Norwegian Cruise Line has made another itinerary change for Norwegian Getaway as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability. While this change is a simple one, removing just one hour from a port of call, it may signal a disturbing trend that could have stronger ramifications for cruise travelers.
Port of Call Shortened for Norwegian Getaway
Norwegian Getaway‘s January 20, 2023 sailing is a 12-night roundtrip Caribbean itinerary from New York City, but guests will now have one hour less to enjoy their first port of call. The ship is scheduled to visit San Juan, Puerto Rico on Monday, January 23, originally docked from 4-10:30 p.m.
The cruise line has reached out to booked guests to notify them that the Breakaway-class ship will now leave San Juan one hour earlier, at 9:30 p.m.
“As part of our global sustainability program, Sail & Sustain, we are continually seeking opportunities to reduce our overall carbon footprint, and recently committed to pursuing net zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations and value chain by 2050,” the email read. “To support this mission, we have optimized our arrival and departure times.”
By leaving port one hour earlier, the ship can maintain a slightly lower speed en route to its next port of call, St. Kitts. Lower speeds are more fuel efficient and result in lower emissions.
It should be noted that no other arrival or departure times during the cruise, which will visit six other Caribbean ports in addition to San Juan, have been adjusted at this time.
This change follows another recent change for the January 8, 2023 Norwegian Getaway sailing. For that earlier cruise, which uses the exact same language in the notification email, multiple changes were made, including shortening one port of call, extending another, and canceling a visit to Puerto Plata altogether. Both the January 8 and January 20 sailings were identical when originally listed.
Is Sustainability Really the Issue?
It is true that many cruise lines have made great strides toward sustainability and protecting the marine environment and habitats of ports they visit. Some of these initiatives have been implemented by governments in ports of call, while others have been part of a general trend toward greater sustainability worldwide.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sail & Sustain program includes such measures as improved wastewater treatment, purifying ballast water to avoid introducing unwanted organisms into new ecosystems, improved recycling operations, and connecting to shoreside power where available to reduce in-port emissions.
Even small steps onboard can help with sustainability, such as eliminating single-use plastics, reducing laundry by encouraging towel reuse, and crafting innovative menus to reduce food waste, such as the new zero-waste cocktails at the Metropolitan Bar aboard Norwegian Prima.
But does trimming one hour off a port of call, in the interest of fuel efficiency, make that tremendous of a difference?
Yes, a slower speed can reduce cruise ship emissions. But… Why trim this specific port of call? Guests were scheduled for only 6.5 hours in San Juan (now 5.5 hours), yet the other ports of call on the itinerary are longer: 7 hours in St. Kitts, 9 hours in St. Lucia, 9 hours in Barbados, 9 hours in Antigua, 8 hours in St. Thomas, and 7 hours in Puerto Plata.
Some speculation hints that shortening a port of call will not only reduce emissions, but may also improve onboard revenue as guests can use that extra hour in the casino, retail shops, specialty restaurants, and at bars and lounges – all of which can help improve the cruise line’s bottom line.
It is also possible that the choice of which port to shorten may be based on other factors, such as what other ships are in port and how crowded the destination is on the planned day, adjustments that might be made to port fees for the cruise line if a ship is docked for a shorter time, or even just how overall popular or accessible a port may be.
With two consecutive Norwegian Getaway sailings being adjusted in dramatically different ways for the same reason, cruise travelers are likely to see more tweaks and adjustments to itineraries in the future as Norwegian Cruise Line – and likely other lines that will follow suit – continues to refine operations.