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Groups on Cruises: New programs, itineraries and vessels

Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) has formed an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring the famed children’s brand and characters to the line’s fleet of 24 Fun Ships.

In other news, the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor will launch seasonal Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning in November, making it the seventh CCL ship to be based in south Florida. CCL will also resume year-round departures from Baltimore when the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride begins seven-day cruises in spring 2015, following a multimillion-dollar makeover this fall that will add dining, bar and entertainment enhancements that are part of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 program.

Finally, the line has introduced a new shore excursion best-price guarantee that is now available for all CCL shore tours on ships sailing from North America. Under the guarantee, guests who find the same tour offered by another operator at a lower price than their booked excursion either before or during their cruise can complete a claim form to receive 110 percent of the difference in the form of a shipboard credit.

Norwegian Cruise Line has opened a rum-themed Bacardi Bar on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. The line has also announced that Norwegian Epic will be home-ported year-round in Barcelona, Spain, starting April 30, 2015.

A new Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining Package now provides the opportunity for guests to experience each of the line’s popular specialty restaurants at special rates ranging from $59 to $349 per person, based on cruise length.

American Cruise Lines now offers complimentary shore excursions on all Mississippi and Columbia River cruises aboard paddle wheelers Queen of the Mississippi and Queen of the West.


New Itineraries

Celebrity Cruises has created two new destination-intensive voyages to replace three previously scheduled 12- and 14-night sailings in Asia and to reposition the ship to Europe for the 2015 season. The new itineraries are a 14-night voyage from Singapore to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, departing March 22, 2015, and a 15-night Suez Canal cruise departing Dubai for Rome on April 5, 2015.

Viking Cruises will debut two new European itineraries in 2015 for its latest Viking Longships, including a 10-day Rhine Rhapsody that features two nights in Paris plus an eight-day cruise along the Moselle and Rhine rivers, visiting smaller towns like Trier, Rüdesheim and Cochem. Additionally, an eight-day River of History program on the Rhine and Main rivers will journey to renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites and World War II landmarks.

Vantage Deluxe World Travel is offering a new India and the Ganges cruise/tour for 2015. After visits to Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park and the famed Taj Mahal, guests will board the new all-suite Ganges Voyager, reportedly the first vessel of its kind in India, for a seven-night cruise on the lower Ganges River.


More New Ships

On January 10, Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its new 145,655-ton Norwegian Getaway at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, after a building period of only 15 months, only nine months after the launch of sister ship Norwegian Breakaway. Seabourn has signed a contract for construction of a new all-suite vessel, continuing the fleet modernization begun in 2009 with the launch of Seabourn Odyssey. Delivery of the 40,350-ton, 604-guest ship is scheduled for mid-2016.

American Cruise Lines is building four new riverboats for American river cruising, to enter service between 2015 and 2017. Construction has already begun on the first two ships, which will carry 150 and 175 guests, respectively, for cruises of the Mississippi River system, as well as the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest.