May 09, 2007

Royal Caribbean Cruises launched a new brand on Friday, Azamara Cruises. The deluxe brand -- positioned between "upscale" and "luxury" categories, according to RCCL -- is represented by two 710-passenger ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, which formerly were owned by the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises. The Journey, which underwent a $19 million refurbishment, began sailing Sunday; its first cruise was from Bayonne, N.J., to Bermuda. The Quest will enter service in October. In addition to itineraries in the Caribbean and Europe, the ships will offer sailings in Asia and world cruises.

American Cruise Lines' newest vessel, the American Star, will debut in June. The 100-passenger ship sails June 2 for a seven-night maiden voyage on the Chesapeake Bay; from June 16 until Sept. 29, it will offer itineraries around Maine.