Cruise News Update: October 22, 2022

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In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve got all the big stories, and they come as Royal Caribbean just unveiled what will become the largest cruise ship in the world, Icon of the Seas. There’s also coverage on Carnival and Princess Cruises.

Cruise News Update

It’s time to make sure you’ve got your weekly cruise news update from across the major cruise lines. It sure has been a busy week, but mainly due to Royal Caribbean finally taking the curtain off the Icon of the Seas. We’ll detail all the new impressive features and stats.

We’ll also take a look at the itineraries of the new ship later on in the video. There’s also coverage on Carnival Cruise Line on its Christmas decoration schedule and the two Costa ships joining the fleet, along with a major update from Princess Cruises.

Icon of the Seas Revealed

Let’s start with the literally, biggest news from the past week, and that’s Royal Caribbean finally unveiling Icon of the Seas, which will become the largest cruise ship ever when she debuts in 2024. The ship will be a massive 250,800 gross tons, have a guest capacity of 5,610 at double occupancy, 18 guest decks, and a crew capacity of 2,350.

The mega-ship will feature eight neighborhoods, including five new adventures, not seen on any other ship in the fleet, such as the largest waterpark at sea, the AquaDome, the first free fall slide, the first suspended infinity pool and more! Icon of the Seas has amazing new features on nearly every deck, giving guests more to explore in every corner.

Category 6, part of the ship’s “Thrill Island” neighborhood, is the largest waterpark at sea, offering splash-tastic fun for all ages on Deck 16.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The park includes six waterslides, each with record-breaking firsts: the 66-degree inclined Pressure Drop as the cruise industry’s first open free-fall slide; the 46-foot-tall Frightening Bolt, the tallest drop slide at sea; Storm Surge and Hurricane Hunter, the first 4-person family raft slides at sea; and the Storm Chasers pair of slides, cruising’s first mat racers.

The ship will feature seven pools, including the Royal Bay pool – the largest pool ever at sea at more than 40,000 gallons. Guests can find ways to splash at multiple other pools and whirlpools, including the Hideaway Pool located aft on Deck 15, offering infinity views more than 65 feet above the deck and an energetic beach club vibe with a resident DJ.

Crown’s Edge is a first-of-its-kind combination rope course, high plank skywalk, obstacle course, and zip line at 154 feet above the ocean.

A new feature in the ship’s themed neighborhood concept will be the family-oriented Surfside neighborhood on Deck 7, exclusively designed for younger families with children under six years old.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas Cruise Ship
Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The open-air promenade is home to the ship’s classic carousel as well as the youngster waterparks, Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay. Water’s Edge is an aft-facing infinity pool with relaxing views to provide a great spot for parents to decompress.

Swim & Tonic, the cruise line’s first ever swim-up bar and the largest swim-up bar at sea, will be located portside on Deck 16. The amazing AquaDome, impossible to miss over the ship’s bow on Deck 18, houses a phenomenal waterfall feature, which will add even more thrills to the Aquatheater three decks below.

Carnival Prepares for Costa Ships

Carnival Cruise Line announced in June 2022 that both Costa Venezia and Costa Firenze would be transferred to the Fun Ship fleet, but without losing their overall Italian flair.

Now, the cruise line is offering even more insights and details about the two Vista-class ships and the unique experiences they will offer to eager passengers, including confirming that the ships will adopt the “Carnival” name.

The cruise line has now launched a new page where guests can register for more information about the new vessels, including special offers when bookings open.

Carnival Costa Cruise Ship
Render Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Costa Venezia – to be renamed Carnival Venezia – will join the fleet in 2023, offering sailings from New York, while Costa Firenze – soon to be Carnival Firenze – will set sail as a Fun Ship in 2024 from Long Beach, California.

The new ships will expand Carnival’s presence in two of its 14 U.S. homeports, offering even more opportunities for eager travelers. Carnival started sailing from New York in 1998, while in Long Beach, the cruise line embarks more guests than any other operator and has maintained a West Coast presence for more than 40 years – first cruising from Los Angeles in 1979.

Both ships are slated for moderate renovations before joining Carnival. The overall character of the ships will be preserved, with unique Italian touches throughout each vessel. One exciting renovation is the apparent new livery for each ship, which will be a navy blue hull banded by white and gold in a graceful curve down to the waterline.

Carnival Christmas Decoration Dates

Carnival Cruise Line has announced the holiday decoration dates for the entire Carnival fleet.

Each ship is decorated by professionals – not the onboard crew – and therefore, the decoration dates vary based on when each ship is in port to allow decorations and staff to be brought onboard for the seasonal transformation.

Carnival Cruise Line Christmas
Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock

The first ships to be decorated will be Carnival Liberty and Carnival Radiance, which will debut their new holiday decorations on Friday, November 25. The rest of the fleet will reveal holiday decorations over the next 10 days as follows:

  • Saturday, November 26 – Mardi GrasHorizonPanoramaVista
  • Sunday, November 27 – DreamGloryMagicMiracleSpirit
  • Monday, November 28 – ElationValor
  • Thursday, December 1 – BreezeFreedom
  • Friday, December 2 – Conquest
  • Saturday, December 3 – ParadiseSunrise
  • Sunday, December 4 – LegendLuminosaPride
  • Monday, December 5 – SplendorSunshine

Of special interest will be the holiday decorations for the brand new Carnival Celebration as she celebrates her first holiday season with the cruise line. The ship will reveal her Christmas decorations on Sunday, December 4, 2022, just one month after she welcomes guests for the first time.

In addition to decorating each ship for Christmas, Carnival Cruise Line has a variety of holiday activities that will be presented onboard from late November through the New Year.

Special holiday story times for young guests, holiday-themed trivia contests, seasonal menu items, holiday music playing in the elevators, visits from Santa, and more all help transform Carnival’s ships into festive wonderlands for amazing holiday memories.

Princess Cruises Lifts Protocols

Princess Cruises is lifting all of its protocols for the vast majority of sailings, which went into effect on October 21, 2022. Princess Cruises follows Norwegian Cruise Line, which has also lifted its requirements for all guests.

Guests sailing with Princess Cruises will no longer have to provide a negative test result, regardless of their vaccination status. The cruise line already changed its protocols on September 6, when it removed the need for test results for vaccinated guests. This has now been updated to include unvaccinated guests.

Princess Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: SeregaSibTravel / Shutterstock

The new protocol was effective on October 21 and is valid for all cruises sailing to and from destinations where local rules do not differ with stricter requirements.

This means that all US sailings and European sailings are included. However, cruises sailing from Australia and New Zealand are not. For these voyages, the local rules still apply.

Princess Cruises is the first cruise line under Carnival Corporation to have a far more relaxed testing policy. Something that could potentially point toward other cruise lines, such as Carnival Cruise Line, to make a similar move.

Icon of the Seas Itineraries

We finally come to Icon of the Seas itineraries, as the ship has been the huge talk over the week, many will be wondering where the Royal Caribbean cruise ship will sail.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas will sail on the first revenue cruise on January 27, 2024. Three different itineraries have been designed for the period between January 2024 and April 2025. These are split between the Eastern and Western Caribbean, all of which have a call scheduled to Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The first Eastern Caribbean voyage will sail from PortMiami on January 27 and after two days at sea, the first ever port of call will be St. Kitts & Nevis.

Then there will be a day in Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas. After another day at sea, the ship will visit Perfect Day before returning to Miami. There will be 16 sailings on this itinerary between January 2024 and April 2025.

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas
Render Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The second Eastern Caribbean option will first depart on February 10 and include calls to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, and the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas, along with a total of three days at sea. There will be a total of 11 departures for this itinerary.

The 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary includes calls at Roatan in Honduras, Costa Maya in Mexico, Cozumel in Mexico, and the private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas. There will be a total of two sea days and a total of 30 departures, starting on February 3, 2024.

There are also some slightly different itineraries when it comes to the Western Caribbean option. The departures on March 16 and 30, and December 21, 2024, change the order of ports.

Bookings for the Icon of the Seas will open on October 25, but for Crown & Anchor loyalty members, there will be special access a day earlier on October 24.

More Cruise Headlines!

We’ve always got you covered on Cruise Hive, and we’ve got all the coverage, including major expansion plans for the cruise port in St. Lucia, the winter season officially underway in Barbados, Celebrity Cruises ends its season in Boston, another Virgin Voyages cruise ship to begin cruises in the U.S., Holland America sails historic sailing from Rotterdam to New York, all the details on Icon of the Seas staterooms and suites, and so much more.

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