There's a little bit of competition happening in Texas. As a result, two cruise lines are getting some $6.7 million of the Houston Port Authority's money to port ships in Bayport Cruise Terminal in the Houston suburb of Pasadena.
This is not a brand new terminal - it cost more than $100 million US to build and has been sitting empty since it opened in 2008.
Apparently, nobody thought to ask cruise lines if they would like a new terminal, so they have been sailing out of Galveston for the last four years.
Here's the deal:
Norwegian and Princess cruise lines will receive a combined $6.7 million from the port authority through 2016 to defray marketing and startup costs - and be able to use the empty Bayport Terminal free.
The authority will give $6 million to Norwegian, which has agreed to 75 departures from the fall of 2014 through 2017, and $685,000 to Princess in return for 27 departures in 2013 and 2014.
Canadians are winners by having a second port in Texas to go along with the popular Galveston. Canadians flying into both airports - George Bush International and William P. Hobby - will be closer to Bayport, which is located in an industrial shipping area.
The 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess starts cruises in November, 2013, and the Norwegian Jewel's week-long cruises begin in fall 2014. Princess cruises out of Houston are now on sale. So far, Norwegian has not posted its cruises for sale.
This winter, there is a lot of choice in Galveston. Carnival has two ships, while Princess, Disney and Royal Caribbean also have ships that call the gulf port home.
When the battle for Texas port superiority commences, it appears pricing will favour the consumer.
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Finally this week, there has been a lot of hype about the strength of the European market, especially the Mediterranean, for 2013. But is it valid?
Royal Caribbean, which had 12 ships in Europe, is sending three fewer for next year. Now there's word that Carnival is leaving Europe early.
Carnival's Legend is cancelling six cruises from the end of September to the end of November. In their places are:
- A 15-night transatlantic crossing departing Dover on Sept. 25 and arriving in New York on Oct. 10.
-A 10-night Caribbean cruise from New York to Tampa, Florida, departing Oct. 10.
- A five-night Caribbean cruise sailing round-trip from Tampa, leaving Oct. 21.
The Legend will also sail an eight-night Caribbean cruise round-trip from Tampa on Oct. 26 with calls in Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay (Roatan), Belize and Costa Maya. It will then resume its originally scheduled seven-night Caribbean rotation from Tampa beginning Nov. 3.
With several sales and price guarantees, cruise lines are hoping to avoid a repeat of the sell-off that occurred late last year in the Mediterranean. We will have a better idea of the market's strength after New Year's Day.
Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for more cruise information. Phil Reimer can be contacted directly at portsandbows@ gmail.com.
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