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Cruise Guide: Mass-market cruise lines ready for a busy 2006

By Michael Coleman

The world’s most popular mass market cruise lines are turning up the heat for your hard-earned vacation dollars in 2006. 

Look for competitive pricing, the debut of new itineraries and a slew of cruise industry firsts. 

Carnival is set to debut three- six- and eight-day Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale aboard Carnival Liberty  the only program of its kind from Port Everglades. Six-day cruises will sail on a western route while eight-day voyages alternate between the Eastern and Western Caribbean. 

Costa Cruises will sail to Bermuda from Fort Lauderdale in 2006. The voyages, which are available at the end of Costa Magica’s inaugural Caribbean season, depart April 21 and 28 and include overnight calls in Hamilton, Bermuda and Nassau. 

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder will embark on two special 10- and 11-night cruises from Port Canaveral to the Southern Caribbean on Sept. 7 and 17, marking the first time the line has offered cruises longer than three or four nights aboard the ship. 

MSC Cruises, meanwhile, has added a new dimension to its Panama Canal itineraries by adding Roatan Island, Honduras to MSC Lirica’s 11-night sailings out of Fort Lauderdale. Departures are available from Jan. 13 through April 11. 

Norwegian Coastal Voyage (NCV) will be introducing a four-night Northern Lights Festival cruise this month aboard MS Trollfjord from Bergen to Tromso, Norway. Musical performances will be featured throughout Tromso. 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Jewel will sail in Europe for six months, featuring seven itineraries, six of which are offered on a one-time only basis. Sixteen seven-day itineraries will sail round-trip from Barcelona to Messina, Sicily; Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Florence; and Villefranche (Nice), France. 

When Crown Princess debuts this summer, the vessel will introduce Princess Cruises’ first-ever round-trip Caribbean sailings from New York. The inaugural season, beginning June 14, will feature nine-day round-trip voyages to both the Eastern and Western Caribbean and will include Princess’ return to Bermuda. 

A new summer itinerary aboard the 3,100-passenger Voyager of the Seas marks the first time Royal Caribbean will position a ship of this size in European waters. The seven-night itineraries, round-trip from Barcelona, will call at ports in France, Italy, Malta and Spain. 

Swan Hellenic will offer a 15-day Myths and Legends cruise in April that focuses on the mythology, culture and history of the Mediterranean, including legendary Troy and the Byzantine city of Istanbul. Minerva II will sail to lesser-known destinations in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. 

Carnival, Costa, Disney, MSC, NCV, NCL, Orient Lines, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Swan Hellenic, and the nine luxury and premium cruise lines spotlighted in this space last week, are members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The 19-member lines represent 97 percent of the cruise capacity marketed in North America.

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