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