NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

May 24, 2013

Smoother sailing

Cruises get good buzz from new ships, overhauls

(Continued)

The new Princess ship’s features will include an atrium and a top-deck, glass-bottomed walkway extending over the ship’s edge, but Princess also offers passengers the opportunity to enjoy old-fashioned fun like bingo or to “get dolled up in a tuxedo and evening gown if you want to have a date night.”

Garcia said attractions on cruise ships have become as important as where the ship is going. “Ships have become their own destinations now,” she said. “You don’t want a picture of yourself in a lounge chair reading a book. You want to say you went to the Ice Bar or walked the plank,” examples of activities on Norwegian Breakaway. (“Walking the plank” is part of the ropes course, where you walk out on a single beam over the edge of the ship, 130 feet above the ocean, with your shoulders harnessed to a pulley overhead.)

Carrie Finley Bajak of CruiseBuzz.net agrees that “the buzz really is about the trend toward experiential travel.” In addition to over-the-top rides and entertainment, Bajak said some passengers gravitate to lines like Oceania, Celebrity, Crystal and Holland America, which have “perfected the art of the culinary cruising. All four lines have created unique onboard programs catering to foodies who like shopping with the chef, attending cooking classes and an assortment of interactive cooking lessons.”

Garcia said it’s now common for customers to ask for ships “by name — the Quantum or the Breakaway or the Oasis or the Epic. They say, ‘What’s the ship that has the rock climbing, what’s the ship that has the bowling alley?’ It’s not your grandmother’s cruise anymore.”

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