Cruise News Update: January 28, 2023

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It’s time to double-check on all the major cruise news from the past week that Cruise Hive has reported on, including coverage on Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises.

Cruise Cruise Update

Here we go with another cruise news update across the major cruise lines, just in case you haven’t had a chance to catch up. In this week’s round-up, Celebrity Cruises is making history by having brother as co-captains of its upcoming new ship, Norwegian decides to go back to the old muster drill procedure, Carnival warns passengers of delays due to a major event, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship suffering from engines issues and more Royal Caribbean news with a warning to guests regarding a ban in Mexico.

Brothers Will Co-Captain Celebrity Ascent

Celebrity Cruises is making cruise industry history with the appointment of two brothers as co-captains of Celebrity Ascent, the line’s newest Edge Series-class ship that will debut in late 2023. The Greek brothers are veteran Celebrity officers with more than 50 years of service to the cruise line between them.

Like ships that pass in the night, co-captains Dimitrios Kafetzis and Tasos Kafetzis will serve three-month rotating assignments on Celebrity Ascent.

Their appointments mark the second time Celebrity Cruises has charted new territory on the bridge: The line in 2015 chose Kate McCue as captain of Celebrity Edge, making her the industry’s first female cruise ship captain.

Captain Dimitrios has been with Celebrity Cruises since 1990, his brother since 1998. The two will share the helm of the 3,260-guest ship, which is under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

Celebrity Ascent, the fourth in the line’s Edge Series, reached a major construction milestone on January 21 when it was floated out of the shipyard. Work on the 140,600 gross ton vessel continues at her mooring location, prior to sea trials later this year.

Traditional Muster Drill Returns to NCL

In a communication sent to travel partners, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that the simplified e-muster drill, which has permitted guests to complete much of their safety briefing online and then check in to their muster station at their leisure on embarkation day, will be ending, effective immediately.

“The safety of our guests and crew members is our number one priority. We continuously evaluate our procedures for providing detailed instructions on safety and security measures to our guests, and as such, have made the decision to reinstate synchronized muster drills on embarkation day across all vessels in the fleet,” the email read.

“This policy will go into effect immediately up each vessel’s next embarkation day.” Norwegian Cruise Line currently operates 18 vessels, including the new Norwegian Prima, and every ship will be returning to the traditional drill.

Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

Guests aboard different Norwegian Cruise Line ships have reported “traditional” safety briefings in recent weeks, but this new communication confirms that no ships will continue with the virtual or e-muster process.

The updated e-muster, also called virtual mustering or the online safety drill, was adopted by most cruise lines as travel cautiously resumed after the pandemic lockdown and cruising gradually restarted.

This helped minimize crowds and promoted social distancing. Now that other onboard health protocols have ended, however, the logic behind a virtual safety drill no longer applies.

At times, all cruise lines have experienced difficulties with the e-muster, such as guests failing to report to their muster stations upon embarkation or an inability to confirm that guests have, in fact, reviewed safety information prior to setting sail.

Carnival Cruise Line PortMiami Delays

Carnival Cruise Line sent out a letter on January 27, 2023, advising guests booked onboard Carnival Celebration and Carnival Horizon of numerous street closures and heavier-than-normal traffic in and around the city of Miami on January 29. This is due to the Miami Marathon taking place on the same day.

Guests are advised to schedule their travel plans in such as way that they arrive at the port at their scheduled embarkation time.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Miami
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

The Miami Marathon is an annual event in Miami, Florida, and is known for attracting thousands of participants and spectators. According to the official website, the marathon will start and finish at Bayfront Park, located near the Port of Miami, where the Carnival Celebration and Carnival Horizon are set to sail.

According to the letter sent by Carnival Cruise Line: “PortMiami officials have informed us that the city will be hosting the Miami Marathon on the day of your embarkation. As a result, there will be numerous street closures and heavier than normal traffic in and around the city.” 

The letter continues, “Since this could impact your commute to the port, we encourage you plan ample travel time to ensure prompt arrival within your pre-selected arrival appointment. If you purchased Carnival’s transfer services, please note that our transfer times may also be impacted. We are working closely with our transportation provider to offset any potential delays.”

According to Carnival Cruise Line, all guests must be on board their respective ships no later than 3:00 PM, or they will not be permitted to sail. 

Royal Caribbean Warns Guest on Ban in Mexico

Royal Caribbean is informing all guests sailing on applicable cruises of the recently enacted smoking ban in all public spaces in Mexico, and how it can impact travelers.

All forms of public smoking and consumption of nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and tobacco, have been banned in all public areas in Mexico. This includes on beaches, in parks, town squares, pier areas, hotels, and other public spaces, including areas popular with cruise tourists.

It should be noted that private beaches, such as those associated with independently-run resorts, can still permit smoking on the beach or within their own spaces, but individual policies may vary. Designated smoking areas may also be available, depending on the destination and local ordinances.

Cruise Ships Docked in Cozumel
Photo Credit: JorgeSuarez / Shutterstock

Royal Caribbean International is ensuring that all guests on their vessels are aware of the ban and its possible consequences, by providing letters onboard prior to reaching ports of call in Mexico.

“As you go ashore in Mexico, please keep this in mind, as failure to comply may result in steep fines and/or being detained up to 36 hours,” a copy of the letter from Adventure of the Seas reads.

Penalties for violating the public smoking ban can be fines up to $550 (USD), while an older law, enacted in 2008, could entail jail time of up to 36 hours. Exactly how strictly the ban will be enforced is yet to be determined, as it just went into effect on Sunday, January 15, 2023.

In fact, with more than 3.6 million passengers visiting each year, Cozumel is the most popular port of call in the world.

The smoking ban, however, will not diminish the popularity of visits to Mexico, and thousands of cruise ship calls will visit the country in 2023 alone.

Royal Caribbean Ship Suffers Engines Issues

Engine problems onboard the Grandeur of the Seas have forced Royal Caribbean to make several changes to the February 10, 2023 cruise sailing from PortMiami in Florida. 

The modified itinerary for the February 10 sailing includes an earlier departure from Miami, with the ship now departing at 3:30 PM instead of 5:00 PM. Additionally, the planned stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been canceled, and the stay in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, will be shorter.

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock

In the letter, the cruise line stated: “Due to speed limitations caused by a technical issue with one of the ship’s engines, we’ve had to modify our itinerary. We’ll now depart from Miami, Florida, at 3:30 PM, instead of 5:00 PM. Additionally, we’ll now have a Sea Day instead of visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico. While we will lose a little time in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, we’ve added extra time to explore Labadee, Haiti.”

The Grandeur of the Seas will now sail from PortMiami on February 10. The first port of call is Peurto Plata in the Dominican Republic, followed by a shortened call to St Croix on February 13. The call to St. Kitts will proceed as planned on February 14, as will the call to St Maarten the next day.

On February 16, the vessel will remain at sea instead of visiting Puerto Rico. Finally, the vessel will have a slightly extended stay in Labadee, Haiti, and return to Miami on February 19. 

More Cruise Headlines

It was a busy week across the cruise industry and Cruise Hive has always got you covered, we’ve got even more coverage, including a Carnival Splendor itinerary change for maintenance, Norwegian Cruise Line plans another season in South Africa, an itinerary change for Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line to sail to Iceland and Greenland in 2024, a busy Wave season for Cunard Line, Royal Caribbean expecting traffic delays in Miami and loads more.

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