Princess Cruises 2012-13 salings to open with a bang

Normally, cruise line ship deployment for upcoming seasons is a mysterious event that unfolds over time. Experienced travelers want to book as far in advance as possible but are often kept waiting this time of the year for next year’s deployment schedule to come out. This year, Princess Cruises, for the first time ever, is releasing all sailings for Summer 2012 through Spring 2013 at one time.

All sailings will be available to book starting March 17, 2011 at 3PM Eastern time. That is of particular interest to undecided travelers, trying to weigh options on where and when they might sail. Before, small pieces of the deployment puzzle would be doled out a little at a time over a period of months. Waiting for all options to consider might have meant losing out on the best stateroom selection or pricing.
Princess has good reason for this mass deployment schedule too. In the 2012-13 season, the line will have it’s biggest deployment ever in Europe with more than 125 voyages to the most popular places.

In addition, Princess will sail seven ships to Alaska with 21 cruisetour options. Normally we have to wait until the current season is almost over before knowing what will be offered for the next season. That’s huge and only Princess is doing it. That is a real testament to their commitment to the Alaska market that buyers should not forget when making a buying decision. No “wait and see what happens” attitude here, they’re ready to go right now. This is consistent with many reasons why Princess is the line to see Alaska with.

Earlier we reported that Crown Princess would be returning to Galveston….yes, Galveston, the home port with the fog problems but a hungry cruise audience. They have not sailed from there in years but join sister-line Carnival Cruise Lines who will debut shiny new Carnival Magic in the U.S. from the Texas port.

“We’ve received a great deal of feedback from cruisers interested in sailing from Galveston again,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “So we’re excited to be returning in 2012 to bring our Western Caribbean sailings back to Texas.”

There must be some good things happening in Galveston for these two cruise titans to put such fabulous hardware in a location that has been considered secondary to traditional Florida homeports, let alone debut ports.

Continuing their “we sail more ships to more places than anyone else” thing, Princess has more voyages than ever to South America, the exotic Amazon, Asia, Canada & New England, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, the South Pacific and even epic cruises around the whole world.

If that’s not enough, Princess also has special Launch Savings of up to $200 per couple for members of their Captains Circle past guest club and the line has sweetened the deal for groups too, offering some of the most generous benefits of all cruise lines.

There is a lot going on at Princess Cruises these days for sure. Your travel agent can sort through all the options and help you find the best values for you. Be it your first cruise or your 100th, Princess has set themselves up for a record year of great values like no other line.

Plan a luxury safari in the US with American Safari Cruises

When most people think of a “safari” they think of hiking through the bush of South Africa or trekking through the jungles of Costa Rica in search of exotic animals native to the region.

But here in the US we have plenty of our own wild animals to see and going “on safari” here doesn’t have to mean doing one of those drive-though “wild animal” parks where non-native animals like zebras and giraffes flock to your car for the food they know you’re going to throw at them through your open window.

For a more upscale safari trip in the United States, check out American Safari Cruises, which offers small-group ultra-luxury all-inclusive sailings around North America. There’s aren’t your typical mega-cruises. The vessels are yatchs and are limited to 12, 22 or 36 guests. All meals, airport transfers, alcoholic drinks and shores excursions are included in the price. And according to the company’s website, they institute green and sustainable practices, and give back to the communities they visit on each safari.

Some of the safaris offered include spotting whales, black bears, grizzly bears, bald eagles, mountain goats and wolves in Alaska, birdwatching and snorkeling with sea turtles and exotic fish in Hawaii, and looking for whales, sea lions, seals, black bears and deer in the Pacific Northwest.

Cruises range from 7 to 14 nights and rates start at about $5000 per person.

Disney Cruise Line heading to Alaska in 2011

Starting May 3rd 2011, Disney Cruise Line will be offering an Alaska itinerary. The 7 night Alaska cruise starts in Vancouver and after day at sea will take guests to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, followed by another sea day before arriving back in Vancouver.

The cruise will be offered on board the Disney Wonder, their 964 foot long, 2400 passenger vessel. The Disney Wonder offers guests three pools, 6 youth clubs, 7 lounges and bars, 9 restaurants and of course a whole host of Disney themed entertainment.

For a modest fee, parents can check their little ones into one of the on-board kids clubs, allowing them to enjoy themselves without the kids for a couple of hours.

The Disney Wonder currently sails in the Bahamas, Mexican Riviera and the Panama Canal, so the repositioning to Alaska during the summer is an interesting choice – I’m guessing it has something to do with a drop in passenger numbers on cruise lines, especially in that area, along with overcapacity. The Alaska Cruise market is still relatively popular, so this Disney gamble should mean they’ll be able to fill their ships quite easily.

If you are interested in a Disney Alaska Cruise, you’ll be able to book your voyage starting September 28th 2009. In addition to the Alaska route, Disney will also be offering 2 repositioning cruises from Los Angeles to Vancouver (April 27th 2011) and Vancouver back to Los Angeles (September 20th 2011).

(Via: Anchorage Daily News, thanks Matt!)

Portugal, Alaska, Prague and Akron

Three of these places have something in common and one does not. I’ve just noticed that two start with P and two start with A, but that has nothing to do with this game. Everyone is going on a major trip but me. That, of course, is a gross exaggeration, but consider this. My father is winging his way to the Czech Republic with a stop in Lyon, France as part of his journey. My mother and my brother also left today. They’re in Seattle awaiting to embark on my mother’s dream trip–a cruise to Alaska. A close friend of mine from college left today for eight days in Portugal. (She left her two children with her husband for her jaunt away.) What does Akron have to do with anything? I’m heading there on Sunday. Actually, I’m going to Stow which is next door. My excitement might come from a stop at Grandpa’s Cheese Barn near the Ashland exit off of I-71. Wheee!!! Actually, the cheese there does ratchet up my excitement quotient.

There is nothing wrong with being closer to home. A good friend of ours who lives in Madrid, Iowa just flew in today on American AIrlines. The plane was early and my husband didn’t even have to pay for parking since he was at the airport for less than 10 minutes. This visit is a chance to show our friend, who has never been to Ohio, some of our favorite Columbus hotspots before my husband and he head to Cleveland for an Indians baseball game and a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sunday is the meet up in Stow for a family picnic gathering. These gatherings are one of the reasons why we are living in the U.S. right now. Still, when I am grazing the samples at the cheese barn, I’ll think of those people I love who are on their mega trips having those adventures they’ve dreamed about.

By the way, the friend who is visiting is the one who took us on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad mentioned in the fall foliage leaf peeping train post.