May 24, 2024

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.

HAL opens 2025 Mexico and Pacific Coast cruises

The 2006 Noordam will be cruising to “bear country” in 2025.

Holland America Line opened its 2025-2026 Mexico and Pacific Coast seasons, including longer calls at unique ports like Mexico’s Loreto and Topolobampo, and a new seven-day Great Bear Rainforest itinerary — a rarely cruised route that reveals the beauty of British Columbia, Canada. Cruises run from August 2025 to May 2026 and range from one day up to a 29-day Collectors’ Voyage.

Holland America Line has long been known as a leader in cruising in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and a seven-day “Great Bear Rainforest” itinerary that hasn’t been offered in decades showcases a distinct take on cruising in this region. Departing Oct. 5, 2025, and April 19, 2026, aboard Noordam, travelers seeking a more intimate experience can become immersed in the culture, nature and rare wildlife of Ketchikan, Alaska, and Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and Victoria, British Columbia.

“This in-depth exploration of the PNW takes guests through the historic Inside Passage, sailing through some of the most confined waters our ships have ever sailed, said Paul Grigsby, vice president of deployment and revenue planning for Holland America Line. “This is the true Inside Passage, the storied route between Seattle and Alaska that ships have been sailing since as far back as the gold rush era. It is a first for our company to plan a sailing focused on this fjord-like waterway that maximizes a daylight transit to allow best opportunities for wildlife sightings,” added Grigsby.

The roundtrip from Seattle, Washington, “Great Bear Rainforest” itinerary calls at Ketchikan before heading south to thoroughly explore ports in British Columbia. The ship overnights in Prince Rupert before scenic cruising in Greenville Channel, past the first nation’s village of Bella Bella, Johnstone Strait and Seymour Narrows. While cruising, guests can view wildlife like whales, eagles and the rare Kermode bear — also known as the spirit bear. A maiden call at Nanaimo and visit to popular Victoria give guests the opportunity to deeply explore many different communities in British Columbia.

Ten additional itineraries along the Pacific Coast highlight the region’s stunning scenery and sail from San Diego, California, to Seattle or Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Cruises call at popular ports like Astoria, Oregon; Santa Barbara, California; and Ensenada, Mexico; and select itineraries feature an overnight in San Francisco, California.

For those seeking some fun under the sun, Holland America Line’s Mexico season provides the perfect escape. Cruises are roundtrip from San Diego or between San Diego and Vancouver, taking travelers to Mexico’s iconic ports like Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, while also granting access to even more of the Sea of Cortez with calls at Guaymas and Santa Rosalia, Mexico. Late-night calls on select itineraries allow guests to discover historic sites in Loreto and take in Topolobampo’s dramatic scenery.

“Our Mexico cruises are favorites among many guests due to the incredible weather and beautiful landscapes, with ports boasting on average 300 days of sunshine a year,” said Beth Bodensteiner, chief commercial officer for Holland America Line. “And there’s so much more to experience beyond the scenery. Guests can delve deep into the culinary delights of the region through shore excursions, while also enjoying local fresh fish like yellowfin tuna on board.”

HAL adds 55 ports to 2024 Asia cruise season

Holland America Line’s Westerdam will be visiting over 55 ports on various 2025 Asia itineraries.

Holland America Line’s Westerdam is heading to Asia, where it will explore 11 countries from September 2025 through April 2026. The itineraries have a strong focus on Japan with 24 different ports around the country, as well as visits to Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Cruises in the Far East depart from Hong Kong, China; Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan; and Singapore to some of Asia’s most iconic cities — with up to 12 ports in a single cruise. Late departures and overnight stays allow extra time for guests to sample the nightlife, local cuisine and rich cultures of the region.

“For travelers looking to discover Asia, our 2025-2026 season provides an opportunity to explore the region in-depth via cruise,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. “We have diversified the number of ports to more than 50 across several itineraries. We want to ensure our guests have an authentic glimpse into the diverse cultures of each country, creating immersive moments and deeper connections to those destinations.”

Seabourn Fleet Now Equipped with Starlink

Seabourn Cruises, the highly rated luxury cruise brand, has updated their ships with Starlink for high-speed internet.

Seabourn has announced that its fleet of ultra-luxury ships has been equipped with next generation Wi-Fi connectivity with SpaceX’s Starlink, the leader in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology.

The upgraded technology provides Seabourn’s guests with faster service, greater connectivity and more reliable Wi-Fi wherever Starlink’s services are available.

“Following the positive feedback we received from our guests from the successful rollout of Starlink’s enhanced connectivity on our expedition ships, we are thrilled to share that both our ocean and expedition ships in our ultra-luxury fleet now feature Starlink. Our guests can now choose to connect or disconnect as they wish during their extraordinary journeys with Seabourn,” said Natalya Leahy, president of Seabourn.

Starlink is now available on Seabourn’s two new purpose-built ultra-luxury expedition ships, Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit, as well as its ocean ships, Seabourn Sojourn, Seabourn Quest, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation.

Seabourn’s fleet of ultra-luxury ships visits a perfect blend of iconic destinations and hidden gems, ensuring an indulgent and unforgettable voyage for luxury travelers. Guests can discover Antarctica, the Arctic, the South Pacific, the Kimberley region in Australia, and the legendary Northwest Passage aboard Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit. They may also explore marquee destinations and boutique ports in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska and more on Seabourn’s ultra-luxury ocean ships.

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

 

HAL Lingers longer in South Pacific

HAL’s Zaandam is set for 51 day cruises in 2024 from San Diego.

Three Holland America Line ships are set to explore the lush landscapes and natural wonders of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific in 2024-2025. From unspoiled islands to cosmopolitan cities, Westerdam will spend the season Down Under, while Koningsdam and Zaandam each offer a longer Legendary Voyage to the South Pacific and Hawaii.

In October 2024 Westerdam sails a westwardly South Pacific crossing, followed by the iconic Australia Circumnavigation. From December 2024 through March 2025, the ship offers a series of 14-day departures roundtrip from Sydney, Australia, or between Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney. Zaandam’s “Tales of the South Pacific” in September 2024 is from Vancouver, Canada, to San Diego, California, or roundtrip San Diego, while Koningsdam’s “Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas” in February 2025 is roundtrip from San Diego.

“Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are iconically beautiful locations, but they have so much more to offer which is why they remain high on the bucket list of travelers who are looking to see the world with the ease of a cruise,” said Beth Bodensteiner, Holland America Line’s chief commercial officer. “The Australia Circumnavigation itinerary is the most in-depth immersion a cruiser can have of the continent, and many of our Legendary Voyages make it possible to visit distant destinations from a North American homeport. These cruises are among some of the most notable we offer.”

Legendary Voyages Linger Longer
Holland America Line’s extended Legendary Voyages range from 25 to 59 days and combine the ceremony of a Grand Voyage with itineraries that feature a comprehensive collection of ports that enrich the experience in each destination. Most of Holland America Line’s Legendary Voyages sail roundtrip or to/from a North American homeport, allowing travelers to see the world from their doorstep with a convenient domestic flight and easy embarkation.

NCL cancels Epic sailings for 2025

NCL’s Epic comes in for minor refit in 2025.

Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled multiple sailings on its Norwegian Epic ship, the latest in a string of scrapped voyages for the cruise line.

The line canceled three 2025 cruises so the ship can undergo “a revitalization,” Norwegian said in a letter to guests and travel partners last week, which it shared with USA TODAY.

“In order to complete these enhancements, Norwegian Epic’s sailings on April 15, 2025, April 26, 2025, and May 5, 2025, have been canceled,” Norwegian said. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

The line gave impacted passengers full refunds and a 10% discount on another cruise in the form of a future cruise credit. “This credit may be used by and applied towards any of our published sailings through December 31, 2025,” Norwegian said in the letter.

Facial Recognition comes to several cruise ports

Carnival Venezia carries over 4200 passengers and was first launched in 2018 as a Costa ship.

Carnival Cruise Line has announced that new facial recognition technology will be active at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City this summer. This will permit cruise guests to debark their vessels much more efficiently without sacrificing security and customs precautions.

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald made the announcement on facial recognition technology with respect to the new Carnival Venezia, which will be arriving for the first time in New York City on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

The new technology, however, will not be fully in place for debarkation of that maiden transatlantic crossing, but will be used beginning with debarkation of the next sailing, a 4-night roundtrip cruise to Bermuda.

“I’m excited to confirm that United States Customs and Border Protection has approved for us to roll out Facial Recognition in New York commencing with the debarkation on June 19th, 2023,” Heald said.

This technology allows passengers to debark a cruise much more quickly, as each individual guest or family group doesn’t need to stop and speak with a customs official. Instead, cameras quickly capture and match up each individual’s face with digital records to confirm their identity.

Facial recognition technology has been in place at different cruise ports for years, including homeports in Florida, California, and Texas. The wireless process is smooth and fast, permitting ever-busier cruise ports to more quickly and securely process guests to get travelers on their way.

Much of the technology was implemented as cruising resumed in the summer of 2021 after the industry-wide pandemic shutdown. Facial recognition is wireless processing that helps minimize in-person contact and eases crowding in cruise terminals.

Carnival Venezia, the latest addition to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, sailed into its New York City homeport for the first time June 13th. The ship’s guests just completed a 15-day transatlantic sailing that began in Barcelona, Spain. The ship was launched in 2018 as Costa Venezia.

Carnival will host a welcome ceremony on board the ship Wednesday evening and acclaimed comedian and television host Jay Leno will become the first godfather named to a Carnival ship. On Thursday, Carnival Venezia will mark its first departure from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, with guests set to embark on a four-day cruise visiting Bermuda.

Carnival Venezia is debuting “Carnival Fun Italian Style” and introducing several new concepts, from restaurants and bars to entertainment programming. The new venues and experiences enhance the ship’s theming, as its design is inspired by the city of Venice, Italy.