Looking to plan a cruise in 2012? With so many new ports, destinations and ships every year, the process can be overwhelming. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or embarking for the first time, our selection of the hottest cruises and destinations in 2012 will help you plan your next adventure.
For a look inside some of the biggest and baddest ships on the high seas, check out our Super Cruise Ship photos.
Port Diversions: Hawaii Heats UpShips have been diverted from their itineraries for a variety of reasons this year: violence, political strife and natural disasters in planned port cities. Cruise ships skipped the southern Mediterranean, including Egypt and Tunisia, as well as Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, due to the political unrest. Hawaii has become a popular cruise destination as a safe alternative to the increasingly violent Mexican cities of Mazatlan, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta.
The good news is that cruise lines are able to respond quickly with alternative ports or extra time at sea. “You might not stop in the same (scheduled) port cities, but at least you still get your trip,” points out Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief for Cruise Critic, a cruise review website.
Alaska is Back“Anywhere that Disney goes, it’s like a magic wand of pixie dust that it sprinkles all over the place,” says Spencer Brown. “Disney doesn’t just go anywhere, and it prepares very carefully before it goes into a market.” Alaska’s popularity has waned in recent years due in part to the failing economy and an oversaturated market.
But cruising to Alaska is undergoing a makeover thanks to Mickey Mouse and his pals. Both Princess and Norwegian Cruise Lines are adding ships to the Alaska circuit this year, and the smaller Innersea Discoveries and American Cruise Line ships are also starting service.
Cruising Down the River“European river cruising is hot,” says Spencer Brown. “The river cruise lines are investing in their fleets, and the new ships have a more modern feel,” she says. “They don’t have set dinner hours and the entertainment is sophisticated with amenities like bikes on board. They are ramping things up and even going after the family market.”
Not only is European river cruising heating up, but Mississippi river cruising is becoming more popular as well. Two new cruise lines are setting their sights on the Mighty Mississippi: one with a totally refurbished steamboat named the American Queen, and one with a brand-new paddlewheeler named the Queen of the Mississippi.
Titanic CruisesOne hundred years after the RMS Titanic sank, the world is still captivated by the ill-fated ship. For a truly unique experience, book a cabin onboard one of the Titanic Memorial Cruises, which will offer everything from history lessons and lectures to the same first-class meal that was served on the ship that fateful night. There will be plenty of memorials on land as well: Belfast’s Titanic Museum opens in March, and an auction of 5,500 items recovered from the ship will take place on April 1 in New York City.
Cruising Down UnderSpencer Brown predicts that Australian cruises will be the next big thing in 2012. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean cruise lines are ramping up trips in the southern Pacific. Carnival has announced plans to send a ship Down Under in 2012, offering an affordable option to explore the region. On the other end of the pricing spectrum, Cunard has plans for a world cruise, which would circumnavigate Australia aboard the luxurious Queen Mary 2 in 2012. While the primary market for some of these trips may be the local Australians and New Zealanders, as the economy improves, the cruise ships are betting that more US tourists may be ready to invest in these longer and pricier trips.
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