Cruise News: Carnival’s New Ship, Royal’s New Beach Club, NCL’s Big Milestone & More

In what’s been a big week in cruising, there were several major stories that made headlines. They include new ships, a new destination, and a new port of call for one cruise line.

Here’s what’s to know…

Carnival Firenze Officially Welcomed as Carnival’s Newest Ship

In a christening ceremony held in Long Beach, Carnival Firenze was officially welcomed as the newest ship in Carnival’s fleet. Image courtesy of Carnival.

Cruise passengers in California have a new option as Carnival officially welcomed its newest ship. Carnival Firenze, which moved over from the cruise line’s sister brand, Costa, joins the fleet as the cruise line’s 27th ship.

As with its sister ship Carnival Venezia, the new (to Carnival) Firenze is adopting the cruise line’s “Fun Italian Style” branding that features Italian touches and themes throughout the vessel. Firenze was initially built in 2020 and holds roughly 5,000 passengers at full capacity.

In a ceremony held in the ship’s new homeport of Long Beach, the arrival was celebrated with godfather Jonathan Bennett, Carnival president Christine Duffy, an Italian blessing by a Catholic priest, and pouring champagne on the ship’s bell to officially welcome it to the fleet.

Now, Firenze will sail 4-7 day routes to Mexico, with stops including Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlán.

The new addition to Long Beach will allow Carnival to carry more than 750,000 passengers from the port next year. That’s more than any other cruise line in California.

Royal Beach Club Paradise Island Breaks Ground

Construction finally broke ground on the Royal Beach Club, across the channel from the Nassau cruise port. The new destination will feature beach, pools, and more. Image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean fans visiting Nassau are one step closer to having a new destination to experience during their day in port. First announced more than a year ago, Royal Beach Club Paradise Island finally broke ground this week in a ceremony attended by Royal Caribbean and Bahamian officials.

The new private area for Royal Caribbean guests will be situated just across from the cruise dock in Nassau. There, the 17-acre destination will feature a beach, pools, splash pad for kids, cabanas, food, and music. Essentially you can think of it as a miniature CocoCay, minus the waterpark.

Royal Beach Club will open in 2025 and is expected to see 2,000 guests per day. The area will be accessible from a ferry from the port.

There is no word yet on if there will be an admission charge to visit or just charges for certain areas. The cruise line says that “more details about the first Royal Beach Club, including the opening date and pricing, will be revealed on Royal Caribbean’s website soon.”

Norwegian Aqua Achieves Construction Milestone

Norwegian Aqua is the first of NCL’s new(ish) Prima-Plus class that’s 10% larger than previous ships in the group. It will join sister ships Prima and Viva in 2025. Image courtesy of NCL.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that its newest ship — Norwegian Aqua — was floated for the first time ahead of its debut in April 2025.

A ship’s “float out” is a significant milestone as the vessel hits the water for the first time. Over the next year, construction will continue to complete the ship ahead of its debut.

Norwegian Aqua is the third in the cruise line’s Prima class (along with Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva), but is technically part of the new Prima-Plus class. The new vessel shares characteristics and style with the Prima class, but it is actually 10% larger than those ships at 156,300 gross tons and measuring 1,056 feet.

“Building upon the guest-favorite features of the award-winning vessels of this class, the 10% increase in space provides us with more flexibility to deliver more offerings and more beautifully designed venues for our guests to relax and explore on board Norwegian Aqua,” said David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line.

The new ship will also include the first “hybrid rollercoaster and waterslide, the Aqua Slidecoaster” (no details yet on exactly what that entails).

Once completed, the ship will sail 7-day cruises from Port Canaveral before heading to New York City and then to Miami.

CocoCay Sees First Visits From a New Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay is a popular destination for the line. Now, sister line Celebrity Cruises has started to dock there as well.

For years, CocoCay has proven to be a popular destination with Royal Caribbean passengers, seeing literally millions of guests visit each year. Now, another cruise line is getting in on the action, docking at the private island for the first time.

Celebrity Cruises is a sister to Royal Caribbean, which both fall under the umbrella of the Royal Caribbean Group brand. While Royal Caribbean is known for its family-friendly ships, Celebrity offers a more upscale and luxurious experience focused on adults.

Still, there’s something to like for everyone at CocoCay.

Until now, CocoCay had only been a destination for Royal Caribbean ships. Celebrity celebrated its inaugural stops at the port this week. The cruise line is now regularly calling on the destination that comes complete with a waterpark, multiple beaches, an adults-only section, and much more.

The first ship to visit was Celebrity Reflection, followed by Celebrity Beyond the next day. The stops come as part of the cruise line’s focus on shorter Caribbean cruises, allowing fans of the line to still travel even if they can’t schedule a longer trip like a traditional seven-day cruise.

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