Summer is almost here, and with it comes school vacations, long-planned international trips and plenty of unused airline, hotel and cruise credits. To keep things lively, cruise lines are busy developing new products, sailings and brand-new ships to keep travelers interested. Here are some of the latest vacation deals, cruise ship news and promotions you need to know about to plan your best cruise yet.
Simone Biles to be godmother of Celebrity Beyond
The most decorated gymnast in World Championship history, Simone Biles, has been named as the new godmother of Celebrity Beyond, the newest Edge Class ship for Celebrity Cruises. The inaugural ceremony will take place this November in Fort Lauderdale although it is already sailing in Europe this summer. Her involvement with Celebrity will include curating new wellness programming as well as wellness tips to air on stateroom TVs.
Celebrity offers beauty-themed “goop at sea” sailing
This fall, goop founder and CEO Gwyneth Paltrow will join guests aboard a “goop at sea” sailing on Celebrity Beyond. Leaving Barcelona on Sept. 24, the sailing will visit France and the Italian Riviera. Goop practitioners on board will hold wellness seminars on enhancing the mind, body and soul. Fans of the brand will enjoy product trials, massages, tastings and goop-curated surprises during the sailing. During one session, Paltrow will interview a wellness expert as well as take audience questions. Tickets for the sailing are on sale starting at $750 per person. Already onboard are on-demand wellness classes on in-room TVs, a custom detox smoothie recipe and dedicated fitness tools for AquaClass guests.
Emerald Cruises christens first super yacht this month
Later this month, Emerald Cruises will christen its new, 100-passenger superyacht in Venice with godmother Sarah Wikevand, managing director of ROL Cruise in the United Kingdom. The ship is sailing the Adriatic and Mediterranean coastlines this summer and fall before it moves to Doha, Qatar in December to begin Arabian Peninsula sailings between Doha and Dubai.
Emerald Luna takes maiden river voyage
In April, Emerald Luna sets sail from Amsterdam through the Netherlands and Belgium as Emerald Cruises’ ninth river ship. It will be christened this July by godmother Vanessa McGovern, a travel industry advocate and co-founder of Gifted Travel Network. The ship has a three-tier atrium as well as a heated pool that can be converted to a cinema.
Norwegian gives 100 free cruises to teachers
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week during the first week of May, Norwegian Cruise Line announced a contest to award 100 teachers with a free cruise aboard its newest ship, Norwegian Prima. In addition to the free cruise for educators, their schools would also receive as much as $25,000 as part of the company’s Giving Joy program. The public nominated their favorite teachers for the month-long campaign where people voted to see who would win the free cruise as well as the additional prize money. Singer and talk show host Kelly Clarkson will perform at the Giving Joy awards on Norwegian Prima as part of this partnership as well as hold a meet-and-greet with the top three grand prize winners. The contest is open for voting through June 3.
Virgin Voyages announces fourth ship to its fleet
Brilliant Lady will be the fourth ship in Virgin Voyages’ fleet in the coming years. The cruise line says it chose the word “brilliant” to refer to the “shimmering seven seas” as well as the “post-vacation glow” after a sailing. The name also honors women everywhere. The company says in a release, “our Brilliant Lady represents the smart and boundary-pushing minds of women around the world — women unafraid of their own intelligence and unafraid to boldly own it.” Virgin Voyages has not yet announced Brilliant Lady’s future launch date and itineraries.
Azamara plans two fundraising cruises for charity
This summer, Azamara Pursuit will host two sailings around Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany. Excluding port fees and taxes, 100% of profits will go toward CARE, the International Rescue Committee, and the American Red Cross to support those displaced due to war and other hardships, including those whose homes were destroyed in Ukraine. The fundraising sailings will take place on June 17 for seven nights from Stockholm or a 5-night sailing leaving June 24 from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Seabourn announces new expedition itineraries
For the 2023-2024 season, Seabourn is launching new fall, winter and spring expedition itineraries on its two ships, Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit. They include sailings to Indonesia, Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia, and around the South Pacific, Micronesia and South America. One itinerary is expected to stand out to expedition cruising fans, a sailing between Argentina and Africa with stops in the hard-to-reach Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Islands. These purpose-built expedition ships have PC6 ice-strengthened hulls and advanced maneuvering technology for superior stability.
Seabourn returns to Turkey after six years
Seabourn Encore will begin sailing eastern Mediterranean and Adriatic sailings this summer including a return to Turkey, the first time since 2016. The ships will sail around Greece and Turkey as well as week-long Holy Land trips. The company is also bringing back its complimentary “Evening at Ephesus” classical concert in the ancient ruins under the stars just for guests. Between now and the end of May, bookings are eligible for a shipboard credit of up to $800 per suite (depending on the category, oceanview or veranda) or up to $1,600 per penthouse suite and above. Travelers that pay in full by June 1 will be eligible for an additional savings of 10% off for post-November 1 sailings.
Princess launches weekly sustainability video series
Environmental ambassador Jeff Corwin and Princess president John Padgett are hosting a weekly video series on sustainability. The 28-episode series, Ocean Treks Conservation Connections, covers short-subject features about the company and environmental management, sustainability and wildlife conservation on the cruise line’s YouTube channel. Other topics will include recycling, food waste reduction, energy efficiency and innovative fuel sources. Many will be filmed in Princess destinations like Alaska, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan and French Polynesia. The first episode aired in late April and will continue throughout the year.
Princess creates add-on option for WiFi, dining, drinks
Dubbed Princess Premier, the new add-on package from Princess Cruises costs $75 per day. It includes a host of benefits including unlimited WiFi for up to four devices, premium drinks (including cocktails up to $18), two specialty dining reservations, photos and crew gratuities. It represents more than a 50% savings compared to buying each of the benefits individually. Princess Premier goes on sale May 25 for sailings starting one month later. It also includes entry into Princess Prizes, a new gaming experience that rewards passengers for accessing their room with their Medallion (room key). Each time they use it, they earn an entry to win free cruises, onboard perks and cash. Those that do not purchase Princess Premier add-on can still participate in Princess Prizes by paying $20 per day for a chance to win.
Wonder of the Seas makes first European sailing
The newest ship in the Royal Caribbean portfolio, Wonder of the Seas, began sailing from Barcelona this month. It features several familiar amenities to regular cruisers like its FlowRider surf simulator, the tallest slide at sea dubbed “The Ultimate Abyss,” rock climbing walls, zip lining, and a Central Park-style neighborhood with more than 20,000 real plants. New to the ship are a Southern cooking restaurant, underwater-themed playground area with climbing walls and slides, and a new cantilevered bar near the pool, and a new onboard neighborhood for Royal Suite Class guests with a private sun deck, plunge pool and bar.