hopes to add a new
ship terminal by 2009.
Some of the most appealing
cruises leave from domestic ports that didn’t even exist a
decade ago. Like so many current trends in the meetings and travel
industry, the change came in the wake of 9/11. In those months when
many vacationers and meeting-goers were wary of air travel, cruise
lines began sending ships to ports in waterfront cities all over
the United States.
“We realized people did not want to
fly, so we decided to put our ships where they could drive,” says
Marianne Schmidhofer, director of charter, meeting and incentive
sales for the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line.
This diffusion of ships per se has not
been of tremendous benefit to national meeting and incentive
planners, who, according to Schmidhofer, are more interested in new
ships and enviable itineraries; however, for regional meetings, it
has created a hassle-free and less expensive alternative to flying
the group to a traditional cruise port. Many coastal cities, large
and small, now feature cruise-ship terminals -- and sometimes even
residents don’t know about them.
Following are descriptions of 10 new or
newly ascendant domestic ports, along with some of the impressive
itineraries they offer.
A former cargo pier
now welcomes cruise ships
to Brooklyn, N.Y.
New York City
With about a million passengers
embarking per year, the Manhattan Cruise Terminal is the
fourth-busiest in the United States. While its roots go back to the
golden age of cruising in the 1930s, it wasn’t until 2003 that the
revamped terminal began year-round operations. It’s the primary
home port for transatlantic crossings and also popular for trips to
Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Construction is under way to
convert the port’s five berths to three, to permit the largest
ships to dock. Three more berths are planned over the next 30
On April 15, 2006, to accommodate
overflow and help spur development of Brooklyn’s waterfront, a
revamped terminal opened at Pier 12 in Red Hook, Brooklyn (the
facility had been used as a cargo pier since the 1850s).
A few sample itineraries from both of
the above terminals:
* The Queen Mary
2 frequently sails out of New York; a few times per year, the
vessel makes four-day jaunts. For example, over Presidents Day
weekend, Easter weekend, Memorial Day weekend and Independence Day
weekend, it sails to Eleuthera, the Bahamas, for four days,
roundtrip. Over Labor Day weekend, the ship sails to Halifax, Nova
* Carnival Cruise
Lines makes four-day journeys to Saint John, New Brunswick,
throughout the summer, on the Carnival Victory.
* Princess Cruises
offers seven-day voyages to the Caribbean and Mexico from the
Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, aboard the Golden Princess.
* In addition to
seven-night cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line sends guests on
one-night dinner-and-dance cruises out of New York. This year, 13
such jaunts are scheduled, mostly on Saturday nights through the
late summer and early fall.
Port of New Orleans
New Orleans’ port, right at the edge of
the French Quarter, provides a convenient embarkation site for
Louisiana residents and visitors alike. River cruising as well as
ocean journeys are offered here.
For a while following Hurricane
Katrina, ships stopped coming -- but now they’re back, and the
facilities are expanding. The $37 million Erato Street Cruise
Terminal opened last September, next to the Julia Street terminal,
and a third terminal is in the planning stages.
* Carnival Cruise
Lines runs four- and five-day cruises on the Carnival
Fantasy; Carnival Triumph will inaugurate seven-day
Caribbean cruises in August.
* Norwegian Cruise
Line offers seven-day Western Caribbean cruises on the
Spirit and the Sun.
* Royal Caribbean’s
Grandeur of the Seas plies the waters of the Western
Caribbean during winter months.