Coronavirus delays hottest new ship from the world’s largest cruise line until 2021

Jul 1, 2020

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Bad news, Royal Caribbean fans: Odyssey of the Seas won’t be arriving until 2021.

The much-anticipated, 4,198-passenger cruise ship — one of the largest ever built — won’t debut until April, nearly six months behind schedule, Royal Caribbean announced on Tuesday.

Odyssey of the Seas originally was scheduled to being sailing in November. All departures of the ship from Nov. 5, 2020 through April 17, 2021 have been canceled.

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Royal Caribbean blamed recent coronavirus lockdowns and port closures for the push in the vessel’s arrival date.

“The impact of worldwide port and shipyard closures have created delays in the construction schedule and delivery of Odyssey of the Seas,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

Royal Caribbean fans in North America have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Odyssey of the Seas, which had been scheduled to spend the coming winter sailing to the Bahamas and the Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale. It would have been the first of Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum Ultra Class ships to debut in North America.

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Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas will be a sister vessel to Spectrum of the Seas, which debuted in 2019 and sails in Asia. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean has taken delivery of one other Quantum Ultra Class ship, the 1-year-old Spectrum of the Seas. But that vessel was deployed to the Chinese cruise market.

Royal Caribbean on Tuesday said Odyssey of the Seas initially would sail to the Eastern Mediterranean out of Rome when it debuts in 2021. It will reposition to North America in November 2021, the line said.

If unveiled today, Odyssey of the Seas would be the 10th biggest cruise ship ever built. It’s actual rank in size when it begins sailing in April will depend on the timing of the unveilings of several other ships currently under construction.

Related: Why cruise ships keep getting bigger 

Like Spectrum of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas is a larger version of the Quantum Class-vessels that Royal Caribbean began rolling out in 2014. While not quite as big as Royal Caribbean’s record-breaking Symphony of the Seas (the world’s largest cruise ship), the ships have all the trappings of a major megaresort, including multiple pool areas, a kiddie aqua park and such amusements as a sky-diving simulator, a surfing simulator and a bumper car pavilion.

Quantum Ultra Class ships also have a something-for-everyone array of cabin classes that range from tiny, 166-square-foot “interior” cabins without windows to massive, two-deck-high Royal Loft Suites that are nearly 10 times that size.

Odyssey of the Seas is just the latest in a string of major cruise ships to see its debut pushed back due to coronavirus-related disruptions at shipyards around the world. Princess Cruises and Crystal Cruises are among other major lines that have pushed back the arrival of significant new ships.

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The coronavirus pandemic also has prompted start-up line Virgin Voyages to push back its inaugural season of voyages until at least October.

Odyssey of the Seas was one of eight ships that TPG named to its 2020 list of the most exciting new cruise vessels of the year. The list was published before the coronavirus pandemic began causing widespread cruise cancellations and ship construction delays.

Royal Caribbean and other major lines canceled all departures starting in mid-March as the coronavirus outbreak grew, and few have resumed any sailings since then. Last week, Royal Caribbean — the world’s largest cruise line by passenger capacity — canceled nearly all departures through mid-September.

On Tuesday, Royal Caribbean said it was working directly with Odyssey of the Seas passengers and their travel agents to address the disruption to their vacations.

“We are genuinely sorry for their inconvenience and disappointment,” the line said.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Feature image courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

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