Where do we start in this week’s cruise news update! We’ve got coverage on what happened on board the Carnival Freedom with that iconic funnel, along with the aftermath and updates from Royal Caribbean.
Cruise News Update
It’s time to make sure you’re updated on some of the major cruise news from the past week, especially all the latest on the Carnival cruise ship fire. There are additional cancellations for the Carnival Freedom as the vessel will be out of service to repair the funnel in dry dock.
We’ve also got news on the Carnival Conquest, Carnival pulling out of Charleston, all Royal Caribbean cruise ships back in service, and let’s think about what that Sphere is, which was recently installed on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Plenty to get into, so let’s get started.
The Entire Royal Caribbean Fleet is Back
Let’s start with some good news as all 26 Royal Caribbean cruise ships are now back in service! The cruise line has also reached a major milestone by hitting two million guests that have sailed since first restarting operations.
This began with Quantum of the Seas sailing from Singapore in December 2020, the first to resume since the industry-wide suspension started in March 2020. Over the next 17 months, Royal Caribbean gradually phased in its ships all over the world, once again offering outstanding vacations in Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, and more.
Rhapsody of the Seas is the final ship in the fleet to have resumed service, offering Mediterranean itineraries for the summer with a schedule that will take the ship to Israel, the Greek Isles, Barbados, and the southern Caribbean through the rest of 2022.
Now, the cruise line is offering cruise getaways from a total of 24 homeports around the world, bringing guests to 137 different ports of call.
It now means all the three major lines of Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line have their fleets fully back in service.
Carnival Cruise Ship Fire
And on to the big news from the past week, which no doubt everyone already knows about. A fire broke out onboard the Carnival Freedom on Thursday morning, May 26 while docked in Grand Turk. The emergency response team did very well to extinguish the fire which was located in the ship’s iconic red, white and blue funnel.
It came as a surprise to not just guests onboard Carnival Freedom’s May 23 sailing, but also to guests that watched from the Mardi Gras vessel, which was docked right next to the ship at the Grand Turk pier. Thankfully, there were no crew or passengers injured and all services onboard have been fully functional.
Carnival Freedom Cruises Canceled
As a result of the fire, Carnival Cruise Line canceled that current May 23 voyage, and after seeing the damage to the funnel, that was expected. The cruise line also announced the cancellation of the following May 28 sailing. On Friday Carnival announced that an additional two cruises are canceled to allow time to repair the funnel in June.
So the Carnival Freedom’s May 23 voyage out of Port Canaveral, which is when the fire occurred was scheduled to end back in Florida on May 28. With Carnival Conquest assisting to take guests back to Florida, that means the voyage is canceled, but guests will not get back to the US homeport until two days later on May 30.
Carnival Cruise Line is providing $100 of onboard credit per stateroom to make up for the inconvenience due to arriving back in Florida slightly later than scheduled and on a different vessel. Guests will be receiving a 50% Future Cruise Credit, which can be used to book a sailing in the future.
The May 28 sailing is also canceled out of Port Canaveral, the vessel was scheduled to depart on a five-night Eastern Caribbean cruise with calls at Nassau, Princess Cays and Grand Turk. It was also announced on Friday that the Carnival Freedom June 2 and June 6 sailings are also no longer taking place.
Carnival Conquest to Assist
And we now come to what is actually happening to guests onboard as we now know Carnival Freedom will undergo a dry dock in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas. Repairing the funnel will take some time and the Carnival Freedom is sailing there directly from Grand Turk.
That means all guests that were on that ship, are being assisted by the Carnival Conquest. The Carnival cruise ship has canceled its May 27 departure from Miami to sail to Grand Turk and transport guests back to Port Canaveral. With limited airport availability on the island in the Turks and Caicos, it’s pretty much the only option for the cruise line.
Once all guests are transferred to a comparable cabin onboard the Carnival Conquest, the ship will sail back to Florida with a scheduled arrival on Monday, May 30. The ship will then head back to her homeport in Miami to begin a shortened sailing, which will depart on May 31.
Carnival to Pull Out of Charleston
After 10 years of sailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Carnival Cruise Line has announced that its homeport agreement with the South Carolina Ports Authority will not be extended beyond 2024.
The end of Carnival cruising from Charleston is due to the continued development of the Union Pier Terminal that will keep cruises from operating from the homeport for the time being.
Carnival Sunshine is currently the only cruise ship homeported in Charleston. The ship resumed service from the port on January 13, 2022, offering 4-5 night itineraries to The Bahamas, calling to Bimini, Nassau, and Half Moon Cay, depending on the sailing date and cruise length.
The city is scheduled to host several cruise ships and river cruises on day visits throughout 2022, including Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, American Queen Voyages’ Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit, Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess, and more.
A total of 104 ship visits are currently scheduled for Charleston in 2022, including both homeports and day visits.
Charleston first hosted Carnival Cruise ships as a homeport when the now-defunct Carnival Fantasy first sailed from the port on May 18, 2010. This began a great era of cruising from the southern city, with cruises sailing to The Bahamas, Bermuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean ports of call over the years.
What is the Sphere on Icon of the Seas?
Royal Caribbean has released a new video with construction details on the yet-to-be-revealed 175-metric-ton sphere that will be featured onboard Icon of the Seas.
The new class LNG-powered cruise ship is currently under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland and will debut in fall 2023, and many details of the new ship are still unknown – including this mystery sphere.
Little is known about the sphere, but some key details of its structure have been released. It now measures 46 feet (14 meters) tall and 50 feet (15.3 meters) in diameter, and weighs 175 metric tons (385,809 pounds).
Its outer shell is comprised of 578 aluminum panels, while the interior is lined with nine miles of power and lighting cables and 1,323 feet (400 meters) of air conditioning ductwork.
The interior also has steel mounting frames, but nothing is yet confirmed about the purpose of that framework, or what this structure might eventually become.
To move the sphere from its construction warehouse to be mounted on the ship, the entire structure was covered with fire retardant cloth and thermal wool, indicating some delicacy to its components.
After being loaded onto a barge for transport, two tugboats directed the barge to the ship’s hull, where the sphere was lifted into position by a crane.
It appears to be an interior structure on the still-incomplete vessel, positioned at approximately mid-ship slightly off-center with respect to the deck’s overall width.
A total of 45,000 hours of labor have gone into the sphere so far – and we don’t even know what it is yet.
More Cruise Headlines
So those were the hot topics of the week, we’ve got even more cruise news coverage on, including all a mysterious odor onboard the Carnival Magic, Harmony of the Seas hitting the dock platform in Jamaica, new details revealed about MSC World Europa, Carnival in talks to sell its Seabourn brand, Norwegian Cruise Line cancellations and plenty more.