Time to find out what’s been happening this past week across the major cruise lines in this cruise news update. Developments on two Norwegian Cruise Line ships, Australia reopening, and even new embarkation enhancements for one cruise line.
Cruise News Update
In this weekly cruise news update, there are updates on two Norwegian Cruise Line ships that currently have issues, construction officially begins on Carnival Cruise Line’s third Excel-class vessel, new enhancements for Holland America Line that are for all sailings, Australia is set to reopen to cruise ships after two years and the CDC lowers its cruise travel advisory.
Carnival Jubilee Construction Begins
Meyer Werft has officially started building Carnival Cruise Line’s newest Excel-class cruise ship, Carnival Jubilee. Carnival Cruise Line and Meyer Werft representatives attended the ship’s steel cutting ceremony. The build period will take less time than her sisters, with the delivery date scheduled for the end of 2023 and the first cruise for October 30, 2023.
The shipbuilding team celebrated the maritime tradition with confetti and champagne at the Meyer Werft laser cutting center. The builders cut out a silhouette of the ship from the steel, which everyone in attendance signed. A special plaque was also cut from the same piece of steel to commemorate Carnival’s 50th birthday.
Once completed, the 344.5-meter, 182,800 gross ton Carnival Jubilee will be the third LNG-powered cruise ship sailing for the Miami-based cruise line. The hugely successful and popular sister ship Mardi Gras joined the fleet in 2021.
The second Excel-class cruise ship for Carnival Cruise line, Carnival Celebration, is scheduled to debut in November 2022. The arrival of the vessel will mark the culmination of Carnival Cruise Line’s 50th birthday celebrations.
Carnival Jubilee will sail for the first time on October 30, 2023. The maiden voyage will be an 18-day transatlantic crossing from Southampton. The vessel will then begin sailings from Galveston, Texas in November 2023.
Norwegian Escape Runs Aground
On Monday, March 14, the Norwegian Escape ran aground while departing Taino Bay, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. With the help of local authorities including two tug boats, the Breakaway-plus class cruise ship was eventually freed in the early hours of Tuesday, March 15.
The vessel was safely taken back to the cruise port in Puerto Plata so that any damage could be assessed. And apparently, there has been some minor damage to the Norwegian Escape, so as a precaution, all guests were notified that the voyage was canceled and all guests are flown back to the US.
Getting all the guests back has not gone so smoothly, as many do not have a passport! The cruise line is working on resolving the situation and some passengers have already disembarked the vessel. NCL is arranging alternative and charter flights for guests back to Orlando in Florida.
Norwegian Escape was sailing a seven-night Caribbean cruise and Purto Plata was the first call on the voyage. The cruise line has not only canceled the March 12 cruise but also the following March 19 sailing so that repairs can be made.
Australia Is Reopening to Cruises
The Australian government confirmed that the country would not renew the ban on international cruise ships arriving or departing from its ports. It does mean that the ban will come to an end on April 17, 2022, clearing the way for the restart of the cruise industry down under.
The cruise ban in the country was last extended in February 2022 and was previously set to end on February 17.
The government has developed protocols to make sure guests and crew members remain safe when cruises resume operations. Cruise ships would have to meet the requirements on a national and local level.
Passengers will be required to be fully vaccinated, and cruise ships will have to implement appropriate operating and outbreak management plans.
It’s been a long wait for a cruise restart in Australia, which has remained closed to the industry for more than two years since the industry-wide suspension started in March 2020. The cruise ban was part of Australia’s Biosecurity Act 2015.
CDC Lowers Cruise Travel Advisory
The cruise industry has proved it can offer great cruise vacations safely and is putting the pandemic behind as cases reduce and more vessels resume operations. The CDC has lowered its travel advisory for cruise ships again, reiterating that cruising is still heading in the right direction.
The travel notice is now at level 2, the lowest since the start of the pandemic and when the cruise industry suspension first started in 2020. The CDC now says, “Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before cruise ship travel.”
The advisory was last updated on February 15, 2022, when it was lowered from level 4 to level 3.
Cruising has remained safe with cruise lines implementing strict protocols guidance from the CDC and health experts. There are procedures in place to deal with any cases.
More cruise ships are back sailing with guests onboard, and cruise ships operating in US waters are under the CDC’s voluntary program. Readers can check the status of cases for each vessel within the program on the CDC’s Cruise Ship Color Status page.
Holland America Line Enhancements
Holland America Line is rolling out enhancements to make it easier for guests pre-cruise and during the embarkation process. Holland America is implementing the use of mBark facial recognition. The Mobile system enables guests to check-in for their cruise within 10 seconds, which will significantly speed up boarding.
Guests will also be able to start using the VeriFLY digital wallet app, allowing them to get their vaccination status and testing approved before a cruise vacation. Carnival Cruise Line, owned by the same parent company Carnival Corp, has already launched the VeriFLY option for all of its sailings in the US.
In March, the VeriFLY option was first introduced on the new Rotterdam cruise ship. It will now roll out across the fleet by the end of March and available on Holland America ships as they return to service. The new enhancements detailed are for cruise departures in all US, Canadian and European homeports.
Norwegian Joy Propulsion Issue
Norwegian Cruise Line did confirm with Cruise Hive that on March 16, “Norwegian Joy‘s propulsion pod experienced minor technical issues, causing the vessel to slightly reduce its speed, impacting its docking and undocking mechanism.”
As a result, the scheduled call to Cozumel, Mexico, was canceled on March 17, 2022. Norwegian Joy was set to arrive at approximately 8:00 AM and not depart until the evening. The ship sailed directly back to its homeport in Miami, Florida. Repairs are set to take place while at PortMiami.
Norwegian Joy is ending its seven-night voyage that departed PortMiami on March 12. The Western Caribbean itinerary includes calls to Roatan, Honduras; NCL’s private island of Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, which never occurred.
The following cruise is an identical seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary and is still set to go ahead.
The ship is part of the large Breakway-plus class, has 167,725 gross tons, and has a guest capacity of 3,804 at double occupancy. Norwegian Joy was built in 2017 and was last refurbished in 2019.
More Cruise Headlines
It was just another busy week in the cruise industry and we’ve got all the cruise stories over on, including limitations on initial sailings for Pride of America, more right for guests when it comes to refunds, Norwegian Cruise Line reveals godmother for the new Norwegian Prima, MSC cruise ship pulls out of Baltic season, Royal Caribbean launches new hotel booking engine, confusion between P&O Cruises and P&O Ferries, and more.