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By: Carolyn Keating

Being the Cruise Capital of the World means there’s always something new happening at PortMiami, like the addition of Royal Caribbean International’s "Terminal A" -- a dazzling new structure with a 400- meter long berth space that will double the number of annual passengers at PortMiami to approximately 1.5 million.

While loyal cruisers spend lots of time keeping up to date on the latest perks their favorite cruise lines have unveiled for them to enjoy, we like to make things simple for Miami vacationers by providing the most recent cruise line news hitting PortMiami.

MSC Meraviglia

Proud to call PortMiami home, the 4,500 passenger MSC Meraviglia is the fourth largest cruise ship in the world and the largest for the MSC cruise line. MSC has always emphasized the "Mediterranean way of life" on its ships, but the Meraviglia adds a few atypical touches that up the ante, like the 12 distinct restaurants that include a teppanyaki restaurant and American steakhouse. Cruisers also have the opportunity to see the first ever Cirque du Soleil at sea. How cool is that?

The ship is also the most technologically advanced in the fleet, with its “MSC for Me” app to store all your personal details and preferences and let you make reservations onboard and shore excursions. The ship also has RFID wristbands, technology which will eventually replace ship ID cards. The wristbands allow entrance to your cabin and onboard purchases.

Norwegian Encore

The new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Encore sails weekly, seven-day Caribbean cruises each Sunday from PortMiami. Norwegian Cruise Line’s fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus Class is a lively blend of food, fun and entertainment. Imagine twisting and turning around a go-kart track over the ocean. You can do that on the Encore, along with other cool activities like Laser Tag and a truly mesmerizing virtual reality experience at the Galaxy Pavilion. Put your goggles on and feel as if you are hang-gliding, racing in a Formula One car or doing several equally adrenaline-filled adventures.

Eating well is also part of the Encore’s itinerary. More than 20 restaurants will please even the pickiest cruiser. At the District Brew House, choose from 50 different bottled and 22 draft beers, plus hand-crafted specialty cocktails. Check out the new Onda by Scarpetta (which has a Miami outpost at the Fontainebleau hotel). Other dining options include three main dining rooms, a help-yourself buffet and a variety of casual cafés, grills and on-the-go choices. Way up high on Deck 18, The Haven offers private dining for passengers who have cabins at this concierge level section of the ship.

As always, Norwegian’s entertainment lineup is top notch. Encore’s guests are able to enjoy the Broadway hit Kinky Boots (winner of six Tony Awards®). Overall, the Norwegian Encore is a high-energy ship that reaches sky high to thrill, pamper and surprise its guests.

Regent Seven Seas Splendor

It’s five-star luxury all the way on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, considered one of the world's most inclusive luxury cruise lines. The 735-foot Seven Seas Splendor is the newest jewel in Regent’s crown. And the future is clearly female with 30-year veteran Captain Serena Melani at Splendor’s helm and world-famous supermodel Christie Brinkley as her Godmother.

With 542 crew caring for 750 guests, the accent is on world-class service. Seven Seas Splendor features all-suite and all-balcony accommodations with stocked mini bars, fine linens, robes and slippers and spacious closets. Splendor’s longer itineraries will sail from PortMiami to destinations including Barcelona, New York, San Diego and the Caribbean.

A multi-million-dollar art collection of museum quality works is showcased throughout the ship. Pablo Picasso’s Le Taureau Noir hangs inside the Prime 7 steakhouse along with a work by Joan Miró. Sculpture and glasswork by noted artists draw one’s attention throughout the vessel. Chandeliers, too, are stunning works of art. Splendor’s amenities also include specially designed spa services and culinary demonstrations with master chefs. Guests can savor gourmet cuisine at Pacific Rim, a dramatic Pan-Asian restaurant; classic French fare with a twist at Chartreuse; or authentic Italian fare at Sette Mari at La Veranda, featuring stunning, over-water alcove seating.

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas underwent a $165 million renovation in 2019. Upgrades on the Oasis, which originally set sail in 2009, mean there’s something to wow everyone on this lollapalooza of a ship. Sporty fun includes The Perfect Storm waterslides and the tallest slide at sea, Ultimate Abyss. There’s also the Boardwalk, which boasts two rock climbing walls, a carousel, the AquaTheater, the Ultimate Abyss dry slide and the impressive Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. But wait … there’s more! The 5,606 passenger Oasis also boasts a kids’ splash park, two FlowRider surf simulators, a basketball court, a mini-golf course, a table tennis area, a teen club and a zipline. In short, it’s impossible to be bored while you’re aboard.

Of course, at some point, you’ve got to eat. In addition to some of the finest restaurants on the sea, you can grab a burrito at El Loco Fresh, the ship’s Mexican eatery, or bite into a bratwurst at the Boardwalk Dog House. Casual eateries abound, from spa cuisine for breakfast (Solarium Bistro) to Johnny Rockets, Starbucks, Portside BBQ and more. On a ship this big, it’s hard to go hungry.

For shops and bars, visit the Royal Promenade. If you need a mini break from all the action, check out Central Park, with its 12,175 plants and 56 trees. Central Park is open to the sky and, best of all, through the use of wind-controlling technology, there's a lovely breeze blowing through the area.

Scenic Eclipse

Scenic Cruise Line, which was founded in Australia, has made a big splash with its new Scenic Eclipse, billed as the World’s First Discovery Yacht. The goal is to provide a high level of luxury service while giving guests the opportunity to explore above and beyond what was previously imaginable on a cruise ship. It has a helipad (for helicopter tours) and a submarine (yes, you read that right) along with kayaks, e-bikes and other water toys. Built in 2019 and sailing seasonally from PortMiami, the Scenic Eclipse carries a maximum of 228 passengers.

The ship surrounds passengers with the sleekest finishes and finest furnishings. And yes, there’s Butler Service for everyone. Cabin niceties include nightly turndown, a fully restocked mini-bar, laundry concierge service, robes and slippers, comfy deck chairs, and spacious closets. Other amenities for living “la dolce vita” include Senses Spa, with a wide range of treatments, infra-red and Finnish sauna, spa and plunge pools. At the Yoga & Pilates room, you can join a meditation class and strengthen your core afterwards.

Ten dining venues include Lumière for contemporary French fine dining, the elegant Elements main restaurant or the Yacht Club and Azure Bar & Café for more casual fare. Midnight snackers can rest easy knowing there’s a robust 24 hour in-room dining menu. Eight bars and lounges serve everything from fine Champagne and Single Malt Whisky to refreshing mocktails.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages has selected PortMiami as its home port for its first cruise ship which will set sail in 2020. Expect the unexpected when the Scarlet Lady sets sail for the Caribbean. Inspired by the name of one of Virgin’s earliest airplanes, everything about the Scarlet Lady will be hip, modern and refreshingly different. Not surprisingly, the ship’s yachty exterior and cool-cat cabins boast a Richard Branson-style, James Bond chic.

Cuisine connoisseurs from NYC to London will be creating menus for restaurants including Pink Agave (upscale Mexican); The Wake (steak and seafood); Razzle Dazzle (haute veggie); and The Test Kitchen (cooking lab and restaurant). With music being an essential part of Virgin's DNA (think Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, and Spice Girls), look for celebrity DJs at The Beach Club at Bimini (the cruise line’s tropical island retreat) and many other onboard spots to feel the groove. How about a gym with liquid silver colored exercise balls? Yep, it’s true. What else is cool aboard Virgin Voyages premier ship? Squid Ink – the world’s first tattoo studio at sea.

The cruise line's three new mid-size ships are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Voyages plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with Sunday sail dates. Needless to say, Virgin’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, aspires to create a cruise line that will redefine cruising.

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