July 24, 2024

Norwegian Cruise Lines expanding fleet

The new Norwegian Viva, 143,000 tons, is the second of six new Prima class ships in the NCL fleet.


Norwegian Cruise Line unveiled in May the most comprehensive new build order in its history—a total of eight state-of-the-art vessels, representing nearly 25,000 additional berths, with new classes of ships for each of its three award-winning brands—and the construction of a multi-ship pier at Great Stirrup Cay, the Company’s private island destination in the Bahamas and its top-rated Caribbean port of call. This unprecedented decade-long strategy enhances its product offering, guest experiences, and operational infrastructure, supporting the Company’s sustained leadership in delivering innovative cruise vacations.

The new ship orders across all three brands are scheduled for delivery over a ten-year period, between 2026 and 2036. Following the delivery of four Prima-Plus class ships from 2025 through 2028, Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to take delivery of four approximately 200,000-gross-ton ships, each with a capacity of nearly 5,000 guests, in 2030, 2032, 2034 and 2036, which are subject to financing1. Building on the success of its Allura Class ships, the last one being delivered in 2025, Oceania Cruises is scheduled to take delivery of two 86,000-gross-ton ships, each with a capacity of 1,450 guests in 2027 and 2029. Lastly, following the award-winning Explorer Class ships, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is scheduled to take delivery of two 77,000-gross-ton ships, each with a capacity of 850 guests, in 2026 and 2029. Details regarding the ships’ amenities, staterooms, dining, recreational, efficiency, sustainability and other features will be announced in the coming months.

“This strategic new-ship order across all three of our award-winning brands provides for the steady introduction of cutting-edge vessels into our fleet,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are likewise excited with the addition of a new pier at Great Stirrup Cay to support our increased capacity in the Caribbean and multiple ships to call on the island, enhancing our guest experience and bringing seamless and reliable access to our private island year-round.”

Diamond Princess extends Asia itineraries

Diamond Princess will offer several new cruises to Asia in 2025.


On the heels of record-breaking travel to Japan by U.S. visitors in 2023, and another strong season underway this year, Princess Cruises today announced it will extend the number of itineraries in Japan during the 2025-26 season.

The 2025-26 cruise season to the must-see island nations of Japan and Southeast Asia onboard a Princess ship has just been announced. On sale now, Japan-built Diamond Princess returns featuring an expanded Japan season showcasing the region’s breathtaking fall foliage, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and more.

“We truly make it easy to travel to Japan and Southeast Asia on our Diamond Princess Love Boat to experience these amazing destinations,” said Terry Thornton, chief commercial officer for Princess Cruises. “For our fall 2025 through winter 2026 season, we’re thrilled to expand our Japan cruises from Tokyo (Yokohama) during the beautiful fall foliage season and continue to Singapore to highlight the best of Southeast Asia. Plus, our guests only need to unpack once to experience these storied countries while enjoying vibrant shore excursions and our regional culinary and entertainment offerings onboard.”

From ancient temples and castles, to bustling markets and breathtaking gardens, cruisers experience the best way to see Japan with Princess with a new fall 2025 season offering 11 new voyages ranging in length from nine to 22 days, visiting 25 destinations throughout the Land of the Rising Sun, as well as stops in Korea and Taiwan.

For the ultimate Japan exploration, guests can combine these 18- to 22- day itineraries for an unforgettable 40-day adventure

Following her extended Japan season, Diamond Princess will sail to Singapore on a 12-day Southeast Asia & Japan cruise featuring Taipei (Keelung) and Hong Kong to kick off three roundtrip Singapore sailings.

Diamond Princess:
Built in Japan, the 2,670-guest Diamond Princess offers a unique experience tailored to the region. Guests enjoy authentic cuisine at Kai Sushi, sip Japanese-inspired cocktails created by mixologist Rob Floyd, soak in the traditional Izumi bath and enjoy folkloric shows, regional entertainment and Japanese holiday celebrations.

Cunard’s New Queen Anne ship christened

Cunard’s new Queen Anne will cruise around the British Isles in 2024.


Cunard’s new ship Queen Anne was officially named at a ceremony in Liverpool as the cruise line’s 249th ship sailed into the River Mersey, escorted by fire tugs.

It will be berthed at the city’s cruise terminal. Crowds at the ceremony were in the thousands at the event, which also included a performance from tenor Andrea Bocelli.

The 113,000 tonne ship, which houses 3,000 guests and has 14 decks, set off on its maiden voyage from Southampton and has stopped off in Liverpool as it travels around the British Isles.

The company’s headquarters were based in Liverpool from 1840 until 1967. Captain Inger Thorhauge said the ceremony marked a “milestone” for the company as it moved into the future with new technology, more modern features and more dining venues and bars onboard.

“It started in Liverpool. Liverpool is our spiritual home. This is where the whole thing started. Everyone is always very excited to come back to Liverpool.”

HX Hurtigruten Expeditions upgrades guest offerings

The Roald Amundsen is a 2018 Hurtigruten ship carrying 530 passengers.


HX (Hurtigruten Expeditions), the global leaders in expedition cruising, have announced plans to further enhance their onboard guest offering.

As part of a phased approach, starting with Antarctica & Galápagos expeditions departing in October 2024, they will be introducing an ‘all-inclusive’ offering as standard across the whole fleet from November 2024, covering all destinations.

Since rebranding to HX last December, this product evolution is one of many new initiatives that seek to combine their renowned exploring heritage with the modern-day guest experience.

The ‘all-inclusive’ offering ranges from including expert-led daily expeditions, access to a whole series of science-led activities both on board and out in the wild, to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and even professional photographs. These changes look to enhance the guest experience onboard, part of a larger project aimed at crafting the ultimate expedition cruise experience, but importantly simplify the product offering for trade.

Alex Delamere-White, HX Chief Commercial Officer, states: “Expedition cruising can be a complex product for agents to sell, given the unique destinations we visit and varying experiences by operator. We’re confident that by including so many elements as standard in the price, we can simplify life onboard and enhance our trade-friendly focus.”

“We want our guests to fully embrace being curious travellers when they’re with us. By making things as easy as possible, they can focus on exploring remote parts of the world and learning from our expert team. We believe adventure should be all-inclusive, which is why our daily expeditions, talks and access to the science centre come at no extra cost, alongside delicious food and drink.”

For guests booking a HX expedition, starting with Antarctica & Galápagos expeditions departing in October 2024, their regular grade cabin will now include:

Daily expeditions and activities such as hikes, community visits, talks and more
Full board dining, including breakfast, lunch and dinner with house wine and beer
Wine, beer, spirits and cocktails available across the day and evening
All-day coffee, tea & soft drinks
Free Wi-Fi
Gratuities
Our interactive science programme, Science Centre and activities both on and off the ships
Access to sauna, hot tubs, fitness room and more
Professional photos from the onboard photographer
Opportunities to engage with and support local communities and environmental initiatives through Hurtigruten Foundation.

Celebrity Infinity gets make over

Celebrity Infinity, 2170 passengers and launched in 2001 , will get a make over this year.


Celebrity Cruises announced the modernization of Celebrity Infinity, just in time for a year of unforgettable European exploration. The newly modernized Celebrity Infinity will allow travelers to experience Europe in style, with transformed spaces to explore onboard.

Travelers seeking wanderlust and adventure across Europe in 2024 can enjoy the intimacy and service provided to guests of The Retreat, which has been reimagined onboard Celebrity Infinity.

These include:
A refreshed look to The Retreat Lounge (formerly Michael’s Club)
The boldly elegant Luminae at The Retreat has been expanded, giving more space for suite guests to indulge in sumptuous food and drink offerings
Brand-new Sunset Suites located in the aft of the ship, offering expansive views with large private balconies to enjoy the beautiful sunsets across Europe’s most sought-after destinations

Celebrity Infinity guests will enjoy a blend of premium experiences, making their European journey an unforgettable adventure. What sets The Retreat apart is its personalized service, ensuring that guests’ every need is met – whether it be on board or during their shore excursions. From securing reservations at the finest restaurants to arranging exclusive journeys, the dedicated team is committed to enhancing the overall experience for each guest.

The Retreat Lounge now boasts a captivating new color palette, designed to create a warm and intimate atmosphere for guests to unwind and socialize in style, offering a range of amenities including complimentary beverages, gourmet bites, live entertainment and more.

The brand-new Sunset Suites with an extra-large private balcony offer endless ocean views, allowing guests to enjoy fresh sea breezes, and soak in breathtaking sunsets with Europe’s picture-perfect destinations as the backdrop. Guests will enjoy exclusive amenities of The Retreat, including Butler service, dining at the expanded Luminae at The Retreat, and access to The Retreat Lounge throughout their stay.

Those looking to experience the modernized Celebrity Infinity will have a variety of itineraries to choose from, offering multiple opportunities to discover new vacation destinations whether guests are craving the warmth of summer days or escaping to enjoy winter sun, Celebrity Infinity promises an unforgettable experience in every season.

Popular itineraries include 7-night Greek Isles & Turkey sailings exploring the eastern Mediterranean coasts. Highlights include Santorini for a taste of the idyllic Aegean isles as well as the ancient sites of Kusadasi before sailing to Rhodes and stunning white-sand lined isles including Mykonos and Hydra.

For those looking for a longer escapade, guests can discover the southernmost corners of Europe on a 12-night Canaries, Morocco, & Spain sailing. Before reaching the Iberian coast, guests will call at three of the formerly known Fortunate Isles, the Canaries.

From black-sand beaches, to lesser-known delicious cuisine, and pristine nature reserves, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife. Celebrity Infinity then sails up to Morocco’s most renowned port cities of Tangier and Casablanca where an array of shore excursions are available to learn about the cities’ architecture, and history, and enjoy all that Moroccan culture has to offer.

Guests can also explore the rich history of southern Spain’s Andalucia (Al-Andalus) and visit the sites of vibrant Seville, indulge in the best of Spanish cuisine in Cadiz, or explore the Moorish architecture of Malaga or nearby Granada.

Celebrity Cruises Unveils Culinary Experiences for Ascent

Celebrity, always known for excellent cuisine, ups its game on newest ship Ascent.

Celebrity Cruises, an award-winning premium cruise line, unveiled details of the culinary and beverage program planned for its highly-anticipated new ship, Celebrity Ascent. The fourth vessel in the line’s Edge Series, Ascent, will delight travelers with redesigned restaurants, a new immersive dinner experience, expanded food and cocktail menus, a new whiskey tasting experience, and a plant-based multi-course dinner.

“The memories we make with family and friends while sharing food and drink has long-been one of the most memorable parts of travel, and with Celebrity Ascent we sought every opportunity to make these experiences richer and exciting for our guests,” says Laura Hodges Bethge, Celebrity Cruises’ President. “Onboard Ascent there is something to delight every guest, whether it is the fine dining connoisseur with a palate for the world’s best wines or the wellness-minded traveler desiring more plant-based, healthy options.”

A New Le Voyage: Chef Daniel Boulud’s Exclusive Restaurants at Sea

World renowned chef, Daniel Boulud, Celebrity’s Global Culinary Ambassador, will bring his highly acclaimed restaurant concept at sea to Celebrity Ascent. The second installment of the highly rated fine dining venue, Le VoyageSM will feature an all-new design that creates a stunning scene and ambiance, featuring a new chandelier, captivating neutrals, plush banquet seating, and gold tones throughout. Guests will experience a global menu that offers dishes from his personal travels and favorite places around the world. For the ultimate culinary experience, groups can reserve the Chef’s Table – a private, 6-seat dining room that treats diners to a multi-course tasting dinner complete with exceptional wine pairings.

Plant-Based Flavors and Options Pop

One of the most captivating venues onboard Edge Series ships, Eden, is a window to the world, featuring three levels of experiences completely wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows. The multi-use venue offers a casual lunch café, a cocktail bar, an entertainment space, an outdoor terrace and a signature restaurant – all of which come alive at night with a fusion of music, libations, and performances. One of the highlights of Eden is its signature restaurant, offering a culinary journey rooted in untouched, fresh and seasonal ingredients. With the arrival of Ascent, travelers will have the opportunity to experience global cuisine in its most pristine and untouched form through a new seven-course plant-based tasting menu. Each dish features ingredients that have been sourced from their original place of origin and presented in the most natural state. Menu highlights include dishes like the Golden Beet-Tomato Ceviche, Ajoblanco Panna Cotta, Roasted and Glazed Celeriac Steak, and Dry Rose Petals Masala Curry. Enjoyed as a tasting menu, or a la carte, diners can also opt for organic and vegan wine pairings.

Expanded Offerings at Main Dining Rooms and Redesigned Cosmopolitan Restaurant

With the Edge Series ships, Celebrity presented a new dining room concept, expanding offerings from one main dining room to four main dining restaurants –each offering a different style of cuisine and signature dishes. Onboard Ascent, travelers will continue to enjoy the option for New American cuisine at Cosmopolitan restaurant; Mediterranean at Cyprus; French contemporary at Normandie; and Italian at Tuscan. Combined, the four main dining restaurants offer travelers more than 84 different dishes to choose from. Guests of Cosmopolitan will be delighted by its new design inspired by the culture of champagne, featuring a new layout and seating throughout.

Carnival Jubilee floats out in German shipyard

Carnival’s Jubilee is a departure from other ships with it’s blue bow. The 184,000 ton ship will carry over 5000 passengers.

Carnival Cruise Line’s next new ship, Carnival Jubilee, marked a key construction milestone as it floated out of the covered building dock at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. The ship features a Texas star proudly displayed on the bow. Currently in its last stages of construction the ship is set to debut in December.

“The Texas star on Carnival Jubilee’s bow is a symbol of our commitment to the Port of Galveston. As the first cruise line to sail year-round from Galveston, we have a long history with the community,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Hundreds of spectators gathered at the shipyard to get a look at the ship. Jubilee moves into its next phase of construction alongside the shipyard’s outfitting pier. Sea trials are scheduled for November.

Carnival’s newest ship is part of its groundbreaking Excel-class, the largest ships in its fleet, and is the third and final vessel in this class. It will offer features already aboard her sisters Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, including the next iteration of the first roller coaster at sea, BOLT: The Ultimate Seacoaster.

Originally ordered for AIDA Cruises, the Jubilee was set to be built as a sister to the AIDAnova and the AIDAcosma before being transferred to Carnival Cruise Line in 2021.

The ship will sail year-round on Western Caribbean itineraries beginning in late December – though she will not be the first Carnival Jubilee to sail from Galveston. Like her sisters, the ship shares a name with a classic Carnival ship, and the first Carnival Jubilee sailed from Galveston in 2002. The new Carnival Jubilee is four times larger than her predecessor and will bring four times the fun for Carnival guests to enjoy. For more information visit Carnival.com

 

Seabourn Venture Norwegian Winter Inaugural Season

Seabourn Venture is scheduled to launch in December 2021, with a second yet-to-be-named sister ship slated to launch in 2022.

Seabourn, the ultra-luxury resort at sea, has opened for sale the revised inaugural expedition season itineraries for Seabourn Venture, the line’s first ultra-luxury purpose-built expedition ship. Between December 2021 and April 2022, Seabourn Venture will sail on a series of 10- to 14-day Norwegian Winter voyages, cruising the beautiful coastlines in Norway with ample opportunities for travelers to discover the country’s splendid winter landscape and its snow-draped scenery, to learn about each region’s fascinating Viking history and culture, and to search for the majestic Northern Lights. The itineraries, fares and additional details of Seabourn Venture’s Norwegian Winter inaugural season are available at www.seabourn.com.

“Our Norwegian Winter itineraries were carefully designed to offer guests the potential to view one of Earth’s true wonders, the Northern Lights,” said Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn. “There’s no better way to explore Norway’s winter beauty than on our new ultra-luxury expedition ship and all the activities it offers.”

The Norwegian Winter voyages will offer a new selection of both inclusive and optional expedition outdoor activities, such as skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, dog and reindeer sledding, and more. Dedicated excursions in search of Northern Lights will be available, including overnight camps at optimal viewing locations. In addition, there will be a new Seabourn signature event on all voyages for all guests on a complimentary basis: Concert in the Northern Lights Cathedral & Seabourn Signature Evening Event at the northern town of Alta, Norway. Seabourn Venture will also carry two six-seat custom submarines, expedition kayaks and 24 Zodiacs, providing additional opportunities for guests to explore Norway’s stunning winter landscape and diverse wildlife. Development of the shore excursion program is ongoing, and more details will be available in the coming months.

Guests on each of Seabourn Venture’s Norwegian Winter voyages will receive complimentary custom-designed jackets and backpacks outfitted by outdoor apparel company Helly Hansen, the official apparel partner for Seabourn. The PolarShield parkas will feature a Helly Tech® outer shell coupled with a removable insulator puff jacket inside. A waterproof WaterShield backpack will also be provided.

Dates and featured destinations of Seabourn Venture’s Norwegian winter itineraries in 2021 and 2022 include:

Norway, Northern Lights & North Cape – Seabourn Venture will embark on a 12-day inaugural voyage from Greenwich, England, to Tromsø, Norway, departing December 11, 2021. The sailing is already sold out based on pre-booking for past Seabourn guests.

Holiday Northern Lights, North Cape & Norway – Guests may spend the holidays and ring in 2022 on Seabourn Venture’s 14-day holiday voyage from Tromsø to Copenhagen, departing December 23, 2021.

Norway & North Cape – In Searchndtrip from Tromsø, departing April 24, 2022. – These 12-day voyages sail between Tromsø and Copenhagen. Departures from Tromsø: January 18 and March 7, 2022. Departures from Copenhagen: January 6 and 30, February 23 and March 19, 2022.

Norway & North Cape – Two 12-day voyages sailing between Tromso & Copenhagen March 31 and April 12, 2022

Norwegian Spring – The 10-day cruise will sail roundtrip from Tromso, departing April 24, 2022.

Canada to allow cruise ships Nov. 1st

Radiance of the Seas at Hubbard Glacier – Alaska
Radiance of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International

(Nadine El-Bawab CNBC) – Canada will allow cruise ships to operate in its waters starting Nov. 1 if operators comply fully with public health requirements, the country’s minister of transport announced on Thursday.

Earlier this year, the Canadian government had extended its ban on cruises until the end of February 2022. Speaking outside the Ogden Point Deep-Water Terminal in Victoria on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said this would give cruise ship operators time to prepare for the 2022 cruise ship season.

“Our government is now ready to announce that we are accelerating the timeline for resuming cruise ship activity. I am announcing today that cruise ships will be allowed in Canadian waters as of November 1st of this year,” Alghabra said during a news conference.

Canada’s federal transportation department, in a statement Thursday, said it was ready to welcome back cruise ships earlier than anticipated due to the improved public health outlook in Canada as Covid cases drop and vaccinations increase.

The cruise industry brings in more than $4 billion annually for the Canadian economy, indirectly generates 30,000 jobs and is vital for the tourism sector, according to the transportation department.

This decision comes a week after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made clear that the country will not let in unvaccinated tourists anytime soon, despite the hurting tourism sector.

And the restart of cruises will be dependent on the public health situation at any given time especially in areas where the cruises will dock, Alghabra said Thursday. The Canadian government is still advising citizens to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside the country, he said.

In the U.S., the cruise industry has been one of the last to return to pre-pandemic operations after several high-profile outbreaks on ships last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently allowed cruise operators to begin sailing again, with strict health protocols in place.

Canada and the U.S. extended the ban on non-essential travel across their land border until at least July 21.

 

NCL applies to start sailing again from U.S. ports on July 4

The 169,000 ton Norwegian Encore.

(Reuters, Nivedita Balu) Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said on Monday it had sought the approval of U.S. health authorities to restart trips from U.S. ports from July 4 with mandatory vaccinations for travelers, bringing new hope to the ravaged industry.

The company’s announcement follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance last week to the cruise ship industry, including the need for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The move by CEO Frank Del Rio is a bold salvo amid the cruise industry’s escalating frustration with the CDC. Criticism has mounted since Friday, when the agency said travel for vaccinated people was low risk — but also laid out a raft of additional conditions, under a “conditional sailing order,” that cruise lines need to meet before getting permission to operate from U.S. ports.

“I’d like to hear an argument why we couldn’t sail,” Del Rio said in an interview with The Washington Post. “If everyone on board is vaccinated and following the protocols, there is absolutely no need for the conditional sail order to exist as it is known today.”

Del Rio made his case to the CDC in a letter dated Monday.

Frank Del Rio, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., has sought the approval of U.S. health authorities to restart trips from U.S. ports from July 4.
Frank Del Rio, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., has sought the approval of U.S. health authorities to restart trips from U.S. ports from July 4. PHOTO BY MARK ELIAS/BLOOMBERG
In the letter, Norwegian Cruise said that its plan was in line with the latest guideline and that it aimed to kick start trips at a 60% capacity starting July 4.

Norwegian also said it would increase the capacity by 20% every 30 days and ramp up departures from U.S. ports for its fleet of 28 ships spread across Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

In addition to the vaccine requirement for passengers of all ages, the company will require negative coronavirus tests, face coverings, contactless food service and other measures.

“We believe that through a combination of 100% mandatory vaccinations … we can create a safe, ‘bubble-like’ environment for guests and crew,” Del Rio said.

Shares of Carnival, Norwegian Cruise and Royal Caribbean closed up between 3% and 7% on Monday.

While Carnival Corp noted that the latest guideline was “largely unworkable and stood in stark contrast to the approach taken in other travel and tourism sectors,” Royal Caribbean said it was “reviewing and studying” it.

In a statement, the CDC sounded unmoved by Del Rio’s request, reiterating the approach it has laid out in its order.

“Cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is difficult,” the statement said. “While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, following the phases of the conditional sailing order will ensure cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers, and port personnel; particularly, with emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.”

Other cruise lines have announced plans to start cruising again for Americans outside the United States – including the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean and Greece. In most cases, those cruises will require either everyone on board or those 18 and older to be fully vaccinated.

The Cruise Lines International Association, which represents the three companies, also said the guidance was “burdensome and ambiguous” and urged for a controlled return to service this summer.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, threatened to file a lawsuit if cruises continued to be blocked this summer, according to several media reports. Del Rio copied DeSantis and other elected officials from Florida, home to the world’s busiest cruise ports, on his letter.

With additional reporting from Hannah Sampson, The Washington Post