It’s time to dive into the big cruise stories of the week, and Cruise Hive has them all covered, with news from Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises.

Stay informed about all of the major developments in cruising at Cruise Hive, where we’ve got the cruise news you need to know about, including a couples’ dream cruise ruined by soaking wet carpet in their suite, a stowaway cat who has been adopted by a Royal Caribbean staffer, Carnival Cruise Line hiking prices for bottled water, Carnival Jubilee embarking on her maiden voyage, a Princess Cruises’ Antarctica voyage altering course due to bad weather, and the results of the 2023 Cruise Hive Awards.

The cruise industry is celebrating the fact that many ships are sailing at full capacity with every berth occupied, but there can be a downside, and one couple found that out the hard way.

Scott Kula and his wife booked a suite aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras for a December 16, 2023 sailing to the Eastern Caribbean out of Port Canaveral. The 7-night itinerary had calls scheduled in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Turks and Caicos.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

Upon embarkation, the couple found that the carpeting in their suite, for which they had plunked down close to $6,000 (USD), was soaked, due to severe weather, and had caused a musty smell in the cabin. Of course, they requested a different stateroom, but since the 6,500-guest ship was sailing full, there was no other accommodation available.

The couple rented a cabana onboard the ship since they felt the suite was basically uninhabitable. (Cabanas are available in the ship’s Loft 19 retreat area.) The only recompense the line offered was an onboard credit of an unknown amount, which was provided near the end of the sailing.

The cruisers have asked for a full refund, and Carnival Cruise Line said it would contact the couple after the voyage ended on December 23, 2023.

Remember Ovie, the stowaway cat who was found onboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas back in October 2023? Readers who followed the feline’s story will be glad to know that the furry creature has found a permanent home in Florida with one of the cruise line’s guest services staff.

Ovie was discovered by New Zealand inspection officials as the ship was sailing a 19-night cruise from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia. The cat was located in a guest’s stateroom. The guest was never identified, and there has been no confirmation that any charges were filed against the person, who, by bringing the cat onboard had violated animal import rules.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Stowaway Cat

The animal was temporarily quarantined in New Zealand, and the cruise line paid for his expenses and return to the US. It is unknown how Ovie was transported onto the 6,500-guest ship, since metal detectors and/or security imaging machines would likely have discovered him or his collar and metal tags, if he had any.

In the end, Ovie was in his new home for the holidays, as the Royal Caribbean staffer has officially adopted the former stowaway. And he is a well-traveled one, too. Cruise line officials believe that Ovie was originally from Arizona, and his global travels have exceeded 16,000 miles.

Carnival Cruise Line guests who prefer bottled water to what they find at beverage stations, eateries, and the sinks inside their cabins will pay more, now that the line has quietly hiked prices.

Bottled natural spring water currently costs $11.95 (USD) for a 12-pack of 16.9-ounce bottles. A 1.5-liter bottle costs $4.50, and an 8-pack of 1.5-liter bottles will run you $24.95. Before the hike, prices for these products were $9.95, $3.95, and $20, respectively.

However, about one year ago, the prices for some bottle sizes were considerably lower — the 12-pack was just $4.95, reflecting an increase of a whopping 141%. The line had raised that price to $9.95 in November 2022.

Water Bottles in Carnival Cruise Cabin (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

In spring 2023, Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald commented on the 12-pack price hike, citing inflation as the culprit.

Water can be pre-ordered before sailing, or ordered after embarkation. The prices are the same for either option, and the products are delivered to guests’ staterooms. Sometimes, as a courtesy, cruise lines reveal planned price hikes on goods that are available for pre-order, but Carnival Cruise Line did not do so.

The line in spring 2023 had quietly hike prices on other food and beverage items that can be pre-ordered, such as party trays, cakes, and cookies.

The first guests to sail aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s new Carnival Jubilee embarked the ship at her homeport of Galveston amid a Texas-sized welcome and a festive atmosphere on December 23, 2023.

The holiday sailing is a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary to Roatan, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. The 183,521-gross-ton, Excel-class ship set sail on her maiden voyage with 6,000 guests following a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a special welcome event for the first family to board the vessel.

Carnival Jubilee Arrives in Galveston (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

The inaugural cruise will feature special holiday events, including a Christmas gala dinner, interactions with Santa Claus, and holiday-themed activities before concluding on December 30, 2023.

Cruise line and port officials were on hand to mark the ship’s launch into service from the Galveston Wharves Terminal 25, which had been upgraded and renovated in advance of the ship’s arrival. The $53 million project included modifications to the gangway, work on elevators and other infrastructure, and improvements to security systems, among other initiatives.

Carnival Jubilee is the first brand new ship to homeport in Galveston. She will sail 7-night itineraries that mirror her maiden voyage.

Bad weather caused a Princess Cruises’ ship to alter course on her way to Antarctica, and guests were warned to expect a rough crossing of the Drake Passage, known for its huge waves and fast-changing ocean conditions.

The 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess was forced to cancel her port call at Ushuaia, Argentina, on December 24, 2023, Christmas Eve, after rough weather closed the port. With the weather expected to impact the ship’s Drake Passage crossing, guests were advised that the ship would accelerate the start of the crossing rather than provide scenic cruising around Cape Horn.

Sapphire Princess Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: ODEGOVA)

The notorious Drake Passage lies between Cape Horn, Chile, Argentina, and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. 

Sapphire Princess’ 16-night cruise departed from San Antonio, Chile, on December 19, 2023, with scheduled calls in Chile, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, and Uruguay, and scenic cruising in Antarctica before concluding in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 4, 2024.

Princess Cruises was refunding the cost of shore excursions planned for Ushuaia. Ship officials also alerted guests that internet access would be spotty as the ship sails in the itinerary’s remote areas.

The results of the prestigious Cruise Hive Awards 2023 are in! Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas was voted Best Overall Cruise Ship of 2023, and its upcoming ship, Icon of the Seas, was voted Most Anticipated New Cruise Ship.

Both are game-changer ships. Wonder of the Seas, which entered service in 2022, is the largest ship sailing today, at 236,857 gross tons and with capacity for 6,988 guests. Icon of the Seas, at 250,800-gross tons and able to accommodate 7,600 guests, will take the title away from Wonder of the Seas when she debuts on January 27, 2024. 

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Jubilee was voted Best New Cruise Ship of 2023, and entered service with her December 23, 2023 maiden sailing from Galveston, Texas.

Cruise Hive Awards (Photo Credit: Microfile.org / Shutterstock)

Port Canaveral, which is the world’s busiest cruise port in terms of cruise arrivals, was voted Best US Cruise Homeport of 2023. The Central Florida port is within an hour’s drive of the major theme parks of Orlando, a big draw for cruisers.

Carnival Cruise Line was voted Best Cruise Line for Service and Crew and also took the top prize as Best Booking Experience. The Fun Ship line also won the competition for Best Cruise Ship Feature for its BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster, a thrill ride that sends guests soaring 187 feet above sea level on motorcycle-style open cars.

The Cruise Hive Awards opened on October 1 and closed on December 22. The awards have been an annual feature since 2014, and offer cruise fan insights into different cruise lines and experiences.

And that’s not all we have for you! We covered plenty more cruise stories this week at Cruise Hive, such as guests aboard a Costa Cruises’ ship alerting authorities to shipwrecked victims in the waters near Dominican Republic, MSC Cruises unveiling its Wave Season promotion, and a P&O Cruises’ ship delaying departure due to the need for a deep clean of its facilities. Also, guests aboard a P&O Cruises’ ship encountering severe turbulence on their charter flight home, and Princess Cruises reminding guests of important paperwork prior to calling at Vietnam ports.

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