Are Cruise Lines Abandoning Florida this Summer?
Family Cruise Summer 2011
Arthur Frommer's weekly column took note of an interesting development in Caribbean cruises this coming summer. Arthur takes note that four major cruise lines; NCL, Princess, Holland America and Celebrity will not be cruising to the Caribbean from the main Southern Florida ports of Fort Lauderdale or Miami in the summer of 2011.
Only one cruise line, NCL, responded to the article by announcing that one of its ships will remain in a Florida port throughout the summer, but that port is Port Canaveral, not one of the Southern Florida hubs of Fort Lauderdale or Miami.
This means that only two cruise lines, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, will be offering Caribbean cruises from Southern Florida this summer. That is a pretty drastic seasonal change considering how much Caribbean cruising originates from Southern Florida during the winter months.
But there has never been a year with the dynamic duo of Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Allure of the Seas, the two largest cruise ships in the world, sailing out of Fort Lauderdale week after week before. Add Norwegian Epic sailing out of Miami and you have a lot of capacity, over 15,000 passengers per week on just three ships. Perhaps this is the reason why NCL has decided to send Norwegian Epic to Barcelona this June instead of staying in Florida.
Arthur has an interesting theory about these changes. He says "in my view the American public has grown tired of Caribbean ports (like St. Thomas) that have been converted into giant shopping malls. They have wearied of being dumped on artificial private beaches in which the only local residents are employees of the cruise line; there is consumer fatigue with fake villages owned by the cruise lines but passed off as authentic Caribbean cities."
Now one of the examples Arthur uses as one of these "fake Caribbean cities" is Falmouth, Jamaica. In fact, Falmouth is not only a real city; it is one of the oldest in the Caribbean, founded in 1769. And while it is true that Royal Caribbean is rebuilding parts of the city to restore the look of its authentic colonial heritage, the city is still already considered to be one of the best preserved Caribbean towns from the Georgian era in existence. I also doubt that there is any cruiser fatigue towards visiting Falmouth since no cruise line is scheduled to even start visiting the city until this coming January.
We like to kid Arthur as a "Cruise 1.0" reporter. Still, He is correct about cruise lines abandoning the Caribbean this summer. But I think there is a better reason for Celebrity, Holland America, Princess and even Norwegian Epic to be headed overseas this summer - continued and growing weakness in the American dollar. The Euro is trading close to $1.40 and climbing, while the "Aussie" and "Loonie" (Australian and Canadian dollars) have rarely been stronger, trading almost on par with our greenback.
So, what does this mean to you, average cruiser? That Caribbean cruises may not be a bargain this summer, despite the weak economy. Unlike past years when the cruise lines seemed to be counting on an economic recovery by summer, this year they are not. In fact, cruise prices seem to be heading higher this summer in most regions, and not because of any economic recovery, but because the lines have an entirely different deployment schedule than past years. They are betting heavily on Europe.
So, if you do want to go to Europe this year you will have plenty of options: Royal Caribbean alone has Vision, Splendour, Grandeur, Adventure, Mariner, Navigator, Voyager and Liberty of the Seas over there.
Fans of Carnival can take the brand-new Carnival Magic from Barcelona to Monaco, Florence, Rome, Naples, Sicily, Mallorca and Marseille. Nine-day cruises start as low as $999 with balcony cabins selling for $1499.
Even Disneyphiles can sail the Mediterranean on Disney Magic this summer. The 10 night cruise begins in Barcelona and sails to Malta, Tunisia, Naples, Rome, Florence, Corsica and Monte Carlo, starting at $2944 (inside) with balcony staterooms from $4223.
June through August, Norwegian Epic will be sailing out of Barcelona to Florence, Rome, Naples and Mallorca. Prices start at $899 with balcony staterooms at $1149.
But don't expect Caribbean summer cruise prices to be cheaper this year. You can take your kids on a seven-day Caribbean cruise this summer on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas starting at $999 per person, or sail on the magnificent new Oasis of the Seas for $1495 per person in a balcony stateroom. Either will give you a chance to see Falmouth, Jamaica.
Or you can take Carnival Dream, the sister ship to Carnival Magic, sailing out of Port Canaveral on seven-day Eastern or Western Caribbean cruises starting at $799 with balcony staterooms at $1079.
To discuss Arthur Frommer's Article, go here:
Summer Caribbean Cruises - Arthur Frommer.
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