Cruise News Recap: Missing Passenger, New Ships, Milestones

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The cruise news keeps on coming and Cruise Hive has it all covered. In this week’s update, we have stories about Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises, plus three growing ports in France, and an upbeat global cruise tourism report.

Cruise News Update

Let’s get going with this week’s exciting cruise news update, keeping you on top of the major developments of the past week. Our coverage includes the ongoing search for a cruise guest who went missing in Cozumel; plans by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to expand the fleets of all three of its brands; three growing ports in Normandy expecting busy cruise seasons this year; the unfortunate case of a cabin steward who angered a Carnival Cruise Line guest; construction milestones for two MSC Cruises’ ships; and a new report showing significant gains across the cruise industry.

Search Goes On For Guest Missing From Icon of the Seas

A search continues in and around Cozumel, Mexico, for a guest missing since April 3, 2024 from Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. The ship was docked at the port call when guest Brad Solomon debarked the ship with his family and later became separated from them.

The 66-year-old guest suffers from a dementia condition and his location remains unknown. His wife is staying in Cozumel while the search by multiple government agencies goes on.

Royal Caribbean Pier in Cozumel, Mexico
Royal Caribbean Pier in Cozumel, Mexico (Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte)

Local media reports indicate that a taxi driver picked up Solomon about a mile from the ship’s dock on the day he went missing and took him to a beach area on the island’s north shore. He said Solomon paid for the fare with his wristwatch.

The Municipal Police of Cozumel and other agencies are involved in the search efforts and are using video surveillance resources and social media in their efforts to find Solomon. 

The missing man was wearing a white shirt and gray shorts, a blue cap, sunglasses, and white shoes when he wandered away from his family group. It was a busy day in Cozumel when Icon of the Seas called. Five ships were docked at the port that day, delivering thousands of guests to the area.

Icon of the Seas continued on with her itinerary and returned to her homeport of Miami as planned on April 6, 2024, minus the Solomon couple.

Parent Company to Build New Ships For Three Brands

In a major expansion of its branded fleets, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced it plans to build four new ships for Norwegian Cruise Line, and two new ships each for Oceania Cruises and ultra-luxe line Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

All told, the eight new-builds will add 25,000 berths as the ships debut between 2026 and 2036. Along with the ship orders, the parent company also revealed it will develop a bigger pier at Great Stirrup Cay, the private Bahamian island destination.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
Norwegian Cruise Line Ship (Photo Credit: Grindstone Media Group/ Shutterstock)

All of the new ships will be constructed at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy and will have staggered launch dates. At Norwegian Cruise Line, four new mega-ships will each accommodate 5,000 guests and enter service in 2030, 2032, 2034, and 2036. Financing is yet to be secured for these ships.

Two ships for Oceania Cruises will each carry 1,450 guests and will debut in 2027 and 2029. Both of the vessels will be 86,000-gross tons, which is larger than the line’s first Allura-class ship, at 67,000-gross tons. That ship, Vista, debuted in 2023, and a second in the class, Allura, is due to launch in 2025.

At Regent Seven Seas Cruises, two new ships will be introduced in 2026 and 2029. Both will be 77,000-gross tons and accommodate 850 guests. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has already secured most of the required financing for the Oceania and Regent ships.

French Ports Celebrate Robust 2024 Season

The Normandy region is world-renowned for its calvados brandy, and cruise tourism officials in the area can toast their good fortune with the news that the ports of Le Havre, Honfleur, and Rouen are poised for a record-breaking cruise season in 2024.

Cruise ship visits and embarkations are set to increase for the three ports, all situated on the Seine River, the gateway to Paris. Le Havre will see the biggest boost from cruising, with 46 ships set to make 162 calls to the port. Among them will be Cunard’s 2,700-guest Queen Mary 2, TUI Cruises’ 2,900-guest Mein Schiff 7, and Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,000-guest Norwegian Encore.

Cruise Ships Docked in Le Havre, France
Cruise Ships Docked in Le Havre, France (Photo Credit: Alexandre Prevot / Shutterstock)

Additionally, 53 cruises will embark guests at Le Havre in 2024, with the lion’s share — 28, operated by MSC Cruises. Embarkations bring more revenue into the local economy, since guests often book area hotels and visit local restaurants and shops before or after their sailing.

Honfleur will welcome 48 ship calls in 2024, including maiden visits from Viking’s Viking Sky, Viking Neptune, and Viking Mars, all with capacity for 930 guests; and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Splendor, both accommodating 700 guests.

A dozen ships will call at Rouen in 2024. The port, the smallest of the three, typically receives smaller ships. In 2024, the port will welcome inaugural visits from Silversea Cruises’ 690-guest Silver Dawn, and Crystal’s 960-guest Crystal Symphony, among others.

Cabin Steward Angers a ‘Snoozin’ Guest

A Carnival Cruise Line cabin steward paid a high price for entering a stateroom that had its do not disturb sign out. The steward knocked on the door and entered the cabin despite the guest having posted the “Snoozin’” door hanger outside the room. The angry guest removed the steward’s gratuity from his onboard account.

The story came to light when the guest reached out to cruise line Brand Ambassador John Heald on his Facebook page. The guest, who has not been identified, complained to Heald about the steward’s action.

Carnival Cruise Line Privacy
Carnival Cruise Line Privacy

Heald checked out the incident with the ship’s housekeeping manager (the ship has not been identified) and learned that the guest had the “Snoozin’” sign out for more than 24 hours, and the steward had not seen the guest during that timeframe. 

In that case, per cruise line policy, the steward is expected to check on the safety and well-being of a guest. After knocking and hearing no reply, the cabin steward entered the stateroom, and as Heald noted, was just “doing her job.”

However, the guest took the drastic step of pulling the crew member’s tip, saying he would give it to others on the crew. Guests can adjust or remove gratuities if they wish, but the cruise line would rather have the issue addressed with Guest Services staff, which may be able to find another solution.

Construction Milestones for Two MSC Cruises Ships

MSC Cruises celebrated two construction milestones at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France, where two of its World-class vessels, MSC World America and MSC World Asia, are being built.

MSC World America, the second of the line’s World-class ships, was floated out of her construction bay and touched water for the first time. With her exterior hull finished, the 215,863-gross ton vessel will now enter the final phase of construction, including the interior design.

MSC World America Float Out
MSC World America Float Out

The ship, which will have capacity for 6,700 guests, will feature seven districts, each offering unique experiences for adults and children. Following her interior design work, the ship will undergo sea trials before being delivered to the line. MSC World America is slated to homeport at Miami, with her christening to be held there on April 9, 2025.

At the same shipyard, MSC World Asia marked her steel-cutting in a special ceremony, signaling the start of construction. The 215,863-gross ton ship will accommodate 5,400 guests when she debuts in 2026, although a firm launch date has not been announced.

MSC Cruises will eventually have four vessels in the World-class series. The first in the class, MSC World Europa, entered service in 2022. The fourth and final in the class is unnamed and scheduled to debut in 2027.

Total Cruisers to Reach 35 Million in 2024: Report

The cruise industry is experiencing a spectacular rebound following the two-year pandemic pause, smashing passenger records from 2019 and bringing the total number of cruisers to 31.7 million. So says the 2024 State of the Cruise Industry annual report from Cruise Lines International Association.

In 2023, global cruising attracted 2 million more guests than in 2019, a 7% increase, and the outlook for 2024 is equally as positive, with a prediction for the total number of cruise guests to reach 35 million.

Cruise Ships in Florida
Cruise Ships in Florida (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

The report dives deep into statistics and trends, finding, for instance, that travelers who intend to take a cruise vacation rose 6% from 2019, with Millennials (ages 28 to 43) showing the most enthusiasm for vacations at sea. It also found that the number of first-time cruisers jumped by 27% compared to two years ago and by 12% in the past year.

A particularly interesting finding concerns the growing popularity of expedition voyages; the report cites a whopping 71% spike in expedition cruise guests.

The industry report also explores the growing number of berths across the global cruise brands. It found that cruise capacity is set to increase from 677,000 lower berths in 2024 to 745,000 lower berths in 2028, as cruise lines continue to expand their fleets.

More Cruise Headlines

Cruise Hive has plenty more news stories you won’t want to miss. Check out our coverage of new shopping technology onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s newest Italian-style ship; the world’s biggest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, adding an assistive audio system; an architectural firm revealing a futuristic blueprint for a new catamaran cruise ship; Carnival Corporation taking steps to sell its Miami headquarters office space; and Thailand’s plans to build a new cruise terminal.

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