Cruise News Update: June 4, 2022

Your cruise news update with the latest developments from the past week, including coverage of the storm that's impacting cruises.

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Get caught up on all the latest cruise news from the past week with a mixture of developments, including coverage of the soon-to-be Tropical Storm Alex and its impact on the cruise industry.

Cruise News Update

It was just another busy week of cruise news with some unexpected developments when it comes to weather, such as a waterspout that occurred at a cruise line private island, and then another waterspout in Nassau, Bahamas.

We’ve got coverage on the developing Tropical Storm Alex and any possible impact on cruises, along with news on a new ship, repairs to Carnival Freedom, and Royal Caribbean policy updates.

Potential Tropical Storm Impacts Cruises

We start with important news as a potential Tropical Storm begins to impact the cruise industry as it heads across South Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center (NOAA), the soon be named Tropical Storm Alex currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 MPH and the center is located about 35 miles Northeast of Naples, Florida.

With the storm moving over multiple major cruise ports such as PortMiami, Port Canaveral, Port of Tampa and Port Everglades, cruise lines are needing to adjust itineraries to make sure guests and crew onboard are kept safe.

Storm Track
NOAA

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas will not dock in Miami for debarkation as planned on Saturday, June 4; guests will remain onboard until Sunday. The next cruise, which will be shortened by one day, will depart at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Mariner of the Seas left Bermuda early on Friday, June 3, to avoid the worst weather and to change its route to return to Port Canaveral safely and on schedule on Sunday, June 5.

Harmony of the Seas has also changed routes through The Bahamas to avoid the worst of the storm’s impact, but is scheduled to arrive on time back in Port Canaveral on Sunday, June 5.

Royal Caribbean has also sent out an update for guests booked on Adventure of the Seas’ June 4 sailing that the ship will not be heading to Bermuda as scheduled. The vessel will instead be sailing to Canada to avoid the storm.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Sunrise arrived in Miami several hours early on Saturday morning for an expedited embarkation ahead of the worsening weather.

There could be further changes as the storms continue to cause heavy rainfall across South Florida. Those traveling to any of those cruise ports should expect travel delays. The storm is heading for Bermuda, where a Tropical Storm watch has been issued.

First Cruise Ship Restarts in Australia

After suffering disappointment after disappointment over the last two years, P&O Australia finally has something to smile about after its flagship cruise liner set sail from Sydney Harbour on May 31. Pacific Explorer became the first cruise ship in 26 months to set sail from an Australian port carrying paying guests.

While it gave the crew and officers a chance to get re-acquainted with the vessel, it also served as an important test case for the onboard COVID-19 prevention implementations.

Besides a vaccine mandate for all guests 12 years and older and crew members, guests will also need to show a negative COVID-19 test which can be a self-administered Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within 24 hrs of boarding or a PCR test within 72 hours of boarding. Masks are necessary only where social distancing is impossible and inside cruise terminals.

Pacific Explorer
Pacific Explorer Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: P&O Australia)

Pacific Explorer’s first cruise marks the return of cruising down-under. The cruise industry, worth over 1 billion dollars Australian before the pandemic, will be making that return staggered, giving local authorities and the cruise lines the chance to make the recovery a success. 

Pacific Explorer will set sail on the first full-length cruise from Australia on June 14. The ten-night Great Barrier Reef Discovery will sail from Sydney and visit Airlie Beach, Cairns, Willis Island, and Moreton Island.

On June 16, Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess will return to Australia with a three-night Australia Seacation from Brisbane to Brisbane. The Princess cruise ship will homeport at the 2020-constructed, but never used, Brisbane International Cruise Terminal. 

From August 27, the second P&O Australia ship, Pacific Encounter, will begin operations, sailing from Brisbane on a seven-night Barrier Reef Discovery, with calls to Airlie Beach, Cairns, and Willis Island, Australia. Pacific Adventure, the third P&O Australia cruise ship will not sail before October 22.

Busy Week for Waterspouts

It was a busy week with waterspouts near cruise ships this past week, and one of them slightly caused some issues at a cruise line private island.

Disney Dream passengers got a rare sighting on Sunday, May 29, 2022, during their visit to Castaway Cay, when a waterspout was sighted just offshore.

Disney Dream Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Maria Maarbes / Shutterstock

The waterspout was spotted just south of Castaway Cay, near where Disney Cruise Line docks at the private island destination. Amazing video from passengers on the island shows the waterspout near Disney Dream, and it remained intact for several minutes but did not move onshore.

Some guests did report the need to shelter on the island until lightning had passed the area. Because of the risk of a lightning strike, guests were not permitted to reboard the ship (via metal gangways) until the lightning had ended, but the delay was not significant.

A waterspout was also spotted in Nassau Harbor in The Bahamas on June 2. The funnel was sucking up water and caught some small pieces of debris, which can be seen in a video posted to social media.

The funnel was spinning deep in Nassau Harbor, near the Sidney Poitier Bridge that connects the larger New Providence Island to the smaller Paradise Island to the north.

Observers reported that the waterspout did move onto Paradise Island, home to the famous Atlantis resort. No damage was noted from the waterspout, and while it did have the potential to turn into a tornado as it moved onto land, it did not appear to have the strength to do so and instead rapidly dissipated.

Two cruise ships were docked in Nassau at the time of the waterspout. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Conquest.

Repairs Progressing for Carnival Cruise Ship

Repairs are still in progress on the Carnival Freedom after a fire broke out onboard while docked in Grand Turk on May 26. The fire caused damage to the iconic red, white and blue funnel and thankfully there were no crew or passengers injured.

Carnival Freedom Repairs
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Since the fire, the May 23, 28, June 2 and 6 cruises have been canceled as the ship is currently undergoing repairs at the Grand Bahama shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. In fact, work had already started before the Carnival Freedom departed Grand Turk for the dry dock.

Currently, the Carnival cruise ship is scheduled to return to service on June 11 with a five-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Port Canaveral, However, guests should check for any official updates as this could change.

New Rotterdam Cruise Ship Christened

Holland America Line’s newest cruise ship, the MS Rotterdam, was officially named on May 30 during a traditional ceremony in its namesake city Rotterdam. The city has played an important role in the cruise line’s history, as it was here that the cruise line was founded in 1873.

Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, performed the ceremonial ringing of the ship’s bell as she wished the crew and passengers sailing on her a safe journey. The blessing of the ship’s bell is a Holland America Line tradition when welcoming a new ship to the fleet.

Holland America Rotterdam
Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

The Rotterdam is the seventh vessel sailing under that name for Holland America. On October 15, 1872, Rotterdam I — the first Holland America Line ship — embarked on its maiden voyage from Rotterdam to New York.

The ceremony was attended by senior executives of Carnival Corporation and several dutch dignitaries. Following the ceremony, a gala luncheon was held onboard for guests.

The newest Pinnacle-class cruise ship for Holland America Line will spend the summer in Northern Europe, sailing from its homeport, Amsterdam. From there, she will sail a series of seven- and 14-day Norway cruises and voyages to Scandinavia, Iceland, and the Northern Isles.

Royal Caribbean Policy Updates

Over the years, many people have found many different ways to search for and book the best available cabins onboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships. One of these options is to book a cabin through a much cheaper non-refundable cruise deposit.

Guests can book cabins many months or even years ahead of the actual voyage and just wait until they have decided to take the cruise or not. If not, they can still cancel the journey and receive a future cruise credit minus a $100 charge. However, Royal Caribbean has put a firm stop to this somewhat questionable practice.

Cruise News Update
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Starting June 1, 2022, a non-refundable deposit will be just that; Non-refundable. Guests will no longer receive a future cruise credit. Instead, as is the case with airlines, hotels, etc., the full deposit will be withheld by the cruise line if a guest decides to cancel the voyage. 

Also, Royal Caribbean International has notified guests of a change in expiration to its Future Cruise Credits (FCCs), many of which were issued during the global suspension of cruise operations.

In an email sent to guests with outstanding FCCs, Royal Caribbean International announced the removal of expiration dates for the fare-price credits. The bonus amount above fare credits, however, will still expire on the original expiration date.

Many of the FCCs are set to expire in the next few months, when many guests have not yet been able to redeem their credits. With the expiration date now removed, loyal travelers have more options to redeem their FCCs when they are better able to book a cruise vacation.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just a few of the headlines from the past week, we’ve got all the coverage including, the CDC elevating its travel notice for some popular cruise destinations, Carnival Cruise Line progress on crew shortages, Mardi Gras rescues 16 stranded people, new Menu Mate menu rolls out across the Carnival fleet, Spectrum of the Seas to begin sailing to ports out of Singapore, Virgin Voyages giving away 1,000 cruises, and plenty more news right here.

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