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What Port Canaveral homeporting does for Princess Cruises

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From left, Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Kevin Markey, Princess President John Padgett, Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray and Princess Chief Commercial Officer Terry Thornton together at the April announcement of Princess expanding into Canaveral starting in November 2024
Port Canaveral opens an important new East Coast market for Princess Cruises and is expected to draw customers from a wide region, Chief Commercial Officer Terry Thornton said.

'With Port Canaveral being introduced as new homeport for us in just one year, our presence in North America expands and provides another major drive market with convenient access, as well as a multitude of flight options in and out of Orlando. Plus, we hope many of our guests from Port Canaveral will experience Princess for the first time and discover why our cruise line is so unique,' he said.

'One of the most perfect homeports'

Thornton considers Canaveral 'one of the most perfect homeports. It has massive drive market appeal, from South Florida all over the Southeast all the way to Kentucky,' he elaborated. It has a 'huge fly market,' too.

Premium Southeast cruise markets like Savannah and Charleston are within range, and with Charleston ending homeporting in 2024, 'Where are those people going to go? Port Canaveral is a natural for that,' he said.

Brings Carnival homeporting expertise

Thornton, who was key to driving Carnival Cruise Line's domestic homeporting strategy over many years, now brings that expertise to Princess.

His role is 'pivotal because he has so much Caribbean/East Coast knowledge to package with our West Coast knowledge. It's a match made in heaven,' Princess President John Padgett told Seatrade Cruise News.

Enough to go around

Thornton said doubters of the Port Canaveral move cite the capacity that's already there with the big new ships of Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. Celebrity Cruises is coming in, too, starting in winter 2024/25.

Thornton thinks there's more than enough business to go around. He's not concerned about the competition from cruise lines but wants a piece of the vast Orlando vacation market. There are a lot of 'really highly qualified guests,' he said.

Princess has access to the terminals Carnival uses at Canaveral but Thornton expressed interest in the potential future multi-user terminal Port CEO Capt. John Murray has talked about.

That's because a new terminal 'would give us total flexiblity for whatever type of itineraries.'

Four- to eight-day cruises

Varied four- to eight-day sailings are in store for the line's inaugural season from Port Canaveral one year from now.

The November 2024 through April 2025 program features 20 departures to the eastern and western Caribbean. Caribbean Princess is scheduled to debut in Central Florida on a Nov. 27 Thanksgiving getaway, four days, to Grand Turk. 

Eastern Caribbean six-day cruises to Nassau, Grand Turk and either Amber Cove or San Juan depart Dec. 9 and 23, 2024 and Jan. 6 and 20, Feb. 3 and 17 and March 3, 17 and 31, 2025.

Eastern Caribbean eight-day cruises to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan and Grand Turk embark Dec. 1 and 29, 2024 and Jan. 26, Feb. 23 and March 23, 2025.

Western Caribbean eight-day voyages to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize City and Roatán's Mahogany Bay sail Dec. 15, 2024 and Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 6, 2025.

14-day combinations

Six- and eight-day itineraries are combinable for a 14-day vacation.

MedallionClass personalized service, a wide array of dining and Broadway-inspired entertainment characterize Caribbean Princess

The ship offers a variety of staterooms that sleep up to four travelers and interconnecting rooms for families, youth and teen centers for ages 3-17, an outdoor Movies Under the Stars screen and quieter spaces like The Sanctuary for adults.

More about Princess Cruises' strategy is coming in Seatrade Cruise Review's December issue, out soon