Cruise News Update: February 18, 2023

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We’ve had some major stories from the past week, so here we are with another packed cruise news update, with coverage on Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC Cruises.

Cruise News Update

Here we are with another busy cruise news update from the past week. We’ve got coverage on Royal Caribbean kickstarting construction on its second Icon-class mega-ship, multiple itinerary changes for a total of six Carnival cruise ships, The oldest carnival vessel completing dry dock, an epic 116-world cruise by MSc Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line will begin visiting a new Caribbean port in 2024.

Construction Begins on Second Icon-Class Ship

Little is known about the second Icon-class ship, but excitement is already high as the vessel’s construction has now officially begun.

The traditional steel-cutting ceremony was attended by officials from Royal Caribbean International and Meyer Turku to celebrate the beginning of the venture that will further position Royal Caribbean as a world leader in oceangoing family getaways.

The ship has been in the planning stages for years, and the physical construction will last many months as blocks for the ship are built and assembled, key systems are put in place, and outfitting is completed.

Royal Caribbean Icon-class Steel Cutting
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

No debut date other than 2025 has yet been announced, nor have any details about the ship’s deployment, itineraries, or special features yet been revealed.

As a sister ship to the much-anticipated Icon of the Seas, the ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), and is sure to have a range of amazing neighborhoods and high-energy amenities, venues, and activities for everyone to enjoy.

Statistics for the ship are not yet finalized, but its weight is estimated to be over 200,000 gross tons, with a passenger capacity of roughly 5,600 guests at double occupancy.

No name has been announced for the second Icon-class ship, which is currently known only as “Project NB-1401” though the name should be revealed soon.

Carnival Cruise Line Itinerary Changes

Carnival Cruise Line has had a busy week of informing booked guests of adjusted itineraries. The first notification was regarding a total of nine sailings for the Carnival Dream and Carnival Sunshine. The second notification impacts four Carnival cruise ships, with a total of eight sailings.

Three 2023 sailings are being changed for the 128,250-gross ton Carnival Dream, one in November and two in December. All three impacted cruises are 8-night Eastern Caribbean voyages. The departures impacted are on November 4, December 22, and December 30.

A total of six sailings for the 102,853-gross ton Carnival Sunshine are being adjusted, though somewhat more dramatically than the changes made for Carnival Dream.

Carnival Freedom Cruise Ship
Photo Copyright: Melissa Mayntz / Cruise Hive

Depending on the sailing date, private islands are being swapped, port times modified, and port orders reversed. The impacted cruises are all 5-night cruises to The Bahamas.

The December 23, 2023 sailing of Carnival Spirit, an 8-night roundtrip itinerary to The Bahamas from Mobile, Alabama. The ship was to have visited Princess Cays, Nassau, and Freeport, but will now replace Princess Cays with Bimini, instead. The order of the ports has also been reversed.

Five itineraries have been adjusted on Carnival Freedom, all sailing from Port Canaveral. The 2023 departures on November 20 and December 4 have a reversed order of ports and adjusted times. The March 30 2024 cruise has also got a reversed order of ports and adjusted times. There are also port swaps for the January 2 and June 8 sailings in 2024.

Only one cruise is changed for Carnival Vista, a 6-night Eastern Caribbean sailing from Port Canaveral departing on March 3, 2024. Even the Excel-class Mardi Gras is not exempt from itinerary changes, as guests on the March 29, 2025 sailing are being notified.

Carnival Elations Resumes After Dry Dock

Carnival Elation, which first set sail for the cruise line in April 1998, has finished dry dock upgrades that include not only enhancements to public spaces and general refreshment, but most notably, the new livery colors with a sleek red, white, and blue hull.

The fresh, new hull is not the only upgrade Carnival Elation has received during the dry dock, which lasted from January 21 through February 10, 2023.

The most significant change to the ship’s public spaces is the rebranding of Spa Carnival to the more luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, which has included a full refreshment of spa spaces as well as the installation of new steam and sauna rooms, perfect to help guests relax and rejuvenate.

Carnival Elation Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Other general hotel maintenance and cosmetic enhancements were also completed, such as routine painting, new flooring, and minor repairs as necessary.

Furthermore, several new accessibility features were added to allow more guests full access to the ship’s features. A pool lift was added to the Lido pool on deck 10, and ADA sections were added to the pool bar counters.

Carnival Elation‘s last dry dock was in spring 2020, at which time other public spaces were rebranded to Carnival favorites. In total, the ship has received 10 dry dock renovations in her 25 years of service.

Carnival Elation has now resumed passenger service from Jacksonville, Florida (JAXPORT), offering 4- and 5-night itineraries to The Bahamas. The first post-dry dock sailing departed on Saturday, February 11, 2023, a 5-night sailing.

MSC Cruises’ 116-Night Voyage

MSC has officially opened up for bookings for the 2025 World Cruise onboard MSC Magnifica. The 116-night cruise around the world will visit 50 breathtaking destinations in 21 countries, featuring 22 destinations that have never been featured on an MSC World Cruise before and seven overnight stays.

The three-month journey will take cruisers to five continents, crossing three of the world’s largest oceans and sailing over 30,000 nautical miles.

The cruise will start with famous cities and ports in Italy, France, and Spain before sailing to Casablanca to experience Morocco’s markets and medinas. The voyage will take guests across the Atlantic Ocean to South America, where stops include Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, and Easter Island.

MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Obatala-photography / Shutterstock

Following the days spent in South America, MSC Magnifica will sail through the South Pacific Ocean to New Zealand and Australia and through Asia to the Indian Ocean. The journey will end again in Europe after a full circumnavigation.

The journey through Australasia is one of the highlights of the cruise, with 19 days spent sailing around the Southern and Western coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia.

With a range of exciting destinations, cultural experiences, and activities to enjoy, the MSC Magnifica‘s 116-night World Cruise truly offers a bucket list opportunity for cruisers.

MSC Magnifica is a 93,330-gross-ton Musica-class cruise ship with the capacity to carry 2,550 passengers at double occupancy and up to 3,605 passengers at full capacity, and has more than enough experience sailing on world cruises.

Carnival Jubilee Construction Milestone

Carnival Jubilee is a 182,800-gross-ton cruise ship being built for Carnival Cruise Line at the Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. Construction of the vessel began in March 2022, with the official cutting of the first steel. The keel was laid down in July 2022, and construction is progressing at an incredible speed.

According to the update from Meyer Werft: “The Carnival Jubilee has reached another important milestone: The last large block has been put in place. Now the stern is also complete, and an important step towards the completion of the cruise ship for Carnival Cruise Line has been taken. 

“With a lot of commitment and shipbuilding passion, we are now concentrating on the work in the interior areas of the Carnival Jubilee because we are proud to build this great ship in Papenburg.”

Carnival Jubilee Cruise Ship Construction
Photo Credit: Meyer Werft

The last large block has been placed, meaning the vast majority of metal works are now completed, and the ship now has much of what will be her final layout. Cruise ships are built in blocks to simplify the construction process.

Large sections of the ship, such as cabins, engine rooms, and public areas, are built separately and then assembled together, like a giant Lego set, in a dry dock. This approach allows for more efficient construction.

The shipyard will now be able to start work on interior outfitting, including laying down vast amounts of cables, building up cabins, lying down carpeting, furnishing the vessel, and much more.

The maiden voyage of Carnival Jubilee is scheduled to sail from Galveston, Texas, on December 23, 2023. 

The ship will be based year-round in Galveston and will operate seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean, departing every Saturday. The ports of call include Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico and Mahogany Bay on Isla Roatan, Honduras.

Norwegian Cruise Line to Feature New Port

Norwegian Sky will be one of the first cruise ships to use the newly constructed cruise port at Cao Rojo in the Dominican Republic.

The 126-million-dollar development aims to allow guests to explore the region’s beautiful beaches, mountains, hidden caverns, and various wildlife species, including flamingos, manatees, sea turtles, and iguanas. Construction started in August last year, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

So far, the cruise port has been included on six different sailings in January, February, March, and April 2024. During the cruises, which sail from La Romana in the Dominican Republic to Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Cabo Rojo will be the first port of call after departure.

Norwegian Sky Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock

The Puerto Cabo Rojo cruise port will become one of the most significant tourism players in the Caribbean, potentially bringing in millions of cruise guests to the region.

The port area will boast four berths, a water park, a spa, a beach area, shopping, and entertainment facilities, offering visitors a wide range of activities to enjoy during their stay.

The investment in the Dominican Republic’s cruise infrastructure is a strategic move to make it the largest cruise destination in the Caribbean. The Puerto Cabo Rojo cruise port is expected to significantly increase the number of cruise ships and passengers visiting the Dominican Republic, creating numerous job opportunities and boosting the local economy.

Once complete, the port will have a maximum capacity of over a million cruise ship passengers annually. Together with existing cruise ports at Amber Cove, Isla Catalina, La Romana, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and the capital of Santo Domingo, this will provide a much-needed boost to the economy.

More Cruise Headlines

It was just another busy week of cruise news across the industry and we’ve got all the coverage over on Cruise Hive, including short Caribbean offerings by Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line President issues a strict message to passengers, Alaskan cruise port to complete work resolving rockslide, Caribbean island another step closer to limiting cruise ships, an unexpected Carnival passenger earns high loyalty status, and lots more.

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