Due to a propulsion issue and a medical evacuation, Royal Caribbean International has dramatically altered the current sailing of Ovation of the Seas, dropping two ports of call and returning to Sydney at low speed. Guests onboard have been notified of the changes and the ship is expected to arrive back in Sydney on time on Friday.
Significant Changes to Ovation of the Seas Sailing
Ovation of the Seas is currently sailing a 9-night South Pacific cruise, having departed Sydney, Australia on Wednesday, December 14, 2022. The ship spent two days at sea before calling in Vanuatu as planned, but has now had significant itinerary changes.
According to guests onboard, the ship first diverted to Isle of Pines – a small island in the southeastern part of New Caledonia – for an unspecified medical evacuation, and will then return directly to Sydney rather than making its additional planned ports of call.
Isle of Pines is 345 miles (555 kilometers) south of the ship’s last – and now only – port visit in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and is relatively in line with the ship’s route between Vanuatu and Sydney, so the diversion has been minimal.
To protect the individual’s privacy, the nature of the medical evacuation has not been disclosed, and it is unknown whether the emergency involves a passenger or crew member.
The ship is now en route back to Sydney, with tracking data showing the vessel moving along at just 15 knots (17 miles per hour / 28 kilometers per hour). This is significantly below the ship’s top speed of 22 knots (25 mph / 41 kph), and has been explained as a propulsion issue, though further details have not been released.
The two additional ports of call on the itinerary – Noumea and Mystery Island – have been canceled, as the ship cannot maintain the appropriate speed to visit the ports and provide adequate onshore time for guests while still maintaining the overall itinerary schedule.
Instead, the ship will now remain at sea for four days, with a planned arrival back to Sydney by 6:30 a.m. on Friday, December 23.
Generous Compensation Offered
In a letter sent to guests onboard, Royal Caribbean International has offered generous compensation for the missed ports of call.
“We’re very sorry for any inconvenience caused by this unexpected situation,” the letter read. “Thank you for your patience and understanding. We hope you enjoy the remainder of your time onboard Ovation of the Seas.”
All guests will receive a 50% refund of their fare for the current, now dramatically altered cruise. Furthermore, all pre-paid Royal Caribbean shore tours for the canceled ports of call to Noumea and Mystery Island are being refunded.
Those refund amounts have already been credited to guests’ onboard accounts, and can be used throughout the remainder of the cruise. Any funds remaining at the end of the cruise will be returned to the card a guest has registered on file for shipboard expenses.
In addition, guests will also receive a 25% future cruise credit (FCC) based on the cruise fare paid for this sailing, not including taxes, fees, and gratuities. This FCC can be used for any sailing aboard any Royal Caribbean ship departing on or before December 31, 2024.
No Word on the Next Sailing
Ovation of the Seas‘ next cruise is scheduled to be a 12-night sailing circumnavigating New Zealand, with seven amazing ports of call. There is no word yet as to whether or not this next cruise – or others thereafter – may be impacted.
Any potential changes will depend on the nature of the propulsion issue the ship is experiencing, including whether or not repairs can be made while the ship is underway.
It is possible that one or more ports of call may be canceled to permit the ship to sail at a slower speed while still preserving other port visits, or times in port may be shortened to provide more cruising time. If the engine issue is more severe, the entire cruise may need to be canceled for more extensive repairs.
Guests booked onboard the next Ovation of the Seas sailing, as well as upcoming cruises in the near future, should stay in close contact with their travel advisor or directly with Royal Caribbean International for updates as needed.
The Quantum-class vessel, which joined the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2016, can welcome 4,180 guests at double occupancy, and up to 4,905 passengers when fully booked.
This is not the first time the ship has experienced propulsion issues – in 2017, after just one year in service, Ovation of the Seas had an unscheduled dry dock for work on the propulsion systems. At that time, two sailings were canceled to accommodate the unexpected repairs.