New Giant Ships, Passengers, Cancellations

It’s time for another cruise news update from Cruise Hive, your best bet to keep up with all of the major cruise developments you need to know about.

In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve got coverage from Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruise News Update

Let’s dive into this week’s top cruise news stories from Cruise Hive. In this week’s coverage, read about exciting new ship orders from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, a slew of Royal Caribbean sailings opening for sale, Carnival Cruise Line naming another fleet cruise director, Princess Cruises again cancelling the launch of its new Sun Princess, and an itinerary change aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star causing a social media stir.

Royal Caribbean Orders Another Oasis-Class Ship

Another Oasis-class ship is on the horizon at Royal Caribbean, after the cruise line confirmed it placed an order for what will be the seventh vessel in the class. The February 15, 2024 agreement with the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France calls for delivery of the ship in 2028.

The class debuted in 2009 with Oasis of the Seas, followed by Allure of the Seas in 2010; Harmony of the Seas, 2016; Symphony of the Seas, 2018; and Wonder of the Seas, 2022. The sixth in the class, Utopia of the Seas, is under construction and due to enter service in July 2024.

Royal Caribbean Oasis-Class Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean Oasis-Class Cruise Ship

The Oasis class introduced the line’s popular neighborhood concept, including Boardwalk, with its AquaTheater, arcade, and carousel, and Central Park, a leafy, open space with thousands of live plants and a choice of restaurants and bars.

The announcement of the ship order came as a surprise to cruise watchers, who believed Utopia of the Seas would likely be the line’s final Oasis-class ship. The line already has introduced its newest class, Icon, with the launch in January of the highly anticipated Icon of the Seas, now the world’s largest ship. Two additional Icon-class vessels are under construction. 

Royal Caribbean has not disclosed details about the new Oasis-class ship order, but the vessel is expected to be roughly the same size as the existing ships in the class, which can accommodate about 5,600 guests in double occupancy.

Cruise Line Opens Sales on Many 2025-26 Voyages

Royal Caribbean opened for sale a slew of 2025 and 2026 cruises to the Caribbean and Canada/New England from a wide choice of ports. Bookings for voyages onboard seven ships opened to Crown & Anchor Society members on February 14, 2024 and to the general public a day later.

Cruises from the Northeast are featured from Bayonne, New Jersey, Boston, and Baltimore; from Florida’s Port Canaveral, PortMiami, and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale); from Galveston, in the Lone Star State; and from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: fitzcrittle)

Sailings range from five to 12 nights, depending on departure date and port. Highlights of the newly opened cruises include three ships sailing from Bayonne — Odyssey of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas. The ships will offer a mix of seasonal Caribbean/Bahamas sailings, plus Canada/New England itineraries.

Boston will be the seasonal homeport for summer sailings to Canada aboard Brilliance of the Seas, while Baltimore will continue to host Vision of the Seas on a year-round basis. The ship sails to Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Canada, depending on the season.

The Oasis-class Allure of the Seas will return to Galveston to offer 7-night Western Caribbean sailings, while two ships will deploy to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for winter cruising. Brilliance of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas will sail Southern Caribbean itineraries, calling at exotic ports such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Cruise Line Promotes Another to Fleet Cruise Director

Carnival Cruise Line is continuing to expand its roster of fleet cruise directors, and this time the promotion goes to Erin Weigand, who will soon become the line’s first female to hold the post.

Weigand joined the line as entertainment staff in 2015 and became a cruise director in 2018. She has served aboard several ships, including Carnival Spirit, Carnival Dream, and Carnival Sunrise, among others.

Fleet cruise directors are not assigned to a specific ship; rather, they are based shoreside and travel to various ships to train, mentor, and evaluate cruise directors, develop programming, and handle other tasks.

Erin Weigand, Carnival Fleet Cruise Director
Erin Weigand, Carnival Fleet Cruise Director

Cruise directors are crucial to the operation of every cruise, and at Carnival Cruise Line they are tasked with making sure guests enjoy the line’s Fun Ship vibe.

Weigand currently works as cruise director on Carnival Freedom, and was to remain there until mid-June 2024, however, with her promotion, Todd Evans will serve as cruise director starting on March 30, as Weigand begins her new duties.

Carnival Cruise Line, in the last two years, has promoted three cruise directors to fleet cruise director posts. They are Mike Pack, Chris “Donkey” Salazar, and Chris “The Flying Scotsman” Williams.

Sun Princess Inaugural Cruised Is Cancelled, Again

For the second time, Princess Cruises has cancelled the inaugural cruise of its new ship, Sun Princess, due to the need for additional technical work to be completed. The 175,000-gross-ton vessel was officially delivered to the line by the Fincantieri shipyard on February 14, 2024.

Sun Princess was to launch on February 8, 2024, sailing from Barcelona to Rome, but that voyage was cancelled on January 24, 2024. A new inaugural cruise was scheduled for February 18, 2024, and now that has been cancelled as well.

Sun Princess Cruise Ship
Sun Princess Cruise Ship

The cruise line has not revealed what kind of technical work must still be completed before the ship can operate her first voyage. The next sailing date on the cruise line website is February 28, 2024, when the ship will operate a 10-day “Grand Mediterranean” voyage from Rome to Barcelona.

Guests booked on the cancelled cruise are receiving a full refund of their cruise fare and all pre-paid services. The line also is offering a 50% future cruise credit for any future Princess Cruises sailing booked by November 30, 2024 and sailed by December 31, 2025.

Additionally, guests who have already traveled to Europe for the maiden voyage will receive reimbursement of their roundtrip airfare plus money toward hotels, meals, and other costs incurred while making travel plans to return home.

Carnival Cruise Line to Build Fourth Excel-Class Ship

Carnival Cruise Line confirmed it will expand its Excel-class offerings with the order of a fourth vessel, to be constructed at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. The launch of the unnamed ship is slated for 2027.

The new vessel will be a sister ship to Mardi Gras, which entered service in 2020; Carnival Celebration, introduced in 2022, and Carnival Jubilee, fresh out of the shipyard in 2023. The new-build mega-ship will have capacity for more than 6,400 guests.

Carnival Cruise Line Excel Class Ship
Carnival Cruise Line Excel Class Ship

Cruise insiders in recent weeks had been expecting an announcement of a new ship for Carnival Cruise Line, after unconfirmed reports indicated that parent company Carnival Corporation was poised to disclose the development.

Like the existing Excel-class ships, the new vessel will be powered by liquified natural gas, which cuts its carbon footprint by reducing emissions. The ships in this class are larger than others in the fleet, and able to offer more restaurants, bars, and activities.

Excel-class enthusiasts will be watching to see what unique features the new-build will offer. The newest in the class, Carnival Jubilee, introduced new “zones,” including Currents and The Shores, inspired by ocean and beach, and a Grand Central atrium, among others. Innovations on Mardi Gras included the first roller coaster at sea. 

Irate Cruiser Takes Complaints to TikTok

An irate guest sailing aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star is calling attention to an itinerary change she says is ruining her vacation at sea. Posting videos on TikTok using the name “ruinedvacation,” the woman’s complaints have attracted more than 3 million views.

Norwegian Star is sailing a 14-day South America cruise roundtrip from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Port calls include destinations in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Shetland Islands, and Falkland Islands The itinerary also originally included scenic cruising in Paradise Bay, a well-known cove off Antarctica’s mainland.

Unhappy Norwegian Star Cruise Passenger
Unhappy Norwegian Star Cruise Passenger

But the cruise line had altered the route, removing Paradise Bay and replacing it with scenic cruising near Elephant Island, which is farther from the Antarctic mainland but still technically part of Antarctica.

The disgruntled passenger, whose name is unknown, complained to guest services staff and said the cruise line did not notify guests about the change. However, it appears that an email was sent to guests and a notice was posted at the luggage check-in area on embarkation day. Apparently, the frustrated guest was among those who did not receive an email.

In a later social media post, the guest says she was told by crew members that the route change was a directive from the cruise line’s Miami office. The voyage concludes in Buenos Aires on February 18, 2024.

More Cruise Headlines

And that’s not all! Cruise Hive has many more cruise news stories you won’t want to miss, including coverage of three celebrity chefs set to join an MSC Cruises’ world cruise, Carnival Corporation being rated as a top employer, TUI Cruises posting robust financials for the first quarter, Nova Scotia cruise ports predicting record-breaking ship calls in 2024, and St. Maarten welcoming the new Icon of the Seas in spectacular style.

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