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Cruise News: RCCL Expanding with Univeral Orland

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Universal Orlando and Royal Caribbean International are expanding a 2-year-old partnership to include cruises out of Tampa.

The two companies said Monday they will begin selling vacation packages pairing three- or four-night stays at Universal Orlando with four- or five-night cruises aboard Royal Caribbean's 2,500-passenger Jewel of the Seas. Royal Caribbean plans to begin using Tampa as the ship's home port on a seasonal basis beginning in November.

Universal and Royal Caribbean already sell land-and-sea packages featuring four-, five- or seven-night cruises out of Port Canaveral. The two companies are following a model created by the Walt Disney Co., which has for more than a decade sold packages combining visits to Walt Disney World with voyages aboard Disney Cruise Line.

For Royal Caribbean, the expanded deal with Universal is another move into Disney's lucrative family-cruise niche. The Miami-based cruise operator last year struck a separate deal with DreamWorks Animation to outfit some of its ships with characters from animated movies such as "Shrek" and "Madagascar," much the way Celebration-based Disney Cruise Line features popular children's characters such as Buzz Lightyear and Donald Duck

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