Royal Caribbean, Princess Scale Back 2014 European Cruise Ship Deployment

April 10, 2013
(11:15 a.m. EDT) -- Two of the cruise industry's biggest players are scaling back their European deployments, where bookings have remained consistently weak. Princess Cruises is cutting the number of ships deployed in the region to five, down from seven. Royal Caribbean is reducing capacity, as well.

Europe as a cruise destination has been struggling for the past couple of years, as economic uncertainty has softened bookings coming from Europeans. At the same time, a hike in Europe air prices has softened bookings coming from North America. With so many ships based in Europe, but fewer bookings coming in, pricing has suffered, making it more difficult for cruise lines to make a profit.

Princess is reducing its Continental footprint in 2014 to five ships covering 94 sailings, down from seven ships in 2013. Two of this year's Europe-based ships -- 680-passenger Pacific Princess and 3,080-passenger Crown Princess -- will move to Alaska in 2014.

Though the line is reducing the number of ships it will send to Europe, included in the Europe fleet will be its two newest, largest ships, Royal Princess, launching in June, and Regal Princess, debuting in early 2014.

Though technically Royal Caribbean will send nine ships to Europe in 2014, the same as this year (down from 12 in 2012), 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas' deployment will include just three sailings out of Barcelona in September and October. That means that eight ships will sail full Europe seasons. Excluding Oasis, sailings will be pretty evenly split between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, with four ships sailing itineraries in each area.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor