- Four New Cruise Ships Launched in 2005
Four new cruise ships joined the ranks of the major cruise lines. The first was the Arcadia of P&O Cruise Line, which was launched in March 2005. P&O is a British cruise line acquired by Carnival in 2004. The Arcadia cruised Europe from her maiden cruise through the fall and will be in the Caribbean for the winter season before returning to Europe in the spring of 2006.
The second new cruise ship in 2005 was Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Pride of America, launched in June 2005. The Pride of America is the largest U.S.-flagged cruise ship ever built, and is currently cruising the Hawaiian Islands.
The third new cruise ship in 2005 was the Carnival Liberty, which was launched in July. The Carnival Liberty is Carnival's first ship to feature European cruises in the Mediterranean. The Liberty's first Mediterranean season was so successful that Carnival is sending the ship back to Europe for the summer of 2006.
The NCL Norwegian Jewel was the last new cruise ship launched in 2005, making NCL the only line to add two new ships this year. The Norwegian Jewel spent her first fall season in New York and is based in Miami for the winter. The Norwegian Jewel will cruise in Europe in from May through October 2006.
For those of us who love new cruise ships, 2006 will also be a great year, with at least half a dozen new ships scheduled for launching, including the Holland America Line Noordam, the MSC Musica, the Royal Caribbean International Freedom of the Seas, the Princess Crown Princess, the NCL Pride of Hawaii, and the Costa Concordia.
- Cruise Industry Continues Growth
Cruising continues to be one of the most popular vacation choices, with over 11 million cruise passengers this year. Travelers love to cruise because of many reasons, including the consistent high quality of service and excellent safety record.
Rising fuel prices have driven up the cost of cruising, but it is still a terrific value. You can cruise for about the same price--$100 per day per person--as you could 20 years ago, although you might have to pay for things that used to be included in the fare.
- Variety of Itineraries and Ports of Call Increase
Cruise lines are constantly expanding the number and diversity of ports of call to meet passenger expectations and demand. Often cruises to the most exotic ports sell out quickly. The Caribbean continues to be the favorite cruise destination, with about 40 percent of cruises. Alaska and the Mediterranean are the next most popular. Thanks to NCL, Hawaii is now a year-round cruise destination, so its popularity might increase in the next few years. Even world cruises are gaining in popularity. After all, three-quarters of the world is covered by water!
Cruisers can choose from 30 North American embarkation ports or hundreds of other embarkation ports around the world, making a cruise vacation accessible to millions.
- Increased Amenities on Cruise Ships
Cruise ship designers and cruise line management continue to provide interesting and diverse amenities on the ships. Some of the latest attractions include
- higher percentage of balconied cabins
- rock-climbing wall
- ice skating rink
- onboard surfing
- ship-wide wireless Internet access
- huge outdoor movie screen
- specialty restaurants for adults
- specialty restaurants catering to kids and teens
- theme cruises ranging from opera to NASCAR
- celebrity speakers ranging from sports stars to actors to famous scientists and historians
- concierge-level cabins with butler service
Let's hope the good news continues in 2006! Unfortunately, not all the news in 2005 was "good". Here are the five worst cruise news items for 2005.