Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review

As the year draws to a close, we'll take a look at some of the headlines from the past year.  2015 was a relatively quiet year in the news media, at least for the major cruise lines.  There were some bumps and incidents aboard ships, but nothing compared to some of the recent years.

The cruise lines added capacity, but at the same time explored new markets, like China, which helped to stabilize pricing, which was a goal for the industry.   Now more than ever it is important for passengers to plan ahead so that they can take advantage of lead-in pricing.   The lines have vowed not to do "fire sale" pricing close in to the sailing date.  

Anthem of the Seas
Learn More about Anthem of the Seas on our Microsite (Click Image)
 "First New Cruise Ship
for 2015"

Honors went to Royal Caribbean International as it took delivery of the second ship in the Quantum-class, Anthem of the Seas.

Anthem of the Seas features all the spectacular innovations of her sister ship Quantum of the Seas, including North Star, SeaPlex, and circus school complete with flying trapeze. Offering a rich mix of cabin options for couples, families, spa enthusiasts, and solo travelers, accommodations range from luxurious suites to single studios - many with balconies - and interior cabins with virtual views. Relaxation and activities choices abound, and with more bars, dining and entertainment options than can be experienced in a week, this dazzling ship delivers a true resort experience and a blast of a cruise!

"Most Anticipated New Ship for 2015"

“It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises (May, 2013). “With our new ocean cruises, we are applying the same principles behind our award-winning river cruises to our itinerary and ship design; privileged-access excursions; and onboard experiences to make destinations the true focus.”

With those words above, a new vision was revealed along with the birth of a new cruise line, the first since Disney Cruise Line announced Dis.ney Magic over 17 years ago.  In her debut season Viking Star was awarded with the cruise industry’s highest honors, including being named Best New Ocean Ship and receiving a 5-star rating by the editors of Cruise Critic, receiving the highest rating in the mid-size ship category in Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016, and being heralded by CNN as the “world’s best new cruise ship.”  Two additional ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sea, will be delivered in 2016.

Costa Concordia Captain Sentenced 

As these new ships were preparing to enter service, one ship that had been front and center in the industry news for more than 2 years, had one final appearance in the media as litigation completed.  In February, the Italian court passed sentence on Captain Schetino - this video discusses the ruling.  Costa Concordia which had made its final voyage in 2014 as it was towed to Genoa, Italy to be scrapped, now fades into history.  More info: Captain Schettino Prison Sentence Set

Final Entry for 2015 - Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for their innovation and the new Norwegian Escape, which debuts this November is no exception.  Cruise Like a Norwegian - Escape Starting November

Norwegian Escape homeports 
in Miami and sails to the Caribbean year-round.  We've just attended our National Conference on the initial sailing from Miami and are posting articles and pictures in our digital diary.  Well-known maritime artist Guy Harvey designed the hull artwork for the new ship.   There are a number of new dining options introduced on the Norwegian Escape including the first-ever Margaritaville at Sea.
Click (here) or Image to the left for more stories and photos from our conference cruise on Norwegian Escape.   Check out this brand new ship from Norwegian Cruise Line.

If you have specific questions about the ship, the itinerary, or cruising in general, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter: @ChrisPappinMCC  Pinterest: CruiseWithChris Pappin and Facebook: CruiseWithChris Pappin Cruises Inc

Industry Changes

Probably the biggest news is in response to passenger demand for improved communications at sea.   Carnival Corporation announced a fleet-wide initiative with new flat-fee offerings and improved bandwidth to meet passenger desires to stay connected to social media while at sea.   Other lines have also followed suit, but not to the same extent.   Keep your eye on this initiative across the industry.

As cruise prices stabilized, many lines have been looking to onboard expenditures as a means to increase revenue.   Items that had once been included, like room service, have started to see additional charges for example.   Some passengers aren't happy with the new trend to "nickle-and-dime" them and may look to cruise lines that have less optional charges.   Luxury lines are becoming an even better value since you know your cost of the entire trip up front.

It will be interesting to see how new players, such as Viking Oceans, impacts the industry as they grow their fleets.  They are bucking the tide to go big and instead opting for smaller ships and more emphasis on the destinations.  Of course, the river cruise industry is booming as the demand soars for this method of exploring the globe.

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