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The Next Wave In Cruise Ships

By Sean O'Neill
October 3, 2012
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Courtesy <a href="http://www.princess.com/learn/ships/rp/index.html">Princess Cruise Lines</a>

What will be new in cruise ships for 2013? Here's a sneak preview of Norwegian Breakaway and Royal Princess, plus an update on little known Azamara Club Cruises.

Norwegian Breakaway

In May, Norwegian Cruise Line launches its twelfth ship, a 4,000-passenger beauty. The Breakway's home port will be New York City. The vessel will sail 44 trips a year, visiting ports in Bermuda, the Bahamas and Orlando [CLARIFCATION: Aug. 19. meaning nearby Port Canaveral, Fla.].

One of the ship's specialties is entertainment. Expect Broadway-style shows, such as the 80’s-inspired rock musical "Rock of Ages," and a Cirque du Soleil type extravaganza.

The ship will be unique in offering open-air seating for eight of its optional restaurants, such as one created by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. These restaurants will be part of an oceanfront, three-story boardwalk.

Royal Princess

With 3,600 berths, the ship is Princess' largest ship to date and arrives June 2013. Some perks include an upper-deck pool exclusively for adults, a glamorous piazza-style atrium that's 50 percent larger than on other Princess ships, and the largest-ever Movies Under the Stars screen.

Most eye-catching of all is the glass-bottomed enclosed walkway that cantilevers over the side of the ship's upper decks. Passengers can look straight down to the ocean 28 feet beneath them.

The new cruise line many people don't know about

Azamara Club Cruises

This brand, launched in 2010 by Royal Caribbean Cruises, stands out from competitors in a critical way: It stays overnight in port much more often than the average ship, giving guests more of a chance to explore destinations. This matters because Azamara travels to unusual ports, from the Isle of Skye to Israel's coastline.

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Growing up, I was the resident contrarian at my house, and nothing brought out this tendency more than family vacations. My parents took us to Washington, D.C., to meet one of our senators and get a tour of the Capitol and I insisted on a side trip to, of all places, the Pentagon. (Sorry, I was a little boy. And I lost that argument, by the way.) Two weeks on Martha’s Vineyard? I was perfectly content to skip drop&ndash;dead&ndash;gorgeous South Beach and read Bleak House in a comfy chair at our rental home. So, when my siblings recently suggested that we attempt a “family reunion at sea,” booking a cruise that would include my parents along with all of their adult children, significant others, and grandkids, I was the one who raised the annoying questions: Seriously, all of us? On a boat? Where? When? How? It occurred to me that my favorite travel experts, Budget Travel readers, could slap some sense into me on this topic. Have you ever organized&mdash;or even just attempted to organize&mdash;an extended&ndash;family cruise? I’d love to hear your success stories: How did you get the ball rolling? How did you accommodate special needs like handicap access and dietary restrictions? How did you manage to keep the seventy&ndash;somethings, the preschoolers, and everyone in between literally and figuratively onboard? And, of course, my inner contrarian is just as interested in hearing about the quirky, unexpected, and, as we say in BT’s True Stories section, just plain bizarre. &mdash;Robert Firpo&ndash;Cappiello MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Secrets to the 10 Most Popular Cruise Ports 10 Common Cruise Myths&mdash;Debunked 12 Top Tips from the World's Best Cruisers

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