Ports and Bows; Cruise lines follow the money

CanWest News Service
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There was a time, not too long ago, when a cruise ship moved season by season on familiar routes to the same destinations for several years. But these days, cruise lines are reserving the right to change their minds.
Celebrity Cruises announced with great fanfare in the spring that they were going to keep the Celebrity Century in South Florida all next summer and operate three and four-day cruises. Six months later they have changed their minds. They are on their way to Europe next summer and will operate out of Barcelona.
They are just latest of many cruise lines which are moving to where the money is. Once their marketing researchers tell them the pot of gold is elsewhere they are pulling up anchor and moving on.
For example, several ships are moving right out of the Alaska market and heading elsewhere next summer due to revenue decreases.
Not long ago, Celebrity cancelled their Australia cruises outright for this winter and is not going back there any time soon.
Carnival announced last fall they wouldn't be going back to Europe this summer. Well, not quite, as the Carnival Dream, their newest and biggest ship, will operate a couple of European trips before crossing the Atlantic to be based permanently at Port Canaveral, Florida.
Princess just the other day announced they were cutting 15 Mexican Riviera trips on the Princess Sapphire in order to offer more trips from California to Hawaii and the South Pacific starting in the fall of 2010.
The cruise lines now have port agents all over the world, and like airlines, they are able to make decisions to follow the revenue very quickly.
For those who booked one of Celebrity's cancelled Florida cruises for next summer, the company is offering a seven-day trip on Celebrity's new Solstice Class ship as compensation, which is a step up from their original booking.
While you may not be happy to learn that your favourite cruise ship has moved quickly to another market without warning and cancelled your trip, the cruise lines want to appease affected customers, so the change just might be worthwhile.
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Several cruise lines own private islands where their ships anchor. Most of the free amenities on the ship are often offered on the island - such as food - but not everything is free. These islands act like a ship by using your shipboard card as currency. Cruise lines like having private islands because they are another source of cash.
One such island is Castaway Cay, which is owned by Disney. Over the years, they have been spending millions of dollars to develop the private island in the Bahamas, but like a ship, it's due for some refurbishing. With two new ships coming online over the next few years they are adding more family beach areas on the cay, more water sports-based recreation and a tram farther down the coast to encourage a new beach hub.
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NCL, which will be launching its floating resort, the very large Epic, is now taking names for a waiting list for the ship's first journey across the Atlantic. When it's time to book the cruise, the waiting list passengers will receive first opportunity to book ahead of the general public.
This seems odd. Why not just put the entire ship on sale and if the demand is larger than the ship have a lottery? They say the waiting list has been filling on a steady basis, so I guess it works. We'll see.

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind the scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information.
Phil can be contacted directly at preimer

canwest.com.

Organizations: Celebrity Cruises

Geographic location: California, Europe, Atlantic Florida South Florida Barcelona Alaska Australia Port Canaveral Hawaii South Pacific Bahamas

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