by Jimmy Im
When it comes to Belfast, more Americans remember its dark political history and forget that the New York-bound Titanic ship was built and made its maiden voyage from there 100 years ago this month. Belfast is hot on its heels of erasing the repercussions of its late civil war (the city is known as the safest city in all of Europe based on nationwide crime figures), and the Titanic is luring travelers the world over to check out the new and improved Belfast.
This month, the $156 million Titanic Building opened its doors, providing the world’s largest Titanic memorial. The museum center stands the same height as the original Titanic — about 10 stories high — and is designed to look like the hull of the ship. And don’t expect tributes to Jack and Rose. The Titanic Building is the real deal, with 9 informative galleries that start with Boomtown Belfast (when the city was at the forefront of shipbuilding) and the launch of the Titanic, ending with the Oceanic Exploration Center. So visitors can explore the wreckage discovered 2 1/2 miles on the ocean floor in 1985. Interactive features allow visitors to feel like they were actually on the ship. READ MORE
Looking for a fun, theme cruises? Then pay tribute to the TV show The Soul Train and its creator Don Cornelius. Book your room on the Soul Train cruise, scheduled for February 17-24, 2013. Holland America’s Westerdam will host the festive cruise that will feature multiple shows and activities simultaneously.
According to Huffington Post, 12 acts have already signed up to keep the patrons shaking their groove thing. Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Kool & The Gang, The Spinners, War, Gerald Alston, George Duke, War and several other artists will help keep things lively with nightly shows held in the Vista Lounge.
The cruise line will stop in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Book now! Cabins run from $1,800 to $7,500 for early reservation, which end on April 31, 2012. Get more information about the hippest trip at sea.
Travel Channel has more cruise information to help you plan your next voyage.
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New Cruises and Ports for 2012
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Three people were found alive Sunday morning, more than 24 hours after rocks tore a 160-foot gash in the hull of a cruise ship, off the coast of Tuscany. Rescue crews found the purser of the Costa Concordia trapped in the ship’s restaurant, suffering from hypothermia. A South Korean couple was also found trapped in the ship, which was nearly 50 percent submerged in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The ship, carrying 4,000 passengers and crew members, ran aground on Friday, and authorities say up to 41 people are still missing. At least 3 people were killed, and 20 others were found with injuries. Survivors, some comparing the experience to the movie “Titanic,” spoke of a chaotic and terrifying scene where passengers pushed and shoved their way to get onto lifeboats, while others leapt overboard into the sea.
Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Travel Channel is heating things up this winter with new content to attract gay and lesbian travelers. You may not know it, but the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) tourism industry is big business, raking in $65 billion a year, according to Community Marketing Inc.’s annual LGBT Tourism Study.
The study reveals that the LGBT community has increased their travel in the last year, despite the economic downturn, with gay men taking an average of 3 trips last year. And gay travelers spare no expense to enjoy traveling abroad to other countries. Eighty-five percent of gay males and 77% of lesbians own a passport, compared with a 30% rate of all Americans. Last year, 54% of gay men used their passport. READ MORE
Cruise News 2011 will keep you updated on all the latest changes in the cruising industry. Find out about hot offers like the an “All You Can Drink” beverage package on Royal Caribbean and the live broadcast of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding on Norwegian Cruise Line.
As you make your summer plans, be sure to read our Cruise Trends post to find out what’s hot in 2011. We checked in with Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief at CruiseCritic.com, who told us to be on the lookout for more super-sized ships, new river cruises and Alaska’s comeback as a popular cruise destination.
Attention all Mouseketeers, Libya lovers and Aussies, please report to the lido deck!
Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Dream will depart on its maiden voyage to Disney’s private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay, on Jan 26. The 1,250-cabin ship has a water coaster on the top deck and virtual portholes in every inside cabin that display a constant video feed of the outside view. You heard it here first, folks. Disney is trying to “imagineer” our minds.
Carnival just announced that its 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit will be based in Sydney, Australia, starting in October 2012. It will offer 8- to 13-day trips to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. There’s just one small problem, the ship can’t fit under the Sydney Harbor Bridge, so passengers will need to voyage from the Circular Quay’s Passenger Terminal.
Beginning Nov. 16, Crystal Cruises’ 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity will be welcome at the Libyan Port of Tripoli during the ship’s 11-day “Italian Splendor” trip from Venice to Barcelona. Why now? Libya has recently loosened its ban on American tourists, so ancient relics and ruins beware … here we come!
Get more info on Disney Cruises, European Cruises and Cruise Trips and Ships.