Royal Caribbean is letting passengers vote on 9-month world cruise itinerary change

Due to the conflict in the Red Sea, Royal Caribbean is opting to change the third segment of the Ultimate World Cruise, and they're letting guests have...

Royal Caribbean is letting passengers vote on 9-month world cruise itinerary change

Due to the conflict in the Red Sea, Royal Caribbean is opting to change the third segment of the Ultimate World Cruise, and they're letting guests have a say in the new itinerary. 

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Pat Bell shared images showing the options that guests have. The first is an "Immersive Africa" itinerary that will visit numerous ports in Africa and completely nix Egypt from the schedule, whereas the second option, "Africa & Greece," is comprised of more sea days to catch up to the originally scheduled ports in Egypt and Greece. 

According to TikTok user drjennytravels, Royal Caribbean is calling the "Immersive Africa" itinerary the "scenic route," while "Africa & Greece" has been dubbed the "highway." 

(Photo by Pat Bell)

Even though the latter half of the section option is considered port-intensive, the first half would mainly be spent at sea, with five days spent in port between May 9 and June 7. 

Voting is open to those sailing on the full 9-month world cruise, as well as those booked for the segment of the world cruise sailing.

Those onboard the Ultimate World Cruise have until February 20th to submit questions. A webinar with the corporate office will be held on February 21st. After the webinar, passengers have six days to make their decisions and vote on their preferred itinerary before the winner is announced on February 27th. 

(Photo by Pat Bell)

If Immersive Africa is chosen, guests will receive 25% off the pro-rated segment 3 cruise fare in the form of a refundable onboard credit. The amount increases to 50% if Africa & Greece is the winner. 

Royal Caribbean confirmed the itinerary change and the voting option.  In a statement provided by the cruise line, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said, "As we’ve continued to monitor what is taking place in and around the Red Sea for the safety of our guests and crew, we have made the decision to adjust plans for Serenade of the Seas’ transit through the Suez Canal this May."

"In keeping with the adventurous spirit of our guests, we are engaging them for their thoughts and preference between two alternative itineraries that will take them on an epic adventure to Africa. They will receive compensation for the adjustment, and guests who prefer to not sail on the updated itinerary will receive a full refund and support for their travel arrangements."

Immersive Africa

  • May 9: Dubai, United Arab Emirates 
  • May 10-13: Cruising
  • May 14: Mahé (Victoria), Seychelles 
  • May 15: La Digue Island, Seychelles 
  • May 16: Cruising
  • May 17: Antsiranana (Diego Suarez), Madagascar
  • May 18: Cruising
  • May 19: Port Louis, Mauritius
  • May 20: Pointe Des Galets, Reunion Island
  • May 21-23: Cruising
  • May 24: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • May 25: Mossel Bay, South Africa
  • May 26-27: Cape Town, South Africa
  • May 28: Cruising 
  • May 29: Luderitz, Namibia
  • May 30: Walvis Bay, Namibia
  • May 31-June 1: Cruising 
  • June 2: Luanda, Angola
  • June 3-4: Cruising
  • June 5: Takoradi, Ghana
  • June 6: Abidjan, Ivory Coast
  • June 7-8: Cruising
  • June 9: Dakar, Senegal
  • June 10-11: Cruising 
  • June 12: Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • June 13: Cruising
  • June 14: Gibraltar, United Kingdom
  • June 14-16: Cruising
  • June 17: Corfu, Greece
  • June 18: Bari, Italy
  • June 19-20: Ravenna, Italy 

Africa & Greece

  • May 9: Dubai, United Arab Emirates 
  • May 10-13: Cruising
  • May 14: Mahé (Victoria), Seychelles 
  • May 15-20: Cruising
  • May 21-22: Cape Town, South Africa
  • May 23-31: Cruising
  • June 1: Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • June 2-6: Cruising
  • June 7: Istanbul, Turkey
  • June 8: Cruising
  • June 9-10: Alexandria, Egypt
  • June 11: Cruising
  • June 12: Athens, Greece
  • June 13: Mykonos, Greece
  • June 14: Santorini, Greece
  • June 15: Chania (Souda), Crete, Greece
  • June 16: Olympia (Katakolon), Greece
  • June 17: Corfu, Greece
  • June 18: Bari, Italy 
  • June 19-20: Ravenna, Italy

The original itinerary was set to visit Petra, Jordan

Those onboard the Ultimate World Cruise will visit one less World Wonder than they anticipated. Since it's no longer feasible to sail through the Red Sea, ports like Safaga, Egypt and Petra, Jordan will be removed from the itinerary. 

Instead, Serenade of the Seas will sail from Dubai down past the tip of South Africa and through the Western Mediterranean. 

It appears as though the ports of call after Ravenna (Venice), Italy are unchanged, with passengers still being able to visit the Colosseum in Rome in early July. 

What's going on in the Red Sea?

Recent attacks on container vessels in the Red Sea, one of the world's most important trade routes, have been ongoing for weeks. On Friday, February 16, news reports claimed that missile fire targeted yet another ship, with the vessel's captain reporting hearing an explosion off the coast of Mocha, Yemen. 

Starting in late November, Houthi militants began increasing their attacks on ships in response to the ongoing war in Israel that began when Hamas launched an assault on Israel from the Gaza Strip in October. Houthi forces claim that they're acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza. 

Consequently, both the United States and the United Kingdom have launched strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen. 

The Ultimate World Cruise hasn't been without its issues

At first, it was rough seas that resulted in flooding onboard. Then, some minor itinerary changes, including the cancellation of a couple ports. Most recently, a passenger, unfortunately, passed away. There have also been reports of guests fighting onboard and visa issues for later destinations. 

Someone online went as far as to craft a bingo card for things that could happen during the voyage. Some scenarios seem rather common/likely, such as a painful sunburn and someone returning home early (a friendly reminder that travel insurance is important, even on shorter sailings!). 

Others, however, are a little more outlandish, including a pirate takeover and mass STDs. 

Suffice to say, the Ultimate World Cruise has had its share of drama, and it's only getting started! The world cruise isn't scheduled to end until Tuesday, September 10 in Miami, Florida. 

Read more: Cruise ship passenger on the 9-month world cruise made 860 Valentine's Day cards for all the crew members

Itinerary changes, while disappointing, aren't as uncommon as you might think

In early November Royal Caribbean announced that they'd be canceling the entire 2024 Israel cruise season due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. 

While war and civil unrest are possible reasons for itineraries to be modified, unfavorable weather conditions and mechanical issues can contribute to changes in travel plans, too. 

For example, passengers visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay on February 6 were told to return to their ships around 1:00pm, as a rapidly moving storm was approaching the island. While Freedom of the Seas was able to depart, Oasis of the Seas remained docked late into the evening. 

(Photo by Tim Morrison)

Even if you're cruising outside of hurricane season, flexibility is of utmost importance, as you never know when your ship might miss a port or two.