This Week in Cruise: Crystal Is Back, Norwegian Returns to Maui

Crystal is fully back in service as the newly revitalized, 606-passenger Crystal Symphony sailed on its inaugural cruise from Athens late last week. Crystal Serenity returned to service in July.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has additionally returned to Kahului, Maui, based on guidance and encouragement from the Maui community, Hawaii State Governor Josh Green and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. NCL’s Pride of America, which has an 18-year history of cruising year-round in the Hawaiian Islands, paused calls earlier during the initial phase of hurricane recovery efforts. On September 3, 2023, it recommenced overnight calls to Kahului.

For the first time in its history, NCL also has begun homeporting at the Port of Baltimore with Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun. Those vessels will operate voyages from the Maryland port to Bermuda, the Caribbean and New England/Canada. The cruise industry already generates $63 million in economic benefit and accounts for 400 jobs, according to Paul Wiedefeld, Maryland's transportation secretary. 

Schedule Adjustments

Celebrity Cruises has rescheduled Celebrity Apex’s planned 2024 drydock to 2025. So, guests booked on a canceled November 9, 2024, transatlantic sailing and canceled Caribbean cruises slated for November 21, 2024, and from March 8, 2025, through April 26, 2025, will receive an automatic refund of any fares paid to their original method of payment. They’ll also receive full reimbursement for pre-booked shore trips, Celebrity-booked hotel reservations, and onboard packages. Celebrity also will provide those guests with a future cruise onboard credit of $200 per stateroom or $400 for Retreat accommodations.

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity has shifted the 2024 drydock of Celebrity Apex to 2025, resulting in some cruise cancellations.  (Photo by Celebrity Cruises)

An unexpected ship propulsion issue developed on Royal Caribbean International's Radiance of the Seas. The ship's September 1 voyage from Seward, AK, to Vancouver, B.C. was canceled on embarkation day. Guests who'd planned to sail on that September 1 cruise will receive a full refund plus future cruise credit valued at 100 percent of the fare paid; the credit must be used on another cruise within the next year. The line will also provide up to $600 for airline change fees. 

In good news, the Port of Tampa Bay reopened last Thursday following the passing of Hurricane Idalia. Among the first vessels back following the storm closure were Carnival's Carnival Paradise and Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas.

Ships and Itineraries  

As for new itineraries, Seabourn unveiled new 2025 voyages to Alaska, Canada and New England, while Holland America Line opened bookings for its 2025 European season. Holland America's highlights include longer voyages and more sailings to Iceland as well as the Holy Land region.

Celestyal Cruises' Celestyal Journey is now sailing in the eastern Mediterranean following a $21 million revitalization. Originally launched in 1994 as Holland America's Ryndam, it also later sailed for P&O Cruises. 

Many travelers dream about booking a Northwest Passage voyage, one of the cruise industry's true "bucket list" adventures. Last week, Seabourn's first expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, set sail on its first Northwest Passage cruise, while Hurtigruten Expeditions’ two battery-hybrid ships, the Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, also crossed paths for the first time in that remote region. 

Vegan dishes
Atlas Ocean Voyages has debuted new vegan dishes on World Navigator, World Traveller and World Voyager.  (Atlas Ocean Voyages)

Small-ship Atlas Ocean Voyages introduced new vegan dishes and other enhancements to its culinary offerings on all three of its luxury expedition ships.

Trade News

Explora Journeys appointed Achille Staiano as its new chief commercial officer, reporting to Explora's CEO Michael Ungerer. He'll be based at the line's corporate headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Carnival Cruise Line named eight travel advisors as semifinalists in the line's “Your Winning Plan” business success series. One semifinalist was chosen from each of the brand's six in-person events while two were chosen from a virtual event. Check out the list here.

Travel advisor "intel," training and development were on tap at two major industry events. Cruise Planners hosted a Luxury Forum in Jamaica, while Avoya Travel Network hosted its 2023 Virtual Conference Program for advisors. Among the sales tidbits? Avoya's "Live Leads" clients are spending 34 percent more per booking than in 2019.

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