Carnival Cruise Line Introduces Facial Biometrics At Port Of Baltimore
Carnival Cruise Line and the CBP have introduced facial biometric checks for passengers arriving at the Port of Baltimore.
Facial scanning not facial recognition is the term used by CBP for the biometric check.
When passengers leave a ship to arrive into the U.S. seaport, their picture is taken by a high definition camera. That photo is compared to the their existing passport or visa photo in DHS systems to biometrically verify their identity.
CBP says the process takes less than two seconds and is more than 98% accurate.
U.S. passengers and select foreign nationals can apparently opt out and have a manual check.
Carnival Cruises To Cuba
Carnival expanded its cruises to Cuba with an additional 23 three- to five-day itineraries to Havana in 2020 planned for 5 different liners departing from 4 US East Coast homeports – Carnival Triumph , Carnival Sunshine , Carnival Sensation . Carnival Sunshine was the biggest passenger ship to ever visit Havana and the liner with the first-ever Cuba cruise from Charleston SC. The new Cuba cruises include:
- Carnival Sunshine: 8 five-day voyages featuring Freeport and Havana departing January 6, February 3 and 17, March 2, 16 and 30, April 13 and 27, 2020.
- Carnival Triumph-Sunrise: 8 five-day itineraries featuring an overnight in Havana and a day-long visit to Nassau departing January 11, February 8 and 22, March 7 and 21, April 4 and 18, 2020 as well as a 5-day cruise featuring an overnight in Havana and a visit to Half Moon Cay departing January 20, 2020.
- Carnival Sensation: 4-day voyage featuring an overnight in Havana and an extended visit to Nassau departing on March 19, 2020, as well as a couple of 5-day trips with an overnight in Havana and visits to Nassau and Freeport departing February 15 and 29, 2020.
Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles . An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from the USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.
Record Breaking Week For Port Canaveral
Cruising is most definitely back at the worlds second busiest cruise port, as more than 100,000 passengers were welcomed through central Floridas Port Canaveral in just one week in early July. This marks the third time in 2022 the popular cruise embarkation port has seen such massive traffic.
From July 8-14, 2022, Port Canaveral welcomed an astonishing 107,000 passengers through its six cruise terminals. This is the highest number of passengers to visit in a single week in the cruise ports history since it began hosting cruise ships in 1964, and demonstrates the amazing popularity and convenience of Port Canaveral for eager travelers.
During that week, cruise ships from a variety of lines either set sail from the port or visited as a port of call, including the brand new Disney Wish on her inaugural sailing.
This also marks the third time in 2022 that Port Canaveral has topped 100,000 passengers in a single week. During the local spring break week of March 11-17, more than 101,700 passengers visited Port Canaveral, and from July 1-7, the port saw 105,600 guests.
With the ports schedule including massive vessels such as Carnival Cruise Lines flagship and two of Royal Caribbean Internationals largest ships Oasis of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas making regular visits, Port Canaveral is sure to continue such tremendous passenger operations throughout 2022.
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Carnival Cruise Line Use Of Facial Recognition
Carnival Cruise Line uses facial recognition at embarkation, debarkation and throughout the trip.
At check-in, a picture is taken of each passenger and stored for the duration of the cruise. Then each time passengers board or leave the vessel, another photo is taken. The biometric data collected during the voyage is purged following the cruise.
N.B. Image credit:
Royal Caribbean Drops Testing On Shorter Cruises
We start with one of the biggest news stories from the week with Royal Caribbean announcing a change to its testing requirements. Guests sailing with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea will not be required to present a negative test result starting from August 8.
The requirement will initially be removed for vaccinated guests sailing on cruises less than six nights in length. Guests that have not been vaccinated and all guests sailing on cruises six nights in length and longer will still need to provide proof of a negative test.
With the majority of cruises for Royal Caribbean International shorter than six nights, the new requirement will significantly impact the pre-cruise preparation for guests. The change in policy is a direct result of the CDC ending the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships on July 18, 2022.
Removing the testing requirements will mean a massive boost for Royal Caribbean. Many people are postponing their cruise plans due to the hassle of testing two days before a voyage. The cruise line is releasing all the details on the newly updated protocols to booked guests on the week of August 1, 2022.
Over the coming weeks and months, Royal Caribbean has also confirmed a further easing of its protocols, including allowing unvaccinated guests 12 and over to sail but still committing to 80% of capacity being fully vaccinated.
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Itinerary Of Carnival Cruise Line
The announcement was made on February 3, 2022, and triggered the following deployment changes:
- In Jacksonville, Ecstasy was replaced by Carnival Spirit, starting April 23rd. Ecstasy was repositioned to/homeported in Mobile for the period March 5 thru October 10. Carnival Sensation’s Mobile schedule was canceled.
- In Australia, Carnival Splendor’s schedule June 10 thru Sept 26, 2022, Carnival Spirit’s schedule June 5, 2022, thru October 5, 2023, were canceled.
- Carnival Sensation will not restart operations. Ecstasy’s last voyage for CCL departs October 10, 2022, from Mobile.
- Carnival Luminosa starts an inaugural season in Australia in November 2022, based on homeporting in Brisbane Queensland.
IMPORTANT: In 2023 starts the “COSTA by CARNIVAL” cruise program that targets CCL’s North American customers. The program is based on two newbuild Costa ships – Venezia followed by Firenze . Both Costa liners are CCL-managed .
Venues Close On Ncl Cruise Ship
In a letter sent to booked guests, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that Spice H2O and the Sports Complex aboard the Epic-class Norwegian Epic will be closed during the August 14 sailing, a 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean itinerary from Barcelona, Spain.
The letter states, We continuously aim to offer an enhanced experience for all our guests, and we strive to provide a world-class product consistent throughout our fleet. As part of this commitment, Norwegian Epic Sports Complex and Spice H2O are undergoing maintenance to better serve our guests, and therefore will be closed during your cruise.
The exact nature of the maintenance requiring the closure of the two spaces has not been disclosed.
Spice H2O is the ships adults-only beach club on Decks 15 and 16 aft, which includes a pool that converts to a dance floor and a giant screen for visual effects, as well as a complimentary pool bar and grill and terraced lounger seating.
During the day, Spice H2O can be a quiet and relaxing space, while at night the area converts to an edgy nightclub vibe with music and dance parties.
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Carnival Cruise Lines Banner Summer Brings Guest Total To Three Million Since July 2021 Restart
In a year of many milestones including its 50th Birthday Carnival Cruise Line has reached another important mark, welcoming three million guests since the restart of guest operations in July 2021, amidst a busy summer season across its fleet of 23 ships.
After recording its biggest booking week in the cruise lines 50-year history this spring, the last quarterly Carnival Corporation business update projected Carnival Cruise Lines ships to reach nearly 110% occupancy this summer. That expectation is being realized in the increase of guests across the fleet. Carnival saw its total guest count hit the two million mark in May and it has now risen to three million in less than 75 days an average of 95,000 guests per week.
Carnivals five busiest homeports, PortMiami, Fla., Port Canaveral, Fla., Galveston, Tex., Long Beach, Calif., and New Orleans, La., were among the first to resume guest operations and account for 77 percent of all Carnival embarkations and an impressive guest total of 2,324,823. Port Canaveral is also home to Carnivals new Excel-class flagship and the first ship in North America powered by liquefied natural gas , that is reaching a milestone of its own, welcoming 250,000 guests on board since its inaugural sailing. In terms of the number of sailings, Carnivals hometown of PortMiami leads the way with more than 215 voyages to date.
Other Us Seaports Using Biometric Checks
Facial biometric comparison technology is used at 26 seaports across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It has been successfully used to process arriving passengers on cruise vessels at:
Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and the US Virgin Islands.
CBP has successfully implemented facial biometrics into the entry processes at all international airports, known as Simplified Arrival, and into the exit processes at 32 airport locations.
To date, almost 200 million passengers have participated in the biometric facial comparison process at air, land, and seaports of entry.
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Staffing Shortages Ongoing But Improving
All cruise lines have been plagued with crew shortages and staffing issues in the past few months as more fleets return to full service and cruise ships resume sailing with full guest capacities.
Of the staffing issues, Heald said the situation is slowly improving.
This in part is because of our relationship with United States Customs and Border Protection who are allowing some crew to return whose visas have expired. This is really helping,Heald said.But we need a wee bit more time before we open everything up again.
As the situation slowly improves, Carnival has been able to return some popular amenities and onboard services recently.
On June 24, the cruise line resumed the loyalty parties and VIFP events for Diamond and Platinum guests, fun get-togethers offered on cruises of five nights and longer. These events often offer free cocktails or other beverages, gourmet hors doeuvres, exclusive games, meet-and-greets with ships officers, and other activities, depending on the ship and what can be arranged.
Heald also recently announced the return of the popular Chefs Table VIP dining experience, a specialty dining meal featuring exclusive menus, curated wine choices, and insights into the cruise lines culinary team and dining operations.
Couple Marks 1000 Days On Carnival Cruise Line
Robert and Nancy Houchens of North Garden, Virginia, a small town 175 miles from the seasonal homeport of Norfolk, recently reached theiramazing milestone of 1,000 sailing days while on the Spirit-class Carnival Pride, their favorite ship in the fleet.
To commemorate the occasion, Robert asked crew members to help arrange a surprise for his wife, and the momentousness of the achievement caught the attention of everyone on board.
The couple was able to pose with numerals to mark their days at sea, and celebrated with many of the crew members. After so many cruises at least 15 aboard Carnival Pride the couple considers Carnival crew members to be family.
Because the Houches are so well known to the cruise line, they were invited to cut the ribbon as Carnival Pride returned to service in Baltimore on September 12, 2021, after the ships pandemic-related operational pause.
Carnival Pride is homeported in Dover, UK for the summer, offering alternating 9- and 12-night sailings. The 9-night cruises visit a variety of ports throughout Norway, with phenomenal scenic cruising along the Norwegian fjords.
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Passenger Shipping Pause 2020
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, CCL-Carnival Cruise Line suspended its fleet’s passenger shipping operations by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 13, 2020, through July 2021.
Next are listed CCL-Carnival’s first departure dates by ship/homeport – BREEZE , CELEBRATION , CONQUEST , DREAM , ECSTASY , ELATION , FREEDOM , GLORY , HORIZON , LEGEND , LIBERTY , MAGIC , MARDI GRAS , MIRACLE , PANORAMA , PARADISE , PRIDE , RADIANCE , SPIRIT , SPLENDOR , SUNRISE , SUNSHINE , VALOR , VISTA , JUBILEE .
- The 2020-built Mardi Gras ship’s inaugural sailing was rescheduled from April 24 to May 29, June 5, July 3, Oct 2.
- Carnival Radiance restarted from Long Beach on December 23 .
- Carnival Legend’s Europe 2021 program was canceled and the ship restarted on Nov 14, out of Baltimore to Bermuda.
- Carnival Australia ships were planned to restart in 2022 on April 16 and April 17 , but in February 2022, both programs were canceled and the ships redeployed.
- CCL’s newest boat was scheduled for Nov 6, 2022 .
IMPORTANT: Effective July 31, 2021, all unvaccinated passengers boarding CCL ships in Florida must first buy a travel insurance policy worth at least USD 10,000/ EUR 8450 . Proof of travel insurance is required at check-in. The policy has to be in the name of the traveling passenger and feature US$10,000 and US$30,000 .
Carnival Jubilee Keel Laid At Shipyard
Sporting cowboy hat-shaped hard hats, Christine Duffy, Meyer Werft Managing Director Bernard Meyer, and Carnivals Senior Vice President of Newbuilds Ben Clement brought some fun to the Meyer Wert shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
Carnival Cruise Line and Meyer Werft celebrated the keel laying ceremony at the shipyard by placing coins under a massive 375-ton steel block, one of the first parts of Carnival Jubilee to be put in place.
The ceremony marked the completion of the first stage of the construction of Carnivals third LNG-powered cruise ship, which started with the steel cutting ceremony in March.
As the ship is built, the coins will remain under its foundation as a symbol of good luck. The official ship coin depicts Carnival Jubilee alongside the original MS Jubilee from 1986, which was scrapped in 2016, commemorating an essential part of Carnivals history and celebrating its future.
Once completed, Carnival Jubilee will be heading to Galveston, where she will play an important part in further developing Carnivals presence in Texas.
From Galveston, the ship will be sailing seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean starting November 18, 2023, including voyages to Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico and Mahogany Bay on Isa Roatan, Honduras.
Cruise News Update: July 30 2022
It’s a major cruise news update with some significant developments as Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise line ease testing requirements.
In this weeks cruise news update, weve finally got the major cruise lines starting to ease the pre-cruise testing requirement. Carnival Cruise line and Royal Caribbean have made protocol changes, along with developments on itinerary changes, redeployments, and the new Norwegian Cruise Line ship.
Disney Cruise Line Increases Gratuities
Disney Cruise Line has slightly increased its recommended gratuity rates for select crew positions, which in total raises the gratuity rate by $1 per day, per stateroom guest.
The cruise line has also recommended an $8 per day, per stateroom guest gratuity for the Concierge Lounge team, though this is not part of any automatic or pre-paid gratuities to guests accounts.
The increase in gratuities brings the per passenger, per day gratuity rate aboard Disney Cruise Line ships to $14.50 for most staterooms, and $15.50 per passenger, per day for concierge staterooms and suites, which includes the stateroom assistant host in the automatic or pre-paid gratuities.
Broken down, the standard gratuities cover the three levels of dining room server head server, assistant server, and server as well as the stateroom host that cleans and services guests cabins. The recommended daily gratuity for each of these positions has been increased by $.25 per passenger, per day.
These gratuity changes took effect immediately aboard all Disney ships, including the new Disney Wish.
Carnival Cruise Line Ships
Carnival Cruise Line is best-known for implementing top-notch marine technologies, innovative vessel construction methods and ship designs. Its customers are mostly Americans, 30% of which under 35 yo, 40% – between 35-55, 30% over 55.
All CCL liners names have the prefix “Carnival”, and are also trademarked “The Fun Ships”. Also trademarked is the ship’s funnel – colored in red-white-blue, and shaped like a whale tail. Company’s vessels offer spacious public spaces and staterooms that are one of the largest at sea with a huge variety of stateroom types in several categories. Between the high-quality amenities are Carnival’s terry robes and “Comfort Bed” sleep system with deluxe mattresses, linens, duvets, and pillows – Suite guests can even choose from a “pillow menu”.
Carnival is famous for its great cuisine and multiple dining options. The long list of dining venues includes the Main Dining Rooms , Chef’s Table , Supper Club with steakhouse favorites , BlueIguana Cantina , Sushi Bar, European-style Patisseries and Cafes, Poolside Bars, themed Kids Dining, Midnight Buffets, 24-hour Pizza and Room Service.
Bocce is a nodules sport similar to lawn bowls. However, the traditional courts are usually made of wood and sized 60×12 ft and 22×6 ft / 670×180 cm and can be set up in just minutes.
SkyRide is an outdoor/aerial bicycle ride on the newest Vista-class Carnival ships.
There is also a Mini-Golf course and great golf cruise packages created for keen golfers.
Virgin Voyages Drops Pre
Virgin Voyages announced on July 21 that, following the ending of the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the cruise line would be ending its pre-cruise testing requirement for sailings from the U.S. as of July 27, 2022.
While the Virgin Voyages fleet is small just the two vessels this is a significant step for the cruise industry.
Valiant Lady is the cruise lines youngest ship, having just embarked on her maiden voyage in March, and she is currently offering 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean sailings from Barcelona.
A number of cruise lines in Europe have already ended pre-cruise testing on selected voyages in line with local protocols, including Azamara Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Viking Cruises, so this move is not as stunning nor surprising.
Pre-cruise COVID-19 testing has been required by all cruise lines sailing from U.S. homeports since the cruise restart began in July 2021. Now that the CDCs guidelines are no longer mandatory but only recommended, cruise lines can update their policies on an individual basis.
While the end of the testing requirement is a strong step, Virgin Voyages is maintaining its other health and safety protocols.
All guests will still be required to fill out pre-cruise health questionnaires, as well as abide by all local regulations, including mask wearing if required.
Virgin Voyages requires 90% of passengers to be vaccinated, and 100% of the ships crew is vaccinated.