After multiple delays and setbacks, Odyssey of the Seas is setting sail on her first Caribbean cruise. The ship completed her test sailing only last week; today, the first guests are embarking on the ship in Port Everglades, Florida, for what will be eight days of fun in the sun.
The cruise ship’s first voyage will sail towards the southern Caribbean, where she will have two stops in the Dutch Antilles before sailing north again for a Perfect Day at CocoCay.
It Finally Begins!
When Odyssey of the Seas sets sail today, there will be a collective sigh of relief in the Royal Caribbean offices. The vessel has not had the easiest road to start sailing. Initially scheduled for a maiden season from Rome and Barcelona, this was later altered to Israel and again changed to Fort Lauderdale. After this, the cruise ship’s first cruise was postponed when several crew members tested positive for COVID-19 onboard.
Odyssey of the Seas departed on July 19 from Fort Lauderdale to perform her first test sailing. This means the ship can welcome all kids and teenagers on board, most of whom are not eligible yet for vaccinations; the cruise line has decided to take a different route than the main competitor, Carnival Cruise Line, which chose to sail with at least 95% of its guests vaccinated against COVID-19.
Michael Bayley, the Royal Caribbean International president, reflected on the decision to not require a mandatory vaccination onboard on his Facebook page:
“In a normal year the majority of our guests are families. At any time throughout the year we carry approx 10 per cent plus of our guests who are kids 12 and under and they of course travel with their family. Because of the kids we have been sailing at around 90 percent vaccinated and so we would not be able to operate at the CDC 95 / 95, and so, like Disney Cruises or MSC, we chose this path.”
There has been one significant change in recent days from Royal Caribbean, and that is a requirement to be tested before sailing, regardless of vaccination status. The move comes as the Delta variant infections have grown significantly over the last weeks.
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas
Odyssey of the Seas is the fifth in Royal’s Quantum-class and the second Quantum-Ultra-Class ship. She will also be the first to be based at a Florida port and is the 25th ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.
Odyssey of the Seas departed today from Fort Lauderdale on an 8-night Southern Caribbean and Perfect Day Cruise. Her maiden voyage will sail to Oranjestad in Aruba, where she will arrive on Monday; she will then sail to Willemstad in Curaçao, followed by a call at Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas. The Southern Caribbean cruises will be mixed in with 6-night Western Caribbean cruises, also sailing from Port Everglades.
The 16-deck vessel is 1,138 feet long and can hold 4,198 guests at double capacity, or a maximum of 5,498. While she isn’t the biggest cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, she’s also not the smallest at 169,300 gross tons.