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Photo Courtesy of Jason Leppert

Want to relive a bygone era of classic trans-Atlantic ocean-liner travel? With Cunard Line — which is impressively celebrating its 175th anniversary this year — and its fleet of elegant vessels, you can do that and more.

The only true liner in operation today, the magnificent Queen Mary 2, cuts through the towering swells and choppy waves of the northern Atlantic Ocean nearly like butter. Art-deco interiors romantically enchant while modern amenities pamper and entertain passengers. Live classical music permeates throughout as a parade of formalwear enters the stately dining room, and the chandelier-clad ballroom beckons well-dressed couples to the dance floor.

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Photo Courtesy of Jason Leppert

Are you yearning to travel to the Mediterranean but aren’t fond of long-haul flights? Here’s a solution: a Caribbean cruise. Yes, it’s unorthodox, but it’s also convenient for North American travelers, and MSC Cruises’ uniquely European MSC Divina might just be the oasis you’re looking for.

The leisure division of the industrial Mediterranean Shipping Co., MSC Cruises once catered predominantly to foreigners, but in the Caribbean, the line has tailored its sailings to embrace US citizens as well. In fact, one of the delights of MSC is the diverse mix of passengers on board and the international idioms heard throughout. Rest assured, however, that English remains the primary language spoken on the MSC Divina.
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Anthem of the Seas (Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Are you ready for a new year of cruise travel filled with new ships? Check out which ones are set for launch in 2015.

Anthem of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International
Already plowing the high seas as of 2014, the new, high-tech Quantum of the Seas set the stage for its sister ship, the Anthem of the Seas, to follow in April 2015. Special creature comforts include modular staterooms interconnected with varied layouts for large parties and virtual balconies to provide interior staterooms with a digital view of outside the ship.
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Photography by Retrofile / Getty Images

For years, cruising has been a popular vacation trend enjoyed by families, couples, and the young and old alike. And as summer comes to an end, there’s no better time to hop on board a cruise ship, visit a few ports and relax, while soaking up the last bit of summer sun — with a drink in hand, of course.

In this week’s throwback Thursday, men and women in vintage swimsuits lounge in and around the pool on board a cruise ship in the 1950s.

Find your own inspiration to sail the open seas, and take a look at Travel’s Best Cruises 2014. Whether you’re looking to cruise the Mediterranean, Caribbean or someplace else, there’s no easier way to see the world than from the deck of a cruise ship.

And don’t forget to check back every week this month for our Vintage Summer Throwback Thursdays!

 

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The Norwegian Getaway (Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Planning a cruise this year? Here’s a quick look at 4 new cruise ships scheduled to set sail in 2014.

Costa Cruises’ Costa Diadema
Costa Cruises caters primarily to Italian travelers, but from time to time, its ships sail into American markets and share similar layouts with the ships of its sister companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America Line. The Costa Diadema, launching in October 2014, may likely influence the ships coming in 2015, too.

Dining Options
With 7 restaurants and 15 bars, the Costa Diadema offers a wide array of cuisines and beverages for its guests. Some venues include the Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant, Piazza Pizza Pizzeria, Birreria La Fiamma pub, Bar Bollicine Prosecco bar, Vinoteca Huit-Huit wine bar and Gelateria Amarillo ice cream parlor.

Entertainment Options
A 2-deck gaming area satisfies video and laser game aficionados, while a Grand Prix simulator virtually fulfills the need for speed.  For music lovers, the new Country Rock Club is dedicated to playing American classic rock music. And rounding out the onboard attractions are a 4D cinema, 3-deck theater and the Portobello Market Piazza, an impressive 11,840-square-foot retail complex.

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The once-isolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar didn’t always go by its current name. In 1989, the name “Myanmar” replaced the more commonly known “Burma” by order of the government, and this fascinating nation is now commonly referenced by either of these monikers. It is truly a land of 2 names.

After decades of isolation, Myanmar has now opened their ports to tourism, allowing the curious and adventurous alike to visit a country virtually unchanged by Western influence. A feast for the senses, Myanmar prides itself on ancient temples, unspoiled rainforests and the charm of the people who have inhabited this great land for thousands of years. Sitting on the Andaman Sea, Myanmar has several ports of entry. However, the most popular way to visit is on a river cruise.

Why a river cruise? Imagine winding your way through dense rainforests with a new and amazing discovery waiting around each bend. Visualize silently sailing up a tropical river, and seeing an ancient Buddhist temple appear through the mist.

A Viking river cruise, one of the first lines to serve this emerging tourist destination, starts in the busy international port of Bangkok, Thailand. Here you’ll get the chance to shake off your flight and explore some of Thailand’s most wondrous sites, like the Grand Palace (residence of the Emperor), jewel markets and the famous floating market. Next, you are whisked away to Yangon (Rangoon), the former capital of Myanmar, for the starting point of your river voyage into the interior of the country.

Before sailing on, you’ll see some of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating temples, such as Shwedagon Pagoda, where Buddhist monks move about this storied stupa thought to be over 2,500 years old. Your voyage continues up the Irrawaddy River to Pyay to see an archeological site marking the center of the Pyu civilization and Thayetmyo, famous for the British colonial post that was once there. You’ll also visit Minhla and enjoy views from Gwechaung Hill before sailing to the fascinating cities of Magway, Bagan, Yandabo andAmarapura, which holds claim to the world’s longest teak bridge.

Your cruise ends in Myanmar’s most central city, Mandalay, where you can visit Mahamuni Pagoda and its famous gold-leaf statue of the Buddha. Along the way, you’ll experience all aspects of life in Myanmar, taste local cuisine prepared by master chefs onboard and learn about the rich history and culture of this magical and largely undiscovered part of Asia.

Myanmar, or “Burma,” as many still call it, is the perfect destination for someone looking for an enriching and unique pin to put on their map. Years of isolation have preserved one of the most unique and historically rich cultures in Asia. Now, thanks to the popularity of river cruising, you can see this wondrous place yourself.

By Karolina Shenton, The Cruise Web

Karolina Shenton has been in the travel industry for over a decade as The Cruise Web’s marketing and operations manager.  In her free time she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, dives with hammerhead sharks around Cocos Island or cruises with her family.

 

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Update: Cruise News 2011

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.

Cruise Deals

It’s Wave Season and that means it’s time to book your cruise for 2011-2012. According to CruiseCritic.com and industry leaders, Wave Season is the time between January and March when cruise lines offer deep discounts for the coming year and as a result, more cruises are booked during this time.

Book a trip on Royal Caribbean to the Bahamas for a 3-night cruise with prices starting at $199, or a 4-night cruise to the Western Caribbean from $249. Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise line with the deep discounts — board the Norwegian Cruise Line and receive a free upgrade!

See our guide to the Eastern Caribbean, Family Cruises and more in our Cruises section.

Cruising in 2011? Where to? Post a comment on our blog.

Cancun, Mexico

If you’re a fellow cruiser, like me, then you know Mexico is generally on the list of pit stops when you’re traveling to the Caribbean. If you’re traveling from the East Coast with ports of call from Miami, Tampa, Port Canaveral and even Charleston, SC, then Cozumel, Mexico, is a must–see. However, if you’re on the West Coast, any stops to Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas might have to wait.

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