2017 Cruise Roundup: New Itineraries, New Destinations
It would be simpler for agents if all cruise lines published their itineraries for a given year at the same time, but they don’t. Even if each cruise line published a specific year’s itineraries at one time – that would be easier – but, they don’t do that either.
Cruise lines spread out release dates throughout the year and often by destination or theme, making it difficult for agents to keep track. And when there’s big news - such as the past week’s Cuba announcements - that means changes to existing plans.
So for this year’s itinerary article, Cruise Week’s Art Sbarsky break things down into different subjects, covering a sampling of what’s going on to give you a sense of what’s coming. It’s focused on 2017, but there are points to be made all the way into 2019.
The Cuba Cruise Boom
First the near-term changes: Cuba. To recap, Fathom recently announced a cessation of operations, so for a brief period of time, Cuba cruising from the U.S. showed signs of being eliminated.
Then, in rapid succession, all 3 of the NCLH brands, 2 brands from RCCL and Pearl Cruises all announced agreements to begin Cuba cruises.
All lines must adhere to the rules of U.S. tourism in Cuba that specify, to a degree, what guests can do and where they do it. But with overnight calls in Havana the star of all itineraries, there’s got to be some freedom of movement around the port itself and surrounding areas. If guests are too limited in what they can do, there’s going to be some pushback.
Still not clear is which ships will have Cuba cruises on an ongoing, perhaps weekly, basis; only then it will become clear just how crowded Havana and the rest of the island may get with visitors.
The port facilities can only handle so many ships, the infrastructure will have limitations, and it must be taken into consideration that other lines, like MSC Cruises and Celestyal Cruises, are already visiting Havana. One more thing: Carnival Corp. hasn’t announced anything new yet. They will however, and probably by the end of the year.
There are questions about long-term Cuba cruising due to U.S. Relations between the 2 governments being in a state of flux – Trump has issued various statements about relations with Cuba. Only time will tell what the President-elect determines to do going forward.
Oceania, Regent, Crystal & Viking
Oceania is spreading its geographic range with sailings to Bermuda and Canada from NYC, homeporting there with 20 planned voyages in 2017/2018. In addition, they’re swapping out ships in the South Pacific; the 1,250 pax Marina will be replacing the smaller 684 pax Serena.
Regent is increasing its European presence, going from 2 ships to 3 in the Med and from 1 to 2 in Northern Europe, a result of having Regent Seven Seas Explorer in its 1st full year.
Crystal Cruises is moving its expedition yacht, Crystal Esprit, to the Caribbean starting in November 2017 and at least through all of 2018. It will have 2 different itineraries sailing from Marigot Bay which can be combined into a 14 night cruise.
Viking Ocean Cruises will add 2 ships to its fleet in 2017 and 1 more in 2018; between them, there will be 10 new itineraries and 30 ports of call all over Europe and the Americas.
Overall, Princess is putting the focus on more late night calls and overnights in Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
The line will have its largest deployment ever in New England/Canada and its largest British Isles season ever.
Princess is upping to 7 ships in Alaska starting in 2018, increasing the line’s capacity to 130 departures, its most ever.
New Places to Go
MSC is breaking new ground with its 1st ever world cruise. It may not take place until January 2019, but the 119 night sailing is ready for bookings. Oceania is also offering a world cruise, but this one, aboard Insignia and billed as “Around the World in 180 Days,” covers 39,000 nautical miles with 87 ports of call in 40 countries.
The newest expedition ship from Silversea, the heavily refurbished Silver Cloud, launches a series of Antarctica voyages in November 2017 with itineraries ranging from 10 to 19 days. In Europe, the smaller size of the line’s ships allows Silver Cloud and Silver Wind to dock/depart from Tower Bridge, in downtown LON. The line is also adding to its Galapagos presence starting in March 2017 by alternating 2 different 7 night north central and western Galapagos itineraries.
More Than 100 New Ports of Call
Itinerary planners must be working overtime to come up with new ports of call. Major cruise lines will feature more than 100 new ports in 2017.
Silversea, a line that does a stupendous job of coming up with new ports, will be adding places for both their classic fleet (e.g., Frederica in Denmark, Gisborne in New Zealand and Ilhabela in Brazil) and expedition fleet (e.g. Aride Island in the Seychelles and Grimsey Island in Iceland).
Princess has 5 new calls in 2017: Ulvik and Haugesund in Norway; Oban in Scotland; Siracusa in Italy and St. Tropez in France.
Oceania Cruises, with a multitude of new itineraries, has over a dozen new ports of call, including such places as Rijeka in Croatia; Acajutla in San Salvador; Glengarriff in Ireland and Roses in Spain.
Crystal Cruises has its 2 large ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, going to 25 new ports, including calls in Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.
Regent Seven Seas has an amazing array of new ports - 27 in all - including Eden in Australia; Antwerp in Belgium; Jakarta in Indonesia; Gothenburg in Sweden and Manzanillo in Mexico.
New ships for 2017 include Majestic Princess, MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia, Norwegian Joy, SilverMuse and Viking Sun. The new Norwegian and Princess ships will be deployed year round for the China/Asia market.
MSC’s Seaside, debuting in late 2017, will alternate between eastern and western Caribbean runs year round, while Meraviglia starts in June 2017, sailing the western Mediterranean and offering 3 different embarkation ports (Barcelona, Genoa and Marseille).
Silver Muse, which debuts in spring, will cover the Med, including UNESCO sites in 13 different ports. After the Med, Silver Muse heads across to the Americas, from Canada southward, hitting 130 ports in 34 countries in 2017 alone.