Hot Topics/What's New
Royal Caribbean to Base Eight Ships in Europe in 2014 (cont.-)
...augment recently announced deployment by Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in Northern Europe. The 2014 Northern Europe cruises will open for booking on March 20, followed by Mediterranean cruises on March 28.
Liberty of the Seas will sail seven-night Western Mediterranean round-trips from Barcelona to Marseille and Nice, France; and Florence/Pisa (La Spezia), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples/Capri, Italy. Navigator of the Seas will homeport at Civitavecchia for a program of seven-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises to Sicily, Italy; Athens and Crete, Greece; and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey. This cruise can also be embarked in Messina, Sicily.
Serenade of the Seas will alternate 12-night cruises from Barcelona to the Greek Isles and Venice. From September, Serenade of the Seas will homeport in Venice and alternate 10-night Greek Isles and 11-night Greece and Turkey itineraries. Splendour of the Seas will homeport at Venice for its Europe season and alternate seven-night Greek Isles and Greek Isles/Turkey itineraries.
Jewel of the Seas will continue to sail seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan through October 2014, offering three itineraries.
Norwegian Launches Program for Children Six Months to Three Years
Norwegian Cruise Line is now offering a new program for children age six months to three years old. The “Guppies” program lets parents play sensory-based activities with their children, including art, “Rhyme Time,” and a mini-workout.
The line now is offering a Kid’s Sail Free promotion. For cruises booked March 18-23, kids age 17 and under sail free when sharing a state room with two adults on select departures.
Top Cruising Trends for 2013 - continued -
550 cruise specialists across North America. Cruise fares to Europe remain relatively low, but prices for the second half of 2013 may be rising, the survey found. With this in mind, The Cruise Shop is advising travelers to book at least eight months in advance.
Caribbean pricing for a seven-day cruise is virtually the same as last year, and seven-day Alaska cruises are up about $20 per person, per day, compared with cruises booked in 2011 for 2012.
The Caribbean, including the Bahamas, remains the leader as a cruise destination for travelers globally. The rest of the top 10 cruise destinations being booked for 2013 ranked in order, are Europe, Alaska, Bermuda, Hawaii, the Panama Canal and trans-Atlantic cruises (tie), the South Pacific/Australia, South America and Canada/New England.
The top five cruise destinations remain unchanged from 2012 to 2013. However, the Caribbean’s overall dominance fell slightly, from nearly 60 percent in 2012 to under 55 percent of total bookings for 2013 so far. The difference is made up by Europe climbing from 11 percent to 13 percent of the total, and Alaska climbing from 6.7 percent to 8.5 percent. Hawaii also inched up.
Trans-Atlantic sailings continue to gain favor -- they are tied for sixth place this year. These cruises, which showcase the romance and steep traditions of cruising, made their debut in the Cruise Trends top 10 in 2011 at ninth place, and climbed to eighth place in 2012. South America joins the top 10 for the first time in at least four years.
Bookings for Europe remain strong despite concerns over high airfares. When you couple the cost of the cruise, which is virtually an all-inclusive vacation, along with the airfare, you are looking at a vacation value that far exceeds what travelers to Europe could expect 20 years ago.
The magic number for booking a cruise prior to departure is just under nine months. That’s the average amount of time prior to their cruise that our clients book their vacations.The top five factors our agents hear from their customers regarding their reasons for taking a particular cruise are itinerary, price, cruise line, embarkation point and cruise ship. Other factors include accommodations available, such as a suite, balcony or concierge-level stateroom; onboard amenities, such as specialty dining or surfing simulators; and shore excursions available.
Popularity of New Destinations
Just a few decades ago, the vast majority of cruise ship passengers went to a mere handful of destinations, and there was very little flexibility available in this regard. Today, passengers are eager to venture beyond the traditional cruise routes. Many are excited about new ports of call, which can add something new to the itinerary.
Flexible Dining Programs
Part of the allure of cruises is having the opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy formal dining in the evenings. For some passengers, however, that idea is outdated. Many passengers would prefer an additional level of flexibility and the ability to choose when, where and with whom they share their meals. Many travellers really appreciate the trend of allowing passengers to have a more flexible dining program in 2013. Many cruises will let travellers make their own decisions about where to eat, and they will have the option of making up their mind at the last second rather than booking spots in advance.
Teen Programs On the Ship
Cruise programs for children are abundant on most cruises, but there is often a gap between the programs, which are geared toward those under the age of 13, and the adult activities. Thankfully, a number of ships are beginning to offer teen programs, which is looking like a big trend for 2013 in the cruising world.
Independent Offshore Excursions
Although it can be fun to join in on group excursions once travellers get to a specific port on your cruise, some passengers would prefer to be independent. A big trend for 2013 is allowing these passengers to have access to independent tours that are smaller and not full of other passengers, giving them a more local excursion.
Alternative Ports for Departure
Another big cruising trend for 2013 is the use of smaller ports, which are often more convenient for travellers. As a bonus, these smaller ports are being use along the cruise route, and they are often less commercialized and can give passengers a better look at the local culture of their destination.
In addition - there's some trends that are still going strong into the new year....for instance:
1. Travelers - more and more - are seeking more information about the green practices and environmental reputation of the cruise line they are sailing with, and the lines themselves are making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.
2. Some travelers are still seeking a way to “give back” and want to see how their tourism dollars are benefiting the local communities they visit. Many lines are offering the chance to help out a charity by participating in an onboard event or program, volunteering while in port, or by a direct donation to a worthy cause.
3. River cruising in the USA is still a hot commodity, and travelers wishing to to explore the heartland of America, taking in the unique beauty and history this region has to offer at the relaxed pace of a paddleboat river cruise now have another booking option- the Great American Steamboat Company.
4. The number of Americans with disabilities who are choosing to cruise is still rising. The cruise lines are implementing measures to ensure that this segment of the population enjoys an appropriately equipped and pleasurable voyage when cruising. Most vessels constructed over the last several years are likely to have purpose-built cabins, usually in more than one category. Many lines have also retrofitted their older ships to conform to current standards.
Check out our NEW Cruise Weddings page...see a brief overview of what's entailed.
Traveling Abroad While The U.S. Dollar Is Weak
The dollar, it seems, is weaker than ever. However, travelers can avoid being burdened with pricey places and still find authentic cultural experiences with great value in many parts of the world. With a little bit of planning, one can enjoy visiting multiple destinations where the dollar is attractive, and still gain precious cultural enrichment while traveling throughout the world.
If you are looking for a place to visit where the dollar is still strong - the following list represents some of the best places to consider, if you still want to travel out of the country. Several of these places are appealing because of the potential travel value:
Eastern Europe * Hong Kong * Vietnam * New Zealand * The Mediterranean * South America * The Bahamas * Mexico * Western Europe Rivers * London
We value each opportunity to help make each person’s journey one of a kind. From the moment you start your vacation planning and preparation, to the time you return home, our travel and cruise specialists are here to support you, helping you manage each detail of your holiday. Before, during and after your adventure, we are here for you.
Please contact one of our offices to see what's in store!
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