Cruising in 2015

At this time of year, it is customary to look ahead to the New Year. Therefore, I thought I would take a look ahead to see what may be in store for cruising in 2015. My conclusion is that 2015 promises to be an exciting time for several reasons.

First, 2015 will see an array of important new cruise ships go into service. Each of the top three cruise families will have at least one significant new ship.

In the Carnival family, P&O Cruises will receive its largest ship ever, the 140,000 gross ton Britannia. This ship will be a sister to Princess Cruises’ innovative Royal Princess and Regal Princess. As such, Britannia will present British cruisers with dining and entertainment options never before offered on a P&O Cruises ship.

Britannia will be facing some tough competition as Royal Caribbean’s new Anthem of the Seas will be based in Southampton for part of the year. This is the 167,000 gross ton sister ship to Quantum of the Seas. Anthem too will be offering Royal’s new Dynamic Dining concept and will feature the advanced 270 entertainment center as well as an upmarket sophisticated interior like on Quantum. Oh yes, there will also be the bumper cars, the sky diving simulator, and the North Star observation capsule. However, do not let such items cause you to think that Anthem is not a serious ship.

Not to be left out, Norwegian Cruise Line will be bringing out Norwegian Escape later in the year. At 163,000 gross tons, Escape will be a bigger and improved version of Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. The Breakaway class embodies a new model of cruising where the passenger has multiple quality options with regard to both dining and entertainment. It will be interesting to see how Norwegian enhances this concept on the ships of the Breakaway-Plus class.

The German cruise market will be greeting AIDAprima. At 120,000 tons, she will be a quantum leap larger than previous AIDA ships. Meanwhile, rival TUI Cruises will be receiving the second ship to be built especially for TUI, the rather unimaginatively named Mein Schiff 4 (98,000 tons).

In the luxury segment of the industry, Viking Cruises will begin ocean cruising with the 48,000 ton Viking Star. The common wisdom in the industry has been that river cruising and ocean cruising are two different businesses and so none of the major ocean cruise lines has ventured into river cruising. Viking, the most successful of the river cruise lines, will test the common wisdom and demonstrate whether a river cruise line can break into the ocean cruise market.

The drop in the price of oil in the last part of 2014 bodes well for the cruise industry. Fuel is the chief cost of operation for the cruise lines. In addition, with consumers paying less at the pump and to heat their homes, they will have more money to spend on discretionary items like cruise vacations. The only cloud on the horizon would be a collapse of the economy of one of the oil exporting states, which could have an adverse impact on the world economy.

Another unexpected gift this fall was President Obama’s overture on normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. The cruise lines are always looking for new destinations for their expanding fleets and Cuba, 90 miles from Florida, is an ideal location. However, before the cruise ships can start calling there, the lines will have to explore such things as whether the port facilities are adequate to handle modern cruise ships, the ability of the Cuban infrastructure to handle shore excursions and whether it would be safe for passengers to go ashore in Cuba. It may take awhile to get all of the ducks in order and so even if the diplomatic questions are resolved quickly, it may be beyond 2015 before the cruise ships come to Cuba in large numbers.

But with all of this happening, it is an exciting time in the cruise world.

On Beyondships this week, we have a new profile of cruise destination Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This includes a review/photo feature on Ocho Rio’s top attraction – – Dunn’s River Falls and a review of Prospect Plantation. We also have a new photo and video feature in which Caribbean Princess disappears and magically reappears.


Dunn's River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls, Ocho Rios, Jamaica



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