Cruise News Update: March 11, 2023

A busy cruise news update across the major lines, including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Princess Cruises, and Holland America coverage.

Time to catch up on all the latest cruise news from the past week across the major cruise lines. Cruise Hive has coverage on Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Holland America Line.

Cruise News Update

There’s plenty of cruise news to read, and we’re here to ensure you haven’t missed a thing! In this week’s cruise news round-up, there’s coverage on the new Royal Caribbean beach Club in the Bahamas, Disney’s Cruise Line’s new island destination, The new LNG-powered Princess cruise ship floating out at the shipyard, passengers being informed of an oversold Wonder of the Seas, NCL expanding on some cruises, and Holland America Line announcing longer itineraries.

Royal Caribbean’s Beach Club to Open in 2025

Royal Caribbean International has announced it has received official approval from local authorities to move forward with its plans for the Royal Beach Club in Nassau, the Bahamas. 

The beach club will offer private cabanas, stunning pools, and more alongside the vibrant Bahamian spirit and culture. Cruise passengers will be welcomed by local architecture that complements the exceptional views of The Bahamas’ turquoise-blue waters and white sand beaches.

Experiences will feature Bahamian fare, island-style barbecues, live music, and local artisans, all designed to give guests the perfect day at the beach in the Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean's Bahamas Beach Club
Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Crafted in close collaboration with the Bahamian government, the new project will be a public-private partnership, allowing Bahamians to own up to 49% equity in the beach club. Local businesses and entrepreneurs will also be able to manage most of the experience. The project is expected to generate hundreds of jobs across its construction and long-term operation.

The beach club will comprise 13 acres of land owned by the cruise line and 4 acres of government land. The government land will be contributed as equity in the new venture to ensure a share of the profits return to the government and the people. 

This is a first-of-its-kind agreement in The Bahamas. In addition to a new tourism levy, profits will go into reinvesting in the local community. The collaboration between the government, the community, and Royal Caribbean will continue as the development moves through the stages of planning and completion.

Disney’s New Cruise Destination to Open in 2024

Disney Cruise Line has announced the opening of its new island destination at Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera, in The Bahamas, in the summer of 2024.

Respect for the environment was a prime concern when designing Lighthouse Point. An onsite solar array will meet at least 90% of the destination’s electricity needs, the pier was designed to avoid the need for dredging, and elevated walkways will help limit the impact on the landscape. The cruise line’s second Bahamian island destination was first announced in 2019, the cruise line also operates Castaway Cay.

Disney’s new island destination is thoughtfully designed to provide a hassle-free experience for families. All guests will receive complimentary beach essentials such as towels, chairs and umbrellas, and lunch, and there will be a convenient tram transportation system ferrying guests around the site.

Disney Cruise Line's Lighthouse Point
Render Courtesy: Disney Cruise Line

Families can unwind on the white sandy beaches and swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters at the expansive family beach on the island’s east side. A dedicated adult-exclusive beach is north of the family area for adults seeking a tranquil retreat.

On the southwestern side of the destination, a more peaceful family beach will feature 20 premium family cabanas that can be rented out. There will be options for larger groups and even massage services.

At Lighthouse Point, children will enjoy a colorful, interactive water play area with two slides, water drums, fountains, and more. There is also a dedicated space for toddlers. Parents can relax knowing that a themed kids’ club supervised by trained Disney Cruise Line counselors is available for children aged 3 to 12. The club features a splash pad inspired by the characters from “The Little Mermaid.”

A covered gaming pavilion, a volleyball court, and a gaga ball pit are some of the options that kids can enjoy. Watercraft, bicycle rentals, and nature trails for hiking and biking are also available.

Sun Princess Floats Out

The 175,500 gross ton Sun Princess, the first in Princess Cruises’ new Sphere class, floated on the water for the first time with her float out at the shipyard in Monfalcone. Sun Princess is the cruise line’s first ship to be dual-fuel powered, primarily by LNG, the advanced fuel technology that significantly cuts emissions and marine oil usage.

Princess Cruises Hotel General manager Simona Stumberger was selected to serve as the “Madrina” for the float-out ceremony. The traditional honor is to bless the ship and give wishes as the vessel floats onto the water for the very first time.

Sun Princess at the Shipyard
Sun Princess at the Shipyard

The steel-cutting for the new ship took place in September 2021 at Centro Servizi Navali, a sheet metal production specialist near Trieste, Italy. Following construction, the ship will undergo a set of sea trials before being delivered to the Carnival-owned cruise line.

Princess Cruises revealed the name of the new ship in September 2022. It will be the third in the line’s history to be called Sun Princess.

The ship, which is the largest ever built in Italy, is the first of two sister-ships the line ordered in its new Sphere class. Both ships will accommodate 4,300 guests. Sun Princess is scheduled for delivery in early 2024, while the second, as-yet-unnamed ship, is due for completion in 2025.

Princess Cruises, a Carnival Corporation brand with 15 ships, announced that Sun Princess will sail her 10-day Inaugural Grand Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Rome on February 8, 2024.

Following the Sun Princess debut, she will operate a full season in the Mediterranean, offering 7- to 23-night itineraries from multiple departure ports, including Barcelona, Rome, Athens, and Southampton. The ship is slated to reposition to Fort Lauderdale in November 2024.

Oversold Wonder of the Seas

In an email sent to booked guests, Royal Caribbean International has acknowledged an inventory error that has oversold Wonder of the Seas“We’re sorry to inform you that due to an unexpected inventory error, your scheduled Wonder of the Seas March 12th, 2023 sailing is currently oversold,” the email reads.

The impacted cruise is a 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing, visiting St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock

This is not the first time Wonder of the Seas has been inadvertently oversold. A similar situation occurred for the December 11, 2022 sailing. Three different options are being offered in an attempt to correct this latest overbooking, but guests may not be pleased with the proposed options.

The first option is to transfer the Wonder of the Seas booking to Explorer of the Seas instead, sailing from PortMiami on March 12 for a 6-night cruise rather than a 7-night cruise. The second option offered to guests on the oversold sailing is to transfer their Wonder of the Seas booking to a different sailing date.

The third option offered to guests is to cancel their sailing completely. Not only will guests receive a full, 100% refund of their cruise fare, but they will also receive a 100% cruise fare future cruise credit (FCC), which can be used for any Royal Caribbean sailing departing through March 15, 2024.

Norwegian Expands Cruises and New Inaugural Visits

Norwegian Cruise Line took the wraps off a new season of cruises operating from October 2024 to December 2025, a schedule that reflects a 37% increase in sailings to Asia, Antarctica, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. At the same time, the line will boost by 15% its collection of immersive voyages, called Extraordinary Journeys.

New port calls will be made to Manama, Bahrain; Rarotonga, Cook Islands; Sokhna, Egypt; and Akita, Japan. Norwegian said the new collection of itineraries reaffirms the line’s commitment to providing guests with curated voyages to sought-after destinations.

Norwegian Star Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line

The cruise line’s focus on Asia will see three ships sailing the region, the 2,018-guest Norwegian Spirit, 1,976-guest Norwegian Sun and 2,004-guest Norwegian Sky. Two of the ships, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Sky, will deploy for an eight-month season from October 2024 to May 2025, operating cruises in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan.

The new port call in Akita will be offered on Norwegian Sun’s 12-day roundtrip sailing from Tokyo, embarking on Oct. 23, 2024. Norwegian Spirit will join the Asia deployment after a repositioning cruise from Australia on December 7, 2024.

Norwegian’s maiden voyage from Ushuaia, Argentina, aboard the 2,348-guest Norwegian Star is a 14-day South America voyage to Brazil and Antarctica departing March 1, 2025.

Norwegian Spirit will return to Australia for her third season Down Under and will sail a new 14-day cruise from Sydney to Bali in December 2024. The ship will make the line’s maiden call to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, in November 2025.

Holland America Introduces Longer Cruises

Holland America Line rolled out more than a dozen Legendary Voyages itineraries, a new collection of longer cruises offering sailings from 25 to 59 days. The launch follows a 2022 Holland America announcement that revealed interest in longer voyages was increasing among its guests.

The series will include the comprehensive onboard programs cruisers enjoy in the line’s existing Grand Voyages cruise category, coupled with an extensive array of port calls, many featuring overnight stays.

Holland America Noordam Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

It sails to the Arctic Circle and features 11 port calls in Alaska, including the remote destinations of Nome and Homer. Operated onboard the 1,964-guest Westerdam, the voyage sails roundtrip from Seattle and departs June 9, 2024.

Two additional new itineraries include the 53-day Majestic Japan cruise sailing roundtrip from Seattle aboard Westerdam on September 1, 2024, with overnights in Yokohama (Tokyo) and Kobe, and the 28-day Coral Triangle, Volcanoes and The Great Barrier Reef cruise roundtrip from Singapore aboard the 1,924-guest Noordam.

Other Legendary Voyages cruises include a 35-day Voyage of the Vikings departing July 20, 2024, aboard the 2,272-guest Zuiderdam and sailing roundtrip from Boston; a 35-day Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas cruise departing February 17, 2024, aboard the 2,650-guest Koningsdam and sailing roundtrip from San Diego, and a 28-day Amazon Explorer departing February 17, 2024, aboard the 1,432-guest Zaandam, operating roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.

More Cruise Headlines

There were many other cruise stories from the past week that we covered on Cruise Hive, including a cruise passenger being fined over $3,000 in the cruise terminal, Celebrity Cruises making moves to make sure Whales are protected, Norwegian Cruise Line not planning on further departures out of Panama, expanded venues for younger passengers on the MSC Euribia, an owl hitches a ride on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, new entertainment options being rolled out across the Virgin Voyages fleet, and plenty more cruise news, that you can browse through here.

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