Cruise News Update: New Ships, Carnival Advisory, Itineraries

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Ready to dive into this week’s big cruise news? Cruise Hive has it all covered, with stories about Cunard, Virgin Voyages, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.

Cruise News Update

Let’s get going with this week’s exciting news round-up from Cruise Hive, where you’ll find all of the major developments in the world of cruising.

Our coverage includes the arrival of Cunard’s new ship in Southampton; Virgin Voyages detailing Brilliant Lady’s future itineraries; a Carnival Cruise Line ship warning guests against a certain wildlife encounter in Mexico; Princess Cruises altering two world cruises to avoid the Middle East; the evacuation of a crew member aboard Carnival Sunshine; and the arrest of a cruise guest on illegal ammunition charges in Grand Turk.

New Cunard Liner Enters Service in Southampton

Cunard’s Queen Anne, the line’s first new ship in 14 years, arrived with great fanfare at the Port of Southampton on April 30, 2024, just days ahead of her maiden voyage that departed on May 3, 2024.

Her arrival was met with a fireboat water salute and plenty of admirers along the shore applauding and welcoming the 113,000-gross ton ship. Prior to her sail-away, several preview events were held for Cunard executives, industry VIPs, travel partners, media, and others, including ship tours, panel discussions, and receptions.

Queen Anne Arrival in Southampton
Queen Anne Arrival in Southampton

The 3,000-guest Queen Anne was built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. Her 7-night maiden cruise will sail to Lisbon, calling at La Coruna, Spain.

“We are so excited to welcome Queen Anne to our fleet as she completes a remarkable quartet alongside Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria – marking the first time since 1999 that Cunard will have four ships in simultaneous service,” said Katie McAlister, president of Cunard. 

The ship will sail a special 14-night British Isles Festival cruise on May 24, 2024, roundtrip from Southampton, visiting ports of call in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Ireland, and celebrating her christening in Liverpool on June 3, 2024.

Queen Anne’s itineraries for summer and fall 2024 feature 60-plus port calls across the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, and Canary Islands before departing on her first world cruise on January 9, 2025.

Virgin Voyages Reveals Brilliant Lady’s Deployments

Virgin Voyages took the wraps off its plans for the line’s newest ship, Brilliant Lady, now under construction in Italy and set to debut in September 2025. Her destination is North America, with 5- to 14-night itineraries sailing from four embarkation ports.

The 2,762-guest Brilliant Lady, sister ship to Scarlet Lady, Valiant Lady, and Resilient Lady, will launch in New York City on September 5, 2025 and sail five voyages to Eastern Canada/New England, and to Bermuda, with a call at Charleston, South Carolina.

Brilliant Lady Cruise Ship
Brilliant Lady Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: UrAvgPhoto)

The ship will spend the winter based in Miami, sailing 7- to 12-night Caribbean cruises. In March 2026, Brilliant Lady will deploy to Los Angeles via a 16-night Panama Canal cruise, and spend April and May sailing Southern California and Mexican Riviera cruises. The ship will then reposition to Seattle for a series of Alaska sailings through September. 

As Sir Richard Branson, Virgin’s founder, put it: “This ship is going to be brilliant in every possible way, and that includes the incredible new places we can travel to. Alaska, L.A., New York – here we come!”

Brilliant Lady’s itineraries in the Great Land have yet to be confirmed, but placeholder bookings will be accepted starting on May 8, 2024. Along with her deployments, the cruise line also revealed that the ship will offer a new accommodations category called Sea Terraces.

Cruise Line Warns Against Tiger Cub Encounters

The captain of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Radiance, Eduardo Ferrone, has been issuing letters to onboard guests advising them to avoid a particular wildlife encounter offered at one of the ship’s port calls.

The 2,700-guest ship is based in Long Beach, California, and operates Mexican Riviera cruises, including to Ensenada, Mexico, where local vendors offer shore tours featuring interactions with tiger cubs. The vendors are not affiliated with the cruise line, which does not offer any shore excursions involving tiger cubs.

Carnival Radiance Docked in Ensenada, Mexico
Carnival Radiance Docked in Ensenada, Mexico (Photo Credit: Felipe Sanchez)

For public health, safety, and environmental reasons, Carnival recommends that you do not partake in such attractions, including, but not limited to, the tiger cub attractions,the captain’s advisory to guests said.

Wildlife interactions are popular shore excursions in the Caribbean and Mexico, and include tours that bring guests into contact with dolphins, pigs, horses, and other animals. While the captain’s note does not indicate a reason why guests should avoid tiger cubs, it is likely because tigers are not native to Mexico, meaning that the animals used in these tourist activities might have been acquired in ways that were less than ethical.

Also, tiger cubs can weigh up to 150 pounds — large and strong enough to injure someone. The captain’s letter is not dated, and it is expected to be distributed on most or all sailings that call at the Mexican port.

World Cruise Itineraries Shift to Avoid Middle East

With geopolitical tensions ongoing in the Red Sea/Suez Canal region, Princess Cruises has opted to revise the itineraries of two World Cruises in 2025. Europe and Africa will play bigger roles in the itineraries, as Island Princess and Crown Princess shift away from the Middle East.

The 3,080-guest Crown Princess is slated to depart on her 113-day World Cruise on May 31, 2025 from Auckland, New Zealand, calling at 22 countries on five continents. Her revised itinerary is not yet confirmed, however, Princess Cruises has detailed substantial routing changes for Island Princess.

Island Princess Cruise Ship
Island Princess Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Ceri Breeze)

The 2,214-guest Island Princess will sail two roundtrip World Cruise options, the first from Fort Lauderdale on January 5, 2025, and the second from Los Angeles on January 20, 2025. She will call at ports in 24 countries on six continents. 

In avoiding the Middle East, Island Princess will drop her visit to Dubai, UAE, and instead call at Cape Town, South Africa. She will overnight there to accommodate world cruise segment guests who had originally planned to embark or debark the ship in Dubai. To compensate guests who will debark the ship earlier than planned, the line is refunding the amount equivalent to four days of cruise fare.

From Cape Town, the ship will make calls in Namibia, the Cape Verde Islands, Madeira, Portugal, and Gibraltar, before visiting several Mediterranean ports before concluding in Valletta, Malta.

Crew Member Evacuated Due to Medical Emergency

A crew member working aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Sunshine experienced a medical emergency and was airlifted off the ship by the US Coast Guard on April 27, 2024.

The 3,758-guest ship, based in Charleston, South Carolina, was sailing a 5-night cruise to the Bahamas when the incident occurred on the first sea day of the voyage. A US Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 helicopter crew arrived at the ship roughly 160 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, and evacuated the crew member and a nurse from the ship.

Carnival Sunshine Airlift
Carnival Sunshine Airlift (Courtesy: US Coast Guard)

Neither the crew member’s name nor his or her medical condition were revealed by cruise line officials. The employee was taken to Home Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, for medical treatment.

The ship’s itinerary was not impacted by the emergency, and Carnival Sunshine continued her cruise as planned, calling at Half Moon Cay, Carnival’s private island in the Bahamas, and Nassau before returning to Charleston.

It was the third medical evacuation from cruise ships within a month’s time. On April 15, 2024 the US Coast Guard evacuated a pregnant woman from Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy, which was sailing near Puerto Rico, and on April 25, 2024, a guest was airlifted from Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, which was cruising off Oregon on her way to Victoria, British Columbia.

Cruise Guest Gets Arrested in Grand Turk

A guest sailing aboard a cruise ship was arrested and charged with possession of ammunition when he went ashore during a port call to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, on April 24, 2024.  Tyler Wenrich, a 31-year-old from Virginia, was detained after local officials at a security checkpoint found bullets in a piece of baggage he was carrying.

Under Turks & Caicos law, the infraction can lead to a 12-year prison sentence.  A police report indicated that Wenrich appeared before a Grand Turk magistrate on the day of his arrest and was remanded into custody at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation pending a June 7, 2024 hearing.

Grand Turk Cruise Passenger
Grand Turk Cruise Passenger Arrested (Photo Credits: Mikolaj Niemczewski & Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force)

Later media reports indicate that the guest has been granted bail. It is not clear whether he remains in the island nation. The name of the cruise ship Wenrich was sailing on is unconfirmed, but it was likely Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas since she was the only ship calling at the port when the arrest took place. The ship is based in Miami.

Wenrich traveled to the ship by plane, and TSA officials have since admitted that the ammunition went undetected at the airport. Also, Royal Caribbean security apparently failed to detect the bullets when the guest boarded the ship and has not publicly commented on the situation. Wenrich is a paramedic and a married father of one child.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just a handful of the major cruise stories Cruise Hive covered this week. Check out more coverage, including a new planetarium show debuting on Princess Cruises’ ships in Alaska; TUI Cruises’ new-build Mein Schiff 7 holding her ‘lucky coins’ ceremony; Norwegian Cruise Line planning a ‘nude cruise’ in 2025; Disney Cruise Line showing a sneak peek of its new private destination; and Holland America Line offering a Glacier Guarantee to all guests sailing in Alaska.

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