Cruise News Update: September 24, 2022

A cruise news update as Carnival makes itinerary changes, Norwegian hikes the price of drink packages, and Royal Caribbean teases a new ship.

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We’ve got you covered with all the major cruise news from the past week as some important updates due to dock damage, Norwegian hikes the price for packages, and developments on one of the most anticipated new Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Cruise News Update

Get set for your cruise news update with all the major stories from the past week that have been covered on Cruise Hive. We’ll start with some itinerary changes for the Carnival Vista due to issues with the ship.

We’ve got details on Norwegian Cruise Line hiking the price of drink packages, internet limitations for two Carnival ships, the damaged pier in Grand Turk due to Hurricane Fiona, and the latest on Icon of the Seas, which is the next new Royal Caribbean cruise ship, that’s currently under construction.

Six Sailings Changed for Carnival Vista

Due to cruising speed reductions necessary for onboard maintenance, Carnival Vista‘s itinerary will be changed for six upcoming sailings. The ship’s 2022 departures on October 15, October 29, and November 12, are affected, as well as 2023 departures on January 21, February 4, and February 18.

Each of the impacted 2022 itineraries is a 7-night roundtrip Western Caribbean cruise from Galveston. The original schedules featured two days at sea, followed by visits to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. The schedule was to conclude with another day at sea before arriving back in Galveston.

Carnival Vista Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: SeregaSibTravel / Shutterstock

The 2023 departures are similar, with the ship following the same route but visiting Falmouth, Jamaica, instead of Montego Bay. Now, all six itineraries have been changed, and will no longer call on either Grand Cayman or Jamaica.

Instead, the ship will stay much further west, substituting Belize and Roatan (Honduras) as alternative ports of call. The ship’s stay in Cozumel will also be lengthened.

Other than “maintenance” that impacts the 133,500-gross-ton ship’s maximum cruising speed, no details have been provided on the nature of the work that needs to be done to Carnival Vista.

As the speed is affected, it is likely the maintenance is related to the ship’s engines or directly connected engineering or navigational systems.

Hotel operations, food and beverage service, and entertainment options are unlikely to be affected, and the guest experience onboard will remain the same.

Norwegian Drink Packages Prince Hike

With pricing going up $10 for both the Premium Plus Beverage Package and the Unlimited Open Bar Beverage Package, Norwegian Cruise Line has become the most expensive cruise line for beverage packages in the industry.

The Premium Plus Beverage Package, which currently costs $128 per person per day, will increase to $138 per person per day, excluding gratuities. There is no limit to what guests can order, including wine, champagne, and premium beverages.

Norwegian Cruise Line Deck
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

Including the 20% gratuity that the cruise line adds to the package, the price guests will pay per day will be just over $165 for a couple, which comes to $330. 

The second-tier beverage package, the Unlimited Open Bar Beverage Package, currently costs $99 per person. From January 1, 2023, the price will go up to $109 per person per day. The package includes all beverages up to $15 per serving. Since 2017, this package’s price has increased by 30 dollars.

One could, of course, argue that raising the prices is due to these discounts, and they probably are. However, with prices rising globally, Norwegian Cruise Line’s bottom line will also be hurting, and raising prices will always be the direction cruise lines are going in.

Carnival Internet Limitations

Internet issues persist for Carnival Cruise Line ships sailing along the North-Eastern Seaboard of the United States. In the past week, the cruise line issued a new letter to guests booked onboard two Carnival cruise ships sailing from New York and Baltimore, saying internet connections would be limited

This is the second time in a month that Carnival has informed guests of internet access issues onboard. The problem seems to only seriously affect ships sailing in this area. It is particularly painful as Carnival recently announced it would be increasing prices for internet connections onboard its vessels.

Carnival Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: Nataliia Martseniuk / Shutterstock

Guests sailing onboard Carnival Magic’s, September 17 departure from New York City, and guests sailing onboard Carnival Legend from Baltimore, Maryland, on the current sailing and the departure on September 25, have been informed that their cruises will have limited internet access during the voyage.

The email, sent to guests booked on any of the three voyages, said the following: “Due to challenges with some of the ship’s satellites, there will be limited Wi-Fi access during your cruise.”

Carnival Cruise Line issuing statements that the Wifi will not be strong enough to offer the premium package onboard comes at a painful moment for the cruise line due to increased internet prices being implemented.

The premium plan is the highest-rated Wifi package onboard Carnival’s ships and is supposed to enable guests to make video calls and perform other high-bandwidth activities on their devices.

Grand Turk Dock Damaged After Hurricane

Aerial video of Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos obtained with the assistance of a United States Coast Guard airlift clearly shows significant damage to the cruise ship dock, with extensions completely missing from the concrete pier. Those extensions permit larger ships to safely berth at the dock.

An additional video shows the missing sections washed up on an adjacent beach at some distance from the dock. The retaining walls at the base of the pier where it reaches the beach have also been damaged.

While it appears that the majority of the pier’s structure is intact, an engineering assessment and safety inspection will likely be necessary to ensure the structure’s integrity before it can be used.

Grand Turk Pier Damage
Footage: DDME

Furthermore, the length of the pier impacts what size of cruise ships can safely tie up. If replacing the extensions is a challenging process, larger cruise ships such as Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras are unable to visit.

Carnival has confirmed itinerary changes for the Mardi Gras, Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Freedom, which were all scheduled to dock in the coming days. The vessels have now dropped Grand Turk while repairs are made to the pier.

Hurricane Fiona crossed Grand Turk on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour). Large-scale power outages and cell service disruptions occurred on the island, but no injuries or deaths due to the hurricane have been reported.

Icon of the Seas Construction Update

The second episode in the behind-the-scenes “Making an Icon” is appropriately entitled “Shaping an Icon,” and through the slightly more than seven minutes of video footage, viewers do indeed see Icon of the Seas beginning to come into shape at the Meyer Turku shipyard in southwestern Finland.

From the first steel-cutting for the ship to the keel-laying and coin ceremony in April 2022, the highly anticipated new vessel for Royal Caribbean International is coming together. In fact, the ship is now more than 50% complete, just over a year into its construction from the initial steel cutting on June 14, 2021.

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

Even as the ship’s construction continues, many of the final design details are still being confirmed. Colors, themes, and other interior details are still being decided through Royal Caribbean’s Innovation Lab with the use of 3-D modeling, life-size mockups, artistic renditions, and more.

“By December, Icon will be about 80 percent done from a construction perspective,” said Jennifer Goswami, director of product development for Royal Caribbean. “We are really working heavily with our operational partners now and refining all the details.”

Those details, hinted at throughout the video, include the mysterious sphere, the purpose of which has not yet been revealed, as well as new water features, lighting, and structures visible but as yet unexplained.

While there is no date announced for when the next video in the “Making an Icon” series may debut, the first episode was released in mid-August, so it is likely the third episode will be unveiled in October.

More Cruise Headlines

Those were just a handful of the cruise headlines from the past week, we’ve got even more full coverage on how the Tropical Storms and Hurricanes are impacting cruises. There’s also news on Carnival Luminosa being registered with the Bahamas, cruise parking fees increasing at Port of Tampa Bay in Florida, Royal Caribbean expanding with entertainment opportunities, new plans released for a new cruise port development in France, Norwegian making a change to its loyalty program and so much more.

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