When MSC Divina arrives in Miami in November, it will mark the beginning of a first for MSC Cruises — the first time the line has stationed a ship year-round at a North American port. And it will offer a number of options that were not available on MSC ships that sailed seasonally here.
First, in partnership with Eataly, an upscale Italian chain with restaurants also in Japan and the United States, Divina will have two restaurants and a boutique Eataly marketplace new to North America on board. Eataly debuted this year on Divina’s sister ship, MSC Preziosa. The new dining rooms are the upscale Ristorante Italia and Manzo, a steakhouse patterned after Eataly’s restaurant in Manhattan.
In an industry first, Divina will offer classes in Aqua Cycling, the latest fitness craze, which uses bikes in pools. Also new on the ship will be Top 18, an adults-only oasis with personal lounge beds, bar menu and spa services. And available for the first time on the line’s North America sailings will be the MSC Yacht Club, a luxurious section of the ship with personal butler, 24-hour concierge service, complimentary wines and spirits, and exclusive lounge, restaurant and pool.
The 3,274-passenger ship, which entered service in 2012, will start Caribbean cruises out of Miami Nov. 20.
• 175th for Cunard: In 1840, the new Cunard Line sent its Britannia on its first transatlantic crossing. In 2015, the company will celebrate the 175th anniversary of its founding with a series of special global cruises.
Cunard’s 2015 World Voyages and Exotic Cruises Program will feature cruises from eight to 127 nights aboard its three ships, the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Altogether, the ships will visit 82 destinations in 46 countries.
Each ship will do a World Voyage ranging from 103 to 127 nights in 2015. However, each also will offer a number of shorter segments ranging from eight to 27 nights. Full world voyage prices start at $12,999 per person, double occupancy; segment prices start at $1,499.
• Same-sex sailing: A Sea of Love cruise devoted to same-sex couples will take place out of Miami next year aboard the new Norwegian Getaway. Arranged by Cruise Planners-American Express Travel, the cruise will be the first of its kind for the company. The sailing will include a mass same-sex commitment ceremony and reception on St. Thomas as well as exclusive onboard events. The seven-night cruise sails Sept. 27, 2014. Sea of Love package rates start at $2,599 per couple and $1,039 per guest. www.cruiseplanners.com.
• Another ship for Tampa: Royal Caribbean will base a second ship in Tampa for seasonal cruises next year. The line’s Vision of the Seas will join Brilliance of the Seas at the Gulf port starting Nov. 15, 2014. Vision will make seven-night Caribbean cruises, while Brilliance, which has been making seasonal cruises out of Tampa for some years, keeps to its four- and five-night sailings.
• More touch screens: Norwegian Cruise Line will expand installation of its interactive touch screen signs to its entire fleet. Introduced on the Norwegian Breakaway last May, the touch screens allow passengers to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining, shore excursions and entertainment. Each ship will have between 30 and 50 such screens.
• New Asia visits: Holland America is expanding its presence in Asia during the 2013-2014 season, increasing capacity and adding new itineraries. Two ships, the Volendam and Rotterdam, will be based in Singapore during the season. New itineraries include a 14-night Volendam sailing to Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and India, and a 14-night cruise by the Rotterdam to Indonesian ports, among them the island of Komodo, known for its formidable “dragon,” and an overnight in Bali.
The recent news that Disney Cruise Line will now allow passengers to wear shorts at dinner in the main dining room should come as no surprise.
After all, Mickey Mouse wears shorts. And they look pretty snazzy.
If you’re keeping track, Disney and Norwegian lines allow shorts at dinner, but Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess and more pricey cruise lines still won’t.
So far, no swimsuits are allowed in the main dining rooms on any cruise ship. Even Mickey has to draw the line somewhere.
HERE AND THERE
• As a result of unrest in Egypt, MSC Cruises has canceled the MSC Armonia winter itineraries in the Red Sea and replaced them with two new itineraries departing from the Canary Islands.
• Costa Cruises has dropped prices to as low as $399 per person, double occupancy, on European cruises now through December. The discounted fares are available on nine ships making voyages of seven to 11 nights. www.costacruises.com.
• Next year, Crystal Cruises will add six new topics to its extensive theme cruise program — thrill-seeking, elegance, the Roman Empire, maritime history, magic and microbrews. The line has 10 other theme cruises scheduled.
• American Queen Steamship Co. has established a loyalty program for guests who sail on the line’s American Queen or American Empress, debuting in the spring. Members of the new Steamboat Society of America program will receive onboard credits, future cruise discounts and other perks.
• Movie/television legends Jane Powell, Robert Wagner, Theodore Bikel, Margaret O’Brien and Alex Trebek will join hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz on Turner Classic movies’ third TCM Classic Cruise sailing on the Disney Magic from Miami Dec. 8-13. www.TCMcruise.com.
• Legendary jazz guitarists Paul Brown and Marc Antoine will perform on two special sailings of Silversea’s Silver Spirit this fall — Antoine on a Mediterranean cruise out of Rome Nov. 2, Brown on a Caribbean sailing out of Fort Lauderdale Dec. 13.