Bookings are already being taken open on five-night Bermuda cruises aboard Voyager of the Seas from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. from May through November 2005.
"Bermuda is an ideal cruise destination, offering both history and charm, as well as a variety of experiences to appeal to travelers with different interests," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, for Royal Caribbean International.
Voyager's new five-night Bermuda sailings will begin on May 15, 2005, and will depart every other Sunday from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne.
Royal Caribbean began operations from the Bayonne in May 2004, when it arranged for a "temporary, five-year operation," by leasing the cruise line about 1,000feet of bulk heading and an existing 120,000-square-foot warehouse known for use as a temporary terminal where passengers would drop off their luggage, check in and be escorted onto the ship. The cruise line also arranged to rent space for parking nearby. Although Royal Caribbean has invested more than $8 million into temporary port facilities, cruise line officials had not previously said much about sailing arrangements beyond the Summer of 2004 until last week.
Nancy Kist, executive director of the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority - which oversees the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor - called the additional commitment "very good news."
Change of ships
Because of changes elsewhere in the Royal Caribbean fleet, for the first few months of 2005, Voyager will be the only cruise ship sailing out of Bayonne, said Jaye Hilton, Manager of Corporate Communications for Royal Caribbean International.
The Empress of the Seas - which currently sails out of Bayonne -- will change its base of operations to Fort Lauderdale from May 5 to Oct. 6 in 2005. Voyager will take up additional duties covering Bermuda and the Caribbean.
But over July 4 weekend, a newly refurbished Enchantment of the Seas will arrive in Bayonne to begin trips to Canada and New England.
Enchantment of the Seas will be out of service from early May until early July 2005. A 73-foot midsection built by Kvaerner Masa-Yards will be inserted into the ship at the Keppel Verolme Shipyard in Rotterdam, increasing the vessel's overall length to 990 feet and its tonnage from 74,140 to 80,700 tons. The new midsection will add 151 staterooms, as well as a number of indoor and outdoor public areas.
This is not the first time Royal Caribbean has expanded one of its ships. The line was the first in the industry to lengthen a cruise ship in 1978, when an 85-foot section was inserted into the Song of Norway. The company also extended the Nordic Prince in 1980.
Enchantment of the Seas' transformation comes in the wake of extensive enhancements to other ships in the Royal Caribbean International fleet. Nordic Empress was revitalized this spring and made her debut as Empress of the Seas at the cruise line's new Cape Liberty Cruise Point in Bayonne, N.J., in May 2004
"The refurbishment of Enchantment makes tremendous sense from both an economic and a strategic standpoint. We add substantial revenue without adding commensurate costs, while significantly improving the overall guest experience," said Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain. "We have taken what we have learned during the new-build process and applied best practices to upgrade our existing ships."
Launched in 1997, the ship currently sails a rotating schedule of four- and five-night cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to ports in the Western Caribbean. Following the lengthening, Enchantment of the Seas will sail a special series of cruises from three ports in the Northeast throughout the summer and fall before returning to Fort Lauderdale. She will offer itineraries of varying lengths to New England and Canada from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne.
Hilton said the first sailing from Bayonne will be on July 7, 2005 when it will make a four-night trip to Halifax. The ship will again sail on July 11 to Boston, Bar Harbor and Halifax.