Here’s your final cruise news update for October across the major cruise lines, with the big stories from the week. We’ve got news on Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line.
Cruise News Update
In this week’s cruise news round-up, we’ve got a mixture of updates that not all guests will be happy to hear, such as Carnival Cruise Line adjusting 21 sailings, which we will get into later on.
Cruise Hive also has coverage on Royal Caribbean’s record-breaking future mega-ship, more cruise lines removing requirements to make it even easier to take a cruise vacation, and Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship arriving in North America!
Icon of the Seas Booking Record!
We already know that Icon of the Seas is set to break the record as the world’s largest cruise ship. But the cruise line can add one more record to the ship before it even sets sail, as phenomenal response and interest led to the biggest ever single-day booking record in Royal Caribbean’s 53-year history.
Public bookings opened on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, just five days after new details of the ship were revealed, including many of its unparalleled features. Members of the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program – actually had the opportunity to book the day before, on Monday, October 24.
It is the October 25th bookings that have surpassed the cruise line’s records, however, and is sure to be the first of many records the new Icon-class vessel will break.
Royal Caribbean has not revealed all the details of the booking record, but it may be more than just sheer volume of reservations made.
Types of cabins sold, the speed at which reservations filled up, the revenue projected from the bookings, and other details can all contribute to “booking records.”
It should also be noted that this does not mean individual cruises are already sold out, though the cruise line’s website does show very little availability remaining for the maiden voyage in January 2024, with both interior cabins and suites showing “sold out” on the booking engine.
It is possible that some reservations that have been made will be canceled in the 15 months before the ship debuts, as eager travelers change their plans. More likely, however, is the prospect that the ship will continue to generate spectacular interest and bookings will continue to surge.
That maiden voyage is a 7-night Eastern Caribbean roundtrip sailing from Miami, visiting St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and the cruise line’s private destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
After that first cruise, the ship will offer alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, with the western cruises visiting Honduras, CocoCay, and two ports in Mexico.
Carnival Cruise Line Drops Requirements
It’s a significant step to normality as Carnival Cruise Line has updated its Have Fun. Be Safe protocols. The cruise line no longer requires passengers to be fully vaccinated, and testing is not needed for almost all cruises for all guests.
So, vaccines, proof of vaccination, and testing for unvaccinated guests, are no longer required on cruises of 15 nights or less. However, Carnival encourages all guests 5 years and older to take a pre-cruise test within three days of their cruise.
Previously, vaccinated guests aged five and over had to provide proof of their status. Those guests who could not provide proof of vaccination had to present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no earlier than three days before sailing.
There are still requirements for longer sailings of 16 nights or more. Guests that are 18 years and over must still be fully vaccinated, including any booster shots.
If unvaccinated guests want to sail on longer cruises, they must apply for a vaccine exemption for 2023. Guests aged five and older must also present a PCR or antigen test taken within three days before departure.
Holland America Removes Requirements
Cruising is inching back to normality, and many cruise lines have now removed many of their requirements, including those by Holland America Line.
The Carnival-owned cruise brand has removed the need for guests to take a pre-cruise test, regardless of their vaccination status.
The update applies to most Holland America voyages and is effective immediately. It now makes cruises a lot easier for many guests. The cruise line is also removing checks on individual guest vaccination status unless a specific destination requires it.
The changes affect Holland America’s “Standard Protocols,” which apply to most cruise ship departures. There may be different requirements for charter sailings, Canada and Australia cruises. Guests can check which protocols apply to them by using the cruise line’s Health Protocols Tool. Guests can check specific protocols for their cruise booking.
Also included in the simplified “Standard Protocols” are Panama Canal transits up to 15 nights long. New ships such as Nieuw Statendam out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Koningsdam out of San Diego are also part of the more straightforward procedures. Even when the new Rotterdam begins sailings out of Fort Lauderdale this weekend, guests will enjoy fewer requirements.
Celebrity Cruise Ship Arrives in North America
Celebrity Beyond finished her first transatlantic crossing on October 25, a 12-night itinerary from Barcelona, Spain, that concluded the ship’s inaugural summer in the Mediterranean and brings her to North America.
The ship, helmed by Captain Kate McCue, arrived at the Port of Bayonne in New Jersey, the first time the new vessel has been in North America.
Notable attendees included Nate Berkus who welcomed media to the new Sunset Bar, a multi-level bar redefining the ship’s aft with its internationally-inspired beach club ambience, designed by Nate himself. Daniel Boulud was also in attendance hosting a private dinner at his first restaurant at sea, Le Voyage.
The ship departed New York to Fort Lauderdale on October 26, 2022, via a 9-night one-way sailing visiting Bermuda, Curacao, and Aruba.
From Fort Lauderdale, the ship will begin the winter Caribbean season offering 5-8 night sailings with itineraries that include ports of call in Mexico, The Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, and other popular destinations.
In late April 2023, the ship will return to the Mediterranean for another summer in Europe, offering round-trip sailings from Italy.
Mardi Gras Itinerary Changes
Carnival Cruise Line guests scheduled to sail onboard the line’s flagship, Mardi Gras, have been notified of a port of call change, with 21 different sailings impacted.
For the affected voyages, Mardi Gras will no longer be visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico. Instead, the ship will visit Nassau in the Bahamas.
Guests booked on the impacted sailings were notified of the change via email on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, regardless of when their cruise was planned.
A total of 21 Mardi Gras sailings are impacted by this change, including the nearest departure on December 31, 2022. There are also 12 departures impacted in 2023 and six in 2024.
Each of these sailings are 7-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries. These are not the only Eastern Caribbean cruises Mardi Gras is sailing, however, but other departure dates have not yet been affected. The remaining Eastern Caribbean sailings still include San Juan on the itinerary.
According to the local authorities, the changes have been made as a cost-saving exercise. Instead of sailing to San Juan, Carnival has opted for ports nearer to the cruise ship’s homeport of Port Canaveral, such as Nassau in the Bahamas.
In February, Carnival Cruise Line made a similar move to swap Mardi Gras‘ San Juan calls with Nassau, and this latest change appears to be a continuation of that adjustment.
Have you been impacted by the itinerary changes, what do you think of Carnival’s tactics? Let us know in the comments below.
More Cruise Headlines!
Do remember we’ve got all the coverage across the major cruise lines, including the Norwegian Prima making her Galveston debut, Virgin Voyages removing all protocols, Princess Cruises revealing new itinerary details on its new-class vessel, Holland America’s Rotterdam arriving in New York City, Carnival Cruise Line makes a major beverage change, Costa Cruises cancels Asia departures, P&O Cruises’ Arvia cruise ship delays maiden voyage, and more.