When it comes to new ship launches in 2013, we can expect to see a myriad of technological breakthroughs that will improve the use of voice and data communications from sea as well as fuel consumption - most of which will not be visible to the passenger.
Norwegian Cruise Line's yet-to-be-launched new ship, the Breakaway, also has a lot new going for it inside and out.
On the inside, the 4,100-passenger ship's 678 Ocean Place will offer a multitude of dining choices, and a close to 20,000-square-foot casino. The Waterfront, a quarter-mile-long outdoor boardwalk, will feature several dining venues and lounges.
What Norwegian ships all have in common is artwork on the hull, artwork that in some cases covers a good portion of the ship exteriors - a giant graffiti wall, if you like.
When the Breakaway is launched in the spring, it will display the work of pop artist Peter Max. When finished, his design will cover about 40,000 square feet of hull, leaving no doubt that New York is Breakaway's permanent home port.
"The artwork is a composite of New York City and cosmic imagery - the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, a giant sunburst, planets, stars, and musical notes," says Max. Norwegian's newest and most modern member of the fleet will commence sailing to Bermuda through the summer of 2013 and in the fall she will operate from Manhattan to the Bahamas, Florida and the Southern Caribbean. You can book space at ncl.com or through your local, experienced cruise travel agent.
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There are many examples lately of cruise lines and their penchant for being proactive when it comes to building new port facilities.
Royal Caribbean is collaborating with the Government of Barbados to build a much-needed $300-million port in that country. With larger ships visiting the island country, longer berths, a new terminal and a dedicated retail and transportation centre are in the works.
Royal Caribbean's last private-public endeavour was at Falmouth in Jamaica.
One more port note: The Ukrainian government is looking to develop the cruise business in Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta.
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Is your child a little princess between ages four and 11?
If so, she can participate in the Barbie Premium Experience aboard Royal Caribbean ships starting in January.
Girls can sleep in Barbie themed cabins, design outfits, go to tea and be part of a fashion show on the final night of a seven-day cruise.
The Barbie Premium Experience seems set to become Royal's next hot travel experience, and will set you back $349 per person.
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Azamara Club Cruises will be renovating its two deluxe boutique cruise ships, the Quest and the Journey, late this year and early next. Each ship will receive a wide facelift and a new profile, complete with a new dark-blue hull.
A lot is being planned: New carpets, upholstery, new mattresses and upgraded veranda furniture for suites and staterooms, along with new sun loungers. Also, the Casino Bar on both ships will be expanded.
On the culinary side, guests on board will soon enjoy a new caviar and champagne bar within Aqualina, one of the ship's two specialty dining venues, as well as a new Chef's Table.
Go to portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil can be contacted directly at portsandbows@ gmail.com.