Royal Caribbean Gives Unprecedented Choice on Ultimate World Cruise

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With tensions continuing to cause travel concerns in the Red Sea and more cruises being impacted with itinerary changes, the fate of Royal Caribbean International’s epic Ultimate World Cruise aboard Serenade of the Seas will be decided not by the cruise line, but by the passengers themselves.

Guests on the cruise will have the opportunity to vote on how their itinerary changes and what ports of call they visit, an unprecedented way for the cruise line to handle the situation.

Red Sea Cancelled for Ultimate World Cruise

Due to the tensions in the Middle East, including ports of call near the Red Sea as well as through the Suez Canal, Serenade of the Seas will not be able to preserve three segments of her original 274-night route.

Rumors that the ship would need to change her route have been circulating for weeks, but the decision has now been made that a change is essential for the safety and well-being of guests and crew members.

“As we’ve continued to monitor what is taking place in and around the Red Sea for the safety of our guests and crew, we have made the decision to adjust plans for Serenade of the Seas’ transit through the Suez Canal this May,” a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said to Cruise Hive.

Because of necessary changes, three sections of the full world cruise will be impacted. The ship will be unable to sail the planned 18-night “Ultimate Jordan, Egypt & Israel” segment from May 9 through May 27, the 11-night “Ultimate Bulgaria, Romania & Turkey” segment from May 27 through June 7, or the 13-night “Ultimate Greece, Turkey & Italy” segment from June 7 through June 20.

Royal Caribbean's Ultimate World Cruise
Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise (Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte)

Unlike other adjusted cruises that are simply informing guests of the itinerary changes, typically coupled with some compensation options or refund choices if travelers prefer opt out of the altered itinerary, Royal Caribbean is giving passengers the chance to decide where they will sail.

Read Also: The Impact of Red Sea Tensions on Cruising

“In keeping with the adventurous spirit of our guests, we are engaging them for their thoughts and preference between two alternative itineraries that will take them on an epic adventure to Africa,” the cruise line confirmed.

Guests to Vote on Serenade of the Seas Itinerary Changes

In a town-hall-style meeting held in the ship’s Tropical Theater, the situation was explained to guests and two alternative sailing routes were presented.

Both will go around the southern and western coasts of Africa to enter the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar, but each one has vastly different ports of call and experiences for travelers.

The first option, an “Immersive Africa” itinerary, features ports of call in 11 different African countries and a total of 20 port visits from May 9 through June 20.

Guests would enjoy visits to such unique destinations as Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Angola, Ghana, and Senegal, as well as more popular ports in South Africa and the Canary Islands.

Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

The second option is an “Africa and Greece” itinerary that cruises around Africa much more quickly with just three ports of call – a visit to the Seychelles, an overnight in Cape Town, and a stop in the Canary Islands. This option, however, includes an overnight in Alexandria, Egypt and extensive exploration of the Greek Islands during the last week of the segment.

In comparison, the “Immersive Africa” itinerary features 21 days at sea during the 6-week period from when the ship will leave Dubai on May 9 until she arrives in Ravenna on June 20.

The “Africa and Greece” itinerary has 26 days at sea in the same time period, all of which are between May 10 and June 11 – a full month at sea with just 7 port days, two of which are overnight calls (Cape Town and Alexandria).

Both itineraries have a stop in the Seychelles, an overnight call in Cape Town, and a visit to the Canary Islands. Dates and port times vary between the different schedules.

Guests onboard the ship can submit questions about the new options through February 20, and a webinar is planned with the cruise line’s corporate office on Wednesday, February 21. After that, passengers will be able to vote on the itineraries, and the winning option will be confirmed on Tuesday, February 27.

Compensation Offered

All travelers will be receiving either a 25% or 50% pro-rated refund for the altered segment of the cruise based on their cruise fare and which option is ultimately selected. Guests can also opt to cancel and would receive a full segment refund and assistance with onward travel plans if they prefer not to continue the cruise.

Royal Caribbean's Ultimate World Cruise
Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise (Photo Credit: Diego O. Galeano)

“They will receive compensation for the adjustment, and guests who prefer to not sail on the updated itinerary will receive a full refund and support for their travel arrangements,” the statement from Royal Caribbean concluded.

Guests who have been booked on one of the three individual segments of the cruise that are impacted are also being offered compensation options for the cancellation of their cruises. Their options vary depending on which part of the cruise they had planned to join.

Which cruise option would you vote for if you were on the World Cruise? I’d go for the “Immersive Africa” opportunity myself, and use the pro-rated refund to book myself a Greek Isles cruise at another time. Share your choice on the Cruise Hive boards!

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