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Symphony Caribbean cruises 2021?


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I am starting another optimistic thread since the word is that Symphony is moving to the Caribbean for the balance of 2021.

I have already called my TA to reserve a B2B for November

I have a Silversea TA scheduled for November but it leaves from Lisbon and I am not confident it will go.

Once again -- I do not care where I go .. . . . ..

 

Let's use this thread to post whatever information we can glean about these sailings -- and maybe have a single thread this time LOLOL

 

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My TA called Crystal

They know nothing about these sailings.

So he is now reaching out to his rep.

If I get info I will let you know.

I guess it is still just a concept with details to be determined.

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I think it will be like the Bahama sailings.

 

They won't release them until they are ready to announce.

 

They announce and a few days load pricing and open up the bookings.

 

Very glad to see Symphony moving forward.

 

Very exciting for the guests and also for the Symphony crew who I am sure is looking forward to returning.  

 

Keith

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47 minutes ago, bitob said:

My TA called Crystal

They know nothing about these sailings.

So he is now reaching out to his rep.

If I get info I will let you know.

I guess it is still just a concept with details to be determined.

 

The references I've seen from Crystal ALL said "soon to be announced" or "In the coming weeks we also expect to announce..."  I haven't seen any information indicating they have any details firm enough for public consumption yet.  I'm afraid we're going to have to wait a while before we hear the details.

 

Vince

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That does seem to be the case.  I am hoping that anyone who has any details will post on this thread.

I've already given cabin number request.  LOL

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From my TA

 

The itineraries are in the works but not finalized

No date has been set yet for bookings to open.

 

So we just wait . . . . . .

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Which Caribbean island can manage a turn over  ?  Barbados  St Maarten maybe ...

Otherwise Crystal must involve too many seadays ex Miami or ex San Juan .  

It does remember me on the year in year out one week cruises on the Ss Norway ex France  years ago 4 sea days and 3 islands ... never did those but the cruises  were extremely popular. 

And for the moment even vaccinated EC pax cannot enter the US. 

 

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5 minutes ago, vistaman said:

Which Caribbean island can manage a turn over  ?  Barbados  St Maarten maybe ...

Otherwise Crystal must involve too many seadays ex Miami or ex San Juan .  

It does remember me on the year in year out one week cruises on the Ss Norway ex France  years ago 4 sea days and 3 islands ... never did those but the cruises  were extremely popular. 

And for the moment even vaccinated EC pax cannot enter the US. 

 

Yes, cruise lines are using other islands including St. Maarten, St. Lucia, and Barbados.

 

Certainly lots of coordination had to be done to figure out Nassau as it is not often this location is used for a turn around.

 

While I am sure they are deep in the planning stages with lots still to figure out they wouldn't have mentioned itineraries coming unless they had a good feeling they could do this.

 

Keith

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47 minutes ago, vistaman said:

Which Caribbean island can manage a turn over  ?  Barbados  St Maarten maybe ...

Otherwise Crystal must involve too many seadays ex Miami or ex San Juan .  

It does remember me on the year in year out one week cruises on the Ss Norway ex France  years ago 4 sea days and 3 islands ... never did those but the cruises  were extremely popular. 

And for the moment even vaccinated EC pax cannot enter the US. 

 


The main reason at this point for avoiding US ports is the uncertainty of when the CDC is actually going to lift the cruise ship ban.  I doubt the current order will remain in place until it expires late in the year, but who knows when it will actually be lifted, and that level of uncertainty makes it impossible to plan.

 

To that end, I feel worse for the USVI and Puerto Rico than Florida, since they have less to fall back on.

 

Keith hit on several of the islands that could turn around Symphony without blinking...  Really most Caribbean islands would be able to handle it with a little coordination from airlines.  I’m not nominating St Kitts, but we’ve done 800 person groups there in the past without issue, so with coordination from local officials to help restore airline schedule cuts there are lots of options.

 

Vince

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Does it have to be a Caribbean Island as a home port? Somehow I think it could also be Panama City and from there to the much interesting south Caribbean (Cartagena, San Andres, Curaçao...). Well, I know is wish thinking only 😔.

Ivi

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, travelberlin said:

Does it have to be a Caribbean Island as a home port? Somehow I think it could also be Panama City and from there to the much interesting south Caribbean (Cartagena, San Andres, Curaçao...). Well, I know is wish thinking only 😔.

Ivi


It just depends on the itinerary...  For a 10 day itinerary, certainly all of those ports come into play as options.  If I had to pick a turnaround port in the region though, I’d probably shoot myself before I signed any contracts though — from a group logistics perspective they’re all pretty bad.

 

Curacao would actually be my front runner, with Aruba as my second choice.  Both work really well with airlines to scale up as needed, and work well logistically for transfers hotels and local suppliers.

 

The ports on the continent(s) are all pretty problematic.  
 

Panama City would be interesting if you were doing a single voyage launch point, like a grand voyage.  To have to repeat every week would be an issue though because of its location.  Either you’d have to do 2 canal transits per cruise, which would be cost prohibitive and a logistical pain, or shuttle everyone clear across the country to Colon, which I don’t think everyone would enjoy either.  This might be more attractive for Panamanian registered cruise lines, but for everyone else the Panamanian government is also notoriously difficult to work with on groups.

 

Costa Rica would also be an easier sell if it was a Pacific itinerary, but it involves long bus rides to San Jose either way.  The Costa Rican government is extremely easy to work with and airlines love supporting groups there as well, so it’s kind of a shame Limon doesn’t have a better port or more convenient to San Jose.

 

Logistically Cancun would be a DREAM port in terms of turnaround (incredible air service, slashed air time, plentiful hotel and transportation options, etc.)...  Except of course there is no cruise-capable port.  Whomp whomp.  Playa del Carmen is far enough to make this painful.

 

If we had a time machine, Caracas would have been an interesting option.  Unfortunately I was in elementary school the last time that would have worked.

 

I think Cartagena is a tougher sell too.  Not that it couldn’t be used for turnarounds, but I think it works a LOT better as a intermediate port than a turnaround, both in terms of marketing and logistics — especially when you have better options offshore.

 

Just my two cents, purely personal opinions...

 

Vince

Edited by BWIVince
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My first cruise was round trip Montego Bay, Jamaica; air was pretty easy.

 

Any word on Endeavor itineraries?  In the Genting report it was mentioned that their itineraries would be announced this month too.

 

Marc

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6 hours ago, BWIVince said:


The main reason at this point for avoiding US ports is the uncertainty of when the CDC is actually going to lift the cruise ship ban.  I doubt the current order will remain in place until it expires late in the year, but who knows when it will actually be lifted, and that level of uncertainty makes it impossible to plan.

 

To that end, I feel worse for the USVI and Puerto Rico than Florida, since they have less to fall back on.

 

Keith hit on several of the islands that could turn around Symphony without blinking...  Really most Caribbean islands would be able to handle it with a little coordination from airlines.  I’m not nominating St Kitts, but we’ve done 800 person groups there in the past without issue, so with coordination from local officials to help restore airline schedule cuts there are lots of options.

 

Vince


Wow! Re St. Kitts

 

and I agree with you re USVI and PR.

 

I did see convention-goers in Tampa last week, which surprised me. Summer big bridge tournament has been postponed to 2023, which was easy to do (Providence) b/c the original summer venue, DC, had its venue go belly-up! Which also surprised me.

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Long time since it was Competition Time....

 

I think it will be Barbados.

 

In fact I'll raise you a Parisian in the Palm Court it will be Barbados - I'm that confident!

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3 minutes ago, Noggins said:

Long time since it was Competition Time....

 

I think it will be Barbados.

 

In fact I'll raise you a Parisian in the Palm Court it will be Barbados - I'm that confident!

 

I'd personally love to see Barbados used!  I think Keith hit the three eastern Caribbean ports that are logistically the most friendly and each of them has their strengths, but Barbados would be my favorite over St. Maarten or St. Lucia.  A few lines have used it as a turnaround port over the years and it's worked surprisingly well.

 

Vince

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Biggest issue with Barbados is the lack of significant air "lift" from the USA.  No service from DL and only two flights each by UA and AA.  Far more service into Aruba.  And Curacao has even less USA service than Barbados (not picking on you Vince).

 

And before folks start, it's not a simple matter to just run flights a couple days a week to serve the "cruise people".  There is significant investment when heading into a new route, even if only once or twice a week.

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32 minutes ago, FlyerTalker said:

Biggest issue with Barbados is the lack of significant air "lift" from the USA.  No service from DL and only two flights each by UA and AA.  Far more service into Aruba.  And Curacao has even less USA service than Barbados (not picking on you Vince).

 

And before folks start, it's not a simple matter to just run flights a couple days a week to serve the "cruise people".  There is significant investment when heading into a new route, even if only once or twice a week.

 

I don't feel picked on, but I think you glossed over a piece of my message though...  Sure, right now there is limited air service to both Barbados and Curacao, but both islands have significant capacity for air service and have had sufficient air service in the past to support turnarounds.

 

You're looking at the airline's route development from their perspective, but that's just one piece of how it works in the world of groups. The outcome is often as you predict, but there is more to it that provides other options.

 

A cruise line interested in adding a ship to a port that has insufficient lift but has enough infrastructure would engage the authority's economic development agency to discuss the capacity with a variety of airlines.  Together they'd look at other business on the island to see if there are trends that would support an increase in service (new resorts opening, recovering local economy, etc.), or if the cruise line's schedule supports a particular scheduled flight that fits in with the airline's capacity.  

 

TO YOUR POINT -- more often than not these conversations end up in a "NO!", and the cruise line or local authority has to consider other options.  That's where charters and such get arranged, which are pretty common with cruise lines.  (I've been on two charters arranged by Crystal alone.)

 

Back to my point though, as air service starts gearing back up, and as airlines remain focused more on leisure travel until business travel recovers to a MUCH greater degree, airlines will give cruise lines a pretty good ear.  Look at all of the funky routes AA has added this year that are day-specific (and in the past have run date-specific scheduled service to support events). 

 

Times have changed, and it may be temporary, but that's all that matters at the moment.

 

Vince

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6 minutes ago, Texas Tillie said:

Just a thought, but if the Symphony also left from Nassau, since they will already be there, where could they go on a 10 cruise that returns to Nassau?

 

Well FWIW, Celebrity will be doing summer 7 day loops from St Maarten, with destinations of St Lucia, Barbados, Tortola, Aruba and Curacao.

 

The "practical politics" side of me has to believe that part of getting to operate out of Nassau/Bimini was the commitment to focus the "port" stops on the Bahamas Islands.  Since the actual details of the agreement are likely shrouded in secrecy, who knows if Crystal can even use Nassau if it then sails to non-Bahamas destinations.

 

Who knows?

 

Also, Celebrity is now including gratuities in their cruise fare, along with complementary internet access and an alcohol beverage package.

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The original announcement included a statement that one of their goals in basing the ship in Nassau was to create a single-country itinerary that didn’t have to navigate the challenges of the changing COVID restrictions of different countries and passengers that have been to multiple countries in the same itineraries.  The fact that the ship is registered in that country also doesn’t hurt logistically, though I don’t know Bahamian law around port requirements.

 

I don’t think anything would stop them from using Nassau as a launch point for an additional set of farther-flung itineraries, I’d think the Bahamian government would welcome the additional travelers through Nassau as long as they followed the same safety protocols and had mitigated a lot of the risk.  If they’re going to navigate multiple islands and their COVID policies on an itinerary, the Bahamas could be one of them...  Initially I was just envisioning more of what FT pointed out with the St Maarten sailings.

 

Vince

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