Cruise News Update: April 15, 2023

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If you’ve been busy this past week, don’t worry; Cruise Hive is here to ensure you’re caught up on the latest cruise news. We’ve got three updates on Carnival Cruise Line and stories on Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises.

Cruise News Update

In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve got a fair number of updates on Carnival Cruise Line, including ships that a reposition for the summer season, price hikes at two private destinations, and a rescue in the Caribbean. There’s also coverage on a guest terms update by Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises is ready to begin a hectic Alaska season.

Carnival Cruise Ships Shift Deployments

Carnival Cruise Line has begun preparations for the summer season with three cruise ships setting sail to their summer homeports today, April 13, and this weekend.

Carnival Luminosa departed Brisbane, Australia, on a 23-day transpacific sailing to Seattle, where she will arrive on May 4. Her arrival next month marks the first time that Carnival Luminosa is sailing in U.S. waters since joining the fleet in November 2022. From her Washington base, the former Costa Cruises ship will sail a season in Alaska.

Carnival Spirit is set to sail from Miami to Seattle this weekend. The ship is departing Miami for a 16-day cruise to Seattle on Sunday, arriving just ahead of Carnival Luminosa on May 2, 2023, to begin operating in Alaska.

Guests will stop in destinations such as Santa Marta and Cartagena, Colombia; Costa Rica; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and cruise through the Panama Canal.

Carnival Luminosa Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

While Carnival Luminosa leaves Australia, another Carnival ship is making its way to Europe. Carnival Pride is sailing a 13-day transatlantic cruise from Tampa Bay to Barcelona, Spain. The ship will stop in Ponta Delgada in the Azores, Malaga, and Valencia, Spain.

Before guests can set foot onboard in Dover, UK; Barcelona, Spain; and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, Carnival Pride will go into dry dock.

Amongst the works scheduled for the Spirit-class cruise ship is the addition of the new Carnival livery, a red, white, and blue hull design. Carnival Pride is one of the very few Carnival cruise ships which hasn’t yet received the iconic livery.

Carnival Pride will sail 15 European cruises from May 28, 2023, through October 28, 2023. The ship will conclude its European season with a 15-day transatlantic voyage back to Tampa, Florida, on October 28, 2023.

Royal Caribbean Guest Terms Update

The Miami-based cruise line has been busy in the background updating its terms and conditions for upcoming sailings. A letter was sent out on April 12 detailing the updates, which will go into effect immediately. Guests can also check the full details of terms online specific to a country.

Royal Caribbean says in the letter sent to guests, “We’re making important changes to our legal terms and simplifying the process by which these terms – which are applicable to your cruise purchase and other activities, services, and products related to your cruise – are communicated to you all our guests from around the world.”

Royal Caribbean will enforce changes to its cancelation policies, specifically regarding Covid.

Previously, the conditions stated that passengers who tested positive anytime within 14 days before embarkation and exhibited signs or symptoms or had been in close contact with someone who tested positive or suspected of having Covid, would be denied boarding.

Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Vintagepix / Shutterstock

However, the new policy reduces that pre-embarkation window to only five days and only states that Royal Caribbean may deny the passenger boarding.

Royal Caribbean has also modified how Covid factors into how it determines itinerary “Cancellation, Deviations or Substitutions,” eliminating the previous mention of declarations of public health or government orders.

Now it states that a sudden Covid-19-caused change or cancelation to the itinerary will warrant a refund only if Royal cancels the cruise or delays boarding passengers for three or more days.

Also, beginning April 12, 2023, Cruise Ticket Contracts and Booking Conditions for all Royal Caribbean International cruises will be based on each passenger’s primary country of residence.

The new terms and conditions will apply to all cruises embarking on and after April 12, 2023, as well as all cruises booked on or after the same date. Sister brand Celebrity Cruises has also updated its guest terms and sent a letter to guests.

Princess Cruises Begins Busy Alaska Season

The beginning of the Alaska season is always eagerly anticipated, especially at Princess Cruises. The cruise line is operating no less than seven cruise ships in Alaska this season, with the first ship, Sapphire Princess, setting sail on April 29 from Vancouver. It is one of the busiest Alaska seasons to date for the California-based cruise line.

Guests can choose from cruises lasting seven to 11 days, departing from San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, Canada; and Whittier, Alaska.

Every cruise will have at least one glacier-viewing experience, such as Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, Hubbard Glacier, Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier, or Tracy Arm Fjord.

Princess Cruises Ship in Alaska
Photo Credit: Just dance / Shutterstock

Ports such as Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway will also be part of the cruises, with a “More Ashore” late-night call in Juneau on all northbound Voyage of the Glaciers and seven-day Inside Passage cruises.

In total, there will be 14 different itineraries available onboard seven different ships. Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Majestic Princess, Grand Princess, Crown Princess, Sapphire Princess, and the cruise line’s newest cruise ship, Discovery Princess, will set a course north in the coming weeks.

As the cruise line’s latest cruise ship, the 145,000 gross tons, 3,660 passenger Discovery Princess will embark on a cruise from Vancouver, Canada, on April 30 before settling into her homeport in Seattle on May 7. 

The ship will sail on several seven-night Inside Passage cruises, with itineraries including stops in Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Seattle. 

Carnival Destination Price Hikes

Carnival Cruise Line recently increased the cost for private beachside rentals at Half Moon Cay in The Bahamas, and similar price hikes have now been noted at the cruise line’s other semi-private destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.

Currently, at Half Moon Cay, the price for a beach villa is listed as beginning at $999.99 (USD), while cabanas rent for $699.99. Both types of rentals are for the whole day, and guests can come and go as they please.

Half Moon Cay Villa
Photo Credit: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock

Previously, prices for both the villas and the cabanas were dramatically lower. Villa prices in late November 2022, for example, were just $649.99, while cabana prices were $449.99. Looking even further back, villas were priced at $599.99 in January 2022, while cabanas were $359.99 in January 2022.

A third private option, the “Private Oasis” that can accommodate up to 12 guests and includes such luxuries as an 8-person hot tub, personal chef, private butler, and more in a 1,620-square-foot cabana perched partially over the water is even pricier at $1,999,99.

In January 2022, the private oasis was priced at $1,595,99 – still a dramatic price increase, but not as substantial as the other increases.

Guests have four choices of private cabana rentals at Amber Cove, each one offering a unique and luxurious experience, but now at higher prices.

Amber Cove Cabanas
Amber Cove Cabanas

All four types of cabanas are all-day rentals and guests can come and go at their leisure throughout the day. The Hillside Cabana rents for $479.99, the Poolside and Ocean Cabanas for $499.99, and the Grand Cabanas commanding a grand price tag at $1,999.99.

These prices are significantly higher than the costs in January 2022, when the Hillside Cabana rented for $309.99, the Poolside Cabana for $324.99, the Ocean Cabana for $344.99, and the Grand Cabana for $1,169.99.

The price differences between January 2022 and April 2023 – just 15 months – equate to increases of 35% for both the Hillside and Poolside Cabanas, 31% for the Ocean Cabana, and a whopping 42% for the Grand Cabana.

These increases are similar to the price hikes for beachside rentals at Half Moon Cay. While the destinations are different, the amenities offered at the private retreats are similar in both locations.

Carnival Spirit Caribbean Rescue

During a day at sea en route to Aruba, Carnival Spirit‘s officers spotted a small, overcrowded boat in distress. The ship responded and crew members were able to bring all 24 individuals from the small craft with what appeared to be twin outboard motors safely aboard the cruise ship.

The small boat was obviously overcrowded and ill-equipped for a voyage of any length, as there were very few obvious supplies visible, no shelter from the elements, and not everyone aboard had proper lifesaving gear.

Carnival Spirit Rescue
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

All members of the group were checked by the ship’s medical personnel and found to be in good condition. As is standard procedure, they would also have been provided with food and water as needed.

The ship’s officers contacted Coast Guard officials from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to coordinate the refugees’ transfer to the proper authorities.

At 3 p.m. ship’s time, a Coast Guard cutter arrived to complete the transfer, releasing Carnival Spirit to resume its journey. No further information is available about the refugees’ nationalities or their intended destination.

Carnival Spirit departed Miami on Saturday, April 8, and had already called on Half Moon Cay, the cruise line’s private island destination in The Bahamas and Grand Turk, before Tuesday’s rescue. On Wednesday, the ship visited Aruba, followed by Bonaire on Thursday, and is set to arrive back in Miami on Sunday, April 16.

More Cruise Headlines

We had a packed week of cruise news and we’ve got even more stories than what we’ve featured above, including a Norwegian cruise ship set to sail a classic rock sailing in 2024, Royal coronation plans announced for two Princess cruise ships, the newest MSC Cruises vessel begins deployment in the Mediterranean, Carnival might be planning some changes to its loyalty program, Holland America Line details West Coast sailings for five of its ships and plenty more, which you can browse through right here.

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