EUROPE has never been a big deal for Carnival.
In the past, Carnival's European schedule has pretty much involved only new ships. They would be built and launched in Europe in late spring or early summer and, after a series of European cruises, join the Carnival fleet in the fall when they made their way back to North America to take up permanent residence.
This year, the latest new ship in the Europe project comes to an end with the launch of the third and last ship in the Dream series, the Carnival Breeze.
However, the taste of cruising Europe has whetted Carnival's appetite. In 2013, the Carnival Legend will spend a full season in Europe, much to the chagrin of Tampa (Florida), the ship's current home port.
In Europe, Carnival is covering many fronts with its first Norwegian fjords itinerary, an extended UK program, plus Baltic and Mediterranean cruises.
The Legend leaves Tampa with a transatlantic crossing on April 7, 2013 and arrives in Barcelona 15 days later. Ports on this voyage include King's Wharf, Bermuda; Ponta Delgada (Azores), Portugal; Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
The ship will spend most of the spring in Barcelona and Venice operating 12-day Mediterranean cruises. During the summer, it will call Dover, England home, with more 12-day cruises mainly to the Baltics, including some unique itineraries that take in Norway and one that adds Scotland and Ireland to the mix.
After its launch in June, the Carnival Breeze will spend most of the summer based in Barcelona operating 12-day Mediterranean cruises.
Still with Carnival -- and 2013 -- the Carnival Splendor will be moving from Los Angeles, where it currently operates Mexican Riviera cruises, to New York. Due to its size -- it won't fit through the locks of the Panama Canal -- the Splendor will take the long way around the tip of South America. That means three cruise segments: L.A. to Santiago, Santiago to Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires to New York. Carnival is downsizing its Mexican market, replacing the Splendor with the smaller Carnival Miracle, which does fit the Panama Canal.
What makes this unusual is that Carnival does not serve either one of these markets on a regular basis. As a result, these are all considered re-positioning cruises, which is where you'll find outstanding pricing.
Splendor's first leg is 17 days. It will leave Los Angeles on Feb. 3, 2013 and stop in Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala), Quito (Manta, Ecuador), Callo (Lima, Peru), and Arica, Chile before arriving in Valparaiso (Santiago).
The next leg, starting Feb. 20, runs from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires over 13 days and stops at the usual South American ports rounding Cape Horn, with the exception of the Falkland Islands.
Splendor then leaves Buenos Aires on March 5, 2013 for an 18-day trip for Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza (Brazil), with the final two stops in Barbados and Grand Turk before arrival in New York.
Meanwhile, the Carnival Miracle, after leaving New York for the Panama Canal, will port in Cartagena (Colombia), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), Puerto Quetzal, Cabo and then into L.A.
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