After Carnival Cruise Lines announced last week that they will be "returning" to Europe in 2011 with the launch of Carnival Dream, a trend seemed to be set in motion. Holland America Line then unveiled their 2011 Europe season, which will feature the newest Signature-class ship, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, on Mediterranean sailings, plus more round-trip and 7-day itineraries than ever before. Seven ships—Nieuw Amsterdam, Eurodam, Noordam, Rotterdam, Prinsendam, Maasdam, and Ryndam—will be based in the region. Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line will send its largest ship to date, Norwegian Epic, debuting this July, to the Mediterranean as part of her 2011 deployment to join other NCL ships based in Europe for the summer, as well as those in the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises fleets. I haven't even scratched the surface of ships heading across the Atlantic—Princess also sends a flotilla of their vessels every year and there are numerous smaller lines that roam the Med and Baltic seasonally.
As Rick Meadows, Holland America Lines' executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs says, “In 2011, we are catering to a broader range of interests as the appeal of cruising Europe continues to grow. By expanding our cruise opportunities—both in new ports and varied itineraries—we expect to entice both first-time and seasoned cruisers.”
But will the ships attract enough North Americans willing to fly to European homeports to fill them? Is there that much pent up demand? The jury's out, but if a "grand tour" of European ports is on your bucket list, it's a good time to make plans.
As for Caribbean cruises in summer 2011, sadly the choices will be more limited.