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    Royal Caribbean to cut back on cruises in Europe

    Industry giant Royal Caribbean is cutting back on cruises in Europe, where bookings have been weak.

    The line on Thursday announced that it would send just nine of its 22 ships to the continent in 2013, down from 12 this year.

    Royal Caribbean says it'll offer 276 sailings in all in Europe in 2013 on 58 different itineraries.

    Three Royal Caribbean ships -- Independence of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas -- will sail out of the UK on itineraries to the Baltics, British Isles, Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

    Also sailing out of northern ports is Vision of the Seas, which will operate trips to the Norwegian Fjords, Russia and other northern destinations out of Copenhagen and Stockholm.

    In the Mediterranean, Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will sail out of Barcelona, while Navigator of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas and Legend of the Seas will sail out of the Italian ports of Civitavecchia (near Rome) and Venice.

    The Mediterranean itineraries include seven-night Western Mediterranean sailings from Civitavecchia on the Legend of the Seas that include stops at Genoa, Italy; Marseilles, France; and Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Valencia, Spain. Also on the schedule is a single nine-night Legend of the Seas circumnavigation of the Italian peninsula scheduled for Aug. 31, 2013 that will begin in Civitavecchia and end in Venice. Legend of the Seas also will sail 10- and 11-night Eastern Mediterrean itineraries out of Venice.

    Royal Caribbean isn't alone in cutting back on Europe sailings for 2013. Oceania Cruises announced in March that it would shift a vessel from Europe to Alaska for the summer of 2013.

    By Gene Sloan, USA Today

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    I am not all that surprised. Cruise lines seem to be overly optimistic with the trend to shift their itineraries to Europe for the summer. While there are many U.S. passengers ready to explore the ever-growing European and Mediterranean itineraries, there are still a great number who would prefer to stay closer to home, given the current global environment and the high cost of international air.

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    When airfare is more than the cost of the cruise, it’s real hard for a lot of us in the US/Canada to justify that flight to Europe. I wonder if the reduction in ships means they aren’t getting as many Europeans to book as well?

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