This Week in Cruise: MSC's U.S. Growth, NCL's Commission Policy and More

For the first time ever, MSC Cruises is now homeporting five ships in U.S. ports, signaling sizable growth by the contemporary brand in the American market. With the arrival of MSC Divina at PortMiami this past week for the 2023-24 winter cruise season, it was also the first time that the South Florida port has ever hosted three MSC Cruises' homeported ships. This winter, MSC Divina will sail to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. Separately, MSC Cruises revealed five travel trends that are driving guest choices in cruising for 2024.

Starting in January 2023, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) began paying struggling travel advisors commission on NCFs (non-commissionable fare elements such as gratuities, port taxes and fees). The policy was announced in November 2022 and has been continually extended. Most recently, NCL extended the program through the first quarter of 2024, So, advisors who previously signed up for the program will continue to receive NCF commissions through March 31, 2023. However, the industry's market conditions have significantly improved and many advisors are seeing record sales, and, so, the program will be discontinued effective April 1, 2024. That said, NCL in its statement noted that given the business on the books already for the new year, “the vast majority of bookings that sail in 2024 will provide a higher level of commission.”

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Princess Cruises unveiled its largest ever Americas season in 2025-2026. That also encompasses the line's most robust Caribbean season ever with 10 ships, including the new Star Princess and Sun Princess, sailing from Port Everglades, FL. Year-round, some 278 Princess cruises will depart from seven home ports: San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA; Galveston, TX; Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale) and Port Canaveral (Space Coast), FL; New York City, NY; and Vancouver, B.C

Additionally, Carnival Cruise Line opened its 2025 sailings for Carnival Venezia from New York City, while Cunard Line launched Queen Elizabeth’s 2025 Alaska season.

In luxury cruising, Regent Seven Seas Cruises christened its newest Explorer-series ship, Seven Seas Grandeur in Miami early last week. Sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor was on the ship and reported about one trend the line is seeing for the first time—sizable numbers of luxury hotel FIT clients who are crossing over to an ultra-luxury cruise. To meet that new demand from luxury hotel FIT guests, Regent Seven Seas will debut six “test” 10-night cruises in 2024; they’ll have two days in all ports and as many as three days at some. 

For insight on what makes Atlas Ocean Voyages tick, check out our one-on-one interview with James Rodriguez, Atlas’ president and CEO. Explora Journeys' Explora I visited New York and here are recent insights about this new luxury vessel. In addition, the Four Seasons Explorer is now sailing in its new homeport of Palau.

River line AmaWaterways revealed six trends that are shaping the river cruise industry, while Silversea added a “Super Advantage” tier to its groups program. Hurtigruten and HX have announced the next phase of their rebranding. The Port of San Diego has boosted its shore-power capability for handling cruise ships.

And in sweet treat news, Royal Caribbean International’s ships will no longer sport Ben & Jerry’s-branded ice cream shops; the line has begun to replace those with its own ice cream parlors, according to an email that Royal Caribbean sent to travel advisors.  

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