Cruise News Update: May 20, 2023

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We’re here with another busy cruise news update across the major cruise lines, including news about Royal Caribbean, the island of Jamaica, Carnival Cruise Line, PortMiami, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises.

Cruise News Update

Here we go with another Cruise News Update across the major lines, and in this week’s articles there’s coverage on Royal Caribbean’s planned return to China, a revised safety warning about Jamaica, another Carnival Cruise Line ship home-porting in Florida, PortMiami’s busiest cruise day ever, Norwegian Cruise Line canceling one ship’s Alaska season, and Princess Cruises deploying two Sphere-class ships to the Mediterranean.

Royal Caribbean Returning to China in 2024

Royal Caribbean is headed back to China for the first time since the industry-wide pandemic pause. The cruise line said that its 4,246-guest Spectrum of the Seas, a Quantum-Ultra class ship, will begin sailing from Shanghai in April 2024 on 4- and 5-night cruises to ports such as Fukuoka, Okinawa, Nagasaki, Osaka, and Tokyo, all in Japan.

Royal Caribbean in China
Royal Caribbean in China (Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)

In December 2024, the ship will add eight sailings from Hong Kong to ports such as Ishigaki and Miyazaki, Japan, Taipei, Taiwan, and Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Spectrum of the Seas, which made her 2019 debut in Shanghai, was designed with curated experiences for the Chinese market, including Asian-themed eateries and entertainment options such as karaoke.

The line has already returned to other parts of Asia, in fact, Spectrum of the Seas is currently deployed to Singapore. Once she repositions to Shanghai, the cruise line’s 4,180-guest Anthem of the Seas will take her place, home-porting in Singapore.

Royal Caribbean hasn’t yet disclosed the ship’s itineraries from Singapore, but they are expected to be similar to Spectrum of the Seas’ current sailings.

US Revises Travel Advisory to Jamaica

In an effort to keep American tourists safe while visiting Jamaica, the US State Department widened its existing Reconsider Travel advisory to include more detailed information about the types of crimes visitors could experience on the island as well as specific areas of the island nation where more crimes are being reported.

The department last year issued its Reconsider Travel alert, which is Level 3 in its ranking of warnings. The warning alerts top out at Level 4, which is a Do Not Travel advisory. The State Department has previously placed Jamaica on the Level 4 list, but not since the height of the pandemic.

Cruise Ships in Jamaica, Caribbean
Cruise Ships in Jamaica, Caribbean (Photo Credit: STUDIO MELANGE / Shutterstock)

According to the revised advisory, violent crimes are common in Jamaica, including homicides, armed robberies, and sexual assaults. Virtually all of the major cruise lines operating in the Caribbean offer port calls to Jamaica. Most ships call at Ocho Rios and Falmouth, and offer a slew of guided shore excursions. Cruisers also can arrange their own independent excursions.

As with any cruise port visit, cruisers are always advised to remain in well-populated areas and to be aware of their surroundings.

Carnival Venezia to Homeport in Port Canaveral

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Venezia, the line’s first Italian-style Fun Ship that recently joined the fleet from sister company Costa Cruises, will spend the winter of 2024-25 sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida. The ship currently is undergoing a dry dock refit and will debut in New York next month.

Carnival Venezia Cruise Ship
Carnival Venezia Cruise Ship (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

The cruise line had previously indicated that the 4,208-guest ship would homeport year-round at New York’s Manhattan Terminal, but said this week that she will become Carnival Cruise Line’s fifth vessel to sail winter cruises from the South Florida port next year. In Port Canaveral, she will join Carnival GloryMardi Gras, Carnival Vista, and Carnival Freedom.

Carnival Venezia will operate a series of 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages and two 14-day Carnival Journeys voyages. The ship will head south from New York on December 6, 2024, sailing a 12-Day Southern Caribbean Carnival Journeys cruise and calling at St. Thomas, St. Croix, Aruba, Curacao, and Grand Turk.

The ship will arrive in Port Canaveral on December 18, 2024, to begin her winter series. The ship will return to New York in the spring of 2025.

PortMiami Celebrates a Banner Day

After tallying up the numbers, PortMiami announced that it broke its busiest-cruise-passenger-day record, welcoming a whopping 67,594 cruise guests.

It was thanks to several mega-ships that were in port on the same day, April 9, including Royal Caribbean’s 5,602-guest Oasis of the Seas and 4,290-guest Explorer of the Seas; Carnival Cruise Line’s 3,960-guest Carnival Horizon and 5,374-guest Carnival Celebration, plus MSC Cruises’ 4,540-guest MSC Seascape and Norwegian Cruise Line’s 3,998-guest Norwegian Encore.

PortMiami Cruise Ships
PortMiami Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock)

The numbers represent a big hike over previous records. On February 12, 2023, a record 58,984 cruise guests moved through the port, and the previous record before that was on December 9, 2018, when 55,819 passed through.

PortMiami traditionally was the busiest cruise port in terms of annual cruise guest traffic until this year, when Port Canaveral, its neighbor to the north, eked out a lead by a slim margin of about 50,000 cruise guests. If PortMiami’s arrivals numbers continue to perform well, the port – widely known as the Cruise Capital of the World – could win back its No. 1 position.

Norwegian Cruise Line Cancels Ship’s Alaska Season

Cruisers booked on any one of a dozen 2024 Alaska sailings aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Spirit will have to make other arrangements after the line canceled almost all of the ship’s scheduled voyages to the Last Frontier State.

Turns out the line has decided to charter the 2,032-guest ship instead of operating her published schedule. All told, some 24,000 cruisers are likely affected. The line is offering full refunds plus a few bonuses to guests booked on the ship’s 7-day itineraries.

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship
Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Jennifer Jessica Peck / Shutterstock)

Cruisers are being offered compensation options, including a hefty 50% off fares on certain 2023 Alaska cruises where space is still available, or a 10% future cruise credit on any of the line’s cruises between May 22, 2023 and December 31, 2024, among other choices.

Those who wish to reschedule their 2024 cruise on a different Norwegian Cruise Line ship have several options, since Norwegian EncoreNorwegian BlissNorwegian Jewel, and Norwegian Sun will be operating in Alaska next year.

Norwegian Cruise Line has not disclosed who is chartering the ship, but avid cruise watchers believe it might be Sixthman, the company that organizes cruise ship-based music festivals.

Princess Cruises’ New Sphere-Class Ships Head to the Med

Princess Cruises’ two newest ships, both of which are still under construction, will be posted to the Mediterranean in 2025. Both Sphere-class ships, Star Princess and Sun Princess, launching in 2025 and 2024, respectively, each will accommodate 4,300 guests.

Star Princess will offer a variety of 10-day cruises roundtrip from Rome, calling at destinations such as Florence, Barcelona, and Mykonos, while Sun Princess will sail a series of 7-day cruises from Barcelona, Rome, or Athens, calling at Istanbul, Naples, and Santorini. Bookings for both ships will open on June. 1.

Sun Princess Cruise Ship
Sun Princess Cruise Ship

The Sphere-class ships will literally have a sphere onboard, in the form of a huge glass dome to illuminate the ships’ Piazza atriums. The dome itself will have a multi-level covered deck and a glass-enclosed ceiling. The space will feature an indoor/outdoor pool during the day, transforming into an entertainment stage at night.

The deployment of both new vessels is meant to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Princess Cruises sailing in the Mediterranean. And they won’t be alone: The cruise line also will send three other ships to the region in 2025, Emerald PrincessMajestic Princess, and Sky Princess.

More Cruise Headlines

There were many other cruise stories from the past week that we covered on Cruise Hive, including a cruise guest seen on video climbing between balconies on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, a small port town in Maine looking for cruise business, cruise arrivals in Mexico soaring to record levels, new Canada/New England voyages from Princess Cruises, and Explora Journeys unveiling its opulent Owner’s Residence.

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