Cruise News Update: Passengers, New Ships, Propulsion

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Here’s your chance to get up to speed on all of the big cruise news developments we covered on Cruise Hive this week. Our recap includes coverage from Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean.

Cruise News Update

Let’s dive into this week’s comprehensive news round-up from Cruise Hive, where you’ll find all of the major developments in the world of cruising.

This week, we have stories about the christening of Carnival Firenze; two cruise guests missing in the British Virgin Islands; a Royal Caribbean ship experiencing a propulsion problem; Norwegian Aqua marking a construction milestone; a cruise guest attempting to bring a portable washing machine onto her ship; and Carnival Paradise rescuing 27 Cuban migrants.

Carnival Firenze Christened at California Port

Carnival Cruise Line christened its newest ship, Carnival Firenze, at the Port of Long Beach, California, on April 24, 2024, making her the second Carnival Fun Italian Style vessel to join the fleet. The first was Carnival Venezia, which launched in May 2023. Both ships are transfers from sister line Costa Cruises.

Actor Jonathan Bennett served as Carnival Firenze’s godfather, headlining a set of live music and other entertainment performances. Ship Captain Enzo Palomba joined the christening ceremony as champagne was poured over the ship’s bell.

Carnival Firenze Naming Ceremony
Carnival Firenze Naming Ceremony

The 4,100-guest Carnival Firenze had undergone a major renovation at a Spanish shipyard before her launch, as a wide range of Carnival Fun Ship amenities were added to the vessel. The ship’s design was inspired by the Italian Renaissance city of Florence.

Carnival Firenze becomes the line’s 27th vessel. The ship is home-ported at Long Beach, along with Carnival Panorama and Carnival Radiance. Carnival Firenze is sailing 3- to 7-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera through January 2026, calling at ports such as Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlán.

Long Beach is considered the port for Los Angeles, with its nearly 4 million residents. The three Carnival ships together will sail 200-plus cruises from the port in 2025, with the capacity to welcome some 750,000 guests.

Search Continues for Missing Cruise Guests in British Virgin Islands

A mystery continues to baffle authorities in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, after two guests sailing aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky disappeared during the ship’s port call on April 19, 2024.

Two men, Pascal Bosman of the Netherlands and Martire Cabrera of the Dominican Republic, debarked the ship and then failed to return to the port by the all-aboard time. It is unknown whether the two guests know each other and disappeared together or coincidentally went missing at the same time.

Cruise Passengers in the British Virgin Islands
Cruise Passengers in the British Virgin Islands (Photo Credit: Nenad Basic / Shutterstock)

Anyone with information about either man is asked to contact the Department of Immigration or the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

The 2,000-guest Norwegian Sky was sailing a 10-day cruise roundtrip from La Romana, Dominican Republic, and Tortola was the final port call of the itinerary. The ship called at 6:30 a.m. and departed the port at 2:15 p.m.

Reports of missing cruise guests surface from time to time. In one recent case, which also happened in Tortola and involved Norwegian Sky, three guests, all from Colombia, did not return to the ship and were reported missing. Another recent case involved a guest suffering from dementia, who became separated from family members while in port during a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Searches are ongoing in these cases.

Slow Going: Cruise Ship Forced to Miss Two Ports

A propulsion problem aboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas forced the cruise line to cancel her two ports of call and head directly to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she was due to arrive on April 26, 2024.

The 2,500-guest ship was operating a repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver, where she will be based, while sailing a series of Alaska cruises in summer 2024. The ship left Los Angeles on April 22, 2024, and calls had been scheduled for Astoria, Oregon, on Wednesday, April 24, and Victoria, British Columbia, on Thursday, April 25.

Radiance of the Seas In Vancouver
Radiance of the Seas In Vancouver (Photo Credit: Macklin Holloway / Shutterstock)

Both were nixed, and the ship instead sailed directly for Vancouver, with arrival there set for April 25, 2024, a day ahead of the originally planned arrival. This is to allow time for the problem to be fixed in time for the ship to operate her first Alaska voyage, slated to depart on April 26, 2024.

The ship’s maximum speed is 25 knots (29 mph) but was sailing at about 16 knots (18 miles per hour). The cruise line indicated the problem would be fixed, but the ship needed to be docked for the work to proceed. In a further update for the following scheduled April 26 departure from Vancouver, Radiance of the Seas will remain in port until the new departure day of April 28, while repairs continue, with passengers onboard.

Pre-paid shore excursions booked through Royal Caribbean were being refunded, and all guests received a 50% refund of their cruise fare as an onboard credit.

Norwegian Aqua Reaches Construction Milestone

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Aqua, the line’s first Prima Plus-class ship being built at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, reached a milestone as she was floated out of her construction bay and touched water for the first time on April 23, 2024.

A traditional maritime ceremony to mark the float-out at the Marghera shipyard featured the welding of two ceremonial coins into the ship as an offering for the future good fortune of the vessel.

Norwegian Aqua Floats Out at Shipyard
Norwegian Aqua Floats Out at Shipyard

A local chaplain blessed the ship and officials smashed a bottle of champagne against Norwegian Aqua’s hull. The float out means that all of the exterior construction of the ship is completed, and work can begin on the interior design. Before delivery of the ship to Norwegian Cruise Line, a series of sea trials will test the vessel’s navigation, propulsion, safety, and other onboard systems.

The ship, scheduled to enter service in April 2025, will accommodate 3,570 guests and initially be homeported at Port Canaveral in Florida. She is slated to sail 7-day itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas before repositioning to New York for a series of cruises from August to October 2025. After that, she will be based in Miami until April 2026.

Norwegian Aqua is a sister ship to Norwegian Prima, which launched in  2022, and Norwegian Viva, which debuted in 2023, although she will be slightly larger, at 156,300-gross tons.

Washing Machine in Luggage Lands Guest in ‘Naughty Room’

A Carnival Cruise Line guest who tried to bring a prohibited item —a portable washing machine — onboard her cruise ship complained to the line that she was badly treated by ship security when the unusual item was discovered in her luggage.

The guest, identified only as “L,” wrote to Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald, saying that she and her mother, who was traveling with her, were brought to “the naughty room” when the washing machine was found as they boarded Carnival Valor for a March cruise from New Orleans.

Carnival Cruise Passenger Washing Machine
Carnival Cruise Passenger Washing Machine (Photo Credits: Geoff Sperring / The Hungarian Sailor)

Complaining that she and her mother were “treated like criminals,” the guest suggested that the cruise line “be more sympathetic to people” in the future. Heald responded that he regretted the distress the incident caused, but noted that the security team was following protocol and doing its job.

The portable washer hooks up to a faucet and plugs into an electrical outlet. However, cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, provide a list of prohibited items, such as certain electrical gadgets, that guests are not allowed to bring onboard for safety reasons. Washing machines are among them.

Like other ships, Carnival Valor has a self-service laundry room onboard, and ships without a laundry room typically offer laundry services for a fee.

Carnival Paradise Rescues 27 Cuban Refugees

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Paradise came to the aid of 27 Cuban refugees in a small boat as the ship sailed about 20 southeast of Cuba on April 21, 2024. The small, overcrowded wooden boat signaled for help, and ship’s crew swung into action.

It was the first full day of Carnival Paradise’s 5-night cruise from Tampa, Florida, and the 2,124-guest ship was spending a day at sea while on her way to Roatan, Honduras, for a port call on April 22, 2024.

Carnival Paradise Rescue
Carnival Paradise Rescue (Photo Credits: Carnival / Darryl Brooks)

All of the refugees were safely brought onboard and provided with food, water, and medical attention as needed. Ship officials contacted US Coast Guard Sector Key West and Roatan officials. As per policy, the refugees were handed over to authorities as soon as possible.

After calling at Roatan as scheduled the ship visited Cozumel, Mexico, and had another day at sea before concluding in Tampa on April 25.  There were no changes or delays to the ship’s itinerary or overall schedule as a result of the rescue.

In recent years Carnival Paradise has experienced several rescue incidents. In July 2022, the ship rescued 20 people from an overcrowded rowboat and a month later picked up 6 refugees from a raft. These rescues also were made off the coast of Cuba.

More Cruise Headlines

And that’s not all! At Cruise Hive, we have plenty more cruise articles you won’t want to miss, including the start of construction on Royal Caribbean’s new private destination in the Bahamas, the new Celebrity Ascent arriving in Barcelona for her maiden season in Europe,  Virgin Voyages bringing back its ‘Celebration’ cruises, and the christening of the new Sun Princess in Spain.

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