Royal Caribbean has decided to temporarily suspend operations for four of its cruise ships due to the ongoing COVID-related situation. It does mean the cancellation of multiple sailings as far as March 2022.
Royal Caribbean Cancels Cruises
Royal Caribbean now becomes the second major cruise line to suspend operations on select ships due to the ongoing COVID situations, including concerns of the Omicron variant. The cruise line has informed travel agents that operations on Vision of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, and Symphony of the Seas will be temporarily suspended.
Vision of the Seas operating with guests from Fort Lauderdale will be on pause until March 2022. Serenade of the Seas based out of Tampa will remain on hold from January 8 to March 5, returning on April 26 after a dry dock.
Jewel of the Seas which homeports in Miami, Florida, will have cruises suspended from January 9 to February 12, with the first sailing back departing on February 20, 2022. The world’s largest cruise ship Symphony of the Seas is also impacted, with cruises canceled from January 8 to January 22, with the Oasis-class vessel returning on January 20, 2022.
In the communication sent to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said, “We regret having to cancel your clients’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding. Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.“
“Despite stringent health and safety measures, including vaccination and testing requirements for guests and crew, and extensive contingency planning, we have had to move forward with this decision.”
The decision by Royal Caribbean comes during a complicated time for the cruise industry with some Caribbean ports denying vessels to dock due to COVID cases onboard. Some of the ships that are suspending operations have also recently started to be used to house infected crew members, after being transferred from other ships in the fleet.
This new development also comes after Norwegian Cruise Line announced that eight of its ships would be suspending operations due to the current situation.
The cruise line is notifying guests that were booked on one of the canceled sailings and detailing the options moving forward. For those booked on Serenade of the Seas & Symphony of the Seas departing January 8, 2022, and Jewel of the Seas departing January 9, 2022, Royal Caribbean is providing a full refund and the addition of a 100% Future Cruise Credit.
For all other sailings, there is the option of a 125% Future Cruise Credit when redeemed by May 31, 2022, on a sailing departing on or before December 31, 2022. Guests don’t need to take any action for this option as it will automatically be applied on or before February 4, 2022. If guests wish to have a full refund, it can be requested through the cruise line or travel agent.
It will be a huge disappointment to guests, especially for those who were scheduled to set sail on their Royal Caribbean cruise in less than 24 hours. Many would have already arrived near the departure ports in Florida, along with arranging any pre-cruise testing within two days.
Symphony of the Seas was departing as early as Saturday from PortMiami on an eight-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. The Oasis-class vessel has not had an easy time of late since COVID cases in December received a lot of attention. The world’s largest cruise ship was also recently denied to make a scheduled call at San Juan, Puerto Rico after authorities there changed its entry requirements for cruises.
Serenade of the Seas was also scheduled to depart on January 8 from Tamp, on an eight-day Western Caribbean voyage.