(12:45 p.m. EST) -- Every week we catch wind of so much cruise news, we don't always know what to do with it all, but a few standout bits sometimes catch our attention. Here are some interesting snippets we think you might like to know about.
Joy and Harmony
Would you sail on the Apex of the Seas? What about the Joy of the Seas? Ships with those names may someday ply the world's oceans now that Royal Caribbean has filed trademark applications for them, plus three others: Spectrum of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Emblem of the Seas. Royal Caribbean has two unnamed ships in the pipeline.
Surcharges Go Up and Down
Norwegian Cruise Line just can't seem to find the right price point for some of its specialty restaurant and dining experiences. The exclusive, once-per-sailing Chef's Table (usually limited to about a dozen passengers) has raised its fee from $89 to $99 per person. Meanwhile, Geoffrey Zakarian's Ocean Blue, one of the line's newest dining venues, has again changed its price, this time from $49 per person to $39 per person. According to Christina Baez, a spokesperson for Norwegian, "We believed that lowering the price point would make that top-notch experience (Ocean Blue) available for more of our guests." The cover charges for other specialty dining venues such as Cagney's and Le Bistro have remained the same.
Terminal Expansion by the Bay
San Francisco celebrated the opening of a new cruise terminal at Pier 27 on Thursday. The new facility is located next to a new 2.5-acre park, and just a tad farther from Fisherman's Wharf attractions than the old Pier 35 terminal. Its state-of-the-art design incorporates lots of glass, and will have shoreside plug-in power for cruise ships. In 2014, both Princess and Holland America will have ships visiting the new pier.
Keepin' it Casual
Seabourn cruisers can start changing up their packing routines this October. The line will be rolling out a new simplified dress code, which allows jeans in all dining venues during the day and only requires jackets on formal nights. The revised policy includes two types of dinner attire: Elegant casual and formal. The first is standard for all dining venues except formal nights in The Restaurant. Men can wear slacks with a collared dress shirt or sweater and optional jacket, and women can wear slacks or a skirt with a blouse, a pantsuit or dress. On formal nights in The Restaurant, men may sport a tuxedo, suit or slacks, and a jacket is required. Women can choose between an evening gown and other formal apparel. The rollout is as follows: Seabourn Legend, October 17; Seabourn Sojourn and Spirit, October 20; Seabourn Odyssey, October 22; and Seabourn Quest, October 25.
Cruise Ship in the Window
Ocean Princess -- one of Princess Cruises' smallest ships, with just 680 passengers -- is being put up for sale, Carnival Corporation confirmed in their quarterly earnings call this week. Ocean Princess is one of the so-called R-class ships, which can also be found in the fleets of Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania Cruises. Should Ocean Princess be sold, the line will have only one R-class ship left, Pacific Princess. At this time, future itineraries are not affected. (Editors' note: It typically takes a long time for cruise ships to change hands and for purchases to be complete.)
Refer a Friend to Save
Friends and family are gold, not just because, well, they're your friends and family, but because when you refer them to American Cruise Lines you can save $500 per cabin on your next cruise. Part of the line's loyalty program, the Eagle Society, the new benefit also provides your referee instant Eagle Society status if they're traveling with you.
Laos Movin' On Up
When Laos Pandaw launches in November 2015, parent company Pandaw River Expeditions will become the first cruise line to offer a ship and itineraries in Laos. Laos Pandaw will sail through remote locations along the Mekong River. The new ship is part of a rapid expansion by the line, which launched three ships in 2014 and currently has plans to launch two ships in 2015.
Loire Or Bust
With its keel and midship blocks firmly in place, the first purpose-built river ship for the Loire River in France is under construction. MS Loire Princesse, which will be operated by CroisiEurope, is being assembled at the STX France Saint-Nazaire shipyard. It is scheduled for delivery in 2015. The 48-cabin ship will sail six- to eight-night cruises on the Loire River visiting regional attractions like Saint-Nazaire, Ancenis, Angers, the Chateaux of the Loire Valley, Saumur, Bouchemaine and Nantes.
--By Gina Kramer, Associate Editor; Brittany Chrusciel, Editorial Assistant; Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor; Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor; and Dori Saltzman, News Editor