In this week’s cruise news update, we’ve finally got the major cruise lines starting to ease the pre-cruise testing requirement. Carnival Cruise line and Royal Caribbean have made protocol changes, along with developments on itinerary changes, redeployments, and the new Norwegian Cruise Line ship.
Cruise News Update
Plenty of major cruise news to catch up on as Carnival Cruise line and Royal Caribbean drop pre-cruise testing on shorter sailings due to the CDC ending its voluntary program. We’ve also got coverage on the first Prima-class Norwegian cruise ship being delivered, a major fleet milestone for Holland America Line, redeployments for four Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and itinerary changes by Princess Cruises.
Royal Caribbean Drops Testing on Shorter Cruises
We start with one of the biggest news stories from the week with Royal Caribbean announcing a change to its testing requirements. Guests sailing with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea will not be required to present a negative test result starting from August 8.
The requirement will initially be removed for vaccinated guests sailing on cruises less than six nights in length. Guests that have not been vaccinated and all guests sailing on cruises six nights in length and longer will still need to provide proof of a negative test.
With the majority of cruises for Royal Caribbean International shorter than six nights, the new requirement will significantly impact the pre-cruise preparation for guests. The change in policy is a direct result of the CDC ending the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships on July 18, 2022.
Removing the testing requirements will mean a massive boost for Royal Caribbean. Many people are postponing their cruise plans due to the hassle of testing two days before a voyage. The cruise line is releasing all the details on the newly updated protocols to booked guests on the week of August 1, 2022.
Over the coming weeks and months, Royal Caribbean has also confirmed a further easing of its protocols, including allowing unvaccinated guests 12 and over to sail but still committing to 80% of capacity being fully vaccinated.
Royal Caribbean Deployment Changes
Royal Caribbean has recently notified guests of multiple ship swaps and redeployments for both 2023 and 2024 itineraries. These changes affect a total of four ships, with sailings in Alaska, Australia, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Brilliance of the Seas was to have offered Mediterranean itineraries from May through November 2023, but those sailings will now be taken over by Enchantment of the Seas with similar itineraries and ports of call.
Brilliance of the Seas will instead be offering Alaska sailings from Vancouver for the 2023 summer season, before moving to Australia in October. At that time, Enchantment of the Seas will return from Europe to take over the ship’s previously scheduled Caribbean itineraries departing from Tampa, Florida for fall 2023.
Voyager of the Seas was to have been sailing from Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral in the fall of 2023, but those cruises have now been assigned to Adventure of the Seas. Meanwhile, Voyager of the Seas will be redeployed to Galveston, Texas in May 2023.
The reason for the changes is due to The International Maritime Organization recently sharing new speed regulations that the cruise line must keep to and this will impact those ship deployments.
Norwegian Prima Delivery
During a ceremony at the shipyard in Marghera, Italy, Fincantieri officially handed over Norwegian Prima, the first of six Prima-class ships, to Norwegian Cruise Line.
The delivery was slightly delayed. Earlier this year, Norwegian Cruise Line announced the original inaugural voyage had to be canceled and pushed back later in the summer due to supply chain challenges.
At 142,500 gross tons, with space for 3,215 guests, the ship is not the largest in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet; however, it is still packed with exciting and innovative features that puts Norwegian Prima in a league of its own.
Debuting this August, Norwegian Prima will be the first major cruise ship christened in Iceland, commencing her eight-day inaugural voyage in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik on August 27, 2022, sailing to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
After her inaugural voyage, Norwegian Prima will sail from Amsterdam on September 3 kicking off a series of 8-day voyages to Copenhagen.
The vessel will sail from Southampton to New York City on September 23, and will arrive in New York City on October 5. Norwegian Prima will sail from New York City, Miami, and Port Canaveral during her stay in the United States.
From December 2023, Norwegian Prima will be based in Galveston, Texas, sailing on a series of 7-night Caribbean cruises to Harvest Caye, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.
Major Milestone for Holland America Line
Holland America Line celebrated a special occasion on July 24, namely the first anniversary of the return to cruising and hitting more than 240 cruises over the past year.
The Seattle-based company returned ten cruise ships to service, welcoming back onboard thousands of guests that waited for more than a year to sail again.
Nieuw Amsterdam was Holland America Line’s first ship to make its return on July 24 last year, when she sailed from Seattle, Washington. The last vessel to resume operations was Westerdam on June 12, 2022.
In the 365 days since Nieuw Amsterdam started sailing again, Holland America Line has amassed an impressive array of statistics on what happened since then. The cruise line gives a glimpse into the massive scale of the operations that occur daily onboard the cruise ships.
242 cruises have sailed, during which the ships visited 169 different ports worldwide and 122 glacier visits in Alaska. The ships traveled 502,565 nautical miles to get to those ports, which is enough to travel to the moon and back– two and a half times.
During the 242 cruises, the 12,287 crew members from 98 different countries managed to serve more than 6.5 million meals, over 1.1 million beers, and over 3.2 million sodas, waters, and juices.
Princess Cruises Itinerary Changes
Multiple Princess Cruises’ itineraries in Alaska for several ships must be adjusted due to dock closure in Skagway. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, which owns one of the largest docks in the popular port of call, has determined a rockslide risk to the dock, requiring immediate closure to safeguard cruise ships and visitors.
With the Railroad Dock now fully closed – the second berth was closed earlier last month after a small rockslide that caused minor damage to Discovery Princess – the cruise line’s Royal-class vessels, the largest in the Princess Cruises’ fleet, will need to make itinerary adjustments.
While schedules are still being arranged, several current changes have already been adjusted. This included the July 23 sailing of Majestic Princess, a roundtrip 14-night “Voyage of the Glaciers Grand Adventure” itinerary, which didn’t call in Skagway on Tuesday, July 26. Instead, the ship visited Icy Strait Point.
Other July Skagway visits on Royal Princess, Discovery Princess, and Grand Princess were also adjusted. More visits through August are also impacted.
Carnival Cruise Line Removes Testing for Shorter Sailings
With most major cruise lines having already introduced changes to their testing requirements following the end of the CDC program for U.S.-based cruise ships, many people were waiting to see what Carnival Cruise Line would be doing.
On Friday, Carnival announced a series of protocol changes that will be introduced in August. The most crucial difference is that guests will no longer need to be tested if they are sailing on short cruise itineraries of 5 nights or less, effective on and after August 4, 2022.
Also from August 4, guests sailing on cruises of six nights and longer will still need to undergo testing, but Carnival Cruise Line has extended the timeline in which this needs to be done to three days before the cruise departure.
There will be no more in-terminal testing for guests who have not been fully vaccinated. Still, all unvaccinated guests, age two and older, must provide proof of a negative result of a lab-administered or supervised self-administered antigen COVID test taken within three days before embarkation.
This means guests no longer need to provide a negative PCR test; instead, an antigen test will be sufficient. This change will make a huge impact on families traveling with unvaccinated children, in particular, due to the expensive nature of PCR testing.
The cruise line also speaks about introducing further phased-in changes in the future. This could mean that the cruise line would be thinking of dropping all testing requirements and possibly even the vaccine mandates.
More Cruise Headlines
So those were just a handful of the news stories from the past week, we’ve got even more coverage, including impressive cruise passengers numbers for Mexico, a business update from Royal Caribbean, new itineraries announced by Princess Cruises, retail details for the new Carnival Celebration, study shows cruise industry set to rebound, Game of Thrones cruise and so much more, it was just another busy week in the cruise industry.