It’s time once again for the weekly cruise news update from Cruise Hive, the site industry watchers depend on to cover all of the big headlines and the stories behind them. This week, we’ve got coverage from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line.
Cruise News Update
The cruise news just keeps on coming, and Cruise Hive has all of the cruise industry developments you need to know about, including Royal Caribbean opening Caribbean cruises in 2025-26, guests aboard a Royal Caribbean ship being booked into an unprepared cabin, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Jubilee completing her sea trials, two more Carnival Panorama cruises being cancelled, Carnival Cruise Line warning guests about certain attire, and Royal Caribbean suspending Blue Lagoon excursions after a tragic tour boat incident in the Bahamas.
Royal Caribbean Opens 2025-26 Caribbean Voyages
Royal Caribbean unveiled its 2025-26 cruise options to the Caribbean from six ports, officially opening them for sale and offering cruisers a choice of multiple ships.
New sailings now open for booking include 6- to 8-night voyages to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and the Bahamas. Embarkations are available from three Florida ports — PortMiami, Port Everglades, and Tampa, plus Galveston, Texas, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Highlights of the newly released cruises include sailings aboard Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas, set to enter service in January 2024. Based at PortMiami, the 7,600-guest ship will sail weeklong cruises in 2025-26 to ports such as Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and the line’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Photo Credit: Jouni Niskakoski / Shutterstock
Fans of the line’s Oasis-class ships can experience the 5,600-guest Oasis of the Seas, which will sail from Fort Lauderdale on 6- and 8-night voyages that alternate between the Southern and Western Caribbean.
The 2,000-guest Rhapsody of the Seas will split her time, spending the winter based in Tampa and the summer in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while on the Texas Gulf Coast, guests can sail aboard the 5,500-guest Harmony of the Seas from Galveston, on 6- to 8-night voyages to the Western Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Oops! Couple Booked Into Flooded Stateroom
A booking snafu that assigned an unprepared stateroom to a couple on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas turned into a big headache for the cruise line and their disappointed guests.
The couple embarked on the ship for their November 13, 2023 departure from Port Canaveral and were assigned Cabin 554 on Deck 6. However, the stateroom appeared to have been flooded on the previous cruise and had no bedding, ripped-up carpeting, signs of water damage, and industrial dryers going full blast.
Allure of the Seas Cabin (Photo Credit: Jill MH)
The guests say it took the line three hours to resolve the problem. Royal Caribbean eventually assigned them another stateroom and awarded a $300 onboard credit to smooth over any inconvenience. The couple was expecting a cabin upgrade, as promised by Guest Services staff, but say they did not receive one.
Moreover, they were unhappy the line took so long to act, and in the end, requested a full refund of their cruise fare, saying they would leave the ship and return home. The refund request was denied, since another cabin was offered and the incident was resolved. It is unclear whether the guests remained on the ship for their 4-night Bahamas cruise.
Carnival Jubilee Completes Sea Trials
Carnival Cruise Line’s new-build Carnival Jubilee completed her sea trials and is receiving her finishing touches before being handed over to the line by Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard.
Sea trials are the final milestone before delivery, and test a ship’s operational systems, including speed and propulsion, navigation, stabilization, safety and emergency, and many other elements.
The trials were held in the North Sea over a 10-day period, with officers, engineers, technical staff, and others onboard the 183,521-gross-ton ship. Carnival Jubilee is at her construction berth in Eemshaven, Netherlands, receiving final design details.
Carnival Jubilee Sea Trials (Photo Courtesy: Meyer Werft)
The third vessel in the Excel class, Carnival Jubilee is a sister ship to Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. Following a transatlantic voyage, she will debut at her homeport of Galveston, Texas, to sail her first cruise, a holiday voyage departing December 23, 2023.
The ship, which accommodates 5,374 guests at double occupancy and employs more than 1,700 international crew members, will sail 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries with calls at destinations such as Mahogany Bay, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Carnival Jubilee will be the 26th ship in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet.
Two More Cruises Nixed on Carnival Panorama
Two more sailings of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Panorama were cancelled, the December 9 and December 16 Mexican Riviera voyages from Long Beach, California. These sailings join four others previously cancelled due to propulsion problems with the ship’s engine.
Carnival Panorama is bound for an Oregon shipyard to be repaired, and is scheduled to emerge from her emergency dry dock in time to operate her holiday cruise that departs Long Beach on December 23, 2023.
The lack of suitable West Coast shipyards to handle the needed repairs is a complication the line has had to deal with, as it worked to limit the number of cruise cancellations.
Carnival Panorama Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani)
In a further delay, the ship’s whale tale funnel has to be removed before the ship can pass under a bridge on her way to Oregon. It will be replaced after she completes the return trip to Long Beach.
Guests on the cancelled cruises will receive refunds of their cruise fares and port fees, plus any pre-paid packages or onboard services. The line also is providing up to $200 in air travel change fees, and is offering a 50% future cruise credit.
The 4,000-guest ship had experienced problems with her maximum cruising speed during her November 4, 2023 cruise, which was adjusted to remove two port calls so that she could return to port on schedule. After that, the cruise line decided to remove Carnival Panorama from service temporarily.
A Camouflage Commotion in the Caribbean
Camouflage patterns and designs on clothing and accessories are not appreciated in many destinations across the globe, and that includes the Caribbean, one Carnival Cruise Line guest found out.
A cruiser sailing aboard Carnival Venezia on a recent Southern Caribbean itinerary from New York was wearing camouflage shorts and carrying a camouflage backpack while ashore in Barbados, a port call on the sailing.
Local police escorted the guest back to the ship because of the military-style designs he was wearing and carrying. The guest contacted Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald and complained that the line had not warned guests of the camouflage issue on some islands.
Carnival Cruise Line Passengers (Photo Credit: GagliardiPhotography)
However, other guests on the ship reported that the line did include such warnings in the ship’s daily newsletters and in onboard announcements.
Heald pointed out that camouflage clothing is prohibited on many Caribbean islands, such as Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Dominica. Heald advised all cruisers that it is best to leave camouflage-pattern clothing at home.
Royal Caribbean Cancels Blue Lagoon Tours After Boat Sinking
Royal Caribbean has suspended shore excursions to Blue Lagoon Island, a popular destination in the Bahamas, through November 23, 2023, after a ferry boat carrying cruise guests to the island foundered off the coast and sank in 20 feet of water. A cruise ship guest died during the incident.
It was the morning of November 14 when a double-deck ferry left Nassau for Blue Lagoon Island, a distance of just three miles. The boat began taking on water and became partially submerged just off the island’s coast.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in Nassau, Bahamas (Photo Credit: TAH Media)
Nearby vessels and members of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force and other local authorities assisted in evacuating guests and seeing them safely ashore.
It appears that Royal Caribbean does not own or operate the ferry to Blue Lagoon Island, but includes it as an excursion on its website. The cruise line is working with local officials to evaluate the tragic incident. The passenger who died was a guest aboard Independence of the Seas.
Many cruisers with upcoming sailings to the Bahamas will be affected by the cancellation of the popular tour. Royal Caribbean ships slated to call at Nassau next week include Symphony of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, and Anthem of the Seas.
Guests who had pre-booked the Blue Lagoon Island excursion are being refunded.
More Cruise Headlines
Now that you’re up to date on the big cruise headlines, check out even more stories on Cruise Hive, including Holland America Line rolling out a new line of yummy desserts, a Princess Cruises’ ship missing a port call due to a harbor pilot strike in the Azores, Cyprus reporting its highest number of cruise visitors in its history, Canada’s Port Saint John celebrating an increase in ship calls this year versus 2022, and many cruise lines offering Black Friday booking promotions.