Boosted by the introduction of new and refurbished ships, this market is expected to increase by more than two per cent to 1.76 million in 2013. Newsworthy upgrades include Carnival Cruise Lines’s Carnival Destiny, which re-emerged in the summer after a £100 million transformation under the new name of Carnival Sunshine and P&O Cruises’s family-friendly superliner Ventura, which now comes complete with a Glass House wine bar, an adults-only chill-out zone and 18 cabins for single passengers.
Keep an eye out, too, for perhaps the most eagerly awaited launch of 2014 – Royal Caribbean International’sQuantum of the Seas, which is due to enter service next November. The ultimate floating pleasure palace, it will set sail with bumper cars, an observation pod swinging 200ft above the ocean surface and its own sky-diving simulator.
The knock-on benefit of this increase in passenger numbers is that we can expect more ports of call – and more places in which to join cruises in the growth area of the Far East, Morocco, Antarctica, Iceland and the Galapagos Islands.
River cruising continues to grow in popularity, and an increasing number of companies are ensuring that activities for children are laid on during the school summer holidays, as well as pre- and post-cruise land-based itineraries that tie in with holidays afloat. This makes it easy to book a beach hotel on the Med or visit a Florida theme park alongside a cruise.
Ships are also longer in port, which means that passengers can really get under the skin of the destinations they are visiting.
Royal Caribbean International: The Mediterranean is the sea to be seen on next summer as an expanded range of fly-cruises is to become available in the region. One of the highlights will be the first European appearance of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas – the world’s largest cruise ship. The 6,400-passenger vessel will run a short series of Mediterranean cruises in autumn 2014.
Disney Cruise Line: This cruise line is returning to the Mediterranean next summer with its refurbished Disney Magic, and will be offering a range of four- to 12-night cruises from Barcelona and Venice.
P&O Cruises: Revamped superliner Ventura will be taking passengers from Malaga, Spain, Venice and Savona in Italy. Between March and October, the ship will be running seven- and 14-night itineraries around the Greek Islands, Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, the French Riviera and some of Italy’s most iconic cities.
Pullmantur: The Spanish line is making dramatic changes in order to attract more British families in 2014. The company, which is sold by Major Travel in the UK has always allowed under-17s sharing a cabin with their parents to cruise free of charge, paying only port taxes of around £169 for a seven-night Mediterranean cruise. And now the offer is being extended to single parents, so one or two children travelling with an adult will be able to benefit.