Cruise News Update: Passenger Limits, Brand to Shut, Delay

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It’s been another busy week for cruise news and Cruise Hive has all the stories you need to know about.  We’ve got coverage this week on Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises Australia, Villa Vie Residences, efforts in Juneau and Bar Harbor to cap cruise visitors, and a post-cruise viral outbreak.

Cruise News Update

It’s time for Cruise Hive’s weekly round-up of the big cruise news development of the week.

Stories this week cover Carnival Cruise Line’s plan to absorb two P&O Cruises Australia ships into its fleet; Villa Vie Residences’ delayed launch of Villa Vie Odyssey’s first world cruise; an Alaska town’s limit on daily cruise guest arrivals; what to do with your dirty buffet plate on Carnival Cruise Line ships; Bar Harbor businesses seeking to stop the town’s cap on cruise visitors; and the United Airlines flight that was impacted by cruise guests who suffered a viral outbreak onboard the plane.

Carnival Cruise Line to Absorb P&O Cruises Australia

Carnival Corporation, the industry powerhouse that operates nine major cruise lines, announced it will retire its P&O Cruises Australia brand and transfer two of the brand’s three ships — Pacific Adventure and Pacific Encounter, to Carnival Cruise Line within the next year. 

Plans for the third ship, the 2,000-guest Pacific Explorer, have not been revealed but it appears the 27-year-old vessel is likely to be scrapped or sold.

Carnival and P&O Australia Cruise Ships
Carnival and P&O Australia Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Ryan Fletcher)

The decision to move the ships to the Carnival Cruise Line brand is based on strong demand for the Fun Ship product. Carnival Corporation in recent years has transferred three ships from its Costa Cruises brand to Carnival Cruise Line: Costa Luminosa, Costa Venezia, and Costa Firenze, in 2022, 2023, and 2024, respectively.

Following the P&O Cruises Australia ship transfers, Carnival Cruise Line will operate 29 ships. The line also has two Excel-class ships on order and expected to enter service in 2027 and 2028.

The 2,600-guest Pacific Adventure and 3,000-guest Pacific Encounter are based in the South Pacific and Carnival Cruise Line will continue to operate both ships in the region. Carnival Corporation has a strong hold on the South Pacific region, with its various brands sailing 18 ships in the area and controlling about 60% of the market.

World Cruise Ship Again Delayed in Dry Dock

Villa Vie Residences has again delayed the launch of Villa Vie Odyssey, its 929-guest world cruise ship that is undergoing a renovation at a Belfast shipyard. It is the second delay announced within a week.

The ship is currently scheduled to leave the Harland & Wolff shipyard on June 15, 2024. She was originally slated to exit dry dock on May 21, 2024, and depart on her maiden voyage on May 30, 2024. The delay is tied to the ship’s rudder stocks, a key component in adjusting the rudder for navigation purposes.

Villa Vie Odyssey During Dry Dock
Villa Vie Odyssey During Dry Dock (Photo Courtesy: Villa Vie Residences)

The earlier delay was due to the steelwork in one of the ship’s gray water tanks, impacting how the vessel processes wastewater. That was a minor repair slated to take only a few days to correct. Before the rudder issue developed, the ship was set to leave dry dock on June 3, 2024.

The Villa Vie Residences brand, whose business model is based on operating continuous world voyages, each with a duration of 3.5 years, bought the ship in March 2024. The vessel, built in 1993, was formerly named MS Braemar and was last owned by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. Before that it was operated by Cunard, as Cunard Crown Dynasty.

Villa Vie Residences is working to accommodate guests who had already made travel plans to join the ship in Belfast.

Major Alaska Port Caps Daily Cruise Ship Arrivals

Juneau, Alaska, the capital city of the Last Frontier State and a major cruise port, has set a daily limit of 16,000 cruise ship passengers allowed to disembark in the destination Sundays to Fridays, and a 12,000 cap on Saturdays, effective immediately.

Seeking to ease the cruise industry’s environmental impact on Juneau, the city implemented the caps via a Memorandum of Agreement it signed with Cruise Lines International Association, the trade group that represents the various cruise brands operating in the region on a seasonal basis.

Cruise Ships Visiting Juneau, Alaska
Cruise Ships Visiting Juneau, Alaska (Photo Credit: Steve Heap)

Juneau, located in Southeast Alaska just east of the region’s top cruising grounds in Glacier Bay National Park, moved to implement the cruise guest limit after 1.6 million arrivals visited the destination in 2023, a 23% spike versus the pre-pandemic record in 2019.

The 2024 cruise season in Juneau is poised to break records, with 660 port calls scheduled through September. Passenger numbers were projected to reach 1.7 million in 2024.

The agreement includes several initiatives besides the disembarkation caps, such as requiring cruise lines to support local businesses; contribute passenger fees to fund an expansion of the city’s Centennial Hall; and minimize the offloading of trash from the ships into city landfills, among other tasks.

The season officially opened on May 24, 2024, with the arrival of Princess Cruises’ 2,600-passenger Grand Princess on a 14-night voyage.

The Big Buffet Question: What Do Cruisers Do With Dirty Plates?

One of the top destinations onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Fun Ships undoubtedly is the Lido Marketplace, the all-you-can-eat buffet where guests can choose what they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are salad bars, carving stations, entrees of all sorts, and scores of desserts, among other items, but the burning question is: What should I do with my plate when I’m done?

Carnival Cruise Line Lido Buffet
Carnival Cruise Line Lido Buffet (Photos: Cruise Hive & Darryl Brooks)

The question was recently put to Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald by a guest who wanted to know what the proper etiquette is in the buffet area. Should plates be left on the table for wait staff to clear? And what about at the pool area?

Heald replied that most guests leave used dishes on their tables, or stash them under a poolside lounge chair. The cruise line, he said, makes no specific request of guests.

He put the question out for comment, and it prompted lots of feedback. One guest replied that he leaves plates on the tables, “But we try to organize our dishes so they are easier to pick up.” Another said his group “pushes the plates to the side so that the staff knows we are done with them.”

In the pool areas, guests indicated that they typically take their plates to a dirty dish station when they are done eating, and some said they carry their used plates to a dish station at one of the poolside restaurants.

Businesses Continue to Fight Bar Harbor Cruise Cap

Court cases continued to unfold in Bar Harbor, Maine, where a new local ordinance caps at 1,000 per day the number of cruise ship guests allowed to disembark from their ships during port calls to the popular destination.

The ordinance was passed after a majority of local residents voted in favor of the limit in November 2022. Local businesses challenged the law but a judge on March 1, 2024 ruled in favor of the town.

Local Businesses In Bar Harbor, Maine
Local Businesses In Bar Harbor, Maine (Photo Credit: Miro Vrlik Photography)

Business owners then appealed that decision to the First Circuit Court and sought an injunction to prevent the town from implementing the cap while the appeal was underway. On May 24, 2024, the court denied the motion, however, the business group is now seeking a similar injunction in District Court.

Meanwhile, the Bar Harbor Town Council is set to hold a public hearing on the ordinance on June 18, 2024, and that meeting is likely to determine whether the town will move forward with the daily passenger cap.

Cruise lines scheduled to call at Bar Harbor during summer and fall are in a wait-and-see mode. Some lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, have pulled Bar Harbor from their itineraries and are instead calling at Portland, Maine.

Cruise Guests Hit With Virus Outbreak on Flight Home

More than two dozen passengers aboard a United Airlines plane experienced a norovirus outbreak that caused nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea during a May 31, 2024, flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Houston.

Between 25 and 30 people were affected, and all of them had boarded the plane in Vancouver following a cruise vacation to Alaska. Upon arrival at Houston, the Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft was met by local emergency responders, who evaluated the ill passengers. The plane was immediately removed from service to undergo a deep cleaning, which caused its next three flights to be cancelled.

Celebrity Summit Deck
Celebrity Summit Deck (Photo Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski)

News reports did not identify which cruise ship the sick passengers had disembarked from, however, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas was the only vessel that docked in Vancouver on May 31. The ship is operating seasonal Alaska cruises between Seward and Vancouver.

There were 163 passengers and six United Airlines crew members on the impacted flight, and 75 passengers had been on the cruise ship before boarding the plane.

The highly contagious norovirus is one of the most common viruses responsible for gastrointestinal symptoms. It spreads easily through contaminated surfaces and water, and poor hygiene. Frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, and avoiding contact with surfaces can help to avoid contracting the bug.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just some of the big stories that unfolded. Read even more exciting cruise news stories that Cruise Hive covered this week. Check out our coverage about river flooding causing river cruise cancellations in Europe; strong winds in Seattle forcing cruise ships to use tugboats to bring them into port; Cunard christening its new ship Queen Anne; Holland America Line launching a big summer fare sale; and Carnival Cruise Line nixing a popular casino perk for loyalty club members.

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