Royal Caribbean Ship Saves Men Trapped at Sea for 20 Days

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the SeasPHOTO: Royal Caribbean International’s Empress of the Seas. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)A Royal Caribbean ship forced to change its itinerary due to storms found and rescued two sailors Friday who had been stranded at sea for 20 days.

According to the Miami Herald, Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas departed from Miami on December 17 and was sailing between Grand Cayman and Jamaica as part of the storm-impacted itinerary.

Crew members operating the radar system for the Empress of the Seas noticed an anomaly that turned out to be a small fishing boat floating in the water. Royal Caribbean called for emergency rescue and pulled the two men who had been stranded for 20 days out of the water.

Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet shared images of the rescue and praised the quick thinking of the ship’s crew on Twitter:

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

James Van Fleet@JamesVanFleet

More pics to share from @RoyalCaribbean rescuing 2 Mariners who had been at Sea for 20 DAYS in that small boat between and ! See last pic for story. UNREAL and so PROUD of Officers and Crew! Thank you @jleberle and @caryjames007 for pics.

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The Empress of the Seas is scheduled to return to Miami on December 23 after visits to George Town, Grand Cayman Island; Cienfuegos, Cuba; and Havana, Cuba.

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Royal Caribbean deploying second ship to sail Cuba cruises

Royal Caribbean International will add a second ship that sails a Cuba itinerary, along with two new Cuba destinations, starting in the summer of 2018.

The Empress of the Seas, currently sailing Cuba cruises from Tampa, will be redeployed to Miami. In addition to a five-day trip that visits Key West and overnights in Havana, the Empress will sail a seven-night “Best of Cuba” itinerary that includes Cienfuegos, Havana and Nassau, Bahamas. An eight-night cruise will include Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Grand Cayman and Labadee, Haiti.

Meanwhile, the Majesty of the Seas will shift from Miami to Tampa next summer to assume the four- and five-day cruises that that Empress had been scheduled to do. It will move to Fort Lauderdale from November 2018 to March 2019.

“Cruising remains the easiest way to visit Cuba, and with both Empress and Majesty sailing there in 2018 and 2019, we hope to make it that much easier for adventure seekers to experience the legendary island,” Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley said.

Mariner of the Seas getting massive makeover

Mariner of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International plans a major improvement in its short-cruise product, starting with a massive makeover of the 14-year-old Mariner of the Seas.

Speaking to a conference of Cruise One/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. agents aboard the Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley said the line will spend over $100 million on the ship.

Plans call for a six-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain, in March and April. Bayley said it is the most money Royal Caribbean has ever spent renovating a ship.

“I’m calling it a modernization, not a refurbishment,” Bayley said. “We’re going to be adding concepts and redoing concepts,” he said.

When the work is finished, the 3,114-passenger Mariner will sail three- and four-day cruises from Miami. The ship is currently sailing in Asia.

The move will coincide with the June 2018 opening of the newly constructed dock at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, which will play a major role in the Mariner’s itineraries.

Bayley hinted there is more reinvestment yet to be disclosed. “It is attached to the Mariner and it is attached to the idea of boosting up the shore experience,” he said.

He said that the combined ship-shore package will be a “game changer” in the short-cruise market.

In May 2016, the Empress of the Seas started sailing short cruises after a $50 million renovation. That ship is now doing four-, five- and six-day cruises from Tampa on Caribbean itineraries that include Cuba.

The only other cruise line to spend more than $100 million in a single refurbishment was Carnival, which refitted the Carnival Destiny and renamed it the Carnival Sunshine in 2013 at a cost of $155 million.