|Carnival's announcement this week that Paradise, the line's smoke-free ship, will offer regular stops at Casa de Campo is a real shot-in-the-arm for that Dominican Republic resort town. Better known as one of the Caribbean's chic society alternatives to St. Barts, Casa de Campo, on the southeast coast, is the quintessential something-for-everyone destination, offering everything from polo to shooting, and massages to golf -- not to mention gorgeous beaches and good restaurants. It' s also an exotically new destination for experienced Eastern Caribbean cruisers who have already seen much of the region's more established destinations.|
The efforts of La Romana, the actual port for Casa de Campo, which has invested heavily in attracting cruise ships, had foundered somewhat. Part of that was due to bad luck: Renaissance Cruises had announced it would homeport a ship there for weekly winter season Caribbean voyages but went out of business. So far Costa Cruises has been the only relatively regular cruise visitor; CostaAtlantica and CostaVictoria both call at La Romana/Casa de Campo every Thursday on alternating weeks during the winter Caribbean season.
In addition to Casa de Campo -- which, incidentally, is Carnival's first commitment there -- Paradise's new Eastern Caribbean route will also include stops at Nassau and St. Thomas. Highlights for the western itinerary include the ports in Belize, Isla Roatan, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. The ship will sail each route on alternating weeks from its Miami homeport. The new itineraries begin in February.
In other reshuffling news, Carnival's Inspiration will begin sailing a brand new itinerary from Tampa next May. The new itinerary features Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize. Over on the west coast, Celebrity's introducing a series of new California Coast-Mexican Riviera voyages -- ranging from 7- to 11-night trips -- on Mercury. What's interesting about this itinerary, which begins in late September 2003, is that it calls at some off-beat California stops, such as Monterey, Santa Barbara and Catalina Island. Another plus: the ship will home port out of San Francisco, which these days is a relatively exotic option.