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Cruise Report: New European products

SeaDream Yacht Club has released its European voyage schedule for May through October 2013. SeaDream I and SeaDream II will sail to Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, Malta and Portugal. New routes and destinations include Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia.

Crystal Cruises is featuring Croatian noble lands, Crimean Tartars’ stomping grounds, the art worlds of Madrid and Odessa, Ukraine, Italian Riviera cliffs and Dubrovnik, Croatia, by air in more than 45 new Crystal Adventures Mediterranean shore outings. Similarly, Crystal’s guests in northern Europe will be able to hike, drive, ride, fish, climb, sail, row, bob, fly or surf in locales from western France up to the Arctic Circle and over to Iceland.

In the summer of 2013, Celebrity Cruises will offer cruises and cruise-tours on six ships, visiting 25 countries from seven departure ports and a total of 88 destinations in Europe alone, six representing Celebrity “firsts.” First-time destinations include Liverpool, England; Waterford, Ireland; Torshavn, Faroe Islands; Varna, Bulgaria; Sevastopol, Ukraine; and Kristiansand, Norway.

Cunard Line has announced its 2013 Voyage Programme, offering 106 sailings visiting 99 ports in 35 countries. Highlights include several maiden calls and overnight stays and multiple departures for its most popular itineraries, including the St. Petersburg and Baltic Explorer, the Fjords and Waterfalls, and the Greek Isles and Mediterranean Treasures voyages.

Silversea Cruises is rolling out several new shore excursions in the Mediterranean and northern Europe designed for travelers with a passion for fine food and wine. New options include a sunset stroll and wine tasting in one of Croatia’s largest vineyards, a hands-on lesson in Ukrainian cooking and a lunch at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Bordeaux, France.

Seabourn has unveiled its 2013 Europe season featuring more than 100 departures aboard its six all-suite ships and visiting many of Europe’s captivating cities and hidden gems. From resorts on the Mediterranean coast to the polar ice pack in the Arctic Ocean, the line’s vessels will carry travelers to more than 180 ports on voyages ranging from seven to 21 days in length.

Leading Windstar Cruises’ new offerings for 2013 are two 11-day voyages, Footsteps of Faith, exploring origins of world religions between Athens, Greece, and Alexandria, Egypt, and Scandinavian Tapestry, which includes scenic sailing in the Norwegian fjords and Stockholm archipelago. New voyages also include explorations through the British Isles, the French coasts and the Canary Islands.

Scenic Cruises’ fleet of Space Ships will be extending their services to France with the deployment of the Scenic Emerald for new itineraries beginning April 2013 on the Rhone and Saône rivers in the south of France. Guests will not only visit a variety of ports but will also be privy to exclusive cultural immersion in each that ranges from a home-cooked traditional meal in a local French home to a visit to a farm in La Camargue and a guided tour of the Palais des Papes in Avignon.

Continued expansion at MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises has finalized negotiations with STX France and signed a contract to take over a 139,400-ton cruise ship following the termination of the agreement with the original owner. The new ship will be named MSC Preziosa and will become the 13th addition to the MSC Cruises fleet, as well as the fourth vessel in its series of Fantasia-class ships.

MSC Divina, sister ship of MSC Preziosa, will be christened this May. MSC Preziosa, scheduled to be delivered in late March 2013, will boast 1,751 staterooms, 17 guest elevators and 14 guest decks. Facilities will include four main restaurants, 21 bars, a casino, four swimming pools, 12 whirlpools, minibowling, a sports area with game courts, a fitness center, a children’s area and the MSC Aurea Spa.

MSC is also introducing new Red Sea itineraries for 2012-2013, creating a unique opportunity for guests to experience this famed historical region. On Nov. 2, 2012, MSC Armonia will depart Venice, Italy, on an eight-night cruise to her new homeport of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with stops in Ancona, Italy; Heraklion, Greece; and Marmaris, Turkey, as well as a transit of the Suez Canal. The ship will then begin a series of weekly roundtrip seven-night cruises from Nov. 10, 2012, through April 6, 2013, each stopping at Safaga, Egypt; Elat, Israel; Aqaba, Jordan; and Sokhna Port, Egypt.

Natural beauty, rich history and culture, relaxation and adventure will all be available through a diverse choice of activities and options on these sailings. Although beaches and crystal clear waters in the area are ideal for sunbathing and discovering underwater worlds, floating on the high-saline waters of the Dead Sea or taking a clay bath will also be available for the more adventurous.

Guests can ride desert trails in a Jeep or on a camel, sample local sweet tea at Bedouin settlements or experience rugged wilderness and endangered wildlife in the Arava Valley or Timna Park. Other sightseeing options include visits to Mount Sinai; the Wadi Rum Valley; the famed World Heritage Site of Petra, Jordan’s incredible rose-red city; Saladin’s Citadel; and Egypt’s pyramids.

A fly-and-drive tour to Jerusalem will also be offered for a close-up look at the Holy City.