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Groups on cruises: New onboard amenities


Courtesy MSC Cruises

Cunard Line’s Apple iStudy courses are now available on all three Cunard liners following the recent opening of the Apple Learning Centre onboard  Queen Victoria.

Fourteen Experiences of Discovery themes are being offered on 28 Crystal Cruises voyages in 2013; they are designed to appeal to “adrenalin junkies; shutterbugs; film, theater and jazz buffs; foodies; political opinionators; whole-body lifestylists; amateur gardeners; lifelong learners; golfers; ballroom dancers; and other zealous hobbyists.” Whew!

Celebrity Cruises is now offering private shore excursions in more than 70 ports of call around the world, using private vehicles with a driver, or a driver and a tour guide.

And in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Institute, Holland America Line will soon debut onboard all 15 of its ships an in-stateroom video series titled “Our Marvelous Oceans” that highlights the importance of ocean conservation.

• New ships and itineraries •

Beginning in fall 2013, MSC Cruises will be taking its newest ship, MSC Divina, to its newest departure port, PortMiami. MSC Divina, named in honor of the line’s “godmother,” Italian film icon Sophia Loren, became the 12th ship in the MSC Cruises fleet in May. The dining experience awaiting guests of the new ship was scheduled to be celebrated in style at the MSC Divina christening ceremony in Marseilles, France, on May 26, with renowned French chef Christian Constant preparing two signature menus especially for the event. Chef Constant, who appears on the European version of the “Top Chef” television series, runs three stylish Parisian restaurants.

Princess Cruises is introducing Princess Live!, a new type of cruise ship entertainment venue that will be aboard the Royal Princess when the ship debuts in June 2013. The high-tech Princess Live! will showcase live television broadcasts, intimate musical performances and special events such as cooking shows.

Princess has also opened its 2013-14 Americas and Exotics cruises for booking; these include a variety of vacation options from close-to-home cruises to far-flung worldwide adventures. The season offers a new series of shorter cruises in the Caribbean and along the West Coast; the line’s first year-round ship, the extensively renovated Grand Princess, based in San Francisco; and the Caribbean debut of the new  Royal Princess.

When Celebrity Reflection sets sail this October, the ship will feature a new 2,853-square-foot, multifunctional space that can serve as a ballroom or conference area, or be divided into smaller banquet or classroom settings, depending on individual groups’ needs.

Royal Caribbean International has announced Explorer of the Seas’ summer and autumn 2013 line-up, which features 30 sailings to 17 ports of call on seven different itineraries, all from its Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J.

Finally, three Holland America Line ships — Veendam, Maasdam and Prinsendam — will head to South America this fall for a series of cruises around the continent. Itineraries will range from 13 to 68 days and include a new 49-day, port-intensive Amazon and Carnival Voyage aboard Maasdam in early 2013. A 23-day Amazon Explorer Cruise this November and a 68-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage in January 2013 aboard Prinsendam are additional highlights of the schedule.

• Entertainment and food news •
Passengers aboard Ruby Princess have picked comedian Carlos Oscar as the first-ever Princess Cruises Entertainer of the Year from among five finalists.

Celebrity Cruises ships will broadcast live via satellite the diving, swimming, gymnastics, rowing, cycling and basketball events of the Games of the London Olympics, and will air daily compilations of highlights from all 26 sports featured in the Games.

Holland America Line has introduced a new alternative, vegetarian-only menu, as well as 30 new vegetarian dishes to its main dining room menus, available at no extra cost for lunch and dinner aboard all 15 ships in the fleet.

New dining options aboard the Carnival Breeze when it enters service this June will include Bonsai Sushi, the line’s first full-service sushi restaurant, and an open-air barbecue venue called Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ.

• Noted personalities at sea •
Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush recently sailed their first transatlantic  crossing aboard Cunard Lines’ flagship Queen Mary from Southampton to New York.
Paul Gauguin Cruises has announced that world-renowned oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau will guest host four sailings on the Gauguin in 2013.

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