Princess Cruises sent 3,560-passenger Regal Princess on its inaugural sailing last week in the Mediterranean. The maiden voyage for the sister ship to Royal Princess started May 20 in Venice. We will get onboard Tuesday in Athens for a seven-day trip. Check back often for our reviews and updates on the ship and its port stops. Follow our progress on Twitter @InTheLoopTravel with hash tags #RegalPrincess and #ComeBackNew.
MSC makes no secret of its growing ambitions. And growing it is. The line announced two more new ship builds on the books last week. Orders for two vessels -- and an option for a third -- from Fincantieri shipyard come close on the heels of MSC signing a letter of intent in March for two giant cruise ships -- with an option for two more -- from STX France. The two ships from STX France are due in 2017 and 2019 and are planned to have a maximum passenger capacity each in excess of 5,000.
The new orders last week from Fincantieri for MSC's Seaside-class vessels will mark the largest cruise ships built by the 200-year-old Italian shipbuilder. The ships will have a maximum passenger capacity of up to 5,300 and are due for delivery in November 2017 and May 2018.
"The Seaside prototype presents unique features such as a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the sides of the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants. In addition, Seaside will also feature a splendid and spacious theatre, a terraced balcony and panoramic lifts with sea views," MSC said in its release announcing the plans.
MSC has a 12-ship fleet but is on the way to rapidly doubling the number of cruisers it can bring to the seas.
From the line's release: "Kicking off on May 2, 2015 in the New York area, the sailing will include a trans-Atlantic crossing to the Mediterranean followed by passage through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Asia. Along the way, the 4,180-passenger vessel will call at nearly two dozen ports including Barcelona; Aqaba, Jordan; Dubai; Cochin, India; Muscat, Oman; Penang, Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong."
Got a couple of months set aside for a dream cruise? Must be nice. Well, if you can't do the whole journey, several segments are available to book, too. You can sail any of these portions:
- Leaving Cape Liberty in Bayonne N.J., on May 2, 2014, for an 11-day transatlantic to Barcelona, stopping at Ponta Delgada, Azores; and Cartagena and Palma De Mallorca, Spain.
- A 16-night cruise through the Suez Canal to Dubai, leaving May 13 from Barcelona and making calls at Rome and Napes, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Aqaba, Jordan.
- A 14-night sailing, leaving May 29 from Dubai and visiting Cochin, India; Singapore; Muscat, Oman; and Penang, Malaysia.
- A three-night Singapore round-trip, leaving June 12 and visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before returning to Singapore.
- A nine-night cruise departing June 15 from Singapore and hitting ports in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Xiamen and Hong Kong, China; before reaching Shanghai.
The trips are now available for bookings.
Norwegian Cruise Line unveiled big plans to renovate its fleet. A $250 million enhancement program called Norwegian Next aims to bring many of the features of the Breakaway-class ships to all the vessels by 2015. For example, the ships will get new menus, O'Sheehan's Bar and Grills and Carlo's Bake Shop goodies. Also, the Sugarcane Mojito Bar will be placed on all ships (it originated on Getaway).
The line also is developing new game shows, entertainment, kids activities and shipwide parties. The onboard app iConcierge also will be expanded to all ships, as well as touch screens and digital signs.
Holland America is sending two of its ships over to P&O Cruises to be part of that line's Australia fleet. Both lines are part of Carnival Corp. HAL's Ryndam (1,266 passenger capacity) and Statendam (1,260) will be send to Australia in November 2015 months before the debut of a yet-to-be-named new Holland America 2,660-passenger ship.
Carnival Cruise Lines announced that it will add Carnival Miracle to its West Coast program, sailing seven-night itineraries to the Mexican Riviera. Carnival also will send Carnival Legend on cruises to Alaska departing from Seattle. Miracle and Legend also will be used for a batch of Hawaii sailings in the 2015-2016 season.