Cruise lines offer more beverage packages in rising tide of bar tabs

For vacationers, the biggest surprise aboard their first cruise probably has nothing to do with the feel of rolling seas. More likely, the surprise will be their bar tab. The cost of alcohol, whether you buy by the drink or as part of the ship’s beverage packages, has become one of cruising’s more confusing, and more expensive, extras. Partly, that’s because your normal routines at home tend to change with the partying lifestyle at sea, supported by …

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Princess Cruises introduces regional menus showcasing destination specialties

When the new Regal Princess sails into Florida this November to begin her maiden Caribbean cruise season, she will debut a new Princess Cruises dining program that will showcase regional culinary specialties designed to reflect the destinations its ships visit around the world. The new program will enable guests to enjoy regional menu items created with local produce, spices and seafood. The first special menus are inspired by the Caribbean in keeping with the ship’s fall itineraries. …

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Royal Caribbean hopes to lure new cruisers with Quantum of the Seas’ flexible dining

Cruise lines have not come close to enticing all the potential cruisers in North America to try at least one vacation at sea, or so they say. But cruising may already have exhausted the pool of people who want to sit each evening for a week, during long, three-course dinners in a big dining room. That would explain the trend away from huge dining areas and toward the growing numbers of alternative eating choices at sea, including such …

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Norwegian Cruise Line and Sixthman announce fall and spring lineups for music festivals at sea

Norwegian Cruise Line and Sixthman, the industry leader in music festivals at sea, have announced the full line up of fall 2014 and spring 2015 festivals sailing from Miami onboard the beautiful Norwegian Pearl.  Each of these unique, music-themed cruises are sure to give fans an intimate experience with their favorite artists, featuring outdoor performances, meet and greets, personal Q&A sessions and much more. With artists ranging from Heart to KISS, to 311 and Kid Rock, there …

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Maine Cruise: Final day

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE-As our whirlwind week of cruising along the Maine coast nears an end, I want to take a moment before reporting on day 6 activities to tell you some things about our little ship – American Cruise Lines’ Independence – her officers and crew and the services they’ve provided during our all too brief voyage. Built in 2010 by ACL-affiliated Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp. in Salisbury, MD, the 194-foot, 104-passenger Independence (one of a 6-vessel ACL fleet) …

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Maine Cruise: Boothbay Harbor, ME

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE-Boothbay Harbor goes by the slogan “Boating Capital of New England,” and the sprawling harbor does indeed bustle with fishing vessels and pleasure craft alike. But the town is also becoming known as home to New England’s finest botanical gardens. Some experts name it one of the nation’s best. We visited Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on an ACL tour (a $45 option) with no idea of what to expect. After all, we’re in Maine – which …

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Maine Cruise: Days 4-5 – Camden and Rockland, ME

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE- Known by its slogan “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea,” Camden is yet another quintessentially pretty New England village. Set against the backdrop of the Camden Hills, the town’s busy harbor is well-known as home to a fleet of tall-masted windjammers that ply Penobscot Bay for both day-trips and extended excursions. A large group of passengers chose to join a narrated bus tour (a $55 option) featuring a visit to Camden Hills State Park where …

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Maine Cruise: The towns of Castine and Belfast

ONBOARD THE INDEPENDENCE –– Castine (pop. 1,400) is today a serene little village, shaded by leafy elms and lined with lovely old buildings, but it has a long and tumultuous past. Owing to its location at the tip of a cape, surrounded on three sides by water – including the entrance to the Penobscot River – it was a strategic defense point and thus the object of geopolitical squabbles among several nations, including France, Britain and Holland …

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Maine coast cruise: Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park

ONBOARD THE INDEPENDENCE — Clearing weather and the excitement of our first day ashore for tours brought out nearly all of the ship’s 90+ passengers to join a two-bus convoy in Bar Harbor for a morning spin around Acadia National Park. Our driver/guide, Roger Keene, is a jovial, highly energized fifth-generation resident of Bar Harbor – or, as he phrases it in the local dialect, “Bah Hahba” – who has been leading tours of Acadia for 40 …

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