The cruise industry is finally gearing up to full speed as cruise lines restart their remaining out of service ships. For Royal Caribbean International, this month will mark the full return of the fleet with Rhapsody of the Seas resuming passenger service on May 23 as it sets sail from Rome.
Final Royal Caribbean Ship to Restart
Built in 1997, the Vision-class Rhapsody of the Seas is one of the smallest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, but has a big role to fill as the last of the ships to restart operations since the global cruise shutdown began in March 2020.
The very first sailing, which is sure to begin with an enthusiastic celebration, is a 7-night sailing from Rome to Athens, calling on Salerno and Catania in Italy, as well as Santorini Island in Greece, Ephesus in Turkey, and Mykonos Island in Greece before arriving in Athens on May 30.
The ship will spend much of the summer in the Mediterranean, embarking for various sailings from Rome, Athens, Ravenna, and Barcelona. During this popular season, the ship will visit stunning ports such as Santorini, Mykonos, Cannes, Genoa, and and Portofino, among others.
In mid-August, Rhapsody of the Seas will begin homeporting in Haifa, Israel, sailing a variety of Greek Isles and Cyprus cruises before moving to Bridgetown, Barbados in November, where she will offer Caribbean adventures and island hopping through the winter.
Royal Caribbean International was one of the first cruise lines to resume sailings once health and safety guidelines were in place to restart cruising.
The very first Royal Caribbean ship to restart was Quantum of the Seas in Singapore in December 2020, while in North America, Adventure of the Seas was the first ship to restart when she set sail on June 12, 2021 from Nassau, The Bahamas.
The restart hasn’t been without challenges, however, as multiple sailings were canceled at different times due to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks, as well as concerns over the Omicron variant surge in late 2021. At times, different ships have moved in and out of service, and the cruise line has redeployed ships as necessary to work better with regional guidelines.
“2021 marked the beginning of our return to our mission of delivering the very best vacation experiences,” said Jason Liberty, president and chief executive officer of the Royal Caribbean Group, in a 2022 business update.
“During 2021, we made significant progress toward our recovery with over 85% of our capacity returning to operations and delivering safe and memorable experiences to approximately 1.3 million guests at record guest satisfaction scores. Our team has worked tirelessly to execute our successful and healthy return, and we are grateful for their extraordinary efforts.”
Full Cruise Line to Be Sailing This Month
Finally, all 26 of Royal Caribbean International’s vessels will be welcoming passengers this month. “We expect 2022 will be a strong transitional year, as we bring the rest of our fleet back into operations and well-nigh historical occupancy levels,” Liberty said.
Though the ship may be the last to restart, Rhapsody of the Seas still brings plenty of options and onboard fun for guests to enjoy. The ship will bring along as many as 2,416 passengers (fully booked occupancy) for spectacular cruise vacations, with 765 crew members providing the exemplary service and excitement Royal Caribbean is known for.
Onboard, guests will be able to enjoy different specialty restaurants, bars, and lounges, as well as pools, spa treatments, dance classes, production shows, the arcade, casino, live music, outdoor movie nights, rock climbing, craft projects, and so much more.
Rhapsody of the Seas has been refit several times since entering service, and was recently refurbished in 2022 in Brest, France with general maintenance and cosmetic upgrades. With her 22 months out of service, she’s sure to have been kept ready to welcome guests once again, bringing the Royal Caribbean fleet back to full sailing.