Cruise News Update: November 19, 2022

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Here’s your weekly cruise news update as Carnival Cruise Line brings back a popular program, along with coverage on some new ships, including from Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.

Cruise News Update

It’s time to make sure you’re up to date on all the major news from the past week, including Carnival Cruise Line bringing back a popular priority program, which we will get into a little bit later on.

We’ve also got coverage on MSC Cruises naming its largest ever ship, the new MSC World Europa, another construction milestone for Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, the godmother revealed for the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, and even more Royal Caribbean news as a major deal has been struck with PortMiami, Florida.

You can also watch the cruise news update below:

MSC Christens Its Largest Cruise Ship

We start with MSC Cruises’ massive new ship, the MSC World Europa, which has officially been named during a ceremony at the brand-new Grand Cruise Terminal in Doha, Qatar, that took place on November 13.

After the vessel was handed over to the cruise line during a ceremony at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard on October 24, it departed on October 31 in anticipation of its naming ceremony in Qatar.

The Master of the Vessel, Captain Marco Massa, took part in the official naming ceremony, and the event was hosted by comedian, producer, and entrepreneur Hamad Al Amari. The ceremony featured performances by local artists, a video-mapping projection onto the ship’s hull, and a creative drone show.

MSC Word Europa Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises celebrated this memorable occasion with a spectacular fireworks display against the Doha skyline and a gourmet gala dinner in the ship’s signature restaurants.

As the largest ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet, the 6,762-passenger MSC World Europa is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world at over a whopping 215,800 gross tons and fully powered by LNG.

As part of MSC’s deal with the Qatari government, MSC World Europa will host fans during the FIFA World Cup alongside two other ships in the fleet. Following its time housing football fans, MSC World Europa will sail her maiden voyage on Dember 20 to the Persian Gulf.

Icon of the Seas Construction Update

Royal Caribbean’s hotly anticipated new ship, Icon of the Seas, is taking distinctive shape at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, where the vessel is currently under construction.

In a record-breaking maneuver, the shipyard has installed the amazing AquaDome onboard the ship, the single largest glass and steel structure ever to be lifted onto a cruise ship.

It took more than 80 hours of precise coordination to lift the 363-ton dome into place over the ship’s forward section, where it will encase one of the ship’s new signature neighborhoods.

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas Dome
Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The AquaDome stands at 82 feet tall and 164 feet wide, with 673 glass panels offering unparalleled vistas through 220-degree, wraparound ocean views.

The dome’s structure also includes 712 aluminum panels, and was assembled separately, also at Meyer Turku, prior to the massive lift operation with a specially designed 155-ton rig.

It took 1,640 feet of steel cables to lift the dome in a delicate operation that required perfect weather, including low wind speeds, to ensure safe and secure installation. The dome has now been welded into place on the ship.

Now begins the next phase of the AquaDome’s construction, which includes the interior outfitting and installation of seating, lighting, bars, restaurants, lounges, and other amenities, including a 55-foot-tall waterfall that will play dramatic parts in aquatic shows.

Icon of the Seas will become the world’s largest cruise ship at 250,800 gross tons when she debuts in January 2024, sailing seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries out of Miami, Florida.

Wonder of the Seas Godmother Revealed

Royal Caribbean has revealed the godmother to its Oasis-class mega-ship, Wonder of the Seas. “Wonder Mom” was chosen after a search began in August on the popular social media platform TikTok with a contest using the #SearchForWonderMom hashtag.

Royal Caribbean’s “Wonder Mom” is Pennsylvania resident Marie McCrea, who was nominated by her daughter, Allie, in the TikTok contest. McCrea will preside over the ceremony on Dec. 9 at Wonder of the Seas’ new year-round homeport, Florida’s Port Canaveral.

Following the ceremony, McCrea and her family will set sail on the ship’s 7-night Caribbean cruise with accommodations in the ship’s Ultimate Family Suite, which features an in-suite slide, a cinema and karaoke room, game consoles, and a private balcony.

Wonder of the Seas Maiden Voyage
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean also will treat the family to first-class flights to and from Port Canaveral, and provide spending money. The sailing will visit Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

A Royal Caribbean panel considered the top submissions before choosing McCrea for the honor. The cruise line has also invited the Wonder Moms, who were finalists, to set sail on Wonder of the Seas with their families.

Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world at 236,857 gross tons and with a guest capacity of 5,734 at double occupancy.

THe ship entered service last spring, with a maiden voyage on March 24, offering a short series of Eastern Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a summer schedule in the Western Mediterranean, sailing between Rome and Barcelona.

The ship arrived at Port Canaveral on Nov. 13 and will operate one 3-day Bahamas cruise on Dec. 4 before beginning a series of 6- to 8-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings.

Carnival Brings Back Faster to the Fun

It has been a long wait, but finally, Carnival Cruise Line is bringing back its Faster to the Fun program for sailings that depart on December 1, 2022, and onwards. The good news is that guests have already started purchasing the priority program, despite some technical issues on the Carnival website.

Guests should note, however, that the limited program is not available for purchase until a certain number of days prior to each cruise, in order for the cruise line to gauge how many priority guests will be sailing.

Prices for Faster to the Fun vary depending on the ship, cruise length, and itinerary. The starting price listed on Carnival’s website is $39.95 per cabin, but the price does go up depending on the port. The single purchase per cabin will provide priority services to all guests booked in that cabin.

Carnival Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock

Faster to the Fun was initially suspended when the cruise industry shutdown began in March 2020.

Because of increased health and safety protocols and the need to better control crowds for embarkation, the program was not brought back when cruising slowly began to resume in July 2021.

As health and safety protocols began to ease, staffing shortages continued to impact Faster to the Fun and kept the program on hiatus, as it was too challenging to provide all the sought-after benefits with suitable quality.

Now, as operations have further returned to pre-pandemic normalcy, it is now possible to bring back Faster to the Fun with all the options guests look forward to.

When purchased, the program gives guests exclusive perks, including some very popular priority options available to cruisers in upper levels of Carnival Cruise Lines’s “Very Important Fun Person” (VIFP) loyalty program.

Huge Royal Caribbean Deal

Royal Caribbean and PortMiami have reached one of the largest-ever agreements for the port, with port commissioners approving a lease agreement that will extend for 50 years and net approximately over $2.8 billion for the local economy.

The agreement was reached Tuesday, November 15, 2022, and includes new port development projects with an exclusive new terminal, thousands of additional jobs, increased passenger counts, improved port staffing, and more.

The new agreement between Royal Caribbean and PortMiami is one of the largest ever development and lease agreements for the port.

Royal Caribbean PortMiami Terminal
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

A key feature of the new agreement is a brand new, dedicated Terminal G for Royal Caribbean International and its sister cruise brands, including Celebrity Cruises, with a lease to last 36 years.

Another part of the agreement extends Royal Caribbean’s lease of space for the cruise line’s global headquarters, a project that began several years ago but was temporarily halted in May 2020, when Royal Caribbean needed to mitigate financial losses due to the industry-wide shutdown of guest operations.

The potential positive economic impact of the new agreement is staggering. The agreement is anticipated to generate approximately $2.5 billion from Terminal G usage and $260 million from the headquarters lease, as well as create 12,000 jobs.

More Cruise Headlines

So those were just a handful of the cruise stories from just another busy week, we’ve got all the coverage, including Royal Caribbean testing some dining room changes, Carnival Cruise Line reintroducing masks onboard, Royal Caribbean releasing its 2024 European deployments, Disney Cruise Line announcing the purchase of the Global Dream ship, The Port of Galveston to reach new heights, Carnival to increase operations in Norfolk, Virginia, Holland America introduces a new refer a friend program and so much more.

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