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New ships, ports, and itineraries

May and June have been busy months for the cruise lines, as they announce plans for new ships, introduce new itineraries, and begin sailing from new ports. Here’s a recap of some of the latest news you may have missed.

Construction has begun on [% 11070 | | Seabourn’s %] new ship, scheduled to debut in June 2009. The unnamed ship will carry 450 guests and have one of the highest space-to-guest ratios in the industry. Passengers can choose from 13 categories of suites, 90 percent of which will have verandahs. Plans also include four restaurants, six bars, a terraced sun deck at the top of the ship featuring sun beds and a glass windbreak, and Seabourn’s iconic fold-down teak watersports platform.

[% 9732 | | Cunard %] has also let the public get a sneak peek at the new Queen Victoria’s design. The designers drew on Cunard’s previous oceanliners to create a grand and elegant atmosphere onboard. The Grand Lobby will feature a dramatic sweeping staircase and balconies overlooking the foyer. The Queens Room is reminiscent of a ballroom in a large country house with crystal chandeliers, murals on the walls, and cantilevered balconies over the dance floor. The circular Hemispheres nightclub will be the most modern space on the ship.

Bookings are open for [% 14665 | | Celebrity’s %] new deluxe brand, Azamara Cruises, for sailings in its 2008 to 2009 season. The Azamara Quest will spend the winter and early spring in Asia before returning to Greece. The Azamara Journey will spend summer 2008 in Europe, and then head to South America in December. The ship will cross the Atlantic once more in late March, 2009.

Celebrity also announced a new Solstice-class ship to debut in fall 2011. The ship will be the fourth in the class, after the Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox, and Celebrity Eclipse, all of which will join the fleet between fall 2008 and summer 2010.

MSC Cruises changed the name of its newest ship under construction. The MSC Serenata will now be the MSC Splendida. The cruise line says it’s because the interior designer was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the project, but I’d wager it’s because the name was too similar to Costa’s new Serena. The Splendida enters service in spring 2009.

The Greek Isles are now the home of easyCruiseOne. The easyCruise flagship began new itineraries to 11 Greek islands on May 18, and will sail these routes into October. Prior to the new season, the easyCruiseOne received some upgrades, such as 21 new cabins with windows, a larger lounge space by the lobby, and a “Wellness Zone” featuring an open-air spa and fitness area.

On Thursday, [% 11986 | | Carnival %] began its year-round cruise program from San Diego. The Elation will sail four- and five-night cruises to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico.

[% 13509 | | Disney Cruise Line %] has begun its first ever Europe cruising season. The Disney Magic will homeport in Barcelona and sail 10- and 11-night Mediterranean itineraries.

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