It’s been another busy week for cruise news, and Cruise Hive has all of the developments covered, including news about Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.

Let’s get going with this week’s cruise news update from Cruise Hive, the go-to source for all of the cruise industry developments you need to know about, including Carnival Cruise Line cancelling four sailings on Carnival Panorama, a Carnival Cruise Line cruise director getting a big promotion, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Firenze launching earlier than expected, Celebrity Cruises taking delivery of Celebrity Ascent, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas completing her second set of sea trials, and Celebrity Cruises announcing the name of its fifth Edge-class ship.

Carnival Cruise Line has cancelled Carnival Panorama’s next four cruises due to an engine issue that is affecting the ship’s maximum cruising speed. The 4,000-guest ship will be temporarily taken out of service while repairs are made.

The cancelled cruises all are Mexican Riviera sailings operating roundtrip from Long Beach, California, with departures set for November 11, 18, and 26, and December 2, 2023. 

The November 18 departure was an 8-night Thanksgiving holiday sailing. The November 11 and 18 cruises were 5 nights, and the November 26 departure was to be 6 nights.

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

The cruise line is refunding all fares and any pre-booked shore excursions and onboard packages. It also will pay up to $200 toward airline change fees, and is offering a 100% future cruise credit to guests booked on the November 11 and 18 sailings, and a 50% FCC on the November 26 and December 2 cruises.

Carnival Panorama, a Vista-class ship that launched in 2018, has experienced engine propulsion problems as far back as 2021. In June 2023, speed issues prevented the ship from returning on time to Long Beach. On her most recent cruise, two port calls had to be cancelled so that the ship could return to its homeport on schedule.

A promotion is in the offing for Carnival Cruise Director Chris “The Flying Scotsman” Williams, who will soon be elevated to Fleet Cruise Director, a corporate posting that will see him travel from ship to ship for training and other programs, and the launch of new activities.

Williams, who joined Carnival Cruise Line as a singer/performer 12 years ago, has served as cruise director onboard several ships, including Mardi Gras, Carnival Sunshine, and Carnival Dream. The new assignment is effective November 13, 2023, when Williams will join two existing Fleet Cruise Directors, Chris “Donkey” Salazar and Mike Pack.

Chris “The Flying Scotsman” Williams, Carnival Cruise Director

Williams is known for his unique style and big personality, and a range of talents that include singing, dancing, and comedy. He also has a special flair when it comes to guest interaction. In his new role, Williams will share his expertise with cruise directors across the fleet, spending time on various ships around the world.

With a 25-ship fleet and two more vessels slated to launch in the coming months —Carnival Jubilee in December 2023 and Carnival Firenze in spring 2024 — the cruise line appears to be ramping up its Fleet Cruise Director ranks.

Cruise directors play crucial roles on all ships, since they engage and interact with virtually all guests and help to set the line’s Fun Ship atmosphere.

Carnival Cruise Line moved up the launch of its new Carnival Firenze by one week, setting the ship’s inaugural voyage for April 25, 2024 from Long Beach, California. The line also opened many 2025-26 cruises for sale from the port..

Carnival Firenze is being transferred from sister line Costa Cruises, and will become the second Carnival Cruise Line ship to offer the brand’s new Fun Italian Style experience. The first was Carnival Venezia, which debuted in New York in June 2023.

Render Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Following her 7-night maiden sailing, Carnival Firenze will operate 4-night cruises to Catalina Island and Ensenada, and  5-night cruises calling at Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. The 4,000-guest ship’s Italian vibe will be seen in her design, inspired by the city of Florence, and in her Italy-themed public spaces and activities.

The cruise line also opened for booking more itineraries operated by the 3,000-guest Carnival Radiance in 2025-26. Homeported at Long Beach, cruisers can now book more of the ship’s 3-, 4-, and 5-day itineraries to the Mexican Riviera and Baja Mexico.

Other voyages newly opened for sale include six 14-day Carnival Journeys cruises from Long Beach to Hawaii, also in 2025-26 and aboard Carnival Radiance. In 2025, departures are set for October 18 and November 29. In 2026, departures are on January 10, February 7, March 7, and April 4.

The Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, delivered the new-build Celebrity Ascent to Celebrity Cruises in a maritime ceremony that included a celebratory toast in the ship’s three-story Grand Plaza.

The handover of the 140,600-gross ton ship that carries 3,260 guests was attended by shipyard and cruise line executives, some 1,400 crew members who will staff the ship, and her co-captains, brothers Dimitrios Kafetzis and Tasos Kafetzis. Along with signing the paperwork, the ship’s handover event featured raising her flags that indicate she is a Celebrity Cruises vessel.

Celebrity Ascent Delivery

Celebrity Ascent is the line’s fourth Edge-class ship, but offers some design changes. These include two-story villa staterooms, an expanded Rooftop Garden, and an outdoor dining space at Blu, a specialty restaurant. Also, Le Voyage, by Chef Daniel Boulud, was redesigned.

The ship’s maiden voyage is a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale on December 3, 2023. Following the inaugural, Celebrity Ascent will operate 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises through the winter season.

She will sail a repositioning cruise on April 14, 2024, to Barcelona and spend the summer season in the Mediterranean.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas successfully completed her second set of sea trials and is in the final stages of outfitting at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland. 

The ship, which will debut in January 2024 as the largest cruise ship afloat, will carry 7,600 guests at full capacity, plus 2,350 crew.

Sea trials are held to test a ship’s operational systems, such as navigation, speed and propulsion, emergency and safety responses, stabilizers, noise, vibrations, and other elements. The trials were undertaken in the Baltic Sea, south of Finland; the first set of sea trials was completed in June 2023.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas During Sea Trials

Tests of onboard features are also done, including the FlowRider surf simulator and the Oculus Fall thrill ride in the ship’s AquaDome. Final touches are now underway onboard the ship, including to the carousel in the Surfside neighborhood.

Once fully completed, the ship will be handed over to Royal Caribbean and will sail to her homeport of Miami. Icon of the Seas’ maiden voyage on January 27, 2024 will be a 7-night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day itinerary, calling at St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and Perfect Day at CocoCay, the cruise line’s private destination in the Bahamas.

Celebrity Xcel is the name of Celebrity Cruises’ fifth Edge-class ship now under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The ship, which will be the final vessel in the Edge-class, is scheduled to debut in November 2025.

The cruise line has not disclosed full details of the ship’s design, but executives indicated she would offer new and innovative spaces not seen on other ships in the class. Celebrity Xcel will feature a redesigned Grand Plaza and will offer the line’s popular Retreat resort area, with private spaces for suite guests.

Celebrity Xcel Steel Cutting (Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises)

Like other Edge-class ships, cruisers sailing on Celebrity Xcel will enjoy a fine dining venue by Chef Daniel Boulud along with the popular Magic Carpet, a cantilevered space that functions as a lounge, dining venue, or entertainment area.

The 140,600-gross ton Celebrity Xcel will initially homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, operating 7-night Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean cruises.

Itineraries will vary based on departure date, with port calls slated for Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and other destinations.

We’ve got even more news on Cruise Hive, so check out our stories about Port Canaveral shattering its cruise arrivals record, Carnival Cruise Line revealing its onboard holiday celebrations, Holland America Line unveiling Alaska cruisetours for summer 2025, the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis preparing for a busy winter cruise season, and various cruise lines rolling out their Black Friday booking promotions.

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