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Royal Caribbean have recently announced that Southampton-based Independence of the Seas will head for Florida for a season of Caribbean cruises in winter 2012/13. Indy has been based at Southampton since 2008, and has I believe stayed there all year for at least the last two years. Royal Caribbean haven’t explained why she’s heading off to the Caribbean in a year’s time, but presumably it’s because they reckon she can make more money there. Perhaps Brits don’t like taking winter cruises, or perhaps we don’t want to take winter cruises that must inevitable involve several days sailing up and down a cold and grey English Channel and Atlantic, on a ship so geared up for summer. I’m especially thinking of all those balconies. She will be back in the spring of 2013, however.

Interestingly, P&O are going in the opposite direction – they’re cutting down on the number of Caribbean fly-cruises but increasing the number of winter cruises out of Southampton.
While this year both Ventura and Azura will be doing Caribbean fly-cruises, from winter 2012 only Ventura will be so employed. Oriana and Oceana will be doing a program of cruises from Southampton for the whole winter, while Adonia, Arcadia, Aurora and Azura will be doing world cruises or grand voyages in the new year of 2013, and cruises from Southampton of various lengths until then.

Why do P&O think they can do it while RC don’t? Perhaps there are two factors at work here. First might be the fact that some of the P&O ships are better-suited to cold-weather cruising than Indy; a higher proportion of the P&O ships’ attractions are indoors or can be made indoors, e.g. the pools with magradomes which Arcadia and Aurora have, and those ships with either fewer balconies or enclosed balconies which might be better suited to the winter weather in the channel. There’s also the fact that when Indy goes to Florida, she’ll be going home, and a great number of her passengers can cruise on her without having to fly. Finally there’s the point that air passenger tax and ever-rising air prices mean that fly-cruising is becoming more and more expensive. I think P&O are banking on the fact that their regular passengers’ increasing reluctance to fly will outweigh their desire to cruise in warm weather.

One Response to “Winter cruising in Europe”

  1. Iain Smith says:

    I’m sure P&O know what tyey are doing but i for one would never consider a winter cruise leaving from Southampton (and i’m a huge fan of the P&O product) however travelling from north of the border to Southampton followed by three (more than likely) rough days at sea getting the med (and a another three rough days coming back) wouldn’t put me in the holiday mood , so if i cruise the Med in winter it will be someone based where the sunshine is more likely to be comapred to Southampton , plus flying from Glasgow to say Palma / Corfu or Venice would be quicker than driving down to Southampton , the only downside being i wouldn’t be on a P&O ship šŸ™

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