Cruise News Update: New Carnival Ship, Cancellations, Private Island

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Stay on top of cruise developments at Cruise Hive, the must-read source for important updates from across the cruise industry. This week, we have articles from MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line.

Cruise News Update

Let’s get going with another weekly cruise news update from Cruise Hive, where we’ve got all of the cruise industry stories you need to know about, including a complete itinerary change from MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line cancelling a voyage in favor of a charter, Norwegian Cruise Line seeking feedback on private island amenities, the new-build Carnival Jubilee arriving at her Texas homeport, MSC Cruises cancelling a transatlantic voyage, and Disney Cruise Line making tweaks to its children’s programs.

Weather Prompts A Total Itinerary Change

A complete, and very last-minute, itinerary change to an MSC Cruises’ sailing out of New York left disappointed guests swapping their bathing suits and sunscreen for their hats and scarves. 

The total rerouting of MSC Meraviglia’s December 16, 2023 departure nixed the ship’s original itinerary that was to feature Port Canaveral, Florida, Nassau, Bahamas, and the cruise line’s private Bahamian destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. 

Instead, due to a storm that hit the southern East Coast on departure day and was forecast to travel north along the seaboard, the 5,400-guest ship headed for Boston, where it would overnight for two nights before calling at Portland, Maine, and St. John, Canada. The ship will spend a day at sea before returning to New York on December 23, 2023.

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Ship
MSC Meraviglia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Mariusz Lopusiewicz)

Booked guests learned of the new itinerary via an email from the cruise line, which said the change was to ensure the safety of everyone onboard.

Guests were offered two choices: a full refund of their cruise fare, paid to their original payment method, or a full refund as a Future Cruise Credit. Pre-booked excursions at the itinerary’s original destinations also were refunded. Air and other ancillary charges that might have been booked to reach the departure port are the guests’ responsibilities, if they decided to abandon the sailing.

Norwegian Cruise Line Cancels Sailing in Favor of Charter

Norwegian Cruise Line has again cancelled a scheduled sailing in favor of a full ship charter. The latest announcement to booked guests stated that Norwegian Joy’s February 6, 2025 cruise to the Mexican Riviera has been cancelled.

The 5-night cruise, roundtrip from Los Angeles, was to call at Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada. One of the largest ships in the line’s fleet, Norwegian Joy can accommodate 3,883 guests in double occupancy.

Since the cruise is more than a year away, booked guests have time to make alternative vacation plans. The cruise line is refunding all guest fares to the original form of payment within 30 days, and those who used a Future Cruise Credit to pay for the sailing will have the amount of the credit returned to their account.

Norwegian Joy Cruise Ship
Norwegian Joy Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Just dance)

Norwegian Cruise Line also sweetened the deal for those willing to rebook with the line, by offering a 10% discount as a future cruise credit. It can be used to offset the cruise fare of any published voyage through December 31, 2025.

Meanwhile, a review of other Norwegian Joy sailings on the cruise line website indicates there could be more cancellations coming. The booking engine shows no sailings scheduled on the ship for all of February 2025, however, there originally were two more cruises aboard Norwegian Joy that month. 

Survey Seeks Input on Private Island Destinations

Norwegian Cruise Line reached out to past guests with a survey asking what they would like to experience on the line’s private island destinations. The line has two such destinations: Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas and Harvest Caye in Belize. 

The survey does not reveal whether the feedback is intended for one or both of the destinations, or perhaps for a brand new private destination. 

The questionnaire was sent to members of the cruise line’s NCL Inner Circle, which the line describes as an exclusive online community of vacation aficionados. The survey asked: “Which of the following activities would you be most interested in visiting/participating in on a private island owned by a cruise line?”

Norwegian Cruise Line's Private Island
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Private Island (Photo Credit: Stefan Ugljevarevic)

Some three-dozen choices were offered, including a few surprising ones such as Ferris wheel, sharks, and bumper cars. Others were more common, such as horseback riding, luxury villas, swim-up bars, and shopping.

Events also were represented in the survey, which asked whether respondents would like a fireworks display, parades, and adult-only pool parties, among others.

All of the major cruise brands provide private island destinations, and some are preparing new ones for launch in the next few years. Among them are Carnival Cruise Line’s Celebration Key, near Freeport, Bahamas, and set to open in summer 2025, and Disney Cruise Line, which is building Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, on Eleuthera, Bahamas. It will open in July 2024.

Carnival Jubilee Arrives at Her Texas Homeport

The highly anticipated Carnival Jubilee, the newest ship from Carnival Cruise Line, officially arrived at her homeport of Galveston, Texas, on December 20, 2023.

It marks the first time that a brand new ship will be based at the Lone Star State port, and many Texans and Carnival Cruise Line fans turned out to welcome the latest Fun Ship. The Port of Galveston hosted a festive party for all of the attendees, who included cruise line executives and port officials.

Carnival Jubilee, a 183,521-gross ton Excel-class ship with a capacity for 6,500 guests, was delivered to the line by the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany on December 4, 2023. Her journey to the Texas port included calls in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and Nassau, Bahamas.

Carnival Jubilee Arrives in Galveston
Carnival Jubilee Arrives in Galveston (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

The new ship docked at the port’s Terminal 25, which had been upgraded in anticipation of the ship’s arrival. The ship will depart on her first cruise from Galveston on December 23, 2023. 

Carnival Jubilee will sail 7-night Western Caribbean cruises calling at Roatan, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. The ship is scheduled to remain home-ported at Galveston until at least April 2026.

Along with several exciting new spaces onboard, Carnival Jubilee will feature many Fun Ship favorites, such as Guy’s Burger Joint, the Punchliner Comedy Club, the adults-only Serenity area, BlueIguana Cantina, and the WaterWorks aqua park.

Cancelled Voyage, Just After Final Payment, Irks Guests

Guests booked on an April 2024 MSC Cruise made their final payments only to find out — the next day — that the voyage was being cancelled.

A 17-night Grand Voyage cruise aboard MSC Seaside was to have been a transatlantic repositioning, departing April 6, 2024, from Martinique, in the Caribbean, and sailing to Genoa, Italy, with calls at Guadeloupe, Barbados, Antiqua, St. Maarten, Spain, and France.

In the cruise line’s announcement to booked guests, it pointed to “operational reasons affecting the deployment of some of our ships.”

MSC Seaside Cruise Ship
MSC Seaside Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel)

Two options were offered to guests. They can cancel their booking and receive a full refund, or they can rebook on any other MSC Cruises’ voyage. Guests would be responsible for any difference in the fares. The cruise line has advised guests to change their reservation or request a refund by January 15, 2024.

Costs incurred outside of the cruise fare, such as airfare or hotel costs, may be eligible for refunds. The 153,516-gross-ton MSC Seaside accommodates 4,132 guests at double occupancy.

Cruise Line Adjusts Age Groups For Kids’ Programs

Disney Cruise Line tweaked some of its youth activity clubs, including the age ranges for some and the spaces where supervised activities are held.

The changes, which took effect on December 21, 2023, are meant to provide more appropriate activities and facilities for the various age groups.

Under the new plan, the age range for Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab will be from 3 to 10 years old, rather than the previous 3 to 12 years old.

Disney Cruise Ship Funnel
Disney Cruise Ship Funnel (Photo Credit: Theodore P. Webb)

Youngsters who are 11 and 12 years old now may participate in activities in Edge, which will continue to accept children up to 14 years old. Vibe, the cruise line’s space for teens, will continue to offer programs for guests ages 14 to 17.

In other changes to the youth programming, children who are 11 or 12 no longer must register for youth activities before departure. For guests 10 and younger, registration is still required as part of the online check-in process.

The child’s age at the time of embarkation should be used during registration.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just some of the big headline stories we covered this week at Cruise Hive. There are plenty more, including Royal Caribbean opening a pop-up holiday marketplace aboard Oasis of the Seas, a Hurtigruten ship becoming temporarily disabled after being hit by a rogue wave, the US Virgin Islands nearly doubling its cruise arrival numbers, Carnival Cruise Line posting stellar financial results in Q4 of 2023, and a Costa Cruises’ guest being rescued after becoming lost in a Grenada rainforest.

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