This Week in Cruise: MSC Shifts Opera, Personnel Moves and More

As a result of continuing Red Sea security concerns, MSC Cruises has canceled MSC Opera’s 2024-2025 Red Sea sailings and moved the ship instead to the Canary Islands.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, parent of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, reported its fourth quarter 2023 and annual earnings. For the full year 2023, the cruise company generated $8.5 billion in revenue and GAAP net income of $166.2 million, or earnings per share of $0.39. Bottom line? NCLH returned to annual profitability for the first time since 2019. As for 2024, all three brands are seeing strong demand, NCL in particular. “We have continued to see exceptional demand for our Norwegian Cruise Line brand, with bookings and pricing at higher levels than 2023 for all four quarters of 2024," the line said in a press release.

The Auckland District Court in New Zealand levied significant fines against six different parties involved in White Island operations and visitor helicopter tours or land tours there. In December 2019, a volcanic eruption on the island killed 22 people and left others with serious burns. Most victims were participating in shore excursions during a port call by Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas. The Associated Press reported that the court levied $7.8 million in fines and reparations against the holding company of the island’s owners, a boat tour operator and several companies operating helicopter tours. They were found guilty of safety breaches at a three-month trial in 2023.

On the new ship front, Silver Ray, Silversea’s second Nova-class ship, floated out from Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany; it will begin cruising in June. Separately, Riviera River Cruises announced that it will launch two new river vessels in 2025 to sail Europe's Danube and Duoro rivers. Riviera Radiancebased on the Danube, will offer six itineraries including one exclusively for solo travelers while Riviera Rose will offer one Duoro itinerary.

More Cruise Happenings

After 40 years at Costa Cruises, industry veteran Ruben Perez, Costa's long-time general manager for North America, is leaving the cruise line. The contemporary line has tapped Dario Rustico as general manager for both North and South America, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Reporting to Rustico is Erik Jaramillo, a former business intelligence manager, who is promoted to head of sales for North America. 

Separately, Michael Ungerer will be leaving Explora Journeys for personal reasons. Ungerer has held the position of CEO for nearly five years. During this time, he played a key role in establishing the new luxury lifestyle brand and successfully launching its first ship, Explora I. Ungerer will remain as advisor for the brand through to the end of August 2024, and Pierfrancesco Vago will assume his responsibilities as CEO for the time being. 

For culinary aficionados, Explora Journeys also announced its third guest chef at Anthology. That’s Chef Claude Le Tohic, a chef-partner of O' by Claude Le Tohic in San Francisco.

In February 2024, Travel Agent sailed aboard one of American Cruise Lines' (ACL) new coastal catamarans—the 100-passenger American Eagle. Our first article last week focused on dining and accommodations, while a separate story published today offers first-hand insight into the ship’s clientele, dining, onboard activities and entertainment. Plus, coming soon is a day-by-day look at ACL's “Great Rivers of Florida” itinerary.

Themed cruises or those with a specialty interest continue to soar in popularity with consumers. Last week, Swan Hellenic added four 2024 cultural expedition cruises in the Mediterranean aboard Diana, while Ponant unveiled new 2025 voyages planned in partnership with Smithsonian Journey.

In addition, ETS Tours has unveiled its 2025 lineup of faith-based cruise tours. Those include several family-focused sailings on Norwegian Viva, Celebrity Infinity voyage en route to the Holy Land and a women's retreat on Voyager of the Seas. Expedition-style cruising also is creating new adventure options; here's a look at recent happenings, as covered by sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor.

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