The idea of a South Pacific voyage conjures images of crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and deep blue skies, but it is not always that way.
Guests booked to depart February 7, 2024 on a South Pacific cruise with Royal Caribbean learned that bad weather has prompted the line to change its itinerary.
Itinerary Changes Came on Departure Day
Even the South Pacific is experiencing unusually stormy weather, guests booked to sail the region on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas were disappointed to find out as they prepared to depart from Brisbane, Australia, on February 7, 2024.
Guests were notified of the adjusted port calls just prior to boarding the ship on embarkation day. In all, three popular port calls were nixed, and replaced with alternate destinations.
“Due to adverse weather, we’ve modified our itinerary to provide you with the most enjoyable sailing. While not the original itinerary planned, we know you’ll have a memorable time,” the line’s statement to guests stated.
“We’re terribly sorry for the last-minute change caused by the weather — your safety is our top priority. Please know, being onboard is one of the safest places because we are faster and can move out of the way of any inclement weather,” the statement explained.
Quantum of the Seas’ 8-night South Pacific sailing will skip three exotic port calls in New Caledonia and Vanuatu due to rainy and windy weather. Local forecasts predict thunderstorms with winds up to 30 miles per hour in the region.
Departing from Brisbane, the 5,000-guest ship’s original itinerary included two days at sea, followed by port calls to Noumea, New Caledonia, Mystery Island, and Villa, Vanuatu, and two additional sea days before returning to Brisbane on February 15, 2024.
The new itinerary features one day at sea after departure from Brisbane, a port call to Airlie Beach, Queensland, a second day at sea, a port call and overnight in Cairns (Yorkey’s Knob), Australia, scenic cruising around Willis Island, and a final day at sea before returning to Brisbane.
Altered Course Misses Popular, Exotic Destinations
The three missed port calls are quintessential South Pacific paradises. Noumea is the capital of New Caledonia and known for its dramatic beaches and watersports activities.
Vanuatu’s Mystery Island is uninhabited and renowned for its peaceful beaches and clear waters. Vila is Vanuatu’s cultural hub and is popular for its proximity to Male Cascades, a multi-tiered waterfall.
That said, the replacement port calls are not likely to disappoint. Airlie Beach is a top destination for snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, while Yorkey’s Knob, on the Coral Sea, is home to scenic Half Moon Bay and known for great swimming and fishing. Willis Island is an isolated, scenic destination, also in the Coral Sea.
The South Pacific is not typically prone to poor weather, and unusual climate patterns have wreaked havoc in other parts of the cruising world, too. Several ships have been forced to alter ports in recent days as they sailed in the Caribbean and Bahamas.
On February 6, 2024, two Royal Caribbean ships, Freedom of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, had to recall guests from Perfect Day at CocoCay due to high winds and waves. The private island destination was buffeted by strong winds that brought water crashing onto the pier.
Online videos show large crowds of guests returning to their ships, while lifeguards and crew members in rain gear provided a guideline to encourage guests to move along and make sure no one was close to the pier’s edge.
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Sunshine was impacted by the same storm that day, as she sailed a 5-night Bahamas cruise from Charleston, South Carolina. Weather prevented the ship from calling at Princess Cays, a private island destination on Eleuthera.
Strong winds apparently were generating swells that would have made tender operations difficult and dangerous.