Due to challenging weather conditions, Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas, experienced an unexpected change in its 10-night New Zealand itinerary on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. The ship set sail from Sydney, Australia, on November 23. While attempting to dock in Wellington, New Zealand, on November 28, the vessel experienced high winds forcing a last-minute cancellation.
Wellington’s harbor master, Grant Nalder, confirmed the decision to forgo docking was made after a pilot boarded the vessel and consulted with the captain. At the time of the scheduled docking, around 11 a.m., winds were blowing steadily from the north at 25-30 mph (40-48 kph), with gusts reaching up to 40 mph (64 kph).
“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,”
Grant Nalder, harbourmaster at Wellington
This change in plan meant that Ovation of the Seas, a 168,666-gross-ton Quantum-class ship, would now spend an additional day at sea en route to Napier, the next scheduled stop. The vessel has accommodations for up to 4,905 passengers when fully booked.
Safety concerns were the primary reason for the alteration, as high winds pose significant risks in docking operations. These concerns are not unfounded, as similar incidents have occurred in the past.
In August 2023, Queen Mary 2 faced a similar situation where its mooring lines snapped in Civitavecchia, Italy, and in July of the same year, Norwegian Prima experienced the same issue in Zeebrugge, Belgium.
Despite this minor setback, Ovation of the Seas’ itinerary remains largely unchanged. Following its stop in Napier, the ship will proceed to Picton before returning to Sydney on December 3. The ship is homeported in Sydney, offering various itineraries across the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia until April 2024 before repositioning to Seattle for the Alaska sailing season.
The incident highlights the impact of adverse weather conditions on cruise itineraries and the importance of prioritizing passenger safety in such situations.