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 switching the Liberty and Valor

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Carnival Liberty

The Carnival Liberty’s propulsion problems persist, so Carnival Cruise Line said it will continue to operate modified cruises from Galveston, Texas, through the month of November to account for the ship’s inability to reach maximum speed.

The five-day cruise departing Nov. 26 will be the Liberty’s last from Galveston, as the ship will enter a previously scheduled drydock after that sailing and then be redeployed to Port Canaveral, Fla., to operate short Bahamas cruises starting Dec. 15. The Carnival Valor, meanwhile, will reposition to Galveston from Port Canaveral.

“This change is being made since Carnival Valor is better suited to operate at the higher speeds required for the four- and five-day Mexico itineraries from Galveston while Carnival Liberty is well equipped to handle shorter duration cruises from Central Florida,” Carnival said in a statement.

Carnival said its technical team, with the help of outside contractors, “continue to work to fully resolve” the Liberty’s propulsion problem.

Carnival canceled two Liberty cruises, the Oct. 31 and Nov. 5 departures, because of the technical issue, and it has modified the Nov. 10, 14, 19 and 26 departures.

For the four- and five-day cruises, Carnival is canceling calls at Progreso, Mexico. During the seven-day cruise departing Nov. 19, calls in Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica, have been scrubbed. All of the modified cruises’ departure and return times have been adjusted.

Guests sailing on these voyages will receive a $50-per-person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25% discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund.

To allow sufficient time for the Valor to reposition to Galveston, the ship’s four-day cruise departing Port Canaveral on Dec. 11 will be shortened to three days. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a one-day, prorated refund of their cruise fare and a $25 per-person credit to their shipboard account. Guests also have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund.

Carnival will automatically transfer reservations for guests on the Liberty to the Valor and vice versa. Carnival noted that the Valor and Liberty are sister ships with similar accommodations and public venues, including Guy’s Burger Joint, the BlueIguana Cantina, the RedFrog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Royal’s Liberty of the Seas to undergo revamp

Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas is set to undergo a major revamp.

The 3,634-passenger ship, which is sailing from Galveston, Texas, will go into dry dock for a month in February next year. During the transformation the ship will be given new water slides and new dining options.

The collection of water slides will include Tidal Wave, the first boomerang style slide at sea which features a steep drop that propels guests up a near-vertical wall where they’ll feel weightless and be sent into free fall.

The ship also features two new racer slides – Cyclone and Typhoon. The slides will be at the back of the ship, close to the Flowrider surf simulator that was initially introduced on the Freedom class ships.

A Splashaway Bay adult-free water park is also being added to the ship during the stint in dry dock.

New dining options on the ship will include Mexican restaurant Sabor and Italian venue Giovanni’s Table. A new cocktail bar, R Bar, is also being added.

A new cabin option will also be introduced on the ship with 26 panoramic ocean view staterooms, featuring floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

Liberty of the Seas will sail on seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries every Sunday from Galveston from November.