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May 24, 2013

Smoother sailing

Cruises get good buzz from new ships, overhauls


Disney Cruise Line last month announced a makeover for its oldest ship, Disney Magic, with a new children’s area themed on Marvel Comics superheroes, a three-story water slide, updated technology and lighting, and re-themed restaurants and entertainment areas.

Carnival, meanwhile, is spending $300 million to add emergency generators, upgrade fire safety and improve engine rooms on all 24 of its ships. Carnival also spent $155 million rehabbing a 1996 ship, Carnival Destiny, which relaunched this month as Carnival Sunshine with a five-slide park; a three-deck-high, adults-only retreat with pool and waterfall; specialty restaurants; and a ropes course, an attraction that proved popular on two other Carnival ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line just launched Norwegian Breakaway, “the best ship in the company’s 47-year history, according to just about every veteran in this industry,” Driscoll said. The ship’s hull bears a colorful mural designed by pop artist Peter Max. Onboard attractions include a fitness class designed by the Rockettes, an intimate blues club, a ropes course on the top deck, restaurants by Food Network celebrity Geoffrey Zakarian and baked goods from “Cake Boss” Buddy Vlasto. Its sister ship, Norwegian Getaway, launching in January, will have a Miami-Latin culture theme.

But Driscoll added that “it doesn’t stop with Quantum, Disney, Breakaway, Getaway.” Next month’s launch of Royal Princess with “Kate Middleton as that ship’s godmother ensures another batch of positive PR for the business,” he said.

Spencer Brown says the launch of the Royal Princess would be a big deal even if the Duchess of Cambridge weren’t following in the footsteps of Princess Diana, who christened an earlier Royal Princess ship. The editor said the Princess line is known for introducing great new ideas while maintaining traditions. The company pioneered a concept called “Movies Under the Stars,” showing movies on big outdoor screens, in addition to adult-only sun decks, and “now lots of lines have those,” Spencer Brown said.

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