Cruise News Update: February 12, 2022

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Another busy week within the cruise industry as cruise lines reach major construction milestones with new ships, more cancellations for some ships, relaxed rules for face masks moving forward, and a further cruise ban in Australia.

Cruise News Update

In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve got major headlines from Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises. Lots of developments on new ships, including Disney Wish, Carnival Celebration, Celebrity Beyond, and even Cunard’s future Queen Anne. There are itinerary changes for four Carnival cruise ships, an extended cruise ban in Australia which could be the final time, and the majority of 2023 sailing canceled for the Norwegian Sky.

Itinerary Changes for Four Carnival Ships

In the email sent to booked guests, Carnival cites “refining operational plans” as the reason for the itinerary changes on the four vessels, but no further details are given. The affected sailings include:

  • Carnival Horizon – 2/13 6-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Miami
  • Carnival Conquest – 2/14 4-day Bahamas itinerary from Miami
  • Carnival Vista – 2/19 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary from Galveston
  • Carnival Glory – 2/20 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary from New Orleans
Carnival Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Leeweh / Shutterstock

The new itineraries’ ports of call are now as follows:

  • Carnival Horizon – Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Amber Cove
  • Carnival Conquest – Princess Cays, Nassau
  • Carnival Vista – Mahogany Bay, Belize, Cozumel
  • Carnival Glory – Mahogany Bay, Belize, Cozumel

Carnival Horizon‘s itinerary has been completely shifted, as the ship had previously planned to visit Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, and none of those ports now remain on the February 13 sailing.

Carnival Conquest will still visit Nassau but will not call on Half Moon Cay as listed previously. Both Carnival Vista and Carnival Glory are substituting Mahogany Bay instead of Ocho Rios, and will visit Belize instead of Grand Cayman. Their calls on Cozumel are unchanged.

The embarkation and debarkation dates for all the cruises are unchanged, and each sailing will still enjoy Fun Days at Sea in their revised schedules.

Mask Policy Changes by Cruise Lines

Celebrity Cruises has adjusted its onboard face mask policy and will not be requiring masks for vaccinated guests beginning February 12, 2022, unless the guests are attending activities in the theater or casino. Unvaccinated guests will still be required to wear masks in all indoor areas.

Aboard Royal Caribbean ships, guests will not be required to wear masks in designated vaccinated-only areas beginning February 15, and masks need not be worn outdoors unless social distancing is not possible. Masks must still be worn in other indoor areas and wherever local guidelines require them in ports of call.

Taking off Mask
Photo Credit: DimaBerlin / Shutterstock

Earlier this week, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that as of March 1, 2022, “The decision to wear a mask covering when onboard is at the discretion of each guest.” The cruise line does continue to recommend mask-wearing, but masks will no longer be required.

As with other cruise lines, crew members will continue to wear masks aboard Norwegian ships, and all crew and passengers must adhere to local guidelines when in ports of call.

Eager passengers are closely monitoring health and safety protocols aboard other cruise lines to see if mask policies are eased or updated. Policies for Carnival Cruise Line are of particular interest, though as of February 12 there has been no change in Carnival’s mask policy.

Cunard Line Reveals Queen Anne

Cunard has announced that its newest ship, the 249th ship to sail with the line and scheduled to debut in early 2024, is to be named Queen Anne, continuing the tradition of celebrating Cunard’s rich heritage, royal history, and refined status.

Queen Anne will join a luxury contemporary fleet that now honors the names of each Queen over the last millennium – Queen Mary 2Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth. Cunard explored multiple naming options as the new ship has been in development. Inspired by Queen Anne’s reign, the line worked with British historian, author and television presenter, Kate Williams, to assist in the detailed research.

Queen Anne Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Cunard Line

The Pinnacle-class Queen Anne was first announced in September 2017. Initially, the ship was expected to debut this year, in 2022, but the worldwide cruise industry shutdown understandably delayed her development and construction.

Queen Anne‘s maiden season program will go on sale in May, with the ship’s first sailings in early 2024. She is currently under construction at the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard in northeastern Italy, the same shipyard that built Queen Elizabeth. Queen Anne is to be the second-largest ever constructed for the iconic cruise line.

Carnival Celebration Floats Out

The much-anticipated Carnival Celebration, sister ship to Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship Mardi Gras, has reached a major milestone in its construction as it was floated out and touched water for the first time on February 11, 2022. This signifies that the ship’s hull is officially complete, and she is now ready for outfitting with interior details and features.

Carnival Celebration Floats Out
Photo Courtesy: Meyer Turku

The ship’s name is a nod to one of Carnival’s classic cruise ships, MS Celebration, but in every sense, the new Carnival Celebration is designed to lead the way to the future of cruising. Work will now begin on installing some of the exterior features already thrilling guests on Mardi Gras, including the award-winning BOLT roller coaster.

Carnival Celebration already has one of her most recognizable features, as the ship received her iconic “whale tail” funnel on January 25.

Other interior construction will now accelerate, as the ship will receive its interior finishes that will bring the vessel alive. At this time, construction is on track and proceeding as expected. Scheduled to enter service this fall, the 180,000-gross-ton Carnival Celebration will first sail a 14-day transatlantic “Carnival Journeys” voyage from Southampton to her Miami homeport in November.

Norwegian Sky Cancellations

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled all voyages onboard Norwegian Sky between May 29, 2023, through December 29, 2023. Norwegian announced the cancelation in a letter to guests on February 10. However, in another communication to travel agents, NCL detailed more cancellations.

These dates include cancellations for cruises between December 30, 2022, through February 13, 2023, and cruises between February 20, 2023, and April 14, 2023.

Norwegian Sky Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: pio3 / Shutterstock

This leaves one week of sailings between February 13 and February 20 and roughly six weeks between April 14 and May 29. 

While it is not uncommon for a cruise line to rethink an itinerary for a vessel, it does not often happen that cruises onboard a ship are canceled for an entire year. It would lead to the conclusion that Norwegian Cruise Line is perhaps planning a whole new itinerary for Norwegian Sky.

Norwegian Sky has just completed her dry dock in Brest, France, and is currently making her way to the United States. On March 2, 2022, Norwegian Sky will be sailing to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami, on a series of Bahamas and Key West cruises ranging in length from 3- to 5-days.

Celebrity Beyond Completes Sea Trials

Celebrity Beyond is a little closer to her maiden voyage on April 27, 2022. The newest ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet has been under construction in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France, since November 2020. At just 16 months since the keel was laid down and 22 months since the first steel was cut, the build has gone surprisingly quickly given the situation around COVID-19.

The third Edge-class cruise ship completed her sea trials under the watchful eye of Captain Kate McCue. Celebrity Beyond has seen some significant innovations compared to Celebrity Edge, which debuted in 2018, and Celebrity Apex, in 2020.

Celebrity Beyond Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Celebrity Cruises

Besides being 21 meters (63 feet) longer than her sisters, she is also 10,000 gross tons heavier at 140,600 gross tons. Besides that, the interior spaces have been reimagined and significantly expanded.

On her first voyage, sailing from Southampton, UK, on April 27, the ship will be sailing on a 10-night Western Europe cruise visiting Bordeaux, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Seville, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, and Barcelona, Spain.

After her maiden voyage, Celebrity Beyond will be sailing a series of cruises in the Mediterranean for her inaugural season, including nine-night Italian Riviera and France itineraries and 10-night cruises around the Greek Isles through early October when she heads to the Caribbean.

Australia Extends Cruise Ban

While cruise operations have already been resuming in the U.S. since the summer of 2021 and in Europe even earlier, the situation in Australia has remained unchanged. CLIA has now confirmed that the country’s ban on cruise ships has been extended to April 17, 2022.

The previous ban announced in December 2021 was set to end on February 17, 2022. At the time, the government said the decision to extend was due to the current health situation in Australia and on advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.

Cruise Ship in Sydney, Australia
Photo Credit: / Shutterstock

The extended ban to April 17 will likely be the final one. However, multiple cruise lines have already canceled sailings in the country far beyond that date. It would take approximately three months for cruise ships to prepare to restart due to the logistics involved and, of course, getting all the crew back onboard from their home countries.

It’s now up to the government to go through the plans submitted by CLIA on a safe return to cruise operations. There will be strict protocols in place, just like in other countries such as the U.S., where cruise ships have been sailing safely for many months.

More Cruise Headlines

We’ve got even more major cruise news stories, including the CDC releasing details on its new voluntary program for cruise ships, Disney Cruise Line’s new ship leaving the construction dock, Princess Cruises canceling sailings for Sapphire Princess and details its new Caribbean cruises, six Holland America ships to sail Alaska in 2023, a business update from Norwegian Cruise Line and we’ve got the latest as it looks like Crystal Cruises is shutting down.

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