Even with a still struggling economy cruise lines must be the ultimate optimists. Some lines are introducing bigger and better ships with bold new features and innovative designs.
Most spectacular among the new vessels is Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Breakaway, which debuts in April. At more than 146,000 tons, the ship has 18 decks and is designed for 4,000-plus passengers. A quarter-mile long outdoor "boardwalk" features dining venues and lounges, connecting to a three-deck atrium with more restaurants, shops and casino.
NCL has come up with more ways to tempt passengers' palates with its new Ocean Blu (sic) on the Waterfront, featuring a raw bar and sushi bar. Craving gelato? You can get it on board.
Cabins are a clean Scandinavian design. Travelers with deep pockets can take advantage of The Haven, a complex of 42 suites with its own exclusive restaurant, gym, sun deck and pool. And good news for families with three children. NCL has set aside a few cabins that accommodate five, instead of the traditional four-berth staterooms. Like NCL's Epic, there are 59 cabins exclusively for singles.
Kids can enjoy their own Aqua Park and interact with Nickelodeon characters during the cruise.
The Spa offers cardio equipment, weights and spinning classes to help work off those excess calories.
Breakaway will sail to Bermuda and the Bahamas from Florida. Her sister ship, Norwegian Getaway, will be launched in April 2014.
For more information, go to www.ncl.com.
Next: A new Royal Princess