As we begin our journey into 2013, there are several interesting trends and new developments we want to share that will help you get the most out of your cruise vacation this year. At the outset, we expect 2013 to be another “buyers market” however we’re seeing signs that the deals won’t be quite as deep as they were in 2012. That said, a savvy shopper (or anyone with a savvy agent working for them) will still find cruises to be the best vacation value hands down, and there are some opportunities that we expect to really stand out.
River Cruising continues to Heat Up!
Last year, Viking River Cruises introduced no less than four ships to their fleet and will be adding another six this year! Avalon Waterways is also bringing in two new “suite ships” on the legendary Danube River, to complement what is already the youngest fleet in Europe. This kind of investment doesn’t happen unless demand is expected to be very strong, and even though 2012 was an economically challenging year overall, the river cruise segment just continues to grow in popularity. The primary reason is value! If Europe or China are in your travel plans, then visiting either via river cruise is the best way to make the most of your budget. You can read about my first-time river cruise experience, or just give us a call.
New Builds and New Looks
When it comes to blue-water cruising, the most notable new cruise ship arriving on the scene in 2013 is the highly innovative Norwegian Breakaway. Patterned off the hull of the Norwegian Epic (introduced in 2010), the new Breakaway will be much more than just a copy, with their one-and-only Oceanfront Boardwalk concept.
Instead of having “storefronts” facing inward to the center of the ship, the boardwalk is a three deck promenade of dining venues, bars, entertainment, gaming and more! The boardwalk will really provide a much deeper connection to the ocean–it’s a wonderful concept and one I can’t wait to see first-hand. Norwegian will also introduce a new dining concept on Norwegian Breakaway, Ocean Blu, the line’s first ever all-seafood restaurant, which will include a premium raw bar, along with a separate sushi bar–again, something I think will be a great addition and one I’ll personally enjoy!
The accommodations look very inviting as well (according to the artists renderings). There’s a definite”chic” quality that’s reminiscent of a modern, boutique hotel and the color palette is light, making even more of the space.
Celebrity Solsticizes their Fleet
Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-class ships are remarkable and in my opinion are the standard-bearer in the premium cruise segment (although there appeals is to a modern sensibility vs. “tradition” at sea. Now that the last of the Solstice-class ships (Celebrity Reflection) has gone into service, Celebrity has gone to great efforts to “solsticize” the four Millennium-class ships that came before Solstice. Most of the ships have undergone their transformation and the last will be completed in May of this year. This transformation included adding AquaClass staterooms, Qsine and Blu restaurants, and a complete makeover of the public areas to bring them in line with their new standard.
So while the six Solstice-class ships are still garnering a lot of attention (and higher prices) the Solsticized Millennium-class will offer nearly all of the experience and elegance but we expect the prices to be lower. We already consider Celebrity Cruises to be priced below the market, and this makes any of their voyages a remarkable value. In fact, I’ve handpicked a couple of deals (listed below) that demonstrate this value.
Disney in Miami and Galveston
Although Port Canaveral still continues as Disney’s primary homeport (to combine with Disney World an hour away in Orlando), they are offering cruises out of Miami on the Disney Wonder and out of Galveston on the Disney Magic. Now, the traditional “rap” on Disney Cruises are (a) that they’re more expensive than other cruise lines, and (b) it’s all about kids. Both are misconceptions and you can learn more about why I say that by reading this post. While in absolute dollars, a Disney Cruise will be more costly than a mass-market ship to similar destinations, it’s really not a valid comparison, because Disney IS a premium cruise and it truly IS a Disney experience–one that my family prefers vs. the theme parks themselves. And there are deals to be had–right now, select cruises from both Galveston and Miami are offering Kids Sail Free–call us to learn more.
This Week’s Handpicked Deals
Celebrity will be having their weekly one-day sale on Tuesday, January 8th–here are a couple that caught my eye right away:
7 Night Caribbean on Celebrity Silhouette departs February 3rd
This Solstice-class ship is offering Verandas at just $799 per person in a Category 1B or 1C. Today, that same $799 will only get you an interior stateroom, and if you were to buy the 1B today, it’s $1,109. . .so the savings are over $600 per stateroom. Third/fourth guests can also sail for just $349, making the average cost-per-guest as low as $574 for a party of four. You can see this voyage info here, but can’t book this rate until Tuesday, January 8, 2012.
7 Night Caribbean on Celebrity Reflection departs February 2nd
The newest Solstice-class ship will have Verandas at just $849 per person in a Category 1B or 1C. If you were to buy the 1C today, it’s $1,109. . .so the savings are over $500 per stateroom. This voyage is also featuring 3rd/4th guest rates of $349, so a party of four can sail for just $599 per person in a Veranda stateroom on the newest ship afloat! Preview this voyage here and then let us know if you’re interested, but we can only get this rate on Tuesday, January 8th.
Let me sign off by thanking you for your continued subscription to SEAMail, and the opportunity for us to share our knowledge, experience and of course, our deals. We all wish you a successful and happy 2013!
Author Note: Kevin Weisner CruiseDeals.com’s general manager. Kevin has been in the cruise industry for 25+ years and CruiseDeals.com is one of the most trusted sources of cruise price and deal analysis.