Cruise News Update: July 16, 2022

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It was just another busy week of cruise news and it was important for Disney Cruise Line, with its newest ship in the fleet finally kickstarting guest sailings. We’ve also got updates on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line.

Cruise News Update

In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve got coverage on the three largest cruise lines, including a Royal Caribbean ship being redeployed, last-minute itinerary changes from Norwegian Cruise Line, and how about a couple that has spent 1,000 days sailing with Carnival Cruise Line!

Disney dominates the week with the new Disney Wish setting sail on her inaugural cruise and the cruise line increasing gratuities. There’s also breaking cruise news with a Holland America cruise ship suffering from propulsion problems.

Serenade of the Seas to Redeploy

In the past week, Royal Caribbean International informed guests that Serenade of the Seas will not be heading to Europe for its summer deployment in 2023.

Citing increasing uncertainty on the situation in Ukraine and the possibility of calling in St. Petersburg, Russia, the cruise line has decided to keep Serenade of the Seas in the United States. 

The season consisted of cruises departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, including two transatlantic voyages from May 2023 through September 2023. These will now be replaced by a series of cruises from a homeport in Florida.

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas
Photo Credit: SOLODIVER / Shutterstock

Which homeport that would be is unclear. However, Serenade of the Seas is scheduled to sail from Tampa, Florida, from October 2022, through March 2023. It could be that Royal Caribbean would keep Serenade of the Seas in Tampa.

Guests who had booked one of the voyages in Europe, or one of the transatlantic voyages, can rebook to sail onboard a different vessel in the same period. These include four transatlantic voyages.

The cancelation of the summer season for Serenade of the Seas is the second time Royal Caribbean has decided not to sail to Russian ports. Earlier this year, Voyager of the Seas cruises were also canceled.

Norwegian Star Itinerary Change

A cruise that for many would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience has turned sour for those booked on an 11-night cruise to Greenland onboard Norwegian Star.

For the cruise that departed on July 14, Norwegian Cruise Line only informed guests of major changes to the itinerary on July 13. The cruise line has decided to remove the calls to Greenland from the itinerary.

Norwegian Star Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock

Norwegian Star was scheduled to spend two days at sea in transit from Iceland to Greenland, with an intended arrival date of July 17. However, a major storm is brewing in the North Atlantic and around the southern tip of Greenland.

With wave heights expected to reach 18-20 feet, Norwegian Cruise Line does not feel the circumstances would be safe for the ship, crew, and guests. This means Norwegian Star will not make its intended calls to ports ibn Greenland on July 17, July 19, and July 20. 

Instead, Norwegian Cruise Line has informed guests the vessel will be sailing from Reykjavik to Norway and will spend the time between July 17 and 20 in Norway. The ship will now arrive in Bergen, Norway, on July 17. The 91,740 gross tons, 2,348-passenger Norwegian Star will return to Iceland on July 25.

Disney Wish Begins Guest Operations

The long-awaited, highly anticipated new vessel from Disney Cruise Line, Disney Wish, set sail on her inaugural voyage from Port Canaveral on Friday, July 15, welcoming passengers for the first time.

The vessel is the first new ship for the cruise line in more than a decade, and replaces Disney Dream at the central Florida homeport after the older vessel moved to Miami in early June.

Disney Wish first arrived at Port Canaveral with great fanfare on Monday, June 20, 2022. The ship was officially christened with a star-studded, high-tech ceremony on July 2.

Disney Wish Cruise Ship
Disney Wish (Photo Courtesy: Port Canaveral)

On July 13, Disney Cruise Line and Port Canaveral representatives exchanged plaques to mark the inaugural sailing, a long-standing tradition whenever a new vessel officially begins sailing from a new homeport or visits a new port of call for the first time.

For more than a week, the vessel has been undergoing preparations for its first guests, including ensuring onboard crew staffing was complete, stocking supplies, and continued training and other final details, as well as limited, invitation-only media exposure.

Disney Wish‘s first sailing is a 5-night itinerary, visiting Nassau as well as Disney Cruise Line’s private island in The Bahamas, Castaway Cay. After this first sailing, the ship will begin offering 3-4 night cruises to The Bahamas.

The 144,000-gross-ton ship can welcome as many as 4,000 guests in 1,254 staterooms, with 1,555 crew members on hand to provide spectacular service and magical memories.

Disney Cruise Line Increases Gratuities

Disney Cruise Line has slightly increased its recommended gratuity rates for select crew positions, which in total raises the gratuity rate by $1 per day, per stateroom guest.

The cruise line has also recommended an $8 per day, per stateroom guest gratuity for the Concierge Lounge team, though this is not part of any automatic or pre-paid gratuities to guests’ accounts.

Disney Magic Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

The increase in gratuities brings the per passenger, per day gratuity rate aboard Disney Cruise Line ships to $14.50 (USD) for most staterooms, and $15.50 per passenger, per day for concierge staterooms and suites, which includes the stateroom assistant host in the automatic or pre-paid gratuities.

Broken down, the standard gratuities cover the three levels of dining room server – head server, assistant server, and server – as well as the stateroom host that cleans and services guests’ cabins. The recommended daily gratuity for each of these positions has been increased by $.25 per passenger, per day.

These gratuity changes took effect immediately aboard all Disney ships, including the new Disney Wish.

Couple Marks 1,000 Days on Carnival Cruise Line

Robert and Nancy Houchens of North Garden, Virginia, a small town 175 miles from the seasonal homeport of Norfolk, recently reached their amazing milestone of 1,000 sailing days while on the Spirit-class Carnival Pride, their favorite ship in the fleet.

To commemorate the occasion, Robert asked crew members to help arrange a surprise for his wife, and the momentousness of the achievement caught the attention of everyone on board.

Cruise Guests on Carnival Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

The couple was able to pose with numerals to mark their days at sea, and celebrated with many of the crew members. After so many cruises – at least 15 aboard Carnival Pride – the couple considers Carnival crew members to be family.

Because the Houches are so well known to the cruise line, they were invited to cut the ribbon as Carnival Pride returned to service in Baltimore on September 12, 2021, after the ship’s pandemic-related operational pause.

Carnival Pride is homeported in Dover, UK for the summer, offering alternating 9- and 12-night sailings. The 9-night cruises visit a variety of ports throughout Norway, with phenomenal scenic cruising along the Norwegian fjords.

Westerdam Propulsion Problems

During an Alaska cruise onboard Holland America Line’s Westerdam, which sailed from Seattle on July 10, the vessel suffered damage to its Azipod propulsion system. The issues presented themselves while the ship was sailing through the Hubbard Glacier area and unable to sail at full speed.

Before returning to Seattle, the cruise was scheduled to call on Juneau, Hubbard Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, BC. However, due to the technical difficulties the vessel is experiencing, the calls to Ketchikan and Victoria have both been canceled.

Holland America Westerdam Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Jason Wells / Shutterstock

To compensate guests for the disappointing experience of missing Ketchikan and Victoria, Holland America Line is offering guests compensation. Each guest onboard will receive a $100 onboard credit, and Holland America Line will refund any payments made towards shore excursions in one of the two ports.

Westerdam is expected to return to its homeport of Seattle, Washington, on July 17. The cruise line has not made any announcements or informed future guests of any changes to the July 17 sailing at this time. 

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just a handful of the stories from the past week. We’ve got even more coverage, including updated Bermuda protocols from Carnival Cruise Line, the U.S. Coast Guard finally allowing a West Palm Beach cruise ship to set sail after a No Sail Order was issued, damaged vehicles at a parking lot in Norfolk for Carnival cruise passengers, new family spaces detailed for the new MSC Seascape cruiser ship, Carnival staffing problems coming to an end and, the Norwegian Sun returns to service after hitting an iceberg in June.

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