Norwegian Ends Open Bar on Sun and Sky

Norwegian Sky

Starting in September, Norwegian Cruise Line will no longer offer its open bar on all Sky and Sun sailings, which was said to be a key selling point in a competitive short cruise market.

The Sky and Sun both sailed to Cuba recently with an open bar offering. The Sky went to the open-bar program in 2016, with the Sun following as she was positioned into the short cruise market

Guests were able to enjoy, for free, a variety of unlimited premium spirits, mixed cocktails, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to $11.

The ships will now operate under Norwegian’s popular “Free at Sea” marketing program, letting guests choose various perks, including free WiFi, shore excursions, or an open bar, for example.

Existing reservations on cruises departing on either ship after Sept. 7 will be honoured for the open bar program.

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Virgin Voyages to feature Key West instead of Havana

With Cuba cruises from the U.S. no longer permitted, Virgin Voyages’ four-day “Havana After Dark” cruises will be replaced with a four-day cruise featuring Key West.

The new itinerary will be called “Fire and Sunset Soirees” and will include a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.

All Virgin cruises will visit the line’s Bimini Beach Club but only the Key West itinerary will offer a “late-night beach bonfire soiree” in Bimini.

Virgin said the evening will feature artistic fire installations that draw their inspiration from the fireball sculptures on Necker Island, home to Virgin founder Richard Branson.

Virgin also detailed two seven-day holiday sailings. “Holidaze and Nights” and “New Year’s Ahoy” will call in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and feature late-night sailaways in Bimini and San Juan.

Wendy Williams was named captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages' first ship.

Wendy Williams was named the captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages’ first ship.

Virgin also said it has appointed a captain for its first ship, the Scarlet Lady. It said that Wendy Williams will become the first Canadian woman to be captain of a ship for a major cruise brand. Virgin said the appointment is in keeping with its Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry.

Without Cuba cruises, Royal Caribbean lowers profit outlook

Harmony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said eliminating Cuba from the itinerary of various sailings will reduce 2019 earnings by $52 million to $73 million.

“While the affected sailings impact only 3% of our 2019 capacity, the extremely short notice period for this high-yielding destination amplifies the earnings impact,” said Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO. “The result of this policy change has created a short-term impact on our guests, operations and earnings; fortunately, we have many alternative and attractive destinations for our guests to choose from.”

The other major cruise companies affected by the decision to ban U.S. cruises to Cuba haven’t commented on the financial impact.

Cuba accounts for 1% of capacity at Carnival Corp. and 4% at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, according to a note from Wells Fargo Securities, which estimated the economic impact on Carnival at $21 million to $42 million and on Norwegian at $26 million to $60 million.