Royal Caribbean British favourite Independence of the Seas has been pulled out of the UK for 2020, the line has confirmed.
The ship had been scheduled to sail ex-UK sailings from Southampton for summer 2020 alongside Anthem of the Seas, however the line said only Anthem would be homeporting in the UK next year.
Independence of the Seas will instead be sailing in the Caribbean, visiting Royal Caribbean’s new private island, CocoCay.
The line said it was contacting everyone booked on Independence “to provide full refunds and a ‘Future Cruise Credit’ for use on alternative sailings – valued at 25% of the cruise fare paid on their cancelled sailing”.
It added that guests booked on the transatlantic sailings would be offered an alternative sailing on Anthem of the Seas along with onboard credit based on their stateroom category and sailing length. Non-refundable airline charges will also be reimbursed and full refunds given to those who wish to cancel.
Royal also said agents’ commission for bookings made on Independence would not be affected.
Next year is only the second time Independence, which launched in 2008 and underwent a £75 million revamp last year, hasn’t homeported in the UK for a summer season. The one year it didn’t in 2015, Royal positioned Anthem and Explorer of the Seas in the UK instead.
However Ben Bouldin, associate vice-president and managing director, Royal Caribbean International UK & Ireland, insisted Royal Caribbean remains committed to the UK market.
“The UK remains a cornerstone of the Royal Caribbean business and this is evident from the fact that we have our amazing Quantum Class ship Anthem of the Seas returning to Southampton in 2020,” he said.
“The decision for Independence of the Seas to remain in Florida has been made to help us satisfy the increasing demand we’re seeing in North America, particularly for our newly opened Perfect Day at CocoCay.
“Recent figures from Clia show that the UK & Irish ocean cruise market has achieved a new milestone, exceeding two million passengers for the first time. We’re certainly seeing this demand reflected in Royal Caribbean bookings; ex-UK 2020 sailings have been selling incredibly well since November 2018 and we are also seeing strong demand from UK guests for sailings in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific regions.”