Windsor Star

Cruise West closes down

- PHIL REIMER

Cruisers who like the smaller boats, the ones that navigate the ports where no big ships dare to go, were disappoint­ed when Cruise Wes t closed its doors this year.

Cruise West was a leader in small-ship cruising on rivers in the U.S. and were famous for their small-ship cruising in Alaska.

When the company shut down, the Spirit of Oceanus — the largest and most luxurious member of its fleet — terminated its world cruise in the Maritimes. While many attempts were made to find new financing, it didn’t happen and Cruise West embarked on the process of selling off the fleet.

Spirit of Oceanus was eventually sold to a Danish corporatio­n and now will sail with the well-known adventure cruise company, Quark Expedition­s, operating out of Toronto.

In the fleet you will find everything from nuclearpow­ered icebreaker­s to the Spirit of Oceanus, which is now sailing as Sea Spirit. Their ships, trips and pricing can all be found at quarkexped­itions.com.

The Sea Spirit is going through hull strengthen­ing and will be based in Ushuaia, Argentina, the farthest major southern city in South America and the ship’s home for proposed Antarctica cruises starting next month, according to the website.

The new owners describe Sea Spirit as the most luxurious of their adventure ships. The cabins are some of the largest you’ll find on any ship, at 235 square feet, and are loaded with amenities.

Sailing at the bottom of the world does not come cheap. Starting price on this one is $16,999 for 20 days.

Magic for kids

Fran Golden, in her AOL blog, suggests that kids won’t be sitting in a circle listening to a book being read when they get a look at the new Disney Dream’s high-tech, interactiv­e Magic PlayFloor. It’s a giant grid of 28 HD panels embedded in the floor or deck with actions controlled by your feet.

Some of the games, according to Fran, are so high on the fun metre that adults will wish they could participat­e. Will it work? According to Dean Orion, the show’s producer, the entire floor has been tested in a warehouse at Disney’s Imagineeri­ng Campus. The floor can be changed with the click of a button to offer a variety of games, including rope jumping, high-tech style.

Great news for people concerned about child obesity!

Disney has always led the way in family cruising, but Royal Caribbean — with the signing of DreamWorks and its characters — looks to be chasing that market, too. 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 directly at portsandbo­ws@gmail.com

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