Guests booked on the upcoming Panama Canal transit of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy have been notified of several port of call changes for the 15-night repositioning cruise setting sail February 24, 2023. Some ports are dropped, other added, and some port times changed on the rearranged itinerary.
Norwegian Joy Cruise Itinerary Change
The February 24, 2023 Los Angeles to Miami sailing of Norwegian Joy has been dramatically altered from its previously published schedule. In an email to travel partners, Norwegian Cruise Line announced the change.
“We are committed to delivering exceptional vacation experiences around the world,” the email read. “As such, it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries. However, at times, unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications.”
Multiple modifications have been made to the Breakaway-class Norwegian Joy‘s itinerary.
Ports of call in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; and Puntarenas, Costa Rica have been completely removed from the schedule. Norwegian Joy was scheduled to visit Puerto Vallarta on Monday, February 27; San Juan del Sur on Friday, March 3; and Puntarenas on Saturday, March 4.
In addition to dropping port visits, the ship’s planned call in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala has been altered. The ship was previously expected to be in port from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, but the time in port has been extended three hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
No changes to other scheduled ports on the itinerary have been announced. Other ports of call for the sailing include Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Cartagena, Colombia; and George Town, Grand Cayman, before the ship arrives in Miami on Saturday, March 11.
New Port Stops Added
To make up for the missing ports, Acapulco, Mexico has been added to the ship’s itinerary on Tuesday, February 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., which was previously a day at sea. Now, that day at sea will be the day the ship was originally scheduled for Puerto Vallarta.
Similarly, an overnight visit to Panama City, Panama has been added to the itinerary from 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 4 through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 5.
Both ports of call can be amazing destinations, giving guests new opportunities to explore unique cultures and colorful port communities.
Because the full transit of the Panama Canal is a highlight of the cruise itinerary, the option to explore Panama City, on the southern (Pacific) side of the canal for more than a full day will be a special treat. This lengthy visit gives travelers a unique way to immerse themselves in the distinctive traits of the canal region.
Why So Many Changes?
Norwegian Cruise Line has not offered any clarification about why Norwegian Joy‘s itinerary has been so dramatically changed, other than citing “unforeseen circumstances.”
Guests booked on similar Panama Canal transits or Central American visits for Norwegian Joy and other Norwegian Cruise Line ships are reporting similar changes, but no overall explanation.
It is possible that rising crime in the region could be a factor for the port alterations.
On October 4, 2022, the U.S. Department of State Department issued a travel warning for Costa Rica, advising “increased caution” when traveling to the country due to increased crime. Similarly, the government of Canada likewise issued a travel advisory on October 6 urging “a high degree of caution” if traveling to the region due to crime.
On October 5, 2022, the U.S. Department of State issued a similar warning for Nicaragua, advising that tourists “reconsider travel” to the country due to “limited healthcare availability and arbitrary enforcement of laws.” The government of Canada also encourages “a high degree of caution” if visiting Nicaragua at this time.
Tourists are often targeted for petty crime such as muggings, pickpocketing, or theft, but more violent crimes including assault and kidnapping are also possible. While such instances are rare, cruise lines prefer to use a cautious approach to ensure their guests and crew members are protected.
Cruise lines may also make itinerary changes based on overall schedules to keep from overcrowding port communities, or damage or maintenance to port facilities and docks may keep ships from visiting as planned.
No matter where a cruise ship is scheduled to visit or when it may be in port, cruise lines hope their guests have a great time, with plenty of tour options to explore and to feel safe while they do so.