Royal Caribbean Cruises has ordered a second 220,000-gross-ton ship at the cost of about $1.4-billion, which would give the company the world's two largest cruise ships by 2010.
The ship, part of the Royal Caribbean International brand's "Project Genesis," will hold 5,400 passengers. The ship will be the 24th vessel in the Royal Caribbean International fleet when delivered by the projected date of August 2010.
Royal Caribbean announced last year it was building its first Project Genesis ship, with delivery projected in 2009. That ship will become the largest in the world when completed.
Broadway takes to the sea
Top Broadway composers and performers will join in a special Broadway at Sea cruise from Rome on Regent's Seven Seas Voyager Oct. 27. This Composer's Cruise will feature the music of Leslie Bricusse, Stephen Schwartz and Frank Wildhorn, whose combined works include 18 Broadway shows, 50 movies, five Grammys and 70 Tonys. The songs will be performed by Broadway performers Liz Callaway, Rob Evan, Brandi Burkhardt and others. Call toll-free 1-877-292-9287 or go to www.broadwayatsea.com.
Scrapbook your cruise
Princess Cruises is taking the scrapbooking hobby to sea with a series of onboard classes and a scrapbooking kit ($24.95) with themed pages designed exclusively for Princess. Call toll-free 1-800-774-6237 or go to www.princess.com.
New European ports for Regent
Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which in January went to an all-inclusive policy that includes free wine and spirits in onboard restaurants and bars, has added several ports of call in Europe this summer. New ports include Cartagena and Valencia, Spain; Golfo de Porto, Corsica; Koper, Slovenia; and Kos, Greece. Regent's Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator, which will sail in Europe, just completed multimillion-dollar renovations.
New thrills for repeat cruisers
Looking to appeal to younger cruisers and satisfy its core audience, the cruise industry is continually updating its offerings. Here's a glance at what's new:
- Staying in touch. Passengers at sea can remain tethered to home through their cell phones, laptops, BlackBerries and shipboard Internet cafes as cruise lines supply more access. Cell phone costs range from $1.99 to $4.99 a minute based on international roaming charges. Many ships have installed Wi-Fi, largely in public areas, for Internet access.
- Dining. Cruise lines are serving healthier meals and giving passengers more dining options other than first and second seatings. Carnival Cruises led the way when it began eliminating artery-clogging trans fats from its menus in 2005. Crystal Cruises recently rid its menus of trans fats. Other lines are following.
- Entertainment. From Las Vegas-style productions to karaoke clubs, passengers can choose from a variety of offerings. Depending upon the line, options include ballet, opera, Disney characters and Second City performers.
- Expert lecturers. Cruise lines are keenly aware that passengers want to learn more than napkin folding. Today's enrichment programs include Shakespearean acting taught by alumni of London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; language classes by Berlitz; and lectures by guest authors such as Richard Reeves, prominent journalists such as Walter Cronkite, geographers and wellness experts.