So after you’ve booked a fall cruise to New England and Canada with a stop in Newport, the cruise line announces that you won’t be going to Newport. You’ll stop in New London, instead.
Whenever a cruise line changes a ship’s itinerary, the passengers who’ve already paid their fares tend to grumble, whether the decision is made at sea (usually because of weather) or before the cruise departs. While cruise lines clearly reserve the right to change the ports of call, nobody likes to pay for one thing and get another.
So some passengers who were already booked on one of Royal Caribbean’s September and October cruises on Explorer of the Seas were not delighted when the line dropped a port call in Newport in favor of New London.
Wrote one: "3000+ people for the day in New London??? No way is this a good port for a ship that size… "
George Cassidy, executive director of the Connecticut Cruise Ship Task Force, begs to differ. He tells me that there will be, in addition to Royal Caribbean’s eight official shore excursions, plenty to do and plenty of transportation.
Free buses will take passengers from the pier to downtown New London, where there will be taxis to take them to the casinos or other destinations. Enterprise in New London is already renting cars to cruise passengers, and will
deliver the cars to the pier pick up passengers at the pier. (My mistake, JL) Avis and Hertz will rent to passengers who pick up vehicles at the Groton-New London Airport.
Royal Caribbean didn’t announce a reason for the change from Newport, but the fact that New London has a huge pier that can accommodate a cruise ship must certainly have been a factor. At Newport, ships must anchor in the harbor and send passengers ashore on small boats. Passengers tend to dislike this slow process of "tendering ashore," and it is particularly difficult in inclement weather.
Still, plenty of cruise lines think it’s worth the bother. This list of cruise ship calls in Newport from the Newport County Convention & Visitors Bureau hasn’t been updated yet to show the loss of the four Explorer of the Seas visits, but dozens of calls by other ships are still listed for 2007.
Among them are three calls in September and October by Celebrity’s Constellation. There’s talk on the message boards that Celebrity, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, may shift those visits from Newport to New London, too.
So far, the official word from the cruise task force: "Pier space and dates have not been requested by either the cruise line or their agents for Connecticut’s Port of New London."