Barcelona will be extremely busy this summer!
Where to Put These Ships?
Is it possible the cruise industry is finally running out of places to put ships? Or have certain regions just become far more popular? This winter, the Caribbean will be more crowded than ever before, and this summer Barcelona will have fifteen different ships.
Florida Seeing a Glut of New Ships
Beginning with the new year, Wave Season is the period when cruise booking activity increases as the holiday rush ends and we enter the winter doldrums. The second week in January, referred to as "Wave Week," is traditionally considered an indication of how the rest of the year will go.
This week, Mike Driscoll's industry insider newsletter, CruiseWeek, says one Wall Street Analyst, Raymond James, has already reported a brighter outlook for summer cruises in Europe and Alaska, but they say the Caribbean, which was especially strong two years ago, is entering a period of weakness in pricing.
Of course, it is important to note that capacity in the Caribbean has risen drastically since 2009 with the addition of four brand new, "biggest of the fleet" megaships sailing out of Florida; Allure of the Seas (joining Oasis of the Seas) sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, Carnival Dream sailing from Port Canaveral and Norwegian Epic sailing out of Miami.
Between Oasis and Allure alone there are 10,800 berths to fill every week. Add Carnival Dream with 3652 berths and Norwegian Epic with 4100, and we now have 18,552 additional beds to fill each week in the Caribbean.
Knowing the cruising public will soon be in the mood to buy, some cruise lines have already announced wave season incentives. Holland America's annual "View and Verandah Sale" runs through February 28. The line is offering up to 50% savings on certain cruises, reduced deposits and free or reduced prices for third or fourth people sailing in a cabin. The sale includes all cruising regions through the winter and summer.
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is running its wave season sale through March 27, 2011; calling it the "Free Upgrades for All" Sales Event. All new reservations on select sailings on any of the line's 11 Freestyle ships will receive an upgrade up to four-categories, along with e-coupons in on-board savings worth up to $400. Starting January 3rd, NCL will start offering bi-weekly special offers on various ships and sailings. To receive these offers subscribe to the NCL newsletter.
Cruise pricing is always based on supply and demand, so the soft Caribbean pricing forecast was predictable. Summer provides come relief in the Caribbean, but only one of these megaships is leaving, Norwegian Epic is going to Barcelona this summer - and ironically sailing into another crowded market.
Barcelona Summer Cruise Bargains
Fifteen different cruise ships will be based in Barcelona this summer. Carnival will be introducing the sister ship to Dream, Carnival Magic, with a Barcelona launch in May 2011 and the ship will sail from the city all summer. Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas will join.
A quick check of current prices for 7-day Barcelona cruises shows Norwegian Epic to be the biggest bargain; selling as low as $799 per person for a balcony cabin. The ship sails to Livorno (for Florence & Pisa), and Civitavecchia (for Rome) and Naples, Italy. There is also stop in Mallorca. This is an enticing itinerary at a great price for a brand new ship.
By comparison, 7-day cruises on Liberty of the Seas are selling for a much higher $1399 (balcony) for a similar itinerary. Carnival Dream is offering longer cruises, the least expensive being a 9-night cruise starting at $1599 (balcony) also on a similar itinerary.
When you get into the longer cruises, which are more logical for Americans flying all the way to Europe, Carnival Miracle has a 12-night "Grand Mediterranean" cruise from Barcelona to Monte Carlo; Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Naples and Venice; Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia and Messina, Sicily. The cruise has balcony cabins for just $1879.
Moving beyond mainstream to premium lines, also sailing from Barcelona is the newest from Holland America, Nieuw Amsterdam, with a 12-night cruise for just $2399 (Balcony). Celebrity Solstice has 12-night cruises for $2569.
But I prefer the itinerary of the "Grand Mediterranean" cruise offered by the beautiful Ruby Princess sailing from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, Livorno (for Florence & Pisa), Civitavecchia (for Rome) and Naples, Italy. Then it's on to Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Kusadasi (for Ephesus) in Turkey; Athens, Greece; and ending in Venice, Italy. Be sure to book a hotel and spend extra time in Venice. This cruise starts at $1699 (inside) but has balcony cabins at $2899 per person.
Disney Magic (one of the older ships, not the new Disney Dream) has 10 and 11-night cruises for $2899 and $3159 (balcony).
If you are looking for more inclusive deluxe cruise you have Azamara (7-night $2699). Luxury cruises include Silversea (7-day $4893 or 10-day $5393; suite). Topping the bill is the 14-day inaugural cruise of Seabourn Quest sailing June 20 from Barcelona to France, Italy, Greece and Turkey; $7399 for a suite.
Discuss Seabourn Cruises here.
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