Cruise News Update: September 3, 2022

Your busy cruise news update as Carnival gets strict with guests, Royal Caribbean changes, and Norwegian Cruise Line makes a switch.

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If you’ve been busy for the past week, then you’ve come to the right place with another busy cruise news update. We’ve got coverage across the major cruise lines, as Carnival gets strict, Norwegian makes a huge switch, and plenty of changes from Royal Caribbean.

Cruise News Update

In this week’s roundup, we’ve got a mixture of news across the major cruise lines, but one of the most significant stories is about Carnival Cruise Line starting to get strict with guests, which we will go into shortly.

There’s also coverage on a new thrilling ride for the new MSC cruise ship, plenty of changes from Royal Caribbean, including the huge development with Starlink. Norwegian Cruise Line makes a major switch, and Virgin Voyages prepares for a new loyalty program.

MSC Reveals New Robotic Ride

MSC Cruises has revealed the first-ever robotic arm ride at sea for its new cruise ship, the MSC Seascape.

The amusement ride named ROBOTRON, which has three seats suspended from a robotic arm, will propel guests in all directions and flip them upside down while flying at 175 feet above sea level hanging over the edge of the deck.

Riders can select their own thrill level and speed, from family-friendly fun to the ultimate high-intensity thrills. Guests can also set the mood with their choice of music, lights, and much more.

Behind them will be a giant video screen where the rhythm and bass are visualized while the robotic arm bounces and twists with the music.

MSC Seascape, Robotron
Image Courtesy: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises announced even more thrill rides besides ROBOTRON, focusing on virtual reality, 3D, and simulation-type games. The flight simulator will be a 360-degree virtual reality ride, where guests can choose from various worlds.

The VR Motorcycles will be a VR experience where guests can ride a motorbike, complete with special effects such as wind and water splashes. There’s also the MSC Formula Racer and an Immersive XD 3D Cinema.

The 169,000 gross ton MSC Seascape will be setting sail on November 19 from Italy. Her first cruise will be a 17-night Grand Voyage, which ends in New York City for her inauguration. The ship will eventually be operating year-round Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from PortMiami from December 7, 2022.

Carnival Cruise Line Gets Strict

In a surprising change to its Minor Guest Policy that applies to passengers under 21 years of age, Carnival Cruise Line has instituted an onboard youth curfew fleetwide. The curfew will only apply to guests 17 years of age and younger, and goes into effect immediately.

This means that “Guests 17 years of age and under who are not accompanied by an adult in their traveling party, 21 years of age or older, must be clear of all public areas by 1:00am each evening unless involved in a Club 02 or Circle C teen activity.”

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald clarified the consequences of violating this new policy, Heald said, “Any guest in violation of the curfew or whose behavior contradicts our rules could be disembarked in the next port at their own expense and not be allowed to have a cruise with us again.”

Carnival Cruise Line Ship
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive

This change comes just days after Carnival Cruise Line updated its “Know Before You Go” information that is sent to guests before their cruise. In the documentation, the cruise line reminds guests to respect others onboard, noise in the hallways is kept to a minimum, guests follow queues, and that a spirit of community and neighborliness is shown by all.

Carnival is putting its foot down indeed, and it comes after some highly reported altercations on ships in recent weeks. In June and July, separate incidents occurred aboard Carnival Magic from New York and Carnival Elation from Jacksonville, Florida. Such incidents, however, are not confined to Carnival Cruise Line. Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas had a similar incident in early July.

Royal Caribbean Group is the first cruise company worldwide that will fully implement the SpaceX Starlink Maritime high-speed internet onboard cruise ships.

Starting immediately, the company will start installation onboard cruise ships sailing for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea. 

Royal Caribbean has been extensively testing the system onboard Freedom of the Seas over the last weeks, insights the company is taking onboard for the rest of the fleet.

Royal Caribbean Starlink
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has already provided an update on when it plans to implement the new systems on its ships. Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, will receive the new system on September 5.

All of the Celebrity Edge Series ships will have been updated by the end of this year. The installation will then continue into 2023 and be complete by May.

According to Royal Caribbean, the feedback from guests has been extremely positive, and by the end of the first quarter of 2023, the cruise line hopes to have the rollout complete for the entire fleet.

Not only does the speed far exceed the current norm, but SpaceX reports speeds up to 350 Mbps. The low-orbit satellite connection also means extremely low latency, which in effect means that faster connections actually work as they would at home.

New Virgin Voyages Perks Program

In 2023, Virgin Voyages will launch its official loyalty program. Ahead of the launch, the Richard Branson-owned cruise line has released details on several perks available to guests this year. These perks, and previous onboard purchases, will help guests propel themselves to elite status in 2023.

Virgin Voyages will offer two different perks in the coming months, aimed at helping guests achieve a higher status once the official loyalty program launches next year.

The first one, ‘Deep Blue Extras,’ will give guests that book a massive amount of extras once they set foot onboard, elevating them to VIPs.

Virgin Voyages Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

The second perk is the Red Hot Booking Bonus Months. Running between August 30 and November 15, 2022, any booking made in this period will qualify guests for special onboard spending perks and chances to win extraordinary experiences across the Virgin family.

As a thank you to trailblazing guests who were the first to sail onboard Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, the cruise line is also introducing Tokens. These Tokens track all qualifying spending onboard to ensure Sailors are positioned for benefits in 2023.

Those who sailed in 2021 with Virgin are called Sea-Blazers. Amongst other perks, they will receive a $125 Bar Tab Bonus for life. Anyone who has sailed with Virgin Voyages twice in 2022 is a Sea-Rover. They will earn a $100 Bar Tab Bonus for two years.

Norwegian Cruise Line Switches to Coca-Cola

Following earlier reports and sightings of drink offerings onboard various ships, Norwegian Cruise Line has officially announced the switch from PepsiCo soft drinks to Coca-Cola products.

This change is in conjunction with the inaugural sailing of the cruise line’s newest vessel, Norwegian Prima, which is already serving Coca-Cola beverages.

The new Norwegian Prima is the first vessel in Norwegian’s 18-ship fleet to carry Coca-Cola as its official soft drink. The remaining NCL ships will all be fully switched over to Coca-Cola products by December 2022.

Norwegian Cruise Line Cola
Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line

Guests onboard different vessels have already reported the expanding availability of Coca-Cola drinks, including on Norwegian BreakawayNorwegian Epic, and Norwegian Joy.

Additional ships will begin offering Coca-Cola beverages as bars and lounges can be adequately supplied, but there has been no calendar announced of which ships will have which drinks when.

It can be a challenge to make the switch even on a single ship since each vessel has many different bars, lounges, and restaurants that all need to be equipped with adequate supplies and new branding to promote the new partnership.

Royal Caribbean Updates Transatlantic Protocols

As protocols for different cruise itineraries, embarkation ports, and destinations have been shifting rapidly in the past few weeks, guests booked on the upcoming transatlantic crossings from Europe to North America will be relieved to finally have updated guidance for their cruise travel.

According to the updated protocols, all guests ages 5 and older are required to be fully vaccinated prior to embarkation. The final dose of the primary vaccine series must be administered at least 14 days before sailing.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: zkolra / Shutterstock

All guests for these sailings must submit a negative result from a pre-cruise test. Guests who are fully vaccinated and up-to-date on their vaccination, including the booster shot when their primary vaccine series was completed more than 9 months before sailing, may take a supervised PCR or antigen test up to three days before boarding.

Unvaccinated guests do not need to take two tests, but must be sure their tests are administered within the appropriate time frame prior to embarkation to be valid.

No unsupervised self-test will be accepted for any pre-cruise testing, regardless of vaccination status or the timing of the test.

More Cruise Headlines!

It was just another busy week across the ever-changing cruise industry, we’ve got all the coverage, including crew members getting a new lounge at a cruise port, exclusive dining options coming to the new P&O cruise ship, an itinerary change for a Royal Caribbean vessel, worker strikes impacting cruise operations in Vancouver, the Artemis 1 launch causing delays at Port Canaveral, a former Celebrity cruise ship arrives for scrapping and so much more.

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