New cruise ship coming to New York in 2012, but at what price?

There is a new cruise ship coming to New York in 2012 and its a real pearl. Or should I say “gem”? No, Pearl is right. Norwegian Pearl will replace older Norwegian Jewel and make her New York debut in October, 2012. That’s good news. But poking around the New York cruise market I was reminded of something not so good. New Yorkers pay a premium price to sail on mostly older ships from the area. In other words, cruise lines really stick it to New Yorkers.That’s pretty much industry-wide with all cruise lines. Compared to sailing from a southern port like Florida where all the new ships are, prices are much higher sailing from New York, on mostly older ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line is about to change at least one of those concerns when it sends a newer ship to New York for the winter of 2012-13.

“With the arrival of Norwegian Pearl in New York, we will have two of our newer and larger Freestyle Cruising ships sailing from this very popular homeport,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer and former star of TV’s Undercover Boss.

That’s good, a newer ship is better than an older ship. Norwegian Pearl is a great ship too.

But what about that pricing?

Sailings from New York average much more than from southern ports like those in Florida. Let’s work though that with some actual numbers based on today’s pricing. Not to pick on Norwegian Cruise Line who is bringing the newer ship to the table, let’s look at a different line to see what is going on here.

In the dead heat of the Summer peak season, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas sails from Bayonne on July 7th for a 9 day Eastern Caribbean sailing starting at $2109 per person + tax. That works out to $234 per person, per day.

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, a newer, bigger ship sailing from Florida sailing for 7 days on July 10th starts at $1049 per person + tax. That works out to $149 per person per day, about 50% less.

Even shiny new Allure of the Seas, sailing from Florida, sells for less than Explorer of the Seas from New York at a starting price of $1349 per person for 7 days on July 10th. That’s $192 per person for the largest, newest cruise ship in the world.

Not to pick on Royal Caribbean either, all the cruise lines do this. Some more than others but it’s the nature of the game. Supply vs. Demand. There are a LOT of people who want to sail from New York and few ships to serve them.

What drives that price? One really good reason would be the need/desire/fantasy to get out of the city in the heat of the Summer for a cool, relaxing cruise. Another might be the assumed high price of airfare flying to Florida or just the hassle of the flights. Still, prices per person, per day are much higher sailing from New York as you can see.

Is there something you can do about that? You bet there is. Go in October.

Brave it through the Summer and go in the Fall. There, you will find relative bargains in cruise vacations like Carnival Miracle sailing to the Caribbean on October 5th starting at $639 per person for an 8 day cruise. That’s $79 a day on one of their most popular ships.

Giving credit where credit is due, Royal Caribbean has Explorer of the Seas, that same ship that was going for $234 per person, per day in the Summer sails in October starting at $549 +tax per person for a 5-night sailing to Bermuda. That gets them down to less than half the per person, per day Summer price.

Back to Norwegian, they too have Fall bargains offering Norwegian Gem for $499 per person + tax on the October 2nd sailing. On seven days, that works out to $71.28 per person. Way better.

So let’s amend that claim that cruise lines really stick it to New Yorkers.

Cruise lines really stick it to New Yorkers in the Summer, not so much in the Fall.

Yes, much more accurate.

When Norwegian Pearl comes to New York in October 2012 she will be sailing a seven-day itinerary that calls on Orlando & the Beaches (Port Canaveral, Disney World if you hurry, blah blah blah); Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian’s private island paradise) and Nassau in the Bahamas.

Norwegian Pearl will also sail three 12-day Southern Caribbean cruises, on January 6, January 20 and February 3, 2013 that include stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados and St. John’s, Antigua; as well as five relaxing days at sea. If you have the time, those are good ones.

Not sure if Norwegian Cruise Line is for you? Norwegian Pearl will also offer three opportunities to experience Freestyle Cruising on a two-day getaway sailing from New York on January 18, February 1 and February 15, 2013.

Continuing to homeport in New York, the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem will sail two newly extended itineraries to Eastern Canada and Quebec and the Eastern Caribbean. Norwegian Gem will begin her four 10-day sailings to Canada and Quebec on September 8, 2012; calling on Halifax, Nova Scotia; an overnight in Quebec City, Quebec; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; and Sydney, Nova Scotia. From October 20, 2012 to April 18, 2013, Norwegian Gem’s nine-day itinerary to the Eastern Caribbean will stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Samoa, Dominican Republic.

“New Yorkers love Freestyle Cruising because it suits their needs” added Sheehan. “With two of our Jewel-class ships in New York, we are giving guests more choice and the opportunity to sail longer cruises to the Caribbean.”

…you just have to be willing to pay the price.

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Flickr photos by Rodneykeene, Jmazzola ,Jemmingway and Pink Dispatcher

Cruise lines head back to Alaska

After turning a cold shoulder to an Alaska that seemed determined to tax cruise ships out of the market, many lines are heading to the land of the midnight sun with more ships, sailings and capacity. Today’s announcement by Norwegian Cruise Lines to position Norwegian Jewel on an inside passage itinerary from Seattle is the latest in a string of “Can’t we all just get along?” moves.

Joining Norwegian Pearl sailing to Glacier Bay from Seattle, Norwegian Jewel will sail Alaska’s inside passage replacing Norwegian Star that will sail to Bermuda for the first time from her new home in New York City.

Earlier this year the Alaska legislature, on the heels of a low-capacity season, voted to lower the prevously raised head tax on cruise passengers. Later in the year, Princess Cruises announced a fourth ship to be added to it’s popular Voyage of the Glaciers run after two years of running a reduced capacity.

“We are particularly appreciative of the efforts of Governor Sean Parnell and the Alaska state legislature that have resulted in meaningful progress toward resolving the challenges facing Alaska’s recovery as a cruise destination,” said Princess President and CEO Alan Bucklew.

As some cruise lines head back to Alaska, others who have never been there before are joining in too.

Disney Cruise Line is sailing North with Disney Wonder as the line doubles its size by adding Disney Dream debuting in January and Disney Fantasy in 2012. Another first-timer, Oceania Cruises will send their Regatta on a series of departures from San Francisco, Vancouver or Anchorage.

It’s good to see the cruise lines and politicians play nice.

Flickr photo by brh_images

Top 5 cruise ship spas

Being on a cruise seems luxurious enough. To add to the glam and relaxation, though, consider a spa visit. Frankly, if I were on a cruise, I’m not sure if I would need a spa–the cruise seems like it might be enough pleasure. On second thought, a person to massage my feet would be nice–a person from Thailand, perhaps.

If you are that person who wants to add the best spa experience to your trip, and I’m starting to think I am, here are five ship spas to check out. A tweet from TomTravel2 led me to what makes them stand outs in the crowd. As he said, how can one pick out five best? Still, they are touted by msnbc as being the five at the top. The more I read about them, the more that massage seems sweet indeed. [photo by kikaski]

Celebrity Solstice Aqua Spa Has indoor waterfalls and areas to relax and lounge while waiting for treatment and afterward. Acupuncture treatments are a forte.

Costa Serena Samsara Spa-If I were on this cruise, I’d want to see the spa even if I didn’t get a treatment. It’s the largest spa at sea and was designed to capture an Asian flavor. Ayurvedic, holistic treatments are an integral part of the options. There’s a foot massage that I have my eye on.

Cunard Queen Mary 2 Canyon Ranch Spa Club–A spa called Canyon Ranch on a cruise ship is an amazing thought. I picture cowboys and horses. Not this spa. Think reflexology, an ice fountain and aromatic treatments. After reading about this spa’s description, if I didn’t disembark from the Queen Mary fresh and new, I’d feel something was wrong with me, especially with the “healthy living experts” at the ready to pass on tips and advice.

Disney Magic Vista Spa–Besides the fine looking couples massage and other relaxation treatments, this spa has a rain forest and “villas” that come with a private deck, hot tub and an open-air shower. My!

Norweigian Pearl South Pacific SpaWith Botox being one of the treatment options–seriously, yuk-I guess one would end the cruise a new person. I’d stick with the thalassotherapy pool which is described as a relaxing, heated salt water pool.