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New liners prepare for Independence Day

Two new passenger liners are set to celebrate their inaugurations this July 4, in lavish ceremonies in New York and Venice.

Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed some of the high-tech on-board features available for guests of the Norwegian Epic, which is to be christened in New York next week.

The 153,000 ton liner, which will host the Macy's 34th Annual 4th of July Fireworks event next week (broadcast nationally in the US on NBC, beginning at 9 pm ET.), has already sailed several preview cruises ahead of the naming event on July 2.

From cabin high-definition television, guest can watch on-demand movies, make reservations for performances, book shore excursions and gamble without even leaving their rooms, thanks to the DigiCasino function which allows passengers to play the slot machines and video poker.

Guests will also be automatically identified in every photo taken of them on board, which Norwegian says allows easier ordering of cruise memories.

On boarding the ship, a photo is taken of every guest and linked to their account, allowing facial recognition software to identify each face on board and present it to passengers through an on-board kiosk that allows printing.

Music-minded guests are well catered for, with a Gibson guitar and amp set, complete with headphone to avoid disturbing others, that will be available for rental for $10 (€8.15) per day.

The ship also boasts a 2 ton LED chandelier, 21 feet high and nearly 11 feet wide (6.4 m by 3.4 m) (making it the largest chandelier at sea) which comprises 40,000 crystal glass pieces, 10,000 light-emitting diodes and 112 crystal encrusted balls which took three weeks to install.

While Epic hosts a fireworks display in New York, Holland America's new ship Nieuw Amsterdam will be named in a glittering ceremony of its own in Venice, Italy.

Princess Maxima of the Netherlands will name the ship on July 4, before it sets sail on its inaugural voyage to the Mediterranean.

The 2,106-guest Nieuw Amsterdam features 11 guest decks and seven restaurants.