Cruise News Update: May 6, 2023

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In case you missed the big cruise news stories from the past week, Cruise Hive is here to ensure you stay well-informed. This week’s Cruise News Update includes developments from Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruise News Update

Here we go with another Cruise News Update across the major lines, and this week, there’s coverage of Carnival Luminosa making her debut in North America, first quarter financial results from Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, a dramatic medical evacuation on Carnival Dream, new deployments for Carnival Spirit, and Carnival Cruise Line clarifying guest ID requirements.

Carnival Luminosa Makes Her North American Debut

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Luminosa made her North American debut on May 4 as she arrived in Seattle to begin a series of Alaska cruises. The ship, with a guest capacity of 2,826, was transferred to the fleet from its sister brand, Costa Cruises, last fall.

Her arrival in Seattle followed a repositioning cruise from Australia and was met with considerable fanfare, with Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy on hand to welcome the ship’s first guests personally. The ship departed on her first Alaska cruise the same day she arrived in port.

Carnival Luminosa in Seattle
Carnival Luminosa in Seattle (Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line)

The ship’s deployment to Alaska brings to three the number of Carnival Cruise Line vessels that will sail to the Last Frontier state this spring and summer. The 2,124-guest Carnival Spirit also is based in Seattle, while the 2,680-guest Carnival Miracle will offer Alaska sailings from San Francisco.

Carnival Luminosa will offer 7-night roundtrip sailings from Seattle, calling on Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, with scenic cruising in the Tracy Arm Fjord.

Scheduled calls to Skagway could be altered due to docking concerns and rockslide issues that have recently come to light. But so far the port is on the ship’s route.

The ship, with her Italian-style flair, underwent a renovation after she was shifted to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet. The refit added popular venues and eateries such as Bonsai Sushi Express, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Piano Bar 88, Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, and the adults-only Serenity. However, cruisers looking for Guy’s Burger Joint might be disappointed, since that venue hasn’t been added.

Royal Caribbean Sees Brighter Financial Future

The financial outlook for Royal Caribbean Group appears bright even though the company’s first quarter earnings report showed a $48 million loss. The report, issued on May 4, indicates that the group generated total revenue of just under $3 billion and predicts the company will profit in the second quarter.

Royal Caribbean Group owns and operates three of the industry’s best-known brands, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea, the latter considered among the world’s top luxury lines. The three lines combined operate 64 cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean-owned Cruise Ships
Royal Caribbean-owned Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock)

Company officials said a very successful wave season propelled bookings and lasted longer than usual. Bookings are coming in closer to departure dates and at higher rates than in 2019, the pre-pandemic year that most travel companies use to compare performance.

Moreover, occupancy levels on some ships are exceeding 100%, thanks to more third and/or fourth guests sharing a stateroom.

In shareholder terms, the first-quarter loss translates to $0.19 per share. Royal Caribbean Group said that earnings per share for the second quarter are expected to be in the range of $1.50 to $1.60. For the full year, earnings are expected to range from $4.40 to $4.80 per share.

The group said it expects that its ships will soon be operating at the same occupancy levels as they did before the global pause in cruising. That would signal the three cruise lines are fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

A High Stakes Rescue in the Gulf of Mexico

A dramatic sea rescue in rough weather unfolded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 29, as the United States Coast Guard (USCG) attempted to airlift a guest from Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Dream.

On its final day of an 8-night sailing roundtrip from Galveston, Texas, the ship contacted the USCG to evacuate a 76-year-old guest experiencing a suspected heart attack.

A Jayhawk helicopter crew dispatched from New Orleans arrived and lowered a rescue swimmer to the ship. The rescue was attempted under hazardous weather conditions, and when a cruise ship nurse was being hoisted to the chopper as part of the evacuation team, a squall hit, forcing the aircraft to distance itself from the ship.

Then things got worse, as a severe downwind air current brought the helicopter perilously close to the water’s surface. The rescue was temporarily aborted in the interest of safety, and the chopper and crew returned to their base. Another crew was dispatched to the ship when the weather improved, and the evacuation was completed.

The drama took place off the coast of Alabama as the cruise neared its end, having called at Key West, Freeport, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau. Carnival Dream arrived as planned in Galveston and operated its next cruise on schedule.

The 128,250-gross-ton vessel accommodates 3,646 guests at double occupancy. The identity of the evacuated guest was not revealed, nor were any further details about his medical condition.

Carnival Spirit to Homeport in Alabama Next Year

Carnival Cruise Line unveiled new deployments for the 2,124-guest Carnival Spirit, including her home-porting in Mobile, Alabama, in 2024-2025, plus two new Carnival Journeys itineraries that will take the ship farther afield.

The line officially opened bookings for Carnival Spirit’s Western Caribbean and Bahamas winter cruise series from the Gulf of Mexico port from the fall of 2024 to the spring of 2025.

The ship will be Carnival’s first to sail from the port since Carnival Ecstasy was home-ported there before her retirement in 2022. Mobile is considered a prime drive-to port for cruisers in the southern US.

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

Carnival Spirit will offer a range of Western Caribbean itineraries featuring port calls such as Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, Mexico. Bahamas cruises will visit Key West, Freeport, Nassau, and Half Moon Cay.

The ship will also sail two Carnival Journeys cruises in the fall of 2024. Carnival Spirit in September will sail a 15-day Seattle-to-Hawaii cruise, marking the first time the line operates that itinerary.

In October, the ship will sail a 16-day Panama Canal cruise from Seattle to New Orleans. Port calls will be made to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and Cartagena, Colombia. Bookings have opened on these cruises, too.

Carnival Clarifies ID Requirements For Cruisers

Carnival Cruise Line took steps to quash social media rumors that incorrectly implied the line would require passports from all guests on all cruises, starting in 2024. The persistent rumor mill prompted the line to deny it was changing its documentation requirements.

All cruise guests have to provide proper identification at embarkation, but passports are only required on certain itineraries to Europe and other international destinations. Carnival Cruise Line Ambassador John Heald spelled out, in detail, what the requirements are.

Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise Ship
Carnival Mardi Gras Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Camera walk / Shutterstock)

Passports are required for all Europe and transatlantic cruises, since the requirements are set by the countries a ship will visit. In these cases, guests without passports could not board their cruise ship at the embarkation terminal.

While only required for certain international destinations, passports are seen as valuable documentation in case of any emergency during the cruise that might require guests to remain in a port of call or leave the ship to return home before a cruise ends.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Posts $1.8 Billion in Revenue

The financial news from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) indicates strong first-quarter results, with total revenue reaching $1.8 billion, a substantial increase from $522 million in the year-ago quarter.

Releasing its first-quarter figures on May 1, the company noted that its earnings per share was down 0.38 cents, but it is a marked improvement compared to the $2.35 loss per share in the first quarter of 2022.

Norwegian Cruise Line Terminal
Norwegian Cruise Line Terminal (Photo Credit: 4kclips / Shutterstock)

Occupancy levels, onboard revenue, and advance bookings look strong, the company said, and signal a long-awaited recovery for the company and its brands, which include Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

For the full year 2023, NCLH predicts an average occupancy rate of 103.5%, which is higher than in 2019 despite having 18% more capacity than four years ago. 

The holding company adjusted its 2023 Adjusted Earnings Per Share guidance to approximately $0.75 for 2023, and investors rewarded the company with a 7% spike in its stock price in the hours following the quarterly report.

Like other cruise companies, Norwegian officials said that wave season promotions exceeded predictions and its cruise lines continue to experience healthy demand.

Incoming President and CEO Harry Sommer told investors he is looking forward to bringing an increased focus on financial recovery and creating a greener company while ensuring that service levels and guest experiences stay high.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just a handful of the top cruise news headlines from the past week, and we’ve got plenty more coverage on Cruise Hive, including a new retail partner for Virgin Voyages, the top margarita drinks onboard Carnival Cruise Line, Viking Cruises expanding its Great Lakes voyages, a construction milestone for Cunard’s new Queen Anne, Norwegian Breakaway making her first call at Valencia, and Quantum of the Seas dropping a popular Alaska port call.

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