(4:18 p.m. EST) -- Explorer of the Seas has been forced to extend its current cruise due to a medical emergency, resulting in the delayed departure of the ship's next sailing.
According to a statement from Royal Caribbean, Explorer will now arrive in its Bayonne, New Jersey, homeport on Saturday, January 28, one day later than originally scheduled.
"The guest was initially treated in our medical facility, but required additional and urgent medical attention that could only be provided in a hospital," read the statement. Explorer, which is equipped with a helipad, has re-charted a course for San Juan, Puerto Rico, the closest port of call. "A helicopter will meet the ship when it gets within 70 miles of San Juan," explained Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez. "Estimated time is 5:35 p.m. local time."
"We will be assisting both the guests currently onboard and those boarding on Saturday, but do not have details at this time," said Martinez. "We wanted to put the notice on our website and on social media as soon as possible, to let affected guests know in advance." Additional information on the revised itinerary will be provided to passengers on Saturday at embarkation.
EmpressofPurple, a Cruise Critic reader who's onboard, posted on the message boards that "steps are being taken to provide help to those who need to communicate with airlines, hotels, family members, babysitters, etc."
Passengers scheduled to depart on Friday are being asked not arrive at the port until 2 p.m. Saturday.
--by Dan Askin, News Editor