Ovation Of The Seas accidents and incidents

Ovation Of The Seas cruise ship


Length (LOA)
348 m / 1142 ft

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CruiseMapper's Ovation Of The Seas cruise ship accidents, incidents and law news reports relate to a 4825-passenger vessel owned by Royal Caribbean. Our Ovation Of The Seas accidents page contains reports made by using official data from renown online news media sources, US Coast Guard and Wikipedia.

Here are also reported latest updates on cruise law news related to ashore and shipboard crimes still investigated by the police. Among those could be arrests, filed lawsuits against the shipowner / cruise line company, charges and fines, grievances, settled / withdrawn legal actions, lost cases, virus outbreaks, etc.

  • propulsion/power loss - 2017, 2019, 2022
  • deaths - 2017 (crew suicide), 2019 (White Island NZ volcano eruption), 2020
  • Norovirus (passengers/crew) - 2017 (200)
  • Coronavirus - 2020 (111 passengers)
  • medevacs - 2017, 2018, 2019 (2)

25 November 2023Coast Guard Medevacs

On November 25, 2023, soon after the departure from Sydney (NSW Australia), the ship was prompted to return back to homeport for a medevac of a male passenger who required urgent medical attention.

Following the man's disembarkation, the ship continued directly to Wellington, skipping the scheduled call at Port Chalmers/Dunedin.

However, upon reaching Wellington, the ship canceled the call due to adverse weather conditions in the harbor (strong winds between 40-50 knots/21-26 m/s) as docking proved challenging. Ovation OTS sailed back into Cook Strait and set a course for Napier.

The itinerary changes affected the 10-day "New Zealand Cruise" (itinerary Nov 23 - Dec 3, roundtrip from Sydney) with scheduled call to the NZ ports/destinations Fiordland National Park (Nov 26/canceled), Port Chalmers/Dunedin (Nov 27/canceled), Wellington (Nov 28/canceled), Napier (Nov 29), Picton (Nov 30).

December 2022Propulsion / Power Loss

Due to a technical issue that affected the ship's propulsion (resulting in a reduced cruising speed) the scheduled visits to New Caledonia's Noumea (Grande Terre island) and Vanuatu's Aneityum (Mystery Island) were canceled.

The altered itinerary was the 9-day "South Pacific Cruise" (December 14-23, roundtrip from homeport Sydney, NSW Australia). During the affected voyage was made only one call (at Port Vila, Vanuatu's Efate Island - on Dec 17th, and returned to Sydney on Dec 23rd (docking at 6:30 am, as originally scheduled).

As compensation, all passengers received 50% refund (of the cruise fare paid) issued as OBC/Onboard Credit. All pre-paid shore excursions (booked via RCI) for Noumea and Mistery Island were fully/100% refunded. In addition, all passengers were provided with 25% FCC/Future Cruise Credit to be used for booking a new voyage by December 31, 2024.

April 2020Other Incidents

On April 3, the shipowner RCG (Royal Caribbean Group) announced plans to use its Australia-based vessels to repatriate most of their staff-crew by transporting them to their home-countries - Indonesia, Philippines and China, and to India (via charter flights from Indonesia and Philippines). Three RCI Australia ships (Ovation, Spectrum, Voyager) were at the time anchored off Australia's coast. The 3 cruise liners were scheduled to carry a total of 2584 people - embarked (via tender boats) from all 5 RCCL-owned ships (Ovation, Radiance, Spectrum, Voyager, Celebrity Solstice).

From Radiance OTS to Spectrum OTS were transferred ~600 crew. Spectrum OTS was planned to arrive in Bali Indonesia (April 16, to disembark 261 Indonesians), in Manila Philippines (April 22, to disembark 577 Filipino) and in Shanghai China (May 11, to disembark 522 Chinese). From Bali Indonesia, RCCL arranged charter flights to repatriate 299 Indian nationals.

Crew from Celebrity Solstice were transferred to Ovation OTS (204 Indian, 182 Indonesian, 13 Chinese) and Voyager OTS (382 Filipino). Ovation OTS headed to Bali Indonesia (planned arrival April 19) to disembark 239 Indonesians. Voyager OTS also loaded some of the Ovation's crew (880 Filipino, 13 Chinese) and headed toward Manila Philippines (planned arrival April 25) to disembark a total of 1232 people, plus 438 Indian nationals (charter flights to India).

Ovation OTS departed Australia on April 4.

March 2020Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

(Coronavirus) On March 20, 2020, two days after the passenger debarkation in Sydney NSW (March 18), a male passenger was diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The 67-year-old Canadian tested positive after returning home from Australia. It was later confirmed that the Canadian tourist had been infectious for the last 2 days of the voyage. On March 26, with Ovation OTS were linked 31 confirmed Australian cases. Following the debarkation, on April 1, NSW health authorities announced that a total of 79 new cases (former Ovation OTS passengers) tested Coronavirus-positive.

On March 21, NSW health authorities announced that during the 7-day voyage (March 11-18) to New Zealand, the ship had neither Coronavirus cases (suspected or confirmed) or any passengers-crew experiencing flu-like symptoms or respiratory illness. After leaving Sydney harbour, Ovation OTS continued (with its crew only) to Port Kembla, where remained anchored during the no-cruising period.

05 February 2020Crew / Passenger Deaths

On February 4, 2020, a male passenger died on the ship navigating in Tasman Sea, en-route from Sydney (NSW Australia) to Bay of Islands (New Zealand). The man reportedly died of natural causes (unrelated to Coronavirus).

The incident occurred at the beginning of an 11-day New Zealand Cruise (itinerary Feb 2-13, roundtrip from homeport Sydney NSW) visiting Russell (Bay of Islands, Feb 5th), Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Port Chalmers (Dunedin) and Fiordland NP.

09 December 2019Crew / Passenger Deaths

On December 9, 2019, while the cruise liner was berthed in call port Tauranga (New Zealand), at least 8 passengers died (not confirmed officially by RCI) following the volcano eruption on White Island (aka Whakaari). The NZ police initiated a massive emergency evacuation and reported 34 rescued (33 injured, 25 critical), 8 missing (presumed dead) and 6 dead (5 confirmed killed, 1 died in hospital). One rescue helicopter was downed. The dispatched rescue teams were hindered by ash fall and toxic gases.

All rescued sustained injuries (mostly burns) and 13 were hospitalized. A total of 7 (in critical conditions) were flown to Whakatane Hospital (where triaged) from where were ambulanced to Auckland (Middlemore Hospital) and Hamilton (Waikato Hospital). As nationalities, the missing / dead tourists were from Australia (24, of whom 11 missing), USA (9), NZ (5), Germany (4), UK (2), China (2), Malaysia (1). The confirmed fatalities (6) included a NZ tour guide (from White Island Tours Ltd) and 4 tourists (3 Australian, 1 Malaysian). The missing included 7 Australian tourists and a NZ tour guide. Victims' age range was 13-72.

At the last count, the December 2019 Whakaari eruption resulted in 25 injured, 20 killed (confirmed dead) and 2 missing (presumed dead). The 22 killed were from Australia (17), NZ (2) and USA (3). The 25 injured were from Australia (10), USA (4), Germany (4), NZ (2), UK (2), China (2), Malaysia (1). Only 3 of the survivors were with slight injuries, while most suffered up to 95% burns of their bodies. NZ ordered from USA and Australia around 120 m2 (1300 ft2) of skin to treat these patients. On December 11th, all the 13 injured Australians were flown to Australian hospitals (Sydney and Melbourne) to receive treatment. The medevacs were assisted by 3x RAAF aircraft (Royal Australian Air Force), 1x Lockheed C-130 Hercules (4-engine plane) and 2x Boeing C-17 Globemaster planes (military transport aircraft), delivering medical aircrew and equipment.

NZ's Prime Minister initially announced that around 100 tourists (in 2 separate groups) were on the island when the volcano exploded at 2:11 pm (NZDT). Later, the police revised that number to 47. Some of the tourists (~30) were RCI cruisers on Ovation OTS visiting Whakaari on the Royal Caribbean-sponsored shore excursion "White Island Volcano Experience Cruise and Guided Exploration" (guided tour, booking code TR93, cost USD 324 pp). The ship altered the itinerary remaining overnight in Tauranga instead of the planned departure (Dec 9, at 8 pm) for Wellington NZ. The ship left Tauranga on Dec 11 (at 7:15 am).

On December 9th were registered 3 more eruptions following the initial one. On December 10th, an earthquake with Richter magnitude 5,3 struck near Gisborne.

The accident occurred during 12-day Australia to New Zealand cruise (itinerary December 4-16) roundtrip from homeport Sydney NSW Australia.

Date / TimePort
04 Dec 18:45Departing from Sydney NSW
07 Dec 08:00 - 18:00Bay of Islands, Russell NZ
08 Dec 07:00 - 20:00Auckland NZ
09 Dec 07:30 - 18:00Tauranga NZ
11 Dec 07:00 - 14:00Wellington NZ
12 Dec 08:00 - 17:00Port Chalmers-Dunedin NZ
13 Dec 17:00 - 18:00Fiordland National Park NZ
16 Dec 06:30Arriving in Sydney NSW

On December 11, 2019, Royal Caribbean emailed all customers booked on shore excursions visiting a volcano (worldwide). Future RCI cruisers were informed that the deals are cancelled and these tours are terminated (not offered through Royal Caribbean anymore). All volcano tour bookings received full refunds, paid within 7-10 business days.

As some of the White Island volcano cruisers pursued legal action against the company, in December 2020, Royal Caribbean filed a motion to the Australian government to keep these lawsuits in NSW courts and not in the USA.

Note: White Island (located approx 55 mi / 90 km to the east of Tauranga) is privately owned and declared in 1953 a "scenic reserve". By the NZ Legislation (Reserves Act 1977), independent tourists can't land on Whakaari without permission, but landings are allowed to customers of authorized tour operators (including cruise shipping companies). Whakaari is classified as "Important Bird Area" for its breeding colony of ~3000 pairs of Australian gannets (large seabird).

Whakaari's last eruption was in 2001, but without injuries or fatalities. White Island accident-affected parties (injured and families of the killed) can't sue the tour operator (or RCI) as NZ has no-fault laws for personal injuries protecting the country's tourism industry. The affected parties are limited only to medical fees (max USD 130,000 pp) covered by ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation - New Zealand Crown entity).

18 November 2019Propulsion / Power Loss

On November 18, 2019, at ~7:30 pm, upon leaving Port Wellington NZ (near Steeple Rock), the cruise liner suffered an engine issue resulting in temporary loss of power (and propulsion) and drifting. Luckily, the weather was favorable and two tugboats were quickly dispatched to assist the ship. After ~30 min, the mechanical fault was fixed and the liner was able to continue the voyage as planned.

The accident occurred during 10-day Australia to New Zealand cruise (itinerary Nov 13-23) roundtrip from homeport Sydney NSW and visiting Fiordland NP, Dunedin, Wellington (port stay 11 am - 7 pm), Napier, and Picton.

25 July 2019Coast Guard Medevacs

On July 25, 2019, a 67-year-old female passenger (suffered symptoms related to a heart attack) was medevaced from the liner navigating approx 23 km (14 mi) west of Port Angeles (Washington, USA). For the emergency rescue operation, the USCG Air Station Port Angeles dispatched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew. The woman was airlifted/hoisted from the ship and flown to Olympic Medical Center (Port Angeles), from where a Life Flight Network aircrew transported her to a hospital in Seattle WA.

Watchstanders at USCG Sector Puget Sound command center received a phone call from cruise ship's Captain at 8:26 pm. For the operation was diverted a flight crew from training in Neah Bay (Makah Reservation, Clallam County WA). The helicopter arrived on the scene ~9 pm.

The incident occurred at the end of 7-day Alaska Glaciercruise (itinerary July 19-26) roundtrip from homeport Seattle to Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria (BC Canada).

16 June 2019Coast Guard Medevacs

On June 16, 2019, a 5-year-old female passenger (suffering abdominal pains) was medevaced from the liner navigating in Gastineau Channel (between mainland-Alaska and Douglas Island, Alexander Archipelago) en-route from Juneau to Skagway. The cruise ship requested for help at 2:09 pm (June 16). For the operation, the USCG dispatched a 45-ft response boat, which transported the girl and her family back to Juneau (North Douglas Boat Launch) from where they were transported by an ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

The incident occurred at the beginning of 7-day Alaska Glacier cruise (itinerary June 14-21) roundtrip from homeport Seattle WA to Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria (BC Canada).

24 October 2018Coast Guard Medevacs

On October 24, 2018, a 74-year-old female passenger was medevaced from the liner, approx 50 km (30 ml)  off the coast of Exmouth (Western Australia). Accompanied by her husband, the elderly woman was winched (airlifted) by Bristow Helicopters rescue team) and flown to Port Hedland Hospital for emergency surgery.

The rescue operation was coordinated by AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) and involved one SAR (search and rescue helicopter, 5 crew) dispatched from Perth WA. The air operation was supported by one AMSA Challenger CL604 jet.

The incident occurred during 14-day Asia to Australia repositioning cruise (itinerary Oct 19 - Nov 2) from Singapore to Sydney NSW, with call ports Fremantle WA (Oct 25), Adelaide SA, and Hobart (Tasmania).

November 2017Cruise Illness / Virus Outbreaks

November-December 2017, during the 14-day Asia to Australia repositioning cruise from Singapore to Sydney NSW (itinerary Nov 23-Dec 7), a Norovirus outbreak affected a total of 195 passengers and crew (or over 3%). The relocation itinerary visited the ports Fremantle, Adelaide and Hobart (Tasmania).

17 September 2017Crew / Passenger Deaths

(CruiseMapper-emailed report from a crew who wished to remain anonymous)

The ship was in China on back-to-back routes [roundtrip cruises from Port Tianjin/Beijing] and one night this happened.

A crew member from the 270 Cast suicide in her crew cabin onboard the ship, on 13th September 2017.

No note left.

April 2017Propulsion / Power Loss

On April 2017, due to propulsion problems, the ship had to enter into unscheduled drydock in China for repairs. According to RCI’s official statement, the ship was fully operational and had no manoeuvrability issues. The incident resulted in 2 cancelled cruises (departures April 26 and April 30. The ship experienced the technical issue while operating in Asia, being homeported in Tianjin China for roundtrip 4-, 5- and 6-night itineraries.

27 January 2017Crew / Passenger Injuries and Overboards

On January 27, 2017, at ~9 pm the ship returned to Hobart Tasmania to offload a 53-year-old female passenger suffering from a chronic illness. The woman was disembarked from the cruise ship (located off Sandy Bay) by one of its tender boats. She was transported to Kings Pier Marina (in Port Hobart) then transported by an ambulance to the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH). The woman was in a stable condition and not critically ill.

The ship left Port Hobart at 5.30 pm (Jan 26) and was en-route back to homeport Sydney Australia on a 6-day Tasmania Cruise (itinerary Jan 23-28) roundtrip from Sydney NSW and visiting only Hobart along the way.

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