Cruise News Update: July 1, 2023

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With many news stories across the cruise industry making headlines daily, we’re here to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

Let’s start your July with cruise news coverage on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises.

Cruise News Update

Cruise Hive has you covered with all the major developments from the past week, including a dedicated neighborhood for the crew aboard Icon of the Seas, two months of canceled cruises on Freedom of the Seas, Celebrity Beyond’s redeployment out of Europe in 2024, Celebrity Cruises announcing that two ships will call at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Carnival Corporation posting promising second-quarter financials, and MSC Cruises temporarily closing its Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Icon of the Seas Will Have a Neighborhood Just For Crew

Royal Caribbean’s soon-to-debut Icon of the Seas has a slew of wow factors designed to make guests comfortable and keep them entertained, but what about the crew, those hard-working staff members who toil night and day, and are central to each guest’s experience?

The cruise line is putting the crew’s needs front and center when it comes to designing what will be the world’s largest cruise ship when she launches in early 2024. Indeed, Royal Caribbean revealed in the latest episode of its “Making an Icon” video series that crew members will have their own dedicated neighborhood onboard the ship.

Icon of the Seas Crew Neighborhood
Icon of the Seas Crew Neighborhood

When Icon of the Seas starts sailing she will have 2,350 crew members calling the ship home, and the newly designed crew neighborhood is geared to creating a work-life balance that promotes relaxation, socialization, and a sense of community.

Along with cabin accommodations designed in consultation with crew members, the neighborhood will feature an ocean view dining area, clubhouse, lounge, and gaming room, and a multi-function room for celebrations and other special events. Crew members also will have their own pub, gym, and barber shop, among other elements in the neighborhood.

The 5,610-guest ship is under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, and will sail her maiden voyage on January 27, 2024.

Cruises Cancelled as Freedom of the Seas Heads to Dry Dock

Guests booked to cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas in December 2024 and January 2025 were disappointed to learn that the line has canceled sailings during those months because the ship is headed into dry dock.

The ship was to have sailed 6- to 8-night Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, including visits to the line’s popular Perfect Day at CocoCay experience in the Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas (Photo Credit: A. Emson / Shutterstock)

Royal Caribbean, in a letter to guests booked on the December 21, 2024 cruise, said the ship will undergo regular maintenance and receive improvements during the dry dock.

A cruise that departs on December 29, 2024 is still scheduled and will be the final sailing available until February 16, 2025.

Full cruise fare refunds are being offered to booked guests, as are any air fares booked through the line. Guests also can choose a replacement cruise from a selection of 2024 or 2025 itineraries departing from Fort Lauderdale onboard Freedom of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas.

The 17-year-old ship last received upgrades in 2020, when a $116 million investment was made to add the Playmakers Sports Bar, the Perfect Storm slides, and perform other upgrades.

Celebrity Beyond to be Redeployed from Europe to US

Royal Caribbean wasn’t the only cruise line to announce canceled cruises this week. Sister line Celebrity Cruises has decided to pull Celebrity Beyond out of Europe from April to November 2024 and instead home port the ship year-round in Fort Lauderdale.

The newest Edge Class ship was to have operated a series of 10- and 11-night cruises from Rome, calling at ports in Greece, Croatia, and Turkey.

The change in deployment means that the ship’s repositioning transatlantic cruises, from April 22 to May 6, and November 1 to 15, also are canceled. In all, 19 voyages are affected.

Celebrity Beyond Cruise Ship
Celebrity Beyond Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Doctor Alonso / Shutterstock)

Celebrity Cruises is providing full refunds. Guests also can choose to rebook on another European sailing, and those who do will receive a $100 onboard credit per stateroom. Guests who rebook in Retreat accommodations will get a $200 credit. Guests who wish to rebook must do so by July 11, 2023.

Options include cruises aboard Celebrity ApexCelebrity ConstellationCelebrity Equinox, and the line’s newest ship, Celebrity Ascent, which will debut in November 2023.

Rebookings are at prevailing cruise rates, meaning that if the new cruise has a higher fare guests are responsible for paying the difference to secure their new reservation.

Celebrity Ships to Call at Perfect Day at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay experience, at the line’s private island in the Bahamas, will be added as a port call for two Celebrity Cruises ships in 2024. Both lines are owned by Royal Caribbean Group, but until now only Royal Caribbean ships called at the popular destination.

Celebrity Beyond and Celebrity Reflection will offer the Perfect Day experience. Guests onboard Celebrity Beyond will visit the private island destination on 6- and 8-night cruises that depart on May 12, May 26, June 9, June 23, July 7, October 27, and November 2.

Celebrity Cruises, perfect Day at CocoCay
Celebrity Cruises, perfect Day at CocoCay (Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock)

Celebrity Reflection will offer many more chances to visit the destination, as nearly 40 cruises will feature the island on 3- and 4-night sailings. Both ships will be home-ported in Fort Lauderdale.

Perfect Day at CocoCay offers a wealth of attractions and activities, including the Thrill Waterpark, a zipline, the largest freshwater pool in the Bahamas, hot-air balloon rides, and more.

The island also has an adult-only area, and several luxury-level amenities, such as private cabanas and the Coco Beach Club.

As with Royal Caribbean, guests onboard the Celebrity ships can use their beverage package benefits at bars on the island. Food venues at Perfect Day at CocoCay include Snack Shacks, the Chill Grill, and Skipper’s Grill, and all are complimentary.

Carnival Corporation Makes Gains in Second-Quarter Financials

Carnival Corporation, the parent company of nine major cruise brands, revealed in its second-quarter earnings report that it posted revenues of $4.9 billion, and that customer deposits broke a record by reaching $7.2 billion, an increase of 26% compared to the first quarter.

The company revealed a net loss of $407 million, but it had projected a loss of up to $525 million, so the better-than-expected performance was welcome news.

Financial results were encouraging across the brands, which include Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises, P&O Australia, Cunard Line, AIDA Cruises, and Seabourn.

Carnival Venezia Cruise Ship
Carnival Venezia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Mariusz Lopusiewicz / Shutterstock

The company pointed to strong demand for North America cruises this summer, increases in bookings and occupancy rates, and a healthy outlook for the third quarter.

Profit margins are lower than what company executives would like to see, with rising operating costs, increased fuel prices, and investments in health and safety measures contributing to the soft profits.

Particular gains were seen in Carnival Cruise Line, the company’s flagship, where the introduction of the line’s newest ships, Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, Carnival Venezia, and Carnival Luminosa, has led to fully booked capacity on many sailings.

MSC Cruises Temporarily Closing Private Reserve

A plan by MSC Cruises to temporarily close its private island destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, for several weeks in spring 2024 will require the altering of published itineraries and even the cancelation of some cruises.

The cruise line will add enhancements to the Bahamas destination, which has not been operating for long. It opened in December 2019, shut down during the pandemic in March 2020, and reopened in summer 2021.

The six-week closure, from April 7, 2024, to May 22, 2024, will affect cruises on MSC SeashoreMSC SeascapeMSC Divina, and MSC Meraviglia.

MSC Cruises Ocean Cay Private Island
MSC Cruises Ocean Cay Private Island (Photo Credit Conrad Schutt)

Adjustments will vary by ship. On some cruises, substitute port calls are being scheduled, such as at Nassau or Freeport, and at Isla Roatan in Honduras, on longer itineraries.

Guests who wish to cancel their cruise and rebook a later itinerary that visits the island preserve can choose a comparable MSC Cruises summer 2024 sailing of the same length and accommodation type.

Guests also can change their cruise to any other MSC Cruises sailing, without paying any change fee, however, prevailing rates will apply. Another option, to cancel for a full refund, also is being offered on the affected itineraries.

More Cruise Headlines

There were many other cruise stories from the past week that we covered on Cruise Hive, including Royal Caribbean removing jazz clubs aboard three Oasis-class ships and converting them into casino space, Carnival Cruise Line revealing its full slate of onboard theme parties, Azamara tempting loyalty club members with a new offer, Oceania Cruises replacing its value-added fare category with one that offers more inclusive amenities, and the addition of a vegan menu in the main dining rooms of Carnival Cruise Line ships.

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