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Something for kids, something for adults

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CRUISE NEWS column

It has been another banner year for new cruise ships. The year isn't even half over and already I've been to four christenings and launches.

But things are about to change.

After a long run of new ships, the major lines are cutting back. Only Princess and Norwegian, of the majors, are christening new one-of-a-kind models. These are the prototypes for ships of this size in the future.

All cruise lines are working their torches off to build something new and different that will prompt you, the consumer, to choose.

The Royal Princess is coming in at 3,600 passengers and Norwegian's Breakaway, at 4,000.

If you have kids, of these two, Norwegian wins. Breakaway spells children. When the company's news release highlights five waterslides on the top deck, you know NCL is not after my demographic. Family is a vital market to Norwegian.

The Royal Princess aims at a more mature clientele and that's evident from plans for next summer's launch.

The Breakaway's top deck, on the other hand, will look like your local water park. The five waterslides will dominate the deck that will include a three-storey sports complex with a rope course, if that's your thrill. For the adults who pass on that, there will be a beach club, also on the top deck.

Racing slides, drop-through-the-floor slides, and side-to-side twisters will invite you to race your fellow passengers -- my back's hurting just writing about it.

If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it should. A few of these features are also on the Carnival Spirit.

It's not all water sports on the Breakaway. Rock walls are on the drawing board, as are myriad sports facilities. The beach club for adults comes with a fee. It's going to be similar to the one on the Epic with a movie screen, bar, hot tubs and loungers, and an outdoor dance club at night.

The more sedate Royal Princess is building a TV studio.

Located next to the piazza, its day will start with "The Wake Show" -- complete with studio audience. Please, no shouting that early.

The studio is also designed for cooking shows, the ever-popular contest shows and entertainment -- such as jazz performances, for example. Princess is referring to shows as "in the round" and "unplugged," which should mean an improvement in entertainment.

Next to the theatre will be a restaurant serving light goodies for those waking up for the morning show. Yes, coffee, too.

If used properly, the studio will be a welcome addition to a cruise ship. Also, Princess has announced its big-production theatre will be "pole-free," something you don't see on all ships. That, plus poolside cabanas, a glass-bottomed walking area over the sea, a much larger and more robust piazza, and a water and light show indicates Princess has a good handle on what its consumers are looking for and is putting it all into this first ship of its class.

There are other ships making their debut in 2013 but, of the North American brands, these will attract the most attention and the most publicity.

Still to come this year: the end of two series of ships. Celebrity will launch Reflection, the last of five Solstice-class ships, in the fall and Carnival ends its Dream series with the Breeze, coming next month.

-- Postmedia News

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil can be contacted

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 2, 2012 d2

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