Royal Caribbean is second cruise line to cancel US-based sailings; 4 ships affected

Jan 7, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Following an uptick in COVID-19 omicron cases, Royal Caribbean is pausing cruises on three of its vessels and delaying the scheduled return of a fourth, making it the second line — after Norwegian Cruise Line — since the industry’s largely successful restart to cancel several sailings out of the U.S.

“As a result of the ongoing COVID-related circumstances around the world, and in [an] abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations for [Vision of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas],” the line said in a statement. Affected voyages include:

  • Vision of the Seas’ sailings through March 7, 2022
  • Serenade of the Seas sailings from Jan. 8–March 5, 2022
  • Jewel of the Seas sailings from Jan. 9–Feb. 12, 2022
  • Symphony of the Seas sailings from Jan. 8–22, 2022

The line was strategic about the ships it selected, opting to delay the restart of Vision of the Seas, which hasn’t yet come back into service since the 2020 shutdown. Its return will now be delayed until March 7, 2022. The line also chose Serenade of the Seas, which was scheduled to enter dry dock shortly and, therefore, would have been out of service for a time anyway. It will now return, post-dry dock, on April 26, 2022.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.

Passengers on affected sailings are being notified, and they will be given compensation options, which include full refunds.

TPG asked Mark Tamis, Royal Caribbean’s senior vice president of hotel operations, why the line decided to proactively cancel sailings. He said the move allows Royal Caribbean to do two things. “One is [that] crew who test positive and are asymptomatic are able to serve their quarantine period on one of these ships. It also allows us to have these additional crew members who then can supplement the crew who are not able to work for those 10 days in order to make sure that we’re able to deliver a great vacation and a full experience — all the while protecting our guests, our crew, the ships and the places that we visit, as we have done since our healthy return to service.”

The cancellations are not because the cruise line is concerned that passenger health is compromised on board more than it would be on land. In fact, of the 1.1 million passengers who have sailed on all Royal Caribbean group lines (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises) since the return to cruise in 2021, Tamis says they’ve had only 1,745 cases of passengers testing positive (about 1.6% of the guest population). The crew is all vaccinated, with tests at least weekly, and all passengers but the youngest must be vaccinated and test negative to sail.

The issue at hand is operations. The cruise line wants to ensure that its guests get the full vacation experience they paid for, for which it needs a full complement of crew. And with the frequent testing catching asymptomatic crew cases of COVID-19 that otherwise would go unnoticed, the line needs a place to house crew members while they wait out their isolation. 

By taking four ships out of service, healthy crew can help support their coworkers on operating ships and COVID-19 positive crew have a place to stay, away from paying guests, where they can quickly return to their ship when their quarantine period is up.

It was not a decision Royal Caribbean takes lightly. “We feel terrible when we have to cancel a vacation,” Tamis said. “When we have to do something like this, we feel awful.”

Other cruise lines are in the same boat, so to speak. On Wednesday, Norwegian Cruise line canceled voyages on eight of its vessels, some of which hadn’t even come back into service yet.

Other cancellations of cruises from foreign ports have come in recent days from lines that include MSC, Costa, Oceania and Regent.

Although it’s unlikely we’ll see another industrywide shutdown, we’re keeping a close eye on other lines that might be considering cancellations soon.

Featured photo of Symphony of the Seas courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.