Carnival Miracle Kicks Off Year-Round Schedule From Tampa

Carnival Miracle docked in Grand Turk, Turks and CaicosPHOTO: Carnival Miracle docked in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. (photo via Wikimedia Commons/HurricaneX31)
Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle kicked off a year-round program of seven-day cruises from Tampa this weekend. The move doubles the line’s capacity at the port and further bolsters its position as the leader in Caribbean cruising.

Carnival Miracle will offer the only year-round, longer-length cruise program from Port Tampa Bay, offering an unbeatable mix of destinations that appeal to a broad range of consumers, including families seeking an attractive and affordable vacation option.

Carnival Miracle joins Carnival Paradise which operates year-round four- to eight-day voyages from Tampa to the Caribbean and Cuba. Together, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Paradise will carry an estimated 280,000 passengers annually from Tampa – the most of any cruise operator.

“Carnival Cruise Line has been sailing from Tampa for nearly 25 years and we’re thrilled to add a second year-round ship to provide our guests with an even greater variety of fantastic cruise vacation choices from this convenient homeport,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We would like to recognize our partners at Port Tampa Bay and the Tampa community, as well as our valued travel agent partners, for their efforts in making Tampa one of our most popular and successful embarkation ports,” she added.

“We’re delighted that Carnival Cruise Line will have two year-round cruise ships dedicated to the Tampa market,” said Paul Anderson, President/CEO Port Tampa Bay. “It speaks to the record-breaking demand of passengers in the Tampa Bay area wanting to get on a Carnival cruise.”

Seven-Day Sailings from Tampa

On its week-long Tampa-based cruise program, Carnival Miracle departs Port Tampa Bay Saturdays or Sundays calling at four popular western Caribbean ports: Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay (Roatan) and Belize, each known for their world-class beaches, varied shore excursion opportunities, centuries-old historical sites and excellent dining and shopping experiences.

These voyages from Tampa are part of Carnival’s exclusive Cozumel Plus program, which features extended stays that provide guests even more opportunities to experience and explore one of the Caribbean’s most diverse vacation destinations with a variety of exciting and unforgettable excursion choices, many taking place on Mexico’s mainland.

New Six- to 14-Day Cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal

Carnival recently added several six- to 14-day sailings aboard Carnival Miracle visiting spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean as well as an unforgettable opportunity to experience a partial transit of the Panama Canal. During the transit, guests will experience one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and sail on Gatun Lake, one of the largest man-made bodies of water in the world.

The new six-day voyages feature day-long stops at Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya or Mahogany Bay. Departure dates include Sept. 2 and Nov. 11, 2018, and Jan. 27 and March 31, 2019.

Eight-day Panama Canal cruises depart April 14 and Sept. 8, 2018, and Feb. 2 and April 6, 2019, and include a partial transit of the Panama Canal along with stops at Limon (Costa Rica) and Grand Cayman. There’s also an eight-day, five-port Caribbean cruise that departs Nov. 17, 2019, visiting Cozumel, Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Grand Cayman.

Miracle will also offer a 14-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal cruise round-trip from Tampa Dec. 2-16, 2018, featuring Cozumel and Limon prior to a partial Panama Canal transit followed by visits to Cartagena (Colombia), Aruba, Curacao and Montego Bay (Jamaica). Guests sailing on Journeys cruises enjoy unique local dining and entertainment experiences and a number of shipboard-enrichment activities.

Signature Carnival Innovations

Guests sailing aboard Carnival Miracle can enjoy a wide range of onboard choices, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, Nick and Nora’s steakhouse located atop the ship’s 10-deck-high atrium, a luxurious 14,500-square-foot spa, and a Serenity adults-only retreat. Of the ship’s 1,062 staterooms, 80 percent offer either an ocean view or private balcony.

Family-friendly options include Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Hasbro, The Game Show, with larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic games and complimentary programming for children in three age groups – Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17).

The Newest Caribbean Cruise Port?

South Padre Island, TexasPHOTO: South Padre Island, Texas might be developed into a Caribbean cruise port. (photo via Flickr/Vince Smith)South Padre Island, Texas may be a cruise port in the near future.

The local city council recently approved a proposal for the destination to receive western Caribbean itinerary calls.

“South Padre Island has been a hidden U.S. jewel for many years,” said Mayor Dennis Stahl, in a press release. “We are looking forward to sharing our unique ecotourism sites, like Sea Turtle Inc., a renowned sea turtle rescue centre, and the Birding and Nature Center, a world-class birdwatching destination, in addition to our pristine beaches and adventure activities.”

SPI Cruise Group—a collaboration of cruise port design, maritime operations and marketing professionals—put forth the proposal. It comes at a time when western Caribbean sailings from the Port of Galveston, Texas are increasingly popular. Meanwhile, there is a concern of abundant tourism in eastern and southern Caribbean ports as cruise lines seek out sustainable alternative destinations.

The lines are specifically looking for those with existing tourism infrastructure, and South Padre Island is primed with adventures on land, sea and sky, including beautiful local beaches.

SPI Cruise Group is comprised of MarketScope Global, IDEA, Cruise and Port Advisors and NewmanPR. The project’s first step of marketing and communicating the plan to raise cruise industry executive awareness of South Padre Island is anticipated to take four months.

Beyond that, getting potential passengers interested to visit might be even easier as travellers love fresh destinations, especially in the Caribbean.

Tried-and-true ports are favourites for a reason, but anytime something new can be added to the equation it drums up excitement. In the case of the cruise lines, it may give them a bit of a competitive advantage to offer something entirely different as well.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean Announce Caribbean Return

St. ThomasPHOTO: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas will return to St. Thomas November 10. (photo by Brian Major)Activity is returning to Caribbean cruise ports shuttered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s 3,114-passenger Adventure of the Seas will call in St. Thomas on November 10— the first ship to return to the destination following the crippling September storms.

Conversely, Carnival Cruise Lines officials say the company’s ships won’t return to St. Thomas until January 2018, the same month officials anticipate the line will resume calls at St. Maarten.

Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president, recently announced November 30 as the date for the company’s resumption of calls in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Duffy said calls at Carnival’s port in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos will resume “in less than two weeks.”

U.S Virgin Islands government officials are quickly preparing for the November 10 Royal Caribbean call despite continuing struggles with issues that include a widespread lack of electricity, damaged roads, badly damaged infrastructure, sunken boats hampering navigation and several beaches considered unsafe for swimming according to media reports.

Royal Caribbean is opting to return to St. Thomas next month following company executives’ tour of the island’s port facilities, infrastructure, shopping areas and attractions. The company is providing significant resources to assist government agencies and private sector groups with the restoration of Magen’s Bay beach, a popular stop for cruise passengers, said Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean’s COO.

Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ tourism commissioner, said downtown stores are expected to be open for business on November 10 following recent meetings with business community leaders. Based on an assessment last week, 11 St. Croix beaches, six on St. Thomas and five on St. John were deemed safe for swimming, officials said.

She said that over the coming weeks, “20 to 25 ship calls” will follow Royal Caribbean’s November 10 arrival.

“As we move forward from September’s historic storms, we are laser-focused on improving and enhancing the overall tourism product, and creating an environment that stimulates economic growth and employment for our residents,” said Kennneth Mapp, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ governor.

Local press reports note that while Royal Caribbean contracts with the U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority for ships to dock at St. Thomas’ Crown Bay facility, several other cruise lines will contract with the West Indian Co (WICO) to dock ships at St. Thomas’ Havensight facility. WICO president Clifford Graham told local media he is negotiating with other lines to return to St. Thomas in November.

Meanwhile, in her announcement of Carnival’s planned January return to St. Thomas and St. Maarten, she described the destinations as among “the few remaining ports that had not yet been added back to our itineraries following the recent hurricanes.”

Nicholson-Doty said preparations for Royal Caribbean’s arrival continue and more meetings with the business community are also being planned.

“Welcoming cruise visitors back to the U.S. Virgin Islands is key to our economic recovery,” she said.