Weekly Cruise News Update: July 15, 2023

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It’s been quite a lively week across the cruise industry, and this week’s cruise news update has the coverage you don’t want to miss from Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and the Caribbean destination of the Dominican Republic.

Cruise News Update

Cruise Hive stays on top of all the major developments in the world of cruising, and in this week’s round-up, we’ve got coverage on Carnival Cruise Line installing faster internet service on 11 ships, a cruise guest-turned-TikTok-sensation by returning late to her ship, Disney Cruise Line hiking fees for specialty dining, Carnival Cruise Line upgrading its free wine policies, Holland America Line experiencing its best booking day ever, and the Dominican Republic posting record numbers of cruise guest arrivals.

The installation of Starlink Maritime, the satellite internet access system, is completed on nearly half of the ships in Carnival Cruise Line’s 24-ship fleet. The planned addition of the service, which provides faster internet service than earlier technology, was announced by Carnival Corporation early this year.

Eleven Carnival ships are now equipped with Starlink, and the remainder are due to be upgraded in the coming weeks. Three ships from Carnival’s German brand, AIDA Cruises, also have been outfitted with the system so far, with the remainder due for installation this summer.

Carnival Panorama Cruise Ship
Carnival Panorama Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock)

Starlink, which is being implemented by several of the major cruise companies besides Carnival, provides reliable Wi-Fi faster than traditional high-orbit satellite connections. Download speeds range from 100-350 Mbps and upload speeds from 20-40 Mbps, even in remote areas.

Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald revealed details of the installation status of the service, and said the company is working to upgrade the entire fleet with Starlink and other internet providers.

Carnival Cruise Line ships that have received the Starlink service are Mardi GrasCarnival CelebrationCarnival PanoramaCarnival ElationCarnival SunriseCarnival ValorCarnival VeneziaCarnival PrideCarnival MagicCarnival Sunshine, and Carnival Vista

Video of Late-Arriving Cruise Guest Goes Viral

A cruise guest visiting Cozumel leisurely strolls along the dock, making her way back to her ship, oblivious to the fact she is late and has held up the vessel’s scheduled departure by 45 minutes.

The scene was captured by another cruiser and soon found its way to TikTok, where more than 8 million viewers have since watched the notorious late arrival on June 1.

The unidentified guest was among nearly 4,000 cruisers sailing aboard Carnival Vista on a 7-day Western Caribbean sailing from Galveston. Some of those guests made their sentiments known as she approached the ship, with jeers and sarcastic applause. You can watch the video below:

Virtually everyone on board would have known about the missing guest, since it is likely that multiple public announcements had been made as the ship’s staff looked high and low for her, and cruise officials would have explained why the ship hadn’t left port as planned.

There have been many instances in which guests returning late to their cruise ships have been left behind. Known as “pier runners,” such guests must make their own transport arrangements to catch up with their ship at the next port of call.

In this case, the guest got lucky, and Carnival Vista waited. And she became a social media celebrity.

Disney Cruise Line Ups Specialty Dining Charges

The prices for dining at some specialty restaurants were quietly raised by Disney Cruise Line, with immediate effect on all new reservations.

The venue Palo, on Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy, and Palo Steakhouse, on Disney Wish, increased the per-person fee by $5. Palo is an Italian restaurant and Palo Steakhouse is an Italian-fusion steakhouse.

Disney Cruise Line Ship
Disney Cruise Line Ship (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock)

The venues called Remy and Enchanté, both high-end French restaurants, upped their prices by $10 per person, bringing the cost to dine in either venue to $135 per person. Enchanté features a menu by three Michelin-starred Chef Arnaud Lallement, and includes fine wines and first-class service.

The increases follow recent price hikes for some onboard tasting seminars featuring Cognac, Martini, Stem-to-Stern Wine, and Mojito & Caipirinha. The seminar cost was raised by roughly 40%, and has doubled in price since April 2022.

Disney Cruise Line raised its gratuity rate last year, too, by $1 per guest per day on all ships. The charge currently is $14.50 for most cabins and $15.50 for concierge staterooms and suites.

Carnival Upgrades Free Wine Policies

Carnival Cruise Line will soon become more generous with its free and reduced-price wine bottle policies. In an announcement from Brand Ambassador John Heald, the cruise line revealed that guests who book specialty restaurants on the first or second night of a sailing will get more for their money.

Under current policy, the line provides free wine for first or second cruise night reservations in the ships’ steakhouses, but starting on September 1, guests can receive a free bottle of house wine for every two guests on the reservation at the steakhouses as well as at Rudi’s Seagrill, Il Viaggio, JiJi Asian Kitchen, and Cucina del Capitano.

Carnival Cruise Line Dining Room
Carnival Cruise Line Dining Room (Photo Credit: gary yim / Shutterstock)

The new offer is valid on the first night of the cruise only, and is not available on Excel-class ships, which are Mardi GrasCarnival Celebration, and the soon-to-debut Carnival Jubilee.

The change to one bottle per every two persons, rather than one bottle per reservation, which is the current rule, will be a boon to families and friends traveling together.

And it gets better: Guests who don’t want the free house wine can select other brands and receive half off the cost of wines listed at less than $100 in all of the line’s steakhouses plus Rudi’s Seagrill, and Il Viaggio. This offer is good for the first night of the cruise and for the second night, but with restrictions.

Holland America Celebrates Best-Ever Booking Day

Holland America Line has new records to beat. On July 11, it posted its biggest booking day and its highest-revenue booking day in the line’s 150-year history.

While not revealing exact numbers, the line, a premium brand owned by Carnival Corporation, said most of the bookings were for sailings in 2024 and 2025. For cruise line officials, it was a validation and endorsement of the Holland America line product.

Holland America Cruise Ships
Holland America Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: The Bold Bureau / Shutterstock)

Holland America deploys its 11-ship fleet globally, with itineraries in Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and other destinations. The cruise line for years has been widely considered a leader in Alaska cruising, and has enhanced its offerings to the destination with special programs such as Alaska Up Close, a series of immersive onboard experiences and curated shore excursions.

In Europe, too, it has enriched its offerings, recently unveiling a partnership with National Geographic, for instance, on new immersive programs for guests aboard two ships this summer.

The booking surge began months ago for Holland America Line, when reservations on Black Friday in November 2022 exceeded its pre-pandemic numbers from 2019.

Caribbean Island Sees Massive Jump in Cruise Arrivals

Even with the blistering heat wave scorching parts of southern Europe this summer, it seems no cruise destination is as hot as the Dominican Republic, that is, in terms of cruise guest arrivals.

The month of June, in particular, was gang-busters for the Eastern Caribbean island, with nearly 145,000 cruisers arriving at the ports of the Dominican Republic. That represents a whopping 84% spike in arrivals compared to the same month in 2022.

Dominican Republic Cruise
Dominican Republic Cruise (Photo Courtesy: Dominican Port Authority)

Indeed, the first half of 2023 delivered robust numbers of cruisers, at more than 1.2 million. In the full year of 2022, the total number of cruise guests reached just over 1.3 million. Taking into account the popularity of the fall cruising season and the holidays, it appears likely that the destination could far surpass last year’s numbers.

Amber Cove, the 30-acre resort destination owned by Carnival Corporation, welcomed 15 vessels so far this year, making it the island’s most popular destination. Another dozen called at Taino Bay, another popular port on the island’s north coast, and four called at La Romana, on the southern coast. All told, 44 cruise ships have visited the Dominican Republic so far in 2023.

The island will continue to grow as a sought-after destination. Two new cruise ports are under development and due to open in late 2023 or early 2024. Combined, the new facilities will have capacity to accommodate up to 20,000 more cruise guests daily.

More Cruise Headlines

There were plenty more cruise news headlines from the past week, and we’ve got all the coverage on Cruise Hive, including Cunard rolling out a series of special event cruises, Silversea Cruises extending a popular suite upgrade promotion, the Scottish port of Stornoway breaking cruise arrivals numbers, Norwegian Cruise Line featuring a set of exclusive souvenirs, and P&O Cruises adding an exciting new cooking excursion to its calls in Lisbon.

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