That’s quite a change from just a few years ago, when cruise ships rarely spent more than the daytime hours in any port. Azamara has been promoting late-evening and overnight special events in port cities for some time, and now ships from its sister company, Celebrity, will make overnight stays next year in 11 cities — Buenos Aires, Panama, Copenhagen, Iceland, St. Petersburg (Russia), Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Le Havre (for Paris), Bordeaux and Bilbao.
For passengers who may not have the time or desire for a long cruise, more lines are now offering shorter sailings. Princess, for example, is debuting its first-ever series of shorter cruises this fall. Sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, the Ruby Princess will make four- and five-night cruises to Caribbean, and on the West Coast the Golden Princess will start three-and four-night trips out of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
More cruise lines also are deploying ships to new ports, not only to serve natives of those regions, but to others who might want to cruise in locales far from home.
Several lines are basing ships in Australia. Carnival, whose Carnival Spirit has been based in Sydney, will station a second vessel, the Carnival Legend, there next year. Royal Caribbean has three ships based in Australia. Princess, which has two ships based in Australia, homeported a ship seasonally in Japan this year and plans to return there again next year. Costa, which long has had a ship based in China, added a second one this year. Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas splits homeports between China and Singapore.
Here in the United States, MSC will base a ship year-round in Miami for the first time starting Nov. 20. The MSC Divina, one of the line’s newest and largest ships, entered service in 2013 and carries more than 3,500 passengers.
Also this year, Princess will base a ship year-round in San Francisco for the first time, and Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas will begin year-round sailings from Galveston.
All in all, if you’re thinking of a cruise, you’ve got more choices today than ever before.
Here are some of the other itinerary changes the cruise lines are making.
• Azamara: Because nearly every Azamara cruise is a unique itinerary, the line visits many ports of calls for the first time every year. In 2014, Azamara ships will make maiden calls at 45 destinations on four continents.
• Carnival: The line is spending $65 million to build a new cruise port on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Scheduled to open in 2014, the Amber Cove Cruise Center is designed to open the Dominican north coast as a popular cruise destination. The last cruise ship to call at Puerto Plata was nearly 30 years go.
• Celebrity: The line is introducing a new series of special land adventures for small parties. These will include such experiences as hiking beneath a volcano in Iceland, touring the hills of Rome in a Ferrari and attending the British Open golf tourney on a VIP package.
• Costa: New itineraries include sailings to the Canary Islands and Morocco with overnight calls in Casablanca and Funchal, Portugal, and cruises from Dubai with overnight calls at Muscat and Khasah, Oman, and Abu Dhabi, UAE. New this winter are sailings from Guadeloupe and cruises from South America.
• Disney: In 2014, the Disney Magic will sail from Venice on a new Greek islands cruise, calling at five isles and overnighting in Venice. The line also is deploying to a new homeport, San Juan, in 2014 and is adding a new port of call, Sitka, on its Alaska itineraries.