Royal Caribbean CEO Addresses Cruise Ship Azipod Issue

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Royal Caribbean International’s top leadership has confirmed that despite the need to cancel two sailings for Radiance of the Seas, they are confident that the ship will be able to sail its September 15, 2023 departure.

This will be great news for guests booked on the 7-night southbound Alaska sailing, the ship’s last one-way trip of the Alaska sailing season.

Radiance of the Seas Repairs Underway

Due to a technical issue with the ship’s engine that has impacted maximum sailing speed, Radiance of the Seas is currently undergoing repairs in Seward, Alaska. This has resulted in the cancellation of two cruises, the first of which – the September 1, 2023 departure – was cancelled on embarkation day, much to the disappointment of arriving guests.

The following cruise, due to depart September 8, was also cancelled just three days before departure, as the repairs have not progressed quickly enough for the ship to complete that sailing.

The ship has been offering alternating northbound and southbound voyages between Vancouver, Canada and Seward, Alaska. It is possible that because the September 8 cruise was to leave from Vancouver, the ship would not have been able to complete repairs as well as return to Vancouver in time for the planned departure.

Radiance of the Seas
Radiance of the Seas (Photo Credit: Ric Jacyno / Shutterstock)

Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Michael Bayley, has announced, however, that the ship should be ready to welcome guests for the September 15 cruise, departing Seward where the ship is currently docked for repairs.

“As our guests know we cancelled our September 1st sailing due to a technical issue with propulsion. One of the ships Azipod’s had a problem requiring highly specialized technicians from Northern Europe to travel to Alaska to fix and repair that problem,” Bayley explained.

“To our September 15th guests we are confident repairs will be completed in the next few days in time for your sailing, and we will keep you informed should that change.”

Similarly, an update posted to the cruise line’s website reads, “We are making every effort to complete repairs over the next few days. We still intend to sail as planned on September 15th, and we remain committed to keeping you informed every step of the way.”

Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley
Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley

A further update will be sent to guests by Saturday, September 9. The September 15 cruise is a 7-night cruise departing Seward, with calls on Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan, as well as scenic cruising near the magnificent Hubbard Glacier, before the ship arrives in Vancouver on September 22.

At this time, there is no information on whether or not there will be any itinerary changes to the cruise, such as skipping a port of call or shortening port times to permit slower sailing speeds. If the engine issues are fully resolved, however, there should be no need for any itinerary adjustment.

Engine Details

Royal Caribbean International has not released details on what exactly the “technical issue” is with Radiance of the Seas‘ engine.

Guests onboard the August 25 cruise did initially report a loud bang or similar unexpected incident near the end of the sailing. Unconfirmed speculation is that submerged ice may have impacted one of the ship’s azipods, which could have bent a propeller or caused other damage that requires specialized repairs.

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas (Photo Credit: TamasV / Shutterstock)

Such incidents are rare. While cruise ships do typically sail at slower speeds in Glacier Bay and other ice-strewn areas, as well as keep strict lookouts for bergs and growlers, it isn’t always possible to avoid impacts with ice.

Read Also: Norwegian Cruise Ship Hits Iceberg in Alaska

Particularly late in the summer worn ice can be submerged more than usual, making it more difficult to see and avoid. Given that the ship’s azipods are underneath the hull, deeper ice could potentially impact the engine.

It must be noted that while such incidents can affect a ship’s cruising speed, at no time has Radiance of the Seas had any change to her safety systems, hotel operations, or onboard services.

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