The cruise industry has been suffering one black eye after another these days. But despite what's making headlines, not everything coming out of the cruise universe is bad news. In fact some lines, like Princess Cruises, are adding new ports, itineraries, and ships making now a great time to book a vacation at sea.
In December 2012, Princess Cruises began offering its passengers itineraries out of Galveston, TX.This isn't the first time they have cruised from that particular port. They discontinued cruises out of the Texas coastal city back in 2006. But because of what Princess refers to as a "geographic demand," the port is back in use once again by the line.
According to the company, their primary cruise audience resides in Texas and other "drive-in markets," like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, as well as locations with direct flights to Houston, including spots on the West Coast. Based on geography, Galveston is far more convenient for these heavily-populated areas than Florida ports.
Princess says that the response from clients has been very positive in terms of both having a port in Texas, as well as having this particular Western Caribbean itinerary offered, which includes stops in Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. As such, Princess will continue to offer this itinerary again next season.
There will be one change however. Instead of sailing from Galveston, the cruises will begin their journeys from the port of Houston. These sailings are currently and will continue to be on the Caribbean Princess. Trips will run from November 9, 2013 through April 26, 2014.
Princess is also launching a new ship called the Royal Princess. The ship launches in Southampton, UK on June 16, 2013 with its inaugural sailing in the Mediterranean. It's a nineteen-day trip from Southampton to Venice with stops in Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Gibraltar; Malaga, Spain; Barcelona, Spain; Florence; Rome; Naples; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Kusadasi, Turkey; Athens; and 2 days in Venice.
The ship will sail in Europe through October, when it will do an eighteen-day
repositioning sail from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale with stops in Sicily;
Naples; Rome; Cannes; Barcelona; and Madeira Island, Portugal. Once in Ft. Lauderdale, it will begin sailings emanating from the port there.
The ship will be similar to Crown Princess with a number of extras, including a Chef's Table Luminaire; a seafood restaurant; expanded fitness offerings; a greatly enhanced Sanctuary; an expanded kids' program; and a larger Piazza.
The current Chef's Table on the Crown Princess is every culinary buff's dream with an expansive tasting menu and impressive wine pairings. The Sanctuary is an adults-only oasis onboard that makes guests forget they are even sharing the ship with other travelers. And the Piazza is a place where guests can gather for a drink or a snack or a variety of strolling entertainment choices from Flamenco dancers to dancing acrobats.
Princess Cruises offers an upscale cruise environment with surprisingly large cabins, a variety of entertainment--from in-house, Broadway style productions to guest entertainers, including comedians like Alfred and Seymour; musicians like Tony Tillman; and even psychics like Wayne Hoffman--and food that often makes guests forget they are sharing a ship with multitudes of people. You can even completely avoid the buffet these days with all of the other dining options if the chow line is not your scene.
I recently took my thirteen-year-old daughter for a week-long Western Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess and we had no problem finding things we both wanted to do onboard and onshore. The ship's amenities and offerings suited us both very well, whether we were dining, relaxing, or playing. On board we sat by the pool, shopped, caught a "dive-in" movie, and watched every show we could manage.
In port, we snorkeled in Honduras; zip lined and cave tubed in Belize; and raced the retired America's Cup Stars and Stripes sailboat in Cozumel. The hardest part about the excursions was choosing which ones to do. Next time we want to swim with the dolphins and play with the monkeys. Always nice to leave wanting to come back for more.
With so much bad news coming out daily about the cruise industry, it's vital to keep in mind that just because one company's ships are having problems does not mean that all companies' ships are having problems.
Princess Cruises continues to put together an impressive package for guests from food to entertainment to excursions to service. And with a new ship coming out, it seems that the best may be yet to come. Besides, any place that can keep both a teenage daughter and her mom happy with little to no compromise on either party's part definitely gets a double thumbs up in my book.