Guests boarding Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas on January 22, 2022, have already been advised of itinerary changes for their sailing. Unlike recent sailings that have been troubled with port cancellations, however, the changes for Allure of the Seas are only a rearranging of the planned ports of call on the original itinerary.
Allure of the Seas Itinerary Change
The January 22, 2022 sailing of Allure of the Seas is an 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruise roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. The ship’s original itinerary had it visiting Nassau in the Bahamas the first day, followed by a day at sea, then three ports in three consecutive days: Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas on January 25, Philipsburg in St. Maarten on January 26, and Basseterre in St. Kitts on January 27.
The cruise was then scheduled for two days at sea as it returned to Fort Lauderdale for debarkation on January 30.
An email sent to booked guests has advised of the new itinerary. No ports are cancelled and the days at sea as well as the call at Nassau remain the same. The trio of consecutive ports, however, has been reordered to call on Charlotte Amalie January 25 (no change), Basseterre on January 26, and Philipsburg on January 27.
In addition, the times in port have also changed for Basseterre, with an extra hour added before departure. This makes that port of call now from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., when previously it had been scheduled from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. No other times have been changed at this point.
Why the Changes?
These changes are not COVID-related, but the email, sent by Aurora Yera-Rodriguez, Assistant Vice President of Guest Experience at Royal Caribbean, states “Due to a berthing conflict, we’ve swapped the days we’ll visit Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis and Philipsburg, St. Maarten.”
Berthing conflicts can occur when multiple cruise ships are scheduled to visit the same port of call on the same day, and the port facilities and local tour operators may not be properly equipped to handle all ships adequately depending on their size and guest capacities.
Allure of the Seas is an Oasis-class ship with a guest capacity of 5,484 at double occupancy, and 6,780 passengers when fully booked. While most cruise ships are not yet sailing at full capacity, a ship as large as Allure can still bring a tremendous number of guests to a port even while some cabins remain vacant.
When measured by full capacity, Allure of the Seas – along with her sister ship, Oasis of the Seas – is currently the largest cruise ship in the world.
According to the Port of Philipsburg’s web portal, six different cruise ships, including the original stop for Allure of the Seas, are scheduled for calls on January 26. Other ships that day include Sky Princess and Grandeur of the Seas, and when all scheduled ships’ guest capacities are added, the port could see well over 13,000 passengers in just a few hours.
On January 27, however, only two vessels are scheduled for Philipsburg, Celebrity Edge that can carry 2,918 passengers, and Club Med II, which carries just under 400 passengers. Even adding Allure of the Seas on that day, the overall guest arrivals will be far lower than with the ship’s original itinerary.
The port schedules for Basseterre are similar, with five ships with a total passenger capacity well over 17,000 – including Allure of the Seas – scheduled for Thursday, January 27, while only four other ships with a combined capacity of fewer than 10,000 are scheduled for Wednesday, January 28.
By shifting Allure to new dates, both ports can help alleviate crowding, which will also help promote better social distancing measures at the pier.
Shore Excursions to Be Adjusted
Any pre-paid Royal Caribbean shore excursions affected by this change are automatically being rescheduled for the appropriate day and updated tour information will be emailed to guests. New shore excursions can also continue to be pre-booked for any port of call on the itinerary through the Royal Caribbean website.
More Changes Ahead?
While the news of this itinerary shift is likely a relief to guests because no ports of call have yet been cancelled, Royal Caribbean International recently reminded guests of the importance of flexibility and the possibility of itinerary changes even while sailing. It is possible that this first itinerary change for Allure of the Seas may not be the last.