Update! Serenade of the Seas Faces Delay

October 17, 2007
Editor's Update: On Wednesday morning, Royal Caribbean spokesman Michael Sheehan provided more details on Serenade of the Seas' late arrival at San Diego. The ship will arrive there about 6 hours late; originally scheduled to return at 7 a.m., Serenade of the Seas will instead pull in at about 2 p.m. While guests who booked air independently are required to make their own changes, Sheehan says that the ship has provided free telephone and Internet to assist. It will also reimburse passengers up to $100 per person for airline change fees.

The ailing passenger whose evacuation caused the delay, by the way, is in the hospital in Hawaii and is in stable condition.

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas, which is entering the home stretch of a 15-night Hawaii cruise, has been delayed -- slightly -- by a medical evacuation emergency. The ship will still return to San Diego as planned on Saturday, October 20 but it could be as much as six hours late.

Serenade, which departed from San Diego on Friday, October 5, had just left Honolulu, its last port of call before five days at sea on the way back to the West Coast, when a passenger developed heart problems. The ship was about 80 miles from Honolulu at that time and, after its captain conversed with the U.S. Coast Guard about evacuation efforts, made the decision to turn around and head back. Serenade of the Seas was too far out at sea for a successful Coast Guard rescue.

"The best they could do is turn around and get close to Honolulu so the Coast Guard could fly a helicopter out to meet the ship," a Royal Caribbean spokesman told us.

While Royal Caribbean has not yet provided specific details on the ship's delayed arrival, Joe C. MacQuarrie, a Cruise Critic member who's currently onboard, tells us via email, that "the captain just came on and announced a goal of a 1 p.m. arrival in San Diego … but it depends on sea conditions."

"We are clipping along at 24.4 knots … and they pulled the stabilizers (happy me, I like bouncy seas). No other details are available other than people are rushing to change flights. Royal Caribbean is not offering any assistance with those who booked independently."

Saturday's cruise is a charter to Mexico so the ship's late arrival won't adversely affect trips booked by independent cruisers.