This Week in Cruise: New Year, New Ships

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Photo by Freeimages.com/Harmon Stinson

2016 has barely begun, and already cruise lines are making new announcements on new and newly refurbished ships. 

Carnival Corporation has announced that it has signed a memo of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build four new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in 2016. Two of the four new ships will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, and one will be built each for P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises. With the new agreement, Carnival Corporation has 17 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.

The new ships will be built at the Fincantieri shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, Italy, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020. The new ship for Princess Cruises will carry 3,560 passengers and will be its fourth "Royal Princess" class vessel, featuring the design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess, scheduled for delivery in 2017. Additionally, the two new ships for Costa Asia and new ship for P&O Cruises Australia will carry 4,200 passengers.

In expedition cruise news, Lindblad Expeditions has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement for the purchase of the Via Australis to be used for Galapagos Islands cruises. The company expects to take possession of the ship in the second quarter of 2016 and following a significant renovation will deploy the ship during the third quarter of 2016.

The purchase price for the ship is $18 million and Lindblad plans to spend up to $10 million to refurbish and outfit the ship immediately after closing. The ship will be rechristened to bear the National Geographic name. 

Finally, last week MSC Cruises officially opened sales to the general public for its new ship, the upcoming MSC Seaside. The new vessel will be the first in MSC's new Seaside class of cruise ships, and it will debut in December 2017. 

Sales are now open to the general public offering a special All-Inclusive Classic drink package, applicable to first and second guest in a stateroom on all seven night or longer MSC Seaside sailings for all bookings made by January 31, 2016. Voyagers Club Members will continue to receive their five percent discount plus All-Inclusive Classic drink package for bookings made through January 31, 2016. Prices start at $589 per person.

The ship will year-round from Miami on seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries. Guests sailing to the eastern Caribbean will visit destinations such as St. Thomas, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, while those heading to the western Caribbean will have the chance to explore Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cozumel, and the Bahamas. The first sailing will be the Christmas cruise of December 21, 2017.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest cruise industry news, trends and updates. 

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