The New England/Canada cruise capacity fluctuates, with cruising in the region down 19 percent in 2005 – following a 32 percent jump in 2004, according to estimates by Cruise Industry News.
A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines said that the rise and fall could be attributed to a series of “one time only” programs in the region. “When we bring in a new ship, we like to do a single program to New England/Canada for marketing purposes – designed to showcase the vessel,” he explained, referring to the practice as “more comm.on than you would think,” often implemented by other cruise lines as well. In 2005, Carnival will be operating 18 four- and five-night Canada cruises and four seven day fall foliage cruises from New York much like this year – although they will be operated by the Carnival Triumph instead of the Carnival Victory.
Royal Caribbean International has reduced its passenger capacity in the region to 27,000 in 2005, from 51,000 in 2004, and 9,800 in 2003. The line attributed the drop in 05 to “increased interest in going to the Caribbean from the Northeast.” The Enchantment of the Seas will sail 14 five- to seven-night New England/Canada cruises, compared to three ships sailing 19 cruises in 2004.
Holland America Line is offering 18 seven- to 11-night cruises in 2005 on one of its ships, the Maasdam, as opposed to 26 in 2004, which included 23 on the Massdam and three on the Rotterdam. In 2006, however, the line plans to add more seven-day and fall foliage cruises.
In 2005, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will have the Norwegian Jewel sailing four 10-night cruises roundtrip from New York, featuring calls in Boston, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Quebec City. A spokesperson for NCL attributed the drop to “a focus on more year-round cruise destinations like the Canbbean.”
Celebrity Cruises will only have the Constellation sailing two 12-night cruises roundtrip from Cape Liberty in 2005.
Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 is only scheduled for one 12-night sailing, “due to increased trans-Atlantic deployment, which went from 13 to 26 sailings,” explained David Gevanthor, vice president of marketing.
Crystal Cruises’ deployment, however, will be “relatively the same” in 2005 as it has been in 2004, according to Joe Robinson, manager, market planner. Although he said that in 2006 the line will be looking at increasing its seven-day roundtrip cruises from New York.
European deployment fluctuates as well. “We believe that there is a strong market in Atlantic Canada that European passengers are very interested in,” stated Hapag Lloyd-Cruises’ Managing Director Sebastian Ahrens. “And we will continue to explore the region,” he continued. In 2005, the Columbus will feature two sailings to Atlantic Canada. Although Hapag-Lloyd has reduced its capacity somewhat for 2005, Ahrens pointed out that it is to accommodate the line’s repeat passengers.
Nigel Lingard, director marketing for Fred. Olsen Cruises explained that he will “more than likely” stick with one fall sailing per year because of the “specialized nature” of the cruise. In 2005, Fred. Olsen’s 21-night roundtrip Canada cruise from Southampton on the Black Watch will include calls at Newfoundland, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Lingard also said that he sees several ports in the region capable of being used for turnaround ports.
P&O Cruises will again be sailing the Oriana on a 21-night roundtrip Atlantic Canada cruise from Southampton in September 2005. Ports of call include St. John’s and Halifax. While Philip Naylor, general manager, fleet operations, classified the destination as “a wonderful region for European passengers to see,” he said the downside is that it requires a 21-night cruise with trans-Atlantic voyages to and from the U.K.
While Peter Deilmann Reederei had one of its ships in Atlantic Canada this year, the line will not return in 2005. Dirk Oelrnann, head of sales and marketing, cited competition from North American lines, and its passengers preferring the warmer Mediterranean as primary reasons.
He may consider future visits to the region.
Ponant Cruises’ President Philippe Videau said that while Atlantic Canada is “lovely from a passenger’s side,” he underlined that “logistical problems” coupled with traveling long distances have influenced Ponant’s decision to position its vessel, the Le Levant, in Europe for 2005. ”We will re-examine the situation for 2006,” Videau assured.
Expedition cruise lines that sail in New England and Atlantic Canada are seeing the area as one that is continuing to become more of an attraction to cruisers looking for something a little more unique.
Marc Gross, vice president of operations and product development for Clipper Cruise Line, pointed out that he believes the market for expedition type vessels will grow in the next few years, though he noted that the region can present “a bit of a challenge to sell” because some may perceive it as not having the same exotic feel to it as an Alaska or an Antarctica cruise.
Discovery World Cruises will be extending its cruise program into the summer in 2005, sailing the 650-passenger Discovery to Atlantic Canada for the first time on two 17-night cruises from Harwich to St. John’s. “Passengers have been asking for a summer program and they wanted something unique,” said Vice President Tim Davey. He added that plans call for a similar Atlantic Canada itinerary in 2006.
“Americans are still unsure about the state of the world, but they want an exotic cruise experience,” said Maria Digati, marketing director at American Canadian Caribbean Line (ACCL). “That is why New England is very hot now in the expedition market.”
Cedar Bradley-Swan, operations manager for Adventure Canada, an Ontario-based operator currently chartering the 108-passenger Explorer, sees Atlantic Canada as “a changing destination that is now ready for a new generation of cruisers. People are realizing that expedition cruising goes beyond Antarctica,” Bradley-Swan said.