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Five Big, Bad Sparkly New Cruise Ships

You may have seen the news of the Disney Dream as it pulled into its home in Port Canaveral, Fla. this week. With this news and the New Year, it’s prime time to recognize the industry’s newest ships. They’re big; they’re bad (and by that I mean awesome!); and they sparkle like a shiny new ship should.

Disney Dream

This ship brings the magic of Disney to the sea. It was built with families in mind, and features the very first water coaster at sea. Other amenities include three pools, including one for adults-only, live shows, 3-D movies and parties for the entire family. Sailings start at $372 per person.


Disney Dream Teen Club

Disney Dream’s Teen Club

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas

Making headlines as the world’s largest ship, this cruise features entertainment that rivals Broadway. See the How to Train Your Dragon Ice Show and Madagascar Aqua Show while on-board, or take a stroll through Central Park. Sailings start at $709 per person.

Allure of the Seas

Celebrity Eclipse

A fantastic cruising option for adults, this new ship is known for its 5-star amenities. Its design is sleek and cosmopolitan, catering to a well-traveled cruiser. The ship features dining options from around the world; a hip internet cafe that also offers classes; and a first class spa. Sailings start at $497 per person.

Norwegian Epic

Touted as the Las Vegas of the sea, cruisers can watch Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams or celebrity impersonations from Legends in Concert. There are more than 20 dining options, entertainment for the kids and beautiful, comfortable accommodations. Sailings start at $399 per person.

Norwegian Epic Ice Bar

Carnival Dream

Known as the ultimate fun ships, Carnival prides itself in providing levels of entertainment that everyone can enjoy. It features adult-only areas such as its Serenity Retreat along with family fun zones such as its WaterWorks park. Sailings start at $429 per person.

Carnival Dream's Carnival WaterWorks


Carnival: Book Early and Save up to 20% (Travelocity)

Cruise Ship Firsts Through History (AOL Travel)

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My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

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