Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas was forced to abandon docking attempts in Wellington, New Zealand due to high winds the morning of Tuesday, November 28, 2023.

This means the ship will instead spend a day at sea en route to its next port of call, Napier, on the 10-night New Zealand itinerary.

Ovation of the Seas is currently sailing a 10-night New Zealand cruise, having departed Sydney, Australia on Thursday, November 23. The ship has enjoyed beautiful sights and ports of call in New Zealand already, but unfortunately, high winds forced the last-minute cancellation of the planned visit to Wellington on Tuesday, November 28.

According to Radio New Zealand, the ship was able to approach the dock, but after a pilot boarded the vessel and consulted with the ship’s captain, it was decided that Ovation of the Seas would not be docking.

“They came up into the harbour, they got up towards the berth, looked at the conditions they were experiencing there and … the decision was that they weren’t going to berth the ship here today,” said Grant Nalder, harbourmaster at Wellington.

Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

Given the conditions at the time Ovation of the Seas was to dock – approximately 11 a.m. – Nalder agrees with the decision, which was made in the interest of safety.

At the time of the scheduled docking, steady winds were recorded from the north at 25-30 miles per hour (40-48 kilometers per hour), with gusts as high as 40 mph (64 kph).

No other cruise ships were scheduled for Wellington on Tuesday. The next vessel scheduled to visit is Holland America Line’s Noordam on Thursday, November 30.

Not only could such high winds make the act of docking more challenging and potentially dangerous, but the gangways could also become unstable, making it hazardous for guests to debark the ship or return to the vessel after exploring Wellington. Furthermore, if gusts were to rise even higher, it might be possible that the docking ropes could snap, sending the ship adrift.

Such incidents are not unheard of. For example, in August 2023, the mooring lines snapped from Queen Mary 2 while the ship was docked in Civitavecchia, Italy, which also caused both gangways to collapse. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported.

Similarly, Norwegian Prima also snapped mooring lines in mid-July, while docked in Zeebrugge, Belgium. The gangways also collapsed but without injuries.

Excessively windy conditions may also make for a poor port experience for guests, with some shore tours cancelled due to weather. When all factors are considered, cancelling a port visit can often be the better decision for an overall nicer and certainly safer cruise.

At the moment, there are no further changes for Ovation of the Seas‘ current itinerary. The ship is scheduled for Napier on Wednesday, followed by Picton on Thursday. Two days at sea will follow as the ship makes her way back to Sydney, arriving on Sunday, December 3.

Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The 168,666-gross-ton, Quantum-class ship has 16 total decks and can welcome 4,180 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 4,905 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled.

Ovation of the Seas is currently homeported from Sydney, Australia, offering a range of South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia itineraries through early April 2024. She only arrived in Sydney earlier this month, completing the Royal Caribbean Australian fleet deployment for the season.

In April, the ship will reposition to Seattle, Washington, for the 2024 Alaska sailing season. She will return to Sydney at the end of October 2024 for another summer Down Under.

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