Cruise News Update: February 11, 2023

We've got another busy cruise news update, with coverage on Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and even Costa.

We’re here with a busy cruise news update across the industry from the past week. There’s coverage on Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and even a Costa Cruises ship.

Cruise News Update

There have been all kinds of news in the past week, with cancellations, a cyclone, policy changes and some impressive itineraries! Our coverage in this article includes a new policy for Carnival Cruise Line crew, which passengers need to know about, Norwegian opening up pre-cruise entertainment reservations, nearly half of the Princess Cruises fleet sailing Alaska in 2024, Costa Cruises selling one of its ships, a cyclone impacting two Royal Caribbean cruise ships and Carnival#s epic 31-day Carnival Luminosa itinerary.

New Policy for Carnival Crew Members

For many years, cruise travelers have brought small gifts to give to crew members as appreciation for their helpful service in creating amazing vacations. Items have ranged from treats such as cookies, candy, and snacks to more practical items like phone cards, socks, and toiletries.

Carnival Cruise Line is now introducing a policy to prohibit some gift items, however. Brand ambassador John Heald addressed the new policy on his Facebook page, in response to guests’ questions about items to give crew members.

Carnival Cruise Ships
Photo Copyright: Gianfranco Vivi / Shutterstock

“There is a new guideline for this,” Heald said. “Please only bring something that is factory sealed and still in the packet or box. Individual candy or cookies etc. won’t be able to be taken by the crew I am afraid. This is for their safety.”

This means that any opened or homemade items will not be able to be accepted, or may be immediately discarded regardless of the item or to whom it is given.

No further details about this restriction were made immediately available, but the new guideline is intended for the safety of the crew. There are several ways that even the most well-meaning gift could be unsafe. Homemade goodies, for example, might have unknown allergens in the recipe, such as nuts that could give a crew member a dangerous reaction.

To best safeguard crew members, Carnival Cruise Line is restricting any gift items that are not in the original, factory-sealed packaging. This will ensure that items have not been tampered with and are properly labeled so their safety is confirmed.

Norwegian Pre-Cruise Entertainment Reservations Begin

Guests booked for upcoming cruises throughout the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet will now be able to pre-book reservations for onboard entertainment, including production shows, comedy, and exclusive live music venues.

Exactly when guests will be able to book, however, will vary depending on the category of stateroom booked as well as guests’ loyalty status in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitudes Rewards program.

Guests in The Haven staterooms or suites will be able to pre-book entertainment as early as 26 days before embarkation, as will guests who are at least Platinum level in the Latitudes Rewards program.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Theater
Photo Copyright: EWY Media / Shutterstock

To reach the Platinum level, guests must have accumulated 75+ points. Guests earn one point for every cruise night, with additional points for suite or The Haven stateroom bookings as well as insider offer bookings.

Guests at lower loyalty levels or staterooms from Club Balcony Suites and lower – balconies, oceanviews, inside, and studios – will be able to pre-book their entertainment beginning 21 days before sailing.

Bookings can be made through the cruise line’s website or through the NCL app if guests are logged in to their associated cruise reservations. There is no cost for reservations for any complimentary entertainment options.

While this announcement was just made earlier this week and is effective from February 7, 2023, some booked guests have reported that the entertainment booking options for upcoming cruises are not yet open, despite being within the specified windows. It is possible that some tech glitches will occur while the reservation system is fine-tuned.

Almost Half of Princes Fleet to Sail Alaska

Princess Cruises will offer 158 departures during its just-revealed 2024 summer season in Alaska, allowing cruisers to embark at Anchorage (Whittier), Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, or San Francisco.

Three ships will operate 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruises, including the 142,229 gross ton, 3,560-guest Royal Princess; the 115,875 gross ton, 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess, and the 107,517 gross ton, 2,600-guest Grand Princess.

The itinerary, between Anchorage and Vancouver, features two glacier-viewings on each cruise, and northbound cruises include a late-night stay in Juneau, Alaska’s capital.

Princess Cruises in Alaska
Photo Courtesy: Princess Cruises

Seven-day Inside Passage voyages will operate roundtrip from Seattle aboard the line’s newest ship, the 145,000 gross ton, 3,660-guest Discovery Princess, and the 143,700 gross ton, 3,560-guest Majestic Princess. These cruises also feature a late stay in Juneau.

From San Francisco, Princess will offer 11-day Inside Passage cruises aboard the 113,561 gross ton, 3,080-guest Crown Princess, while the 113,561 gross ton, 3,080-guest Ruby Princess operates 7-day Inside Passage voyages from Vancouver.

Cruisers who wish to extend a Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with land-based experiences can choose from a variety of cruisetours from 3 to 10 nights, with accommodations at one of the line’s five Princess Wilderness Lodges.

Every cruisetour includes a visit to Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park, and some feature the line’s Direct to Wilderness rail trip from Whittier to the Denali region. The line’s 17-night Ultimate Princess Connoisseur cruisetour allows guests to stay two nights at each of the lodges. 

Costa Magica Sold by Carnival

The Destiny-class Costa Magica has been sold to the Marios Iliopoulos-led Seajets high-speed ferry company. The ship’s fate has been uncertain for some time, as it was announced in June 2021 to be transferred to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet.

That plan was dismissed in mid-2022 when it was announced that Costa Luminosa would instead become Carnival Luminosa, while Costa Magica was to remain with Costa Cruises for the time being. The ship had not been sailing since the industry-wide shutdown began in March 2020, being one of the few ships to not resume guest service.

In the meantime, Costa Magica was offered to house Ukrainian refugees in March 2022, with Costa Cruises reaching out to the Italian government with that proposal. Though generous and appreciated, the offer was ultimately unnecessary.

Costa Magica Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: Eshma / Shutterstock

In late December 2022, as part of the Fourth Quarter 2022 Business Update from Carnival Corporation, it was announced that three “smaller-less efficient ships” would be removed from the corporation’s overall fleet. At that time, it was known that two of the ships would be retired from the Costa Cruises fleet, but the names of the vessels were not released.

Then, in early January, AIDAaura was confirmed to be leaving the AIDA Cruises fleet as part of those optimization plans. Now we know that Costa Magica will be another of the impacted vessels, but the third vessel is still unknown, other than the fact that it will be retired from Costa Cruises.

At this time, two additional Costa ships – Costa Serena and Costa Diadema – are still in lay up, though Costa Diadema is slated to resume passenger operations in April 2023 with Mediterranean itineraries. Costa Serena is also scheduled to resume service in December 2023, but her itinerary plans are not yet finalized and she is not listed on the Costa Cruises website any longer.

Cyclone Impacts Two Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been impacted due to a Cyclone in the Pacific region. The two Quantum-class vessels, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas both have significant itinerary changes.

Quantum of the Seas was scheduled for an 8-night roundtrip South Pacific itinerary from Brisbane, Australia, departing on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 and visiting Mystery Island, Noumea, and Port Vila before returning to Brisbane on Wednesday, February 15.

Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Mohd Syis Zulkipli / Shutterstock

Upon boarding the ship, however, guests received emails from Royal Caribbean that their itinerary was changed because of storm forecasts, which is also reflected in the Royal Caribbean app.

Due to the influence of the tropical low, which eventually became Cyclone Gabrielle, the ship will now be sailing south rather than northeast, visiting Hobart, Tasmania and Sydney, Australia.

The call in Sydney will be an overnight visit, from 8 a.m. on Sunday morning through 10 p.m. on Monday night, giving guests plenty of time to explore and enjoy the amazing city. The ship will return to Brisbane on February 15 as scheduled, long after the storm has moved away from the area.

Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Jon Ingall / Shutterstock

Ovation of the Seas is homeported from Sydney, Australia, and was to have departed on Saturday, February 4, 2023 for an 8-night South Pacific cruise calling on Mystery Island and Port Vila in Vanuatu, as well as Noumea in New Caledonia.

Because of hazardous weather, however, the ship has been unable to visit Vanuatu, and guests were informed of the change as the cruise began.

The original schedule was to have departed Sydney on Saturday, with two days at sea before visiting Mystery Island on Tuesday, Port Vila on Wednesday, and Noumea on Thursday. Two more days at sea are to follow before the ship returns to Sydney on Sunday, February 12.

Instead, the new itinerary has been as follows: Three days at sea, in port at Noumea on Wednesday, and three more days at sea before returning to Sydney as scheduled.

By moving the visit to Noumea earlier and avoiding the ports in Vanuatu, the ship has been able to remain in calmer waters and safer conditions for the guests and crew.

Carnival’s Epic 31-Day Voyage

The recently refurbished Carnival Luminosa that transferred from the Costa Cruises fleet as part of the new “Carnival Fun – Italian Style” initiative will take guests on an epic journey spanning three continents across 31 days. It’s one of the longest and most unique voyages in the cruise line’s history and part of its Carnival Journeys offerings.

The Carnival cruise ship will begin the long cruise on April 1, 2024, out of Brisbane, Australia, which is where the ship is currently based. In total, the voyage will include nine port visits and 19 sea days. There will also be one day of cruising the Hubbard Glacier for exceptional vistas and views.

Carnival Luminosa Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: litttree / Shutterstock

There will be a visit to Guam, time in Tokyo, and stops in some of the most popular Alaskan ports of call, including Seward, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Of special interest is the stop in Okinawa, Japan, which will be Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever visit to that historic and culturally-rich destination.

The cruise will conclude in Seattle, Washington on May 1, 2024, where the ship will remain homeported through mid-September for the Alaskan sailing season, offering 7-night roundtrip itineraries to the Last Frontier. After Alaska, Carnival Luminosa will return to Australia to homeport once more from Brisbane.

More Cruise Headlines

It was another busy week of cruise news and we’ve got all the coverage, including Azipod propulsion issues for a Holland America cruise ship, MSC Cruises detailing its busy 2023 summer program with 140 destinations, capacity to be increased at Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, cyclone forcing an itinerary change for the Carnival Luminosa cruise ship, the senior officers being announced for the new Sun Princess, Royal Caribbean’s releases its business update with an expected strong 2023, routine maintenance forces a Royal Caribbean cancellation, Carnival teases new VIFP loyalty gifts and so much more.

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