2010 was a good year for new cruise ships. Highlights included Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic that set the bar solidly higher for at-sea entertainment, highlighted by a Cirque Dreams and Dinner experience that was well received. Answering that call for improved entertainment, new largest-ship-in-the-world Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas followed nicely in the footsteps of older sister Oasis, clearly establishing herself as a unique ship of her own.
Looking forward to 2011, more new ships are on the horizon including Oceania Cruises new Marina, nearly double the size of the line’s existing three ships; Celebrity Silhouette, the fourth Solstice-class ship from Celebrity Cruises and another new yacht from Seabourn, the Seabourn Quest among others. Today we focus on two different ships by two different lines that will probably be the most talked-about of the bunch.
Disney Dream – at 128,000 tons, Disney Cruise Line’s new entry, the first of two with Disney Fantasy coming out next year, promises to steer Disney in a unique new at-sea direction. Sailing from Port Canaveral, the new ship will more than double the size of the Disney fleet carrying up to 4000 guests. Called “the most anticipated ship of 2011” by CruiseCritic.com editor Carolyn Spencer Brown
Carnival Magic – the second of Carnival Cruise Line’s Dream-class ship and will offer 3,693 guests a 7 to 12 day Mediterranean sailing in the Summer followed by a unique first for Carnival; home-porting a new ship in Galveston Texas. 130,000 ton Carnival Magic will make a total of 23 ships in the fleet. Look for this one to be launched with some unique, social ways capitalizing on Carnival’s signature “fun” element.
Cruise vacations can be a good travel value because the fare paid includes much of what travelers might pay separately for with other vacation options. In recent years though, mainstream cruise lines have come under criticism for offering desirable options guests can buy on top of the cruise fare paid. The basic experience has not changed but upgrade options like special dining venues, might make it seem so. Some lines have gone a different direction, including more in the price.
Regent Seven Seas cruises, used to charge for shore excursions, as most cruise lines do. Not long ago, they did away with that, making most shore excursions part of the deal for the premium line.
“We realized that the largest spend anyone had on board was shore excursions. So, we decided to give them away.” Regent’s President Mark Conroy told Sun-Sentinel.com.
Results have been good for the line that costs an average of $600 per person, per day. Guest feedback is that they like the more all-inclusive nature of Regent sailings as opposed to other lines.
“Our ticket price is probably more expensive than others, but the vacation in the end doesn’t cost much more … because so much is included.” Conroy added, noting that 2010 will be the company’s best year on record.
Another premium line, Seabourn, shares the more all-inclusive philosophy with complementary fine wines poured at lunch and dinner and open bars throughout their small yacht-sized fleet of six ships. Seabourn also promotes that tipping is neither required or expected, another area that can add up on other lines.
More than ever, finding the cruise line that is a good fit for you involves considering the entire experience. While the discount fares being offered by major lines may sound attractive, the end cost may actually be greater than a premium line that includes much more in the price.