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Royal Caribbean cancels Panama Canal cruise season for Rhapsody of the Seas

08 Aug 2023

It looks like shorter Panama Canal cruises wont happen after all.

Royal Caribbean informed guests booked on Rhapsody of the Seas sailings in 2024 that were scheduled to visit the Panama Canal that their sailings will no longer visit the Canal. 

The plan was for Rhapsody to offer 7-night cruises through the Panama Canal that begin and ended in Panama. This was a novel idea to offer highly sought-after Panama Canal cruises without having to commit to a two week long cruise.

The Panama Canal represents one the premier sailings in the world, as it focuses on the transit itself. A marvel of engineering, this world wonder links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and revolutionized how good are shipped.

Rhapsody of the Seas at sea

Instead, Rhapsody will offer cruises to the Southern Caribbean. 

No specific reason was given why the Panama Canal transit was being dropped.

The email from Royal Caribbean starts out by saying, "To enhance your experience, we’ve adjusted the itinerary for our upcoming March 16th, 2024 Rhapsody of the Seas sailing. Rhapsody will now sail a 7-Night Southern Caribbean itinerary."

Panama canal cruise cancelled

Instead, Rhapsody will visit Aruba and Curacao, in addition to previously scheduled stop of Cartagena, Colombia.

Guests that were booked have three options going forward. They have until  August 29th, 2023 to make a decision.

Rhapsody of the Seas in Greece

1. Stay booked on Rhapsody of the Seas for the adjusted itinerary.

Royal Caribbean will attempt to move the booking to a like for like stateroom once the new sailing becomes available. 

The original stateroom category price will either be protected at the original cruise fare rate or reduced to the current cruise fare rate (whichever is lower).

Reimbursement for any non-refundable, pre-purchased transportation change fees incurred (such as a flight, train ticket, or rental car).

Mariner of the Seas in Nassau

2. Rebook any other Royal Caribbean sailing

Royal Caribbean will waive non-refundable deposit change fees to re-book another sailing.

Reimbursement will be offered for any non-refundable, pre-purchased transportation change fees incurred (such as a flight, train ticket, or rental car).

Internet search

3. Cancel for full refund

A full refund of any paid portion of the cruise fare (including non-refundable deposits) and any pre-paid amenities to the original form of payment within 14 business days. 

New sailings for Rhapsody of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has not formally announced the new sailings to the public, but it appears Rhapsody will offer Southern Caribbean cruises from a homeport in Panama in winter 2024.

A Royal Caribbean cruise ship homeported in Panama is a first for the the line in almost a decade.

Prior to the cancellation, Rhapsody was scheduled to sail from Panama between December 2023 and April 2024.

Royal Caribbean updates: Rhapsody of the Seas drydock, Galveston terminal, & more

22 Apr 2022

Warmer spring temperatures have also lead to Royal Caribbean news heating up, which means plenty more updates to share with you.

Rhapsody of the Seas in drydock in April 2022

Not all Royal Caribbean news is necessarily worthy of its own post, so here's a quick rundown of important changes from this week.

If you ever spot cruise news that isn't posted here, be sure to share it with me by emailing [email protected].

Rhapsody of the Seas refurbishment

Rhapsody of the Seas is currently undergoing a drydock in Brest, France at the Damen shipyard.

While the Royal Amplification process is still on hold, routine maintenance work is still happening.

Thanks to Henrik Hessleklint for providing these photos.

In the case of Rhapsody, the ship is undergoing primarily mechanical work, in addition to checks of propeller blades, thrusters, stabilizers and more. 

Rhapsody will also get a new coast of paint on its hull, along with "minor updates" to the ship's interior.

Royal Caribbean Group first quarter earnings call scheduled

Royal Caribbean Group has scheduled its earnings call with Wall Street analysts for the first week of May.

The Q1 call will be held May 5 at 10:00am, eastern to provide a business update and discuss first quarter financial results.

The call will be available on the company's investor relations website, To listen to the call by phone, please dial (833) 608-1479 in the US and Canada. International phone calls should be made to (270) 240-0549. The conference call access code is 4274546. 

Minimal damage to Mariner of the Seas

Earlier this week a cargo vessel made contact with Mariner of the Seas, but the good news is damage to the cruise ship is superficial at best.

On Wednesday, the Tropic Freedom vessel struck Mariner of the Seas while the two ships were in Freeport, Bahamas.

It appears the damage to Mariner is quite minimal, as seen by RoyalCaribbeanBlog writer Allie Hubers the next day when the ship was docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Galveston cruise terminal construction update

Another week, another update at how Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal is coming along in Galveston.

Construction is underway on the terminal 3 building that will be home to Royal Caribbean's ships, including Allure of the Seas.

This video is a better look at the topping off ceremony that was held last week.

The new terminal is scheduled to open by November 2022.

Royal Caribbean hires new government relations liaison

Royal Caribbean Group has hired Wendy McDonald to be its new VP government relations for the Caribbean.

In her new role, Ms. McDonald will be an intermediary between the Royal Caribbean Group and various leaders of Caribbean nations.

Previously McDonald was senior director, consumer communications for Cable & Wireless Communications, responsible for developing and deploying CWC's communications strategy for the Caribbean including government and stakeholder engagement and media relations.

Royal Caribbean will offer cruises from Panama in 2023

23 Feb 2022

Royal Caribbean is returning to Latin America with cruises from Panama in the 2023-2024 season.

Granduer of the Seas

At a press conference on Wednesday, the cruise line announced three new itineraries will depart from the cities of Colon, Panama City, and Cartagena, Columbia.

This will mark Royal Caribbean's return to the region for he first time in nine years.

The first season of Rhapsody of the Seas will begin in December 2023 from these three cities and offer seven-night itineraries through the Caribbean and Latin America, including the famous Panama Canal.

Friday Photos - August 16, 2019 | Royal Caribbean Blog

The entire season will be divided into two phases; a first that will be roundtrip from Colón, Panama with select departures from Cartagena, Colombia, which visit the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

Panama City

A second phase will begin in February 2024, with an itinerary between Colón and the new base port in Fuerte Amador, Panama City, which will sail through the Panama Canal in eight sailings, calling at Cartagena, Colombia, Puntarenas, Costa Rica and the new port for the Quepos company, in Costa Rica.

Royal Caribbean believes these new itineraries combine the international cuisine, entertainment and nightlife on a single cruise that does not require a travel visa.

These new adventures can be purchased at the end of March this year 

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared the exciting news on Facebook, "I am very excited to announce that starting in 2023, Panama is your newest jumping-off point for the captivating shores of the Southern Caribbean onboard Rhapsody of the Seas."

About Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas at sea

Rhapsody of the Seas is a Vision Class cruise ship that has a total capacity of 2,416 passengers.

It's features include the Viking Crown Lounge, Casino Royale, Vitality Spa & Fitness Center, a sports deck with a rock-climbing wall, a video game room, as well as a great sushi in Izumi and a Schooner Bar. 

Rhapsody is no stranger to exotic itineraries. In November 2022, she will sailing from Bridgetown, Barbados.

Royal Caribbean updates: Cruise planner update, Spectrum of the Seas cancellations & more!

20 Jan 2022

Another week of Royal Caribbean news is here to share, with a look at some recent changes worth noting.

Since there's so much happening these days, sometimes it's easier to provide a more concise update from across the fleet of changes, interesting options and more good to know information.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

Royal Caribbean will cruise from Cyprus again in 2022 and 2023

Rhapsody of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cyprus welcomed cruise ships in summer 2021, and Royal Caribbean will homeport a ship there again for the next two summer seasons.

Rhapsody of the Seas will sail from Limassol, Cyprus, in 2022 and 2023, where she will offer itineraries that visit ports in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Jewel of the Seas will sail from Cyprus in July | Royal Caribbean Blog

There are 7-night Greek Isles cruises that sail roundtrip from Limassol in August and September 2022.

In May-August 2023, Rhapsody will return to the city to set sail on new 7-night Israel and Egypt cruises as well as Greece and Turkey itineraries. Afterwards, Rhapsody moves to Haifa as a homeport in early November 2023 to offer a mix of 2- to 7-night itineraries to Greece, the Greek Isles and Cyprus.

Hong Kong forces Royal Caribbean to cancel Spectrum of the Seas sailings

Spectrum of the Seas will restart cruises from Hong Kong on July 30 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean was forced to cancel all of its January 2022 cruises from Hong Kong on Spectrum of the Seas due to a short-term government ban on cruises.

The Spectrum of the Seas sailings scheduled for January 21, 23, 26, 28, and January 31, 2022 are now cancelled.

In a statement, the sailings were cancelled in an effort by Hong Kong officials to contain Covid-19, "The sailings were canceled following an update to local COVID-19 prevention policies by local authorities on January 14, which requires a 14-day suspension of all cruise operations; details can be found on the official government website."

"Royal Caribbean will continue to monitor the evolving situation and work closely with relevant local authorities on our return to service. We fully expect to welcome back our guests onboard Spectrum’s February 4 cruise."

More ships upgraded to new Cruise Planner

Royal Caribbean begins to roll out My Royal Cruise cruise planner upgrade | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean is slowly phasing in a new look to its Cruise Planner website, which allows guests to pre-book packages, dining, entertainment and more before the sailing.

Here is the dates when the new look will appear for each ship:

  • Symphony of the Seas departing January 22,2022
  • Odyssey of the Seas departing January 15, 2022
  • Oasis of the Seas departing February 13, 2022
  • Harmony of the Seas departing February 27, 2022
  • Navigator of the Seas departing March 7, 2022
  • Anthem of the Seas departing March 27, 2022
  • Freedom of the Seas departing April 4, 2022
  • Adventure of the Seas departing April 11, 2022
  • Independence of the Seas departing April 15, 2022
  • Liberty of the Seas departing April 17, 2022
  • Allure of the Seas departing April 30, 2022
  • Ovation of the Seas departing May 5, 2022
  • Quantum of the Seas® departing May 16, 2022

If you're booked before these dates, you will continue to see the old Cruise Planner interface.

Royal Caribbean says it plans to steadily expand My Royal Cruise to additional ships and sailing windows at a later date. 

Royal Caribbean redeploys Rhapsody of the Seas summer 2022 sailings

30 Jun 2021

Royal Caribbean has new plans for Rhapsody of the Seas next year.

Rhapsody of the Seas will call the Mediterranean home in summer 2022 with a few new itineraries, sailing from Greece, Italy, Spain and Israel.

Beginning in May 2022, Rhapsody of the Seas will offer 7-night cruises from Rome and Ravenna, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Barcelona, Spain. 

Guests have their choice of a combination of Greek and Adriatic, Greek Isles and Western Mediterranean itineraries that feature visits to ports of call, such as Split, Croatia; Cannes and Nice, France; Crete and Mykonos, Greece and Florence and Sicily, Italy.

Rhapsody of the Seas will then homeport in Haifa, Israel between August and October.  She will become the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to homeport in Israel.

From Haifa, Rhapsody will offer 3- to 8-night round-trip itineraries to Greece, the Greek Isles and Cyprus.

Royal Caribbean redeployed Rhapsody earlier this year, when they announced she would sail from Barbados beginning in November 2022.

There are a number of 5-, 7-, 8-, and 14-night cruises to choose from, visiting destinations such as Trinidad, Grenada, Guadeloupe and more.

On the on 14-night sailings, Rhapsody is offering overnights in ports like Aruba and Cartagena.

Royal Caribbean will deploy Rhapsody of the Seas to Barbados beginning November 2022

28 Apr 2021

Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship will call Barbados home.

Rhapsody of the Seas will begin sailing from Bridgetown, Barbados in November 2022.

Royal Caribbean has plans for Grandeur of the Seas to sail from this Southern Caribbean island beginning this fall.

The new sailings are available to book immediately for winter 2022-2023.

There are a number of 5-, 7-, 8-, and 14-night cruises to choose from, visiting destinations such as Trinidad, Grenada, Guadeloupe and more.

On the on 14-night sailings, Rhapsody is offering overnights in ports like Aruba and Cartagena.

Second ship to sail from Barbados

Since the cruise industry shutdown due to the global health crisis, Royal Caribbean's relationship with the island of Barbados has strengthened.

Barbados was one of the few ports letting ships dock in its waters and exchange crew members in 2020.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley is the co-chair of a task force along with the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, which is aimed at working on the safe return of cruising to the Caribbean.

In addition, Grandeur of the Seas will begin sailing from Barbados in December 2021. At the time, it was the first Royal Caribbean ship to be announced to sail from outside the United States in an effort to get around the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ban on cruise ships from the United States.

The new sailings run between December 2021 and April 2022, although more sailings could be added if the sailings prove to be popular.

A variety of 7-night sailings are available to book immediately. There are three different itineraries, including two separate 7-night sailings and a 14-night sailing with stops in St. Lucia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, Grenada, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and more.

Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships will stay in British Virgin Islands temporarily

09 Jan 2021

Royal Caribbean has received permission for two of its cruise ships to remain in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in a state of warm lay-up.

The BVI Ports Authority announced on Friday that Rhapsody of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas have been given permission for technical calls and warm lay-ups in Tortola.

Strict health and safety rules were agreed to by both the Port Authority and the cruise line, which will allow the ships to remain in the BVI starting on January 11, 2021 for an initial period of thirty (30) days for a warm lay-up.

Neither ship will have passengers onboard, and the purpose of this agreement is so that the ships can remain in port and refuel, take on provisions and spare parts, and possibly other services.

Acting Managing Director, Oleanvine Maynard said, "Crew members will not be allowed to disembark and there is no access to vessels from shore-based staff during stays in the BVI."

This deal allows Royal Caribbean to take care of necessary maintenance and technical concerns, while the BVI reaps economic benefits.

The BVIPA believes that maintaining a link with and continuing to service the cruising industry in the safe manner proposed with technical calls/warm lay-ups can be a vital part of the rebooting strategy. 

What is a warm lay-up?

When cruise ships are not in use, they are either in warm or cold lay-up. This refers to which state they are in of being temporarily shutdown.

The decision to send a ship into cold lay-up depends on the long term plans the company has for the ship.

Royal Caribbean presented their plans to the BVI Ports Authority about what the ships will do and other details pertaining to a warm lay-up.

Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Hernan Zini, said the ships will be carrying out refueling, repairs and start-up activities.

All of Royal Caribbean's ships are in a state of warm lay-up, which means the ships can return to service quickly because the machinery, lifesaving equipment and navigational equipment are all well-kept and up to date.

The engine department and deck department remain fairly close to fully manned in a warm lay-up.

Cold lay-ups save money in the short term, but take longer to get back into service once the cruise line wants to reactivate the ship.

However, when a ship goes into cold lay-up, many of the mechanical systems are taken offline, with just the bare essentials left online to preserve the ship. A prolonged cold lay-up can even go as far as to preserve sections of the ship by hermetically sealing off rooms.

Read moreWhat does it mean when a cruise ship goes into cold lay-up?

Royal Caribbean moves summer 2021 cruises from Venice to Ravenna

18 Jun 2020

Royal Caribbean has sent letters to guests booked on sailings from Venice, Italy in summer 2021 that their cruise will now depart from nearby Ravenna, Italy.

Citing "increased concerns regarding the future of cruising in Venice", emails sent to travel agents and guests booked on Rhapsody of the Seas sailings that depart from Venice in 2021 an update that the cruises will now depart and end in Ravenna.

"There have been increased concerns regarding the future of cruising in Venice, Italy due to port congestion and the ability to control port traffic. And, while it's not yet clear how cruise operations will be affected there, it's important to us that we continue to do everything we can to provide you with a great experience and plan ahead, whenever possible."

"As a result, instead of Venice, we've changed our departure and arrival ports to Ravenna, Italy - a city located just a couple hours south of our original cruise port. We're terribly sorry for any inconvenience caused by this change. However, to ensure you have the smoothest experience possible and that you still get to experience Venice as planned - we're providing complimentary shuttle services before and after your sailing."

Guests who already purchased airfare will be able to take advantage of complimentary shuttle services both before and after your sailing. Guests an optionally purchase transfers leaving directly from the airport or pier. The trip will take us around 2 ½ hours, depending on local traffic.

On embarkation day, the complimentary shuttles will be waiting at the Arrivals area of the Venice Marco Polo Airport. 

Once the cruise is over, after collecting luggage, guests proceed to Customs and then will be directed to board either a complimentary shuttle bus headed to the Venice Marco Polo Airport, or to board a pre-purchased transfer headed directly to the next destination. 

Future of cruises from Venice

There has been speculation and discussion of banning or limiting cruise ships from Venice for years.

In late 2019, an accident involving a MSC Cruise ship in Venice sparked a new backlash against cruise ships. 

While policies have not shifted, Royal Caribbean decided to make the proactive change to guard against the possibility of a new ordinance or prohibition.

Rhapsody of the Seas added to Royal Caribbean app

27 Jan 2020

Royal Caribbean has expanded its new app to include support for Rhapsody of the Seas.

Rhapsody now appears in the list of supported ships that can be found from within the app.

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Photo Tour of Owners Suite stateroom on Rhapsody of the Seas

07 Apr 2018

We have a photo tour to share of an Owner's Suite on Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas, which will take you through the cabin to provide an idea of what to expect if you book this category stateroom.

On Rhapsody of the Seas, we reviewed stateroom 8002, which is located on Deck 8 in the forward part of the deck.  

Some of the staterooms on Rhapsody of the Seas have special names, and our stateroom was called, "The Beethoven Suite".  Other than the fancy name, there is not really much distinction between this and another Owners Suite.

Upon walking in, the first thing you will notice is there is a ton of space.

The vanity area features lots of storage space, a television, electrical outlets (including a not-so-obvious plug above the TV) and... room coffee and tea maker!

The primary bed can be completely enclosed by the curtains, providing privacy and does exceedingly well at keeping it dark.

The sitting area features another television, tables nad chairs.

There is also a large sofa and comfortable chairs that flank another table.

The sofa can open up to a bed, which can accomodate two guests easily.

Above the television is a Playstation 3, which is primarily used for playing movies. The Suite Concierege has a collection of DVDs that you can borrow (or you can bring your own).

The private balcony measures 104 square feet.

This particular room was very close to the bridge, and provided a look at one of the bridge wings.

The bathroom is massive, and features a stand-up shower, bathtub, dual sinks, toilet and bidet.

Being in a suite, guests receive upgraded toiletries.

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