By Michael Coleman
The cruise industry is just a few weeks away from ushering in the 2010 Caribbean season. If picture-perfect tropical islands, sun-drenched beaches and boundless shopping opportunities float your boat, a Caribbean cruise on one of the following mass-market lines may be for you.
Carnival – The largest Carnival ship ever constructed, the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream launches year-round Caribbean service from Port Canaveral in December. Carnival also is increasing its capacity from Mobile, Alabama by 42 percent with the deployment of the Carnival Fantasy in November (to be replaced by Carnival Elation in May 2010) and by 34 percent from New Orleans when Carnival Triumph begins new Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises in November. And, beginning in May 2010, Carnival Fantasy will launch the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston.
Costa Cruises – With sailings from Fort Lauderdale, Costa Atlantica returns to the Caribbean with new, exclusive spa accommodations that feature personalized wellness consultations, complimentary spa treatments, fitness or meditation classes, complimentary access to the Wellness Restaurant and more. Guests on Costa Atlantica and Costa Fortuna can also take advantage of “Italy in the Tropics” with a “Free Upgrade” promotion and the popular “Kids Sail Free” program.
Norwegian Cruise Line – Next year marks the arrival of Norwegian Epic, Norwegian’s largest and most innovative ship, which will begin her inaugural Caribbean season in July with alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries available as seven-day individual sailings or 14-day combined sailings and offered through April 2011. Norwegian will also seasonally homeport the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun in Port Canaveral beginning October 2010 for seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
Princess Cruises – Princess will sail six ships on 13 Caribbean itineraries ranging from seven to 14 days this winter, with 129 departures visiting more than 25 ports. Ruby Princess will take over the line’s 10-day eastern and southern Caribbean itineraries, offering some of the less-visited ports in the region. Crown Princess’s western Caribbean itinerary will feature Roatan, Honduras. Grand Princess returns with an extensive 14-day Caribbean Collection route and Sea Princess will again sail on 14-day voyages from Barbados.
Royal Caribbean — The line will welcome the largest ship in the world, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, to Fort Lauderdale in November when the ship begins year-round Caribbean cruises. Looking ahead, sister ship Allure of the Seas joins the company’s Caribbean fleet for the 2010-11 Caribbean season, which will feature year-round voyages from such ports as Port Everglades, Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and San Juan, Puerto Rico; seasonal voyages from ports ranging from Cape Liberty to Galveston; and over 20 short itineraries to 15 ports in the Caribbean.
Next week, we’ll look at what the premium and luxury cruise lines have in store for their passengers as they also head into the tropics.