Due to flooding that has continued to create hazardous conditions at Port Tampa Bay so the port remains closed after Hurricane Idalia, Royal Caribbean International has delayed Serenade of the Seas for a day, which shortens the next cruise.
Furthermore, two other ships at two other homeports are also experiencing changes from this storm, including delayed embarkation and an itinerary change.
Serenade of the Seas Delayed
As of Thursday morning, August 31, 2023, Port Tampa Bay remains closed at Port Condition Zulu due to the impact of then-Hurricane Idalia and local flooding from the storm.
Because of this, Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas is unable to return to her homeport as scheduled on August 31, and instead, the ship is enjoying an unexpected day at sea as an extension of the current sailing, a 5-night sailing to Key West and CocoCay.
Onboard, guests will have the same experiences as would be expected for any day at sea, with activities, entertainment, spa treatments, dining options, and more.
Guests waiting to board the ship, however, have different options now that their cruise will be shortened by a day. Royal Caribbean International has notified guests about the situation.
“Along with our Chief Meteorologist, Marine Operations, and government officials we’re working towards providing you with the best cruise possible. What we do know is we intend to sail on Friday,” the email stated. “This situation remains fluid and beyond our control. We’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way.”
An additional update will be forthcoming Thursday afternoon. The August 31 departure was to have been a 4-night Western Caribbean sailing to visit Cozumel, Mexico, with two days at sea. There is no information yet about whether or not the ship will still be visiting Cozumel or if the port of call will change because of the shorter time.
If guests prefer to cancel, they will receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare, including any non-refundable deposit. Refunds may take 14 business days to process, but some financial institutions may take longer to process refunds.
Guests who do wish to set sail on the shortened cruise will receive “1-day’s worth of onboard credit” to their ship account, but the cruise line does not specify the amount of that credit.
Most likely, the amount will vary for different passengers depending on their cruise fare and any add-on packages they had purchased, such as drink packages, Wi-Fi, or pre-paid gratuities.
Vision of the Seas Delayed
Vision of the Seas, homeported from Baltimore, has also been briefly delayed by Hurricane Idalia while returning from a 5-night Bermuda sailing.
This means that guests embarking the ship for the next sailing are asked to delay their arrival to the cruise terminal by one hour later than their originally selected arrival time.
Arriving guests should note that “all guests should arrive no later than 2:30 p.m., to ensure everyone is checked-in and onboard by 3:00 p.m.” in order to set sail for the 9-night Canada New England cruise. At this time, there are no changes to Vision of the Seas‘ itinerary other than the minimal embarkation delay.
Mariner of the Seas Itinerary Change
Sailing from Port Canaveral, Mariner of the Seas is also having impact from what is now Tropical Storm Idalia. While Port Canaveral has reopened following the storm, Idalia’s track is continuing toward Bermuda.
Mariner of the Seas is departing on Friday, September 1 for an 8-night Bermuda & Perfect Day cruise, which was to have visited Bermuda for an extended stay overnight from Monday, September 4 until Tuesday, September 5.
Tropical Storm Idalia is forecast to pass very close to, if not directly over, Bermuda late on Sunday or in the early hours of Monday. To give the storm extra time to pass the island and for port facilities to be inspected and reopen safely, Mariner of the Seas has rearranged its schedule.
Now, the ship will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay first on the itinerary, and will not arrive in Bermuda until 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday. The ship will remain docked overnight until 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, before enjoying two days at sea en route back to Port Canaveral.
Pre-booked shore excursions booked for either CocoCay or Bermuda are being rebooked for the appropriate times and days.
“We’re sorry for the last-minute change caused by the weather – your safety is our top priority,” the email notification to guests explains. “Currently, the situation remains fluid and we’re still monitoring the storm’s path. We’ll be sure to keep you informed every step of the way.”
Guests booked on any of these impacted sailings will want to keep in close contact with Royal Caribbean International to stay informed about any further changes.