It's been a busy week for cruise news out of Miami.
The new MSC Seaside made its debut in PortMiami on Thursday in a star-studded naming ceremony at the new Terminal F hosted by the likes of Mario Lopez, Ricky Martin, Dan Marino and ship godmother Sophia Loren. That makes three MSC Cruises ships sailing out of the port: MSC Seaside, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina, and the latest step in MSC Cruises’ ongoing expansion into the North American cruise market. The new cruise ship embarked on a schedule of seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries December 23.
Looking further ahead, this week Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it would position the Norwegian Breakaway in Miami in 2019. The ship will head to Miami from a winter season in New Orleans, bringing the 4,000-passenger ship – one of the largest in Norwegian’s fleet – to the destination to offer a lineup of seven-day western Caribbean itineraries calling at Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; and Harvest Caye, Belize. Norwegian Breakaway’s seven-day eastern Caribbean itinerary will call at destinations including St. Thomas, USVI; Tortola, BVI; Nassau, Bahamas; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Finally, Miami-based cruises – and U.S.-based cruises in general – dodged a potential issue this week when a controversial provision was dropped from the final version of the tax bill. In previous versions of the bill, analysts had been concerned that a proposed tax on cruises in U.S. waters could hit the cruise industry. In its analysis of the final text of the bill during a recent press call, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) noted that the cruise tax had been dropped from the final bill.