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Cruise Lines Scale Back European Itineraries in 2014

cruiseThere was a time when everyone who’s anyone cruised the Mediterranean or Northern Europe each and every summer. These were the ports of the rich and famous that offered the best sights devoted to history, architecture, art, culture, and shopping. But times are changing and it’s clear that European ports will be much sleepier as soon as the . That’s because many lines have reduced their capacity in the region or even pulled out of the season completely.

What’s caused this disruption inside the traditional European cruise season? A couple of things. A weak global economy implies that Europeans have pulled back on vacation spending. Meanwhile, expensive airfare from US and also Canadian cities is stopping many North americans from booking these itineraries. With passenger rates dwindling, had to make the tough choice to cut back capacity or skip the Mediterranean along with European ports completely next summer season.

Who’s Leaving?

1. Carnival, which had two ships in the region this year—Carnival Legend and Carnival Sunshine (formerly Carnival Destiny)—has pulled out of Europe altogether in the 2014 summer season. Legend will instead sail out of Sydney, Australia. Replacement itineraries for Carnival Sunshine have not yet been determined.

2. has traditionally enjoyed successful seasons in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in Europe and currently has seven ships in the region. It will redeploy two of those vessels—Pacific Princess and Crown Princess—to Alaska for the duration of summer 2014.

3. While will have the same number of ships—nine—in the Europe next year as it does now, the total number of passengers carried by those ships will be less than that of 2013. And, it’s certainly down from the 12 ships that sailed Europe in 2012.

4. Even luxury line Regent Seven Seas has cut 20 European sailings in favor of cruises in the South Pacific and Asia (although these changes aren’t yet reflected on its website).

Who’s Staying?

Not everyone is worried about next summer. The more intimate luxury lines like SeaDream Yacht Club and Paul Gauguin Cruises haven’t changed their plans and are expecting strong sales—especially since overall capacity in the region will be down. And, while Windstar Cruises is sending Wind Spirit to French Polynesia next summer, it also picked up a new yacht—Star Pride (formerly Seabourn Pride)—which will sail 7- to 9-night voyages from Rome, Athens, Venice, and Istanbul in 2014.

Who’s Doubled Down on Europe?

We’re glad you asked. Star Clippers, which operates a fleet of three clipper ships, will deploy each of them in the Mediterranean between April 28 and October 25.

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