Buckle up for this week’s round-up of the top cruise stories from Cruise Hive, where you’ll find all of the cruise news coverage you don’t want to miss from the Port of Amsterdam, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises.

It’s time to get caught up with all of the major developments from across the cruise industry. Cruise Hive has it all covered, and in this week’s round-up we’ve got the port of Amsterdam clarifying its cruise ship plans, two children photographed dangerously positioned on the railing of a stateroom balcony, Carnival Jubilee receiving her iconic funnel, Princess Cruises adding more amenities to its inclusive plans, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean alerting guests to tax hikes by the Bahamian government, and a host of culinary features onboard the new Celebrity Ascent.

Like a game of post office, word spread quickly that the Netherlands city of Amsterdam was set to ban cruise ships from docking at its city center port, setting off alarms among cruise guests and cruise lines. It turns out that is not the case.

City council members did vote to ban cruise ships in the hopes of reducing pollution and improving the management of tourism, but the vote was a non-binding recommendation, and will have no immediate effect on the location of cruise ship arrivals and departures.

Holland America Ship in Amsterdam (Photo Credit: rawf8 / Shutterstock)

Industry trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Cruise Port Amsterdam clarified the situation a few days after media reports indicated the city was actively moving to ban cruise ships. Both entities stressed that the reports were inaccurate and that cruise tourism is proceeding as usual.

CLIA said there are ongoing discussions regarding port facilities and upgrades, and the possibility for a future relocation of the port. But the group added that investments are being made to upgrade existing port infrastructure and to fund shoreside electricity for the long-term.

For its part, Cruise Port Amsterdam said that there is no policy proposal yet that would impact cruise ship calls, nor is there any timeline for major changes.

Another example of reckless behavior onboard a cruise ship came to light, when a photo emerged on social media showing two children sitting on the railing of a stateroom balcony, a major no-no for obvious safety reasons.

Cruise guests who fall from a balcony or its railing can hit a lower deck and suffer serious injuries or death, or land in the water, another extremely dangerous possibility.

Cruise Ship Passengers on Balcony Railings

There have been multiple reports in recent months regarding cruise guests behaving in unsafe ways on their balconies. In April 2023, for example, video surfaced showing a group of teenagers climbing from one balcony to another aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras.

In the most recent case, social media watchers are asking where the children’s parents are, and why the youngsters appear unsupervised. The cruise ship in question is not confirmed, nor is the date the photo was taken, but cruise watchers believe it to be a Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ship, based on the style of the balcony and the furnishings shown in the picture.

Like all of the major cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has policies that prohibit dangerous, reckless, or disruptive behavior. The line’s cruise contract also states: “Each adult passenger undertakes and agrees to supervise at all times any accompanying minors.”

Carnival Cruise Line’s soon-to-debut Carnival Jubilee now sports the line’s red-white-and-blue winged funnel, the distinctive and highly-recognizable smokestack that has been a tradition on the line’s ships since the early 1980s.

The funnel was installed a few days after the ship was floated out of her construction yard at Meyer Werft, in Germany. The July 21 float-out, in fact, revealed another emblem, a Texas star on the ship’s bow, a nod to the ship’s future homeport of Galveston, Texas.

Carnival Jubilee Funnel Installation

Now docked at her outfitting pier, Carnival Jubilee will receive her finishing details before sea trials begin. The sea trials, expected to happen in August, will test all of the ship’s technical operational systems, including propulsion, navigation, maneuvering, and safety features.

The ship is due to enter service in December 2023, sailing 7-night Western Caribbean cruises. The mega-ship will accommodate 5,347 guests, double occupancy, and 6,631 with all beds occupied.

The Excel-class ship will introduce two new zones, called Currents and Shores, and feature the line’s popular restaurants Rudi’s Seagrill, Cucina del Capitano, Guy’s Burger Joint, Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, and Shaquille O’Neal’ Big Chicken restaurant.

For the second time this year, Princess Cruises has added inclusive amenities and services to guests who book the Princess Plus and Princess Premier inclusive plans. The costs of both plans remain the same, at $60 and $80 per person, per day, respectively.

The latest enhancements, which take effect with sailings departing on August 12, 2023, include waived fees for room service, which costs $5 per delivery, and for the line’s OceanNow food and beverage shipboard delivery service, an expense of $14.99 per person, per cruise.

Majestic Princess Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Macklin Holloway / Shutterstock)

Also, Plus and Premier guests will receive free delivery of the Princess Medallion prior to departure date (this normally costs $10), allowing them to avoid lines while checking in on embarkation day, provided all documents are completed in advance. A collection of new prix fixe meal choices in the fleet’s casual restaurants also is part of the upgrades.

In February 2023, the Plus and Premier packages were expanded to feature complimentary fitness and wellness classes as part of the cruise line’s partnership with Xponential Fitness. Other inclusive services that Plus and Premier guests receive include prepaid crew gratuities, a Wi-Fi plan, and a beverage package. The Premier plan also covers specialty dining.

Now that the Bahamian government has approved a set of cruise departure tax increases and added two new taxes that cruise guests must pay, all effective on January 1, 2024, cruise lines are alerting booked guests that their port charges will change, reflecting the higher levies.

Royal Caribbean has sent, or is in the process of sending, each of its guests booked on cruises to ports in the Bahamas a tax update notice, which shows the original and the adjusted charges. The new fees will be shown on each guest’s reservation before the final payment due date.

Royal Caribbean Passengers in the Bahamas (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

The line told guests that bookings are being updated in phases, and there is no action any guest must take. The update is informational only.

Sister line Celebrity Cruises took a similar step a few days earlier, and some of its booked guests reported wide variations in the cost increases. Some were reported to be minor, meaning a few dollars, while others, primarily Canadian guests, said their tax charges rose by as much as $40 (CDN) per person.

The tax amounts largely depend on a ship’s itinerary, including which Bahamas ports it will visit and for how long. The increased taxes originally were slated to take effect on July 1, 2023, but were postponed to 2024.

Imaginative cuisine and tempting drinks are among the cornerstones of a great cruise vacation, and Celebrity Cruises’ newest Edge-class ship, Celebrity Ascent, promises to excel in both when she debuts in November 2023.

The cruise line revealed there will be new culinary choices onboard the ship, along with two hand-selected barrels of whiskey, a Special Bespoke Barrel Aged 12 Years and a Special Single Barrel Aged 10 Years. Both will be available à la carte or as part of a tasting menu.

Photo Courtesy: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Ascent will offer a new seven-course, plant-based menu with locally-sourced foods at the restaurant called Eden, while a redesign of the venue Le Voyage will sport plush seating and an international menu by Chef Daniel Boulud. The restaurant also will offer an exclusive 6-seat dining area for The Chef’s Table.

The ship’s main bars and lounges will be found in the Grand Plaza, home to the line’s signature Martini Bar, plus Chandelier and the daily Flair Bartender Shows, where guests can watch the mixologists create cocktails in a choreographed performance.

The 3,260-guest Celebrity Ascent will homeport at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, and sail a series of Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Several preview sailings will be operated before her inaugural cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, departing December 3, 2023.

Now that you’re up to date on the top cruise news stories of the week, Cruise Hive has even more coverage to offer, including new design details onboard the upcoming Seabourn Pursuit, Norwegian Cruise Line giving away free cruises to teachers, Holland America Line providing onboard credits to select guests, MSC Cruises canceling an MSC Virtuosa cruise, and Disney Cruise Line announcing an all-new dance gala deck party.

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