This Week in Cruise: Israel Port Shifts, MSC's New Brand and More

Given the dangerous geopolitical situation in Israel and Gaza, cruise lines continue to replace port calls or ship turnarounds in Israel with other destinations. For instance, MSC Cruises has revised eastern Mediterranean itineraries for two ships. MSC Sinfonia’s eight 11-night voyages will call at Istanbul, Turkey, rather than Haifa, Israel. In turn, Rhodes, Greece will replace Piraeus, Greece, and Izmir, Turkey, will replace Limassol, Cyprus.

In addition, MSC Musica’s three upcoming seven-night voyages from Piraeus, Greece, won’t call at Haifa, Israel, but rather Rhodes on October 18 and 25, 2023, and Marmaris, Turkey, on November 1, 2023. 

Small-Ship Cruising

A new brand's launch is always exciting. In the latest development, Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand of MSC Group, christened its first yacht, Explora I in New York City.

Another small-ship line is gaining more capacity with use of two more river vessels. In 2024, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will begin voyages with the former Crystal Ravel and Crystal Mahler. Uniworld has secured a three-year, bare-bones charter of the two vessels from Seaside Collection, the parent company of Riverside Luxury Cruises. Riverside currently operates several other former Crystal ships on European rivers. Uniworld plans to rename the two vessels and create its signature river cruise experience aboard with an all-Uniworld crew.

In more small-ship news, Sea Cloud Cruises announced new winter 2023-2024 itineraries for its new Sea Cloud Spirit, the third ship in its fleet. Separately, AmaWaterways announced new “Grand” combination itineraries on European rivers. Also, if clients seek a truly exotic itinerary, Aqua Expeditions has announced a slew of eastern Indonesia sailings including a new Asmat Tribe itinerary for 2025. 

Atlas Ocean Voyages has announced new Antarctica itineraries for 2024- 2025, while American Cruise Lines has introduced two new 2024 U.S. National Parks cruises in Alaska. Fifteen-day and 18-day itineraries will operate between Fairbanks and Juneau. They'll offer guided touring of Denali National Park and Preserve and Kenai Fjords National Park plus cruising in Glacier Bay, the Inside Passage and Frederick Sound

More Cruise News

Carnival Cruise Line opened up future deployment from Long Beach, CA, for three shipsCarnival Panorama, Carnival Radiance and Carnival Firenze. Starting in spring 2025, for example, Carnival Panorama, which currently operates seven-day sailings, will alternate between six- and eight-day itineraries. Those sailings and others through spring 2026 are now open for sale.  

New big ships are on the horizon too. Cunard Line unveiled the new wellness offering for its new 3,000-passenger Queen Anne, launching in 2024. One of the ship’s wellness spaces that's expected to be a big draw is The Pavilion, an open-air oasis on the top deck; its glass-dome roof will retract or close, dependent on weather conditions. Queen Anne’s Wellness Club will also offer a customized program for solo travelers.  

On the sustainability side, Holland America Line has completed shore power hook-up capabilities across its entire fleet. So, if ports are equipped to provide shore power, the line’s ships are all able to connect into the local destination's electric grid, rather than running their engines in port, a more eco-friendly approach. In addition, Riviera River Cruises has unveiled a new environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy

Costa Cruises will be celebrating its 75th anniversary with events in Genoa, Italy, according to Seatrade Cruise News

Trade Developments

In trade news, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has launched Regent Connect, a complimentary, end-to-end content co-branding solution for travel advisors. It consists of two interconnected parts—instantly co-brandable content experiences that advisors can use to stay in touch with clients, and a co-branded Regent website to drive conversion.

Variety Cruises welcomed Nick Stasinpoulos as a new global business development manager.

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