I am currently at sea, rounding the boot of Italy en route to Dubrovnik as I write these words. Along with more than 3,500 others, apparent on a sea day like today, I am cruising on the new Carnival Breeze.
The product is so highly Americanized that I wonder if Carnival's red, white and blue will succeed in Europe — not among Americans who enjoy traveling to Europe with a brand they know but among Europeans. Will they cruise Carnival? Apparently, the answer is yes.
At a press conference earlier this week, I learned that Carnival is bumping up its deployment in Europe. In 2013, two Carnival "Fun Ships" will be operating here: Carnival Legend doing Northern and Western Europe sailings before repositioning to the Mediterranean; and the new Carnival Sunshine doing 9- and 12-day sailings from Barcelona.
A few years ago when Carnival began operating in Europe, Americans were far and away the largest source market. They still are, but on our cruise, there is a mix of nationalities.
I have not asked for an official count, but there are many Brits on board, as well as a fair number of southern Europeans, Australians, Asians, Russians and more. All seem to be enjoying the "Made in America" brand.
And though the comedy shows (think George Lopez), stage productions (except for "The Brits"), dining outlets (Guy's Burger Joint, for example) are largely U.S. branded, there are two British comedians on board, three, if you include legendary cruise director John Heald, as well as other nods to non-Americans.
I suspect, and in fact have overheard, that those who don't hail from the USA enjoy Carnival precisely for what it represents: an American-style, Caribbean-centric, fun-in-the-sun vacation.
Speaking of sun, Sunshine is an interesting ship. It will not be a new ship-aawell, at least not all of it. The vessel is currently operating as the Carnival Destiny, but changes will be so extensive after the $155 million makeover that the ship, according to Carnival Cruise Lines' President and CEO Gerry Cahill, will be closer in look and feel to Carnival Breeze than it will to the Destiny-class vessels. After the 49-day dry dock this fall, Destiny will emerge as the new Carnival Sunshine.
If you want to get a feel for what cruising on Carnival is like, click on some of the links below, or, of course, try Carnival for yourself. If you are anything like me, you could be pleasantly surprised at how much you will enjoy this American brand.
As Carnival Breeze makes its way around Europe, Carrie Finley-Bajak ( @cruisebuzz) is traveling the ship in the social sphere. Carrie provides us with a visual treat on Carnival Breeze Inspired Pinterest Pinboards. And if the social jargon sometimes has you scratching your head, you may want to reference Carrie's Social Media Glossary for Travel Pros. When you feel adequately informed about the social jargon, head over to this week's Cruise Biz Buzz for a roundup of the top stories on social media platforms.
We're excited about Silversea Cruises new announcement, a new expedition vessel coming in 2013. We've sailed on Silver Explorer and the fact that Silversea would introduce a second vessel was a no-brainer to us. People love this product. Aaron Saunders provides details of the new expedition vessel on From the Deck Chair.