It’s time to catch up and find out what’s been going on in the past week in another cruise news update. Covering all the major cruise lines, we’ve got coverage on pre-cruise testing, Carnival making cutbacks, itinerary changes from Royal Caribbean, good news from Norwegian Cruise Line and more.
Cruise News Update
What a week of cruise news we had, so let’s make sure you don’t miss a thing, especially all those Carnival Cruise Line cutbacks, which we will get into later on in the update. We’ve also got coverage on the construction progress of Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal in Galveston, another milestone for a new Norwegian Cruise Line ship, pre-cruise testing changes by MSC Cruises, a change in testing protocols by Carnival and Royal Caribbean itinerary changes.
New Royal Caribbean Terminal 75% Complete
Royal Caribbean shared an update in the past week showing the company’s progress on its new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas. The state-of-the-art facility already shows Royal Caribbean’s signature anchor logo on the roof and is about 75% complete.
Construction of the 68-foot tall building started in the summer of 2021, when contractors broke ground, marking the start of construction. Since then, the terminal’s structure has risen and will be completed in the fall of this year.
With a total cost of 126 million dollars, the cruise terminal will be one of the most advanced buildings for embarking and disembarking cruise ship passengers in the United States. Mobile check-in and facial recognition will enhance the process at the terminal.
Once completed, the new terminal building will be able to handle the mass of people that come to Galveston to sail onboard the Oasis-class Allure of the Seas. Starting November 13, the cruise ship will be sailing on a series of seven-night western Caribbean cruises.
Norwegian Viva Floats Out
Although global supply issues have set the construction of Norwegian Viva and her sister Norwegian Prima back somewhat, Norwegian Cruise Line still has enough to celebrate.
After Norwegian Prima was officially handed over by the shipyard to the cruise line a week prior, there was another occasion to celebrate on August 2 as Norwegian Viva took to the water for the first time while under construction at the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard in Italy.
The float-out is an important milestone in the construction of a cruise ship and was celebrated by welding a commemorative coin into the ship. The float-out marks the completion of the external work of the vessel, with the focus shifting on completing the interior of the 142,500 gross ton cruise ship and the cabins for the 3,215 passengers that will be sailing onboard the ship from mid-2023.
With a slight delay of just over two weeks, Norwegian Viva is expected to make her debut on July 3, 2023. She will spend her inaugural season in Europe, sailing in the eastern and western Mediterranean.
MSC Cruises Drops Pre-Cruises Testing
Following in the footsteps of other major cruise lines, MSC Cruises has made several changes to its health and safety protocols for cruises sailing from the United States. The changes follow the lifting of the voluntary Program for Cruise Ships from the CDC several weeks ago.
The new protocols will be in effect from August 8, 2022, onwards. They include that all fully vaccinated guests sailing on a cruise of five nights or shorter will no longer be required to provide a negative test result before sailing. Instead, the cruise line only recommends getting tested before sailing.
For all unvaccinated guests aged two years and up, a lab-administered negative viral test (NAAT or antigen) taken within three days of embarkation is needed for all cruises from U.S. ports. The same policy counts for all cruises onboard MSC cruise ships sailing itineraries six days and longer from U.S. ports.
For all cruises sailing from the United States, there will be no changes to the vaccination policies that are in place currently. This means that all guests ages 12 years and older must be fully vaccinated.
Carnival Cruise Line Backtracks on the Bahamas
Carnival Cruise Line has updated its pre-cruise testing protocols, specifically as they relate to sailings to The Bahamas.
This had caused some confusion in recent days, as other cruise lines have not required testing on shorter cruises with Bahamian ports of call, but Carnival still mandated tests for all passengers, regardless of vaccination status or cruise length, if visiting The Bahamas.
Effective from August 8, on cruises 5 nights or less, vaccinated passengers do not need to present a pre-cruise test result of any kind, including those sailing to the Bahamas. This is a change from the clarification Carnival Cruise Line provided just days ago.
Unvaccinated passengers, however, must still show a negative test result to be permitted to sail, even on shorter sailings. This may be either a supervised PCR or antigen test, and it may be taken up to three days before embarkation.
All guests age 2 and older – regardless of vaccination status – must present a negative test result for any Carnival cruise, to The Bahamas or any other destination, if the sailing is 6 nights or longer.
This clarification is a welcome notice for guests booked on upcoming short sailings to The Bahamas.
Previously, Carnival Cruise Line did require testing for all passengers visiting the popular island nation, despite The Bahamas having no mandate for travelers to present a negative test result upon entering the country. That requirement was ended in The Bahamas on June 19, 2022.
Quantum of the Seas Itinerary Changes
Due to ongoing engine issues, Royal Caribbean has altered the remainder of the Alaska itineraries for Quantum of the Seas this season. Changes include dropping scenic glacier sailing days, replacing ports of call, and altering port times to accommodate the vessel’s slower speeds.
The impacted itineraries for the Quantum-class ship include embarkation dates in late August, 22 and 29, as well as all September departure dates: 5, 12, 19, and 26. Previously, the August 1, 8, and 15 sailings were changed.
Quantum of the Seas is offering 7-night roundtrip Alaska sailings from Seattle, with two different itineraries scheduled.
Depending on the itinerary for each sailing date, scenic cruising for Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier is being removed, and port time in Juneau is being slightly extended. Alternatively, sailings slated to have visited Icy Strait Point will now visit Ketchikan instead.
In emails sent to booked guests to notify them of the itinerary changes, the reasoning is given as “due to speed limitations caused by a technical issue with one of the ship’s engines.”
No safety mechanisms aboard the ship have been compromised, and no hotel operations are impacted. Only the ship’s cruising speed is affected.
And finally, we find out what Carnival Cruise Line is pushing back on and taking away. In the past week, the cruise line sent out a communication detailing some permanent changes to onboard dining venues across the fleet.
Effective as of August 1, 2022, Carnival is cutting back on a wide range of dining services, venues, and operating times. These cutbacks are not as extreme as they may at first seem.
Carnival cruise ships will no longer have a 24-hour pizzeria. Instead, the Pizza Pirate or Pizzeria del Capitano (depending on the ship) will operate from 9 a.m. until 4 a.m., and will be closed for the five least busy hours of the 24-hour period.
Guests craving a late-night snack will no longer be able to enjoy Late Night Snacks in the Lido Restaurant, but will be able to get Pizza Plus options instead.
The popular Sea Day Brunch, with its exclusive offerings in the main dining room, always a guest favorite, will be shortened by one hour, concluding at noon instead of 1 p.m.
The fun vibe of Ocean Plaza, a fixture onboard seven Carnival vessels – will no longer be available with a light snack menu for breakfast and lunch.
Room service door hanger menus will no longer be available for placing outside stateroom doors to request breakfast. While room service offerings will not change, guests must now call room service to place their orders.
Complimentary occasion cakes – popular for birthdays and anniversaries – will no longer be available during dinner in the main dining room.
The Chocolate Extravaganza buffet, typically offered on the last Fun Day at Sea, will continue to be paused at this time, but may return on future cruises. The Afternoon Tea Time, an elegant snack time and social hour, is still on pause, but will be returning. Also, the once popular HairChest competition on the lido deck is not coming back. That activity has gone and Carnival is instead introducing some new alternatives.
More Cruise Headlines
It was a very busy week of cruise news indeed, and we’ve got all the full coverage over on cruisehive.com, including updated protocols from Royal Caribbean, another rockslide impacting the cruise dock in Skagway, Alaska, it’s the end of a popular lido competition across Carnival cruise ships, Carnival reaches a major milestone since restarting operations, construction underway for two Caribbean cruise ports, Carnival Paradise cancellations due to dry dock, fishing boat collides with NCL cruise ship, and plenty more stories all over on the website.