New Cruising Options

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By Peter Greenberg

At this writing, virtually every shipyard in the world is operating at capacity — 56 new cruise ships of every size and pedigree are being built, and over the next two years all these new ships will be sailing. And already in 2017, we’re seeing a number of new ships.

This year Seabourn Cruise Line launches their new Encore, a 600 passenger ship.

Silversea Cruises launches its ultra-luxury Silver Muse in April, with more suites and restaurants.

Norwegian Cruise Line is also introducing its new Norwegian Joy complete with a go-kart racetrack on deck.

The MSC Meraviglia launches in June, complete with a 262-foot synthetic LED sky above its interior promenade complete with Cirque du Soleil performances.

Later in the year, the massive MSC Seaside will sail in the Caribbean, complete with a large water park and an industry first — a wraparound al fresco boardwalk.

Most of the new ships are already sold out — or close to it — for their inaugural season. But there’s good news — look for very attractive discounts on the cruise lines’  ships that are two and three years old.  You’re also likely to find very interesting itineraries and ports.

River Cruises

River cruises are one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry. Consider this: last year there were 18 new river cruise ships, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.

River cruises are not just for aging baby boomers. Multigenerational families are now booking river cruises, and one cruise line is starting to tailor river cruises to millennials.

It’s also not just European river cruises on the rise. In South America, there are new river cruises on the Amazon. There are also new cruises in China on the Yangtze, and in the Pacific Northwest on the Columbia River.

Perhaps the best part of these river cruises is that the ships are relatively small and have less than 150 passengers.

They go at a slower pace and to destinations that mass tourism boats physically can’t reach—places where history was made, and where history still lives.

New Cruises to Cuba

While the door opened to Cuba, the election of Donald Trump and the fear that he might reimpose travel restrictions to the island nation may have resulted in the door swinging open even more.

Until recently, the Cuban government only allowed one U.S.-based cruise ship—the MV Adonia, which is part of the fathom line (and part of Carnival)—to sail to Cuba.

But within days of Trump’s election, and his statement that he might want to readdress the deal with the Cubans, the authorities in Havana rushed to allow at least six more cruise brands to visit Cuban ports this year—and to get those agreements signed before Donald Trump took office.

Norwegian Cruise holdings received approvals for Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Oceania Cruises to sail to Cuba. Royal Caribbean received approvals for its ships as well as for its Azamara Club Cruises brand.

Now, at least six ships from the U.S. will be docking in Havana and other Cuban ports.

In fact, this has happened so quickly that some of the cruise lines have rearranged previously scheduled itineraries to substitute Cuba. And what does this mean to you? Even if you don’t have an interest in visiting Cuba, that means as the needle moves and the crowds rush to sail to Cuba, the cruise lines’ other ships sailing Caribbean itineraries will have discounts.