April 1, 2002
Barring unforeseen circumstances, cruise lines are once again embracing Europe -- if not, alas, this year, then next. Princess has just announced it will deploy two of its three 109,000-ton megaships -- Grand and Golden -- in the Mediterranean in 2003. The fleet’s largest vessels -- and the biggest industry-wide to sail the Mediterranean -- will basically cruise identical 12-day itineraries between Barcelona and Venice. Other options include transitional transatlantic crossings and Mediterranean-Atlantic trips. Since Grand Princess has been sailing year-round voyages in the Caribbean, the move of that ship to Europe leaves summer-in-the-tropics bereft of a Grand-class vessel. Though the cruise line has not yet announced 2003 Caribbean summer itineraries it is clear that Star Princess, the third in this triumvirate, will continue to maintain her base on the West Coast (and her summer schedule in Alaska). Still, big ship aficionados will still have year-round options in the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean, which is sailing all three of its 142,000-ton Voyager class vessels in the Caribbean on a year-round basis -- says it has no intention of rerouting any of them to Europe.