Cruise News Update: January 15, 2022

Cruise news update with all the latest developments as the CDC's Conditional Sailing Order ends and more ship cancellations.

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There have been lots of new developments in the cruise industry over the past week as more cruise ships cancel sailings or have itinerary changes, but cruising continues for thousands of guests and the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order moves into a voluntary program.

Cruise News Update

It’s just never-ending with all the cruise news, but there is something that has ended, and that’s the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order. We’ll get into all that shortly, along with some major new developments with cancellations and itinerary changes on Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean. We also need to lighten the outlook a bit with some good cruise news too.

Norwegian Viva Unveiled

We start with some good news from Norwegian Cruise Line with the unveiling of its second Prima-class cruise ship, Norwegian Viva! The future vessel will measure 965 feet long and 142,500 gross tons, with a guest capacity of 3,219 at double occupancy.

Viva will feature Ocean Boulevard, an outdoor walkway wrapping around the entire ship and over a glass bridge. Other features include 11 unique eateries at the Indulge Food Hall, as well as Infinity Beach, infinity pools designed to blend into the ocean.

Also on board will be The Rush and The Drop, the fastest freefall drop dry slides at sea, as well as the Viva Speedway, a three-level, go-kart racetrack that speeds for a quarter mile around and even through the ship’s funnel at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

The ship debuts during the summer of 2023. Following a string of introductory inaugural cruises, Norwegian Viva will offer Mediterranean sailings from June 15 to November 6, 2023. These voyages include eight, nine, and 10-day voyages from Lisbon, Portugal; Venice and Rome, Italy; and Athens, Greece.

On November 16, 2023, the ship is scheduled to begin her first transatlantic crossing, departing from Lisbon, Portugal for an 11-day voyage heading to New York City. Norwegian Viva will spend the winter season sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico with 7- and 9-day Caribbean itineraries visiting Tortola, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Aruba, Curacao, and other popular Caribbean destinations.

NCL Cancellations

Alright, so let’s get into all the latest cancellations by Norwegian Cruise Line, which has been almost daily! Just yesterday (January 14, 2022) we reported about the Norwegian Gem, and here’s what’s going on. The ship was on a 10-day Caribbean itinerary that departed New York City on January 9, but on the first day of the cruise, which was a day at sea after setting sail the evening before, guests were informed of dramatic itinerary changes.

Two ports – Grand Turk on January 12 and St. Thomas on January 13 – were dropped, and the remaining ports were rearranged. No new ports were added, and instead, the cruise was to have two additional days at sea, for a total of six sea days on the 10-day cruise. Just three days later, guests received another letter from the ship’s captain that the voyage had been canceled and the ship would be heading back to New York “as a result of COVID-related circumstances.”

Norwegian gem Cruise Ship in New York
Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Lots going on with the cruise line at the moment as Norwegian Breakaway was also added to the list of NCL vessels that have suspended operations temporarily. And that follows an additional four vessels canceling select sailings as announced on January 13.

So currently there are 12 vessels that are on hold and with some cruises canceled as far as April 23, 2022. However, some ships such as the Norwegian Pearl are only suspended until the end of January. The NCL ships that are currently still operating are the Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, and Norwegian Epic. Norwegian Gem is not yet on that list as the next scheduled cruise is still a go.

Carnival Sunshine Sails from Charleston

Some good news this past week! Carnival Sunshine has finally kicked off sailings from Charleston in South Carolina. The vessel has been operating some cruises from Miami and Fort Lauderdale in December and January to replace Carnival Horizon. That vessel was forced to go into a dry dock due to mechanical issues, which impacted her maximum cruising speed.

Sunshine departed Charleston on January 13 on a 4-night Bahamas cruise sailing to Nassau. Guests will have a day to enjoy at sea after departure and on the way back home.

Carnival Sunshine in Charleston
Photo Credit: Daniel Wright98 / Shutterstock

Carnival Sunshine will sail on her second cruise from Charleston on January 17. This voyage, one of the Carnival Journeys, is a 10-day voyage that will sail to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin islands first, followed by calls to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, St. John’s in Antigua, Roast Town in Tortola, and Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, after which the vessel will make her way back to Charleston during two days at sea.

According to the South Carolina ports authority, guests can rest assured that they will find the cruise terminal fully prepared to deal with the thousands of guests who will pass through during embarkation days.

When a ship is in the port, a team of people will disinfect high-touch areas constantly, including handrails, doorknobs, and other surfaces. Face masks will be mandatory inside the terminal and on board the vessel at all times.

Carnival Cruise Ships Drop Key West

Guests booked on upcoming sailings have received a notification from Carnival Cruise Line on itinerary changes for the Carnival DreamCarnival Conquest, and Carnival Sunrise. Only select sailings are impacted in January and February that featured a call in Key West, Florida. This comes due to calls to ban large cruise ships and while talks continue between the cruise line and authorities.

The cruise port has now been dropped on sailings for those three vessels, and the notification was only sent out on January 13 to impacted guests, not leaving much time between the first altered departure for Carnival Dream on January 15.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Key West
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

For Carnival Dream out of Galveston in Texas, there are three itinerary changes. The sailings that depart on January 15, 29, and February 12, 2022, will now only be calling at Freeport, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, all in the Bahamas. Key West was previously scheduled to be the first port of call during those voyages, but that is not the case now.

Four sailings have dropped Key West for the Carnival Conquest based out of Miami in Florida. Departures on January 24, 31, February 7, and February 21, 2022, have all dropped a call to Key West. Those four-day sailings will now only include a visit to Cozumel in Mexico.

Carnival Sunrise has just its February 3 sailing impacted, also based out of Miami, Florida. The three-day voyage will only include a call in Cozumel, Mexico, with Key West being dropped.

CDC’s Order Ends

And the big news for today, yes the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order which was first introduced at the end of October 2020 has come to an end. From today, the CDC will make the measure a voluntary one instead of a mandatory measure. Cruise lines will choose whether to follow the CDC’s guidance or implement their own guidelines and procedures.

CDC Entrance Sign
Photo Credit: Raed Mansour (Flickr / Creative Commons 2.0)

And it’s pretty obvious right now that cruise lines are going to just keep with the current guidance from the CDC, in fact, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has already announced it has opted-in to the program that’s named COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters, which is the CDC’s voluntary COVID-19 risk mitigation program for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in U.S. waters. It means all three cruise brands owned by the cruise company will still follow guidance from the CDC to make sure guests and crew remain safe.

So don’t expect any drastic changes in protocols, for now, things are just going to continue as normal. It will also be interesting to see what the other major cruise lines decide to do, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Cruise Lines Extend Cancellation Program

Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have extended the Cruise with Confidence cancellation program. For sailings booked by March 31, 2022, that depart by September 30, 2022, you can cancel up to 48 hours before your sail date and get the full paid value in a future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Debbie Ann Powell / Shutterstock

Guests can use the credit for any sailing that departs within a year of the original sail date, or by December 31, 2022, whichever is longer.

Independence of the Seas Cancellations

Independence of the Seas is not departing its homeport of Port Canaveral as the cruise line has canceled three sailings. The January 14 eight-day SuperCruise charter, a short two-night voyage departing January 22, and another five-day charter K-Love Cruise departing January 24, 2022, will no longer go ahead due to COVID-related issues.

Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Roberto Sorin / Shutterstock

We’ll keep you updated on all the latest developments when it comes to cancellations over on the website, so do make sure you keep checking.

More Cruise Headlines

So those are just a handful of the cruise stories from the week, if we covered everything we would be here all day and night. So many more headlines that you can take a look at, including MSC Cruises informing guests on possible itinerary changes, Norwegian Cruise Line overhauls its Latitudes program, Carnival Cruise Line glitch sending emails by mistake, and check out the exclusive Carnival Horizon photos after completing an urgent dry dock in Italy.

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