Cruise News Update: April 8, 2023

A busy cruise news update with some major headlines on Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian, Disney, and Royal Caribbean.

We’re here with another busy cruise news update across the major cruise line, including coverage on Carnival Cruise Line, two stories on Norwegian, some Disney news, and news on one of the Royal Caribbean Oasis-class cruise ships.

Cruise News Update

Cruise Hive has you covered with all the major developments from the past week, including a busy upcoming Alaska season for Carnival Cruise Line, new Disney wearable devices to roll out across the fleet, Norwegian is testing out Starlink internet and will roll it out across all of its brands, NCL also clarifies a much talked about a prohibited item, and a Royal Caribbean cruise ship undergoes dry dock.

Carnival Planning Busy Alaska Season

Three Fun Ships will be sailing Alaska itineraries this summer, and all three ships are the popular Spirit-class vessels: Carnival MiracleCarnival Spirit, and for the first time in North American waters since joining the fleet, Carnival Luminosa.

Carnival Miracle will be the first to set sail for Alaska when she leaves Long Beach on April 23 for a 14-night roundtrip sailing up the California coast to visit Alaskan ports.

Carnival Miracle Cruise Ship in Alaska
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

The ship will then reposition to San Francisco for alternating 10-night Alaskan sailings and 4-night Baja Mexico cruises. In September, Carnival Miracle will again return to Long Beach after another 14-night Alaska cruise.

Carnival Spirit will return to Alaska beginning on May 2, after a 16-night repositioning cruise from Miami to Seattle. From Seattle, the ship will offer 7-night roundtrip Alaska cruises for the season. After the Alaska season, Carnival Spirit will reposition to Mobile via a 16-night one-way cruise from Seattle to New Orleans.

Carnival Luminosa will join her sister ships in Alaska for the first time. From Seattle, Carnival Luminosa will offer primarily 7-night roundtrip sailings, though the June 15 departure is a 6-night cruise and the June 28 departure is an 8-night voyage. After the Alaska season ends, Carnival Luminosa will return to Brisbane via an epic 31-night cruise.

New Disney Cruise Line Wearables

Following in the footsteps of Princess Cruises’ OceanMedallion, MSC Cruises’ MSC for Me, and Royal Caribbean’s WOW Bands, Disney Cruise Line is jumping onboard with next-gen technology in the form of its wearable, the DisneyBand+.

Disney has been using the technology for wearables in its parks for over ten years and is finally bringing the technology to its cruise ships.

The line will try out the wearable onboard the 144,000 gross tons, 5,555-guest Disney Wish on select sailings over the following months before the official launch later this year.

Disney Cruise Line Band
Photo: Disney

Available in three Disney Cruise Line-exclusive designs, the intelligent features of DisneyBand+ promises to make the cruise experience more enjoyable.

The DisneyBand+ also enables guests to unlock their stateroom doors, make payments for snacks and souvenirs, and even grant access to onboard kids’ clubs. The bands are designed to be worn while swimming or participating in various water activities, including at the line’s private island of Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.

Not limited to cruise vacations, DisneyBand+ technology can be used at Disney Parks and Disney Resort hotels, making it a versatile accessory for guests who want to combine a cruise onboard a Disney Cruise Line ship and a visit to one of the parks.

Norwegian Testing Starling for All Fleets

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has announced a trial run for high-speed Starlink internet access onboard ships, and if successful, the company plans to roll out the service to all three of its cruise line brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The initial test of the high-speed, broadband internet service Starlink is being conducted aboard Norwegian Breakaway, one of the larger vessels in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet.

If successful, the improved internet service would permit guests and crew members alike better options for staying connected to family and friends, as well as to enjoy streaming services and online gaming if they prefer. At the moment, a slow rollout is tentatively planned.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: BUI LE MANH HUNG / Shutterstock

The test period is essential to be sure the technology is as reliable as expected. “Ensuring that this technology meets our high standards of excellence for our guests is incredibly important to us, which is why we are introducing this cutting-edge technology across our fleet in a phased manner,” said Harry Sommer, president and CEO-elect of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

“Once deployed, guests and crew will have a faster and more reliable method to stay connected with friends and family including by sharing in real-time the incredible memories they create while at sea,” Sommer added.

If the test aboard the 145,655-gross-ton Norwegian Breakaway is a success, seven additional ships are planned to be outfitted with Starlink before the end of 2023.

In time and if successful, the company plans to roll out Starlink throughout all three fleets, a total of 32 ships – 19 for Norwegian Cruise Line, 7 for Oceania Cruises, and 6 for Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

NCL Clarifies Prohibited Item

Norwegian Cruise Line has clarified its new prohibition on fans, which are now listed on the cruise line’s prohibited items list. When fans were recently added to the prohibited list, the inclusion only read “All types of fans including handheld, battery operated, electric etc.” which indicated that every type of fan, no matter its size or power source, would not be permitted onboard.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: Kyle J Little / Shutterstock

Now, the list item has been clarified to read “All types of fans with the exception of small electrical and battery-operated fans.”

While there is no specific size listed as acceptable, the list does go on to state that “fans are subject to confiscation by the ship’s security team for inspection and approval.”

There was a significant outcry when guests first learned of the outright ban on fans, as there are many reasons why cruise travelers often bring fans along.

For guests who do want to bring a fan on a Norwegian cruise ship, it is best to bring the smallest possible fan that will meet your needs. Choose a travel-sized fan or small portable fan if possible.

Royal Caribbean Ship Undergoes Dry Dock

Symphony of the Seas has begun her 2-week dry dock to refresh and refurbish the ship prior to her summer Mediterranean schedule. The ship arrived in Cadiz, Spain on Monday, March 27, 2023, and will remain at the shipyard for more than two weeks.

She is docked alongside Carnival Venezia, which is also undergoing extensive refitting work before relaunching under the “Carnival Fun Italian Style” brand in late May.

Symphony of the seas Dry Dock
Symphony of the seas Dry Dock

Symphony of the Seas is not receiving nearly as much renovation as the former Costa Venezia, but will still be thoroughly refreshed and updated.

This type of dry dock is relatively brief at less than three weeks, and will likely include updates to technical systems and software onboard to keep the ship operating at peak efficiency, as well as hotel and public area upgrades like new flooring where necessary, updated lighting, minor repairs to public areas such as fixing seating or railings, refinishing the open decks, and new coats of paint.

Royal Caribbean International has not announced any massive updates for the ship, such as the introduction of completely new venues or removing well-known features, but such surprises are always possible.

Symphony of the Seas‘ first cruise after the current dry dock will set sail from Barcelona, Spain on Sunday, April 16. That voyage is a 7-night roundtrip Western Mediterranean cruise visiting Mallorca, Marseille, La Spezia, Rome, and Naples, before returning to Barcelona.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just a handful of the cruise news headlines from the past week, we’ve got all the coverage on Cruise Hive, including sad news from a Virgin Voyages cruise, a major leadership change at Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line departs on 150th-anniversary sailing, cruises cancelled for an MSC cruise ship due to extended dry dock, a cruise director change onboard Carnival’s flagship, Virgin Voyages seeks more funding, and plenty more, which you can browse through right here.

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