Cruise News Update: Cruise Delay, Cancellations, Rescue

It's time for another weekly cruise news update from Cruise Hive, with a carnival ship rescue, Royal Caribbean delay, and cancellations.

Ready to dive into this week’s cruise news update from Cruise Hive? In this week’s edition, we’ve got coverage on Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Virgin Voyages.

Cruise News Update

The cruise news just keeps coming, and Cruise Hive has all of the stories you want to know about. In this week’s update, get the scoop on all of the developments, including the christening of Carnival Jubilee, new smart elevators causing some issues on Carnival Cruise Line ships, an onboard illness that impacted Norwegian Dawn’s itinerary, Middle East tensions causing Virgin Voyages to cancel an entire season Down Under, Royal Caribbean canceling the first two cruises of its new-build Star of the Seas, and a Carnival Cruise Line ship helping a boat full of refugees near Cuba.

Gala Celebration Marks Carnival Jubilee Christening

Carnival Jubilee, the third and final ship in Carnival Cruise Line’s Excel-class, was christened at her homeport of Galveston, Texas, on February 24, 2024. The celebratory event represented the first time any cruise ship had been named at the fast-growing port.

Godmother Gwen Stefani joined cruise line and port executives in marking the milestone with music, a maritime blessing, and even some traditional Texan festivities such as a whip-cracking performance. And in true Texas style, an oversized lever topped with a cowboy hat released the huge champagne bottle that crashed against the ship’s hull, officially naming the vessel.

Carnival Jubilee Naming Ceremony
Carnival Jubilee Naming Ceremony (Credit: Carnival)

Galveston Mayor Craig Brown declared it was “Carnival Jubilee Day” across the city, and presented Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy with a key to the city. Duffy’s remarks included a tribute to the ship’s 1,700 crew members, noting that the crew is the heart of any cruise ship.

Duffy also announced the line’s $50,000 donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital on behalf of Stefani, who is well known for her philanthropy. Carnival Cruise Line has pledged to raise $50 million for the charity by 2030.

The 6,500-guest ship is operating 7-day Western Caribbean voyages, with port calls in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras.

Cruise Line’s Smart Elevators Cause Confusion

Carnival Cruise Line has installed smart elevators onboard four ships, Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, and Carnival Venezia, and is expected to add them to other vessels. But operating the new elevators has proven to be frustrating to some guests, since the “smart” components completely change the process for getting from one deck to another.

For instance, there are no buttons to push inside the smart elevators. Rather, guests must use a touchscreen at each elevator bank to indicate which deck they wish to move to, and how many are in their party.  Moreover, not all elevator cars will travel to all decks. The touchscreens indicate the available decks that each elevator can reach.

Carnival Cruise Line Elevators
Carnival Cruise Line Elevators (Photo Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani)

Once a guest has indicated his deck choice and number in his party, the smart elevator will indicate which elevator car he and his party should board once it arrives. The cars are named using letters.

Confusion among passengers has prompted the cruise line to place instructional videos near the touchscreens.  Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald also posted a demonstration video on social media so guests can see how the new service works. 

In his video, Heald uses a smart elevator on Carnival Horizon, where he recently sailed on one of his signature FFS (For Fun’s Sake) cruises. Heald says that when used properly, the smart elevators work well.

Outbreak Scare Impacts Cruise Ship Itinerary

Two phrases that no one in the cruise industry ever wants to hear spoken together are “cruise ship” and “cholera,” but that’s what happened on February 25, 2024, when a Norwegian Cruise Line ship was temporarily denied docking at a port because local officials suspected cases of the disease onboard.

A small number of cruisers aboard the 2,324-guest Norwegian Dawn had been impacted by a gastrointestinal illness and were suffering from symptoms usually attributed to norovirus. However, authorities in Mauritius, where the cruise was set to conclude, suspected the illness could be cholera and required testing of several sick guests before allowing the vessel to dock at Port Louis.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise
Norwegian Dawn Cruise (Photo Credit: Vytautas Kielaitis)

The testing process required a two-day quarantine, and the ship was, in essence, in a holding pattern offshore while tests were carried out. Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar off Africa’s eastern coast. The ship had been operating a 12-night cruise from Cape Town, South Africa, to Mauritius.

Test results showed no signs of cholera, and the ship was able to dock at Mauritius. Unfortunately, the ship’s next cruise was shortened by two days, and became a 10-night voyage rather than a 12-night return cruise to Cape Town. A call to Madagascar was cancelled as a result.

Guests received a pro-rated refund of their cruise fare and any pre-paid options, such as beverage packages and gratuities.

Virgin Ship Cancels Season Due to Red Sea Tensions

Unsafe conditions in the Red Sea and Suez Canal region due to the ongoing Middle East conflict has caused Virgin Voyages to cancel Resilient Lady’s return to Australia and the South Pacific in late 2024. As a result, all of the ship’s fall/winter 2024-25 Australia sailings are cancelled.

The ship, now operating her first season Down Under, will depart the region in late March 2024 on an already-altered repositioning cruise. Forced to avoid the Suez Canal, the ship will sail around Africa as she travels to the Mediterranean for her summer series of voyages.

Resilient Lady Cruise Ship
Resilient Lady Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Dans Destinations)

Safety risks tied to returning to Australia in fall of 2024, and then repositioning again in spring 2025, prompted the line to nix the deployment altogether. Instead, the ship will spend winter 2024/25 sailing Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Resilient Lady will offer 7- to 11-night voyages.

Guests booked on the cancelled cruises will have the option to rebook on another Virgin Voyages cruise or receive a full refund. Cruisers already booked on a 2025 Australia cruise will be offered priority when and if the line returns to Australia in the future.

Virgin Voyages is among many lines that have rerouted or cancelled cruises scheduled to transit the Suez Canal and sail through the Red Sea area since the Middle East conflict began in October 2023.

Second Icon-Class Ship Delivery Is Delayed

Royal Caribbean’s Star of the Seas, a sister ship to the celebrated Icon of the Seas that entered service in January 2024, is under construction and slated to make her debut in the summer of 2025. But the ship already is behind schedule, and booked guests were disappointed to learn that Star of the Seas’ first two planned voyages have been cancelled.

The cruise line has nixed the maiden voyage, a 7-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day itinerary scheduled to depart Port Canaveral on August 17, 2025, as well as her second sailing, also to the Eastern Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean's Star of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Star of the Seas

The 248,663-gross ton ship is being built at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, and cruise line and shipyard officials marked her keel laying — a construction milestone — in mid-December 2023. 

Delays in cruise ship deliveries have become more common in recent years, due mostly to supply chain challenges, although Royal Caribbean did not indicate a specific reason for the pushback of the ship’s launch.

Since the inaugural sailings are still far off, booked guests have sufficient time to make other cruise arrangements or cancel air tickets, etc.

Cruise Ship Assists Refugees in Florida Straits

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Celebration was at the tail end of her 7-night Western Caribbean cruise and headed back to PortMiami on February 24, 2024, when she came upon an overcrowded refugee boat north of Cuba, in the Florida Straits.

About 20 people were in the boat, signaling for assistance. Carnival Celebration’s crew provided supplies, including food and water, and immediately contacted the US Coast Guard. The refugees did not board the Carnival ship, but the US Coast Guard Sector Key West quickly dispatched a cutter and rescued the refugees.

Carnival Celebration Rescue
Carnival Celebration Rescue (Credits: Danilo Garcia & Grindstone Media Group)

Carnival Cruise Line did not reveal the precise location of the rescue, but the Florida Straits is a common area where cruise ships come upon small crafts carrying refugees. The US Coast Guard maintains a constant presence in the area, on the lookout for boaters in distress as well as suspected drug traffickers and others involved in illegal activities.

Rescued refugees are typically returned to their country of origin after receiving any needed medical care, food, and water. Carnival Celebration has assisted refugees at sea in the past, the first time in January 2023, also in the Florida Straits, and again in March 2023, when she encountered a refugee craft near Cozumel, Mexico.

More Cruise Headlines

Cruise Hive has many more cruise news stories you won’t want to miss, such as Royal Caribbean announcing Star Trek: The Cruise will set sail in 2025, Holland America Line introducing an interactive game onboard nine ships, MSC Cruises installing the much-faster internet service, SpaceX’s Starlink, on all ships, Norwegian Cruise Line posting a robust financial performance, and Silversea Cruises’ new-build, Silver Ray, floating out of her construction bay.


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