Royal Caribbean uses ship as hurricane safe haven for employees

The Enchantment of the Seas holds 2,252 at double occupancy.Royal Caribbean International will use one of its ship as a vehicle to keep employees and their families safe from Hurricane Irma, which is expected to strike the Miami area this weekend.

The Enchantment of the Seas’ Sept. 8 cruise was canceled because of the hurricane, so Royal Caribbean opened the ship to its workforce. The ship will depart around noon on Friday and sail out to sea away from the projected path of the storm. The plan is to return to Miami once the storm passes and the port reopens.

The-20 year-old Enchantment holds 2,252 people at double occupancy and typically offers three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas.

“We decided to offer the ship to our employees and their families so they could evacuate,” said spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez. “[We] felt that it was the right thing to do.”

Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cancel Sailings Ahead of Irma

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With Hurricane Irma potentially heading to South Florida and key destinations in the Caribbean, cruise lines are scrambling to make changes to itineraries and have also cancelled a handful of sailings.

Norwegian Cruise Line has axed the Sept. 8 sailing aboard the Norwegian Sky. Guests get a full refund, plus a 50 percent future cruise credit.

The Norwegian Escape’s week-long Sept. 9 voyage from Miami is also cancelled. Guests get a full refund, plus a 50 percent future cruise credit.

For the Escape’s current Sept. 2 sailing, the ship will be returning to Miami on Thursday.

“Those guests who are residents of South Florida, who drove to PortMiami or who have travel plans already confirmed that will return them safely home by Friday afternoon may disembark the ship on Thursday if they wish to do so. For those guests who did not drive to PortMiami and are unable to secure a flight back home, we strongly encourage them to stay onboard the ship,” said Norwegian in a prepared statement.

Norwegian Escape will set sail from Miami on Thursday evening on a course away from the storm. While we are unable to confirm at this time when and where the ship will return to port, we welcome all guests to remain onboard to stay safe and secure.”

Royal Caribbean has employed similar tactics, and has cancelled the September 8 sailings on the Majesty and Enchantment of the Seas. Guests will receive a full refund and 25 percent future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean said it will provide an end-of-day update on Tuesday regarding sailings aboard the Allure, Anthem, Empress, Harmony and Oasis.

The cancelled sailings will impact third quarter earnings.

Royal to resume New Orleans sailings

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Vision of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International said it will put a ship in New Orleans for the 2018-19 winter season, after an absence of three years.

The Vision of the Seas will sail 7-day itineraries to destinations in the Bahamas and the Yucatan Peninsula, Royal said.

In addition, the Enchantment of the Seas will move from Miami to Galveston, joining the Liberty of the Seas there. The Vision will offer two 16-day Panama Canal transits between Miami and Los Angeles before repositioning to New Orleans, the first time in three years that itinerary will be offered.

Photo credit Dawn Jones, Entrance of the first lock.

Royal also said that the Mariner of the Seas will return to Miami from the Asia-Pacific region to sail short cruises, the first time a Voyager-class ship has been assigned to that duty. The 3- and 4-day itineraries to the Bahamas begin on June 21, 2018, after a 32-day revitalization.