200 miles north of the Port of Miami, Port Canaveral is the quiet contender when it comes to cruise ports. Port Canaveral and Port Everglades in Ft Lauderdale vie for the number two position behind Miami when it comes to the number of cruise passengers serviced every year.
While Ft. Lauderdale just inked a deal to bring the new 220,000-ton Royal Caribbean Genesis-class behemoths to Port Everglades when these ships are introduced in 2009 and 2010, Port Canaveral also revealed it has a few tricks up its sleeve yesterday.
Port Canaveral got its start when Premier Cruise Lines started using the port as its base of operations, offering three and four-day cruises in combination with Disney World vacations.
Just last month things did not look so rosy at Port Canaveral. The only mega-ship that sails from the port, Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas (140,000-tons) is scheduled to relocate to Los Angeles as a new permanent home port. As the port closest to Orlando (55 miles due west), it has a unique opportunity to attract visitors to Disney and other Orlando theme park vacations. But the Disney contract had expired and there was no assurance the line would continue to sail from there.
March 19 was good to Port Canaveral. First came word that Royal Caribbean plans to move Freedom of the Seas there in May of 2009. Freedom is currently one of the largest cruise ships in the world at 160,000-tons, and is a true attraction unto itself. The ship is newer and larger than Mariner of the Seas, and has additional onboard attractions like the flo-rider surf simulator, a longer atrium corridor, a bigger ice-skating rink and cantilevered hot tubs extending over the side on the top pool deck.
At nearly the same time, Disney announced that will homeport both of its two 122,000-ton Disney new builds to arrive in 2011 and 2012, respectively. These new Disney ships have the potential to be among the most exciting of the next generation of ships arriving in the next five years. Even though they are nearly 40% larger than the existing Disney ships, they will only carry about 2500 berths, so the passenger capacity is less than 20% greater than the existing ships. This indicates there will more space for fun per passenger than the current Disney ships.
This deal will keep the Disney ships in Port Canaveral at least through 2022. Disney will pay $22 million for port upgrades including dock extensions, terminal expansion and environmental upgrades. The city has agreed to pay $10 million for a new 1,000-space parking garage.
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Europe - Bigger and Better
While 2008 is the biggest year in Europe for cruising ever, 2009 is already slated to be even bigger. Two cruise lines have already announced that they will have one more ship in Europe next year than they do this year. In 2008 Royal Caribbean has seven ships sailing the Mediterranean, British Isles, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea. Next year they will have eight ships, including Independence of the Seas, a sister-ship to the Freedom (worlds largest cruise ship) and two Voyager-class vessels; Navigator of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.
The other ships they will have there are Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas.
Meanwhile, Celebrity Cruises is planning on having five ships in Europe for 2009, one more than this year. Most surprisingly, the cruise line plans to keep its two newest vessels, each of the new Solstice-class, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox, in Europe for 2009, depriving North America of their presence for a good deal of their inaugural season.
Most interesting to us is the newest ship, Celebrity Solstice, is scheduled to visit ports in Israel and Alexandria Egypt, giving cruisers access to some of the most fascinatingg antiquity in the world, from the pyramids of Giza to the Dead Sea and the old city of Jerusalem. Cruises on this brand new ship will be well worth taking and likely to sell out early. Bookings are opening up today.
Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!
GalactiCruise: A Fan's Convention at Sea
Planning the show's 30th anniversary fan convention at sea provides unexpected benefits to group's organizer.
CruiseMates readers help us assemble a list of the most commonly used terms in cruising.
Cruise Line Itinerary Planning
How does a cruise line select a ship's route? Holland America's Director of Deployment and Itinerary Planning explains it to us.
The Elusive Cabin Upgrade
What is one of the most coveted "prizes" of cruising? An upgrade! Here is the inside scoop on how upgrades are handed out.
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A 14-night transatlantic cruise.
April 2008, from Florida to the Caribbean then to Europe including the Canary Islands, Spain, Florence Italy and ending in Rome - starting as low as $699 per person. This one is filling up fast!
John Heald's Blogger Cruise 2
Come and join all of John Heald's friends and the CruiseMates' family. Everyone is welcome on this cruise, and it's going to be a ball.
Norwegian Jewel NY City to Miami
Oct 28-Nov 9 2008 Ports of call: New York City; Samana; Aruba; Curacao; Belize City; Roatan; Miami and a Halloween Party too!
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