Once Mariner of the Seas returns from Asia, it will have a 32-day revitalization before its Caribbean sailings. // © 2017 Royal Caribbean International
Feature image (above): Empress of the Seas will sail to Havana from January 2018 through March 2019. // © 2017 Royal Caribbean International
After a three-year absence, Royal Caribbean International will return to the Gulf Coast for the 2018-2019 winter season. The 2,416-passenger Vision of the Seas will offer weeklong cruises out of New Orleans; books opened May 5.
Vision will call in a varied mix of ports in the Bahamas and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, as well as in Grand Cayman. Before repositioning to its new homeport on Dec. 15, 2018, the vessel will sail two 16-night Panama Canal cruises from Miami to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to New Orleans. This will be the first time Royal Caribbean ships have transited the canal in the past three years.
In 2013, features from Oasis of the Seas were added to Vision, including Chops Grille, Giovanni's Table, Izumi, Park Cafe and Chef's Table. The ship also received the Centrum Experience in the six-deck atrium, where everything from aerial performances to cooking classes are held; Wi-Fi access throughout; the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery; an outdoor movie screen; and new bathrooms in the accommodations, along with flat-screen LED televisions and new soft goods.
In addition, Enchantment of the Seas, which was expanded in 2005 with the insertion of a 73-foot-long midsection, will move from Miami to join Liberty of the Seas out of Galveston, Texas. Liberty sails seven-day cruises to the Caribbean, while Enchantment will be deployed on shorter four- and five-night itineraries starting June 23, 2018.
Guests currently booked on Enchantment’s previously planned sailings out of Miami after June 23 will be contacted individually to move to Mariner of the Seas, which will sail from Miami. Mariner, returning from a stint in Asia, will have a 32-day revitalization before its Caribbean sailings. It will be the first of the Voyager-class vessels — which introduced the ice rink, rock climbing wall and Royal Promenade — to provide short itineraries in the Caribbean. Ports of call include Cozumel, Costa Maya and Progreso in Mexico.
Prior to its drydock, Mariner will sail a Global Odyssey series of three 13- to 15-day cruises that will take the ship from Singapore to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates; Dubai to Barcelona, Spain; and Barcelona to Miami.
At the same time, Royal Caribbean has announced a full year of new sailings to Havana on the recently refurbished, 1,602-guest Empress of the Seas. More than half of the 58 four- and five-night Western Caribbean/Havana sailings include overnights in Havana, departing January 2018 through March 2019, along with calls in Key West, Fla.; Costa Maya; and Cozumel.