 Alaska cruise seasons, which feature the debut of the new Royal Princess in the Mediterranean and the Grand Princess’ first-ever Alaska season.
In Europe, seven Princess ships will be plying the waters of the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea and northern Europe. Royal Princess will sail on the line’s grand Mediterranean route, and passengers can take advantage of a variety of other European cruise options across the fleet, among them the British Isles, the Holy Land, the Black Sea, Scandinavia and Russia.
In Alaska, the seven-ship Princess fleet will include the recently remodeled Grand Princess, sailing its first West Coast summer with cruises from San Francisco. Incidentally, on March 15, Princess reportedly had the biggest booking day for a new ship’s inaugural season in its history, with the anticipated debut of Royal Princess.
Celebrity Cruises’ 2013-2014 winter lineup will feature six ships in the Caribbean and five around the globe in Australia and New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, South America and the South Pacific.
During the winter season, Celebrity’s guests can visit 170 ports in 42 countries from 20 different departure ports, including a 35-night Celebrity Solstice circumnavigation cruise of Australia and New Zealand, plus two unique Pacific Island cruises.
Also new will be a series of cruises out of Los Angeles on Celebrity Century for the first time since 2010. While in the region, the vessel will offer a new Pacific Coastal Wine Cruise itinerary and Hawaii and Panama Canal cruises from L.A. and San Diego.
Other new offerings include four- and five-night Caribbean cruises from Port Everglades on Celebrity Constellation.