This Week in Cruise: Alaska Disruptions, Explora I's Delay and More

In Skagway, AK, unionized workers of the White Pass & Yukon Railway have voted to strike, according to Juneau-based KTOO. Riding the historic railroad line to the Yukon Territory is big draw for cruisers during the summer season. In fact, more than half of all cruise passengers who visit Skagway each summer ride the train, according to Skagway Mayor Andrew Cremata who has told media that any strike definitely would have “significant impact.” That said, no strike will happen right away, as the U.S. Railway Labor Act requires mediation plus a 30-day cooling-off period before workers could strike. So, any potential impact on cruise shore excursions would likely come late in the sailing season.  

For the first time in 2024, Celebrity Cruises will take its guests to Perfect Day at CocoCay, the popular Bahamian private island of sister brand Royal Caribbean International. The line will also position two ships in the Caribbean region next year; both will homeport at Port Everglades, FL. Celebrity Beyond will sail year-round, while Celebrity Reflection will offer the line’s first three- and four-night Caribbean cruises. 

The Financial Times of London reported this past week that the delayed delivery by Fincantieri of Explora Journeys’ first new vessel, Explora I is attribed to shipyard installation of fire-resistant panels that have lost their safety certification; those were provided to Fincantieri by Finnish supplier Paroc. The newspaper also reported that some ships of other lines could be impacted by this same issue. Previously, Explora Journeys confirmed that "Fincantieri and the Cruise Division of MSC Group have agreed to make further enhancements to the final work," and that delivery would be delayed by a few weeks.

Travel Agent asked Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for a statement, and here's what the trade group said: "The safety of passengers and crew is the highest priority for the cruise industry and our cruise line members—as is evident by the industry’s strong safety record and multi-layered approach to regulation, testing, certification and ongoing inspection of ships, in addition to advanced detection and mitigation systems and highly trained crew onboard. Our cruise line members are confident that the responsible parties are taking all steps to determine and resolve any issues, and they remain vigilant in monitoring of all safety systems to degrees that often exceed that of other industries and maritime requirements.”

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On the cruise executive front, Jack Anderson, president, Crystal Cruises, who took a leave of absence in spring 2023, has officially retired. Cristina Levis, CEO, A&K Group, will continue to oversee the brand from Monaco. while Kim Berman is the new managing director for Crystal and A&K Group's Aventura, FL, office, according to Seatrade Cruise News

On the sustainability side, by 2030 Ponant plans to debut a new eco-friendly ship producing zero greenhouse gas emissions. The line released several futuristic-looking potential designs for the new small ship.

Princess Cruises and Xponential Fitness’ signature Pilates brand, Club Pilates, have teamed up to offer the first-ever "Club Pilates at Sea: An Alaska Retreat." This adventure sails roundtrip from Seattle aboard Royal Princess September 2-9, 2023.

Separately, Ruby Princess had a "fender bender" with a dock in San Francisco last Thursday. No one was injured. Princess told us this past weekend that repairs had been completed. Following a U.S. Coast Guard inspection and certification, the ship sailed on Sunday for a seven-day Pacific Northwest voyage. It will visit Ketchikan on July 12 and Prince Rupert on July 13, returning to San Francisco on July 16 for disembarkation as originally scheduled.

Swan Hellenic Cruises introduced its portfolio of 2023 cultural expedition cruises, while European Waterways unveiled a new "Venetian Lagoon" itinerary. In addition, Atlas Ocean Voyages has announced two new seven-night Antarctica voyages on the recently acquired World Voyager, departing on December 7, 2023, and December 19, 2023. Those cruises bypass the Drake Passage by air in one direction.

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