Cruise passengers are accustomed to itinerary changes due to poor weather or ship technical difficulties that impact cruising speeds. Sky Princess, however, is changing multiple cruise itineraries for a much different reason: port congestion.
At least two departure dates are confirmed to have itinerary changes, and additional cruises may be impacted as the cruise line works to offer guests the most pleasant cruise experiences possible.
Multiple Sky Princess Itinerary Changes
Princess Cruises’ Sky Princess, one of the cruise line’s largest vessels, is changing several itineraries in order to alleviate congestion in different ports of call. When one port is adjusted, this also leads to other ports being shifted as the whole itinerary is modified.
December 9 Departure Itinerary Change
Some booked guests are learning of their itinerary changes just days before embarkation, as the ship’s December 9, 2023 sailing is impacted due to a busy day in Cozumel, Mexico.
“Please be advised that due to cruise ship congestion in Cozumel, Mexico, Sky Princess will now call to Cozumel on Thursday, December 14, 2023 rather than Monday, December 11 as previously scheduled,” the notification said.
The sailing is a 7-night Western Caribbean with Mexico itinerary. Cozumel was to have been the first port of call, followed by Roatan, Belize, and Costa Maya.
Now that Cozumel has been shifted to a different day, Belize has also been shifted (to Monday, December 11 instead of Wednesday, December 13), and so has Costa Maya (now on Wednesday, December 13 instead of Thursday, December 14).
The call to Roatan will still be on Tuesday, December 12 as originally scheduled, but will now begin at 7 a.m. instead of the original schedule of 9 a.m. Other port times have also been adjusted slightly to accommodate the new schedule of days.
Christmas Cruise Itinerary Change
One of the altered itineraries is the ship’s Christmas cruise, departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday, December 23, 2023. That sailing is a 7-night Western Caribbean and Mexico holiday cruise, visiting two ports in Mexico as well as Mahogany Bay on Roatan Island in Honduras as well as Belize City, Belize.
While the ports of call remain the same for the cruise, the days and times of the visits have now been changed. Originally, the order of port visits was to have been Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, and Costa Maya. Now, guests have been informed of dramatic adjustments.
“Due to cruise ship congestion and operational considerations in Roatan, Honduras, Sky Princess will now berth in Coxen Hole for our call to Roatan rather than in Mahogany Bay and will now call to Roatan (Coxen Hole) on Monday, December 25, 2023 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM rather than on Tuesday, December 26,” the notification email read.
Because of the shift, this makes Roatan the ship’s first port of call. Belize has been shifted to Tuesday instead of Wednesday, and Cozumel will be on Wednesday, December 27, instead of Monday, December 25. The call to Costa Maya remains on Thursday, December 28.
The email also notes that call times for all ports except Costa Maya have also been changed.
How Congestion Impacts Cruises
While cruise ports are designed to accommodate multiple vessels, when too many ships are in port, the experience can be less than ideal for visitors. Not only will security checkpoints and local shops be more crowded, but local tour operators may fill up quickly and fewer shore excursions may be possible.
This is especially true during the holiday period, when local retailers, tour operators, and restaurants may be closed for private parties, staff breaks, or the holiday dates themselves.
By rearranging visit dates, Princess Cruises is working to give guests aboard Sky Princess the best possible cruise experience with the most options for every port of call. The 145,281-gross-ton vessel can bring as many as 3,660 guests to each port, and it is important that everyone have an enjoyable cruise.
This can cause difficulties onboard, however, if guests booked spa appointments or specialty dining reservations for specific port days. In most cases, cruise lines will reschedule such reservations if possible.
Guests who may have made independent port tour arrangements will need to contact their tour operators for rescheduled or cancellation, though pre-paid tours booked through Princess Cruises will be automatically adjusted to the new port days and times.
All cruise travelers, no matter which cruise line, when they are setting sail, or where they are visiting, should be flexible with their travel expectations and adaptable to itinerary changes. Such changes are always made in the interests of safety, comfort, and the best possible cruise vacation experience.