After nine years of absence, Royal Caribbean will return to Latin America. Starting in December of 2023, Rhapsody of the Seas will sail from the ports of Colon and Panama City in Panama and the beautiful and historic port of Cartagena in Colombia.
The season will be divided into two different phases, one which will focus on the Caribbean and one focused more on Latin American ports.
Caribbean, Latin America, and Panama Canal
With a wide variety of beautiful ports and itineraries that will offer guests a different perspective ashore due to the rich natural beauty, it’s a surprise Royal Caribbean didn’t return to Latin America earlier. From December 2023, the cruise line intends to finally return to the region when Rhapsody of the Seas homeports in three different ports: Cartagena, Colon, and Panama City.
Sean Treacy, SVP, International of Royal Caribbean International, highlighted the importance of the region for the global cruise industry: “We are convinced that Latin America has a diversity of ports to create the best experiences for the whole family. With the addition of Rhapsody of the Seas to the Latin American market, we will have a product that will not require a U.S. visa, offering a season with a variety of itineraries, including the Panama Canal.”
US-based guests will be happy to hear that the cruises onboard the 1997-built, 78,878 gross ton Rhapsody of the Seas will be visa-free itineraries, so there is no need to apply for and wait for visa applications to be able to cruise.
Cruise Season To Be Split Into Two Phases
Sailing from three different cities from December 23 onwards, Rhapsody of the Seas season will be split into two distinct phases. The first phase is sailing from Colon and Cartegena; the second is sailing from Colon and Panama City. Panama’s Minister of Tourism welcomed the move from Royal Caribbean:
“We are very encouraged by the announcement of Royal Caribbean’s new homeport operations in Panama, taking advantage of the conditions of being the only country with cruise ports in the Pacific and the Caribbean and the Panama Canal connecting both,” commented Ivan Eskildsen.
Rhapsody of the Seas will be sailing roundtrip from Colon during the first phase, with select departures from Cartegena, Colombia. During the 7-day cruises, the vessel will be visiting the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.
“Since 2006, Royal Caribbean has been a key partner for our cruise industry, and we celebrate the fact that they continue to place a vote of confidence in Colombia, the most welcoming country in the world. We are excited about this announcement that marks the beginning of a new era of embarkation ports on the Caribbean coast of our country!” added Flavia Santoro, President of ProColombia, a company that promotes tourism in Colombia.
During the second part of the season, starting in February 2024, the itineraries will sail from Colon and the new homeport in Fuerte Amador, Panama City. Rhapsody will be visiting the renowned Panama Canal on eight sailings, calling at Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and the new port for the company in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Rhapsody of the Seas is one of the few Royal Caribbean ships not currently underway with guests onboard. Her first cruise since the resumption of cruises will sail on May 23 from Civitavecchia, Italy. She will call in Catania, Sicily; Santorini and Mykonos, Greece; and Kusadasi, Turkey.