Guests set to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime sailing to Antarctica aboard Norwegian Star on February 18, 2024 are now being notified that every port of call on the itinerary has been adjusted less than two weeks before the ship sets sail.
While all ports are preserved, the times in port have been shifted and some of the sailing time in Antarctica is likewise shortened. What will this mean for the overall cruise?
Norwegian Star is set to depart on Sunday, February 18 on an 18-night sailing with visits to destinations in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. Along the way, time sailing in scenic parts of Antarctica is also on the itinerary.
Now, guests have been informed of multiple changes to the schedule, with the time in every port of call adjusted.
“While we try to maintain original itineraries as much as possible, unfortunately, at times modifications are made to optimize the itinerary or to accommodate certain circumstances,” the notification explained. “As such, in order to enhance the guest experience, the itinerary has been revised.”
The total in-port time is an overall gain of 75 minutes, with changes to the schedule as follows:
Monday, February 19 – Montevideo, Uruguay now 6:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. (formerly 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – a loss of 45 minutes
Wednesday, February 21 – Puerto Madryn, Argentina now 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (formerly 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) – a gain of 30 minutes
Friday, February 23 – Punta Arenas, Chile now 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (formerly 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) – no gain or loss of time
Saturday, February 24 – Ushuaia, Argentina now 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (formerly 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – a loss of 30 minutes
Wednesday, February 28 – Stanley, Falkland Islands now 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (formerly Thursday, February 29 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.) – a gain of 120 minutes
It should be noted that the day Norwegian Star will be visiting the Falkland Islands has been shifted a day early to Wednesday, February 28, rather than on Thursday, February 29. Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Marina will also be in port on February 28.
These changes are similar to a previous itinerary adjustment announced for the ship’s March 3, 2024 departure, though in that case, a total of three hours of port time are lost.
Norwegian Cruise Line is automatically adjusting shore excursions booked through the cruise line to the new times or days as needed, and guests do not need to take any further action to preserve their tours. If guests have made independent tour arrangements, they will need to contact their tour operators to notify them of the change and make any adjustments as needed.
While this particular cruise does not have any landing in Antarctica, scenic cruising in the region is a highlight of the itinerary. Originally, Norwegian Star was scheduled to cruise in Paradise Bay on Monday, February 26, followed by Elephant Island and Cape Lookout on Tuesday, February 27.
Now, the ship will not be going as far into Antarctic waters as initially planned. Paradise Bay has been removed as a cruising destination, with Admiralty Bay substituted instead on February 26. The same day, the ship will also spend time near Elephant Island and Cape Lookout.
This will effectively reduce the amount of time Norwegian Star will spend in Antarctic waters, but will still give guests excellent scenic opportunities. Putting all the scenic cruising into one day will create another full day at sea at the end of the cruise as the ship heads back to Buenos Aires, which can permit a slower and more fuel efficient cruising speed.
No detailed explanation for all these changes has been given, other than “to enhance the guest experience.” The overall increase in port time will give passengers more opportunities to enjoy amazing destinations, but the reduction in Antarctic cruising will be disappointing to some travelers.
The waters around the tip of South America and Antarctica can be some of the most turbulent on the planet, and it is not unusual for cruise ships to adjust itineraries ahead of expected storm systems or when conditions may not be ideal for the smoothest, most comfortable sailing.
The 91,740-gross-ton, Dawn-class Norwegian Star is offering similar itineraries through the end of March, at which time the ship will reposition to Europe for the summer sailing season. The vessel can welcome 2,348 guests aboard for each cruise, with just over 1,000 international crew members onboard to ensure everyone has a memorable vacation.
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