Royal Caribbean International has reached out to guests booked on the September 30, 2023 departure of Liberty of the Seas to alert them to a dramatic itinerary change less than 24 hours before setting sail.
Instead of visiting Bermuda as planned, the ship will be heading in the opposite direction due to forecasted poor weather and rough sailing.
Liberty of the Seas will not be visiting Bermuda as planned for the 5-night cruise departing Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Saturday, September 30.
Because of poor weather along the ship’s necessary route, the 155,900-gross-ton, Freedom-class ship will instead be calling on Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada – 900 miles ( kilometers) north of the original destination.
The ship was originally scheduled to depart New Jersey at 3 p.m., enjoy a day at sea, spend an overnight in Kings Wharf, Bermuda, and have another day at sea while returning to Cape Liberty.
Liberty of the Seas’ departure and return times to Cape Liberty are not changed, but now the ship will arrive at Saint John at roughly midnight on Sunday night – virtually a full day at sea – and will remain in New Brunswick until 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, October 3. Another day at sea will then bring the ship back to New Jersey as scheduled on Thursday, October 5.
The odd arrival and departure times to New Brunswick are a result of tidal schedules to ensure smoother, safer navigation while still giving the ship adequate time to sail through the Bay of Fundy that separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia.
Royal Caribbean has cited “the development of inclement weather” as the reasoning behind the itinerary change.
“To provide you with a safe and comfortable sailing, and to stay well away from the storm, we’ve had to update our itinerary,” the notification read.
It should be noted that the storm influencing this itinerary change is not a tropical system, as both Tropical Storm Philippe and Tropical Storm Rina are well away from Bermuda and not expected to make any impact on the island in the coming days when Liberty of the Seas would have been visiting.
Instead, rough weather coming off the northeast coast may be influencing the decision, as well as future forecasts for upcoming weather systems over the next few days.
Royal Caribbean does note that “we know this isn’t the cruise you were planning to take” and therefore all guests will be given a $100 (USD) onboard credit as a goodwill gesture to help compensate for the dramatic itinerary change.
Furthermore, any shore excursions for Bermuda that were purchased through the cruise line will be refunded as onboard credit to guests’ accounts.
Any unused funds from these onboard credits will be refunded to the credit card associated with guests’ accounts at the end of the sailing. Guests can also opt to simply skip the cruise altogether if preferred.
“If you decide not to join us on this sailing, there is nothing for you to do,” the notification explains. “You’ll automatically receive a full refund, including any non-refundable deposits, to the original payment on file within 14 business days after the end of our sailing.”
The exact timing of the refund may vary depending on individual financial institutions. Royal Caribbean has noted that some guests may be unable to set sail to Canada due to travel documentation requirements for the country.
While US citizens are not required to obtain visas for travel to Canada, some guests may need such documentation, depending on their nationality. Because of the late-notice change, it will not be possible for such travelers to obtain the proper visa before the cruise sets sail.
Liberty of the Seas, which can welcome aboard 3,798 guests per sailing (up to 4,960 guests if all berths are filled), will remain homeported from New Jersey until late October, when the ship will reposition to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to offer Caribbean and Bahamas sailings through the winter months.
In April 2024, the ship will return to New Jersey for another season from the Garden State.
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