Due to the forecast track and intensity of Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle, another Royal Caribbean International ship has completely diverted from its planned itinerary this week.
Ovation of the Seas is now sailing an 8-night cruise with just a single port of call rather than the originally scheduled three ports for what was to have been a South Pacific cruise, but guests are being compensated and the amazing ship has plenty to offer for days at sea.
Ovation of the Seas Cancels Two Ports of Call
The Quantum-class Ovation of the Seas is homeported from Sydney, Australia, and was to have departed on Saturday, February 4, 2023 for an 8-night South Pacific cruise calling on Mystery Island and Port Vila in Vanuatu, as well as Noumea in New Caledonia.
Because of hazardous weather, however, the ship has been unable to visit Vanuatu, and guests were informed of the change as the cruise began.
“We’ve been monitoring the inclement weather developing in and around Vanuatu and New Caledonia. To maintain a safe and comfortable journey, we’ve modified our itinerary,” the letter explained.
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The original schedule was to have departed Sydney on Saturday, with two days at sea before visiting Mystery Island on Tuesday, Port Vila on Wednesday, and Noumea on Thursday. Two more days at sea are to follow before the ship returns to Sydney on Sunday, February 12.
Instead, the new itinerary has been as follows: Three days at sea, in port at Noumea on Wednesday, and three more days at sea before returning to Sydney as scheduled.
By moving the visit to Noumea earlier and avoiding the ports in Vanuatu, the ship has been able to remain in calmer waters and safer conditions for the guests and crew.
“We’re sorry for the last-minute change caused by weather,” the notification letter read. “Your safety remains our top priority. As a reminder, being onboard a ship is one of the safest places to be because we are faster and can move out of the way of any inclement weather.”
Refunds and Compensation
Guests are naturally disappointed by the dramatic itinerary change, but Royal Caribbean has worked to make it an enjoyable cruise all the same. All pre-paid shore excursions for the Vanuatu ports were automatically refunded as onboard credit to guests’ accounts.
Furthermore, guests were given generous extra onboard credit: $100 for interior and ocean view staterooms, $150 for balconies, and $200 for suites. Any staterooms with third or higher guests also received an additional $50 per extra guest.
All credits can be used for any onboard purchases, including drinks, specialty dining, spa treatments, souvenirs, and extra charge activities. Any credit remaining at the end of the cruise will be returned to whatever credit card guests have on file.
Weighing in at 168,666 gross tons, Ovation of the Seas can welcome 4,180 guests at double occupancy, and as many as 4,905 eager cruisers when fully booked with all berths filled. The ship has 16 passenger decks and a wide range of amenities to enjoy, including the Flowrider surfing simulator, the North Star observation pod, and the multi-use SeaPlex complete with bumper cars.
Multiple Ships Impacted
Ovation of the Seas is not the only ship impacted by what is now classified as Severe Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle. Quantum of the Seas, which is the same class as Ovation of the Seas, is homeported from Brisbane and also made a complete itinerary change due to the storm, sailing south instead of north.
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Luminosa is also sailing from Brisbane and needed to completely alter its itinerary to avoid the storm.
Severe Tropical Storm Gabrielle has maintained a track between Australia and New Caledonia, moving southeast from the Coral Sea. While the storm has not had a great impact on land, it has disrupted marine traffic in the area.
The South Pacific tropical cyclone season runs through April 30, and any travelers with a cruise scheduled in the next few months should stay in close contact with their cruise line to be alerted to weather-related changes or cancellations as necessary.