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Groups on cruises: Big plans for 2013

Princess Cruises

Hurtigruten has announced that two of its sister ships, the Midnatsol and Trollfjord, will be spending New Year’s 2013 together in Tromso, Norway, the “Paris of the North,” 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. New Year’s Eve celebrations on the 12-day departures will kick off with a special service in the Arctic Cathedral, followed by dinner, dancing, champagne toasts and a fireworks display.

Princess Cruises’ new 2013 Europe brochure, which features the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea and the British Isles, highlights details on the new Royal Princess, which is scheduled to debut in the Mediterranean next June. Princess plans to have its youngest fleet ever in the region, with seven ships plying European waters, and will offer 60 itineraries on 124 departures between April and December.

In other Royal Princess news, passengers will be able to keep in shape with a new outdoor jogging track, circuit exercises, the multiactivity Princess Sports Central, a fitness center full of the latest equipment and even a private aerobics studio for special classes.

HAL heads to europe

Seven appears to be the magic number for Holland America Line: During summer 2013, the line will deploy seven ships to Europe and feature seven maiden ports of call. The seven vessels will sail on some 53 itineraries throughout the region on 107 departures that span from the northern tip of Norway to the Black Sea and across the Mediterranean. Although the number of Holland America ships cruising in Alaska during 2013 — also seven — will be the same as in 2012, the line’s Amsterdam will double its number of departures on new seven-day round-trips from Vancouver.

American Cruise Lines has added a new West Coast itinerary for 2013 that features Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Offered aboard the 100-passenger American Spirit, round-trip cruises from Seattle will showcase Washington’s beautiful inland waterways, where guests will discover wildlife and historically rich ports and enjoy the natural wonders of the region. Ports of call for the Seattle departures will include Anacortes, Friday Harbor, Port Townsend and Poulsbo.

Expanding abroad
For the 2013 Eastern Mediterranean sailing season, Louis Cruises has unveiled a new seven-night Greece and Turkey itinerary that introduces two new destinations in the Aegean: the islands of Chios and Symi. Louis is striving to focus on its Greek heritage by giving travelers the opportunity to visit more off-the-beaten-path ports and gain a better perspective of the Greek Islands’ diversity.

New destinations, new ships, and new itineraries are all part of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ additions for 2013 and 2014. In 2013, Uniworld will reportedly be the only North American river cruise line to offer river cruising in Italy, along the Po River and the Venice Lagoon. The Splendors of Italy combines a seven-night cruise with a two-night land stay in Florence and three nights in Rome. Other new Europe itineraries are Grand Danube and Prague, a 14-night trip exploring seven countries, including five UNESCO Heritage Sites, and Highlights of Eastern Europe, sailing through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia on an eight-day cruise.

Also in 2013, Uniworld will enhance its programs on the Douro River in Portugal by introducing its latest build, the Queen Isabel. For those wishing to travel to Asia, Uniworld will offer two new ships on the Yangtze River in China, Century Legend and Century Paragon, and in Vietnam on the Mekong River, the new River Orchid.