Cruises in brief

The Baltimore Sun

Central Park at sea : Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that an area resembling New York's Central Park will be featured in the center of its Oasis of the Seas ship when it is delivered in late 2009 as the world's largest cruise vessel. Spanning the length of a football field, Central Park will include lush foliage, quiet walkways, restaurants, boutiques, an art gallery and a moving bar, the world's No. 2 cruise operator said. The area also will feature concerts and street performances, providing the feeling of an outdoor space on a 225,000-gross ton cruise ship that will carry 5,400 passengers and sail from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Central Park will be lined with 254 balcony staterooms and feature five eateries and two bars. One of the bars, called the Rising Tide, will ascend and descend three levels.

Big Band theme cruise : By day, Big Band enthusiasts on the Nov. 21-Dec. 1 Lisbon-Miami voyage of the Crystal Serenity can enjoy swing lessons, trivia contests, tea dances and classic Big Band-themed films, while at night they can dance to the sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. This "Big Band & Ballroom Dance" cruise also offers a salute to Frank Sinatra and the days of the Rat Pack, as well as offering related lectures on such topics as "Big Band Singers Who Became Legends." Calling in the Azores and also at Grand Turk, this trans-Atlantic voyage from Crystal Cruises is priced at $3,145 and up, plus $250 for port, security and handling charges. Extras include gratuities, fuel surcharges, shore excursions and transportation between home and the starting and ending ports. (888-799-4625; crystal

Bridging the gap : Just after the holidays, bridge players can work on their games during the "'Sectional-at-Sea' Bridge Cruise" organized by the American Contract Bridge League. Top bridge directors will be on board to deliver daily lectures on beginning, intermediate and advanced play. Duplicate bridge and social bridge will be fixtures each day, as will supervised play for beginners. Set for Jan 4-11 on Renaissance Cruises' Costa Fortuna, the voyage sails the waters of the western Caribbean round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; calling at Key West, Fla.; Grand Cayman; Roatan; Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. Prices start at $886 for an inside cabin, $986 for ocean-view accommodations and $1,136 for a balcony stateroom, including gratuities, taxes, fuel surcharges and bridge activities. Shore excursions and airfare between home and Fort Lauderdale are additional. (866-254-1095, ext. 6460;

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