Norwegian Cruise Ship Deployment Set for Port Canaveral

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It seems that Florida’s Port Canaveral is just too good to pass up. The popular port on the Sunshine State’s Space Coast stands ready to welcome Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic to its roster of home-ported ships for the winter 2023-24 season after the cruise line recently cancelled the vessel’s winter European season.

Ship to Sail Eastern, Western Caribbean Series

Norwegian Cruise Line will deploy Norwegian Epic to Port Canaveral for the upcoming winter season, offering Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, according to a May 30, 2023 report in Seatrade Cruise News. A series of weeklong cruises will be operated, although port calls have not yet been announced.

Cruise watchers will recall that last week, Norwegian cancelled the 4,100-guest Norwegian Epic’s entire Europe season, which was to begin in December 2023 and continue to mid-April 2024.

With tens of thousands of refunds to process, the cruise line told disappointed guests only that the change was the result of a fleet redeployment.

The cruise line has instead decided to move the ship to Port Canaveral due to growing demand for Caribbean cruises this winter. Norwegian Epic was to have sailed a series of Mediterranean cruises departing from Rome and Trieste, Italy; Haifa, Israel; and Lisbon, Portugal.

Norwegian Epic Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel / Shutterstock

It was the second time recently that Norwegian Cruise Line canceled a substantial series of cruises. Earlier in May, it nixed Norwegian Spirit’s entire 2024 Alaska season. In that case, however, the line disclosed it opted to allow a full ship charter, which means the ship will still be sailing those itineraries, just not for public bookings.

Norwegian Epic was already scheduled to homeport in Port Canaveral for winter 2024-25, and those plans are unchanged. It seems likely that the same port calls the ship is slated to make during that later season also will be visited this winter, 2023-24.

The ship will sail on two different itineraries in 2024. One itinerary calls at Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The second features port calls at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay.

Another of the cruise line’s ships, Norwegian Escape, accommodating 4,266 guests, is scheduled to sail from Port Canaveral from December 2023 to February 2024. That ship’s 7-day itineraries visit the same ports noted above, unless it, too, is redeployed elsewhere, though there has been no hint of such plans at this time.

Port Canaveral’s Popularity Continues to Grow

Port Canaveral continues to grow in popularity as more cruise lines move to homeport ships at the central Florida port. On May 9, Princess Cruises announced its first-ever deployment to the homeport with Caribbean Princess to be based at Port Canaveral from November 2024 through April 2025, offering a range of Caribbean voyages.

Port Canaveral recently became the world’s busiest cruise port based on passenger volume, surpassing PortMiami, which had held the top spot for years. In total, 4,072,396 multi-day cruise guests moved through Port Canaveral in 2022, edging out PortMiami’s 4,022,544 multi-day guests.

Port Canaveral, US Homeport
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

The port is within an hour’s drive of Orlando, with its multitude of theme parks and other entertainment spaces, and its international airport, making for excellent pre- and post-cruise add-ons.

The port’s plans for the future include building a new cruise terminal, which is expected to cost $175 million. Port officials are looking at construction sites on the south side of the port, but have yet to reveal any major details or a construction timeline.

It also is unknown which cruise ships might be based at the new facility. A new terminal would enable the port to accommodate thousands more weekly passengers, and officials say the port will eventually be able to handle 6.4 million cruise passengers per year. During the 2022-23 fiscal year, the port is expecting to accommodate 5.8 million cruise guests.

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