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New ship No. 10 — AIDAprima

Last in a series of new ships for 2016

If you think you’ve read about this “new” ship before, well, you have. Right here, one year ago, when the AIDAprima was to be among the class of 2015. Well, it wasn’t. Originally scheduled to be launched last spring, AIDA Cruises announced in October that the AIDAprima’s delivery date will be “announced at a later date” with a maiden voyage in the spring, subtly pointing the finger at the Mitsubishi shipyard where it’s being built, in Nagasaki. The first cruise for sale is the end of April. When it arrives, the AIMAprima is expected to introduce its mostly German clientele to a “new age of cruising.”

Launch date: March

Capacity: 3,300

Sister ships: Unnamed in 2016, or 2017, or…

Maiden voyage: Yokohama to Dubai

Home port: Hamburg

Ships then in AIDA fleet: 11

Interesting: The first ship to operate year-round from Hamburg, the AIDAprima will offer 7-day vacations  with “guaranteed sunshine” with 4 Elements and the AIDA Beach Club. In both, water, air, earth and fire will guarantee such a climate under an expandable membrane roof that allows UV rays in and that is “almost invisible” to the eye. Besides physically resembling Norwegian ships with colourful bow designs, AIDA is also introducing more of a “freestyle” concept on board, with dinner reservations not necessary and casual dress the norm. The AIDAprima, with 18 decks and 13 restaurants, will have novel balcony rooms — walk-in closets, two bathrooms and room for two loungers on the deck. Now, about that launch date…

In the news…

• Multimillion-dollar renovation for Carnival Inspiration starts Monday
• All new shows coming for Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
• Cunard ships partnering with the Savoy Beaufort Bar and Jack Daniel’s

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise awards from readers of USA Today 


Celebrity Summit
7 nights
April 9, 2016
San Juan (return): Tortola, Fort-de-France, Roseau, St. Kitts, St. Thomas
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $69
www.celebritycruises.com

Why Upscale Cruise Deals Are Rare

You may have noticed in our Daily Deals — five days a week, 52 weeks a year — that bargains on "upper premium" cruise lines appear only rarely. There’s a reason for that: The “deals” are often…well, confusing.

An example is one we just received from Oceania.

What caught our eyes was Free 3-night Winelands & Wildlife Safari Land Tour on 6 Voyages promotion. That led us to randomly choose one of the six voyages, a 30-day trip on the Oceania Nautica from Dubai to Cape Town, South Africa, and dig deeper into some of the details:

• 2 for 1 cruise fares — Oceania does a lot of this and the problem is that it’s based on a “brochure fare.” On this one, the promotional fare is $9,999 for an inside stateroom, compared to a brochure fare of $26,398. That’s per person. Really? Somebody would consider paying almost $1,000 a day, per person, on the Nautica?

• Free Airfare* — The asterisk (*) is for the gateway cities where your coach air fare applies, and that transportation to say, Atlanta, is extra. Fair enough. By the way, ground transportation is not included.

• $500 shipboard credit — Okay.

• Free pre-paid gratuities & Internet — That’s pretty straightforward, until you read the fine print, where it says “Free Internet is one per stateroom and applies to Concierge Level Staterooms.”

• Free safari land tour — Also straightforward, except that it is “capacity controlled, limited availability.”

So, here’s the bottom line: Your cruise fare is half the “rack rate” and your air fare is paid from major airports; on the ship you get $500 credit per stateroom, the Internet is free if you book a concierge room ($13,299) or higher, and you get a free African safari for three days as long as it’s not overbooked by people looking for the same freebie.

Confusing?

We thought so, too.

Today at portsandbows.com: Beautiful Budapest at night

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
June 12, 2015
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.celebritycruises.com

Company For World's Top Cruise Ports

Miami…Fort Lauderdale…Port Rashid…

Notice the apparent disconnect?

Well, not so fast.

The acknowledged kinds of cruise ports are  Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Proven to send more than eight million people off on their favorite cruise ships every year. Gateways to the Caribbean, primarily, and that’s still where most people go on their first cruise. Also their second, third, fourth…

Port Rashid?

That’s the new, world-class cruise port in Dubai. It opened on Friday. It is the largest cruise terminal in the world, and there’s a lot of that kind of thing happening in the Port Rashidoil-rich United Arab Emirates, probably for decades now. It’s capable of handling 14,000 passengers every day. Joining two older terminals at the port, it’s capable of handling more than seven million passengers every year.

That’s almost Miami and Fort Lauderdale combined.

Granted, it’s still speculation…and this is the Middle East.

Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) was Porthole Cruise Magazine’s “Best Domestic Port” and “World’s Top Cruise Port” in 2013. It was home to nine cruise lines, 43 cruise ships and several times broke daily records for number of passengers processed.

Is there a challenger on the horizon?

Today at portsandbows.com: Amber Cove…coming in 2015

Crown Princess
3 nights
January 3, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $49
www.princess.com

Dubai: The Expected and the Unexpected

How much do you know about Dubai? Perhaps, like us, you know that a visit there would provide spectacular skylines depicting opulent (oil) wealth, unaffordable (diamonds) shopping, maybe a little golf (like Tiger) and riding ATVs around sand dunes, if that’s your thing.

Okay, how about skiing? As in…snow skiing.

This was a revelation to us when, on a recent cruise, we met a young couple who told us it was, indeed, possible to strap on the boards and snowplow down the slopes of Dubai. They’d seen it, but not tried it, after disembarking from a Royal Caribbean cruise to the best-known city in the United Arab Emirates.

Now Royal Caribbean is expanding its operations in Dubai, and in the process making it easier to ski there, which by the way is something you do inside one of the shopping malls. Next year, the Brilliance of the Seas will be despatched to the UAE port, from which it is expected to sail itineraries ranging from 7 to 18 days through the spring of 2012. It will give passengers a chance to get a taste of countries like Egypt, India, Jordan and the UAE.

And a chance to ski.

As we write this, it’s 39 degrees Celsius in Dubai, or 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect weather for skiing, right?

Costa Calls 'Fore' More Golf

It’s getting so you can do virtually everything on a cruise ship, and some of it virtually. Take golf, which this couple has been studying for more years than you want to know. Take Costa Cruises, the company that’s mixing golf and cruising in a big way.

On two ships, the Costa Deliziosa and the Costa Luminosa, guests can practice with a golf simulator that projects them into a world-class course (think Pebble Beach or St. Andrews), take a private lesson and play a course designed by Ernie Els, in Dubai. No golf withdrawal on the cruise ship here.

It’s not cheap, of course, but it’s unique…and everybody knows golfers will pay almost anything for something that’s unique in the game they love.

Costa is testing the waters, so to speak, with golf shore excursions this summer in Norway. The first foray into Dubai comes when the Deliziosa and Luminosa reposition to the Middle East from Italy in December.

Now, if only they could guarantee you’d be able to swing like Ernie Els

That’s it, we’re done.

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