Weekly Cruise News Update: December 17, 2022

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Plenty of cruise news to catch up on from the past week, including coverage from Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. It has been a week full of cancellations, cutbacks and program changes, which Cruise Hive will update you on.

Cruise News Update

It’s time to ensure you’re caught up on the latest cruise news across the major cruise lines. This past week we’ve got coverage on cruise cancellations for three Carnival cruise ships, Royal Caribbean making adjustments for loyalty passengers, Holland America joining in on the latest trend of increasing gratuities, Carnival expanding on its offerings out of Virginia, and Norwegian Cruise Line making a difficult decision to cut 9% of its shoreside staff.

Carnival Cruise Line Cancellations

It has been a busy week of Carnival Cruise Line cancellations for a total of three ships, impacting cruises as far as 2024. We start with the Carnival Vista cruise ship, with the cruise line canceling all sailings from January 7, 2024, departure through the February 10, 2024, cruise.

In total, five sailings have been impacted, and guests and travel partners have been contacted via email about their options. During the time frame of the canceled cruises, Carnival Vista will instead be undergoing a dry dock. The details of the dry dock have not been revealed, but the process is likely to include a variety of upgrades and maintenance that is not practical to do while guests are onboard.

Carnival Cruise Line has also canceled a month of sailings for Carnival Sunrise, as well as several cruises canceled for Carnival Miracle.

Carnival Sunrise has now been scheduled for an extended dry dock in early 2024, and impacted guests and travel advisors are being contacted about the canceled sailings, which include all voyages from February 1 through and including March 4, 2024.

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald addressed the cancelations, including Carnival Vista‘s canceled cruises, on his Facebook page.

Carnival Sunrise Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock

“Dry dock planning is done in advance but sometimes we do have to change plans and so some of you have had your cruises canceled for 2024 on these two ships,” Heald said.

In addition to the cruise cancelations for Carnival Vista and Carnival Sunrise, the Spirit-class Carnival Miracle has also canceled cruises, but for a different reason. Carnival Cruise Line has rescheduled Carnival Miracle for a 14-night “Carnival Journeys” sailing to Hawaii, departing on Sunday, January 21, 2024.

This means the ship’s previously scheduled cruises must be canceled to accommodate the new sailing. The new Hawaii cruise will still depart from Carnival Miracle‘s homeport, Long Beach, California.

The canceled sailings are from January 21, 2024, through and including January 30, 2024, after which the ship will resume its previously planned Baja Mexico and Mexican Riviera itineraries, with another Carnival Journeys cruise to Hawaii departing on February 17, 2024.

Guests impacted by the cancelations for any of the three vessels have several options for compensation. Though the now-canceled sailings are more than a year away, many travelers plan cruises well in advance and will now need to adjust their plans.

Holland America Line Increases Service Charges

Holland America Line, part of Carnival Corporation & plc, has announced a slight increase in gratuity rates to take effect on all sailings from February 1, 2023. The increase will be $.50 (USD) per guest per day in all stateroom categories.

The new rate will then be $17.50 per person per day for guests in suites, and $16.00 per person per day in non-suite stateroom categories such as balcony, oceanview, and interior staterooms.

Holland America Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock

Holland America Line describes these fees as “a daily amount for each guest that will be automatically added to your onboard account for your convenience, to recognize the efforts of a wide variety of crewmembers who contribute to the experiences of all our guests.”

Holland America Line has not clarified whether or not guests booked on sailings after February 1, 2023 can still pre-pay gratuities before that date to take advantage of the lower rate, which remains at $17 per person per day for suites and $15.50 per person per day for non-suites through January 31.

The announcement from Holland America Line follows a similar increase from Princess Cruises, which is raising gratuity rates by $1.50 per person, per day for all cabin and suite categories, effective on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

Royal Caribbean Loyalty Benefit Changes

The Miami-based cruise line has informed guests about some loyalty benefit changes over the past week, including vouchers and a specific onboard venue.

We start with letting you know that Royal Caribbean is removing Concierge Lounge access from Diamond Plus benefits. This change will be implemented for all voyages departing on or after December 16, 2022, for all ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Previously, specific lounge access has been variable depending on the overall guest count onboard individual ships and on individual sailings, depending on how many guests have met specific loyalty benefit levels.

Now lounge access will be fully standardized, and only Pinnacle level guests (700+ cruise points) as well as suite guests will be authorized to enjoy the space.

This change only applies to ships that do not have a Suite Lounge, which includes all Radiance-class ships, all Vision-class ships, the Voyager-class Explorer of the Seas, and the three oldest Quantum-class vessels, Quantum of the SeasAnthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock

Royal Caribbean guests who have reached the Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle level of the cruise line’s Crown and Anchor loyalty program have long enjoyed daily drink vouchers as a special perk for their loyalty.

A problem, however, is that the time to reset the voucher use window has always been midnight. This means that vouchers redeemed after midnight would count toward the following day’s total, though many guests consider a late night of karaoke, comedy, or hanging out past midnight to be technically part of the previous day.

Now, Royal Caribbean has shifted that time to 5:00 a.m., which permits guests to use each day’s drink vouchers anytime from 5 a.m. in the very early morning to 4:59 a.m. the following very late night.

“We want to make sure you’re getting the most out of this benefit!” Royal Caribbean explained in a letter to loyal guests. “Your daily complimentary vouchers will now reset at 5:00 AM every morning allowing you to get more out of this benefit during prime hours of each day, including your after-midnight drinks.”

This change takes effect for all sailings departing on or after Friday, December 16, 2022. It should be noted, however, that the overall number of drink vouchers each guest receives is not changing.

Carnival Sunshine Norfolk Cruises

Carnival Cruise Line announced on Thursday, December 15, 2022, that they will be expanding operations from Norfolk with Carnival Sunshine to be homeported from the Old Dominion state beginning in mid-February, 2025. While only two months of sailings in 2025 are currently planned, the cruise line continues to work on scheduling for the future.

“As we work closely with city and port officials on our plans to increase from seasonal to year-round operations, we’re delighted to open these sailings for sale, so guests from all over the southeastern U.S. can start doing some planning of their own for 2025,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Sunshine will offer a variety of 6-8 night sailings with two different itineraries of each length. Depending on departure date, the 6-night cruises will visit either Bimini or Half Moon Cay, and both itinerary options will stop in Nassau.

The 8-night sailings will both go to Amber Cove and Grand Turk, and depending on the departure date, will also visit either Princess Cays or Half Moon Cay. Currently, Carnival Sunshine is homeported from Charleston, South Carolina, through the end of 2024.

Norwegian Shoreside Staff Cuts

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced in the past week that it would be cutting back on its shoreside staff. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said the decision to reduce shoreside staff by 9% is one of the company’s “prudent actions across our business to align with our strategic priorities.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Office
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

A statement from the company said, “After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to restructure and rightsize our shoreside workforce, reducing our current and planned shoreside roles by approximately 9%. This action is part of a broader and ongoing effort to improve operating efficiencies, including cost minimization initiatives, to strengthen the foundation for sustained, profitable growth.”

Details regarding how the workforce reduction would affect the operations of the company’s three brands were not provided. Norwegian Cruise Line is a mainstream line catering largely to families. Oceania Cruises is an upmarket line, and Regent is one of the top luxury lines operating today.

The planned cuts in shoreside staffing come on the heels of fee and gratuity increases the company has announced in recent weeks. Guests onboard Norwegian Cruise Line ships are now being charged a new $4.95 service fee for continental breakfast room service.

More Cruise Headlines

It was just another week across the cruise industry, and we’ve got all the coverage over on Cruise Hive, including Princess Cruises implementing price hikes for beverage and dining, a rescue by the Symphony of the Seas cruise ship, the possibility of a fourth cruise terminal in Galveston, the new Arvia LNG vessel delivered to P&O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises enters the metaverse world, new details revealed for the Carnival Venezia, impressive pool numbers for the giant Icon of the Seas and lots more.

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