With Hurricane Lee poised to make a strong impact on the Canadian Maritime provinces over the next few days, multiple cruise ships have adjusted itineraries to keep away from the brunt of the storm.
Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas will be skipping its last port of call and returning to its homeport nearly two days early to steer clear of the storm.
Liberty of the Seas Itinerary Change
Liberty of the Seas will not finish out her current itinerary as planned. The ship is sailing a 9-night Canada & New England cruise, having departed from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Thursday, September 7, 2023.
Due to the approach of Hurricane Lee, however, the ship now has to adjust its path to return home sooner than planned. Guests onboard have been notified of the changes, including options they may have.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew remain our highest priority,” the letter delivered to guests explained. “To stay well away from Hurricane Lee’s path, we have adjusted our itinerary.”
The ship will not be making its planned visit to Saint John, New Brunswick, which was to have been from 10:30 a.m. to 10:10 p.m. on Thursday, September 14. This was to have been the last port of call for the cruise, but instead, the ship will proceed directly back to Cape Liberty.
To return to Cape Liberty even earlier, the call to Halifax, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, September 13, was also shortened by two hours, leaving port at 3 p.m. rather than 5 p.m.
Now, the ship is estimated to arrive back at Cape Liberty at approximately 11 p.m. on Thursday, instead of at 7 a.m. on Saturday, September 16. Despite the already dramatically altered cruise, additional changes may be possible in the days to come.
“The situation remains fluid and we’re still monitoring the storm’s path,” the letter concludes. “We’ll be sure to keep you informed every step of the way.”
Early Debarkation a Possibility
While guests can likely stay onboard Liberty of the Seas until the scheduled debarkation on Saturday morning, leaving the ship early may be a possibility once US Customs and Border Protection has cleared the vessel. This might be an attractive option for local cruisers who prefer to return home to ensure their property and family are safe from any storm impact.
All guests will still need to clear customs and immigration on Friday morning, and further details will be provided for the possibility of early debarkation as the process is determined.
Onboard, the retail stores and casino must remain closed while the ship is docked in Cape Liberty, but the remaining services, including bars, restaurants, spa appointments, entertainment, and more will still be available.
The 155,900-gross ton, Freedom class Liberty of the Seas has a great deal to offer guests on its 15 passenger decks, including an ice skating rink, the classic rock climbing wall, multiple specialty restaurants, a dozen bars and lounges, 3 pools, 6 whirlpools, the Vitality Spa & Fitness center, and much more.
The ship can welcome 3,798 guests at double occupancy, and up to 4,960 passengers when fully booked. Also onboard are 1,360 international crew members to make even the most disrupted sailing a fun and memorable experience.
Guests onboard this dramatically altered sailing will receive some compensation for the changes. To make up for the overall disruption, the loss of Saint John, and the early return to Cape Liberty, Royal Caribbean International is giving all staterooms onboard credit.
“The decision to modify our itinerary was not taken lightly,” the letter explained. “We’ve done everything possible to minimize the impact to your time with us, and we’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience.”
Interior and ocean view staterooms will receive $75 (USD), while balcony staterooms will receive $100 and suites will receive $200. For staterooms with more than two travelers, an additional $25 will be added for the third and fourth guests.
Furthermore, all pre-paid Royal Caribbean shore tours for Saint John, New Brunswick are being automatically refunded as onboard credit, and guests can also select from different tour options while in Cape Liberty.
Liberty of the Seas is just one ship in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada sailing region to be impacted by Hurricane Lee. Additional Royal Caribbean ships as well as vessels from Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line have all adjusted their itineraries and ports of call to minimize the storm’s impact.