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During the “State of the Industry” address, at Cruise Shipping Miami,┬á MSC CruisesÔÇÖ worldwide chief-executive-officer, Pierfrancesco Vago, spoke about cruising trends in Europe.

MSC reports that passenger numbers have grown from 127,000 to 1,220,000 in seven years- and much of that is attributed to growth within the cruising region of Europe, which has seen a 163 percent increase in bookings in the last 10 years.┬á This growth has ushered in a new cruise era, in which the “old world” has become the cruise destination of choice.┬á “Europe is undoubtedly the top destination on anyoneÔÇÖs dream vacation list. Cruising the Mediterranean and Baltic seas has become the new iconic way to do the traditional Grand Tour especially for Americans, and increasingly for the Chinese and Indians too,” said Vago.

This sentiment is echoed by some big travel players: USA Today reported in 2009 that Europe was declared ÔÇÿthe hottest story in cruisingÔÇÖ two years ago; the market has continued to grow at an exponential rate since then, a “healthy and vibrant market”, according to Vago.

This positive growth pattern is reflected with the cruise industryÔÇÖs new ship builds; MSC CruisesÔÇÖ 12th and newest ship, the MSC Fantastica,, is being launched in 2012.┬á The 3,274-passenger vessel is modeled on the very successful ÔÇÿFantasiaÔÇÖ prototype.

This new ship, in the MSC Cruises tradition, will integrate a European flair, spotlighting the utmost standards of service, onboard gourmet experiences and charismatic cultural excursions in fascinating cities like Rome, Venice and Barcelona.

The very idea of the Mediterranean brings to mind stunning natural beauty, diverse cultural heritage, sophistication, and champagne- in short, the glamorous life! It is, without a doubt, one of the most desirable regions in the world to cruise, as the whole region is peppered with picturesque beaches, secret coves, spectacular harbors, and exotic port destinations.

I can attest to the allure of the golden beaches of St. Tropez, the elegance of Monte Carlos Grand Casino, the eternal beauty of Rome These remarkable destinations are a must-see for world travelers, and all of them (and more!) can be visited on a western Mediterranean cruise.

If a Mediterranean cruise is on your wish list this year, consider booking now- Windstar Cruises is running specials on bookings for their “Glitter & Glam Western Mediterranean Voyages-made now through March 31, 2011.┬á┬á Following is a listing of itineraries available:

  • 7-Day Lisbon to Barcelona voyage on Wind Surf departs April 17, 2011 and visits Tangier, Morocco; Malaga, Spain; Almeria, Spain; Cartagena, Spain; and Ibiza, Spain.
  • 7-Day Barcelona to Rome voyages on Wind Surf departing April 24 and May 8, 2011, and visits Palma de Mallorca, Spain; St. Tropez, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Portofino, Italy; and Livorno, Italy.
  • 7-Day Barcelona to Rome voyage on Wind Spirit departing April 30, 2011 and on Wind Star departing May 7, 2011, visiting Mahon, Menorca, Spain; St. Tropez, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Portofino, Italy; and Livorno Italy.
  • 7-Day Athens to Venice on Wind Star departing July 16, 2011, and visiting Monemvasia, Greece; Pylos, Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Trogir, Croatia; and Pula, Croatia.
  • 7-Day Venice to Athens on Wind Star departing July 30, 2011, and visiting Pula, Croatia; Trogir, Croatia; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Pylos, Greece; and Monemvasia, Greece.

These voyages will be absolutely amazing.  Find out more about Windstar Cruises here.

Cruise Ships And Harleys

HereÔÇÖs a trend that Harley-Davidson riders everywhere can get “onboard” with; on your next cruise, hop off the cruise ship and onto a rental bike!┬á If you are a fan of seeing “open road” on the back of a Harley Road King or Heritage Classic, there remain countless global frontiers out there to explore!

Harley Davidson® has established rental locations throughout the world to accommodate the growing cadre of international road warriors. (All rentals are late-model Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, serviced and maintained to strict company standards. See AllThingsCruise for a complete listing of Harley-Davidson® authorized rental locations.)

Here are a few examples of the rental opportunities available to avid riders:

While biking on a Harley offers terrific side-trip opportunities on any cruise, note that there are some things to keep in mind before you sign up for your rental. For most of Harley DavisdsonÔÇÖs┬« international rental locations, riders must:

  • Be 21 years of age or older.
  • Have a valid heavyweight motorcycle operatorÔÇÖs license.
  • Have a major credit card.
  • Must possess the skills, knowledge to operate a heavyweight motorcycle.

Riders should expect that their Harley-Davidson Authorized Rentals® will provide:

  • Use of a Harley-Davidson country-approved helmet and rainsuit for a comfortable and enjoyable ride.
  • Short-term luggage storage.
  • 24-hour emergency roadside assistance.

(In addition, Supplemental Liability Insurance and Supplemental Personal Property & Personal Accident Insurance may be available. Availability, coverage, and rates vary by location. Riders must speak directly with their rental location for details.)

For information about booking a cruise contact Ross Spalding or a cruise specialist at Crown Cruise Vacations– call (877) 283-1114 USA toll-free or +1(609) 945-9801.

See a complete listing of international Harley-Davidson® authorized rental locations here.

To Save Money, People are Cruising Closer to Home

BathingThe Caribbean remains a top destination among cruisers, and more are bringing their children along for the journey, according to a new survey by the Cruise Lines International Association.

Cruise experts also say that, in response to rising fuel costs, cruise lines are increasing surcharges and changing their itineraries. Some are skipping Aruba, once a popular port, because of the extra fuel it takes to get there.

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Even with no end in sight to rising gas prices, cruising is not expected to decline, says Heidi Allison-Shane, spokeswoman for CruiseCompete .com. The overall satisfaction ratings are high: 95 percent of all cruisers rate their experience as satisfying and more than three-fourths of past cruisers plan to take another cruise within three years.

Read the entire story at Newsday.com

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  • Caribbean Remains Top Cruise Destination

    The Caribbean remains a top destination among cruisers, and more are bringing their children along for the journey, according to a new survey by the Cruise Lines International Association.

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    Cruises are also a superior economic value for families, says Heidi Allison-Shane, spokeswoman for CruiseCompete.com, adding that her college-aged children have run up thousands in room service bills on non-cruise vacations.

    ”You can have as much as you want to eat,” she says. “You can have your children with you and yet everyone has their own activity.”

    Read the entire story at the Miami Herald

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  • Bon Voyage on a Budget

    You’ve cut down on dining out, held impulse buys at bay, and stashed cash for months for that summer trip. Now it’s time to get the most bang for those vacation bucks. Whether you’re traveling with the family, taking off with your man, or craving adventure with your girlfriends, you can enjoy first-class fun at discount prices. That’s right, even in the summertime, when it seems as if everybody’s trying to get away from it all. Here’s some insider information on saving money and scoring perks on your next vacation:

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    Cruise prices tend to drop and become a great value in late summer and early fall. When booking a cruise, ask if “guarantees” are available. That magic word means you’ll pay the lowest price. “You take a chance, because they’ll put you wherever they have room, but many times you’ll get an upgrade,” says Heidi Allison-Shane, spokesperson for CruiseCompete.com.

    Read the entire story at Essence

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  • More choices in food, activities, itineraries and luxury are some of the trends shaping the cruise industry for 2008. But the big unknown is what will happen with prices.

    Cruise Lines International Association estimates that 12.6 million people cruised worldwide in 2007 on the 24 cruise lines CLIA represents. That’s a 4.6 percent increase over 2006. CLIA believes demand will hold, with a projected 12.8 million passengers for 2008 despite the weakening economy.

    But consumers with flexible vacation plans may be in for some deals. “The more uncertainty there is in the marketplace, the more deals there will be later in the year,” said Heidi Allison Shane, spokeswoman for Cruise Compete.com. ”When the cruise lines go out with high prices and they don’t sell out, the bigger the discounts later on.” The softest markets, she predicted, will be in mega-ships sailing to the Caribbean and Bermuda.

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    Read the entire story at the Chicago Sun Times

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  • While the European cruise market is growing, there has been a general softness in demand for Caribbean cruises in the last year, and that is cutting into revenue for cruise lines, according to industry executives at the annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention held mid-March.

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    CruiseCompete spokeswoman Heidi Allison said consumers should also look at “amenities” offered by agents providing cruise quotes through the website.

    She explained that amenities are essentially cash credits or discounts that you can use for onboard expenses. For example, a “cabin credit” is money placed in your shipboard account to be used for tips, drinks, or anything else you can charge while on board. You may also be offered credits that can only be used for certain types of expenses, like spa services. Casino credits can be redeemed for chips if you gamble, or cashed in if you don’t.

    “Sometimes you’ll need to contact the agency to find out the amount of the credits, as they will have to discuss it with you personally,” Allison said. “Be sure to do this. It can pay off in big savings for you.”

    Read the entire story at USAToday

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