Cruise ship to offer refunds to brides who get pregnant on board

Go forth and multiply

German company TUI Cruises is offering to refund the fares of brides who become pregnant while on its new liner, Mein Schiff, during their honeymoon cruise.

The vessel enters service in May.

The company, a joint venture with US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises, says the promotion backs a German Government campaign to lift the country's declining birth rate.

Brides claiming a fare refund will need to produce medical evidence.

Titanic redux

The sinking of the liner Titanic after it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic causing the loss of 1513 lives continues to fascinate the public.

A British travel company is capitalising on this attraction by recreating the ill-fated voyage on the 100th anniversary, in April 2012.

The Balmoral, a Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines vessel, will leave Southampton with 1309 passengers, the same number Titanic carried.

It will call at the Irish port of Cobh, where Titanic made its final call on April 11, 1912, and arrive at the exact location of the disaster on April14, the evening it occurred.

A memorial service will take place between 11.40pm, when the liner hit the iceberg, and 2.20am, when it sank.

From there, Balmoral will sail to Halifax, Canada, where 121 Titanic victims are buried, and then to New York.

UK travel agent Miles Morgan, whose company chartered Balmoral, says the voyage will be steeped in Titanic history, featuring original menus, music and dancing of the time and lectures by Titanic experts.

Although it's still three years away, the voyage went on sale recently with fares starting at £1999 ($4093), including air travel from New York back to Britain. See titanicmemorialcruise.co.uk.

Passenger record

If you sailed on Rhapsody of the Seas or Millennium while they were based in Sydney in recent months, you were among a record 50,000 or so people who boarded the two American liners during their October-to-April season.

That's the biggest passenger total their common owner, Royal Caribbean Cruises, has enjoyed since it launched Australian summer programs several years ago.

Rhapsody will return in October, with fares on sale from $1445 a person for 10-night cruises, including taxes and tips.

Behind the scenes

Another cruise operator is revealing some of what happens behind the scenes on its vessels, at a price.

Norwegian Cruise Line has launched two-hour and seven-hour tours costing $US55 ($77) and $US150 a person.

For that price, passengers will be able to take an insiders' look at meal preparation, visit the backstage areas of theatres, have a look at the laundry and drop in on the brain centre of the vessel, the bridge.

The longer tour includes a sushi-making demonstration and sake tasting. Also included are pre-dinner drinks and an evening meal in a restaurant that normally has a cover charge. Princess Cruises introduced shipboard tours last year.

Is reality TV moving into the cruise business?

A husband and wife who make a living out of trading insults on American airwaves will be part of the entertainment aboard a Crystal Cruises 12-day sailing leaving Venice for Athens on July28.

Mary Matalin and James Carville, famous in the US for their opposing political views, will debate some of the world's hottest topics during the sailing.

Fares start at about $US6000, with a $1000 shipboard credit for early booking.

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