Royal Caribban Europe 2012: more with a twist

Royal Caribbean International this week unveiled its 2012 Europe cruise and cruisetour season, increasing deployment from its 2011 lineup of 11 ships to 12 for 2012, which will again include two Freedom-class ships. The line also detailed itineraries and added a new port with a twist on traditional cruise itineraries that offers passengers a great deal of flexibility.

“Every year Royal Caribbean surpasses its previous Europe offerings to continue to exceed the expectations of vacationers,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean. “In 2012 the line’s ships will add 23 more ports in seven additional countries, giving vacationers the opportunity to tailor-design their cruise experiences on itineraries that are as short as three nights or as long as 16.”

New in 2012 too will be Amsterdam as a homeport, for a total of 12, with ships calling at 101 ports in 34 countries on itineraries ranging from three to 16 nights.

In addition to the 12 homeports from which guests can choose from, Royal Caribbean is also offering eight “interports”, where guests can board itineraries en route, creating 20 options for embarkation and disembarkation

For the third consecutive year, Independence of the Seas will be positioned year-round in Southampton, primarily operating on an alternating series of 14-night sailings but will also offer one three-night sailing, overnighting in Paris (LeHavre) in May along with a four-night cruise spending the night in Cork, Ireland.

Royal Caribbean Europe 2012 will feature Vision of the Seas adding two new six-night Norwegian Fjord cruises from Oslo. The ship will sail Northern European waters from April 29 to September 7, offering 14 different itinerary options ranging from four to 12 nights. A 12-night Arctic Circle sailing on August 9, roundtrip from Copenhagen, will cruise the Arctic Circle.

From May through September, Adventure of the Seas will continue on its pattern of seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries roundtrip from Malaga, Spain then move to a series of five seven-night Canary Islands sailings, also from Malaga. Sister ship Navigator of the Seas begins its European season with an eight-night itinerary on April 14 from Barcelona to Spain, where, through November 18, it will offer seven-night Mediterranean sailings.

Grandeur of the Seas schedule will include seven-night Western Mediterranean sailings that will operate from June 2 to October 10 roundtrip from Palma de Mallorca. Voyager of the Seas, meanwhile, will spend the bulk of its Europe season sailing out of Venice, but will shift from seven-night itineraries to 10- and 11-night cruises, with itineraries including overnights in Istanbul and Kusadasi.

Splendour of the Seas will return to sailing roundtrip from Venice in 2012 from late April through early November. Jewel of the Seas will continue to operate on its 12-night sailings roundtrip from Harwich, England. It will also feature one new cruise on June 20, a “Fjords & Iceland” itinerary, roundtrip from Harwich.

Royal Caribbean is offering six cruisetours, which enables guests to couple sailings with escorted land tour options to create packages in conjunction with six of the line’s ships. Options include nights in Madrid and Barcelona, Venice, Florence and Rome, Lake Como and Venice,Paris and London, and Turkey’s Istanbul and Cappadocia.