July 20, 2024
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Set sail on these adventures around the globe

By Elizabeth Armstrong

Vacations Magazine: Cruising
Star Clippers
Soar down a big slide. On average, it takes 13.14 seconds to slip along the spirals of the Ultimate Abyss, a 10-story slide at the aft of the Harmony of the Seas. The stainless steel structure on the newest liner from Royal Caribbean International features a nearly 92-foot drop and has been deemed "the most thrilling man-made adventure at sea" by British professor Brendan Walker, an aeronautical engineer and theme park consultant who tested the reactions of 10 people who braved the Abyss. The 5,200-guest Harmony of the Seas embarks on weeklong Caribbean voyages from Fort Lauderdale, FL, priced from $739.

Sleep under the stars. By day, the Balinese Dream Beds on Deck 6 of the two 112-passenger vessels of SeaDream Yacht Club serve as prime perches for sunbathing, reading or gazing at lush, green isles (the beds are elevated above the deck railing for unobstructed views). By night, these cozy spots for two can be made up with linens, pillows and duvets for an alfresco slumber. Reserve one early in your cruise; for the most quiet and private nook, ask for the extra-large bed at the front of the ship. Seven-night trips to the Caribbean start at $2,799.

Lap up the luxury for less. On a glittering night last July, Princess Charlotte of Monaco smashed a bottle of Veuve Clicquot bubbly against the hull of the Seven Seas Explorer. It was a glamorous launch for the latest ship from Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which spent more than $450 million on its construction, said to be the highest price paid for a luxury liner. On board, you'll find a superb art collection, hundreds of crystal chandeliers and one of the highest space-per-passenger ratios in the industry. This six-star retreat comes with hefty fares, but discounts of up to 70 percent help ease sticker shock. Plus, rates include all drinks, tips, shore excursions, Wi-Fi and more. Pricing starts at $4,699 for Mediterranean getaways.

See celebrity talent. A Carnival Cruise Line concert series showcases big names in onboard theaters on select sailings. Country music artists Tim McGraw and Little Big Town and comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Jay Leno are slated to entertain on Carnival ships in the Caribbean and the Bahamas during the first half of 2017. General admission tickets start at $30, while VIP packages with meet and greets and premium seating begin at $100. Prices for these special departures start at $279.

Hoist the sails. Star Clippers' masted tall ships are modeled after famous 19th-century clippers, operating under wind power whenever possible. Passengers can honor this seafaring heritage by climbing the mast to the crow's nest to survey the horizon, visiting the bridge to chat with the captain or helping the crew work the rigging to raise those sails. The vessels carry 170 or 227 guests and call at towns and harbors that larger liners can't access. This summer, sample a Greek Isles itinerary priced from $1,650.

Get to know the local culture. Fire dancers twirl their flaming batons on a French Polynesian islet, a chef illustrates the art of making pesto at a villa on Italy's Ligurian coast, Moroccan hosts invite visitors to sit down to a meal under ocean-facing tents in the fishing village of Taghazout -- these are examples of the complimentary, private onshore events that Windstar Cruises organizes for guests. Focusing on food, performances and traditions, they're designed to convey an authentic experience. See the fiery South Pacific display -- and enjoy a feast on the beach -- on weeklong journeys from Papeete, Tahiti, priced from $1,979.

Walk the plank. The Norwegian Escape dares Norwegian Cruise Line passengers (safely harnessed, of course) to step out over the waves and onto a 6-inch-wide beam that extends 8 feet beyond the hull's edge. There are two planks, each elevated 20 stories above the ocean, and they are part of a three-story ropes course that's said to be the largest at sea. In all, 99 different elements challenge the fearless on this heart-pumping attraction. Rates start at $519 for seven-night tropical outings from Miami.

Have a night out. Azamara Club Cruises emphasizes destination immersion, scheduling longer stays -- and sometimes overnights -- in ports to encourage passengers to go out and explore. Plus, every trip (except trans-Atlantic crossings and itineraries of fewer than seven nights) features a complimentary AzAmazing Evening. Listen to tenors belt out Enrico Caruso favorites in Sorrento, Italy; watch a display of Kandyan dance in Colombo, Sri Lanka; or learn about the customs of the Zalabia Bedouins in the Wadi Rum desert of Jordan. Azamara's two 690-guest ships sail to a diverse array of locales, with seven-night Med meanderings starting at $1,574.

Cook something up. Get expert tips in making savory Asian dumplings or rolling out perfect pie dough in the Culinary Arts Centers of Holland America Line, which has teamed up with "America's Test Kitchen." Broadcast on public television, the show offers instruction based on hours of meticulous testing and scientific research, and it will bring its no-nonsense approach to seagoing cooking demos and hands-on workshops. The program debuted on the Westerdam last October and will roll out fleetwide by June. Savor flavors on and off that ship during Mediterranean escapes priced from $699.

Deck the halls with Disney. Disney Cruise Line celebrates the season with its "Very Merrytime Cruises" to islands in the Caribbean and Bahamas. Marvel at a 24-foot Christmas tree, delight in a giant gingerbread house, decorate stockings and snap pictures of Mickey, Minnie and other classic characters in their finest holiday attire (Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be there, too). Voyages over Dec. 24 and 25 have more Yuletide perks, like caroling sessions with the crew. The four-ship fleet embarks on these themed sailings from Nov. 10 through Dec. 24, with rates from $611 for three nights.

The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in Winter 2017. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.

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