Cruise News Update: Cruise Limits, Reservations, Rescue

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It’s time for your weekly recap of the major developments in the world of cruising. Cruise Hive has it all covered, with stories from Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Alaska, and the Greek Islands.

Cruise News Update

Let’s dive into the big cruise news headlines of the past week, with Cruise Hive’s coverage of Greece emerging as a destination likely to limit cruise guests; a Carnival Cruise Line ship becoming the first to hook into PortMiami’s new shore power system; Princess Cruises delaying the launch of its new dining reservation app; an Alaska cruiser posting online the expensive bill she received for medical treatment in a ship’s infirmary; an Oceania Cruises’ ship rescuing 68 migrants near the Canary Islands; and a local group in Sitka, Alaska, working to cap cruise arrivals.

Greece Likely to Impose Cruise Arrival Limits Soon

The Prime Minister of Greece hinted that the nation is likely to implement cruise tourism limitations as soon as 2025 due to dramatic increases in ship and passenger arrivals in the post-pandemic era.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a major news outlet that he expects new rules will include limits on the total number of Greek Island berths that are available to cruise ships and/or a bidding process to determine which ships will call on the islands.

Cruise Ships Visiting Santorini, Greece
Cruise Ships Visiting Santorini, Greece (Photo Credit: Andocs)

In 2023, the Greek Islands received 7 million cruise guests — an extraordinary spike of 51% compared to 2022 — who arrived on 5,230 ships, which represented a 9.4% increase in vessels. Popular islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes are overcrowded with cruise guests.

Santorini, for example, welcomed 800 cruise ship calls in 2023, bringing about 1.3 million cruisers to the island – a 17% increase versus 2022. Mykonos saw 749 ships call in 2023, a rise of 23%.

Greece is among a growing number of destinations taking steps to curb tourism in general and cruise tourism in particular. In Venice, officials have imposed a 5 euro fee on all visitors to the city, regardless of how they arrived there, while in Barcelona, a ban prohibits cruise ships from docking in the city center.

Carnival Ship Is First to Hook Into PortMiami Shore Power

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Conquest became the first cruise ship to plug into PortMiami’s newly constructed electric shore power facility. The port is the first on the US East Coast to provide shore power at five cruise berths.

Shore power hook-ups enable cruise ships to turn off their engines while in port, rather than keeping them running to power hotel operations. At PortMiami, shore power facilities are now available at Cruise Terminals AA, A, B, F, and V, used by MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, and Virgin Voyages, respectively.

Carnival Conquest Connecting to PortMiami Shore Power
Carnival Conquest Connecting to PortMiami Shore Power (Photo Credit: Miami-Dade County)

By allowing ships to use shore power, PortMiami will cut emissions by up to 98%. According to estimates, emission cuts at just one terminal would be like taking 7,500 cars off the road.

The project to add shore power infrastructure at PortMiami cost about $125 million and was funded by various sources, including the Florida Department of Transportation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Cruise Lines International Association data shows that 30% of global cruise ships already are equipped with shore power technology, however, less than 20 ports worldwide provide shore power hook-ups.

Many cruise lines are in the process of adding shore power capabilities to their ships, no matter the age of the ships. Carnival Conquest is more than 20 years old, for instance. By the end of 2024, shore power technology will be added to three more ships in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet.

Princess Cruises Delays New Dining Reservation System

A glitch in the Princess Cruises App has forced the line to delay the introduction of its new dining venue reservation system. The new process was to begin on June 17, 2024 but is postponed to July 1, 2024.

As previously announced, the cruise line on September 14, 2024 is set to implement new dining arrangements. The new options, designed to better accommodate guest preferences, will include Traditional Dining, with early and late seatings; Reservable Dining; and Walk-in Anytime dining, offering open seating.

Princess Cruises Ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Princess Cruises Ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Photo Credit: Sail Away Media)

The app was in the process of being updated to accept the new options, which could be selected by guests before embarkation.

Once updates are complete, you will be able to use the app ahead of your voyage to opt for traditional seating in a dedicated dining room with the same waiter, same table, and same time each night, or flexible dining, allowing you to enjoy dinner at any available time and table size of your choosing in either the Reservable or Open Seating dining rooms,Princess Cruises explained in a notification to guests.

However, with the delay, guests departing on cruises before the app is updated on July 1 might have to wait until embarkation to confirm their dining choices. That scenario could lead to longer wait times at dining venues and a sense of inconvenience for guests who like to nail down their reservations before setting sail.

Sea Sickness Treatment Proves Costly For Alaska Cruiser

A post on Reddit went viral when a cruiser described how much medical treatment cost her while aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship in Alaska. The guest sailing on Norwegian Bliss chalked up close to $2,300 in medical fees when she visited the ship’s medical center and sought help for her nausea. 

The ship had hit rough seas on the first night of the guest’s cruise from Seattle, and even though the cruiser — Diana — was wearing an anti-motion sickness patch, she still needed medical attention. At the ship’s infirmary, she was examined by a doctor and received IV fluids and anti-nausea medication.

Alaska Cruise Passenger Medical Bill
Alaska Cruise Passenger Medical Bill (Credits: Dianabayyebii & Melissa Mayntz)

She posted an image of her bill on Reddit, showing she owed $2,297. The guest had invested in travel insurance, so she won’t be liable for the full amount, but the itemized charges were eye-openers to those who viewed her post.

They included $219 for entering the infirmary, $109 for the placing and reading of a pulse oximeter on her finger by a nurse, and $131 for each of three IV bags.

“You could actually buy a pulse oximeter and pay a nurse to take a reading for less,” said one user who commented on Reddit.

The good news is that the experience did not take away from Diana’s enjoyment of her cruise, which featured an exciting itinerary with visits to Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, and Victoria, British Columbia.

Oceania Ship Rescues Dozens of Migrants Near Canary Islands

An Oceania Cruises’ ship rescued 68 migrants found adrift in a wooden dinghy some 400 miles south of Tenerife, Canary Islands, on June 19, 2024. The 670-guest Insignia, while operating a world cruise and sailing in the region, was directed to the scene by Salvamento Maritimo, Spain’s maritime safety and rescue agency.

The oil tanker Phillipp Oldendorff had initially spotted and reported the migrant vessel, which was drifting between Cape Verde and Tenerife in the Atlantic Ocean. After arriving at the location, Insignia’s crew brought the refugees onboard and provided medical attention, food, and water.

Oceania Insignia Cruise Ship
Oceania Insignia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Claudine Van Massenhove)

The rescue was completed in poor weather, with wind gusts exceeding 40 mph. During the rescue operation, Insignia crew members discovered five migrants who had died on the dinghy, and due to the rough seas were able to bring only three onboard.

The migrants were taken to Santa Cruz, Tenerife, where they disembarked the ship on June 21, 2024. Salvamento Maritimo was slated to meet the refugees at the port, and also to again attempt to retrieve the two dead migrants still in the dinghy.

In recent years, cruise ships have become more commonplace for rescuing migrants at sea. In May 2024, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Radiance rescued 25 migrants off the Pacific Coast of Mexico. In March 2024, Royal Caribbean’s new ship, and the world’s largest, Icon of the Seas, rescued 14 Cuban refugees who had been lost at sea for several days off the coast of Honduras.

Another Alaskan Port Aims to Lower Cruise Arrivals

Some of the local residents in Sitka, Alaska, are taking steps to lower the number of cruise arrivals, shorten the cruise season, and implement one no-ship day during each week of the season. 

The group, which adopted the name Small Town SOUL, has applied to include the changes on the municipal election ballot in October, with the goal of implementing the changes in 2025.

Cruise Passengers in Sitka, Alaska
Cruise Passengers in Sitka, Alaska (Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators)

Specifically, the plan includes a daily limit of 4,500 cruise guests disembarking from ships, with an annual cap of 300,000 guests. The group wants to trim the cruise season, which traditionally runs from April through October, to May 1 through September 1. Also, no large ships would be allowed to call on one day each week, in a bid to give residents a break from the tourist crowds.

Group members say cruise guests cause traffic congestion, put pressure on the local infrastructure, and cause safety concerns. The ballot initiative also will include proposed penalties for cruise lines that do not adhere to the disembarkation limits.

Sitka is the latest in a growing number of tourist destinations looking to limit cruise guest arrivals. In Alaska, the state capital of Juneau recently capped the daily passenger limit to 16,000, and to 12,000 on Saturdays. Juneau attracts more than 1 million cruise guests each year, while Sitka’s cruise guest totals are closer to 600,000 annually.

More Cruise Headlines

Now that you’re caught up on all the top stories, check out even more coverage provided by Cruise Hive, such as articles about Norwegian Cruise Line planning its third Broadway cruise for spring 2025; Carnival Cruise Line offering four “Grinchmas” holiday-themed sailings from Australia in July 2024; Oceania Cruises unveiling new menus at eateries across its fleet; Viking Ocean Cruises ordering two more ships; and Explora Journeys delaying the launch of its newest ship.

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