It’s easy to stay up to date on the big cruise headlines with Cruise Hive, where we’ve got full coverage of all major developments. In this week’s update, read about Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Let’s get going with this week’s top cruise news stories from Cruise Hive, including Princess Cruises raising its internet rates big time, Norwegian Cruise Line possibly home-porting a ship in Jacksonville, Florida, the gala christening of Icon of the Seas, Carnival Cruise Line replacing a Dr. Seuss breakfast event, the cancellation of Sun Princess’ maiden voyage, and Norwegian Cruise Line deploying two ships to US homeports.
In what appears to be an effort to sell more bundled packages of onboard services, Princess Cruises is hiking the price of its internet plans — but only if a plan is bought independently of other packages, like dining or beverage plans.
In a notification to travel agents, Princess Cruises said guests buying a WiFi plan for one device will pay $24.99 per day, a hefty increase of 65% compared to the current cost of $14.99 per day. The cost increase for a four-device plan will rise to $44.99 per day, up from $39.99. The new rates took effect on pre-cruise purchases starting January 22, 2024.
The increased costs are designed to make it financially unwise to buy only an internet plan. Under the Princess Plus package, for instance, guests can pay about $60 per day for a plan that covers not only unlimited WiFi but also beverages, crew gratuities, specialty dining, room service, fitness classes, and other services and perks.
Any guest booked to sail who has already pre-paid for an internet plan will not be charged the new rates. Internet services onboard Princess Cruises’ ships, like most others in the industry, now use Starlink satellites from SpaceX, which provide much faster access than previous services.
It appears likely that Norwegian Cruise Line is looking at Jacksonville, Florida, as a potential homeport for one of its cruise ships.
Cruise insiders spotted a new landing page on the cruise line’s website, showing sailings from Jacksonville marked “Coming Soon.” Also, local media reports indicate that an official of the port, called JaxPort, recently told the port authority’s board that a cruise line is expressing interest in home-porting a ship.
JaxPort CEO Eric Green did not disclose the name of the interested line, but said it is not Carnival Cruise Line, which currently homeports its 2,190-guest Carnival Elation at Jacksonville.
The ship sails 4- and 5-night cruises to the Bahamas year-round. Other blue-water cruise lines that sometimes call at Jacksonville include Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Crystal, and American Cruise Lines offers river cruises from Jacksonville.
The port, in northern Florida about 165 miles from Port Canaveral, could be a good departure port not only for Caribbean and Bahamas sailings but also Bermuda and even New England/Canada cruises.
There is a height limit for ships entering JaxPort, since the city’s Dames Point Bridge requires vessels to be under 180 feet from the water line in order to pass under it.
It was a festive and gala event at PortMiami on January 23, 2024, when celebrity footballer Lionel Messi officially christened the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Live-streamed across social media, the ceremony was hosted by American actor Mario Lopez.
Able to accommodate 7,600 guests at full capacity, the 248,663-gross ton ship is the first of the line’s innovative Icon class. Her christening featured maritime traditions such as blessings from clergy, a bagpiper, and the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while adding some new elements, including videos of crew members talking about the ship and performances by the ship’s entertainment staff.
Royal Caribbean executives attended the event along with PortMiami and Miami-Dade County officials, plus representatives of the Meyer Turku shipyard that constructed the vessel.
The ship will depart on her inaugural voyage on January 27, 2024, sailing a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise calling at Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, and Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Icon of the Seas will operate alternate 7-night Western and Eastern Caribbean voyages, with Eastern Caribbean cruises slated to call at St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Perfect Day at CocoCay. Port calls will depend on the departure date.
Carnival Cruise Line is saying good-bye to its Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast and hello to a new Seuss-inspired meal, the Thing 1 & 2 Birthday Breakfast. The swap has already rolled out on the line’s newest ship, Carnival Jubilee, and will be introduced fleet-wide through early May 2024.
For years the green eggs and ham event has been held once per cruise in each ship’s main dining room. The line charges $10 for adults and $8 for children, but fees for the new event will rise to $15 for adults and $10 for children.
Thing 1 & Thing 2 are characters from the Seuss book “The Cat in the Hat.” Breakfast foods on the new menu offer delights such as Who-Ville Red Velvet French Toast and a Who Roast Beast Omelet. A green eggs and ham platter also will be available.
The revamped breakfast event will debut on Carnival Cruise Line ships on various dates through May 7, 2024, when the final introduction will be made on Carnival Firenze. Some key roll-out dates include March 16 for Mardi Gras, March 17 for Carnival Celebration, April 5 for Carnival Venezia, and April 6 for Carnival Vista.
The Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast will continue to be offered on the ships until each vessel’s swap date.
Guests booked to sail aboard the maiden voyage of Princess Cruises’ new Sun Princess were disappointed to learn that delivery of the ship from the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy is delayed and the inaugural voyage is cancelled.
The 10-night “Grand Mediterranean” cruise from Barcelona to Rome was to depart on February 8, 2024 and make port calls at Palma de Mallorca, Messina, Athens, Ephesus, Crete, and Naples.
Neither the shipyard nor the cruise line has offered a reason for the delay, but cruise watchers suggest that supply chain obstacles, labor shortages, or inspection issues could be among the challenges.
So far, only the maiden voyage has been cancelled. The ship’s second scheduled voyage, a 10-day cruise roundtrip from Rome, is still slated to depart on February 18, 2024.
Guests booked on the maiden cruise will receive refunds of their cruise fare, port charges and taxes, and any pre-paid purchases such as dining or drink packages, excursions, spa treatments, and other similar services.
The cruise line is providing up to $200 per person toward flight cancellation or change fees, and is offering all booked guests a future cruise credit equal to 50% of their cruise fare. The credit must be put toward a new booking by November 30, 2024, for cruises departing no later than December 31, 2025.
Norwegian Cruise Line revealed it will base two more ships at US ports for Caribbean sailings in fall of 2024, offering new itineraries from New Orleans and Port Canaveral, Florida.
With the shift, the cruise line will have a dozen ships plying Caribbean waters in fall 2024 and into winter 2025.
Citing strong demand for cruises to warm-weather destinations, the cruise line will homeport the 4,000-Norwegian Getaway and the 4,100-guest Norwegian Epic in New Orleans and Port Canaveral, respectively.
Starting on October 20, 2024, Norwegian Getaway will sail 7-night Western Caribbean cruises from the Big Easy with port calls at Harvest Caye, Belize; Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.
Norwegian Epic, sailing from Port Canaveral, will launch her series of cruises on October 30, 2024, offering multiple 7-day itineraries in the Caribbean and Bahamas. Port calls will vary by departure date, and will include Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and George Town, Grand Cayman, among others.
The repositioning of Norwegian Getaway has resulted in the cancellation of seven Europe sailings. Booked guests have been informed and cruise fares are being refunded. The cruise line has not yet announced any cancellations of Norwegian Epic’s Europe sailings, but it appears at least three voyages will likely be impacted.
Ready for more? Cruise Hive has additional cruise industry new stories you won’t want to miss, such as Viking opening up all of its 2026 ocean voyages due to strong demand, Disney Cruise Line unveiling new outfits for Mickey and Minnie at its new private destination, luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises adding overnight stays in every port on six itineraries, and Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s Bolette gearing up for her first world voyage in 2025. And don’t miss a special insight article about retiring on a cruise ship.
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