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Royal Caribbean looking to expand to Nicaragua?


The Spanish language site Estrategia Negocios is reporting that Royal Caribbean is working with the country of Nicaragua to rebuild the port of San Juan del Sur.  The idea is to rebuild the port, which will promote more cruise ships operating in the Pacific to stop in Nicaragua.  Nicaragua Tourism Minister Mario Salinas sees the cruise business as "a segment to exploit. "  In addition, the Nicaraguan government is also working on the construction of 'inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua tourism', a mechanical transport system move boats and yachts between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Perhaps Nicaragua is looking for something similar to the deal that Royal Caribbean has reached with Jamaica to open a $170 million port at Historic Falmouth Jamaica.  By opening a new sea port, Nicaragua seeks to increase the weight of the tourism industry in the country, to which the sector currently contributes about 5.2% of GDP, with about 930,000 visitors during 2009, which resulted in an increase of 8.6 % from a year earlier.  Nicaragua ranks low in tourism compared to its neighboring countries such as Costa Rica and so this, along with other measures taken, will hopefully increase tourism in this Central American country.

Port of Balitmore booming with traffic


While recent news has Norfolk, Virginia losing it's Royal Caribbean ships, Balitmore, Maryland is experiencing an influx of growth that has made the port of Baltimore a new hub of cruise ship activity with the arrival of the second year-round cruise ship to call there. Carnival, Celebrity and Norwegian lines all have ships in Baltimore and now Enchantment of the Seas will call Balitmore home.

Baltimore's cruise terminal was built in 2006 and in 2008, 27 cruises left from Baltimore. In 2009 and 2010, cruise business grew three times that and a record 113 cruises are already scheduled for 2011, with an expected 240,000 passengers, compared to only 47,000 three years ago.

Port of Balitmore representative Richard Scher says the Port of Baltimore is such a hot spot because of its location.  It's right off I-95, just 10 miles away from BWI and within 90 miles of three other major airports.

Royal Caribbean ends cruises out of Norfolk, Virginia


This past Saturday marked the last cruise out of Norfolk, Virginia for Royal Caribbean.  The company has decided to move Enchantment of the Seas north Baltimore, and the reason for the change seems to be about demand.  Company spokesman Harrison Liu mentioned that Baltimore offers "a year-round demand for passengers". 

Royal Caribbean had been serving Norfolk since 2007 and Enchantment of the Seas was the final ship to call Norfolk home.  

Oasis of the Seas to cease Nassau stops?


There's a report out that Oasis of the Seas, pride of the Royal Caribbean fleet, is planning on ending port stops in Nassau, Bahamas.  On the other side, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, minister of tourism in the Bahamas, denied these claims that were first reported by Tribune Business and other media.  The news is particularly alarming to Bahemians who recently voted to spend $44 million of taxpayer monies on the Nassau harbour dredging.

There hasn't been any comment by Royal Caribbean officially on the matter.  Crime in Nassau has been in the news and could be a reason why Oasis could be changing her itinerary, if it is in fact true.

Norfolk Virginia still a popular port


We all tend to think of states like Florida or Texas when it comes to the state we leave from for a cruise, but for those in the mid-Atlantic states, there's still lots of activity out of Norfolk, Virginia aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  Enchantment of the Seas serves Bermuda as well as other Caribbean ports of call and WAVY-TV 10 is reporting many who frequent Norfolk as their departure port are loving it.

"Cruising from Norfolk is a hit with local passengers like Tom Anthony who finds it a bargain too. He is just returning.

"We live in Chesapeake so to be able to be dropped off here and get on a cruise ship and not having to travel a whole additional day to and from makes it a lot better value for us. But also the price is about what you would spend on a hotel and they throw in all the food you can eat for free and drop you off at a beautiful place like Bermuda," Anthony said."

With so many ships heading to Europe to chase the high demand there, it's good to hear smaller ports like Norfolk are still generating demand to keep ships serving that port and making it easier to get to your next Royal Caribbean cruise.

Port Focus: Nassau


If you've been on a cruise before, more than likely, you've been to Nassau, Bahamas.  Nassau has become the ubiquitous stop for most cruisers due to it's proximity to the United States eastern shore cruising ports.  Many seem to have a love it or hate it opinion of the port but there's definitely good reason many ships make a stop here.

Nassau Benefits

  • Beaches: Nassau has an assortment of private and public beaches to choose from that are sure to please most beach goers.  While Nassau beaches aren't the absolute prettiest in the world, they do embody that typical Caribbean white sand and blue water motif that many seek on any vacation into the Caribbean.
    • Best private beach: Atlantis Resort
    • Best public beach: Cable Beach
  • Shopping: The downtown area near the dock area is easy to navigate and offers a variety of shopping options.  Nassau isn't known for having the best deal on much, but pricing here can be a bargain when compared to buying the items back in the United States.  Liquor tends to be a good deal, especially the local variety.
  • Historic landmarks: While not renown for its historical significance, there are some rather interesting historical landmarks to see at least once.  These relics from the British colonial era can be fascinating and educational to see.
    • Not to be missed landmarks: Queen's Staircase, Christopher Columbus Statue, Fort Charlotte

Nassau Detractions

  • "Pushy" locals: Nearly all ports in the Caribbean will have their share of locals trying to persuade tourists to get their hair braided or take a taxi cab or some other service.  While the pushiness in Nassau isn't as bad as other islands, it's still existent and can be an issue for those who do not like being approached.
  • Lack of exoticness: Even proponents of Nassau will admit that Nassau and Paradise Island aren't the most exotic of locations.  Other ports in the Caribbean tend to be much more exotic looking and intriguing a destination.

If you choose not to get off the ship at Nassau, be sure to look into deals on board the ship for deals as port days often bring better deals at the spa, among other locations.

Royal Caribbean Ships stopping in Nassau: Explorer of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas