A Tale Of Two Cruise Ships Under Construction

cruise ships

Coming up this spring, Princess Cruises and Norwegian cruise lines – two of the most popular cruise lines with mainstream cruise travelers – have new cruise ships coming out. Considering that both are under construction right now and both offer sister ships being built for later delivery, choosing one might be difficult for cruise travelers. Before we get too far down the road, let’s take a look at the two new ships, what they have to offer and how construction is coming along.

cruise shipsNorwegian Cruise Line has a whole lot of New Yorkers talking about new Norwegian Breakaway, and for good reason. To be based in New York City year-round, the 4,000-passenger ship has been customized for the New York market with everything from shops, restaurants and bars to Sabrett New York hot dog carts positioned around the ship.

Partnering with the New York City Rockettes (Godmothers of the ship), pop artist Peter Max (custom city skyline hull design) and others, Norwegian is making every attempt to pierce the New York market; it even set up “warming stations” around the city this winter.

That’s all in addition to some over-the-top features on the ship set to blow away other new builds that has everyone talking about this new Norwegian ship that will be sailing to Florida, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

%Gallery-179356%An oceanfront boardwalk called the Waterfront on Norwegian Breakaway will combine dining and drinking venues with entertainment and gaming. 678 Ocean Place will be a hub of activity spanning three decks that features seven more dining venues, 12 bars and lounges coupled with shops and other entertainment options.

Continuing what looks to be a pre-sold success story with Norwegian Breakaway, sister ship Norwegian Getaway will debut in 2014, claiming Miami, Florida, as its hometown. Embedding a South Florida theme in the new ship, Norwegian tapped David Le Batard (AKA the artist known as “LEBO”) to create art for the new ship’s hull. Set to debut in February 2014, we’ll have more on that one later.

First, here’s a gallery of photos featuring first-up Norwegian Breakaway, under construction:

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Royal Princess marks the first new build for the cruise line since 2008’s Ruby Princess, the last of Princess Cruises popular grand class ships. They built nine of those and already have a sister ship to Royal Princess in the works too.

Royal Princess
will be a careful evolution of the Princess product with a ship laid out in typical Princess patterns. Focusing on their mantra to let passengers “escape completely” Princess Cruises has designed a ship totally around that concept. It’s a success formula that has made Princess popular over the years and keeps travelers coming back for more.

But Princess goes a bit over the top themselves too, adding an over-the-water “SeaWalk” that will extend 28 feet over the side of the ship, offering views of the ocean 128 feet below off the ship’s starboard side. On the port side, a SeaView bar will be positioned to offer cocktails and some great views. Here is what that venue and others should look like when complete:

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Top-deck features are a focus of cruise ships industry-wide lately and Royal Princess is no exception. This Princess ship starts with a new adults-only pool surrounded by plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two more pools will flank a “tropical island” that will have pool seating by day then become a dance club with a dancing water and light show by night.

Next year’s Regal Princess will be a twin sister to 141,000 ton Royal Princess, complete with a central atrium Piazza area that is 50% larger area than previous versions and casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.

Under construction right now in Venice, Princess Cruises sent along these photos from the shipyard:

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We will be heading to Venice, Italy, at the end of March for a first-hand look at construction of Royal Princess in-progress. Stay tuned for updates.

So which ship to choose? Here are some points to consider:

  • The value is there for either ship. Both will stack up nicely compared to land vacations to the same places these ships sail, allowing passengers to unpack once but visit multiple destinations.
  • Norwegian Breakaway adds an additional choice, year-round for cruise travelers departing from the upper East coast, eliminating the need for airfare and sailing to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Florida.
  • Royal Princess will sail seven-night itineraries from Florida’s Port Everglades to the Eastern Caribbean from November 2013 through April 2014 after a Mediterranean season that begins June 9, 2013.
  • Traditional cruisers will find their dreams fulfilled on Royal Princess with standard features the line has become famous for – amped up for today’s traveler. Think: turbo Love Boat.
  • Norwegian Breakaway promises an entertainment experience as good if not better than the bar-raising elements added on their last new build, Norwegian Epic. Think: epic flavor, easy to swallow.

[Photo Credits- Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises]

A day in Naples, Italy

Naples, ItalyNaples, Italy is the place to be if you want to see the ruins of Pompeii, one of the best examples of a Roman town. It’s the fourth stop on our tour of the Mediterranean where we see 8 different places in 9 days, each for just one day. Of all the places we would visit, delivered by Carnival Cruise Line’s new Carnival Magic, this was one I actually knew something about and visiting would complete a dream that started in eight grade.

Pompeii is possibly the most famous excavation in the world, drawing 15,000 people every day, almost as many as lived there before the horrifying eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It was a topic covered long and hard in my 8th grade Social Studies class teacher, Mr. Hoobing, years ago to the point that it had a permanent place on any bucket list I might have floating around someplace.

The drill in 8th grade was to hand-draw exact replicas of famous archaeological sites as a method of reinforcing information about them…or so I figured out years later. The point was well-taken though; these sites had huge historical significance and told of a time long ago that while vastly different as far as technology goes, was fueled by some of the very same human emotions that rule today.


The 45-minute bus ride from Carnival Miracle through Naples and on to Pompeii came with a running commentary by a tour guide who got most of the facts right. Never mind that he erred 100 years either side of when the big event occurred from time to time; his conclusions were accurate: the site offers a rare glimpse into what Roman life was like back then.

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If you are an armchair fan of archeology, this place takes you back to a time when prostitution was legal, rich citizens ruled and perhaps gave insight to the fall of the Roman empire and all it stood for. If you are not a fan, this is not the place to visit but if you’re in the area anyway, you probably should. There is a lot to be learned here about life long ago that can have some answers to the world of today. Maybe. If you want it to. If you go to Pompeii and find yourself thinking “Oh great, more old stuff”, you are in the wrong place.

Naples offers a bunch of great cafes, shops, and other sites to see as well as some of the best Italian food in the world. It would be a shame to be in the area and miss this one. Off a cruise ship there are a bunch of excursions one can take. Count on them all to be crowded/clogged with people. After hundreds of years, these attractions are still a huge draw to travelers from all over the world.

I think Mr Hoobing would be happy I went. I’m happy I paid attention in 8th grade.

Photos: Lisa Owen

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Cruise line Godmother a “true hero”

cruise line godmother

When cruise lines launch a new ship, it is traditional to name a Godmother for the new vessel. Godmothers come in all shapes and sizes ranging from Reba McEntire to Whoopi Goldberg and even Martha Stewart. When Carnival Cruise Lines went to pick a Godmother for new Carnival Magic, set to debut May 1, they did not have to look very far.

Carnival is an ongoing sponsor and supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital so they turned to Lindsey Wilkerson, former patient, now good-will ambassador for the hospital to be Godmother of the new Carnival Magic.


“Lindsey embodies the spirit of the tremendously talented, compassionate and dedicated individuals at St. Jude who are true heroes in every sense of the word. Lindsey’s selection as godmother is a tribute to the special children of St. Jude, as well as an acknowledgement of the groundbreaking efforts the organization has made in the fight against childhood cancer,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.

Wilkerson began treatment at the St. Jude facility in Memphis, Tennessee at age 10. Three years later, her cancer was in remission and she went on to finish high school and attend college. She joined ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude, in 2004 and is now a volunteer specialist helping to engage and support St. Jude volunteers across the country. Wilkerson also volunteers as a tour guide at the hospital and is a member of the organization’s Family Advisory Council and the St. Jude Women’s Club, the latter for which she serves as president.

Wilkerson will officially name the 130,000-ton vessel during a shipboard ceremony taking place May 1 in Venice, Italy, prior to the Carnival Magic‘s inaugural voyage. Gadling will be there for the event and hopes to meet Lindsey, an unusual choice for Godmother we hope begins a trend of recognizing those who do so much for so many.

Royal Caribbean stays current, looks ahead

It’s been a busy week for Royal Caribbean International.

Rumors have been flying around about what the innovative parent company to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises could possibly do to top mega-ship Allure of the Seas. This week we got a glimpse of what might be in store and a little look back at the past.

“While we look forward to a period of slower growth, we do not intend to stagnate,” said Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. “We have been considering our next new building project and we feel that the time may now be right for such a move.”

Fain mentioned the new ship topic in an earnings call that reported a huge gain in earnings for the company over the previous year. The Miami Herald reports that Fain gave few details, but said the ship would be part of the Royal Caribbean International brand and would likely be the first of a series.

“We have been working intensively on developing a design that reflects our innovative spirit, but in an efficient package and we think that we are near to an acceptable outcome,” Fain said.

It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Royal Caribbean is truly an innovator but continues ongoing programs that define what they do. An ongoing focus on fitness and incorporating trendy but timeless art on their ships while continuing humanitarian efforts in Haiti give a good idea of the depth of the company.

You can bet whatever direction they go, the result will be unique and exciting with some fun events along the way. For example, last week Royal Caribbean hosted Taylor Swift for a concert on Allure of the Seas.

On the eve of her Speak Now world concert tour, Swift performed favorites and song off her new album. Winners from a Clear Channel Radio promotion packed the ship’s Aqua Theater.


Disney gets keys, takes new ship for a spin

new disney shipIt’s been a while since Disney Cruise Line launched a new ship. 1999 to be exact was when the line so closely linked with a magical and enchanting cruise experience for children of all ages drove off the lot with a new build.

Under construction for nearly two years, new Disney Dream officially became the property of Disney Cruise Line as the ship was handed off at Meyer-Werft shipyard in Germany. Next week the new ship will be Port Canaveral bound where her first revenue cruise will begin on January 26.

“The Disney Dream is an extraordinary ship, in part because of the collaboration of the superb shipbuilders at Meyer Werft and the innovative technology and storytelling that our Disney team has developed and implemented aboard,” said Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line. “I cannot wait for our guests to experience this newest addition to our fleet, a ship that will delight and surprise all ages.”

Making space for Disney Dream at a newly-updated cruise terminal at Florida’s Port Canaveral moves Disney Wonder to the West Coast where sailings will include voyages to Alaska, a first for the line and a move applauded by fans of cruise vacations.

Disney Dream is scheduled to sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas. Sister ship Disney Fantasy, one of several new ships due out from an assortment of cruise lines, is currently in production at the Meyer Werft shipyard. Disney Fantasy is scheduled to set sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries in 2012, also from Port Canaveral.