All Aboard: Cruise News for Week of July 15

NCL to offer a la carte dining; Royal Caribbean and Carnival introduce new shore excursions; and you can take a world cruise for as little as $54,999. Here are this week’s cruise updates. 

Norwegian Cruise Line announced it will offer a la carte specialty dining on its newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, as of October. Guests will be able to choose from enhanced menus and select as many courses they’d like to enjoy, with per-item pricing. Modern Churrascaria and Teppanyaki will retain their cover charges $19.95 and $29.95 respectively and as will entertainment dining such as Wine Lovers The Musical and For the Record?: The Brat Pack. Guests will also be able to purchase a Norwegian Specialty Dining Package to enjoy La Cucina, Le Bistro, and Cagney’s Steakhouse at no additional charge. The Specialty Dining Package will include Bayamo by Jose Garces for $15. Ocean Blue on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway will be available for a la carte dining on October 3, 2015, and fleetwide by January 1, 2016. Cirque Dreams and Dinner and The Illusionarium will also retain a cover charge.

Travel Weekly reports that Kate McCue will become the captain of Celebrity Summit, the line’s first female captain and the first female captain of a major cruise line. McCue held the title of Master Mariner at Royal Caribbean International previously.

Carnival Cruise Line has expanded its shore excursions with new landside experiences, customized private tours, and family-friendly enhancements. These additions bring their landside excursions up to 1,200 experiences in more than 50 ports of call and include La Casa en la Playa, a five-hour tour with access to a beach house in Cozumel with five-star service; Eat, Drink, and Dance in Ocho Rios, giving guests a cultural experience in Jamaica with food, music, and mixology; Photo Safari and Beach Expedition in Cozumel with the ships’ own photographers; and Eat, Drink, and Walk in St. Thomas, which is a “walking culinary/culture tour.” New family-friendly getaways include beach escapes and a treasure hunt and lunch at the Blue Lagoon.

Royal Caribbean International also introduced new shore excursions across seven categories to bring their total to more than 2,800 adventures. The seven categories are: Active Adventures, Family Connections, Royal Tour Challenge, Culture and Sights, Culinary Delights, Caring Discoveries and the Royal Premium Tour Collection. New excursions include six ziplines and two skybridges in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; a thrilling watercourse in Madeira, Portugal; gladiator school in Rome, Italy; a wilderness kayak experience at Chilkoot Lake in Skagway, Alaska; a half-day laser tag adventure in Cozumel, Mexico; five-on-five soccer game in Gijon, Spain; sprawling Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand; Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, Bahamas; pizza-making in Naples, Italy; save a sea turtle in Cozumel, Mexico; and meet an Iditarod musher and their racing dogs at a dog sled camp in Skagway, Alaska.

Travel Pulse reports that Royal Caribbean has curbed its deployment of Dynamic Dining, which originally offered four complimentary restaurants instead of one massive dining room to enjoy dinner with no set dinner times, no formal dress, and no assigned seats. Guests reportedly could not get into the restaurant of their choosing, received orders0 late, and suffered poor service. Royal Caribbean then retooled the program with two formats, which allowed people to make restaurants via app or on-board kiosk; or eat with the same companions and wait staff every night while moving among four free restaurants. Now Caribbean announced the service will not extend to the Quantum-class ships.

Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s flagship, will undergo an extensive dry dock from May 27 to June 21, 2016 for a major refurbishment for the addition of 15 Single Staterooms, 30 additional Britannia Club Balcony Staterooms, plus an extra 10 kennels to accommodate more four-legged guests.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises will reintroduce its world cruise in 2017 after a six-year hiatus. The 128-night World Cruise will depart from Miami and call upon 60 ports in 31 countries, featuring 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The voyage starts at a mere $54,999 per person, but those passengers who book a suite will also get exclusive kick-off gala at the Biltmore, plus first-class air, door-to-door luggage service, comprehensive vista package; unlimited laundry, including dry cleaning and pressing, and lots more!


Check out more travel updates from this week!

Hotel Happenings: Property Updates – Week of July 15

Save the Date – Upcoming Events for 2015

Top 5 Riviera Maya Beaches

Now Boarding: Air Travel Updates for Week of July 15

ICYMI: Top amusement parks in the US; Moon Palace in Jamaica opens (finally); and Monte Carlo to get new theater-and maybe a new name