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Cruise News: Celebrity Refreshes Two Ships and Opens Bookings for 2017

Plus: Lindblad Expeditions equips for great adventures, SeaDream Yacht Club adds a private jet tour of Africa, and AmaWaterways uncorks more wine themes

Chef-led shore excursions, experiences curated by regional destination experts, and locally sourced food and entertainment are fresh developments at Celebrity Cruises. The line is opening its 2017 itineraries for booking, starting with Alaska, Bermuda, and Canada/New England.

Two ships—Celebrity Infinity in Alaska and Celebrity Summit in Bermuda and Canada/New England—are part of a $16 million refresh initiative. Following its just-completed $8 million upgrade, Celebrity Infinity sports a new rooftop terrace with an outdoor movie screen, chic furniture, and food for purchase. Imagine lounging up top, snuggled under a blanket, as the ship sails through the white nights in Alaska.

From Vancouver, British Columbia, Celebrity Infinity will sail weekly round-trips to Hubbard Glacier. The Seattle-based Celebrity Solstice will visit Tracy Arm Fjord on seven-night round-trips. And Celebrity Millennium will cruise between Vancouver and Seward (the port for Anchorage), also in seven nights. Throughout, one of the line’s new resident naturalists—a group of noted marine biologists, adventurers, and wildlife researchers—will share scientific and experiential insights. Shore excursions include a trip to an organic farm, an exploration of Skagway’s history, a tour through a local brewery to a cooking school, and a crab and seafood feast.

Two new Celebrity cruise-tours, which pair a cruise with a land program, are the 10-night Authentic Tastes of Alaska, focused on indigenous foods and their place in culture and history, and the 12-night Great National Parks Expedition in Denali and Kenai Fords national parks.

Meanwhile, Celebrity Summit will continue to sail the line’s weeklong Bermuda cruises from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey. That ship’s $8 million makeover this March is going to add a rooftop terrace, like the one aboard Celebrity Infinity, and a Tuscan Grille specialty restaurant.

A nine-night Signature Event Sailing on June 18, 2017, puts Celebrity Summit in Bermuda for the America’s Cup. Another new nine-night route combines Bermuda and New England.

Regional destination expert Dr. Ellen Prager, a marine scientist and author, is designing programs about Bermuda’s natural wonders, and new excursions include an organic farm tour and a hike along the historic Railway Trail.

Celebrity Summit’s 2017 Canada/New England cruises sail round-trip from Bayonne’s Cape Liberty and give two overnights in Québec City, where excursions include a walking tour that ends with tea at the stately Chateau Frontenac. Among the other stops are Bar Harbor, Maine, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. A 10-night Signature Event Sailing on June 27, 2017, has an overnight stay at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s 150th birthday, and an overnight at Boston on U.S. Independence Day.

Lindblad gears up for adventure

Hydrophones that capture whale and sea lion vocalizations. Underwater, bow-mounted cameras that track dolphins and schools of fish. Video microscopes to discover what lives in a drop of water. All are standard equipment aboard the National Geographic–flagged ships of Lindblad Expeditions, which takes its adventures seriously. The company just inked a contract to build a pair of small vessels that will add further exploration tools, including a remotely operated vehicle and full warm- and cold-water diving gear. They’ll also be stocked with sea kayaks, paddle boards, and specially designed landing craft to access wild, remote places. The 100-passenger ships will be built near Seattle, and are scheduled to begin traversing the Americas in 2017 and 2018.

New AmaWaterways offerings: Rhine, wine, and Romania

A new vessel for the Rhine River, more wine-themed voyages, and a Bucharest stay are highlights of AmaWaterways’ 2017 season in Europe. AmaKristina will service the Rhine with rooms that can sleep more than two people and connecting cabins, making it easier to accommodate the line's growing popularity with families. Wine themes will be uncorked on 44 departures across a variety of destinations. The seven-night “Taste of Bordeaux,” for example, travels through one of France’s most noted wine regions, with stops along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Expert hosts—many of them, winemakers—tastings, and tours are part of all the wine cruises. Another new AmaWaterways offering is a two-night land extension in Bucharest, Romania’s historic capital.

Broaden your horizons on SeaDream’s jet-packed cruise

SeaDream Yacht Club teamed with TCS World Travel, a private jet tour operator, on a fabulous trip that combines a Mediterranean cruise with a journey by jet around Africa. It is rich with possibilities, from driving a Ferrari in the south of France to observing mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Travelers can explore the 17th-century Château de Flaugergues while sipping a glass of wine from the chateau’s vineyard, where grapes have been grown since Roman times. In Botswana's Okavango Delta, they can seek the highly endangered cheetah and white rhinoceros. In Morocco, a trek into the Atlas Mountains to meet a rural chieftain promises a glimpse of another vanishing treasure, traditional Berber society. The 20-day program in May 2017 visits eight countries and is priced starting at a cool $107,000.

Anne Kalosh doesn't count the cruises she’s taken, though there have been hundreds—including five years as a shipboard newspaper editor, sailing the world. She loves the experiences sea travel offers. Her byline has appeared in many major publications, and she's on top of the latest cruise developments as the long-time U.S. editor for Seatrade-Cruise.com and Seatrade Cruise Review.