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Royal Caribbean £1 flights, Celebrity fast WiFi & NCL new ship – latest cruise news

Cruise lines have revealed a plethora of key updates over the past week, from new ship reveals, date changes and itinerary announcements.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has had a real bumper week when it comes to updates. Today the cruise line announced will launch incredible offers as part of its ‘Mini Wave’ campaign, from £1 flights and cabin upgrades to reduced deposits and drinks

With the ‘Plane and Simple’ offer, Royal Caribbean passengers traveling from London Gatwick can secure their flights, from just £1 or €1 when heading to Symphony of the Seas in Barcelona or Odyssey of the Seas in Rome next summer.

The cruise line is also offering £150 or €175 savings on airfares from select UK airports for European sailings departing between April 16, 2023, and October 22, 2023, on Explorer of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Odyssey of the Seas.

What’s more, guests who book an Oceanview stateroom on any Anthem of the Seas European itineraries sailing from May 12 to October 3, 2023, will be upgraded to a Balcony stateroom.

Also on offer are reduced deposits from just £99 or €99  and cheaper Deluxe Drinks packages available for just £43 or €50 per person, per day on seven-night or longer sailings onboard Anthem, Odyssey, Symphony or Wonder of the Seas.

In perhaps less positive news for vacationmakers looking to save the pennies, Royal Caribbean is increasing its automatic daily gratuities by more than 10% percent this month for passengers in staterooms.

From September 7, guests in non-suite staterooms will be charged $16 per person, per day, (up from $14.50 per person, per day) which is automatically added to a passenger’s SeaPass account. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean guests in suites will see a more than five percent increase from $17.50 per day to $18.50 per day.

Last week , in further cruise news, Royal Caribbean unveiled its line-up of cruise vacations on Spectrum of the Seas for 2023-2024, offering longer cruises that are five, seven, nine and 12-nights long, to such thrilling destinations as Hong Kong, Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Manila, Philippines.

Royal Caribbean’s beloved three- and four-night cruise vacations, first introduced in July, round out the cruise line’s next year-round season. Spectrum will head back to Penang, Malaysia, and the beach resort of Phuket in Thailand.

These upcoming cruises include two 12-night sailings, so guests can visit as many as seven destinations across three countries, all in one vacation. What’s more, these sailings can also be enjoyed back to back, visiting a new destination almost every day for the entire 24-night adventure.

Celebrity Cruises

This week Celebrity Cruises revealed in its latest cruise news that bad WiFi at sea will imminently be a thing of the past after the line partnered with Elon Musk’s Starlink, supersizing internet capabilities across the group’s entire fleet.

The high-speed, low-latency connectivity revolutionises the onboard experience for guests and crew, giving them access to a WiFi connection as strong in their staterooms as it would be in their very own home.

The broadband internet service will be on all Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises ships, along with all new vessels for each of the brands, and all at no additional cost to guests.

The service is scheduled to first roll out on Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, on September 5, and will be on all of Celebrity’s Edge Series ships by the end of this year. Installation will continue into 2023 and be complete by May.

Last week Celebrity Cruises celebrated a milestone in the construction of the new cruise ship Celebrity Ascent when workers at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France welded a ceremonial coin to a massive steel docking block forming the ship’s keel, officially marking the beginning of construction on the fourth ship in Celebrity Cruises Edge Series of ships.

According to the legend – and a tradition that has spanned centuries – the laying of the coin is thought to bless and bring good fortune to the ship.

Standing at 17 decks tall and 20 metres longer than the original Celebrity Edge, Ascent will feature more space and more luxury onboard.

Marella Cruises

TUI has increased the number of flights it operates from the UK to Barbados at the same time as it announced its cruise line Marella Cruises will homeport Marella Explorer 2 and Marella Discovery in the Caribbean destination.

The ships will operate a total of 40 sailing rotations until April 2023, with a month of additional cruising to the previous season, which ended in March.

TUI has also upped its number of hotel partners to cater for vacationmakers staying on the island pre or post-cruise.

Riviera Travel

Riviera Travel has announced a raft of new benefits for vacationmakers with its cruise news updates. This week the river cruise and escorted touring vacation specialist revealed it has extended its flexible booking policy to December 31, 2022. The policy allows guests to change their booking deposit to another vacation in 2022 or 2023, up until their final balance payment is due.

Guests can transfer their deposit to another vacation of equal or higher value. The offer is available on all new bookings, with no questions asked and no fees. It previously applied to 2022 vacations only.

Last week Riviera Travel announced it will remove regional flight supplements on all river cruise and escorted touring vacations from next year.

This will be a permanent change and applies to 14 of the largest regional airports across the UK and Ireland including Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin.

Riviera will operate over 1,300 regional flights next year, which will serve river cruise itineraries including to the Seine, Rhone, Douro, Rhine and Danube, and touring vacations including to France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Norway and Iceland.

Riviera Travel has also launched two new guest offers on its 2023 river cruises.

The first is that half-price cabin upgrades are available on 2023 Europe river cruises departing in July, August, October and November. This applies to both Riviera’s standard and solo traveler-exclusive sailings, which include destinations such as the Seine, Rhone, Rhine and Danube.

As for the second offer, one in four guests can travel for free on new 2023 river cruise bookings made for groups of 12 people or more. The offer is open up to September 30 on Europe cruises of seven nights or above.

MSC Cruises

New MSC Cruises ship MSC Seascape has completed its first sea trials ahead of its launch at the end of the year – the naming ceremony for MSC Seascape will take place in New York City on December 7, 2022, at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.

This will be the fourth ship in the Seaside class and it will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

The new ship will offer two different seven-night itineraries, stopping at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and Nassau in The Bahamas, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, or calling at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Cozumel in Mexico, George Town in the Cayman Islands and Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

Onboard guests can expect 11 dining venues, 19 bars and lounges, six swimming pools including an aft infinity pool with ocean views, and a glass-floored Bridge of Sighs on deck 16 with a unique view of the ocean.

There will be 2,270 cabins with 12 different types of cabins and suites with balconies, including coveted aft suites; 98 hours of live entertainment per cruise; 7,567 square feet of dedicated kids’ space; and cutting-edge amusement options.

In further cruise news, MSC Cruises also announced MSC Virtuosa will truly become the flagship cruise for the UK by offering sailings out of Southampton in the UK for winter 2022/23 and summer 2023.

This will be the first time the line has continuously operated one of its vessels from the UK year-round. MSC Virtuosa launched in 2021 and became the first ship to restart UK cruises in May of that year. The ship returned to the UK in April this year and will now continue to operate out of Southampton through to the end of the summer 2023 season.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages will be launching a loyalty program called The Sailing Club next year. It will have two tiers with passengers who sailed with Virgin Voyages in 2021 occupying the highest tier, dubbed Sea-Blazers. Perks will include a $125 Bar Tab Bonus for life.

What’s more, anyone who sails with Virgin Voyages twice in 2022 will be awarded Sea-Rover status and receive a $100 Bar Tab Bonus through 2024.

In further good news, travelers who have status in the upper tiers of other cruise rewards programs will also be given Sea-Rover status and Virgin’s package of Deep Blue Extras when they book one cruise.

These extras include speedy boarding, a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne, unlimited premium WiFi, laundry service, an exclusive cocktail event and a $10 speciality-coffee credit per cabin.

If you’re a Sea-Blazer or and Sea-Rover and you book a 2022 cruise through the end of the year, these Deep Blue Extras will be included. You can also make the most of Virgin Voyages’ Red Hot Booking Bonus Months promotion. With this, you’ll receive $200 in onboard credit for every voyage booked during a Red Hot Booking Month, be accelerated to exclusive tiers in 2023 and be entered to win incredible Virgin Group perks.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Prima was christened by godmother Katy Perry in Iceland this week – check out what’s onboard in our latest cruise ship guide.

NCL also revealed Norwegian Viva’s debut will be delayed due to ongoing supply chain issues. Norwegian Viva was originally scheduled to enter service in Europe in June 2023 but summer cruises have been cancelled by the line.

Norwegian Viva’s debut voyage will now be a nine-day cruise departing on August 26, 2023, from Civitavecchia, Italy.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises revealed more details about upcoming cruise ship Arvia, arriving in December 2022.

The cruise ship will feature more than 30 bars and restaurants plus exclusive destination-inspired dishes by two celebrity chefs – queen of contemporary Caribbean cooking, Shivi Ramoutar and acclaimed Spanish chef, José Pizarro.

Published 09.01.22