Guests setting sail on Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess on Saturday, January 20, 2024 will not be leaving from the cruise port they originally believed, as poor weather has closed the scheduled port. A new embarkation port has been arranged, but not all guests will be happy about how they have to reach the new port.
Sapphire Princess Embarkation Port Change
Sapphire Princess is scheduled to begin a 16-night “Antarctica and Cape Horn” itinerary from San Antonio, Chile on Saturday, January 20, but guests have now been informed that the cruise will be embarking from a different location. Princess Cruises reached out to guests with the notification and updated information, alerting them to the change just days before setting sail.
“Please be advised that due to adverse weather conditions in San Antonio, Chile the port there has closed,” the notification explained. “Embarkation for your Sapphire Princess voyage on Saturday, January 20, 2024 will now be in Valparaiso, Chile.”
This will be challenging for travelers who have made independent arrangements to reach the cruise terminal, as the San Antonio and Valparaiso cruise ports are approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) apart, depending on the driving route. The cruise line does note, however, that arrangements should not be too difficult to change.
“No changes are required to your hotel or flight arrangements as the distance between these ports and the Santiago city center is the same (our flight guidelines remain unchanged),” the notification clarified.
Santiago – the capital city of Chile – is equidistant from both cruise ports, though it will be important, of course, that travelers arrive at the proper port.
Guests who booked a pre-cruise airport transfer or hotel night through Princess Cruises will have their travel arrangements adjusted accordingly, though there is no need for flight or hotel changes, only for the destination of transfer shuttles.
The 115,875-gross ton, Grand-class Sapphire Princess can welcome 2,670 guests onboard, and is also home to approximately 1,100 international team members.
The January 20, 2024 sailing is a once-in-a-lifetime itinerary for many travelers, with calls to various ports in Chile, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, and Uruguay before the ship will arrive in Buenos Aires on Monday, February 5. The change in embarkation port will have no impact on the ship’s overall itinerary.
A Long Walk to the Terminal
The part of this embarkation port change that will upset some travelers is the walk between the check-in area and the dock to board Sapphire Princess.
“After checking in at the terminal [in Valparaiso], all guests will walk approximately 0.9m/1.5km to the dock to board the ship,” the email explained.
There is no indication about whether or not any shuttle service may be available for guests who have walking difficulties or other mobility concerns. A lengthy walk could also be challenging for travelers who want to bring their luggage aboard themselves without turning it over to porters.
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Guests with concerns about the walk should contact Princess Cruises directly or plan to arrive slightly early to check-in if different arrangements may be necessary.
Embarkation Port Changes Not Unheard Of
While embarkation port changes are not a frequent occurrence – it can be very logistically challenging to modify where a cruise ship debarks and embarks guests – they are occasionally necessary.
For example, due to devastating regional flooding in Italy in May 2023, Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas had to switch embarkation ports from Ravenna to Trieste – ports that are 170 miles (275 km) apart. The cruise line did facilitate transfers for that switch.
In July 2022, Holland America Line’s MS Rotterdam had the opposite problem – drought conditions and low water levels forced embarkation to change from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. Fortunately, those two cruise ports are just 56 miles (90 km) apart, and so arrangements were easier to make.
Storms, port damage, labor strikes, and other situations can all impact cruise embarkation operations. Travelers should always stay in close communication with their cruise line in the days and weeks leading up to their getaway to ensure they are updated about any changes as soon as possible.