First Evacuation for New Royal Caribbean Ship Before It Ever Debuts

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Royal Caribbean International’s Utopia of the Seas has not yet officially joined the cruise line, but has already successfully had her first medical evacuation. The incident occurred during the ship’s sea trials, which have just concluded in the Bay of Biscay off western France.

On Saturday, May 11, 2024, the ship reported an injured person onboard while the vessel was eight nautical miles (9 miles / 15 kilometers) off the coast of Belle-Île, at 4:21 p.m. The small island is located in the northern part of the Bay of Biscay due west of the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard, where Utopia of the Seas has been constructed.

The injured individual was hoisted by helicopter and successfully transported to a hospital in Vannes, approximately 30 miles northeast of Belle-Île. The entire operation – from the first call to the successful evacuation – took just over two hours.

The nature of the injury has not been disclosed, nor has the identity of the individual been revealed. Nearly 900 engineers, technicians, designers, officers, and crew were aboard Utopia of the Seas as part of her extensive sea trials testing.

It is unknown whether or not the injury may have been directly related to any testing and no further updates on the person’s condition have been announced.

Utopia of the Seas had begun her five extensive days of sea trials on Tuesday, May 7, and has since returned to the shipyard. The outcome of the testing is still being analyzed and has not yet been formally announced.

Sea trials are an intensive period of final testing for any cruise ship. This is the first time a ship it taken into open waters, and all her critical systems – navigation, propulsion, maneuvering, emergency operations, etc. – are put through extreme tests to ensure full and complete operation. In total, Utopia of the Seas‘ sea trials covered more than 1,000 miles of sailing for all the various tests.

After the sea trials, the last phase of the ship’s construction will be completed, which includes final outfitting and design work. After that is finished, the ship will be handed over to the cruise line and will become property of the line rather than of the shipyard in the days leading to her official beginning of service.

Sailing on Utopia of the Seas

Utopia of the Seas is scheduled to welcome her first guests on July 19 at her homeport of Port Canaveral. Unlike her sister Oasis-class ships, Utopia of the Seas is engineered to offer shorter sailings, but without shortchanging travelers. The 236,860-gross-ton ship has all the features of the phenomenal Oasis vessels, including incredible shows, delicious dining, an onboard zipline, and so much more.

Guests can choose from 3- and 4-night Bahamas sailings, with every voyage visiting Royal Caribbean International’s award-winning private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Utopia of the Seas Departs on Sea Trials
Utopia of the Seas Departs on Sea Trials

Depending on the cruise departure date and sailing length, the ship will also be visiting Nassau, and select sailings feature full days at sea for travelers to experience all the ship has to offer.

Read Also: Oasis Class Cruise Ships – What You Need to Know

Also coming up for the new ship will be her official christening, which has not yet been announced. Traditionally, a ship’s ceremonial godmother or godfather would help name the ship in a time-honored event with blessings for everyone aboard the ship during her service life.

At this time, Royal Caribbean has not revealed who will be godmother to Utopia of the Seas. The most recent Oasis-class ship, Wonder of the Seas, features “Wonder Mom” Marie McCrea chosen from a contest of mothers as the ship’s godmother, while Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas features champion footballer Lionel Messi as the “Icon of Icon” – the ship’s ceremonial godfather.

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