Carnival Cruise Line to return to Europe

Carnival Cruise Line will make a return to Europe in 2016 when it launches new ship Carnival Vista.

The news comes after the line announced in May 2013 that it would have no ships sailing in Europe during 2014 and 2015, citing increasing airfares as the reason behind the decision.

New itineraries for summer 2016 on Carnival Vista include Athens, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Izmir, Corfu, Livorno, Marseille, Messina (Sicily), Naples, Rome, Trieste and Valetta.

The ship will have its first European sailing on May 1 and will then have 18 sailings in Europe before moving on to New York in October. The ship’s official homeport has yet to be revealed.

The ship will have the first IMAX cinema at sea, as well as new dining options, more alfresco dining and the biggest Waterworks of any Carnival ship. The ship will also have a new Havana pool at the back of the ship, with Havana cabana staterooms available to book.

Mark Tamis (pictured), senior vice president of guest operations, said: “I really feel and we do [at Carnival] that this is the greatest ship to date and certainly the best ship to come from Carnival Cruise Line.

“This is about building on past success. This is built of the success of Carnival Breeze and what is rolling out across the whole Carnival fleet.

“We set out to make this our most innovative ship to date. This is about creating connects and a connection to the sea. This ship, like no other ship, brings that all together.“

When the line announced it was pulling away from Europe in last year, the company said it didn’t believe Americans, who make up the vast majority of its passengers, would pay increased airfares to cross the Atlantic.

In May last year, agents were praised for switch-selling customers to book a Caribbean cruise with Carnival rather than a European one.

During a VIP agent trip on Carnival Breeze last year, Lynn Torrent, executive vice-president os sales and guest services, said the line’s bosses were watching the moves being made by other international brands. She said Carnival was sitting back and seeing what other lines were doing in the UK market before making a decision.

MSC offers free Caribbean cruise with purchase of Med sailing

By Tom Stieghorst
MSC Divina 410MSC Cruises said it will give a free, transferable cruise on select 2014 sailings of MSC Divina in the Caribbean for anyone who books the ship for a Mediterranean cruise next summer before Oct. 31.

A $500 deposit on the Mediterranean cruise is required to take advantage of the offer.

Divina began sailing in North America about a year ago on seven-day Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. It will return next summer to Mediterranean itineraries from May 16 through Sept. 19.

MSC is promoting a $1,899 package that includes roundtrip airfare to Rome or Barcelona, a seven-day cruise, a two-night post-cruise stay in a four-star hotel and all transfers needed.

Travel gateways are New York, Chicago and Miami. Government taxes and fees are extra.

Allure’s full European season a response to strong UK demand

By Dave Jones

The world’s largest cruise ship will spend a full season in Europe for the first time in 2015, with strong UK demand to thank.

Following a year in which many cruise companies reduced their European activities, the news that Royal Caribbean will sail Allure of the Seas from Port Everglades in Florida – where it sails alongside its sister ship Oasis of the Seas on primarily Caribbean focused voyages – to Europe is welcome indeed.

Having carried more than two million passengers on Caribbean cruises since its introduction in 2010, the vessel will return for the first time to the continent where it was constructed and will sail from the Spanish port of Barcelona between May and October 2015.

This will follow on the rudder of Oasis of the Seas’ mini-Mediterranean season, which is scheduled for autumn of this year.

Once it has arrived in Barcelona, Allure of the Seas will offer UK and European passengers a chance to enjoy seven-night cruises calling at Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, La Spezia (for Florence and Pisa), Civitavecchia (for Rome) and Naples.

According to Dominic Paul, head of Royal Caribbean International sales outside of North America, bringing Allure of the Seas to Europe is a “bold move”, but the cruise line is confident of success.

Speaking to Seatrade Insider, he explained that this confidence comes not only from the merit of its Oasis-class ships, but also in the strength of the UK cruise market and prospects for growth here.

Next year is looking exciting indeed, with Royal Caribbean also planning to home port its new vessel Anthem of the Seas in Southampton once construction has been completed.

Stuart Leven, the Royal Caribbean’s managing director for UK and Ireland, added: “The company is showing a big commitment to the UK market in 2015.

He added: “I believe the combination of an Oasis-class ship with all its on-board options and the great cruise destination of the Mediterranean will be a very compelling argument for both those who haven’t cruised before and also cruisers who have never experienced Oasis.”