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Cruise lines expand travel perks

Louis Cruises is introducing an overnight stay in Mykonos, Greece, as part of its seven-night, 2013 “Greece and Turkey” cruise program. Having come close to missing a couple of ship departures personally while enjoying myself in the sidewalk tavernas of this charming port, lengthened stays there strike me as a particularly attractive idea.

Holland America Line (HAL) has dramatically increased its online video library with the addition of 325 short videos showcasing the line’s shore excursions in Alaska and select ports around the world. More than 275 videos on Alaska tours and 53 port overviews with shore excursion details now allow HAL guests to preview select tours and decide which ones to book before departure.

Royal Caribbean International is making available two new beverage packages that will allow thirsty guests to pay one price at the beginning of their cruise vacation for a wide selection of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. The Classic Beverage Package, priced at $45 per guest per day, and the Premium Beverage Package, $55 per guest, per day, both include service charges.

The Classic features beer, house wines by the glass, all nonalcoholic cocktails, fountain soda and juices. The Premium package adds frozen drinks and all cocktails, including premium brands. Complementing the new beverage packages are a variety of specialty dining packages, which will allow guests to prebook the cruise line’s signature restaurants at a discount.

• Ship News •
Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria celebrated its fifth anniversary in December; the ship has sailed more than half a million nautical miles, called at 196 ports in 63 countries and carried almost 250,000 guests. Ship waiters have served more than 20,300 bottles of champagne on board, enough to fill six Olympic-size swimming pools, as well as 9,125,000 cups of tea and 1,460,000 scones.

Carnival Cruise Lines will expand capacity on the West Coast with the introduction of year-round three- and four-day cruises on the 2,052-passenger Carnival Imagination
to Ensenada, Mexico, and Catalina Island from Long Beach, California, beginning January 26, 2014. Carnival Ecstasy, currently sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida, will reposition to Miami to assume Carnival Imagination’s current three- and four-day Bahamas/Western Caribbean itineraries.

Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI’s) Serenade of the Seas has completed a $29 million dry dock in Spain that added new dining venues, entertainment options and technological advancements. It is the eighth RCI ship to undergo revitalization since the line announced an extensive revitalization program in 2011.

• People and Places •
Kiki Tauck Mahar, the wife of Tauck CEO Dan Mahar and the daughter of chairman Arthur Tauck, will serve as godmother to Compagnie Du Ponant’s new 264-passenger, 466-foot luxury small ship Le Soléal when it is christened next July in Italy. Tauck has partnered with Compagnie Du Ponant on small-ship cruises since 1993.

Carnival Corporation is donating $2 million to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy that struck the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, devastating New Jersey and New York. The funds have been earmarked for four charities providing an array of relief and rebuilding services and support.

• River Vessel Introductions •

Viking River Cruises has announced that it has placed an order for 10 additional Viking Longships, bringing the total number of new ships it is launching in 2013 to 10 and the number in 2014 to eight. By the end of 2014, the company will have expanded its fleet by a total of 24 new ships in a three-year period. Viking plans to inaugurate the first eight Viking Longships of 2013 in a first-of-its-kind simultaneous christening ceremony in late March in Amsterdam.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will introduce a new Super Ship, the S.S. Catherine, during spring 2014 on the Rhône and Saône rivers in Burgundy and Provence. Uniworld’s River Royale, currently sailing those rivers, will be moving to a new home in France’s Bordeaux region.

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