Royal Caribbean Ship Must Depart Early Due to Container Vessel

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Royal Caribbean International has reached out to guests booked onboard Symphony of the Seas for the ship’s July 5, 2024 departure to alert them to the need for an earlier departure from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey than originally planned.

This means embarkation must finish earlier than planned as well, with all guests onboard ready for departure at a new time.

“Due to an inbound container vessel that will be entering the channel, Symphony of the Seas will need to depart earlier than originally planned,” the notification email explained. “We will now set sail at 3:15 p.m.”

Symphony of the Seas
Symphony of the Seas (Photo Credit: EWY Media)

While the check-in process for the ship’s 7-night sailing will still begin at 10 a.m. as scheduled, all guests must be checked-in and onboard the vessel no later than 2:45 p.m. prior to the now-sooner-than-planned departure. Symphony of the Seas was originally scheduled for departure from Bayonne at 4 p.m.

This change will most dramatically impact those who have a late check-in appointment scheduled. The latest arrival appointment for a 4 p.m. departure would usually be 2:30-3 p.m., but the cruise line is now asking those travelers to arrive 30 minutes early to facilitate the new departure time.

While large ports can easily accommodate the movement of multiple vessels, container ships are bulky and less maneuverable than some other types of ships. Furthermore, Symphony of the Seas is an Oasis-class cruise ship and one of the largest cruise ships in the world at 228,081 gross tons.

Depending on expected weather conditions, tidal currents, and water levels, it is prudent to give these two large ships plenty of clearance around one another so there will be no mishaps or navigational difficulties. Symphony of the Seas is the only cruise ship departing from Cape Liberty on Friday.

Read Also: Ideal Hotels Near Cape Liberty Cruise Port

It should be noted that this earlier homeport departure time in no way impacts Symphony of the Seas‘ overall itinerary for the 7-night cruise.

The ship will still be visiting Port Canaveral on Sunday, July 7, followed by Nassau on Monday, July 8 and Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay on Tuesday, July 9. After two days at sea, the ship will return to Cape Liberty on Friday, July 12.

Symphony of the Seas can welcome 5,518 guests at double occupancy or as many as 6,680 travelers when fully booked with all berths filled. Also onboard are approximately 2,200 international crew members.

The ship will remain homeported from Cape Liberty through the end of October, at which time she will move to Miami to offer Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. She will return to New Jersey in April 2025 for another summer season of Bahamas sailings.

Why Do Early Departures Happen?

While moving up the departure time for a cruise ship isn’t a common occurrence, it can happen for a variety of reasons.

In addition to accommodating other port traffic, issues such as incoming poor weather or security operations could require an earlier-than-expected departure. Travelers are given as much notice as possible for these changes, but occasionally the decision is not made until the last minute.

Early departures can also happen at ports of call, though this is typically due to bad weather that makes it unsafe for a cruise ship to remain docked or continue tendering operations.

Two Royal Caribbean ships—Freedom of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas—experienced this earlier this year when high winds at CocoCay caused guests to be recalled and the island to be shut down in the early afternoon.

Guests should always remain in touch with their cruise line through text messaging or emergency contact information in case such unusual circumstances occur.

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