Cruise News Update: April 1, 2023

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It’s time to ensure you’re updated on all the major stories from the past week in another cruise news update. We’ve got coverage on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney, and Holland America Line.

Cruise News Update

Cruise Hive has you covered, so you don’t miss any of the major cruise news from the past week. We have some major developments on Disney Cruise Line’s new ship reaching a construction milestone, the increased gratuities starting for Carnival cruises, longer Caribbean sailings opening up for Holland America Line, NCL quietly adding another item to its prohibited list, bookings open for the future MSC World America cruise ship out of Miami and new venues revealed for Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas.

Disney Treasure Construction Milestone

Disney Treasure’s hull assembly kicked off on March 30. The first component for the keel laying ceremony was placed in the impressive 500-meter-long covered building dock.

This important first step in the shipbuilding process will be the bow block of the ship, coming in at whopping 719 tons, measuring 30.9 meters (101.3 feet) in breadth, 23.3 meters (76.4 feet) in length, and standing at 12.6 meters (41.3 feet) in height.

Disney Treasure Keel Laying Ceremony
Photo Credit: Robert Fiebak

The coin was placed just before the shipyard gave the signal to lower the massive bow block onto the bracing and the coin, which should bring good fortune—according to the lucky coin custom—as well as safe travels for the ship and all of her future passengers.

This highly anticipated new Disney cruise ship is set to have 1,240 cabins and a remarkable size of 144,000 gross tons. Upon completion in Spring 2024, Disney Treasure will become the latest addition to the Disney Cruise Line fleet.

Increased Carnival Cruise Line Prices Commence

It’s no April Fool’s Joke that as of April 1, Carnival Cruise Line’s gratuity rates have now increased.

For all embarkations on or after Saturday, April 1, the automatic gratuity rate for standard staterooms – interior cabins, ocean views, and balconies – increased to $16 per guest, per day, up from $14.50, an increase of roughly 10% per day. The rate for suite guests became $18 per person, per day rather than $16.50.

Carnival Cruise Line Ship
Photo Copyright: Melissa Mayntz / Cruise Hive

Prior to the increase, the automatic gratuities would have been $406 for the same family ($504 in suites). It should be noted, however, that guests under the age of 2 are not assessed automatic gratuities.

While no service charge increase is ever welcome, the gratuity rates Carnival will begin on April 1 are comparable to other cruise lines and their own increases in the past year.

Holland America Opens Longer Caribbean Cruises

Six ships, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Nieuw Statendam, Rotterdam, Volendam, and Zuiderdam, will head to the Caribbean for the 2024-2025 Holland America Line Caribbean season. Most itineraries will be roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, and two new itineraries depart from Boston.

Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruises will offer itineraries ranging from five to 21 days, covering eastern, western, and southern regions and featuring Panama Canal sailings, continuing the brand’s efforts to create longer, more immersive voyages. Guests can also combine several cruises to create one unique Collectors’ Voyage.

Holland America Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

New for the season is a unique 21-Day “Perfect Caribbean Escape” cruise roundtrip from Boston aboard Zuiderdam. Following this, Zuiderdam will sail a new 14-day “Southern Caribbean” itinerary from Boston to Fort Lauderdale departing November 9.

Another new 21-day Caribbean exploration sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale aboard Volendam, departing January 4, 2025. Guests who want to opt for a shorter cruise have the choice of several Western, Eastern, and Southern Caribbean cruises.

Guests who book the newly opened 2024-2025 Caribbean cruises with the Have It All premium package will receive the standard amenities of shore excursions, specialty dining, a Signature Beverage Package, and Surf Wi-Fi. However, they will also get free prepaid Crew Appreciation, free upgrades to the Elite Beverage Package, and Premium Wi-Fi.

Norwegian Cruise Line Adds a Banned Item

Norwegian Cruise Line‘s list of prohibited items now includes 31 different items. They are listed in order of when each item was added to the list, and the most recent addition is number 31 – “All types of fans including handheld, battery operated, electric etc.”

This will be a concern to many cruise guests, who bring aboard fans of different sizes to help with air circulation in their staterooms, white noise for better sleep, helping to dry wet swimwear or clothes, or just for personal comfort.

Many cruise lines prohibit electrical items to ensure the ship’s power grid is not impacted by non-regulation items, but personal fans are generally an exception and are permitted onboard.

Norwegian Cruise Line Deck
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

Because Norwegian Cruise Line’s prohibited list states that all types of fans are not permitted, it appears that no fans at all will be allowed on any of the line’s 18 current ships.

It is possible, however, the policy may be adjusted in the future to permit smaller fans or those that only use certain types of power sources to ensure they are safe onboard and compatible with the ship’s power system.

For example, fans that might use large batteries could still be banned no matter what the size, as large batteries are listed separately on Norwegian’s prohibited item list (number 20).

Cruises Open for New MSC Cruise Ship From Miami

MSC Cruises, the Italy-based cruise line that’s been making inroads into the North American market in recent years, has started taking bookings for MSC World America, a ship that’s being designed specifically for the market, with new restaurants, bars and public spaces.

The 205,700 gross ton ship will accommodate 5,240 guests and 2,138 crew, entering service in April 2025.

MSC World America Cruise Ship
Image Courtesy: MSC Cruises

Once home-ported in Miami, the ship will operate 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Eastern Caribbean itineraries will call at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, The Bahamas. Western Caribbean sailings will visit Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and the MSC Marine Reserve.

MSC Cruises also revealed some incentives for early bookings. Members of the line’s Voyager’s Club who book more than 12 months ahead of departure date will receive a discount, an onboard credit of $50 and double membership points for the cruise experience selected. Members who book even earlier, by April 12, 2023, will receive an additional $50 onboard credit.

MSC World America will offer 2,626 staterooms and 420,000 square feet of public spaces. At PortMiami, the new ship will offer embarkation and disembarkation from MSC Cruises’ new Terminal AA/AAA, which is under construction.

New Icon of the Seas Venues Revealed

Royal Caribbean has done extensive market research to bring guests exactly what they enjoy the most for their vacations, and that research is reflected in new bar offerings aboard Icon of the Seas.

The ship will feature more than 15 bars and lounges, from new concepts to favorites of returning cruisers. The cruise line revealed the new venues earlier in the week.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas Nightlife
Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Sure to be an immediate hit, Dueling Pianos will debut on Icon of the Seas‘ Royal Promenade with high energy live music for guests to sing along. Giving Central Park a new and distinctive vibe will be Lou’s Jazz and Blues, a live jazz club.

An innovative all-day bar with an evolving menu for different moods at different times, Rye & Bean will be part of the AquaDome neighborhood on Deck 15. At the heart of the ship on Deck 5 will be the 1400 Lobby Bar, inspired by Icon of the Seas‘ unique shipbuilding number.

Another new venue will be Bubbles, a walkup champagne bar window for grab-and-go glasses, bottles, and a signature cocktail in Central Park on Deck 8.

Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Sure to become another hotspot in the AquaDome neighborhood, The Overlook is an elevated lounge with astonishing nooks for amazing views, just steps from the popular aqua shows.

In addition to the new bars and lounges, Icon of the Seas will also host favorite venues popular across the fleet. This includes the Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Boleros, Schooner Bar, Music Hall, Spotlight Karaoke, and more.

All of these fantastic options will be available to guests when Icon of the Seas debuts from PortMiami in January 2024, offering 7-night Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean sailings to some of the most popular ports of call in the Caribbean.

More Cruise Headlines

It was just another busy week across the cruise industry and we’ve got all the coverage on Cruise Hive, including an insight into Icon of the Seas accommodations, future new-class Disney cruise ship to homeport in Singapore, major engine plans for the next Edge-class Celebrity Cruises ship, new Carnival VIFP gifts to begin, new ship registry for Carnival Venezia, Carnival Corporation business update, speed issues for Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and so much more, which you can browse here.

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