May 16, 2013
The ultra-luxury line has announced that it will be cancelling 20 Mediterranean cruises in 2014, and replacing them with far flung destinations such as the South Pacific and South Africa.
Seven Seas Mariner's previously-scheduled Mediterranean cruises from 23 September to 18 December 2014 as well as Seven Seas Voyager's 21 October to 28 November 2014 cruises have been cancelled to allow for the new cruises.
Just last week, Carnival Cruise Lines announced it would be pulling out of Europe completely next year. Earlier this year Royal Caribbean announced it would be scaling back its European deployment from nine ships this year, to seven next year (or eight if you include Oasis of the Seas' very short season). Princess Cruises is cutting the number of ships deployed in the region to five, down from seven.
The reasons given by the various lines for the scaling back in Europe vary; Carnival claims it was expensive air fares and Regent said the move was prompted by demand from its ‘esteemed guests' to travel for longer cruises (the new itineraries range from 10 to 43 nights) but the underlining issue is continued weak demand in the region.
Europe as a cruise destination has been struggling for the past couple of years, with economic uncertainty softening bookings. At the same time, a hike in air fares to Europe to North America has seen a sharp fall in bookings coming from the U.S. and Canada. Overcapacity plus weak demand has led to deep discounting, with lines struggling to make a profit.
By contrast, Australia is booming, with a number of lines adding capacity Down Under. --by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor