Here’s your cruise news round-up with all the latest developing stories from the week across all the major cruise lines. Plenty of new ship news including Carnival’s new vessel finally being named!
Latest Cruise News
Can you believe that it has just been another non-stop week of cruise news! The industry has been moving forward on resuming cruise operations except for Australia, which we’ve got an update about on more cancellations.
There’s also news on Royal Caribbean’s first LNG vessel, Carnival’s Mardi Gras having a very busy inaugural voyage, Carnival Radiance completing its transformation and arriving back in the U.S., NCL restarting from LA, of yes, and that CDC Conditional Sailing Order everyone is talking about.
In This Article…
Mardi Gras Inaugural Sailing
Let’s start with the ship that’s been the busiest this past week, of course, it’s the Mardi Gras, which was finally named during a ceremony on board at Port Canaveral on October 23. The event took place on board in the main theater and was attended by the star of the show, Miss Universe Dominican Republic Kimberly Jimenez, who is the ship’s Godmother.
Also in attendance was Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal, Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, Carnival Corporation President Arnold Donald and Chairman Micky Arison. The ceremony was hosted by Mardi Gras cruise director Mike Pack and the cruise line’s brand ambassador John Heald.
Following the naming ceremony, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Shaquille O’Neal’s new Big Chicken restaurant, the first in the fleet. The ship then departed on its seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise where the festivities continued.
On October 26 when Mardi Gras made a call in San Juan, the ship was welcomed by the reigning and incoming Miss Universe, Puerto Rico. On October 27, there was then a visit to the home country of Mardi Gras’ Godmother Kimberly Jimenez. On the final sea day, there was a fundraiser held which raised a record amount for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
On the final day of the cruise when Mardi Gras was docked in Nassau, the Bahamas Prime Minister was welcomed on board and the cruise line also announced the registry of Carnival Legend and Pride had been changed to the Bahamas.
Mardi Gras is now sailing year-round on seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral, Florida.
Cruise Cancellations in Australia
On October 26, P&O Australia provided an update on its situation with resuming cruise operations. The Carnival-owned cruise brand provided some hope with positive signs on the country dealing with COVID, such as increased vaccination numbers and the prospect of travel reopening soon.
However, there is no clear timeframe on when the government is ready to allow the cruise industry to restart, resulting in further suspensions. It does mean that P&O cruise ships in Australia will remain on hold for a further month to February 14, 2022. There will be additional cruise cancellations from January 15, 2022, which was the previous suspension end date.
Princess Cruises also cancelled all of its voyages in Australian waters to Spring 2022. The cancellations affect four voyages from January to April, with departures on January 27, February 7 and 21, and March 7 onboard Coral Princess.
So far, Princess Cruises and other cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and P&O Cruises have all cancelled their voyages for the time being Down Under. How long this situation will take is anyone’s guess right now.
Icon of the Seas Construction Update
We all know that the first LNG-powered Royal Caribbean cruise ship is coming, and construction started on Icon of the Seas in June 2021. There is still some way to go until completion in 2023, but for now, the cruise line released an update from the shipyard.
With the ship being the first in the fleet to be powered on LNG, the cruise line released a new video showcasing the first LNG tank installation at the Neptune Werft yard in Rostock, Germany. The first LNG tank weighs 307 tons, is 90 feet long and 26 feet tall.
The tank was lowed into one of the sections of what will become one block of many, making up the entire cruise ship. The section will eventually make its way down to Papenburg, where Icon of the Seas will come together.
Once the ship construction is completed, it will be 200,000 gross tons, making her one of the largest cruise ships in the world but not as large as the Oasis-class vessels. LNG will become an essential aspect of the ship as it will reduce fuel consumption and emissions, including a shore power connection at the port.
Icon of the Seas will be the first in her class and will debut in fall 2023. There will be a second Icon-class arriving in 2025 and a third in 2026. Royal Caribbean also has Wonder of the Seas in the final stages of construction in France, and she will become the world’s largest cruise ship in 2022. Another Oasis-class vessel is planned to debut in 2024.
CDC Extends Conditional Sailing Order
Many had wondered if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would extend its Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) beyond November 1, 2021. Well, now, the CDC has decided to temporarily extend the order until January 15, 2022, a voluntary program will then follow in coordination with the cruise industry.
There are some ways that the order could come to an end earlier than January 15, 2022. The order could be rescinded by the CDC Director, which is very unlikely. Another way the order could end earlier is if the Secretary of Health and Human Services expires the public health emergency.
There are some changes to the extended order but the majority of the details will remain the same until the middle of January when the cruise lines can then continue to keep guests and crew members safe without the Conditional Sailing Order. The CDC did say that one of the main reasons for extending the order was due to the continued spread of the Delta variant.
So let’s see what happens from January 15, will cruise lines make some changes with their own protocols, is cruising about to get easier? We should know more soon.
NCL Restarts from Los Angeles
Norwegian Bliss set sail from Los Angeles on Sunday, October 24, making her the seventh ship in the company’s fleet to resume operations in what the cruise line calls the “Great Cruise Comeback.”
With seven ships operational Norwegian Cruise Line is well underway on its return to service. The cruise line has plans for more ships to become operational before the end of the year. By the end of December Norwegian Cruise Line will be sailing with 11 ships, if all goes according to plan.
Sailing from the World Cruise Center in Los Angeles, the cruise ship offers week-long voyages to the Mexican Riviera. So the first cruise started with two full days at sea. Guests had the best of what the Mexican Riviera offers with a call in Puerto Vallarta, then a call at Mazatlan before arriving in Cabo San Lucas.
The vessel will remain on the same itinerary until mid-January, when she sails a 5-day riviera cruise before heading off on two longer cruises.
On January 21, Norwegian Bliss will set sail on a 14-day cruise to Miami, Florida. Besides several calls in ports on the Mexican Pacific coast, the ship will also call in some less-visited ports in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Cartagena, Colombia. From Miami, the vessel will sail back to Los Angeles on a cruise that includes roughly the same ports of call, although this voyage will be 16-days long.
Carnival Radiance Completes Transformation
It has been a long wait to see the newly transformed Carnival cruise ship Carnival Radiance as she finally arrived on the morning of October 28 at the cruise capital of the world, PortMiami. The vessel has just completed a transatlantic crossing and some time off the coast in Freeport, Bahamas, for crew transfers between nearby Carnival vessels.
While the ship is docked in Miami, it will take on stores and possibly even more crew member transfers. Carnival Radiance won’t stay there long, as the seven-week journey, which first started from Cadiz Spain on October 18, will continue.
Carnival Radiance will transit the Panama Canal soon and eventually arrive at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal in California. The ship will begin operating year-round three- and four-day Mexican Riviera cruises on December 13, 2021.
The three-day itinerary will include a call to Ensenada in Mexico, and the four-day option will also visit Ensenada along with Catalina Island. The vessel joins Carnival Panorama and Carnival Miracle, and both have already restarted operations from the port.
Carnival Radiance was previously named Carnival Victory as the ship name was changed due to a massive $200 million makeover at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain.
In addition to all the FUN 2.0 enhancements, Carnival Radiance is also the second in the fleet to have the Big Chicken dining venue, created by Carnival’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. There’s also the new Cucina del Capitano, the multi-purpose Liquid Lounge, and one of the most expensive Cloud 9 Spas at sea.
More Cruise Headlines
So those are just a handful of the cruise stories from the week, we’ve got even more, including another Carnival ship receiving its new livery, a business update from Royal Caribbean Group, Caribbean cruises for MSC Seaview from December 2021, significant construction milestones for two Carnival-owned LNG ships and Royal Caribbean extends three programs to keep cruising flexible.