Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas is having a tough month as the ship’s first sailing after several cancellations due to technical issues with its propulsion system has now had a dramatic itinerary change.
Four out of five planned ports of call are cancelled and while the ship will arrive in Vancouver as scheduled, the cruise line is providing generous compensation for the changes.
Radiance of the Seas Itinerary Change
On the ship’s first cruise after propulsion issues cancelled two sailings, Radiance of the Seas is now at the mercy of foul autumn weather in southeastern Alaska that has dramatically impacted the planned itinerary.
The ship was scheduled to depart Seward, Alaska on Friday, September 15, 2023 on its final southbound sailing of the Alaska season, with port visits planned to Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan before arriving in Vancouver on Friday, September 22. Along the way, the ship was also to enjoy scenic cruising near the famous Hubbard Glacier.
Now, however, poor weather conditions with strong winds and heavy swells have radically impacted the itinerary. The ship remained docked in Seward for an extra two days, finally departing at midnight on Monday morning, September 18.
The revised itinerary now includes scenic cruising in four different locations – Hubbard Glacier, Pine Island, Seymour Narrows, and Cape Mudge – with just Ketchikan remaining as a port of call. The date of the visit to Ketchikan remains unchanged for Wednesday, September 20, but the visit time has been extended by one hour, now from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. instead of leaving at 6 p.m. as originally scheduled.
“We know this is a big change to our itinerary and appreciate that you’ve already been through so much prior to making it onboard, as we worked hard to correct our technical situation,” the email notification to guests read. “While weather is outside of our control – we understand the impact to you.”
Southeastern Alaska has been inundated with poor weather in recent days from a low pressure system bringing high winds, rain, and strong waves to the coastal region. The strongest offshore winds are reported higher than 40 knots (46 miles per hour / 74 kilometers per hour), but even near ports of call the winds are too strong for cruise ships to safely maneuver.
For example, winds reported near Skagway on Monday, September 18 – when Radiance of the Seas was originally scheduled to visit – are reaching 13 knots (15 mph / 24 kph), and the ship would have to cross through even stronger winds just to reach the area.
In addition to overall wind speeds, wind directions and visibility must also be considered when visiting ports of call, particularly in narrow channels such as approaching top Alaskan ports.
Because of the very dramatic changes to Radiance of the Seas‘ itinerary, Royal Caribbean International is providing equally dramatic compensation for guests onboard.
“We’re providing a 50% refund of your cruise fare in the form of an Onboard Credit,” guests were notified. “Additionally, free drinks on us for the entire cruise.”
Guests who purchased a beverage package, as well as any shore tours for the now-cancelled visits to Juneau, Skagway, Haines, and Icy Strait Point, will have those purchases fully refunded as onboard credit.
Any funds that remain unused at the end of the cruise will be reimbursed to the credit card guests have on file, though the processing time for refunds can vary for different financial institutions.
The 90,090-gross ton Radiance of the Seas can welcome 2,143 guests onboard at double occupancy, or up to 2,466 guests when fully booked with all berths filled.
The ship will have just one more Alaska sailing this year, a roundtrip voyage departing from Vancouver, Canada on September 22 to visit Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan.
After the close of the Alaska season, Radiance of the Seas will reposition to Tampa, Florida to offer Western Caribbean cruises, as well as select departures to the Bahamas. In early April 2024, the ship will return to Vancouver to begin another Alaska season of alternating northbound and southbound sailings.