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Disney Fantasy to be christened Thursday; Royal Caribbean orders a new ship

DisneynycAmid the bad news that has dominated the cruise industry in the last week — a fire leaves the Costa Allegra stranded in the Indian Ocean; passengers on a Carnival Splendor shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta are robbed at gunpoint — come two hopeful signs:

Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Fantasy, arrived in New York Tuesday, where it will be christened Thursday.

And Royal Caribbean Cruises announced Wednesday that it has exercised its option to build another new ship, to be launched in spring 2015.

Although shipbuilding by the cruise lines has slowed considerably in the last few years, several of the larger lines — Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess — have ships on order or under construction for delivery in 2013 through 2015.

This year, three more new ships will be launched in Europe, then sail to Miami in November or December. The Oceania Riviera will be christened May 11 in Barcelona; the Carnival Breeze will sail in Europe beginning June 3; and the Celebrity Reflection will enter service in October.

In addition, two companies will launch steamboat cruises on the Mississippi River this year: The 436-passenger American Queen, a former Delta Queen ship now owned by the Great American Steamship Co., will be christened April 27 in Memphis, and American Cruise Line's 140-passenger Queen of the Mississippi, a new ship, will enter service in August. 

Thursday’s ceremony for the Disney Fantasy, the first christening of a Disney ship to be held elsewhere than Port Canaveral, is an acknowledgement of a new relationship between the line and New York. The Disney Magic, one of the line’s two smaller and older ships, will spend this summer in New York, cruising to eastern Canada and the Bahamas.

After the christening, the 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy will sail to Port Canaveral, where it will embark on the first of its week-long cruises to the Caribbean on March 31.

The new Royal Caribbean ship, as yet unnamed, will be built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany and will be the line’s second Sunshine-class ship. The first, now under construction, is to be delivered in fall of 2014. The two ships, smaller than Allure of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship, will hold 4,100 passengers.