Cruise News Update: June 11, 2023

It's time to catch up with your cruise news update, including Bahamas tax for passengers, and coverage on Carnival, NCL, MSC, and Virgin.

Here we are with this week’s roundup of the top news stories from across the cruise industry, ensuring you don’t miss a thing.

In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve got coverage on the Bahamas, Carnival Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and the Scottish Port of Invergordon.

Cruise News Update

Cruise Hive has you covered with all the major developments from the past week, including proposed new cruise taxes in the Bahamas, a Scottish port asking cruise ships to silence their horn blasts, a cruising speed problem on Carnival Panorama, Virgin Voyages nixing several cruises to New Zealand, MSC Cruises christening its newest ship in Denmark, and Norwegian Cruise Line canceling more voyages.

Bahamas Proposes New Tax Structure for Cruisers

It is not a done deal yet, but cruisers visiting the two main ports in the Bahamas, Nassau and Freeport, as well as any private island in the Bahamas, may soon be paying more taxes to the local government.

In a bid to substantially boost the government’s annual revenues from cruise ship guests, to roughly $145 million, up from $50 million, Bahamas officials have proposed departure tax increases along with two new tourism taxes that every cruise guest would have to pay.

Cruise Ships Docked in Nassau, Bahamas
Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

The Bahamas currently levies an $18 per passenger departure tax, and that tax would rise to $23 for guests whose ships leave from Nassau and Freeport, and to $25 for those who depart the country by sea from a private island, such as those owned by a cruise line, without calling at another port in the country.

The Passenger Tax Amendment Bill 2023 also creates a $5 tourism environment tax and a $2 tourism enhancement tax on cruisers arriving or departing the destination.

In total, each cruiser leaving from Nassau and Freeport would be charged $30, while those leaving from a private island would pay $32.

Cruise industry associations are said to be in talks with Bahamian government officials about the proposed taxes, which could take effect as soon as July 1.

Scottish Port Asks Ships to Silence Their Horns

Invergordon, a growing cruise port in southeast Scotland, made an unusual request to cruise ships that call at the destination, asking that they defer from the maritime tradition of sounding their horns when departing the port. The move followed a single noise complaint by one resident of the region.

Invergordon is the port for Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. Situated on the Cromarty Firth, several major lines visit Invergordon on a regular basis, including Holland America Line, Viking, AIDA, and Mein Schiff. A record 109 cruise ships visited the port last year.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority, Invergordon
Cromarty Firth Port Authority, Invergordon

Locally there is pushback to the request that ships refrain from blasting their horns. Some 1,200 residents in the areas of Cromarty and Nigg have signed a petition that supports the horn blasts.

The local government is accepting community feedback on the controversy until late June, and if the consensus is to allow the horn blasts, cruise ships will be notified.

The horn soundings vary, sometimes featuring a series of musical notes or a short song, or can be just one long blast, but in any case they are normally considered a standard, traditional feature of departing ships.

Speed Glitch Continues to Hamper Carnival Panorama

Timing is everything, but not, apparently, when it comes to Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Panorama, which has been troubled by an ongoing cruising speed problem that is causing delays and itinerary changes.

Homeported in Long Beach, California, the 4,000-guest ship has been experiencing a technical problem that affects her maximum cruising speed.

The cruise line advised guests on the ship’s June 10 and June 17 cruises to the Mexican Riviera that her departure from the final port call, Cabo San Lucas, will be a half-hour earlier than originally planned, and that her arrival back at Long Beach will be a half-hour later.

Carnival Panorama Cruise Ship
Carnival Panorama Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock)

It doesn’t sound like a major issue, but it could be for any cruisers trying to catch a flight at an area airport – flights that were booked based on the ship’s originally scheduled arrival time back at homeport. Ditto for cruisers who may have booked arrival-day shore excursions in Long Beach or nearby Los Angeles.

The ship’s safety systems, food and beverage operations, and hotel services are not impacted by the engine speed problem.

Virgin Voyages Cancels Several New Zealand Cruises

So long, New Zealand. That was the upshot of a decision by Virgin Voyages to nix a series of 2024 cruises scheduled to sail between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand. Instead, Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady will operate shorter, roundtrip sailings from the two Australian ports, cutting out New Zealand altogether.

The move, which the line said came after feedback from guests and travel partners, means the cancellation of four cruises that were to depart on January 23, February 2, February 14, and February 24, 2024.

Virgin Voyages Resilient Lady
Virgin Voyages Resilient Lady (Photo Credit: Stefano Tammaro / Shutterstock)

Virgin Voyages offered guests booked on the cancelled voyages the choice of receiving their cruise fare in the form of a Future Voyage Credit and a bonus credit depending on their booked cabin category, or a full refund.

The canceled cruises were scheduled to call at the New Zealand ports of Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Tauranga, plus Hobart, Australia, and Tasmania. Bookings on the new Australia roundtrip cruises are expected to open soon.

Virgin Voyages operates three identical ships, Scarlet LadyValiant Lady, and Resilient Lady. The line’s fourth ship, Brilliant Lady, is under construction and expected to be delivered later this year. All Virgin Voyages ships accommodate 2,770 guests.

MSC Euribia Christened in Copenhagen

MSC Cruises christened its newest ship, MSC Euribia, at a gala ceremony in Copenhagen on June 8. The 184,011 gross ton ship that can accommodate up to 6,334 guests is being hailed as the industry’s most energy-efficient cruise ship, operating on liquified natural gas (LNG) and low-sulfur marine gas oil.

Her naming ceremony in the Danish capital drew MSC Cruises’ top brass, international and local VIPs, global media, and key travel partners. Danish television personality and model Sarah Grünewald led the festivities, and iconic actress Sophia Loren served as godmother.

MSC Euribia Naming Ceremony
MSC Euribia Naming Ceremony

Guests at the naming ceremony were treated to live entertainment, a gourmet dinner, and a performance by Bob Sinclar, the internationally known French DJ and music producer.

In addition to her LNG-powered engines, MSC Euribia is designed to incorporate future environmental sustainability innovations, such as carbon-neutral synthetic and alternative fuels. The ship also was built with advanced onboard wastewater treatment and waste management systems.

Guests sailing on the new ship will enjoy more than a dozen dining options, five pools, and the Ocean Cay Aquapark, themed after a coral reef.

MSC Euribia will spend her inaugural season in Northern Europe this summer, operating 7-night cruises from Kiel, Germany and Copenhagen to the Norwegian Fjords.

Three More Norwegian Epic Cruises Are Cancelled

Norwegian Cruise Line’s recent pattern of canceled cruises continued this week when the line announced that three voyages slated to depart in spring 2025 onboard the 4,100-guest Norwegian Epic are canceled.

The cruise line said the ship will instead head to dry dock for a revitalization. The canceled sailings, on April 15, April 20, and May 5, 2025, would have been the first three cruises of the ship’s Europe season.

Norwegian Cruise Line said all guests would be fully refunded and would receive a 10% discount in the form of a Future Cruise Credit.

Norwegian Epic Cruise Ship
Norwegian Epic Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: zkolra / Shutterstock)

The credit is valid for any sailing through December 31, 2025. The dry dock will follow the Epic-class ship’s transatlantic cruise from New York on March 31. The voyage will call at destinations in Bermuda, the Azores, Portugal, Spain, and France, ending on April 15 in Rome.

The cruise line in May canceled 13 Norwegian Epic cruises scheduled for winter 2023-24 in Europe. Instead, the ship will deploy to Port Canaveral, Florida, and sail Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

Other Norwegian Cruise Line ships have had departures canceled in recent months, for various reasons, including Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Spirit, and Norwegian Breakaway.

More Cruise Headlines

There were many other cruise stories from the past week that we covered on Cruise Hive, including a new survey that shows strong cruiser preference for smaller ship sailing, Royal Caribbean testing alternative fuels on two of its ships, the float out of Carnival Cruise Line’s first Chinese-made cruise ship, Holland America Line announcing its Asia itineraries for 2024-25, and Carnival Cruise Line deploying drug-detection canines at its homeports and on ships.

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