This Week in Cruise: Antarctica, the Mekong and New Schedules

Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to hit Florida this week as a major hurricane. A watch is in effect for most of the state's western coast. That could impact cruise departures from the state. As well, Hurricane Franklin is going to pass Bermuda this week, altering two of Carnival Cruise Line's sailings

"Due to Hurricane Franklin's projected path, we modified itineraries for Carnival Magic, which departed Sunday from Norfolk, VA, and Carnival Legend, which departed Sunday from Baltimore, MD. Both ships are sailing six-day cruises that were originally scheduled to visit Bermuda," the line said in a statement.

It continued: "Carnival Magic will instead visit Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas during its cruise. Carnival Legend will also visit Nassau and Freeport. 

"The safety of our guests and crew is our priority, and we are continuing to monitor forecasts and factor in guidance from the National Hurricane Center, U.S. Coast Guard, and the local port authorities to provide timely updates to our guests as more information becomes available."

Off-the-Beaten Path

At the end of the Earth, Antarctica continues to soar in popularity with travelers. So, cruise lines are adding new options. For instance, Ponant and The Explorers Club recently unveiled a 30-day Antarctica Expedition.

What "intel" is available to assist travel advisors who desire to sell more vacations to the "White Continent?" A&K shared some surprising research results about Antarctica travel. Among the findings: The majority of guests reported an interest in seeing wildlife in their natural environment; others wanted to celebrate their "seventh continent;" and some were even repeat visitors. A small portion even made the trip solo. 

Also "off the beaten path" but in Southeast Asia, Emerald Cruises will add a longer Mekong River option during 2024-2025. Sailing only in August, September and October, a new 10-day “Meandering Majestic Mekong” itinerary will operate between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Setting sail during the less-crowded “green season,” the new option will offer a more relaxed pace, more daytime sailing and extra time in Cambodia including a new port of call, Angkor Bon.

Cruise Line Announcements 

An Aurora Expeditions subsidiary, Pacific Travel Partners, said that it’s acquired the former vessels of Vantage Deluxe World Travel and agreed to take on certain (not all) obligations to Vantage’s unsecured creditors. That includes clients who had paid for but not received travel services; many will receive a sizable discount off an Aurora Expeditions voyage. Most details, however, are yet to come. Note: Pacific Travel Partners did not acquire the Vantage Deluxe World Travel business or company or agree to employ former management.

Princess Cruises has enhanced its embarkation process with a simpler system, plus the line unveiled Medallion updates. Carnival Cruise Line opened bookings for 2025-2026 including new sailings from Galveston, TX. Separately, although not impacting any voyages right now, the Galveston City Council failed to approve the port's plan to issue $50 million in bonds to finance improvements to Cruise Terminal 25. That's Carnival Jubilee's future home. Five council members voted "yes," but two others who generally support the enhancements voted "no" as they first want an external audit of the port's internal operations.

Also, MSC Cruises’ New York-based ship MSC Meraviglia departed on its first voyage to Bermuda last week. Voyages to Canada  and New England will follow next month. 

Planning for North American growth, Sea Cloud Cruises is adding leadership in North America dedicated to growing the market and plans to operate from South Florida. Mirell Reyes, former president of Star Clippers Americas, is Sea Cloud’s new president and will oversee all North American sales, marketing and communications. Joining her is Kevin Smith, Sea Cloud’s new vice president of sales, focused on consortia, travel advisors, groups and new charter partnerships in North America.

Seattle-based Cruise Specialists, part of Travel Leaders Group, announced the retirement of Annie Scrivanich, senior vice president, after a long and influential travel industry career. She’ll be succeeded by Teresa Tennant, who has served as Cruise Specialists’ vice president overseeing the group, shore excursion and administrative teams.  

Seeking to offer authenticity for the cruise experience and engage with communities along cruise routes, Royal Caribbean International is offering a "Locals Onboard" program in Alaska. Participating local artists will engage with cruise guests in photography workshops, Alaska Native culture and dance programs, watercolor lessons, storytelling sessions and more.

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