This Week in Cruise: Utopia Float-Out, HX Rebrand, Vegan Options

Royal Caribbean International’s Utopia of the Seas, an Oasis-class vessel, has floated out from Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Interior outfitting and sea trials are ahead. The mega-ship will begin service from Port Canaveral, FL, in July 2024.

Going forward, Hurtigruten Expeditions will be known as HX. The move will differentiate the expedition line from sister brand, Hurtigruten Norway, which operates Norwegian Coastal Express. In turn, that separate coastal operation will be branded as simply Hurtigruten. 

New vegan dishes are now on dining room menus for two Carnival Cruise Line ships—Carnival Freedom at Port Canaveral and Carnival Horizon at PortMiami. In a phased approach, the new vegan menus also will be introduced fleetwide through year's end.

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A third "Latin Touch" sailing for Spanish-speaking guests is planned on AmaWaterways' AmaMagna. (AmaWaterways)

Catering to the growing river cruise demand from the Hispanic market, AmaWaterways plans a third “Latin Touch” sailing. Departing October 27, 2024, aboard AmaMagna, this cruise is designed for Spanish-speaking guests. In a separate move, Audley Travel has launched new itineraries incorporating AmaWaterways' cruises along Europe’s waterways coupled with Audley’s pre- and post-cruise land tours.

In addition, MSC Group's cruise division has firmed up orders with Fincantieri to build two, 950-passenger, hydrogen-powered ships for Explora Journeys. Deliveries are planned in 2027 and 2028, giving the line a fleet of six ships total. 

Crystal's new ultra-luxury voyages for 2025 will open for sale on September 27, 2023, while Swan Hellenic unveiled its 2024-2025 Antarctica schedule, with “Cultural Expedition Cruises” on its ice-class ships Diana and Vega. Separately, Azamara has launched four new culturally intensive voyages, each offering more time to explore through “Extended Destination Days,” comprising 10 or more hours in port and overnight stays. The sailings will also include local festivities in Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Vietnam and beyond.

Two luxury lines have new culinary choices. Explora Journeys announced that Emma Bengtsson, head chef of New York’s two-Michelin-starred Aquavit restaurant has created a curated menu for Anthology, one of Explora I's 11 restaurants. That's a dining venue where guest chefs create global culinary tastings with wine pairings. Her tasting menu will launch October 3 and be available through the end of March 2024. Also, Silversea Cruises detailed new culinary offerings on its new Silver Nova. Tip: Sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, recently published a photologue and first-hand look at Silver Nova, and also checked out public spaces and dining on Seabourn VentureSeabourn's first expedition ship.

Oceania Cruises' new Vista is the latest cruise industry ship this year to ace a U.S. Public Health inspection. The ship achieved a perfect 100 score after the unannounced inspection at the Port of Boston

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