Carnival Sunshine is among the ships sailing unique Caribbean itineraries next winter. // © 2015 Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a series of one-of-a-kind voyages on six different ships between October of this year and February 2016. The 10- to 14-day sailing offer extends calls in ports throughout the Caribbean, South America and the Mexican Riviera.
Reservations opened in December on 11 sailings on Carnival Miracle, Carnival Dream, Carnival Glory and Carnival Sunshine. The cruises depart from Long Beach, Calif.; Port Canaveral, Fla.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Miami; and New Orleans; visiting more than two dozen destinations. Clients will have the opportunity to explore less-traveled ports such as Bonaire, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada and Tobago.
Terry Thornton, senior vice president of itinerary planning for Carnival, said the new itineraries allow the company to offer deeper, more varied ports of call from the various homeports. He said agent feedback and consumer satisfaction with one-off long cruises prompted the decisions to add more such cruises, and that bookings have been very strong for the unique, longer cruises Carnival has offered.
“For an agent selling to the Texas market, we’ve been able to offer Western Caribbean cruises or Bahamas cruises out of Galveston as the only options,” he said. “Now we can offer one-way cruises to or from San Juan that get down into the Eastern Caribbean ports such as St. Tomas and St. Barts, and we have a round-trip Galveston itinerary that goes to northern South America.”
Another big advantage is the higher price point and higher commissions on longer sailings. The itineraries are offered in fall and winter and are probably targeting a somewhat older, more affluent client. Interestingly, Thornton said price levels have been higher on shorter cruises that depart close to the one-time long itineraries, probably because the ship is unavailable for periods of time when operating long cruises.
“We know how agents have struggled with the low pricing and commissions on our short cruises,” he said. “And we hope to provide better commission levels with these single cruises.”
Thornton said Carnival is looking into some special dining-related experiences with more time onboard, as well as entertainment and learning activities — some of them specific to a particular region.
“With the additional time onboard, we can do some things that will make the cruise even more fun,” Thornton said.