It’s time for this week’s cruise news update from Cruise Hive, where you can count on complete coverage of the top news stories from the cruise industry. This week, we have articles about Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruise Hive is the site to watch for the cruise news you need to know about. We’ve got all of the top cruise stories, including Princess Cruises changing its pricing model, Carnival Miracle’s 2025 deployment to Europe, Carnival Cruise Line raising the price of its priority add-on package, a Royal Caribbean ship evacuating US nationals from Israel, Wonder of the Seas limiting loyalty member access to a popular lounge, and Norwegian Cruise Line marking its return to Asia.

Princess Cruises introduced a new pricing model it hopes will attract bookings as soon as sales open, and avoid last-minute cruise fare discounting.

As many cruisers know, cruise lines often announce deep discounts close-in to sailings that have cabins still available, since no cruise ship wants to depart with empty staterooms. But the practice comes with many problems, including lower revenues and the potential for angering guests who booked earlier and paid higher fares.

Under the new Princess Cruises plan, the line will present its best and lowest fares as soon as sales open. It also introduced a Best Price Guarantee.

Princess Cruises Ship (Photo Credit: Boumen Japet)

The guarantee comes into play on any booking made on Princess Cruises’ official website and is valid within 72 hours of the reservation — that means no bookings made on third-party sites or through travel agencies are eligible. 

Guests who find a lower price are guaranteed the line will make up for the fare difference, however, don’t expect cash. The match will be offered in the form of a stateroom upgrade, an onboard credit, or other, similar actions.

Last-minute discounting has been a tradition in the cruise industry for years, but in the current market, where cruises are in high demand and many sailings sell out, its necessity has significantly lessened.

With its new pricing model, Princess Cruises also is allowing guests to secure low rates when booking future cruises without selecting specific dates or itineraries. It is meant to encourage bookings during special promotions without a commitment to one set date or itinerary.

In summer 2025, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle will head to Europe, where she will offer sailings from England, Portugal, and Italy ports. The 2,124-guest ship will operate 16 cruises, including itineraries exploring the British Isles, the Western Mediterranean, and Northern Europe.

The series will kick off on May 11, 2025, with a 7-day cruise from Lisbon, Portugal, to Dover, England, the port for London.

The lion’s share of the series, nine cruises, will depart from Dover and visit destinations such as Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Liverpool, England. Iceland is also on some itineraries, along with Amsterdam and Copenhagen, among others.

Carnival Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani)

In August 2025, the ship will be repositioned to Rome for a series of cruises to ports in Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Sicily. Carnival Miracle will depart Rome for Tampa, Florida, in November 2025, to begin a winter schedule in the Caribbean.

With its Carnival Miracle news, the cruise line also opened sales on 100 cruises from US ports, with departures in 2025 and 2026. These cruises will call at the highly anticipated Celebration Key, a private destination on Grand Bahama Island.

Celebration Key will open in July 2025, and promises visitors an authentic Bahamian experience. All told, 18 Carnival Cruise Line ships from nine homeports will offer itineraries that include Celebration Key. More cruises to the new destination may be unveiled in the future.

Cruisers booked to sail on most Carnival Cruise Line ships in 2024 can now book the add-on package called Faster to the Fun (FTTF), which provides a slew of services and benefits important to many guests. 

These include priority check-in, immediate stateroom access, priority reservations in the main dining room and at specialty restaurants, priority water shuttle access at tender ports, and a choice of early or late debarkation times, among other things.

Carnival Cruise Line Ship (Photo Credit: Amonarch)

That’s the good news. Now, the less-good news: The cruise line is raising prices for the add-on. The per-stateroom cost increase varies, depending on the class of ship and the length of the cruise, from $10 to $20.

For example, the add-on price for a 2- or 3-night cruise will rise by $10, to $69.95, while the package on cruises of nine nights or longer will increase by $20, to $189.95. All guests booked in the same stateroom receive all of the FTTF benefits for one price. 

The FTTF plan is not offered on any sailings in Europe, or on cruises from two US ports, Norfolk, Virginia, and San Francisco. Also, it is not available on any Carnival Journeys cruises.

Moreover, the cruise line can limit sales of the add-on for certain sailings, such as holiday cruises, inaugural sailings, or other special itineraries.

Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, which was home-porting in Haifa, Israel, as the Hamas-Israel conflict erupted, evacuated an unknown number of US nationals and the immediate family members of US nationals. The ship can accommodate up to 2,416 guests with all berths occupied.

Since its scheduled itineraries from Haifa were halted, the US Embassy in Israel arranged for the ship to assist with evacuations. Rhapsody of the Seas set sail with her evacuees on October 16, bound for Limassol, Cyprus, where onward transportation would be coordinated.

Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: ATGImages)

Cyprus is just 170 miles from Haifa, and the journey took roughly 10 to 12 hours. With commercial air travel mostly suspended to and from Israel, the availability of Rhapsody of the Seas was welcome.

Staff from the US Consulate was onboard the ship with the evacuees, and also were in Cyprus to help with further transport arrangements. Each traveler was asked to sign a promissory note, agreeing to reimburse the US government for their sailing to Cyprus. Once they reached safety in Cyprus, all travelers were responsible for arranging their own transportation to the US or another destination.

Rhapsody of the Seas, a Vision-class ship, is scheduled to sail her next regular cruise on November 12, 2023, from Barcelona. The cruise is a repositioning voyage to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A certain group of loyalty program members aboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas experienced a bit of a snubbing this week, when they were denied access to the Crown Lounge during the early evening cocktail hour.

Royal Caribbean’s loyalty cruisers earn points based on how many days they have sailed with the line, and enjoy many benefits as a result. Members of the lowest level, Diamond, were informed during the cruise that they would not be admitted to the free-drinks lounge between 5 and 8 p.m., each night.

Members of the higher tiers, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club, are unaffected and able to access the lounge. The cruise line pointed to the large number of Top Tier Crown & Anchor Society members on the cruise as the reason for limiting access.

Photo Credit: NorthPark / Shutterstock

Typically, guests who have earned Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club status can enter the lounge 24/7. On Wonder of the Seas’ current cruise, Diamond members have access all day and night, outside the affected early evening timeframe, which, not surprisingly, is the lounge’s busiest time.

Royal Caribbean’s terms and conditions document points out that access to the popular lounge may become limited, for various reasons.

Wonder of the Seas, which accommodates 5,734 guests in double occupancy, is sailing a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida.

Norwegian Cruise Line marked the start of its return to the Asia market after a three-year absence. Four ships will deploy to the region, and it began this week with the departure of Norwegian Jewel as she begins a series of 16 cruises.

The 2,376-guest Norwegian Jewel set sail from Tokyo on an 11-day cruise to Taipei, Taiwan, with calls at Kyoto, Hiroshima City, Nagasaki, and Okinawa Island, Japan; and Hualien, Taiwan. Her series of cruises offers itineraries ranging from 10 to 14 days, with departures offered from Tokyo and eight other ports. 

Three more Norwegian Cruise Line ships will be positioned in Asia-Pacific and/or Australia/New Zealand in the coming months.

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Ship in Asia (Photo Courtesy: NCL)

The 2,000-guest Norwegian Sky will sail in the region from December 2024 to March 2025. Ten- to 17-day itineraries are offered from ports including Singapore; Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo; and Port Louis, Mauritius.

The 2,002-guest Norwegian Spirit will offer Australia/New Zealand and South Pacific cruises from December 2023 to March 2024, followed by Asia sailings from Manila, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Seoul, South Korea.

Norwegian Sun, with capacity for 2,400 guests, will begin a six-month deployment to Asia-Pacific in October 2024. She will sail 13 itineraries, including three from Australia and one from New Zealand.

Those weren’t all of the cruise news stories we have on Cruise Hive. We have plenty more, including Seabourn announcing a new fine-dining restaurant on several ships, a Scotland cruise port looking to break cruise traffic records, a Princess Cruises’ ship making her maiden call to New Zealand, Costa Cruises making changes to its executive team, and a big storm causing a Norwegian Cruise Line ship to adjust her British Isles cruise.

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